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Chapter 1 : Expectation
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Everything that can work, will work.
:: :: ::
The moment James saw her, everything else faded away. She was standing in the entrance hall, fiddling nervously with the clasp of her purse, looking more beautiful than he had ever seen her before. A broad grin stretched across his face as he hurried over to meet her, wanting to begin what he hoped would be the first of many dates with the lovely Lily Evans.
“You look amazing,” he said, by way of greeting. She was wearing a pale green dress that served to highlight her always stunning eyes. Her crimson hair, usually worn down, had been pulled half up and curled, so it framed her face and highlighted the swan-like length of her neck.
She turned at James’ words, a slight flush tinting her cheeks. “Thank you,” she responded with a smile. “You look quite nice yourself.” James was dressed simply in a pair of his best, dark trousers, paired with a navy blue jumper that (he had been told) nicely emphasized his Quidditch-toned arms.
James offered Lily his hand. “Shall we?”
The walk to Hogsmeade went better than James could have hoped. It was a perfect autumn day, with the sun shining brightly overhead, and a soft breeze playing over the fallen leaves. The conversation flowed effortlessly and, before long, they had reached their first destination.
“Madam Puddifoots?” Lily quirked an eyebrow in James’ direction. “I’ve never been.”
He shrugged. “Me neither, but I thought it would be a nice change from The Three Broomsticks. A bit quieter, you know?” He pulled on the door, holding it open so Lily could enter the shop first.
Her small gasp of surprise was muffled by the sound of tinkling bells announcing their arrival.
“Oh, James, it’s lovely!”
He had to agree. The tiny tea shop was decorated simply in dark woods and neutral colours. Though it was filled with tables surrounded by sophisticated, high-backed chairs, they were mostly empty, giving the place a private and romantic feel. A fireplace crackled at one end of the room, while the opposite side housed a large display of various cakes and tarts. James couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of contentment as the smell of freshly baked pastries wafted through the air.
A middle-aged witch with dark hair came out from behind the counter and seated them at a secluded table near the window.
Rushing forward, James gallantly pulled out Lily’s chair for her. “Thank you,” she said, shooting him a smile as he rounded the table to take his own seat across from her. “Who knew you had such good manners?”
“I’m full of surprises,” James replied with a smirk, causing Lily to roll her eyes playfully. The pair drifted into silence as each turned their attention to the menus set before them, which offered a surprising assortment of lunch options in addition to the typical tea shop fare. “Do you know what you’d like?” James asked, the very epitome of politeness. “Everything looks delicious.”
Lily murmured her agreement, her eyes continuing to skim the various options.
“You know what?” James inquired, folding closed his menu, his eyes sparkling with mischief. “Why don’t we skip lunch and just order pastries?”
“Seriously?” she replied, glancing at him over the top of her own menu. James quirked an eyebrow, issuing a silent challenge, and she let out a slight giggle. “Ok, let’s go for it!” she agreed, folding closed her menu and setting it on top of his.
When the hostess reappeared, James pulled his menu back toward himself, pretending to consider his options. “Hmm, could we get two cups of Earl Grey and, what do you think, Lily? One of each pastry?”
Lily ducked her head and attempted to muffle her laughter at the look of disapproval she saw on the older woman’s face, but James remained steadfast, smiling up at her innocently.
“We have seventeen varieties of pastries,” the woman responded in a condescending tone.
“Excellent,” James shot back, a devilish glint in his eye, “one of each, please.” Sensing her hesitation, James reached into his wallet, pulled out a few sickles and thrust them towards her.
One glance at the coins seemed to satisfy her scepticism and she stalked off to retrieve their rather peculiar order. As soon as she was out of earshot, James and Lily both burst into hysterical laughter.
“I can’t believe you did that!” Lily said, struggling to catch her breath. “What are we going to do with seventeen pastries?”
“Eat them, of course!” James chuckled.
“Why not?” he exclaimed, affably, and they both dissolved into laughter once more.
By the time the woman had finished bringing out their order, (she'd had to make three trips and drag over a second table to hold some of the plates) the pair were both clutching their sides, tears streaming down their faces.
As the waitress huffed off, they overheard her mumbling under her breath about ‘ridiculous teenagers’. James struggled to compose himself, wiping the tears from his eyes and clearing his throat. He lifted his mug, “To you, Miss Evans, and to ridiculous teenagers everywhere.” They clinked glasses, still giggling slightly, and tucked into the array of delicacies before them.
Soon enough their laughter had cut off completely, replaced with moans of absolute pleasure as they worked their way through sampling all of the dishes.
“Try this one; it tastes like flying feels!”
“I would bathe in this clotted cream.”
“I love you, lemon tart. I would marry you if it were legal in this country.”
All too soon, however, they had both reached their limit and settled back in their seats, heaving contented sighs.
“I can’t believe we just did that,” Lily spoke in a tone of amused disbelief.
James shrugged, his face split by a wide grin. Climbing slowly to his feet, he offered a hand to Lily. She let out a groan, but allowed herself to be pulled up, and the pair waddled forward to the counter where James flashed the surly waitress another innocent smile as he paid their bill.
As they left the shop, the clock was just striking two.
“Let’s go this way,” James announced, nudging Lily down a side alley toward a dark shop with dingy windows. “Have you ever been to Wiseacres?”
She looked up at him, a bit apprehensive, and shook her head.
“It’s fantastic!” James continued, pulling open the door and gesturing for Lily to enter. The dull thud of a tarnished bell announced their arrival, but no one stepped out to greet them.
“What is this place?” Lily asked in a whisper.
“Wiseacres! The guys and I stumbled upon it halfway through fifth year. It’s a great shop, full of all sorts of odds and ends. And the owner - Mr. Wiseacre - is a real card.”
“You best be saying nice things about me, lad,” a heavily accented voice carried out from the back room. “I may be old, but I can still kick your arse!”
James let out a laugh. “Language, Mr. Wiseacre!” he called out. “There’s a lady present!”
A tiny man, nearly doubled over with age, came out through a heavy curtain. He had small patches of wispy white hair and was leaning heavily on a cane. Though he showed all signs of being a tired old man, when he looked up at them, his eyes sparkled with youth.
“Apologies,” the man said, sweeping into a surprisingly agile bow. “Wilford Wiseacre at your service.”
“Lily Evans,” Lily responded with a slight curtsy. “It’s nice to meet you. Your shop is lovely.”
Mr. Wiseacre’s face split into a wide grin. “Why thank you, love. Now tell me, what on Earth are you doing with this rascal? You seem far too nice for the likes of him.”
Lily let out a peal of surprised laughter.
“Too true,” James replied, leaning up against the counter. “But she couldn’t resist my rugged good looks and sparkling wit.”
“Right,” Lily shot back, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “You are such a catch, James Potter.”
The old shopkeeper let out a croaky laugh. “I like her, lad. She’ll keep you honest.”
“Don’t I know it,” James mumbled. Lily smirked at him, barely suppressing the urge to stick out her tongue.
“Now!” Mr. Wiseacre clapped his hands together, “just because I like you so much, I will show you something special.” He reached under the counter and pulled out a battered box. “Open it,” he commanded, pushing the package toward Lily.
James moved to stand behind her as she pulled out what appeared to be an ordinary snow globe.
“Oh, it’s Hogsmeade, how pretty,” Lily said politely, examining the winter scene inside the globe.
“Give it a shake,” Mr. Wiseacre prompted.
Lily did so, gasping in surprise as the entire scene shifted. The buildings and streets remained the same, but the snow melted away, and in its place grew the first buds of a new spring. She shook it again and a shower of flower petals shifted the scene to one of the village at the height of summer. A third shake brought a swirl of tiny autumn leaves and with a fourth, the snow fell once more.
“It’s beautiful,” she exclaimed, slightly breathless.
“I’m glad you like it,” James replied softly, “because it’s yours.”
Lily looked back and forth between James and the shopkeeper in confused disbelief. “What do you mean, it’s mine?”
“I mean,” James said, plucking the snow globe out of her hand and giving it another shake, “that Mr. Wiseacre and I picked it out for you. I came down last weekend, told him all about this beautiful girl that I was taking out, and asked for his help with picking out the perfect gift. We settled on this. I thought you’d like it.”
“James, I can’t take this. It’s too much.” She took the snow globe back from him, returning it to the box and, with a slight look of longing, pushed it back across the counter.
Resting a hand on her shoulder, James leaned forward to look her in the eye. “Please, Lily, let me get this for you. I want you to have something to remember today, even if this is the only date we ever have.”
Lily bit her lip and glanced up at Mr. Wiseacre, as if asking his permission.
“Not to worry, lass. He’s getting a great deal on it,” the old man said with a wink.
She let out a sigh. “Well, I suppose I’m outnumbered, then aren't I? All right, I’ll take it. Thank you, James.” Without warning, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He returned the embrace, marvelling at the situation. He was holding Lily in his arms; all was right with the world. All too soon, however, she pulled away.
“Thank you, too, Mr. Wiseacre.” Lily reached across the counter to place her hand upon his and squeezed gently. “It’s truly beautiful.”
“You’re welcome, love. Enjoy it.”
James discretely passed the old man a few coins before shaking his hand and bidding the shopkeeper good bye.
As they stepped out onto the street, Lily took James’ hand, interlacing her fingers with his.
Though James would have been content to spend the remainder of the afternoon strolling leisurely through the village with Lily by his side, he still had one final surprise in store. Consequently, at five minutes to three, the pair found themselves headed back to the path that led to Hogwarts.
Waiting for them at the foot of that path was a small, horse-drawn carriage.
“What--?” Lily gasped, freezing at the sight. She released James’ hand and swatted him on the arm. “James Potter, you are too much!”
He cast her a quick smile before offering his arm. “Your carriage awaits.”
When the carriage reached the Hogwarts grounds, James quickly leapt out, sweeping gracefully into a deep bow. “May I help you dismount, milady,” he said in his best attempt at a formal voice.
“Thank you, good sir,” Lily responded with a curtsy. As she was rising, James reached up and caught her by the waist, lifting her out of the carriage and spinning her around in a circle. A peal of joyous laughter escaped Lily’s throat before she was safely placed on the ground.
“You’re an idiot, James Potter,” she giggled, resting her hands on his arms to steady herself.
They lingered there, gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, James’ hands still gently holding Lily’s waist, neither wanting to pull away. Lily took a step closer, rising on her toes, and leaned in--
“Stop!” Sirius screamed, jumping to his feet and waving his arms like a mad man. “For the love of God, Prongs, stop! I don’t need to hear about you and Evans snogging, especially not first thing in the morning.”
James sat up and shook his head, momentarily disoriented. It took him a moment to remember that he wasn’t actually outdoors holding Lily in his arms, but was, in fact, in his dormitory in Gryffindor Tower, telling his three best mates about the most perfect date in recorded history. Or, at least it would be, later today, after he had actually had it.
“Sorry, got a bit carried away,” James grinned, ruffling his hair with a hand, “but what did you think? Perfect, right?”
Remus, Sirius, and Peter glanced at one another, and then began talking at once.
“Is that really how you see Lily? I mean, have you met her?”
“What was with that whole pastry thing?”
“The Lily voice was a nice touch. I didn’t realize your voice could go up that high.”
“Did you have to tell the whole thing in the third person?”
“Be sure to tell Lily about her swan-like neck, She’ll love that.”
“And the giggling? Have you ever heard Lily giggle?
“If that’s how you picture Madam Puddifoots, you’re in for a rude awakening.”
“All right, I get it!” James held up his hands in surrender. “But I don’t know; it seemed pretty spot on to me,” he finished, nonchalantly.
The other three Marauders all began talking again, but James wasn’t listening. Instead, he turned his attention to the alarm clock on his night stand.
“Ugh! Five more hours before I’m due to meet Lily. That’s an eternity!” he cried out dramatically, falling back onto his bed and effectively ending his friends’ tirade.
“Yeah, well, all good things come to those who wait, Prongs,” Remus prompted, rolling his eyes.
James didn’t answer, but pulled the covers over his head as Sirius, Remus, and Peter got ready and headed down for breakfast without him.
Once they were gone, he climbed out from between the sheets and crossed over to his trunk. He removed his dark trousers and blue jumper, and laid them on the bed, meticulously smoothing out any creases. He didn’t care what his friends thought.
Today was his date with Lily, and everything was going to be perfect.
To be continued in Murphy’s Law, by WriteYourHeartOut.
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