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Chapter 1 : Baby Steps
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“...Hello? Oh, Prongsies? Merlin, it’s like talking to a bloody brick wall with this one...”
Once again, James Potter was stood stock still in the Transfiguration corridor, entranced by the beautiful redhead that had just walked by him. Lily Evans was the most amazing thing he’d ever seen. Every day, when she glanced at him, or brushed his arm in the corridor, or yelled abuse at him... his heart lifted like a phoenix was carrying it to heaven every time the thought crossed his mind.
“Mm? Yeah, brilliant, yeah...” he replied, still in a daze at the glint of sunlight dancing off her hair.
“Sure about that? Just ‘cause we were talking about maybe trying that new hair loss herb in your drink at dinner. Well, if you say so...” his friend trailed off.
James grabbed his friend’s tie violently. “Padfoot, if I moult so much as a strand from now on,” James threatened, “so help me Merlin, I will set Moony on you next week!”
“Very funny.” Remus grumbled, although none of the other three boys really paid any attention. They knew Moony hated himself for who he was, but seeing as they didn’t care, they pretended not to notice when he moaned at their teasing.
“What do we have after lunch?” Peter inquired. The small boy had never been the centrepiece of the group, but he didn’t mind. He was never a memorable face; passers-by would never have guessed he was as close to them as he was.
“Charms – or as we prefer to know it, the hour in which Prongs is so infatuated with his partner we may as well be mates with a Flobberworm!” Sirius replied, chuckling to himself. James said nothing – after all, he knew it was true. The four continued down to lunch, joking and laughing as they descended the great marble staircase.
Charms went as per usual, with James almost physically unable to string together a coherent sentence due to the fact Lily was partnering him. This was unfortunate, as they were supposed to be practising Warming Charms on each other, a spell that required a rather complicated incantation. Professor Flitwick had cooled the room down, so with his dazedness adding to the shivering, James had missed Lily and turned Harvey Whitestone’s nose into a blue rhinoceros horn. Whilst being showered under a tsunami of apology by James, the unfortunate boy was led to the Hospital Wing by Professor Flitwick, leaving the room teacher-less.
“So,” said Sirius rather tactlessly, “decided for definite yet if you’re ever going to snog Prongs, Evans?” Lily was, at that point, retrieving her wand, which she’d dropped in shock at the ‘Whitestone Incident’, and so had her head under the desk – a rather regrettable set of circumstances – for Sirius, at least.
“YOU WH – ah, damn it,” she cursed, as the distinct sound of head hitting wood was heard. She slowly clawed her way to standing, and produced a look of so much concentrated hate that Sirius was tempted to check if there was a hole being burnt through his face. A blush rose on her cheeks, so strong it was visible even through the now magenta mask covering her complexion; she hoped Sirius assumed it was due to her anger. Seeing as they didn’t comment, it seemed that was what had happened.
Another few seconds had passed, so Lily felt the need to re-assert her anger. She drew in a deep breath in anticipation, and as her chest swelled, the boys seemed to shrink, almost comically trying to hide behind each other. She would have laughed to see them squirm like this if she wasn’t so furious. “If you so much as DREAM about that subject again, Black, I swear on Merlin’s toenails I will SHAVE YOUR PRISSY LITTLE HEAD WHILE YOU SLEEP!” she roared. All four boys, and practically the whole of the classroom, fell off their seats at the sheer level of fury emanating from the shrieking voice. With her irate face and vivid hair, it could almost have been assumed that her ire had set her whole head on fire, but not even Sirius would have dared to say so.
At that point, Professor Flitwick made his re-entry, and everyone tried to act like nothing had happened – although Lily found it harder than most, seeing as she was still panting in anger, and her complexion was still fuchsia. She clearly didn’t fancy James at all – clearly! She just liked the way he laughed, and felt happy to watch him study in the common room in the evenings, the firelight winking off his jet-black hair as he bent over his books. Of course, he didn’t need to study, because he was so talented anyway...
But I definitely don’t fancy him. Obviously. Yeah.
However, the emotion running through most of the students’ minds was disappointment- it was common knowledge among the staff and students, even the First Years – that James Potter was desperate to get a date with Lily Evans, and many had been excited to finally get a look-in on whether this would finally happen, or whether James’ hopes were to be dashed for good. At least, thought Sirius, while Remus sat next to him still quietly chuckling at Lily’s facial expression, some sort of answer would have finally shut Prongs up. He’d been obsessed with the woman since second year, and, unlike most, hadn’t had the decency to keep it under his cocky little hat. Most of the Marauders no longer cared about whether James ended up with Lily or not (except perhaps Remus); they just wanted James to shut up one way or another.
Thankfully, the bell rang at that moment, and with Professor Flitwick squeaking instructions for homework to their deaf ears, every student hurtled for the door.
“What the ruddy hell was that for, you prat?!” James yelled at Sirius, punching him on the arm as hard as he could.
“Seventh Year is going by so fast, don’t you think?” Sirius remarked, trying to ignore the abuse and get James to change the subject.
At that moment, Lily walked past them, slamming into Sirius as hard as she could. He definitely deserved it, after all, after what that git said about her in front of all her friends...
Sirius seized his opportunity, not really thinking ahead about his possibly flawed plan.
As Lily turned the corner, he stuck his foot out, tripping her so she fell headlong into the disused Transfiguration classroom, sprawling onto the floor as though she had been dropped from a great height. Before anyone could say or do anything, Sirius grabbed a fistful of James’ hair and flung him into the classroom with her, before slamming and locking the door from the outside. They were trapped.
“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU DOING, YOU ARSE?” Lily screamed, hammering on the door so hard Sirius backed away in fear that the glass pane would shatter over his face.
“Uh, uh!” he scolded patronizingly. “Nobody’s coming out of there until you either want to snog or hex each other’s faces off!”
“What, so we’re trapped until Evans either agrees to go out with me or turns me down forever?” James said, rather dumbly Lily thought. Wasn’t that obvious?
“You got it, kid!”
Both were unequivocal in their response.
Lily seemed blind with rage. She threw her bag down onto the floor and punched the wall, although she began to hiss profanities under her breath when she felt her knuckles crunch against the hard stone. She leant her forehead against the wall, thinking hard about the situation, and James. A small, yet slightly dumb smile crept onto her face.
NO! That was a grimace of anger and frustration! Yeah. Of course it was... yeah. Yeah.
James was more reserved in his response, letting out a deep sigh and running his hand through his tangled hair. He couldn’t deny it – he was actually quite pleased with Sirius’ actions. At last, he would know whether Lily liked him or not! He was constantly being confused by her actions- one minute she would be screaming at him about how much of a prat he was, then the next she would be sharing a joke with him in the common room. It was frying his brain to try and understand her feelings about him, and now he would finally get an answer.
“I can’t hear anything in there...” Sirius said in a sing-song tone from the locked door.
“Ugh! I literally want to punch him until his perfect little face looks like a troll’s backside!” growled Lily. Her vision felt glazed with fury; she was that close to trying the new explosion charm on the lock – and then maybe Sirius...
“Well, then,” said James, in an air of forced nonchalance, “shall we talk?”
By this time, Lily had thrown herself onto a chair, throwing her head into her arms and laying on the desk. She couldn’t see any way out of this – she couldn’t blow the door off or she’d be in detention for the next decade, she couldn’t just sit here in silence because she know Sirius was just that stubborn, and she would probably end up either wetting herself or starving to death.
“Fine!” she half-groaned, half-sighed. This was going to be painful.
“Well, Evans,” James began, “ I suppose you know that I’ve kinda been fancying you for about... five years now? Yeah, since second year, so that’s five. Counting yesterday, that makes... eeh... fourteen times I’ve proposed to you, and the ninth time you’ve slapped/punched/kicked me in response. So, I think it’s pretty sure how I want this conversation to go. The question is, what about you?”
Well, this was a first. For one of the smartest in her year, for the first time, Lily Evans was stumped. She couldn’t turn around to the crazy, love-sick boy behind her and tell her she hated him, because she didn’t. However, she couldn’t turn around and tell him that she wanted to snog his face off, because she didn’t want to do that either.
Well, actually – NO!
“You what?” she gasped in horror, as she span around, falling off her chair. “I didn’t... I didn’t say that out loud, did I?”
He nodded. Catatonic with shock, she couldn’t bring herself to get off the stone floor.
“Bollocks.” She began to really think now, because after James had heard the inner workings of her mind, she couldn’t leave him with half the equation. She had to give him the full answer; make sure he didn’t misunderstand.
“Well, Potter...,” Lily began hesitantly, “I don’t really know. I mean, like you heard me say, I don’t hate you. Most of the time, I mean. But then again, I don’t love you like you me, and I know it hurts for me to say that, but it’s the truth.” James went to interrupt her speech, to tell her she didn’t need to worry, that he was fine with things the way they were. “No, James. I need to say this. Don’t stop me.”
As she spoke, Lily moved across many topics, all the while trying to come to a decision over the boy in front of her. She spoke about all the times she saw James, and talked to him, and had any sort of interaction with him. More importantly, she began to consider what she felt in those times. As she did this, her eyes never left James’. She felt as though she was having to explain herself, rather than weighing up her opinions. She knew he was listening to her every word, and she was extremely careful about what she said, because no matter how annoyed she sometimes got at him, she really didn’t mean any malice towards James. Some things, however, just seemed to slip out by accident.
James stared wide in open shock, his mouth hanging slack with amazement. Never in his life had he heard her speak so much in one go, even during lessons when she got excited about a particular spell or potion. She spoke looking directly into his eyes; it felt like she was speaking to his soul almost. He must have listened for over an hour, and he wasn’t sure if Sirius was there anymore, or whether he’d given up and decided to check the next morning instead. The boy heard her speak about her first impressions of him – how she thought he was clever, but pretentious (and basically a bit of an arse). Next she moved on to his pranks. She seemed to decide she wasn’t too pleased they took place, but had to admit they were impressive – and rather funny. Then, finally, she moved onto the drum-roll...
“... and so now I guess I have to make a decision. I mean, when you brush past me in the corridor I get a tingly feeling in my arm and it feels good, but I never know why. I’ve always liked it when you ruffle your hair; it’s almost like you’re worried you don’t look very good but you do. I think you look nice all the time. Even when I get angry at you guys - like earlier in Transfiguration - it’s never because of what you did, it’s mostly because of Sirius and him pratting about, but I suppose you’re always involved in the pranks. You never actually hurt anyone, though! Like I said, they are actually quite funny, even though I’m supposed to be all disapproving, being Head Girl and all that, but it doesn’t work like that because when I see you I feel happier, and when you laugh I can’t help but laugh too, and you’re one of my best friends. Whenever I’m in trouble, you help me out and you fix it - I remember every detail because you’re such a hero - but I like that about you; I like everything about you because you’re perfect and lovely. I guess - in the end all I’m trying to really say is that – sigh - well, James, I fancy you.”
Silence. It felt like her announcement was a real person, a being who occupied the room and refused to leave.
Suddenly, the strangest thing began to occur. She could no longer deny it. For so long, she had been telling herself she hated James Potter; she never recognised when that annoyance at his silly jokes and outrageous pranks became affection. Lily felt like the flame-red of her hair was spreading heat all the way down to her toes, and as she peeked up to where James stood four feet away from her the warmth intensified. Her voice no longer had the tone of contemplation and indecision running through it, but of confidence.
“Yeah. I fancy you.”
“Bloody hell.” James hadn’t spoke since he asked Lily to start talking, and that was about two hours ago. He was deeply confused – his brain felt like scrambled egg that had been stamped on, although the majority of his mind was cheering and dancing in victory.
Lily Evans had admitted she fancied him.
With one more look, each gazing deep into the eyes of the other, in unison they crossed the distance with two quick strides and kissed deeply. Both had never been so happy.
James Potter had finally gotten his girl.
A few minutes later they broke away, breathing heavily but not releasing the hold they had on each other. James lowered himself onto the desk behind him, pulling Lily with him so they were sat side-by-side.
“So...,” James began. He had waited for this for so long, dreamt about it constantly, imagined it countless times, but now the moment was here, he couldn’t seem to manage it. He took a deep breath, resembling Lily after her absent–minded ramblings a moment earlier.
“Be my girlfriend... Lily?”
It was the first time he had ever called her by her first name. The realisation sent a jolt of shock through her body, but it felt magnificent.
He took her hand gently, waiting for her to react and shove him away. She never did.
As the couple rose from the desk, they walked slowly towards the door. James couldn’t stop himself from simply staring, marvelling at the pure beauty in the face of his new girlfriend. Lily stared at the floor, bashful. She could almost see the happiness radiating from James’ body as they reached the door. He couldn’t bring himself to withdraw his arms from her, not even to knock on the door – so instead, Lily heard from behind her, “PADFOOOOT! OPEN THE DOOR BEFORE I BREAK YOUR LOVELY LITTLE NOOOOSE!”
“AND WHY IN THE NAME OF MERLIN’S SOCKS SHOULD I DO THAT?”
James sighed. “Shall I?” he enquired.
Lily contemplated this – did she really want Sirius to know so soon that they were going out? Wait, she mentally corrected, why do I even care what he thinks?
“Go for it.”
“BECAUSE SHE SAID YES, YOU PRAT!”
The door flew open and crashed against the wall, causing pieces of plaster to settle on the stone floor. Sirius stood in the frame, his face one of pure anguish. Usually, perfect, his hair stuck out at odd, tangled angles as he clawed at it mournfully. A single tear rolled down his tanned cheeks. Man, the guy can act, thought Lily.
“What? What did you say?”
“I don’t want to hear it! How could you?” Sirius spat. “I thought you LOVED ME!”
Sirius collapsed onto the ground, in overly-dramatic tears. Wailing, James threw himself on top of the shuddering form of his best friend, trying desperately to splutter out an apology. The stammers of “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me” soon turned to howls of laughter, however, when Sirius began to violently tickle James near his ribs. In a tangle of limbs, hair and profanities, the pair continued to struggle like this until they both had struggled to their feet, panting and aching but otherwise unharmed.
“PRONGS, I’M SO SORRY!” Sirius bawled in fake agony.
“HOW COULD I EVER DECIEVE YOU LIKE THAT? YOU KNOW YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE FOR ME, PADFOOT!” James said, running towards his friend until they embraced the way you only saw in a movie, sobbing and rocking.
Lily looked on the scene, thoroughly amused by the evening’s events. She knew Sirius and James fooled around a lot, but she’d never seen them go full-out insane like that. By the look on Remus’ and Peter’s faces, however, she could tell that this wasn’t an entirely original turn of events. Rolling his eyes, at Lily, Remus said, “Alright, lovebirds. I’m starving, and if you don’t stop trying to snog each other we’re going to miss dinner, and that is not going to happen!” Peter agreed, and, with the type of easy grace that comes only from years of practise, they both took one of the sobbing pair under the arms, hoicked them from the floor and dragged them from each other’s arms.
Finally back to normal, James had casually laid his arm across Lily’s shoulders as they approached the Great Hall for dinner. He seemed so at ease, Lily thought, as though he had been preparing this move for years. She realised, with slight shock, that that probably was the case.
The group continued through the mostly empty castle, walking the corridors and staircases with an air of slight mourning. This was their seventh year; the last chance they would ever get to hang out together in the common room at night, eat way too much at the feasts, and break the record for the amount of detentions received by a single student in a year. The somewhat poignant atmosphere continued until Sirius broke the silence with a thought he’d being pondering for a while.
“So, Lils, finally gave up the fight, huh?” Sirius asked, his voice laced with both relief and defeat. He knew that his friend had wanted this for years, and was glad he would finally shut up about ways he could finally get together with Lily, but at the same time, Sirius also knew that he had lost a part of his friend. James now had another person to confide in, and share a joke with, whereas Sirius did not. The boy knew he should have been happy, but it was hard when he realised he’d lost a small part of his friend to Lily. It reminded him of Reg, who’d always been the favourite of his parents (not that he’d ever want to be something those arses liked), and had gone into Slytherin, and been a lovely little pureblood like expected, but had always stayed on friendly terms with Sirius. He’d never turned on him like his other family, and had often stood up for him when his mother had tried to curse him at home. Then fifth year came for Reg, and he’d slowly stopped saying ‘hi’ in the Great Hall at mealtimes, and giving him friendly smiles in the corridor. He’d instead slowly started to hang out with Snivellus, Rookwood and the rest of the Slytherin slimeballs the school knew spent their lunch hours throwing fatal curses and dark magic around the seventh-year bathrooms – for a joke. He’d lost his brother to dark magic last year and, although he knew James would never stray down that path, the feeling was much the same to Sirius. He wouldn’t be able to cope if he lost James because, as much as he liked Lily, and as much as he knew the kid really did love her, he was like his brother. He couldn’t go through that again. He wouldn’t go through that again.
They were just outside the Great Hall now, and they could hear the clattering of china and silverware over the endless babble of young voices. James seemed extremely interested in the answer to this question, as he suddenly worried about her reasons for saying yes. Was it really because he’d pressured her into it? He knew he loved her, but he hated the idea of forcing her into dating him if she didn’t want to. Lily, however, seemed to be coming to a conclusion at last with her answer.
“Nah. I haven’t given up anything. And I may have lost this battle by giving in to James, but I will win the war.”
And, with a wicked glint in her eye that wasn’t exactly reassuring for the Marauders, she walked into the Hall for dinner, a sprightly spring in her step.
So this has been the result of a few days of editing and re-arranging the version I previously had on the site here - I hope you guys like it more now! Please give me a review if you can to let me know what you think of it, because I’d really appreciate it – they make my day J
Please let me know if you find any typos or errors, because although I have proof-read it, that was at about eleven at night and so I wasn’t the most alert ;)
Huge thanks to keyty_, my new beta reader – you’re lovely and I really appreciate everything you’ve done so far!
All characters belong to J.K. Rowling and we love her for it!
Please review and I hope you enjoyed it!
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