For a few moments, neither of them moved, each lost in his or her own thoughts of what this means. Suddenly, Lily jumped off the bed and bolted out of the room.
“Lily!” James cried, following her. He saw her dashing down the stairs and then up to the girls’ dorms. He hurried after her.
When he finally reached the sixth year girls’ dorms, he stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway. Lily was crumpled into a heap on the floor, clutching the end of a trunk for support.
“Lily?” James whispered, cautiously stepping into the room and getting ready to run in case Lily decided to take out her feelings on him. He had seen what a temper she had, and he had no desire to face it at this particular moment.
He crept closer to her and saw the inscription on top of the trunk she was holding. “Hermione Granger,” he read.
“This was my bed!” Lily muttered. “I wanted to find that it was all some sort of joke you and your dumb friends cooked up. But, no! This is really happening, isn’t it?” Lily turned her face up to his, pleading with him to say she was wrong.
James, however, was speechless. Lily had tears running down both of her cheeks, and was looking at him with an imploring expression in her eyes. He almost gasped. Lily Evans never cried. She looked so vulnerable at that moment that James wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around her.
‘WHAT? Have you lost your mind? This is Lily Evans we’re talking about! You know, the girl you’re supposed to hate?’ James shook his head to clear away his thoughts.
He knelt down beside her and gently slid an arm around her shoulders. Lily started to lean into him, but suddenly came to her senses and jerked out of his reach. She turned to him with her whole face flaming red, wearing a furious expression. At any other time, James would have commented on her uncanny resemblance to a rather ripe tomato, but this was one of the rare occasions he knew to keep his mouth shut.
“You!” Lily screamed. “This is all your fault! If you hadn’t been stupid enough to turn that dial, we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place! And how dare you touch me!”
James was taken aback. He had never seen Lily this angry, even at him. He tried to reason with her. “Don’t blame it entirely on me! After all, you were the one who found it! Admit it, you were probably going to turn it anyway once you were in your own room.”
“WHAT? I WAS NOT! UNLIKE A CERTAIN SELF-CENTERED JERK, I ACTUALLY THINK BEFORE I ACT!”
Lily was on her feet now, with both of her fists clenched at her sides.
James felt his own anger boiling up, but realized that they were getting nowhere acting like this.
“Evans, come on, we aren’t going to solve the problem this way. Let’s go find Dumbledore. Maybe he can tell us how to get out of this whole mess.”
Lily drew in a few deep breaths and nodded. “Yeah.” No matter how much she wanted to continue to blame James, she had to admit that he was right. There was plenty of time for arguing after they got back to their own time.
The two of them headed down the stairs and out of the common room, marveling at how, for the most part, Gryffindor Tower hadn’t changed much in twenty years.
“Guess Dumbledore’s not too big on remodeling,” James remarked.
This made Lily pause in the middle of the hallway. “Um, Potter? How do we know that Dumbledore’s still Headmaster?”
James also halted. “We don’t. We can only hope so.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Oh, that’s great. Just wonderful.”
James sighed. “There’s only one way to find out. Come on.” He led the way to Dumbledore’s office, and stopped upon reaching the statue of the extremely ugly gargoyle.
As James and Lily were contemplating whether or not to knock or just wait until someone found them, a familiar voice behind them said, “Ah. I see that I have visitors.”
The two teenagers turned around and gaped at the sight before them. The two adults were equally shocked. Then, with a resounding thud, the woman fainted dead away onto the floor.
Dumbledore recovered his composure first. “James and Lily? But…how?” he questioned.
Neither of the two teens answered. They were still reeling from the shock of seeing McGonagall, a twenty-year-older McGonagall at that, faint.
Finally, Dumbledore said, “Let’s go into my office and talk about this in private, shall we?”
James and Lily nodded numbly.
“Levitatus!” Dumbledore cried, and McGonagall’s still form rose from the ground. It floated ahead of them as Dumbledore said the password, “Lemon drop,” and they entered into a spacious room. On one side of the wall, there was a cluttered desk with assortments of parchment, pictures, and miscellaneous objects. Various diplomas hung on the wall, displaying Dumbledore’s many accomplishments. A large bird was perched on a stand next to several overstuffed couches and easy chairs.
Dumbledore gestured toward two of the chairs and lowered McGonagall’s unconscious figure onto one of the couches. James and Lily both took a seat as far away from each other as possible.
“Now, would either of you like to explain what’s going on?” Dumbledore asked.
Lily told him the whole story, making sure to emphasize the fact that it had been James who had turned the dial on the object. Upon hearing this statement repeated yet again, James’s earlier sympathy for Lily vanished, replaced with his usual detest. However, he did not interrupt, for he did feel a certain amount of guilt.
“…And it read Hermione Granger where my trunk should have been. So we decided to try and find you,” Lily concluded.
James snorted. Of course Lily hadn’t mentioned the fact that she had broken down and cried, or that she had only wanted to stand around and argue pointlessly. And she seemed to have conveniently forgotten that it did been he, and not them that had thought of going to find Dumbledore.
The headmaster seemed to detect some missing parts of the story, as well, and turned to James with amusement in his eyes. “Is that what happened, James?”
“More or less,” James muttered, not really wanted to go into it right now. Better keep it bottled up and unleash it all later with Lily getting the brunt of it.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled merrily, and then he suddenly turned serious. “Words can not express how much I have missed two of the best students this school has even seen,” he said softly. Lily could have sworn she saw tears in the old headmaster’s eyes.
Professor McGonagall choose that moment to return to consciousness, and when she saw who was in the room along with Dumbledore and herself, she almost fainted again. “So it was the two of you,” she whispered. “My eyes weren’t playing tricks on me after all.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, it is truly Lily and James. They discovered a Time-Turner and have traveled across a span of twenty years.”
McGonagall gasped. “But…but that means they’re only…”
“…sixteen,” Dumbledore finished. “Ah, I remember quite clearly how they acted towards each other at that age.” He winked at McGonagall, who, through her daze, managed a weak smile back.
Lily and James were confused. At that age, Dumbledore had said. Did that mean their feelings changed? Lily shook her head. No, that was impossible. James Potter would always be the world-class jerk in her eyes.
Catching James’s look of disdain, she knew he felt the same way. Yes, that was how things would always be. And she liked it that way.
James’s voice cut into her thoughts. “How are we going to get back, Professor Dumbledore?”
Dumbledore looked startled but got over it quickly. “I keep forgetting that in your time, you and Mrs.—er, Ms.—Evans still attend Hogwarts. Please forgive me. Now what was it you asked?”
James repeated the question.
Dumbledore looked shocked. “Why, through the Time-Turner, of course. You do have it with you, right?”
James and Lily looked at each other with alarm. They recalled fighting over it, James had turned the dial and then that horrible headache had overwhelmed them. Come to think of it, Lily couldn’t remember seeing the Time-Turner at all after the pain had stopped. She had been too disturbed by the different surroundings to bother thinking about it.
“Um, we’re not sure, Professor,” Lily replied worriedly.
“Well, was hanging on one of your wrists or necks or anything?” Dumbledore inquired.
“No,” James said slowly, looking at the faces of the two professors and immediately wished he hadn’t. McGonagall’s expression was bordering panic, and Dumbledore was looking unusually grim.
“But you can send us back without it, right?” Lily quickly added, searching their faces for a reaction.
Dumbledore’s face slowly turned to meet hers and she already knew the answer before he spoke. “I’m afraid not, Lily.”
James and Lily’s faces fell, and both felt the despair and hopelessness of the situation. Here they were, trapped twenty years out of their own time, with no evident way to get back.
Dumbledore’s voice broke through their thoughts. “Well, I guess we might as well make the best out of the circumstances. The two of you are exchange students from America who are visiting our school, so try not to look so glum. Professor McGonagall and I will see to arrangements and robes for you. Try not to worry. We’ll figure out a solution, somehow.”
James and Lily nodded, for what else could they do? They might as well pose as students, and try their best to be cheerful.
“Minerva, would you kindly see that two extra beds and trunks are placed in the sixth year Gryffindor rooms?”
McGonagall nodded, and was making her exit when Dumbledore called her back. “But first, we need to do something about this hair of his,” he said, gesturing to James’s wild mop.
“Oh, yes of course. I’m afraid there would be much confusion otherwise.”
With sparkling eyes, Dumbledore asked, “Would you do the honors, Minerva?” The headmaster knew that James Potter’s untamed hair was one of the many things about him that had annoyed her during his time at Hogwarts.
She gladly accepted. Stepping back inside the room, she started walking towards him.
James was thoroughly confused. Why did they need to change his hair? He liked his hair the way it was. Involuntarily, he took a few steps back, as if that would protect him against whatever spell McGonagall was about to cast.
Lily, on the other hand, was finding the whole situation utterly hilarious. When she saw the horrified expression on James’s face, she almost doubled over with laughter, tears of mirth trailing down her cheeks.
James shot a killer glare her way, but unfortunately for him, McGonagall chose this exact moment to cast the spell. As James was too busy shooting death rays at Lily, he failed to notice the sparks of light headed for his hair until it was too late.
The glimmering spell embedded itself in his hair, and it looked as if his whole head was a golden ball of light.
This did it for Lily, who sank to the ground, clutching her stomach from the pain of too much laughter.
Only when the glowing finally subsided, did Lily dare to look at James. What she saw made her mouth drop open in amazement. James’s hair was no longer hanging in untidy clumps, but smoothed to either side of his head, with a wave of it falling diagonally across his forehead. It was actually neat, as opposed to being its usual tangled, unmanageable mess.
‘He is…’ Lily forced herself to leave the thought unfinished.
Seeing Lily’s stunned expression, James turned to McGonagall and grinned. “Professor, could you possibly teach me the spell? Something that can keep Evans quiet for this long has to be good, right?”
Finally, Lily recovered from her shock. “I’m just surprised that the spell actually affected that jungle you called hair.”
The two professors glanced at each other knowingly.
“So, anyway,” Lily cleared her throat, becoming uncomfortable with the silence, “why did James have to change his hair again?”
“Let’s just say that there would be a few…identity issues otherwise,” McGonagall replied, but both her and Dumbledore refused to divulge any further. “You’ll see,” was all they would say.
“Speaking of identities, Lily, I think something needs to be done about those eyes of yours. They are a rather startlingly shade of green, are they not?”
Lily started to back away in horror. “Uh-uh. No way. Not my eyes!” Lily cried, forgetting that this was the headmaster she was talking to. Even though James and his gang had teased her on numerous occasions about being a “Green-eyed Monster”, she still loved her unique eyes. All of her friends also thought the color was quite pretty.
“What do you think, Minerva?”
“It definitely does not present as big of a problem as James’s hair did. It would be wise to alter them, but seeing as how Lily is quite appalled at the idea, I say leave them be.”
“Very well, then. Lily, your eyes stay green.”
Lily almost collapsed with relief at this.
James, on the other hand, was not as pleased. “That surely can’t be fair!” he exclaimed. “So why did my hair have to be changed?”
Again, Dumbledore and McGonagall evaded the question.
“Well, since that’s taken care of, I shall see to the arrangements.” And the Transfiguration teacher hurried away.
After she left, Dumbledore turned his attention back to the two students. “Now then, we need to do something about your names.”
Neither Lily nor James questioned Dumbledore this time, because they knew that they weren’t going to get a straight answer. Instead, they merely listened as Dumbledore selected new names for them.
“You, Lily Evans, are now Lillian Parker.”
He then turned to James. “And you, James Potter, are now Jonathan Whitman.”
Both James and Lily tried out their new names, sounding them out. Seeming satisfied, they turned back to Dumbledore.
“Now, remember, many of the older professors may receive quite a shock to see you. Please try to refrain from giving them too much trouble. Especially Professor S—” Dumbledore thought better of finishing the name. “Well, you’ll find out who I mean soon enough. Professor McGonagall should be just about done with your rooms. Come.”
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