“Lily!” Amanda squealed as she poked her head into the dorm.
“Hey Manda,” Lily replied, smiling at her friends enthusiasm. She had not managed to see her or Alice on the train as she’d been getting her Head Girl debriefing.
“Head Girl huh?” Amanda asked, her eyes shining.
“Yeah, I could hardly believe it when the letter came; Mum and Dad were so pleased. Best of all though, I get to boss you guys around!” Lily said with a grin.
“So what’s new there then?” Alice’s voice joined in from the doorway where she stood, hands on hips, smiling at her two best friends. “So, who’s to be your partner in crime then?”
Lily groaned and flung herself onto her bed as if the very thought exhausted her.
“God don’t ask,” she moaned. Alice’s eyes lit up.
“It’s James isn’t it!” she crowed. Lily nodded miserably.
“Oh you’re so lucky!” Amanda sighed dreamily.
“There are many words that describe this situation, lucky is not one of them,” Lily replied firmly.
“Oh come on Lils, don’t you think it’s about time you gave him a chance?” Amanda asked, wheedling. She’d been insisting James was perfect for her for over a year now, then again so had Alice but she was a tad cleverer about it.
“I don’t go for the big headed, egotistical pillock look,” Lily said calmly. Alice laughed.
“You just described nearly all of the male population our age honey. You have very limited options left,” she told her. “Besides, you’re lying,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I said I liked him once. Once! It was a moment of weakness, can’t you forget it already!” Lily stressed defensively.
“No,” Alice replied flatly, flicking a bit of fluff off her bed as she sat down.
“You’re meant to be!” Amanda giggled, knowing she was infuriating her friend.
“He’s grown up a lot anyway since last year, I happen to agree with Manda here,” Alice put in whilst Lily glared at Amanda.
It was true too, James seemed to have made a huge effort during the past year to change, and where he was rather less arrogant he also seemed slightly unsure of himself. He no longer had his over-confidence to hide behind; of course this also had to do with the amount of knock-backs from Lily, chasing a girl who persistently turned you down really did nothing for a guy’s ego.
“How’s it going with Frank, Alice?” Lily asked sweetly knowing full well they had had a bit of an argument before the summer holidays.
“Touché!” Alice said, grinning. “I will however graciously accept the, oh so subtle, change of subject because it happens to be going great with Frank and I know when to accept fate has come knocking,” she smirked. Lily laughed and shook her head at her friend.
“How was the summer then?” Amanda asked them both as they all began unpacking. “I watched telly and did nothing better than play tiddlywinks’ tournaments with my six year old brother,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Argued with my sister, did all my homework, was bored, the usual,” Lily replied and Alice nodded her agreement.
The girls all agreed it had been a long day by the time they had finished unpacking and quickly showered and got into bed.
As they called goodnight to each other Lily could not help dwelling on Alice’s flippant comment on Frank and herself. She firmly believed in making your own destiny and hated to think of her life pre planned out before her, just a straight road for her to walk down, after all what was the point in making decisions and having choices if they were already made for you? She didn’t like to admit it to herself but she knew this feeling was definitely part of the reason she had held out on James so long. He had after all been very nice towards her last year and had made a visible effort to stop showing off though he still needed some work in her opinion.
She sighed and rolled over, putting the matter from her mind.
* * *
The next morning the chaotic hilarity she had to deal with within the school was a clear indication that James did indeed have a little way to go yet.
As Head Girl she was bombarded with complaints by what seemed to her every Slytherin in the school, all of them sporting very fetching fluorescent pink hair. There was absolutely no evidence as to who had done this or how but unofficially everyone knew exactly the four who were behind it.
Lily overheard James reassuring a couple of Slytherin third years on her way to the Gryffindor table and had to work hard to hide a smile.
“Oh of course, don’t worry we’re working terribly hard to get to the bottom of this appalling behavior. I’d like to reassure you that Hogwarts frowns deeply upon this sort of thing and the matter is being dealt with to the best of our ability. On the plus side the colour doesn’t look permanent and should wash out in oh say a few days,” James informed them with a big encouraging smile on his face.
Sirius was cracking up at the Gryffindor table, hidden by James from the third years who were scowling heavily, knowing perfectly well they were being mocked.
Turning abruptly, they stormed away, the effect slightly ruined by their hair that you could not look directly at, and joined their table of pink haired house mates.
James sat himself down next to Lily who was working too hard to suppress her amusement to protest.
“Quite uppity today aren’t they?” James commented as if on the weather about the Slytherins to Lily. “Can’t imagine why,” he continued whilst buttering his toast.
“So how’d you do it then?” Lily asked bluntly, frustrated at not being able to work it out herself.
“Do what my dear Head Girl?” he asked sweetly as Lily gave him a withering look.
“Innocence is so not your colour,” she informed him and withdrew from the conversation as Amanda and Alice sat down.
“New look the Slytherins have got going on this morning,” Alice commented as Amanda giggled at the sight of them.
“Yes funny how it’s just them isn’t it?” Lily said dryly, shooting James a look which he studiously ignored.
“What’ve we got first?” Amanda asked.
“Transfiguration,” Alice replied, looking at her timetable. Lily groaned, transfiguration was really not her strong point in her NEWT classes. Alice flashed a grin at her. “Double,” she added and Lily thumped her head down on the table.
* * *
The marauders all filed into the transfiguration classroom and took their usual seats at the back. All were taking the class for NEWT as it was one class they all showed aptitude for.
“You know I can’t work out what Dumbledore was thinking, appointing you Head Boy,” Sirius mused as he took his seat. James grinned.
“Me neither,” he agreed unashamedly.
“Probably under the misguided impression it would teach you some responsibility,” Remus added just before Professor McGonagall began the lesson.
It was great when they had practical lessons, you could easily hold a conversation under cover of the chaos that it always created and today, to the marauders delight, Professor McGonagall announced they would indeed be doing a practical; transfiguring inanimate objects into unrelated live animals, which would almost certainly be on the exam. She then got Marie to hand out some photo frames and told them to get on transfiguring them into rats, ignoring many of the shudders that this inspired from the girls.
“You should be good at this one Wormtail,” Sirius pointed out to Peter as he began trying to transfigure his photo frame. Peter nodded.
“Would hope so wouldn’t you?” he replied, flicking his wand and producing the required effect almost simultaneous to James.
James turned his attention to watching Lily struggle with the spell at the front of the class as Sirius and then Remus managed their own transfigurations. He noted that Lily’s friend Alice had also managed the transfiguration quickly but then she had always been a strong witch.
“You know you should give it up man, you just end up looking desperate,” Sirius told him, looking in the same direction and annoyed James had managed the spell before him.
“Nope, I won’t. This year I’ve got a foolproof plan. I’ve decided I’m going to ignore her, tune it down a lot, you know.” Sirius, Remus and Peter all stared at him.
“Play hard to get you mean?” Peter enquired apprehensively. James mulled it over before finally nodding. Sirius dissolved into peals of laughter.
“You?” he spluttered finally. “Play hard to get? Oh this will be interesting.”
James noted with annoyance that Remus was also laughing hard.
“What? I can do this!” he insisted, only increasing their laughter.
“It’ll be like an experiment, how important are incredible odds anyway?” Remus smirked. “And let’s not forget past record of course.”
“Can we take bets?” Sirius teased.
“You just watch,” James told them as they all three laughed again.
“Quiet at the back there,” Professor McGonagall’s voice cut through the room to them.
All four promptly held up their rats so she could see they had accomplished the task set and half the class glared at them.
“Yes I can see you’ve done the work,” Professor McGonagall said, annoyed. “That does not give you the right, however, to disrupt the rest of my class,” she intoned imperiously.
“Sorry Professor,” they chorused and quieted down until the end of the lesson, writing up the theory behind the spell they had performed.
As the lesson ended, not a second too soon in Lily’s opinion, the marauders quickly made for the door. As James walked through he noticed Lily was right behind him and automatically he held the door open for her. Then he remembered ‘The Plan,’ as it had now been classified, and was mortified he was already breaking it. Quickly he let go of the door as his friends all stared at his odd behavior, though Remus was ahead of the other two and looking highly amused. The door swung back and promptly hit Lily’s forehead as she was just stepping through and James closed his eyes in horror as Lily clapped a hand to her forehead and walked through the door to glare at him.
“Oh my God, I’m really…” He cut off abruptly as he realized again this would be in confliction with ‘The Plan.’ “I mean… I… uh… that is… um…”
“Oh you are such a prick,” Lily snapped before striding past him and mercifully saving him from having to talk. Alice and Amanda followed, shooting him bewildered looks as they passed.
“Great plan,” Remus said casually, cocking an eyebrow.
“Seems to be working stupendously,” Sirius said, a huge grin on his face as Peter laughed. James groaned.
“Let’s just…not talk about it,” he suggested hopefully but knew from the glint in Sirius’ eyes he for one would not be letting it go.
* * *
“Exactly what is his problem?” Lily stormed as she made her way to the Great Hall for lunch with Amanda and Alice who were grinning.
“It’s obvious,” Alice said much to Lily’s annoyance.
“Oldest trick in the book, playing hard to get,” Amanda informed them.
“Admittedly he doesn’t exactly pull it off well,” Alice commented. Lily stared from one to the other.
“How do you know that?” she asked, not for a minute believing they worked that out, it was not that obvious, he had slammed a door in her face, for God’s sake.
“Okay so I heard him in transfiguration,” Alice admitted. “I’d finished but you were both engrossed so I turned my attention to the conversations around, it’s amazing what you can learn in a practical lesson of Transfiguration or Charms.”
“How come you know then?” Lily asked Amanda.
“She told me,” she said with a shrug.
“No-one thought to tell me then, huh,” Lily said as Alice grinned.
“We thought it would be more interesting to watch really. We were so right; I would have paid to see that you know.”
Lily thought it over in her head and had to concede her friends had a point, besides this could be used to her advantage.
“So,” she began slowly, “He’s going to be desperately trying to ignore me, no matter what I do yes?” Both her friends nodded. “Oh this is going to be fun,” she said with a wicked grin.
* * *
The next morning Lily purposefully sat herself down next to James who hastily struck up a conversation with Sirius and ignored her. She couldn’t help a small smile playing around her mouth as she reached for some toast. Remus watched her shrewdly but said nothing.
“Sorry,” she said as she leaned right across James to reach some butter. He gulped as for a second she was pressed against him but she sat back down and calmly buttered her toast and he determinedly put it from his mind. He got up soon after and left the hall.
“Oh you are cruel,” Amanda said unconvincingly as soon as he left, having witnessed the entire thing from across the table. Lily grinned.
“And just think we have to have a private meeting tonight to sort out exactly which prefects to designate what jobs to.” Amanda’s eyes lit up and she laughed.
Lily shot a glance at the Slytherin table and took in their still bright hair. She absently took a bite of her toast as she watched them.
“How did they do it?” she finally burst out but Amanda only shrugged, she could not work it out either.
* * *
James made his way to the classroom Lily and he had agreed to hold the meetings they would have to hold with each other and the prefects in. He was nervous though he would not have admitted it but he rather thought his plan might be having some effect, after all Lily had been friendly enough at breakfast that morning. He had convinced himself that the couple of words she had spoken to him did indeed count as friendly.
She was already there when he walked in.
“Hi,” she said looking up and giving him a brief smile. “Here, I’ve written down a few suggestions, I think I’ve remembered them all but if there’s anything you want to change come see.” She gestured to the parchment that lay on the table in front her and James stepped forward and leaned over it, reading her neat writing.
Lily leaned over next to him and accidentally on purpose brushed his hand as she pointed out who she was not so sure about. She smiled to herself when he gave a small shiver.
“Um yes, I er think that they’re about right,” James said, trying to focus on the problem at hand which was very hard with her standing so close. Lily smiled even more at that, knowing she had paired a Slytherin and a Gryffindor together and wondering whether he would spot it. He didn’t.
“Okay then,” she said, standing straight abruptly and rolling the parchment back up.
“Is that it?” James asked, half relieved and half disappointed she had moved away now.
“Yeah, pretty much. We can meet again next week to discuss any problems and maybe revise a few job allocations.” James nodded. Lily suddenly stepped forward and reaching up gently brushed her thumb down his cheek.
“You had an eyelash,” she said softly by way of explanation, allowing her hand to linger for a moment before pulling back. James opened his mouth to reply.
“Unnggghnn,” was approximately what came out. He wordlessly pointed to the door and then fled. What the hell had he just said? He asked himself furiously as he walked down the corridor. God, Padfoot is going to have a field day, he thought glumly.
* * *
“You should have seen his face!” Lily shrieked later, lying on her bed and laughing with her two best friends. “It was priceless!” Alice grinned.
“Seems plans have a tendency to back-fire don’t they,” she said off-hand and Lily quickly agreed.
“Guys are very gullible when it comes to girls really aren’t they.” Amanda stated mildly.
“So you’re meeting again next week?” Alice asked Lily who was busy erasing names on her parchment and doing the job properly; she nodded absently.
“You must be the only girl I know who can actually wrong foot him, he always seemed so confident with girls,” Amanda mused.
“Yeah,” Lily agreed.
“It’s because they didn’t matter, it’s more than a game with you,” Alice told her astutely. Lily did not reply and for a while all that could be heard was the scratching of her quill.
“Do you think you’ll marry Frank, Alice?” Amanda asked her quite suddenly. They had been dating since Frank left Hogwarts two years ago but had been good friends during their time and everyone had thought they made a great couple. He was two years into his Auror training now and Alice’s friends were quite surprised at how strong they were still going, sure they had their blips but what relationship didn’t?
“Nah,” she said eventually. “Whoever heard of finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with at our age?”
“First for everything,” Lily piped up from her bed. “Besides, you’re lying,” she added teasingly, making Alice laugh.
* * *
“I’m sorry; tell me again what it was you said?” Sirius asked James, finding the situation completely hilarious having just heard a recount of James’ meeting with Lily. James pulled a face at him.
“It wasn’t funny you know,” he told him, knowing he should not have mentioned the incident now.
“Surely it wasn’t that bad?” Peter said encouragingly.
“I imagine it was,” Remus said as James nodded miserably.
“It’s really quite hard to keep this plan going, it’s very complicated,” James said after a moment.
“Things are as simple or as complicated as you make them,” Remus told him cryptically. James considered this for a moment but didn’t think too hard about what he meant.
“I think if I keep at it, it could work though, I mean it is working…I think,” James said.
“Sure Prongs, sure,” Sirius said with his bark like laugh. James put the matter out of mind and started an intense conversation about Quidditch with Sirius. Remus gazed thoughtfully at his friend and opened his mouth as if to say something but changed his mind and closed it again, some lessons had to be learned the hard way he decided.
* * *
The following week passed quickly, Lily was often busy helping first years find their way around the huge castle or trying to keep order in the corridors with James backing her up. She did not even have time to find time to tease James but soon the day she had arranged to meet him in the meetings classroom came around and she smiled to herself as she strode along the corridor to the room.
She found James was already there and sitting down at one of the desks. She pulled a seat out from the desk in front and turned it so she could sit opposite him, pulling the parchment out that she had been working on last week and placing it in front of him.
“Okay if you look at the arrows, they’re the people I think we should change,” she informed him, looking straight at him but he did not raise his head.
“You put a Gryffindor and a Slytherin together?” he asked incredulously, staring at her. Did I forget to change that? Lily thought to herself.
“Um, it was an experiment,” she said and surprisingly James let it go. “Here let me see.” She deliberately stood so she could lean right over the desk to peer at the parchment upside down. Leaning on her hands across the desk she watched James out of the corner of her eye.
James had been looking her in the eye but as she leaned over his eyes flickered down. Hastily he averted them though and resolutely looked at the parchment. Lily stood and walked around the desk so she could sit next to him on the pretence she was finding it hard to read upside down.
“So, you think she should go with him then?” she asked James, pointing at who she meant whilst scooting closer. She turned her head to look at him.
“Um…” James said, looking at her and thinking how close their heads were. Thoughts of ‘The Plan’ swam around his head but in the end logic failed to triumph his inner struggle.
To hell with this, he thought and before he could change his mind he swiftly closed the narrow gap between them. Their lips met and to James it was like he had finally done it. He was kissing Evans, Lily Evans. Lily who he had fancied since what seemed the first day they had met. And to his immense surprise he found she was kissing him back. It was times like these he wished he had something like a timeturner so he could go back to this moment, make it last forever.
Lily was not entirely sure how it happened, one minute she was looking into his deep brown eyes, the next his lips were pressed against hers and they were so soft and warm. Really it was only reflex to kiss him back, she reasoned.
Slowly they broke apart and James stared at Lily as she sat back.
“Okay, what…how… why did you, I mean we um…” Lily trailed off as he grinned at her.
“I didn’t think it’d be that successful,” James said, referring to ‘The Plan.’ Lily rolled her eyes and did not reply, still trying to figure out exactly what had just happened and what it meant.
“What the hell just happened?” she finally asked him.
“Well, it went something like this,” James replied, leaning forward once again but Lily quickly stood up and backed up a couple of steps.
“Whoa, oh no, nuh uh,” she said, shaking her head. James stood too. “This is not supposed to go this way!”
“Funny, this is exactly the way I hoped it would go,” James said. Lily paused for a moment, running her mind over the confused thoughts in her head. Okay so she had liked the kiss, and fine she would not mind doing it again but it was the principal of the thing!
“Do you believe in destiny?” she asked him suddenly. He stared at her.
“No, wait yes…I don’t know, would you like me to believe in destiny?” he ventured. She smiled at that. He took a step towards her and she took a half step back.
“How did you manage to dye the Slytherins’ hair pink?” she asked. He smiled and took half a step towards her; she did not move.
“It was easy,” he boasted lightly. “Slipped in some hair dye pellets into their pumpkin juice before the feast, wizard dye not muggle, you know no messing around for hours with foil, just swallow a pellet. Added a time-lock charm so it wouldn’t go off until they were sleeping, that way no-one has time to say any counter spells as it’s setting in and voila, pink hair to wake up to.” She had to smile, it was simple but effective, though the time-lock would have been difficult to cast.
James was only standing one step away. He inched forward a little and again Lily stayed where she was.
“You’ve still got edges that need smoothing,” she told him, a faintly desperate undertone to her voice.
“I like my edges thanks very much,” he replied, slightly indignant. So did she but she would never admit it. He closed the distance between them and cupped her face in one of his hands, tilting it upwards, and looked into her brilliant green eyes. She was faintly smiling now and made no resistance.
“Do you think-” she began but he cut her off.
“Hmm?” she replied, humoring him.
“Shut up,” he instructed and leaned down to kiss her again. His lips met hers for the second time that day but she quickly pulled her head back slightly, grinning up at him.
“I just want to make it clear that I chose-” she started to say but found his mouth once more pressed to hers. She smiled into the kiss and this time held it. She reached up, entwining her fingers in his hair as he pulled her as close as possible, allowing the intensity to grow as she returned the kiss eagerly. After all, she thought reasonably, how could destiny be wrong when it felt this right?
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