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Chapter 11 : Chapter 11
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Lily and James spoke in painfully polite tones, and only when the situation absolutely, completely and totally required it. James still couldn’t figure out exactly what he’d said wrong, but he decided that perhaps distance was the best remedy, especially when she looked at him with such pointed distaste, much like the glares she had given him back in 5th year, when he had been at his worst.
The homework started to pile up and even Sirius and James could occasionally be found in the Library, finishing off assessments, much to the surprise of everyone.
It started to get colder too, the onset of autumn upon them. Lily always thought autumn was the best time of year, spring and summer were over rated, she loved the palate of autumn. Deep golds and reds, true Gryffindor colours, she thought to herself airily.
She herself was relaxing in front of the fireplace, book in hand, the afternoon sun flitted in through the high windows of Gryffindor tower, curled up on the couch her mind on anywhere but the events of her summer.
Potter stomped in with Sirius, splattered with mud, both looking windswept and sweaty, she sighed and looked down at her book. Their ‘relationship’ (and she used the term lightly), had become, if possible, even more strained than it had been in previous years, now that she had to view him as an equal, someone who attracted the same respect as she did, she could only do it grudgingly.
She knew she’d been harsh with Potter, knew that she’d hurt him, she could see it in his eyes every time they met face to face, he was always the first to look away, make some lame excuse as to where he had to be and shuffle off, looking utterly dejected. But that had only served to make her more incensed for making her feel guilty.
He should keep his nose out of other people’s business. Especially hers. He had no right to ask what had happened with Thurston. No right. And now he didn’t even have the decency to be shirking his responsibilities! No, he was the perfect picture of responsibility, the whole school bending to his whim, as they always had, fawning around him like besotted school girls. It didn’t matter that he didn’t go out of his way to attract the attention anymore, not to her anyway. Not when he let his mouth run off and ask things that were none of his business.
Lily hadn’t told a soul about what had happened with Thurston, she tended to repress that memory with sick, queasy feeling in her stomach and a bitter taste in her mouth.
She supposed it wasn’t that big a deal now, in retrospect the whole thing seemed quite trivial, but the things he said, the names he’d called her. Not even Snape and his band of pureblood maniacs could make her feel as dirty as she had when Thurston spoken to her.
During the holidays, she decided to take a break from the tedium of home life, Petunia’s dalliances with her boyfriend had become more serious and he’d been a frequent guest at their house. Vernon Dursley had to be among the greatest lumps of moronic waste that she had ever encountered, he was like a vast expanse of wrong conclusions and stupid opinions.
She had wanted to escape, just for a bit, so she had owled Thurston, (Marjorie was in Tasmania and she hadn’t particularly felt like going to Vi’s…Marty was always there) asking him if she could stay for a few days. Things had been going smoothly enough and she was well aware of what staying with him might him imply, but she hadn’t really made her mind up on the subject, perhaps spending some more time with him would help her come to a decision.
But when she had arrived there, she found that his parents had gone away for a week, and that they would be alone. She remembered that sort of hungry look in his eyes, she supposed he thought it passed for seductive…the fight that ensued had been colossal.
She had never thought that he could have acted like this, he was Ravenclaw after all, a prefect, she sensed the atmosphere had been strange of late, the world was changing, people had to ally themselves in one camp or the other, and perhaps it was just the tension of a world gone topsy-turvy, but then again, perhaps it was nothing more sinister then hormones.
She had fled his house and gone to stay with muggle friends, she coulnd't explain to them anything...she'd never felt so lonely that summer, how could she explain to her muggle friends about Thurston?
She had resolved not to think about it, pushing it away with a Scarlett O’Hara like attitude (“I’ll think about it tomorrow.”) but then Potter had brought it up, painfully, inescapably. It was none of his business.
The light dissipated and darkness fell, Lily showered and changed and resumed her position near the fireplace, she was interrupted some time later. By James’s voice and that of a squeaky first years.
“It…it was my mother’s,” a little girl was sobbing, she turned in her seat to see what was going on, she realized that James must have been working on the table behind her, papers and books were spread across it and his hands were decidedly ink stained; she hadn’t even noticed him come into the room.
“Calm down, it’s alright, what’s your name?” James said soothingly, crouching down to her level.
“Li…Li…Lizzie,” she blubbered weakly.
“What’s going on?”
Lily had stood up and moved closer to the two of them.
“Lizzie here can’t seem to find her wand, she says she left in her room, but it’s not there now,” James explained, not quite meeting her gaze.
“When was the last time you saw it?” Lily asked kindly, also kneeling down beside her.
“This morning,” Lizzie sniffled, “I’ve been looking all day!”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s around here somewhere, probably just hiding,” she comforted.
“Lily and I’ll find it for you, I know this place like the back of my hand,” he winked, brandishing his hand and inspecting it, he then smiled confusedly, “Hey, I never noticed that there before.” He joked and Lizzie laughed a little.
James and Lily began scouring the Gryffindor tower, no pillow went unturned and no trunk unchecked, Lizzie followed them both hopefully, giving a detailed description of what her wand looked like, James continually cracked jokes in the jokes of cheering her up, and it wasn’t hard in the end to get a smile out of her, despite the situation. It was nearly two hours before James shouted triumphantly from somewhere in the vicinity of the furthermost corner of the Common room, “Found it!”
He stumbled out from under one of the stairways, shaking the dirt from his hair, “Must of slipped out of your pocket when you walked down the stairs, it rolled just under one of the ledge things,” he said, handing it back to her, she gawked at it for a few seconds, seemingly unable to find the words to thank him, she grinned tearily at him and then threw her arms around his neck (he was crouched over), he looked startled by this action but quickly returned the hug, smiling one of those honest smiles that Lily had once seen on his face (and thought attractive). Lizzie pecked him on the cheek and scurried upstairs to her dorms.
James straightened, rubbing his cheek in a dazed sort of manner, stupid grin still on his face.
Lily had been impressed by the tenderness and authority he had displayed tonight, the manner in which he’d soothed the near hysterical girl had been almost expert, but so genuine, she looked over to him and their eyes caught for a moment.
“I think you’ve got yourself an admirer.” A truce, she swallowed her pride and anger and offered him a truce, apology’s were unnecessary (and awkward), but she wanted him to know…know what? She wanted him to know that she’d been stupid and harsh and irrational…she doubted that that would be conveyed within one simple, feeble attempt at reconciliation, but it was what she had.
His dazed look did not waver, but his brow crinkled in bewilderment before he smiled again, “Hope she’s not as annoying as I was.” He commented blithely.
“Impossible,” she teased.
From then on everything was a little easier, they saw eye to eye on things and could work together without James having to skulk off feeling utterly wretched. By the time December came around they could almost converse like friends, even if her temper did flare a bit when he would stomp into the Common Room, chuckling about some prank or another when she was stuck with her head in a book, nose to the figurative grindstone.
It was one such evening just before the Christmas break when she confronted him exasperatedly after having read the same sentence for the past 15 minutes and not absorbed a word.
James was sitting at the table behind her, the Common Room was mostly empty, seeing as it was rather late, a few students lingered in the shadows of the room, she’d have t tell them to get to bed soon…she winced at the thought, maybe James should do it, he tended to make commands sound more friendly.
James caught her eye and his hand moved of it’s own volition to his hair, he stopped it just in time and rubbed his neck instead, hoping he’d looked casual. Lily advanced on him, practically throwing her book across the room, he laughed heartily and went to retrieve it, he handed it back to her and she gave him a sardonic glare, he sat back down at the table, picked up his quill but made no further movements to get back to his work.
“How do you do it?” Lily exclaimed.
“Do what?” he asked mildly.
“Everything, Quidditch, your Head Boy duties, class work and your social life. I can barely keep from drowning under the amount of homework we’re given but you always manage to have it all done and keep on top of everything.”
He shrugged, “Just do it.”
She groaned and plonked herself down in the chair next to him, glancing at his papers, “But how? You never slack off, always have everything done and yet you’re always laughing about…well, you’re always laughing about something” she said miserably, “The only laugh you’re likely to hear from me is one with a slightly hysterical edge to it.” She brightened, “Go on, how do you it?”
James chuckled, “Er, good time management?” She cocked an eyebrow, “No really, I’ve always been pretty good at organizing things, who do you think was always behind the structuring of the pranks?”
She supposed that was a satisfactory answer, but not terribly pleasing. She yawned and stretched in her seat, looking over his work.
“They’re going to have to cart me off to St Mungo’s by the end of this year.”
“I’ll send you flowers.”
She laughed a little, but the scene almost immediately became uncomfortable, as things got quiet, he lowered his gaze to his parchment again, the quill rolling in his nimble fingers, she bit her lip and glanced towards the clock, heaving out a another great yawn, “Well, I’m off to bed,” she said a little too quickly, “Make sure that everyone else is in bed before midnight. Please?” the last part had been plea for him to actually act the leader, sometimes he got a bit flustered when he had to take some responsibility, all his life he’d been rebelling against authority and now he was the authority.
“Okay,” he nodded, giving her what he hoped was a grin that inspired confidence.
“Goodnight,” she said as she got up, returning the smile. He watched her thud up the stairs, heavy with sleep, marveled in the pendulum of her hips and the way her hair flowed down her back…he looked down at his half finished essay and sighed, he wasn’t going to be doing any more work tonight.
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