A/N: I know the book said that James' eyes were hazel, but in the chapters I posted before OotP, they were blue. They're staying blue—and so are Maddie's. I warn you: this chapter is fast-paced and contains family members, talk of the Owlery, Bob, and the bruising first kiss.
Disclaimer: All the characters you see here that you recognise belong to the wonderfully talented JK Rowling and Warner Bros. and all of those fun affiliates, like Bloomsbury and not me. Thanks.
Just a dream
Just an ordinary dream
As I wake in bed
And the boy
That ordinary boy
Was it all in my head?
Did he ask if I would come along?
It all seemed so real
Ordinary Day 04
By Shadow Dragon
Inspired by "Ordinary Day" by Vanessa Carlton
"I intend to rectify that—even if it means wooing you."
She was wet and cold despite the jacket, still jittery from the flight and the landing, and clutching the hand of one of the most popular boys at Hogwarts. Somehow, Lily had never imagined her luck, which had always been of the rather boring variety for a witch, would have landed her here. She also didn't imagine that her heart flipped over at hearing those words. "Oh?" she heard herself ask in that distant way that can only mean shock. "Isn't it a bit soon to know that?"
James' blue eyes lit on her face, always amused. "Love waits for no man," he scoffed. "You're so amazing that if I let the opportunity pass me by, I'd be a fool indeed."
Although she wanted to blush, his words had an entirely different effect. "Love, James? We've had two dances, dinner, two conversations, and a flight together," Lily pointed out, hating her logical side in the face of such joviality from him. "And the flight ended badly, if I might point out. For instance, flights shouldn't get you wet. And that's what I am—wet."
They were moving incredibly fast and growing more and more at ease around each other, Lily noticed. After all, this could maybe be considered a first date, and he had landed on top of her, had nearly seen her in her drawers (that stupid spell! If it hadn't worked, Lily would have reamed him!), and had met her family. These were all things that Lily would have preferred a boyfriend to wait awhile before doing!
And the weirdest thing was that most of them had happened inadvertently.
"And muddy, which is a very endearing look on you," James continued her statement. "I'd prefer you wet and muddy to dry and clean in Hogwarts school robes."
"The school robes are perfectly fine," Lily pointed out, her brow crinkling in confusion. "Why do you say that, anyway? We're not at school."
"Thank Merlin. Robes are a bloody constriction. You girls tend to wear less when there's not a robe around, after all." James nodded not-too-subtly at her neckline, his grin nearly splitting his face when she gave an exasperated sigh. "It's quite a switch with wet clothing, let me tell you."
"You're a very terrible person, James Potter."
"Yes, but you like me, right?"
They had reached some sort of walking path around the river. Up ahead, Lily could see the identifying sheen of car park lights; James' sister's restaurant must be just past the tree line. "If I didn't," Lily said, switching her gaze back to James, "I wouldn't be holding your hand now, would I?"
She had only seen him grin so hard at the parties after all of the Quidditch games. Keeper or not, James was one of the most popular players on the Gryffindor team, and it was obvious that he was absolutely in love with the sport. His grin never faltered at those parties, even when his arm was wrapped in bandages from the healing wounds. She made a mental note to actually attend a game that year; if James loved the sport so much, it had to be at least the slightest bit intriguing, right? James himself certainly wasn't boring, but he did have a tendency to not stop smiling around her. That and he was always surprising her around every turn.
"So does this mean that you'll be my girlfriend, then?" James asked, breaking into her thoughts.
"Not very many places to go on dates at Hogwarts," Lily observed, purposely not answering him. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his cantankerous look at not receiving a definite answer. "Where would you go?"
"Hogsmeade! The lake! If you're daring enough, the astronomy tower! Abandoned classrooms! The dungeons!" James waved the hand with the broomsticks around, naming place after place. "The Owlery!"
"Now, that's going a bit far," Lily laughed. "I'd settle for the dungeons, but I think I'd have to draw the line at the Owlery."
James' fingers tightened around hers, almost possessively. "So does that mean yes?" he asked eagerly.
"If you don't take me on a date to the Owlery!"
They fell into a silence then, both of them beaming crazily. The whole night had been a roller coaster of emotion; it felt like the argument with Petunia had been years before. Things had been awkward almost all night, but as the night wore on, they were more and more content to joke around each other and relax. Maybe she was being hasty, but she and James could always take things slowly later. It was just having a boyfriend, not committing to marriage, after all. Still, Lily's head felt jarred with disbelief; James would be her first official boyfriend. The rest were intrigues—flirts that didn't mean much.
"Knut for your thoughts?" James offered awhile later, once they were nearly to the trees.
Lily chewed her lower lip contemplatively. "I was just thinking about how quickly this is all going. If you'd had asked me yesterday if I would go out with you, I probably would have turned you down."
There was a hefty pause, and then James cracked, "Good. I wasn't nearly so charming yesterday. Forgot to take my medicine." His wink told Lily that he was joking. "I'm glad you said yes, though. I wouldn't give my salad to just any girl!"
"It's always about food, isn't it?" Lily shot back, showing that two could play that game. "You men always think with your stomachs."
James' response to that was a quaffing noise as they moved around tree trunks. "Call it a more centralised form of thinking, if you will," he said with a mischievous smirk, patting his stomach for good measure. "We men like to be good and centred in our lives, that's all."
The woods changed drastically to the back car park of an old-fashioned ice cream diner. Lily could see little more than a dumpster, a black back door, and a few cars parked along the subway-shaped building. On the side was a giant light-up sign that proclaimed, "BOB'S" in gargantuan pink and green letters. Lily had been to this particular restaurant several times as a child, so it was only natural that she blink and say, "Oh, Bob's. I've been here."
"The owner's a Squib," James informed her. "Bob is the only one that actually likes being called a Squib, so it's all right to use that word for him. C'mon." They went in the side entrance, which had a gaudily dressed ice cream cone tap-dancing across it. The dining room was empty of anybody except a brown-haired teen that was sweeping the floor.
He turned when they came in. "We're closed—oh, hey, James."
"Hey, Bryan. I think you forgot to lock that door." He jerked his thumb at the door they had just come through, as though it wasn't obvious. "Is Maddie still here?"
"Yeah—just go on back." Bryan stepped around them, smiling shyly at Lily as he did so, and began to fiddle with the door. James, meanwhile, led Lily past a turquoise counter and several ice-cream machines. Out of sight of the dining room was a hallway filled with vats and bins with different labels, and several other machines that obviously produced ice cream.
"Is Brian a Muggle or what?" Lily asked.
"Nah, he can't work magic, just like Maddie. Most of the people here can't. Bob's is sort of a place where they can learn to adapt to the Muggle world." James paused and flipped open a jar with his free hand. "Cherry?"
"Er—no, thanks." Lily wrinkled her nose as he popped a maraschino cherry into his mouth. "I'm allergic, actually."
"Filching cherries again, Jamie?" a new voice asked, and Lily half-turned to see a petite girl with black hair walking to join them. In most settings, she and James could have passed for twins—their eyes were the same colour, and they had the same chin and stubborn mouth. Madeline's features were quite a bit more feminine, and her hair was pulled into two braids—far neater than James' hair could ever get. She clucked her tongue at her brother now. "And why are you wet?"
"Crash-landed in the lake." James grinned and pretended to reach up to tousle Madeline's hair. She shrieked and ducked away in time. "I thought so. Hey, Maddie. This is my new girlfriend." That was all he said.
Madeline's eyes, so much like James turned on Lily with an expression of amused scrutiny. "Madeline Potter," she said, sticking out a hand. "Feel free to call me Maddie."
"Great," Lily said, shaking the proffered hand. "I'm Lily Evans, since this oaf here clearly doesn't think I deserve a name."
Although James pretended indignation, Maddie grinned. "I like you already." She looked about ready to say something else, but a polite "ahem" behind them made her grin harder and say, "Whoops—we're blocking up the way. C'mon, guys, let's go into the back room. Sorry, Bryan."
Bryan just smiled distantly and waited for them to clear the narrow hallway out. "He's so quiet," Maddie told James as she led the couple into a small, dimly lit room with a plastic table and an overflowing trash can. There were several magazines on the table, both wizarding and Muggle. "It's rather unnerving working with him."
"Being related to the Malfoys will do that to you." James shrugged and picked up the nearest magazine, Quidditch Talk. To Lily, he explained, "Bryan in there's actually a second cousin to Sirius, twice removed or something." He grinned over the top of the magazine at Maddie. "Did I tell you that he's staying with Remus for a couple of weeks?"
It appeared as though Maddie was as familiar with James' friends as she was, so the three had quite a few topics to talk about. Lily had several questions for James' vivacious younger sister, who seemed just as glad to answer them—and then to ask questions of Lily in return. James spent most of the hour that they talked leafing through Quidditch Talk, occasionally interspersing a comment here and there. Lily was quite surprised to find out that Maddie liked Quidditch about as much as she did—and that she absolutely adored football. Soon the two girls were conspiring to attend the next local game together, leaving James rolling his eyes and muttering, "Muggles."
A stocky man wandered into the back room, eyebrows raised in surprise. He was wearing the Bob's Ice Cream uniform—a lime-green shirt and black pants with a black and white chequered apron over them. The nametag on his chest proclaimed him to be Bob himself. "Maddie? You're still here? I'm about to shut down and lock up."
"Oh!" Rather startled, the younger Potter checked her watch and looked somewhat embarrassed. "Sorry, Bob—I got side-tracked. James and Lily here stopped by to see me."
Bob eyed James suspiciously. "You haven't been filching from the cherry stores again, have you?" he demanded, sizing the youth up.
James had the grace to look embarrassed as well. "Only one—which is quite a nice fare, considering that I'm toting your number one employee back and forth across town."
"Speaking of my number one employee," and Bob sent Maddie the same look he had just given James, "you're on my morning shift, so you'd better get home and get some sleep. You have five minutes to evacuate the building."
"I'll just get the car," James said quickly, and Disapparated on the spot.
Bob just shook his head and grumbled, "Good night, you two," at the girls, and disappeared off into the main part of the store once again.
"He's normally a picture of sunshine and daisies, worry you not," Maddie assured Lily as they exited the back room. She flicked the switch and gestured for Lily to lead the way. "My brother's a coward if he thinks Bob's ever going to do something to him. I guess we'll wait for him on the curb out front."
"How long have you worked here?" Lily asked curiously as they exited through the gaudily painted front doors. The traffic outside had thinned, given the late hour. Although her night felt like a whirlwind of different colours and emotions, the date had actually stretched over quite some time. The fact that the end of the day was near was evident in the tired lines of Maddie's face as she neatly folded up her own apron and the two sat on the curb.
"Two years or so. Bob let me start early." Maddie shook her head, sending black ringlets in front of her face. "I work after school—Dad's always at the Ministry, and Mum's an Auror, and I'm their only child at home now, so they pretty much let me do whatever I want. So—when did you start seeing James?"
Lily checked her watch, which had quite amazingly survived the trip on broomstick and the crash-landing on the shore. Maybe the ticking was feebler than before, but that was of little consequence. "About an hour ago," she decided. "He asked me on the way up to Bob's."
"As pretty as it can get back there, I think romance is lost on my dear brother." Maddie wrinkled her nose so like James that Lily held back a snort. "Last I'd heard, he was going to the Ministry with those oddball friends of his, and then he comes in to pick me up with a girlfriend. Crazy git. How on earth did that happen?"
"Most of it was inadvertent," Lily admitted, fighting back a happy-go-lucky grin. "He just showed up on my doorstep this evening, looking for Peter's rat. My owl picked him up by mistake—the rat, I mean." She shook her head; such an event seemed so far in the past now. Had it only been a couple of hours?
"He showed up on your doorstep and you end up going out on a date? Oh, I have to hear this one."
By the time Lily had fully explained the events of the evening (conveniently leaving out the clothing incident in the car park), James had arrived in the car. "I wasn't aware that you had passed your Apparation tests yet," Lily told James as she climbed into the front seat. Maddie sat in the middle of the backseat, leaning an elbow against each of the front seats.
"He hasn't," she accused, popping her older brother on the back of the head. "He just takes advantage of Dad's position in the Ministry. He's too bloody good a wizard to splinch himself, and if they see a Potter, they're just going to assume it's Dad."
"Don't bother to look surprised," James told Lily, pointing a finger at her as they pulled out of the car park. "I've been breaking school rules for years—it shouldn't surprise you that I do the same things for the Ministry laws, too."
"No," Lily said, looking admonishingly at him through the corner of her eye. "I daresay it doesn't." He looked somewhat sheepish, but one could tell he was entirely unapologetic about that part of his lifestyle. James Potter always set himself apart at Hogwarts as sort of a wild character, so it was far from shocking that he not be remorseful about living on the edge. Maybe, Lily thought as she just smiled and shook her head, that was where he collected so much appeal to the female population of Hogwarts. Was it her turn to play the good girl falling for the bad boy?
No, she decided as she pulled a seatbelt on, James didn't fit the bad boy stereotype. Professor Dumbledore had named him head boy for a reason, and he had gained the respect of a lot of classmates in the past couple of years, both on and off the Quidditch pitch. Listening to him, he seemed to respect his parents (rare for a seventeen-year-old) and one could tell that he adored both of his sisters. He was a touch wild and dangerous, but his charismatic side more than made up for these. And he could be a perfect gentleman—when he wanted to be.
"Hey, drop me by Claire's?" Maddie asked, leaning forward. "She wanted to show me this new magazine she got. She'll give me a ride home so you don't have to worry about it."
"You sure?" James turned left into a suburb. "I thought you and Claire were fighting."
Maddie rolled her eyes. "Jamie, that was a week ago. Observant big brother you are."
James pulled the BMW in front of an average house about two blocks into the suburb. "Claire isn't going to attack me the next time she sees me because of Lily, right?" he asked, feinting nervousness as Maddie clambered out of the car.
"I'll be sure to warn you if I see her coming," Maddie told her brother and winked at Lily. "Claire's liked James for ages. It was nice meeting you." And like a pixie, she disappeared across the lawn and seemed to reappear underneath the porch lamp. James waited only until a petite blonde opened the door and Maddie stepped inside before driving away.
"So did she tell you all of my sordid secrets or what?" James asked as he pulled away from the curb and rejoined the traffic. "I swear, she and Carrie have keeping a journal of every stupid thing I've ever done in their heads."
Lily tilted her head at him. "What makes you think we even got around to talking about you?" she asked coyly. "Maybe we were talking about somebody else. That Bryan fellow was rather cute." James spluttered into the steering wheel. "My, my, first date, and you've already got jealousy issues."
"Too right, I have." James glanced at the clock and groaned. "We should probably get you home—and Mum and Dad are going to flip if I don't come home with either Maddie or an alibi soon."
The scared look on Vernon's face from when she had taken flight right in front of him came unbidden into Lily's head. "Do I have to?" she wanted to whine. As much as she didn't want the evening to end, she knew that it had to—and Petunia would be waiting for her at home, ready to rip her end from end and possibly a lot worse.
As if reading her mind, James shrugged and said, "Don't worry about things with your sister. She's your sister, she'll have to forgive you sometime." Lily wasn't so sure about this—Petunia could bring up things that Lily had done wrong from when they were very young children—but she said nothing. "And it's better that that Vernon bloke knows, anyway. Easier for you, at least."
"Doesn't mean I'll see any less of the Beast," Lily muttered. "Petunia will probably be forced to ask both of us to be bridesmaids." She shuddered to herself.
"Well, if that Eustace guy bothers you—" James looked quite protective all of a sudden, inspiring the odd image of a caveman to come to the front of Lily's mind.
"I think Eustace was a one-time thing. I can't imagine many being able to stand the Beast for longer than one date, if even that," Lily mused. "You don't need to worry about playing my protector, James. I assure you that I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself."
"Still," James insisted, keeping his eyes on the road. He could turn from ebullient to moody very quickly, Lily noticed as she studied his profile in the light of the passing cars. Although she wouldn't really call his expression sulky, it was definitely edgy in a way that made her feel both annoyed and very comforted. After all of the years of receiving condescending flak from the Slytherins and Petunia, it was oddly alleviating to see such concern for her. Even if that meant dealing with a sulky young man.
"It's that turn up there," she said, pointing to change the conversation. "Really, it's amazing that you and I have lived in the same area all this time."
"We just moved in a couple years back while the mansion's up for repairs," James joked, turning the car easily onto the lane. "So—us living this close? Does this mean I can stop by any time I want to?"
Lily cracked a smile at his hopeful expression. "Not before nine in the morning—I like my sleep. And the parents won't appreciate it too much if you just come barging into my room at any old hour of the night."
"Okay, so no midnight serenades or breakfasts in bed, got it."
It was all too soon before the old BMW pulled up by the curb in front of Lily's house, and James was opening the car door for her like a proper gentleman. "C'mon," he told her, taking her hand. "I'll walk you up to the door, at least."
A glance at the driveway told Lily that her parents had yet to return from the after-dinner drinks, giving her at least a little time. "Did you want to come in?" she offered as they set off across the grass.
James cocked an eyebrow at her. "While your parents here. My, Miss Evans, the implications in that offer are too naughty for a humble swot like me to think about." But his grin was both teasing and tantalising at the same time. "But I think I'd better refuse this time—first date protocol aside, my parents will be wondering if I've abducted you and Carrie and fled to Majorca behind their backs. So I'd best get home to avert any national crises."
"My hero," Lily chuckled, trying not to let any of her disappointment show. "I'd better let you go, then. Can't stand in the way of a national crisis, after all."
That earned her a snort and a rather dazzling smile—which quickly returned to the normal mischievous grin. "You'll have to forgive me, but I've wanted to do this for a long time," James said in a rush, and practically jumped at her. Before Lily could duck and avoid his advance, he had both arms around her and was dipping her backwards. She lost her footing and would have fallen if he hadn't expected this much.
"James!" Lily shrieked. "Just what do you think you're doing?"
"Hush, I saw it in a movie," James said, and kissed her. She could have later described it as majestic, heavenly, amazing, spine tingling, thrilling…but really, when asked later, she would just describe it as "short." Which it was, although both participants wouldn't have minded elongating the kiss. Unfortunately, destiny—as well as gravity—had other ideas in mind.
For the second time that night, they landed in an impossible tangle of arms and legs. "Well, that botched up our first kiss," James said decidedly. "Are you all right?"
Lily glowered at him. "A simple peck on the cheek would have worked, you know."
"Ah, but this way is so much more unforgettable." James practically shone with his own light as he unwound himself from Lily and reached down to pull her up with him. "However, if you insist…" Quickly, he leaned in and pecked her on the cheek. "I suppose I shall say good night and go, then?"
"Probably would be best," Lily agreed, and gave him a small smile to show that she was not angry—just bruised. "Good night, James."
"Good night, Lily. I suspect our relationship will be quite an interesting experience." With that said, James tucked his hands into his pockets and set off across the lawn, whistling the fight song of the Pride of Portree. Lily watched him go for a minute and let herself into the house, not bothering to turn any lights on as she headed up to her room. Distantly, she heard the rumble of a motor and then the sound of a car pulling away from the curb and into traffic.
When her parents came home twenty minutes later, they were quite surprised to find their youngest daughter lying placidly on her bed, completely absorbed in writing in her journal as though nothing at all had happened that evening. Rose Evans paused on the threshold to Lily's room for a full minute before observing, "You're quite lucky—Vernon convinced himself that he was seeing things and soon had himself believing that he had seen a bird take off and not you on a broomstick."
"So my secret lives on?" Lily asked, looking up from her journal.
"Not quite. Your father made Petunia consent to telling him about your witchcraft before the wedding." Rose did not look quite happy about this; of her two parents, Lily knew that Rose was the stronger advocator of keeping Lily's magic a secret from Vernon and most of their family. Lily understood this, but she couldn't help but be at least a little resentful. "You will probably owe him an explanation."
"Great." Lily returned to writing in her journal.
"And I want you to know that Petunia doesn't hate you. She's going through a rough time in her life right now, and…"
"Mum," Lily interrupted, looking up from her notes and focusing the intense green gaze on her mother. She had inherited the very same gaze from her father. "I know Petunia doesn't hate me—but if she forgives me or not is her business. She's my sister, so I hope she will, but I can't change her. And as of right now, I'm not going to try." She dropped her head again, secretly pleased that she had finally said what had been bothering her. Although she had been nurturing these feelings for months, James' comments about her relationship with Petunia had thrown them into sharp light. Now Lily felt as though a weight had been lifted from her. "I don't want to talk about it any more, either."
"Very well." Rose's lips thinned, but she knew when not to press an issue. Instead, she tried a different tack. "So, was my hunch correct about James? How was your evening with him?" Rose asked now, not ready to let the conversation die despite her daughter's disinterest.
Lily paused her pen and looked up at her mother. Already, she had written three very detailed pages about the events happening around the surprising James Potter, and her pen would probably go on for three more. He was such a fresh personality that she felt momentarily blinded and intrigued by him at the same time. In one short evening, he had presented so many sides to her that she knew it would take her years to unravel all of it. "I don't know," she told her mother now. "I have a feeling that my night with James was just an ordinary day when it comes to him."
And with a shrug, she was contented to let it be that way.
But as I looked to the door
I saw that boy
Standing there with a deal
He said, Take my hand
Live while you can
Don't you see your dreams lie
In the palm of your hand?
A/N the Second: So I wasn't intending this story to get this long. A chapter or two maybe. And then it turned into four. I guess my point was trying to write a story where Lily and James didn't hate each other because of some stupid incident in first year—and making them real people while I was at it. Although OoTP came halfway through it and destroyed the characterisations in here, I like to think that I succeeded anyway. Thank you to anybody and everybody who reviewed or even read this far. You've all been so wonderful.