There once was a boy, who was very much in love with a girl.
The above-mentioned girl stopped and turned around to face the above- mentioned boy, wearing a bright smile.
The boy, naturally, forgot everything that he had spent the past week and a half carefully planning to say to her, and instead said the first thing that came to mind.
"Your shoes are untied."
Which was just about the stupidest thing he could have said.
The girl glanced down at her feet, found that her shoes were indeed untied, and gave him a strange look that she tried to mask with another smile.
Seeing her smile was worth being looked at like a one legged Hippogriff any day.
"Oh, thanks- well, see you around Jason."
And with that, she gave him a small wave and continued on her way toward the Charms Classroom.
The boy stood there, watching the way her dark red ponytail bounced along with her walk, and contemplated jumping off of the highest tower he could find.
His name was James Potter, and the girl that he was madly in love with had no clue who he was.
And so much of his first year at Hogwarts passed in this fashion.
During the summer he grew a couple of inches taller, his voice grew a couple of octaves deeper, and he was relatively confident that this year he would be able to talk to Lily Evans in a reasonably sensible manner.
This was put to the test on the first day of classes when he just so happened to run into the object of his affections in front of the Potions Classroom.
The above-mentioned girl turned around to face the above-mentioned boy wearing a slight smile.
And all reasonable thoughts were replaced with visions of soft auburn hair and large green eyes, and the power of sensible speech failed him once more.
So, beginning to panic, he did the first thing he could think of.
He made a comment about her pigtails, which she didn't like very much, gave one of them a nice hard yank, and began calling her 'Pippi' every time they passed in the hallway.
At least she knew who he was now. Even if 'That annoying Potter kid' was all she knew him as.
This may not have been the smartest way to gain the attention of Miss Lily Evans, but he was, after all, a Twelve-year-old boy who was madly in love. And Twelve year old boys, much less lovesick ones, are usually rather stupid.
And so, much of his Second, and Third year at Hogwarts passed in this manner.
Then James went home for the summer and discovered that there were other girls out there besides Lily Evans, and these happened to like him quite a bit. He turned fourteen, grew even taller, got his first girlfriend, and subsequently, his first kiss. He told himself that Evans was just a silly crush, and went back to school on September the first wondering why he had wasted three years acting like a complete idiot whenever he entered a ten foot radius of her.
And, as soon as he was within a ten-foot radius of her, this question was answered.
The first thing he noticed about her, was the pale yellow sundress she had on and how well it suited the vibrant colors that made up Lily Evans. Her hair and her eyes and her skin all meshed together so boldly, and made her the most uniquely beautiful person he had ever met.
After spending three months with his girlfriend and all of her neighborhood friends, he had become quite accustomed to being greeted with a smile and a compliment.
The aforementioned girl, however, merely placed her hands on her hips and gave him a look that scarily resembled a dragon; smoke puffs and all.
"If you come anywhere near me this year potter, I guarantee you won't live to have your name inscribed on that Quidditch cup your going to win for us."
For some reason, he found this to be insanely attractive.
His girlfriend could see that, and made sure to keep him as far away from her as possible over the course of the year.
But that didn't matter. James Potter was decidedly in love with Lily Evans, and though his girlfriend may have succeeded in distracting him for a while, the way he felt towards that certain redhead did nothing but increase.
As it turned out, James did win Gryffondor the Quidditch cup, and received so much praise on his fine Chaser skills that his head swelled to about twice its former size. He went home for the summer, was so very confident in his abilities to woo Miss Evans that he unceremoniously dumped his girlfriend of one year and two months, and developed a new strategy for winning Lily's heart, which he was able to try out at last, when he met her a couple of weeks before school started wondering aimlessly through Diagon Alley.
He simply watched her for a while. Watched the way her worn out bell- bottoms swished when she walked and the way her hair floated behind her like a thick, coppery cloud.
He really did love her.
Then, using the charm he had perfected with his first girlfriend and was completely sure would win him his second, he walked smoothly up to her and- grabbed a handful of soft auburn hair and pulled as hard as he could.
Miss Evans let out an attractive shriek, which was to be expected, and whirled around to glare at the now slightly breathless boy.
He took a moment to breathe, and pasted what he considered a very suave smile on his face.
"All right, Evans?"
She simply rubbed her head and gave him an annoyed look.
"Of course I'm not all right! You just attempted to rip a piece of my scalp off! What are you, Eight? It's a little immature to greet girls by pulling their hair."
He was perfectly aware of that, but it didn't make it any easier to stop doing it. He liked touching her. Simple as that. And as pulling a chunk of the hair he so adored was possibly the only means of doing so, then he would do it. Immature or not.
"Yeah, sorry 'bout that."
She looked rather surprised a moment, and since this was the first time in years that she wasn't looking at him with a glare on her face, James took this as a good sign.
But now, the usual panic was starting to settle in. Even with all of the ego he had managed to build up, he started to feel more and more insecure as he noticed all of the little things that made Lily Evans so beautiful. The way the light hit her eyes and made her look like a cat caught in headlights, how her lips looked like overripe cherries and parted to show the glowing white of her teeth. The little dash of freckles that marched across her nose, the long dark eyelashes that grazed just below her eyebrows when she looked up, and the pale downy skin that looked so very pure and soft.
She had a tiny scar on her left eyebrow that fascinated him to no end. One day, he would ask her about it. And it would be the most interesting story in the world because she'd be telling it.
A little voice in his head was screaming that he just wasn't good enough for her, and he wanted desperately to prove it wrong. He had to prove to Lily that he was worthy of her.
He had to make her love him as much as he loved her.
So, he quickly thought back to all of the girls who had liked him before and tried to imitate everything that they had found so irresistible. He ran a hand through his already unnaturally messy black hair; the way Roberta Roberts thought looked "Adorable"; like he had just gotten off his broomstick after a spectacular win for Gryffondor.
Lily however, looked at him like he was the biggest moron she had ever had the displeasure of seeing.
"I think a brush would work better."
Never one to give up, James quickly racked his brain for some other way to impress her.
"Wanna see something cool?"
She cocked an eyebrow.
"Depends...knowing you, Potter, you'll find some way to turn 'Something cool' into something annoying."
He shook his head, exclaiming, "No, it's really cool, you'll see!" and he began to eagerly search the streets with wide hazel eyes.
Spotting a small, particularly defenseless boy that he recognized as a second year Slytherin, James whipped his wand out, muttered a few choice words under his breath, and watched with a smug smile as a rather large purple horn grew out of the center of the boy's forehead.
Amidst the boy's squeals of shock and horror, James turned, breathless with laughter, to gauge Lily's reaction.
The laughter died in his throat when he saw the look on her face.
Looking about ready to breath fire, she was glaring at him with her hands stemmed firmly into her sides.
"Fix him back, Potter! What's cool about scaring poor defenseless little kids?"
He opened and closed his mouth a moment, sputtering, and gazing incredulously between the girl and the now near hysterical boy.
"He's not a little kid he's like...twelve or something, AND he's a Slytherin!"
She continued to glare at him.
"What does it matter?! Uncurse him!"
With a sinking heart, James did what she wished, and tried his best to stifle a laugh at the look of wonder on the boys face when he realized that the horn had disappeared almost as quickly as it had come.
And now, James silently struggled for something that could make him look a little less like a prat in Lily's eyes.
He ruffled his hair again, causing her to give him another strange look, and tentatively flashed her a winning smile.
"I made that hex up myself, you know."
He felt heartened when she tilted her head to the side and gave him an impressed look.
"That's really advanced magic."
He let out an embarrassed but obviously pleased chuckle that annoyed her very much.
Taking in a quick, anxious breath, James ventured to ask the question that he had been wanting too ask since the moment he had first laid eyes on her.
"I was wondering...if your not doing anything on our first Hogsmeade trip, if you might wanna...you know...maybe...um, go out with me?"
And then something happened that had never happened before.
"Uh...wow. That's kind of weird. You annoyed as much as you possibly could and then decided to ask me out on a date."
"Uh, sorry I guess...so will you?"
"I don't think so."
James Potter got rejected.
But even though that was the first time he had been rejected by Lily Evans, it most certainly wasn't the last.
He made a point of asking her every time he saw her, which only succeeded in making her even more annoyed at him than before.
But, as he was blinded by the overwhelming feelings he felt toward her, he didn't give up.
Until a certain incident that took place out by a certain lake, when James finally began to realize that maybe, Lily was actually serious when she turned him down, and maybe, she wasn't going to change her mind.
And that was quite possibly the lowest moment of his life. He spent the next year convincing himself that Lily Evans was a cruel, uptight, wench who didn't deserve being with him anyway.
He acquired a new, giggly girlfriend, who liked wearing pink lipstick and had more friends than she could keep track of. He liked her. She was fun, and she gave him every attention that he had never received from certain other girls.
But no matter how many times he kissed his girlfriend and claimed that he had never been happier, he couldn't stop thinking about Lily. He couldn't keep his eyes off of her. He watched her as she did her work in class, the way her hair always fell in her face, which never failed to annoy her. The way she laughed at her friends as they carefully adjusted their hair using the back of their spoons at dinner, and how she always looked perfect, even without make-up, and never looked into a mirror if she could help it. 'Quite unsettling', he had heard her say one time. 'Too look at your reflection and know that your stuck with what you see for the rest of your life. No, I imagine myself to look a certain way and would rather not have it contradicted by a stupid piece of glass.'
Her friends had laughed and called her dumb.
James thought it was one of the most interesting observations he had ever heard.
He couldn't quite understand why she would have a problem with what the mirror reflected, however.
He had never met anyone more beautiful. Inside and out.
And then, James' Sixth year at Hogwarts passed, bringing about a change in him that no one could ignore. He had grown up. No one knew what had triggered it, but it was undeniable. He had matured, and the difference was so remarkable and so very strange, that no one really knew what to say about it.
No one but his best mate, Sirius Black.
"C'mon Prongs, you've been a right old bore lately!" Exclaimed the faithful friend.
He gave James a contemptuous look and leaned against the wall with his arms crossed across his chest.
James, however, merely continued on with the letter he had been writing to his Mom and Dad casting Sirius an amused half-smile.
"I don't see what you mean by a 'bore' Sirius. Just yesterday we charmed your dear cousin Narcissa into a tea-pot."
The handsome youth came very close to pouting.
"You never used to bother with writing your parents."
James dipped his quill into an inkpot that lay abandoned on the Common room coffee table, shaking his head slightly.
"I never used to think about anything that didn't involve Quidditch, pranks or impressing girls."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Impressing girls? You mean Lily Evans? You've been obsessed with her for so long that she doesn't even count as a girl anymore."
He shook his head again, and Sirius frowned at the sudden serious look on his friends face.
"I'm ashamed of the way I used to be Padfoot." He let out a tired sigh. "Heartily ashamed."
He finished his letter and stood up, looking him straight in the eyes.
"I've realized that the world doesn't revolve around me." He grinned and made for the portrait hole. "I apologize if that makes me a 'Right old bore'."
There was one other person who had realized the immense change in James.
And it just so happened that he ran into her in the Owlery while setting out to deliver his letter.
She didn't notice him at first.
Indeed, it didn't look as if she would have noticed anything at the moment. She was perched on the edge of the glassless circular window through which the grounds of Hogwarts spanned in all it's glory; a wide sprawling tapestry of rich colors and life.
Slipping slightly on straw and owl droppings, James inched toward her. The wind tussled her hair, which he noticed was getting quite long. She had her eyes closed.
And once again he watched her.
He had never felt so much for one person in his entire life. His heart felt swollen to about twice its normal size, his breath constricted and what felt like a mass of pixies began to squirm in his stomach.
He opened his mouth to say something, but found that he couldn't. He wanted to tell her so much...but somehow using words wasn't enough. How could he ever communicate to her in words that he would do anything in the world for her; he'd give her everything he had, he'd give her the very breath in his body...
The sun was slowly sinking, showering the tiny room with a bright ethereal light.
He watched the downy silhouette of her shoulders and arms, surrounded by the fiery glow of the dying sun, and suddenly her beauty became too much to bear.
He had to say something before he did something stupid.
She jumped about a foot in the air and whirled around with one spidery pale hand clutching her heart.
He smiled weakly at her, and shoved his hands in his pockets. Still breathing a little unevenly, she gave him a curious look.
"Potter..." She inclined her head, and casting him a sidelong glance walked over to one of the long perches, searching for an owl.
At least that's what she wanted him to think she was doing. But James, who had made a sort of art out of watching Lily Evans over the past six years, knew that she had no intention of finding an owl.
She always came up here at sundown, and he had caught her up here during a couple of sunrises as well. His heart swelled even bigger when he realized that he was probably the only person in the world who knew that Lily Evans loved to watch the sunset. Oh what wouldn't he give to watch it with her one day... he could think of nothing he wanted more...
He realized that he should probably stop staring at her before she ran away screaming.
"I was just sending out a letter to my..." It was remarkable how every ounce of saliva could dry up after one look from her. What had he said? Oh crap...how did this talking thing work again?
"To my...my pants...er I mean...um...crap, what did I say? Uh...did I just say pants? Because I meant to say rents uh err...parents I mean...um...yeah...that's it..."
She stared at him a moment with her head tilted to the side and her mouth slightly ajar. He felt his face burn with embarrassment as she burst out laughing. He buried his head in his hands seriously considering jumping out the window.
But then he felt her hands on his, pulling them away from his face. When he opened his eyes, he saw only the startling green of her own and watched the delicate flutter of her long eyelashes as she blinked at him.
"It's okay, you know."
All he could concentrate on was the feel of her hands on his. And the fact that she had not let go of them yet. They were soft and flowed over his own fingers like silk.
"What is?" He replied, staring at her face intently. He could count the freckles on her nose he was so close...he could smell her shampoo...she smelled like flowers...
"It's okay to sound stupid every once in awhile."
She smiled at him, and James thought his heart might jump right out of his ribcage. She'd never looked at him the way she was looking at him now...oh god, how long had he craved that smile...
She suddenly seemed very serious, and he couldn't help but stare at her with new intensity. He loved the way she looked when she felt vulnerable. It was better than her usual perfection.
It was deliciously human.
"You've really changed."
He gulped loudly.
"I was a moron."
"Yes. Yes you were."
There was a pause.
"Well...it's kind of hard for me to think at the moment so please forgive me for not having a witty reply."
She quirked an eyebrow at him.
"Why are you so nervous?"
"Because you're standing next to me. Approximately four inches away and you smell like my mums flower garden. I'm sorry Lily; I know I'm not making any sense. I never can make sense when...well...like I said your four inches away. And you're touching my hand. Yeah."
She let out a strangled laugh, sounding like she was on the verge of tears.
"You called me Lily."
He was smiling now, and he didn't even know why. It was strange how easy the name he had refused to say out loud for six years had rolled off of his tongue. It was strange how wonderful it felt rolling off his tongue.
He wasn't sure why he had said it. And he wasn't sure why he kept on saying it.
"Lily, Lily, Lily..."
She released her hands from his. He was shocked when his own automatically reached out and took hold of her arm.
She looked up at him through a thick veil of sooty lashes and he swallowed.
"Don't..." He said, not sure what he was doing or saying any more.
He watched the confusion on her face transform into a lovely sort of hesitation. The kind of look a girl gets just before you kiss them for the first time. His other hand found her own and he gently traced the soft skin before entwining his fingers in hers.
He wondered vaguely at how his entire body seemed to be out of his control as of late.
The other hand moved from her arm to the side of her face where he hesitantly touched her cheek. Her eyebrows furrowed together and he could feel her gulp under his fingertips.
"I...I want to tell you how I feel..."
His fingers gently traced down the curve of her neck, creeping slowly into the mass of silky auburn hair.
"But I don't know how to describe it to you..."
She lifted her eyes from where they had stationed themselves on the ground. He opened his mouth and closed it again. It was hard to talk, as he had never felt so dizzy in his life. She surrounded him...her smell...and her softness...it was what he had been wanting for so long...
"Your so different from everyone else. Your-" He gulped and allowed the hand that was previously in her hair to roam to the back of her neck. "You're beautiful...but your everything else too. You...your...I cant explain what you do to me...what you've always done to me..."
He was slowly leaning forward, and was vaguely aware of his hand coming to a halt on her lower back where he gently pressed her against him.
"You drive me crazy."
He stopped when his lips were but a few centimeters away from hers and looked her straight in the eyes.
Her lips parted slightly; he could feel the heavy beating of her heart pressed against his chest and fought for breath, starting to feel quite faint. Just as he leaned in to do the unthinkable, Lily pulled herself out of his arms and backed away from him at startling speed.
She pressed her back against the wall and stood staring at him with wide eyes. He watched the rapid rise and fall of her chest and the way she gripped the edge of the window behind her.
"I love you Lily!"
She gulped audibly, and looked rather terrified.
But he didn't care. He was furious now. Years and years of pent up emotion was quickly coming to a boiling point and he wanted nothing more than to see those damn eyes of hers fill with tears, he wanted her to know how much she had hurt him.
"I've always loved you! I loved you when you thought my name was Jason, and I loved you when I teased you and pulled your stupid pigtails! I see your face when I kiss my damn girlfriend and I hate myself for it! Not a day has gone by, since I first laid eyes on you, that I don't think about you. I can't stop! That's the worst part; I just cant stop loving you! You don't understand what it's like to love someone so much it hurts, so much that you can't breathe and you can't think! I'd give you anything Lily, I'd give you everything I owned if you asked for it-"
He stopped and let out a low growl of frustration, pulling at his hair.
"Do you see what you do to me?! You drive me absolutely crazy! Everything about you! All the little things that your friends think are weird, the way you always get every answer right in class and the way you still defended Snape even after he called you a mudblood. But you'll never accept that will you? I'll never be good enough for you!"
She was crying now, but it had the opposite effect that he had thought it would have.
He had never felt like more of a prick in his entire life.
She turned away and began sobbing loudly.
He suddenly felt as though the walls were closing in on him. There wasn't enough air in the room. He closed his eyes briefly, trying regain some control. But all he could concentrate on was the hollow sound of her crying, echoing against the dusty stone walls.
He took a step towards her.
"Please...please don't...cry...I don't think I can bear it Lily..."
She retreated even further away from him. He put his face in his hands and tried to focus on breathing properly.
That was why he never noticed Lily running at him, and he got the surprise of his life when he felt a pair of arms wrap themselves around him.
And much to his consternation, he found his body quite incapable of moving. It had been so keen to act without his permission a few minutes ago, but now! He was stuck looking like a particularly thick goldfish.
But even that could not stem the rising sensation in his stomach...like he had missed a step going down or was flying straight upwards on his broomstick...
Slowly, he unfolded his arms and placed them around the trembling girl in front of him.
He let out a tiny laugh.
She had called him James.