Summary: After he curses Snape, James and Lily have a remarkably civilized, serious conversation.
Notes: Another plot bunny that wouldn't go away. It's turned out a lot different than I had planned it, but I like this version better than the one I had planned. Don't you love when that happens?
"Hey, Prongs," Sirius snickered, jabbing James in the ribs with his elbow. "Look at this." He jerked his head in the direction of the Quidditch pitch.
James looked up from the Snitch he was absently playing with for about half a second. "Slytherins having try-outs," he said languidly, returning his attention to the ball. "Yeah, so?"
"Look who's trying out."
James straightened, forgetting about the Snitch for a minute. He studied the twelve or so people hovering in the air, listening as team captain Wallace spoke. A smile slowly started to spread across James's face as he recognized one. "Oh, is our Snapey trying out for Quidditch?"
It was a warm day for October, a Saturday, and many of the students had retreated to the grounds to escape the confines of the castle and homework. James and Sirius were two of them; whereas Remus was helping Peter with a Potions essay he was having trouble with in the library.
"It's his last year," Sirius was saying, grabbing the Snitch before it flew away and stuffing it into James's bag, knowing that he had lost interest in it. "He's probably getting desperate."
"He's always been desperate," James corrected, excitement mounting in his voice.
Severus Snape was not a very good Quidditch player. Really. That wasn't just James and Sirius being mean. Each time a team member vacated a position, Snape tried out. No matter which position it was, Snape attempted to play it. He auditioned when the Keeper position opened up in third year—he failed to save a single goal. He tried out for the Seeker position when the previous Seeker injured herself to the point where she couldn't play anymore in fourth year—Snape always seemed to be looking in the wrong direction. He tried for the Beater position last year—he wasn't strong enough to hit the Bludgers effectively.
Simply speaking, he was a lost cause where the game was concerned.
"What's he trying for this time?" Sirius asked gleefully.
James thought for a moment. "Must be Chaser," he crowed. "Dovitch just graduated!"
Sirius emitted a loud, barking sort of laugh. "His hands are so greasy he'll drop the ball as soon as it's passed to him!"
The two of them rolled with laughter at this thought for a few moments before James sat up, a look of intense solemnity on his face.
"If Snivelly's going to be a Chaser," he said seriously, "he's going to have to learn how to control the Quaffle."
Sirius glanced at him. "What are you suggesting, Mr. Prongs?"
There was a fairly big crowd assembled to watch the tryouts. After all, it was a Saturday, and there wasn't much else to do, except homework, and everyone would much rather watch a Quidditch trial than write a three foot essay on the importance of Diversion Charms. Plus, they wanted to see how good this new person was so they could know how well their own team was going to fare this year.
Overall, this decision was quite important.
James and Sirius found a fairly isolated seat in the top row of the bleachers. The only people around them was a small crowd of second year Hufflepuff girls who were chattering to each other about some bloke named Sean, who apparently was a 'sex machine' of a boy. James was momentarily disturbed to hear a bunch of twelve-year-old girls referring to anyone as a 'sex machine' but he had better things to do than contemplate (probably imaginary) gossip.
The Slytherin team was playing a sort of scrimmage, with two Chaser hopefuls on each side, with one of the team's Chasers playing alongside each pair. One Beater for each team, and the Seeker playing as the Keeper for one side, as the Snitch would only complicate things and they weren't auditioning for a Seeker, anyway.
Snape was on a team with a boy named Anthony Curry, a slight third year with fair hair and dangerously dark eyes. Alongside him was sixth-year Chaser Damien Farris, a stocky sort of bloke with a good arm but questionable aim. Snape was talking intently with Farris, who was motioning as if he was throwing a ball and pointing at the goalposts. Snape was nodding; looking slightly more sallow and pale than he usually did, which was certainly saying something.
Wallace, the team's Seeker, blew a whistle, and James pulled out his wand, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible as Sirius sniggered with anticipation.
The Quaffle was currently in the possession of the team's other Chaser and the sole girl on their team, Britton, who quickly passed it to a fourth year James knew by sight, who seemed to want nothing to do with the ball and just held it, looking frightened, before throwing it to no one in particular and turning his broom in the opposite direction.
Sirius howled with laughter. "Replay!" he said. "That was brilliance, wouldn't you say, Prongs?"
"He's a shoo-in for MVP," James agreed, keeping his eyes on the Quaffle.
Britton had it again, and had an expression of distinct annoyance spread across her face. She tossed the Quaffle to the other boy trying out on her team, but Farris intercepted it and passed it to Snape who dropped it. Clearly confused, Snape zoomed after it, but Curry grabbed it before Snape could and streaked down the field toward the goalposts. He didn't hesitate at all before throwing it right into the left hoop, completely throwing Keeper Garson off guard.
"Curry's pretty good," Sirius commented.
"Almost as good as me," James agreed, nodding.
"Oh, don't say that," Sirius said good-humoredly. "Silly, Prongs, always putting yourself down."
James grinned. "Well, you know me."
Sirius nodded, laughing a little as he turned back to the game. "Oy," he said, pointing. "It's coming down old Snapey's end."
James watched as Curry passed the Quaffle to Farris, who in turn passed it to Snape. Snape held it for about two seconds before it hurtled through the air once more. Snape managed to catch it again before someone else, but he it was as if his hands had holes in them—the Quaffle simply fell whenever it came into contact with him.
It was insanely comical.
Sirius was practically crying with mirth at the expression of sheer frustration and confusion that was playing across Snape's face. James himself was giggling quite a bit, clutching his aching stomach.
"I wish Moony and Wormtail were here to see this!" Sirius wheezed. "This is terrific! I mean, really terrific!"
The next time Snape got the Quaffle, he wrapped both arms around it as tightly as he could, apparently determined to hold onto it this time. To escape his grip, the Quaffle shot upward, actually hitting him in the nose, which of course made Sirius's laughter progress into actual hysterics, tears spilling from his eyes and everything. When blood started to pour out of Snape's nose, Sirius could not contain himself: he pitched himself backward, effectively putting his head in James's lap and shrieking with laughter.
"I love you!" Sirius choked through the hysterics. "I seriously love you!"
"Shh," James said, fighting his own amusement. "You're affecting my concentration. Get your head off my lap, you're crying all over my clothes."
Sirius righted himself with some effort, trembling with giggles. Unfortunately, the fun was ended when Wallace blew the whistle again to signify the end of the game. He yelled something James and Sirius couldn't hear and the players all drifted towards the ground.
People started to gather up their things and leave. It was almost time for dinner, and James was getting hungry, so he and Sirius did the same.
As Sirius re-enacted the highlights, James spotted Snape, swiping angrily at his nose and trudging back up to the castle, dragging his broom in his left hand. James elbowed his best friend, who muttered, "Excellent" under his breath and pulled James by the sleeve toward the other boy.
"Oy, Snivelly!" Sirius called.
Snape paused, stopping in his tracks. He just stopped for a second before shaking his head slightly, as if to himself, and continuing the walk up the lawn.
"Hey, he's talking to you, Snapey!" James shouted. "You reply when people talk to you!" He jogged up the lawn to get close enough to Snape to talk in normal voices. He could hear Sirius follow him.
"Shove off, Potter," Snape hissed over his shoulder.
"Slippery hands you've got, eh, Snivellus?" Sirius snickered. "It was only a matter of time before the grease from your hair spread to the rest of you."
They were gaining an audience; a few packs of people who had been heading up to the castle had stopped to watch. There were a few appreciative sniggers at Sirius's comment, and he tossed a smile over his shoulder to his followers.
Snape finally stopped walking and turned to face them, glaring. He was clenching his teeth and gripping his broom, his chest heaving with the deep breaths he was taking.
"What, you're not even going to talk back?" Sirius mocked. "That's so unlike you, Snivellus."
Snape made a low, guttural, growling sort of noise in the back of his throat and was just about to reach for his wand when Lily Evans's voice rang out from behind James and Sirius, "Don't touch your wand, Snape."
Snape turned his attention to her, his eyes wide in fury. "Do you hear them?" he snarled.
"I'll handle this," Evans said. "Go to the hospital wing and get your nose fixed."
Snape glowered at her, gripping the broom even tighter still.
"Just go, before you die of blood loss," Evans repeated.
Shooting one last glare at both Sirius and James, Snape turned on his heel and stalked up to the castle.
James had his eyes closed now. He should've known Evans would show up sooner or later. When he opened his eyes, she was standing right in front of him, one eyebrow raised, jaw set.
"Congratulations, Evans," he grinned. "You have got him supremely whipped."
She reached out, and he recoiled, thinking she was going to hit him. She didn't, but gripped his Head Boy badge and ripped it off of his chest.
"Hey!" he shouted. "That's mine!"
"You don't deserve it!"
"Dumbledore says otherwise," he snapped, snatching it back from her and shoving it in his pocket.
"You can't go around cursing people just because you want to!" Evans cried in indignation.
James paused. "I wasn't cursing anyone," he lied.
Evans narrowed her eyes. "I saw you," she said, her voice low and angry. "You were the one who made Snape drop the Quaggle."
"Quaggle?" James repeated, trying not to laugh. The girl was beautiful, yes, smart, yes, but she didn't know anything about Quidditch. "He didn't drop any Quaggle. Mostly because there's no such thing as a Quaggle."
"Whatever!" she shouted over the giggles of the crowd. "The point is, you sabotaged him and now you're trying to start a fight with him. What is your problem?"
"I was not starting a fight," James corrected her. "Was I, Sirius?"
Sirius shook his head solemnly. "There was no fight-starting of any kind," he confirmed.
Evans stared at both of them, practically shaking with anger. "Come with me, Potter," she hissed, turning away from him and starting to walk back up to the castle.
"What?" James asked, doing as he was told and tossing smirks over his shoulder at Sirius and the other people in the crowd. "Finally come to your senses? Taking me somewhere secluded so you can snog me senseless?"
"Potter, if you talk about snogging me one more time I'm going to cut your tongue off."
"Ooh, violence," James said, following her down the west corridor and up a flight of stairs. "That's hot, Evans. Threaten me again."
She balled her hands into fists, her knuckles turning white, but didn't say anything. They reached the second floor landing and she headed down a hallway, stopping at a door with the words "Student Authority Office" imprinted on it. This was where all the Prefect meetings took place. Evans pushed the door open with such force that it slammed against the wall, leaving a small hole. James followed her in, closing the door quietly behind him.
Evans raised her wand calmly, pointed it at him, and said, "Expelliarmus."
James's wand flew out of his pocket and floated towards her. She caught it and crossed the room to a filing cabinet in the corner of the room, opened a drawer, and dropped his wand in it.
"Hey!" James shouted for the second time in no more than ten minutes. "You can't do that!"
Evans turned to him, held up her wand again, and neatly dropped it into the drawer with his. She closed the drawer and folded her arms across her chest, green eyes narrowed at him.
James stared at the filing cabinet. "Why did you do that?" he asked slowly.
"So we won't come out of this room sporting extra limbs," she replied matter-of-factly.
James swallowed. "You realize that cabinet locks automatically, right?"
Evans paused. Obviously, she had forgotten about that. "Yes," she said. As he stared at her, she snapped, "We'll get them out, that's the least of your worries."
"What, you're going to scold me?"
"I could give you a detention."
"You can't prove I did anything!"
"The word of a Head Girl is worth more than you think, Potter," she responded sharply.
"That's not your word, Evans, that's called tattling," he retorted.
Evans threw her hands in the air. "When are you going to grow up, Potter?" she asked. "I mean, seriously, when?"
"Do you want an ETA?"
"If you've got one."
"I don't, but I'll get on that right away."
Evans rubbed her temples, mumbling something that sounded like, 'bloody impossible' before taking a seat in one of the chairs that surrounded the long, rectangular table and changing tack. "You can't keep doing things like that to him," she said.
"Shouldn't McGonagall be having this conversation with me?" James asked airily.
"I'm sure you and McGonagall have had several conversations almost identical to this one, and obviously it hasn't done anything."
"Well," James replied thoughtfully, taking the seat across from her, "not exactly like this. See, usually she offers me a biscuit first, and then we start talking about whatever it is she thinks I've done and she gets this pinched look on her face, like she has just eaten a pear."
Evans glanced up at him, confused. "What do you mean, like she's just eaten a pear?"
James shrugged. "I don't like pears. The pinched look is exactly the look I get when I accidentally ingest a pear. Except in that case, there is usually some vomit. There's no vomit with McGonagall."
"Are you making this up?"
"I'm a lot of things, Evans," he smirked, "but dishonest is hardly one of them."
She glared coldly at him. "I beg to differ."
"How so?" he said pleasantly, leaning back in chair and watching her as though he found her extremely entertaining.
"You just lied to me when you said you didn't hex those Quaffles so that Snape couldn't catch them."
James smirked again. "I never said I didn't do it," he pointed out. "Never said I did, either. For all you know, it could've been Sirius."
"Like I said, it could've been."
Evans looked supremely annoyed. "I know it was you, Potter!"
James shrugged. "Again, I'm not saying it wasn't. What are you going to do, exercise your Prefect powers and tell on me?"
She narrowed her eyes. "I don't tattle. I'd much rather take care of it myself."
He grinned. "And see, that's what I love about you, Evans. You're an aggressive person. Take-charge."
She ignored him. "The point is, Potter, that you cannot keep cursing people just because you feel like it."
His playful demeanor turned serious abruptly. "I'm not," he replied simply. "I mean, I don't. I always have reasons."
Evans chortled darkly. "I'm so sure. And what was your reason for today's episode? Afraid Snape would be better at Quidditch than you?"
"Hardly. Snape will never be better at Quidditch than me."
"So what was it, then?"
"He's a snake, Evans."
"He's a person, Potter."
"You're defending him?" he asked, disbelieving.
Evans tossed her hair. "Someone has to."
James scoffed incredulously, raking a hand through his hair and shaking his head. "Evans, he wouldn't hesitate for a second to kill your whole family."
She hesitated, staring at him. "Just because he's a Slytherin doesn't mean he's a Voldemort supporter."
He shook his head again, almost smiling. "Naïveté is cute, Evans, but it won't get you anywhere," he said. "Trust me on that one."
She glowered. "You know, you're just as bad as they are."
James raised his eyebrows. "Yeah? How d'you figure that one?"
"By saying that all Slytherins are Death…Mongers, or whatever they're called—"
"Death Eaters," he corrected.
"Yes, that. By saying that all of them are like that, you're agreeing with their way of thinking. These Death Eaters are saying that all Muggle born witches and wizards deserve to die, and you say that all Slytherins deserve to die—"
"Hey, when did we go from 'cursed' to 'dead'?" he asked quickly.
"It's the same thing," Evans said tersely. "It doesn't matter if you're beating them with sticks or taking Quaffles from them. It's—it's the same."
"Well," James said quietly. "Not really. 'Cause beating with sticks is, you know, beating with sticks and taking Quaffles is…taking Quaffles. And I didn't take the Quaffle from him. I just…wouldn't let him have it."
"It's still the same," she insisted softly.
The two of them stared at each other for a few moments, before James said, "Maybe it is the same."
"I said 'maybe'."
"And I said 'it is'."
"Whatever." He paused again and said, "I wouldn't ever—I wouldn't go that far, though. Beating people with sticks and all that, I mean."
She tilted her head. "Can you really say that? Honestly, that is?"
"Maybe not. Who knows. I wouldn't like to, though." He scratched his head absently. "But then, who likes killing people?"
"If there weren't people who didn't like it," Evans pointed out, "there wouldn't be any."
There was another silence, but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence, it was actually sort of nice. As nice as it could be when wedged between this conversation. "It's going to get bad, you know," he said finally.
"In case you haven't noticed, it kinda already is."
"Are you worried?" He met her eyes, and she didn't even get angry. She kept his gaze on her.
"You could say that." She inhaled sharply and looked away, back at the filing cabinet, and he glanced down at his hands.
"What do you think I should do?" James asked, breaking the silence.
Evans turned to look at him again. "What do you mean?"
She hesitated. "Doesn't matter," she muttered. "You'll just ignore whatever I say and go make him tap dance in the middle of dinner or something."
"No," he said. "I mean…I know it's not much, but…" He paused and met her eyes again. "I'll—er—do whatever you want me to." He flushed, realizing how impossibly lame and girlish this sounded.
She seemed surprised—and if he could say so himself, it seemed to be a pleasant kind of surprised—and considered it for a moment or so. "Apologize," she said simply.
"That's it?" He'd been expecting her to ask him to wear a sign around his neck saying something incredibly self-deprecating or something of the sort.
She shrugged. "Like you said," she told him, rising from her seat, "it's not much. But it means something."
James stood too, and glanced at the filing cabinet. "You going to get those out?" he asked.
"It's locked, isn't it?" she said. "I'll have to go ask someone to open it."
He smiled and said, "It's not locked."
Evans stared. "But you said—"
"You honestly trust me that much, Evans?"
She fought her own smile and gripped the handle of the drawer. She tugged and it slid open easily. Evans pulled the two wands out and tossed him his, which he caught.
"Well," James said awkwardly, pocketing it. "I'm going to, er, apologize, then." He nodded to her and turned to leave.
When he was halfway out the door, she blurted, "Lily."
He turned, confused. "What?"
She was blushing. "It's, um, Lily," she said. "My name, that is."
He couldn't contain his grin. "Lily," he repeated, testing it out a little. The word felt weird, foreign even, on his tongue, but he could definitely get used to it. He held up a hand. "James."
She smiled back. "James."
He beamed like an idiot all the way to the hospital wing. He may have even giggled somewhere down the line.
It wasn't much.
But it meant something.
A/N: As for James cursing Snape in seventh year, Remus and Sirius said in "Career Advice" that 'Snape was a special case', so I figured no matter how much he'd matured after the whole werewolf-baiting incident, he would keep hexing Snape…and as for the cursing in itself, I apologize if it was lame. :) I'm really not good at prank ideas.