It's so odd. I was going to apologise up here for writing one shots when I could be updating the Story of James Potter, but I only just realised . . . I don't have to! Yay! I can write as many one shots as I like without having to answer to anyone! Shove that in you pipe and smoke it!
Sorry, got a tad carried away there.
Anyway, yet another one shot. L/J this time, my lufflies. It rained today, so I couldn't go to Regents Park and check its layout, but it hardly matters anyway, as most of it takes place in a part I theoretically couldn't reach.
A Careless Fantasy
In London's Regent's Park, there was a vast array of rose gardens that blossomed beautifully in the spring. Near the park café, was a large path lined with benches and flanked by expansive, green lawns. This path led to a spectacular fountain, adorned with statues of merpeople (the muggle kind), which had gone green with age and the continuous flow of water. The pool was shallow enough for muggles to be able to see the pennies they tossed in.
Turn right at the fountain and you'd come to a maze of flowered hedges. Find the right spot in the hedge, run an outline of a doorway with your wand and the hedge would vanish, allowing you to enter the magical gardens.
"Is anyone coming?" Lily Evans asked conspiratorially.
"Oh, what are you worried about?" replied James Potter dismissively, "muggles never notice anything."
"They noticed that time Sirius got his tongue stuck in the Mr Softee van's ice cream dispenser."
"Well, that was only because Peter started shouting," reasoned James.
Lily gave the surrounding area one last furtive glance, just in case, and then touched her wand to the base of the hedge, tracing the outline of a doorway. Once the shape had vanished, both she and James scuttled through and emerged in the Alberic Grunnion Memorial Gardens.
Here, the grass was greener without having to be fenced off and stuck with a 'Keep Off The Grass' sign every few years, the benches had invisible cushions installed, as well as convenient drinks' holders, the water in the fountains danced in ways conventional physics would have never allowed it to and the flowers and shrubberies were much more . . . interesting.
It had been in their seventh year at Hogwarts when Lily had realised James wasn't quite so much of an arrogant twat as she had previously thought. He could, in fact, on occasion, be quite sweet and after he had blown away the patches of dirt and rot away from his heart, she discovered that he did indeed have one, and that it was exactly in the right place.
So the school year ended, and Lily and James left older, wiser, and on very much friendlier terms.
The summer that followed was one of the best Lily remembered. Warm-weathered days flew by in a muddle of activities. She went to the beach, she shopped, she devoured both books and ice creams by the dozen, she danced, she relaxed . . .
The only constant through everything had been James. One way or another, they kept inviting each other to do things. Sometimes they'd be surrounded by other friends, watching James win Lily a large, purple stuffed spider by shooting Quidditch goals at Brighton's Premier magical theme park. Sometimes they'd be alone, Lily challenging James to see if he could make strawberry milkshake the muggle way (or clearing an unidentifiable pink liquid off the ceiling, as the case required).
During seventh year, Lily decided that she could tolerate James Potter. At the beginning of the summer, she decided that she quite enjoyed his company. At the end of the summer, she decided that he was one of her best friends. Now, with autumn brushing its first touches on the weather, she decided that . . . somewhere along the line, she'd tripped on the discovery that he was one of the best wizards she knew . . . and fallen head first in love with him.
How careless, she thought, smiling as she and James crunched along on the gravel that was charmed never to get stuck in your shoes.
Lily was absently heading for a bench on the other side of the grass, when James abruptly plopped down in the middle of lawn. When Lily didn't sit down next to him, he looked up, squinting against the early autumn sunset.
"Sit yourself," he said brightly, patting a patch of grass beside him.
"I don't want to sit on the ground, it's wet," said Lily, folding her arms, "there's bench over there."
"So we've had a spot of rain," James rolled his eyes. "It's only a bit of damp, it won't swallow you alive."
Reaching up, he hooked a hand through her elbow and tried to pull her down next to him. It was either that she was about to sit down anyway, or that he pulled a little too hard, but suddenly, she tipped over too fast and landed smack dab on top of him.
"No, it's my fault . . ."
"Here, I'll move my . . ."
Once they had sorted themselves out, there followed the appropriate amount of throat clearing and avoiding each other's gazes.
Lily sighed quietly. It was always like this. Something would happen, and things would take a sharp turn in the direction of an awkward atmosphere.
Once, during the summer, she and James had gone to visit his grandmother because James boasted far and wide of her lemonade. The elderly woman had been overjoyed to see her grandson, and decidedly happier that had visited with a pretty young lady. When they had all been settled outside with a glass of marvellous lemonade each, James's grandmother had asked Lily innocently,
"So, love, is my grandson being a gentleman?" Lily had glanced at James in confusion and smiled, replying,
"Yes, when he puts his mind to it . . . why?"
"Well, I just think a charming girlie like yourself deserves an attentive boyfriend."
James had choked on an ice cube. When Lily had patted him sufficiently on the back, he told his grandmother that he and Lily were merely friends.
"Oh," she said, unabashed, "what a shame, you two look adorable together."
This was only one of quite a few compromising situations in which James's nose would go slightly pink and the conversation between them would dry up for a moment.
The problem, James thought, as he straightened his glasses and Lily sat herself firmly on the grass, was that he didn't really quite know what was going on. There was no question in his mind that he loved Lily. When she had despised every fibre of his being, he had liked her well enough. Now, when she was his friend, his feelings had blossomed into something unrestrained by the rebukes of his advances or the fear that his head was going to be cursed clean off his neck.
Once enough awkward atmosphere had floated around between them, Lily shifted around on the lawn.
"I really do think it's too wet down here, James," she said, disgruntled, "I'm going to ruin this cloak."
"I'll buy you a new one," James said dismissively, leaning back to lie on the grass with his hands behind his head and his eyes closed. Lily tisked good naturedly.
"Stop throwing money around," she told him mock-sternly. James cracked open one eye to peer at her.
"I don't throw money around," he said, indignantly, "I throw it at you," he added with a smile.
How very charming he was, thought Lily, and how very careless she had been to fall in love with him.
She tipped over to lean on her elbow next to him.
"Still," she said, "I'd feel better about you throwing money at me if you actually had a job."
"I'm waiting for the Aurors' Council to reply to my application, aren't I?" James said lazily. Lily hummed in assent and rested her head on her arms, not really caring about the damp as much as she let on.
Turning his head to watch her, James thought that he and Lily never really talked about the future much. Both of them had a habit of sorting it all out as they went along, and didn't really make that many definite plans. James hadn't planned on applying for an Auror's position, it had been more of a 'I need a job, this looks like fun' decision. Lily hadn't planned on being promised a highly-paid position in the Ministry as soon as she had come out of Hogwarts, she had planned on going into research, like everyone else. They had never planned to spend the almost the entire summer together, had they? And, for reader purposes, neither of them had ever planned to fall in love with the other.
"Lily?" James said, turning over to face her, "where do you see yourself in ten years' time?"
After giving him a look for asking such a bizarre question, Lily raised her eyebrows in a 'dunno' gesture.
"Not a clue," she told him. "I can see you in ten years' time, though."
"Really?" James laughed, that certainly hadn't been an answer he had been planning on. "Where am I in ten years' time, then, you tell me."
"Right," Lily said, "you are: an internationally renowned auror, with a stylishly modern bachelor flat in London that you share with Sirius."
"Wow," James said, "Sounds brilliant."
"And you can afford the rent because you've caught Voldemort," Lily continued.
"I have?" James asked.
"Yep, you decided you were having none his bollocks, and you arrested him."
"Smashing," grinned James, "carry on."
"So, one day while you're sitting in one of Diagon Alley's restaurants enjoying a . . ." Lily squinted one eye whilst thinking, "crab, mayonnaise and salad sandwich . . ."
"Very good," James said, applauding her on remembering his favourite.
". . . the manager of the restaurant taps you on the shoulder and says, 'Pardon me, sir, there is someone in the fireplace for you.'
"So you go and speak to the coach of the Cheshire Cloud Chasers Quidditch team, who says 'Now Voldemort's gone and you've got a bit of time on your hands, Mr Potter, would you mind awfully coming to play for us?' . . ."
Lily stopped because James was laughing so hard that tears were coming to his eyes. She giggled a bit herself and had to admit her prediction had got a little out of hand.
"Aw, that's fantastic," James said weakly when he had composed himself and taken his glasses off to wipe his eyes, "I shall have to tell Sirius."
Lily smiled and hummed again.
"Right," James said sitting up and leaning on his elbow, "my turn now. In ten years' time, you shall be . . ."
"Oh, Merlin, James, don't . . . just don't," Lily said, pulling a face.
"Excuse me, you shall be . . ." James said, scandalised at the interruption, "Minister of Magic," –Lily snorted- "and you'll be doing a cracking job of clearing up the wizarding world after Voldemort. So after a particularly stressful day of campaigning and winning more werewolf rights, you come home late and collapse onto the sofa, only to be handed a cup of tea with . . ." James paused for a moment, "half a centimetre of full fat cream and two sugars . . ."
"Very good," Lily said, impressed at his memory.
". . . by your husband who sits down next to you and gives you a kiss. But whether you kiss him back or not, is up to you, of course, I can't say."
"Right," Lily said, smiling. "So who is this fabulously dashing husband of mine?" she demanded, lying back on the grass, "anyone I know?"
"Well," James said, fiddling with a blade of grass, "I was rather hoping it would be me."
Lily's head turned to the side extremely fast.
"Pardon?" she said slowly.
"Yeah," James said, frowning slightly, "I think my fantasy is definitely better than yours, because instead of arresting Voldemort and playing professional Quidditch, I'd actually rather be handing you that cup of tea and giving you that kiss."
Lily's mouth still dropped even though she was lying fully horizontal.
"Which fantasy are you favouring?" he asked, trying to swallow his nerves. Lily closed her eyes for a moment. Then she smiled.
"Yours," she replied.
Of course, right at that moment, James hadn't arrested Voldemort and neither was he playing professional Quidditch. Lily wasn't Minister of Magic and she hadn't been campaigning for more werewolf rights. James couldn't give Lily a cup of tea with half a centimetre of full fat cream and two sugars, but, right at that moment, he did give her that kiss.
And right at that moment, Lily did kiss him back.
For the next two weeks, I shall be in Malta, and if you don't know where that is, shame on you. Subsequently, I shall be on a beach/ at a restaurant/ on the film set of 'Popeye', and I shan't be able to read/ review/ comment/ reply to emails etc . . .
That shouldn't, on the other hand, deter you from reviewing. Come on, you know you wanna. : D