Author's Note: This is your fluff warning! If you don't like fluff, don't read. This is another one shot to pacify those waiting on the next installment of Elusive.
Summary: Lily has stolen something of James' and he's determined to get it back, no matter how long it takes.
Chapter 1: Knicked
By: Almicene Melwen
Lily Evans pushed through the crowd at the 9 ¾ platform, looking at the tops of heads to see if any messy black-haired wizards stood out. No such luck. She would just have to find him by searching through the many compartments. Lily grimaced at the thought; thinking of unwanted people she might find while looking for James. Reluctantly she headed for the train that would take her back to Hogwarts for the sixth year, thinking how much had changed between her and Potter.
James was such an egotistical prat at the beginning of the year, and immature to boot. He was forever playing pranks and torturing kids that he didn't like, always thinking of himself as being lord and master over everything. Lily had been very prompt to put him in his place when he tried to show her just how smart he was when he had hexed a Slytherin boy in front of her. Needless to say, it shocked him that anyone in his own house thought he was less than magnificent. So he had spent until the winter hols to convince her of how great he really was. Lily had been less than ecstatic, naturally. So she gave him a wonderful present to remember her by – that was, five difficult to remove hexes wrapped up in a package. Potter must have been thrilled, naturally. Immature yes, but definitely worth it to give him a taste of his own medicine. Besides, who could have proved it was her who gave the present to him?
Lily had expected some horrific prank to be played in retribution for her little stunt. She cringed every time she lifted up her blankets, opened her drawers, and even when sitting down in class. She half expected something nasty to explode. She even begun avoiding Potter and his friends, acting like a paranoid woman, checking around the corners to make sure they weren't there. But nothing happened. Not one word of insult, or even the slightest hint of a dungbomb.
Lily finally decided to confront James when she couldn't take the suspense. She wanted him to get it over with, so she could stop being so paranoid. But when she cornered him after his Quidditch practice, demanding to know what kind of tricks he was playing, she got a soft laugh in response.
"I thought that was your present," he admitted to her, dripping with sweat, and looking extremely exhausted. Lily didn't think Quidditch practice could have taken that much out of the normally energetic young wizard. She frowned when he gave her a small smile tinged with sadness. "It took me a couple of weeks to get them all off. Well, Remus and crew helped." He leaned against the cement wall underneath the Quidditch stands, politely waiting for Lily's response.
Her brows knit in confusion. "I don't understand. Where's the dungbomb, the spiders, or snakes that I'm sure you must have thought of for your revenge. Or is making me extremely paranoid, waiting for you to strike-"
He interrupted her ramblings. "So that's what this is about." Again, she saw a flicker of pain in his hazel eyes, which were staring at her at the moment. "You don't have to worry . . . " he hesitated before adding the next part, "Lily. No jokes, no pranks, I promise." He shuffled his weight to his other foot, still clutching his broom. He pulled out a gold pocket watch just enough out of his pants to see the time, but not enough to flaunt his wealth. "If that's all, please excuse me, I have to be some where soon."
Lily just nodded dumbly and he quickly rushed down the corridor to the locker room, no doubt to shower and change.
That was when she realized he had not said one arrogant remark, or acted immaturely. And he had called her by her first name. It was too disturbing, but his change was a great mystery to her for a while until she overheard a couple of girls talking about him in the Gryffindor common room.
"Did you hear about his parents?" a girl with pigtails asked eagerly.
"No. What about them?" the second girl asked, scrunching up her face in confusion. She didn't understand why anyone would care about his parents, except for their money. Maybe they were making a monetary donation to Hogwarts.
"I heard that You-Know-Who killed them during the Winter hols," she informed her friend.
Lily gasped, covering her mouth quickly so they wouldn't think she was eavesdropping from the other side of the room. She pretended to be very interested in her Herbology text.
"What? Not the Potters. Their family is too closely connected to Dumbledore, and they must have layers upon layers of wards on their mansion. 'Sides, I didn't see it in the Prophet," the black-haired witch argued.
"Puh-lease," said her friend. "As if someone couldn't pay off the Prophet to not write about the story. The Potters would have wanted their privacy."
Lily had heard enough, and she quickly shut her book, and raced up to her room. Oh gods, she thought, feeling sick, he had lost his parents and she had played a horrible joke on him. She would have retched, but thankfully she hadn't eaten anything recently. Feeling terrible, Lily sat on her bed, trying to think of the best way to apologize. Eventually she worked up the courage and managed to corner James while he was alone, practically jumping on him, dragging him by the hand while he was adorably confused at being abducted. She pulled him into a nearby, not very well known passageway, which was underneath a large tapestry.
"Lily?" he asked, squinting to see his captor in the dim lighting.
She wrung her hands behind her back, trying to shake her nervousness out that way. "Yes, it's me."
He gave her a smile she was sure he had charmed many girls with before. Trying not to stare at the contours of his mouth (he was Potter after all, she vehemently reminded herself), she looked at the wall next to his face. She opened her mouth to speak, but he cracked a joke before she could say anything.
"You know, someone might get the impression that you like me, with the way you've been dragging me into dark hallways lately." The teasing note in his voice took any arrogance out of the statement.
Much to her chagrin, she blushed, and cursed the trait that was made so much obvious by her auburn locks. She thanked the fates that it was dark, making James unable to see the brilliant shades of red she was turning. Or so she thought.
"Wow, and I've even made you blush," he chuckled good-naturedly. "What kind of thoughts could have put that shade of red on your cheeks Miss Evans?" He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at her.
Lily finally managed to regain some last shred of dignity, and ignored James' teasing. "I just wanted to . . ." her voice became softer as regret crept in for the prank she played on James, "apologize for the joke . . . at Christmas. I didn't know about your parents."
James's expression immediately darkened, and he scowled at her. "What about my parents," he asked in a low voice.
She instinctively cowered back, as he stepped towards her. By the way he was looking at her, she thought he would hit her if she said the wrong thing. "I just heard . . . or thought that they-" she stammered out, trying to avoid his wrath.
"What!" he growled, putting both of his hands beside her head as she moved back until she had no more room between him and the wall.
Lily cringed, wondering at how James could have such a different side to his personality. He was definitely someone she would never want to cross. It was as if she could feel his anger coming off him in waves so her voice was uncharacteristically shaky. "I just heard that your parents were killed over the winter. I wanted to offer my condolences."
He stopped looming over her, throwing her one last dark look before leaving. "My parents aren't dead," he said forcefully, as if trying to convince himself more than Lily.
Lily thought James had hated her ever since that night, so she had tried to stay out of his way, avoiding him if she could. She wasn't a coward, but she didn't want to bother him since he was obviously still grieving. So she was surprised when he had approached her at a Quidditch game, or rather draped his cloak over her as she was shivering from the unexpected cold April weather. He hadn't said many words to her, but it was enough to convey that he wasn't angry with her, nor had he ever been.
"I want it back eventually," he said over his shoulder, walking back to the section with his friends. Lily's surprised green eyes never left his back until he disappeared into the thick mesh of Gryffindors cheering for the Ravenclaw team.
Now here she was, still trying to get through to the train, his cloak wrapped around her. Lily had really meant to give it back before the end of the term, but it was so nice and warm! Her forgetfulness hadn't helped either. She managed to push through the hordes of children and their parents seeing them off, and was about to step on the train when she heard a voice call out to her.
"Hey! There's the cloak thief!" James said good-naturedly, having a much easier time to get through the crowds as they parted for the tall slim wizard. There was a sparkle in his eyes that she hadn't seen the last year at Hogwarts, which made Lily smile slightly.
"It's good to see you too James," she said cautiously, trying to guard herself from his infectious smile and charm.
"Thank you for letting me borrow your cloak," Lily said, taking it off. "It was very kind. . . . dare I say uncharacteristically kind of you," she teased him.
He grinned. "I'd watch who you insult Miss Evans. Next time you may not get a cloak when it's cold," he warned.
"Nevertheless, thanks again." Lily's instincts took over as she struggled to express her thanks. She reached up and hugged him, and turned to kiss his cheek, but then James just had to turn his head towards her. Their lips met briefly, and Lily's eyes widened, as she quickly pulled back.
James' cheeks tinged pink, but he managed to give her a boyish grin. "I wasn't expecting that much of a thanks, but hey, I'll take what I can get. Next time I'll be charging higher interest rates."
Lily was about to hand the cloak over to him, when Sirius showed up, and pulled James away quickly. "Wait James!" she yelled, hoping he would hear her over the din of the crowd. "You forgot . . . " she frowned as he didn't turn around, "your cloak."
Naturally, when one thing starts to go wrong, everything goes wrong. Lily had just fallen out of bed, and stumbled across her books littered on the floor to get to the door and someone's incessant knocking. So much for her afternoon nap. Figuring it was one of her roommates who had forgotten the key, Lily didn't bother putting anything over her thin white shift that was comfortable for sleeping in. Grumbling, Lily managed to open the door, but was shocked to see none other than James Potter standing behind it.
She rubbed her eyes. "James?" she asked wearily. "What brings you here . . . wait a minute, what . . . how the hell did you get into the girls' dormitories?"
He grinned (annoyingly Lily told herself). "Remind me not to wake you. You're definitely grouchy when woken up. But then again, if I get to see you in that . . ." he trailed off, pretending to leer at her.
Lily's eyes widened as she remembered what she was wearing. She quickly closed the door to a small crack, so she could only make out James face, and her eyes were just about the only thing he could see.
"Well?" she said, wanting to go back to sleep, and not think about how handsome James was looking at the moment. He was definitely up to something with that particular look in his eyes. He couldn't hide his mischievousness even behind the glasses. "What do you want?"
"You nicked something of mine and I want it back," James announced, still standing behind the door.
Lily rolled her eyes. His cloak, of course. Couldn't he have waited until later to get it instead of interrupt her precious beauty sleep? "Just a minute," she said, not bothering to close the door, as she went over to her side of the room to fetch his cloak.
Pulling the velvety fabric into her hands, Lily promptly dropped it as she felt a pair of arms encircle her waist. James, naturally, had taken advantage of the open door. He turned her around to face him, his eyes a darker shade than normal, and he flicked his tongue across his lips subconsciously.
Lily's heart began to pound like crazy. "James, what are you doing?" she asked in breathy voice, and cursing herself for showing how he affected her with his nearness. She kept telling herself this was the prat that she disliked for a good portion of her Hogwarts years. And just because he was a good looking prat didn't mean she wanted to kiss him . . . really, she didn't.
"I told you," he said, smiling. "You nicked something of mine and I want it back, no matter how long it takes."
Lily was confused, as he had completely ignored the cloak. He bent his head down and brushed his lips with hers. Her body reacted to him, and she opened her mouth as he gently kissed her. He smelled so wonderful and she smiled lazily as she leaned against him, her arms around his neck. His warmth added to his appeal.
She still wanted an answer though. Lily let her eyes flutter close as he placed another tender kiss against her ear. "What did I nick?" she breathed.
He smiled against her ear as he said in a husky voice. "My first kiss."