Hoorah! Brand spanking new fic! Brand spanking new notebook to write chapters in when I am in bed or have no computer access! Brand spanking new plot line and brand spanking new fluffy bits! Weh-hey!
Yes, the new fic is an L/J one, and takes place solely in seventh year, because of course this is the funniest year to write.
Disclaimer: People keep telling me to put these things in, even though something in 's terms apparently does it for you, but anyway. I don't own any characters belonging to JK Rowling or Warner Bros or any other famous people, sadly.
Anyway, here we go, remember to tell me what you think about it. Should I stop now before anyone gets hurt, or should I stagger on?
The Beautiful Game
One – Hello! . . .
"I'm looking for a Seeker, how obscure does that sound?" James Potter asked the world in general.
"Not that obscure," Remus Lupin said matter-of-factly, "If you think of Seeker as a noun and not a verb, you are searching for a person to fill the position of searching for something else, namely a snitch in this season's Quidditch games. Therefore, to any witch or wizard, your meaning is quite clear."
"How many thuds did you lot count?" Sirius asked James and Peter, "I think everyone within a five mile radius went to sleep during that."
They were sitting in a compartment of the Hogwarts Express, on their way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. James and Sirius were sitting sideways on opposite seats, furthest away from the window and passing a Quaffle to each other by chucking it at the pane of glass, rebounding it to one another.
"What if you break the window?" asked Peter worriedly. "You'd be in trouble." James caught the ball and held onto it, glancing at Sirius.
"He's right, you know," Remus said, from behind his copy of the Daily Prophet.
"Yeah, we'd loose our Quaffle," James said seriously to his friend. Sirius smirked and so did James. "Ah, well," he grinned with a shrug.
"What about David Maple?" asked Sirius, "He was a good flyer six years ago, in lessons, did he try out?"
"Yeah he did. Christ, what a fiasco. He couldn't find the slowest Snitch coz his dandruff was so bad. That was probably the closest we'd ever been to playing in snow."
"So you're telling me, out of the dozens of students who tried out for Gryffindor Seeker, not one of them was good."
"Padfoot my friend, I'd have been better off with a Puffskein strapped to an Original Vintage Family Cleansweep."
"I hear a second year's trying to smuggle one in this year, shall I ask if we can borrow it?" asked Sirius.
"Exactly how many times have you read that, Ver?" asked Lily Evans, a few compartments down the train. Verity Hooch squinted one eye at the ceiling, as if she had something in it.
"I've lost count," she answered finally.
"I'm not surprised," grinned Lily.
"Oi, I happen to like my Quidditch," Verity said, closing Quidditch Through the Ages with a thump, "And I happen to know, from reading this Merlin-knows-how-many-times that you would make an excellent Gryffindor Seeker."
"For the Merlin-knows-how-many-time: No," Lily answered.
"Come on, Lil," Verity whined. "You fit the position like Snape fits that arse-dent he's made on his Potions' bench. You're fast, observational, and skinny as hell, OW!" -Lily had just elbowed her in the ribs- "And bloody dangerous! Those things are sharp!"
"I have an extremely fast metabolism!" Lily said forcefully.
"And," Verity went on, ignoring the phrase she'd heard so many times it had been chiselled into her memory with a carving knife and a mallet, "A certain James Potter would be incredibly grateful to you for your services."
"James Potter can go and hang himself from the Slytherin goalpost with Filch's whip, for all I care," Lily replied.
"All right, I understand that the last thing you would want to do would be to help James," Verity said, "But it would be nice to go to practice together, wouldn't it?"
"It would," Lily said, faintly wistful, "But Verity, it's not that simple. I'm Head Girl now, I'm going to be really busy . . ."
"Bollocks," Verity dismissed, "If James can be Head Boy while being Captain, well, anything he can do, you can do better."
"Thank you Verity," Lily said in a perilously calm voice, "But while James will most likely spend seventy percent of his time pissing around and the other thirty sleeping, I'll be hard pressed to keep up with my NEWT work and take on his duties as well."
"Fine, fine, just think about it, all right?"
"Oh, and Verity?"
"You are my best friend and I love you, but if you make a comparison between Potter and I once more, I may have to hex you straight into the stratosphere."
Strolling down the corridors and scoffing a mountain of Flashing-flavour Gobstoppers, the Marauders had had a close shave when their compartment had been discovered by a group of hysterical seventh Hufflepuff Girls, one Rita Skeeter asking excitedly if James was considering forfeiting the Quidditch Cup this year for lack of a Seeker.
Suddenly, Remus stopped outside a compartment and peered inside.
"Hey Prongs!" he said, with a smirk, "It's the love-of-your-life, Miss Lily Evans!"
"Sod off," James told him, crunching down on a fairly fresh gobstopper and nearly cracking a few teeth, although he began to make his way to the indicated compartment.
"And she's Head Girl!" exclaimed Sirius as his head popped up next to Remus's. "I can see her badge!"
"Oi! What the hell do you think you're doing looking there?!" demanded James, shoving his friends out the way of the door and sliding it open.
Evans and Hooch looked up at his entrance. James opened his mouth to greet her politely, just like he'd practiced the whole summer, when Sirius interrupted.
"Hey Evans!" he said gleefully, "Head Girl, eh? Commiserations!"
"Thank you Sirius," Lily said gracefully, "I'm going to need them, since I'll be working, or clearing up after Potter."
"Ouch," Remus said as Peter smiled.
"How long was that, mate?" Sirius asked James, "three seconds? Must be some sort of record."
James grinned and ran his fingers through his hair instinctively. This may seem like a completely bizarre reaction, but James had never let the fact that Lily clearly detested him be a bother. She was gorgeous, funny, clever as a fox playing poker, and seeing her eyes flash in fury when he tried to ask her out proved that she at least had some feelings towards him.
Of course, when he asked her out, he would have preferred her to say yes, come with him, let him entertain her and have the time of her life, but . . . good things came to those who got a vast array of insults and death threats sent at them.
"How was your summer, Lily?" asked Remus. The Head Girl smiled at him and James was instantly insanely jealous.
"It was good," Lily said, "My sister got married."
"Yeah, to some company owner called Vernon Dursley," she said.
"Looks like a rhino on Pepper-up Potion," Verity added with a sly smile.
"I meant to ask you something, Lily," Sirius said thoughtfully, "What was it? Oh, yes! Will you grace my friend Prongs here with your presence on the first Hogsmeade trip for a walk? Maybe a Butterbeer or two? A kiss or two- Oof!" James hit him in the stomach.
The Head Boy's eyes widened, as he hadn't requested Sirius to ask Lily out for him. Still, he couldn't help listening in a desperately hopeful mood.
"Well, you can tell Potter that he can shove his invitation up his backside, along with all his other invitations and his head," Lily said tonelessly.
"Oh well," James said, with a smile and a shrug, "Maybe next time."
"You can also tell Potter that I don't have a clue why he's even bothering! It's not as if I'm suddenly going to jump up and leave Amos just because he asked me out for the zillionth time."
"Ok, maybe not next time," James chuckled. "How is old Dastardly Diggory then?" he asked, earning himself a glare that would have melted an iceberg.
"He's good, he wrote to me a few times over the summer, not that it's any of your business. I think I'll go and find him."
So she got up, pushing James forcefully out of the way when he refused to move, and stomped out of the compartment.
"Why do you wind her up so much, James?" asked Verity once the door had shut with a click.
"I don't!" insisted James. He ran his fingers through his hair and bit his lip when he was bombarded with disbelieving looks and raised eyebrows. "I dunno, I don't do it on purpose. It just happens! I do something stupid, coz that's how I am and she gets irritated, and I find it funny and then she gets really angry and then-" he grimaced.
"She takes decisive action?" asked Remus, with a smirk, remembering all the times he had woken up in the hospital wing after a full moon and found James in the bed beside his.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," answered James.
"In a painful manner of speaking?" asked Remus.
"So in effect," mused Sirius, "You are completely and firmly screwed."
"Yep," smiled James. "But, there's always hope."
"And there's always me," added Verity, inspecting her fingernails.
"What are you talking about Hooch?" asked Sirius. "Prongs wouldn't ask you out, his breath's already wasted on Evans."
"No, I mean, I'm her best friend, you twat," Verity tutted, rolling her eyes. "Which means I know how she thinks, and I know how she acts so based on a careful observation of how she acts around you I can tell that she really-"
"Is desperately in love with me?" asked James hopefully. Verity gave him a pitying look before continuing.
"That possibility is completely out of the question," she said. "All right, let's see. How about this?" She took a deep breath. "Your relationship is a lot like Quidditch." The boys stared at her in confusion.
"What? James keeps losing?" asked Peter.
"Shut up, Wormtail, I'm listening to this," James said.
"Ok, from James's point of point of view, Lily is his goal, and all he wants to do is score," Verity was waving her hands about like she did when she was discussing aspects of the game after practice with any member of the team who would listen. "So he keeps taking shots, and the whole reason he keeps missing is because he hasn't thought about his tactics or practiced enough."
"I practise loads!" argued James. Verity ignored him.
"Now from Lily's point of view, she and James are opposing teams . . ."
"That much is obvious," smirked Remus.
". . . and she's really competitive, who are we kidding? She hates his guts because he keeps trying to score and it doesn't work and it's just irritating that he keeps trying. But-"
"There's a 'but'?" asked James hopefully.
"Yes, there's a 'but'. But, as with any game, you can't play without an opposing team. Even though we may hate the Slytherins, we can't thrash them if they aren't there. Do you see? Without you, James, Lily wouldn't be able to vent her anger and she wouldn't be secretly flattered that you've kept trying for so long. In summary: she needs you."
"Wow," Peter said. "I just always thought Lily plain hated Prongs."
"I understand," Remus said to James. "She hates you . . ."
"But she needs me," James said quietly, with a grin so big it looked like it was going to swallow his head.
Lily had calmed down a little in her walk down the train and it wasn't long before she found the object of her search. Amos Diggory was slumped in a seat of a compartment, laughing his head off as Lily peered through the window and smiled. He was with a couple of his Ravenclaw friends, a few Hufflepuffs and a Gryffindor sixth year.
She slid back the door and waited for him to notice her . . . it took a little while.
As she stood there, for the first time in her life, she wished Amos had James Potter's radar capacity to know exactly where she was at any given moment. She cleared her throat.
He looked up at her and his eyes widened in shock.
"Lily!" he said. "You're Head Girl!" Ah, that explained it.
He got up and looked her up and down. Lily swallowed, she knew she had filled out her skinny bones over the summer, but there was no need to make it so obvious in front of everyone. Maybe that explained it.
They went out of the compartment and looked at each other for a few seconds until Lily stepped forward and pecked him on the cheek, he wasn't very tall.
"Hi," she said, wondering why he hadn't made his usual move to snog her blind.
"Why didn't you tell me you were Head Girl?" he asked, smiling nervously.
"I wanted it to be a surprise," Lily said coyly. I also didn't want to rub it in your face in case you weren't Head Boy; which you aren't, Potter is.
He seemed to relax. "It was a very good surprise," he grinned and leaned forward to kiss her.
Excessive amounts of gobstoppers had made the boys' mouths taste strange, so instead of eating them, they were playing a game of 'Hit The Doorknob'. Verity was keeping score.
Remus's gobstopper missed the target and instead hit the window. The pane cracked and splintered onto the floor as Remus cringed.
"You hypocrite, Moony," laughed Sirius, provoking his friend to smile as well. James pulled out his wand.
"Nevermind Moony, that's why you're commentating Quidditch. Reparo!"
The shards flew back into the window, but not necessarily into place. They cracked even more as they struggled to fit into the wrong places, leaving welded bits and little spaces.
"Whoops," grinned James, "Where's Lily when you need her?"
"Your go," Remus said to James. James chucked a sugar ball from his pile, where it hit the knob directly in the centre. This game was really doing marvels for his aim, but not marvels for his friendship with Lily, who walked into the compartment just as Sirius had chucked his gobstopper.
It flew straight at her, bonking her square on the forehead before being snatched out of the air by her quick fingers.
"Ow!" she exclaimed, outraged. "What the frig was that in aid of?" she asked, glaring around the compartment. James bit his lip.
"Er, sorry Lily," he said looking so genuinely sorry that Lily almost forgave him. "We were playing 'Hit the-', wait a minute." He jerked his pointing finger from Sirius to Lily. "Do that again."
All faint considerations of forgiveness were blown out of Lily's brain by the indignation of that order. Sirius lobbed another gobstopper at the Head Girl, who seized it out of the air before it could do her any injury.
"Stop it!" she demanded, going pink with anger.
"Do it again," James said. Sirius's eyebrows jumped before he threw another sweet at Lily. She had opened her hand before it was even halfway across the compartment. It whizzed into her open palm before her thin, pale fingers clamped shut around it.
"Right," she said, putting her sweet-filled hands on her hips, "Well done, you two can be the very first people I take points off once we get to school, what do you think of that?" Why was the stupid fool grinning!?
"I don't care!" James declared gleefully, "I've found myself a Seeker!"
There was silence for a few seconds, as, one by one, the occupants of the compartment smiled, except the Head Girl, that is.
"What in the name of Merlin's Y-fronts are you talking about, Potter?" she demanded, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"Thank you!" cried Verity, slicing the air with her palm at James and then at Lily. "I kept telling her she could do it."
"Seeker?" asked Lily, as if she were talking about a particularly rowdy student, (namely James). "You mean, as in Quidditch?"
"Yep!" James cried jubilantly, "Welcome to the team!" Delightedly, he found an excuse to rush over and sweep her up into a hug. She made an odd 'Oof!' sound and then an angry "Get off!" sound. Reluctantly, he complied.
"And I'm not on the team!" she stated, straightening her school uniform.
"What, why not?" asked James urgently, grabbing her wrist and dragging her outside into the corridor, for the train had come to a stop.
"Are you pathologically cretinous?" she said, wrenching her wrist out of his grasp. "I hate Quidditch and I don't know how to fly."
"I'll teach you, it's not that hard!" James grinned. "Hi Hagrid!"
"Hullo James!" the impressively tall man greeted. "Hullo Lily. Head students, eh? C'ngratulations!"
"Thank you, Hagrid," Lily said distractedly.
"Hagrid, I want Lily to be our Gryffindor Seeker, but she's being too damn difficult," James said, seizing Lily's hand again and dragging her with the first years to their massive friend.
"I am not being difficult," Lily said sullenly, yanking at her hand.
"Can you persuade her that she should take the position?" asked James holding on for dear life.
"Firs' Years! Well, all I can say isat James's Seeker is the most sought afta' position in this 'ere school," Hagrid agreed, "I saw tha' crowd on the pitch that day you was havin' tryouts, James. Firs' Years! Over 'Ere!"
"Thanks Hagrid," James grinned, "See you at the feast!" He then dragged Lily over to the horseless carriages that stood waiting to be filled with students. "See Lily?" he asked, tugging her hand round so that she faced him. "Everyone wants this position. We had sodding Slytherins trying out that day last year!"
"Potter, let go of my hand," Lily said through gritted teeth in a voice that would have sent the biggest, toughest, stupidest troll running for his life.
"Only if you promise me to think about it, Lily," he said seriously. He held up their hands, his grasping her pale, struggling spider-fingers. Lily's eyes flashed up at him in fury, but she abruptly stopped fighting when she saw the look in his eyes. It was strange.
"I want this hand, Lily," he told her quietly, but she could hear him loud and clear. "I want this hand to catch the Snitch for me," he added, silently making sure it was her right hand. "Just think about it? Please?"
Those green eyes were staring at him in a kind of awe. That awe was the thing that made him scared to hold onto her hand any more. It made him lose his nerve.
Quickly, he kissed the back of her hand and released it, turning round to run along the carriages to find his friends. Lily's hand was still suspended above her head as the last of the student clambered into the vehicles, (James was very tall). Slowly, she lowered it and stared at it, wondering what on Earth was so special about it.
Plunging back into reality, she spun around and spotted Verity waving at her, nearly falling sideways out of a carriage. Hurriedly, before the doors shut and she was left there on the platform (not a good start for a Head Girl, she was sure), she ran and hopped up the steps.
"So did James convince you?" asked Verity, once they were sat down and she had started to check her dirty blonde spikes were still standing up satisfactorily. Unfortunately, Lily had come to the conclusion that Potter was just as irresponsible and shifty as she had previously thought.
She also wished to take how she had felt when he had looked into her eyes and kissed her hand with her to the grave.
"Don't talk to me about that twat," Lily fumed, "I am not joining his stupid Quidditch team, I am never going to let him touch me again, and I won't be subject to his emotional blackmail!"
"Hold on," Verity said, her yellow, hawk-like eyes blinking in confusion, hand still hovering above her prickly head. "Start from the beginning?"
Professor Dumbledore shuffled his papers on his desk as if he were a newsreader in fancy dress. Shoving them to the side and clasping his hands in his desk, he smiled from James to Lily and back again for a few seconds.
"Firstly I would like to congratulate you both on your new positions of responsibility. I'm sure you will both do a fantastic job of it; that's why I chose you.
"I have a couple of things for you, you will meet the prefects of each house every Thursday afternoon at quarter past four. Your duties are essentially the same as a prefect's except you have the capacity to take away points, you have your own rooms, bathroom, and you have additional responsibilities such as being in place as the students' gateway to the faculty and helping any student in need. You'll find a list of all responsibilities and privileges in your hallway.
"Speaking of your living quarters, you must be tired. You'll find them in the corridor leading to the Astronomy Tower, third door to the left, password's 'Loopy-Loo' but you can change it to whatever you wish. Any questions?" He glanced from boy to girl again.
"Don't think so," James said, wrinkling his nose and pouting. Lily just shook her head jerkily, casting the boy beside her suspicious and furtive looks. Dumbledore's bushy, silver eyebrows rose a fraction of a millimetre, like clouds on a windy day.
"Well, I think that's all then. Goodnight and thank you for your time."
As soon as the last word was out from under his moustache, Lily had bolted from the room to the door and transferred herself to the other side in less than a second, shooting James a look of faint fright somewhere in the duration of this action.
James sighed in a melancholy way. She was avoiding him for some reason, probably suspicious of him getting a hold of her and forcing her to join the Quidditch team. Glancing back at the headmaster, he saw a look of mild interest imprinted on the man's face, the kind of look one might wear when reading the end of a story which didn't go exactly how one thought it would. James thought he'd better explain, he didn't mind talking to Dumbledore, the headmaster would probably know about it soon anyway, if he didn't already. Sometimes James thought that Dumbledore knew about every single speck of dust that entered his school.
"I want Lily to join the Quidditch team," he said. Dumbledore's expression flashed to 'Ah' and then back to 'Huh?' again. "And she hasn't really taken to the idea. She says she hates Quidditch and flying, and then of course, she's hates me more than she hates the afore said." The old mans' expression changed, (very briefly) to pity. "But I'm not going to give up that easily. She has the best untrained reflexes I've ever seen. Probably because I used to pelt her with all manner of disgusting things when we were eleven."
"That'll be it," agreed Dumbledore. "Pray tell, how did you discover Miss Evans's reflexive speed?"
"I was throwing gobstoppers at her," James admitted. "Not on purpose, of course." Dumbledore's expression turned to 'Of course'. "As I said: I'm not going to give up that easily on making her my Seeker, and I'm going to give up less easily on getting her as a . . . friend."
"And how are you going to do that, my dear Mr Potter?" asked Dumbledore, leaning his elbows on the desk and putting the tips of his fingers together. His tone implied he was in a pantomime and he already knew the answer to the question, the plot and the ending.
James turned toward the door that Lily had just disappeared out of. He remembered what Verity had said on the train and decided to take her word for it. After all, it was a strategy he could understand, if it had the slightest thing to do with Quidditch.
"I have to work on my tactics and practice a lot," he said, more to himself than the man behind the desk, "I have to convince her that we're on the same team."
Taking this incentive, he turned his body in the direction of his head and strode out of the headmaster's office.
Dumbledore stared after him, his expression now one of contented anticipation. Inhaling, he took his elbows off the table and slapped the surface in a motion to get up. Sighing and smiling as he rose, he said to himself,
"Let the games begin!"
a/n Thanks muchly to Rose for betaing! I luff you, I really do.
Also, I should probably say that I am going to Barcelona for a week tomorrow, so it'll probably be a while before I update again, but that shouldn't deter you from reviewing and giving me lots of constructive criticism to read when I get back and am on the verge of synaptic breakdown due to my impending art mock exam. It may just take my mind off things.
Will James persuade Lily to join his team? Probably not, but there's always small chance in hell.
Will Rita Skeeter cause mass mayhem with her horrid ability to banter on about cutting (and questionable) gossip? Very likely.
And will the chapters have an annoying habit of getting shorter every time like in the last fic? Sod's law says yes.