AUTHORS NOTE: Yes, folks, that's right, I'm still alive and kickin'. This is only a short story, but I can now almost PROMISE you that yes, I am still writing my other stories and yes, school is almost FINISHED.
Keep your eyes out…
"Hey, can we have this chair?"
"No!" Lily yelled, jumping up protectively. "I mean – no, I'm sorry. It's taken." She emphasized the last word, smiling to herself. She liked the way it sounded. "Someone's coming in later. And they will be using the chair. To sit in. Here."
The girl raised an eyebrow and just turned away, attempting to find another table to steal a chair from.
"Good," Lily muttered, sitting down calmly, glancing nervously around the Three Broomsticks. She smiled at a fellow classmate across the room and held up the mug of butterbeer to her. The girl smiled unnoticeably and nodded delicately.
Lily shrugged off the cold reaction from her roommate. There really wasn't anything that could ruin her good mood. In fact, she was beginning to feel better about her choice the night before.
"Lily, owl," Jodi said. She walked away from the window and back to her bed, where she continued homework.
"Thanks," Lily said absentmindedly. She continued her Arithmancy, stuck on a particularly challenging problem. Clicking her tongue, Lily scribbled several notes off to the side, frowning. "So if this goes here, and that number is… Ah, right…"
"Owl," her roommate sharply reminded her.
"Going," she muttered, not wanting to create an argument with one of the few people who actually spoke to her willingly.
Carefully, Lily pulled the letter off of the owl's leg. She slipped a fingernail under the flap, but soon did a double take at the owl, taking in its color, just as it flew off.
She recognized the owl immediately, as soon as it was flying. His name was Brinnon. Everyone knew Brinnon. Not because of his eagerness to play with each and every person he met, but because of his distinct colored feather.
Yes, feather. As in one.
During their first year, their charms class had learnt how to change objects into a different color. The Marauders, specifically Sirius, had found this trick highly useful and chose to charm Brinnon, James' owl, white. Unfortunately, the group soon learned they had no way of changing the color back, so several hours per day were spent searching for a reversal spell in the library. After many weeks, the boys took the easiest and most obvious route, asking Professor Flitwick for the charm, and returning Brinnon to his hazel color. During the weeks, the white had slowly grown on James, so he chose to leave a single feather white in remembrance of the event. This particular feather, however, was only visible when the owl's arms were stretched to the maximum; this was often times the only marker he had to tell Brinnon from the other school owls.
Why is James writing to me? Lily thought, confused. He knows he could just yell up the steps for help on our project if he really needed help.
His letters were often rare, if ever, and Lily was one to know this. She constantly watched over James and his actions, but had no idea why she found him so interesting. Lily knew he wasn't like other people she had met. Many believed her merely to be a petite girl with her nose stuck in a book, silent. Others noted her as a bother and a hazard to the hallways, for each time the bell rang, her book opened up and her vision was blocked, causing several accidents.
But James – he didn't think like everyone else. He had been in her class every year, but Arithmancy was where she got to know him better. Sure, he was originally cocky and self-centered, but after the mask disappeared, Lily saw his true colors and found everything he did somehow important and… precise. Nothing he did was ever careless or reckless. Nothing.
James might have been nice, but he never had much of a reason to contact her outside of the classroom or the school environment. He'd said the casual "hello" in the hallways, but half the time Lily never even heard because she was so wrapped up in her thoughts. And he must have done the same thing for anyone else he met in his classes. James was titled Mr. Popularity, earning the title for his outgoing manner and, generally, caring attitude.
Lily shook herself from her long distraction and turned back to her letter, now taking her time to open it carefully. This was a once-in-a-lifetime moment right here; a letter from someone other than her parents.
Delicately, she pulled out the folded parchment and opened it, feeling her heart race. In a daze, she read.
Hello, Lily. I'm writing to ask if you would care to meet me in Hogsmeade tomorrow. I was hoping to meet you at the Three Broomsticks at approximately one p.m. for a Butterbeer or two. I'll be waiting there.
Lily wasn't sure how to react. Part of her screamed for joy. Someone actually wanted to spend time with her! And it was James, of all people. How much better could it get?
But Lily began to doubt herself. The letter was rather straightforward, almost demanding. There might be a chance he was asking her there just for school purposes.
No, she thought, he's asking if I could meet him in Hogsmeade for a Butterbeer. That doesn't sound like a school demand.
"Lily, who's the letter from?"
"Parents," she muttered casually, appearing rather flustered. Her roommate glanced at her, about to press further, but found it unimportant.
But what about the stiffness and reluctance of the letter? Lily contradicted herself. He might be doing this just because he feels sorry for your lazy ass hanging around the dormitory every Hogsmeade trip.
So be it. Lily gently placed the letter into a drawer beside her bed, and sat down to continue her homework. I don't care if he is being forced to be with me. It's better than nothing.
Eagerly, Lily checked her small watch. Half an hour, she thought, looking up hopefully. Just a little bit more.
She finished her Butterbeer and politely tapped a waitress on the shoulder as she passed Lily's pub table, asking for a second drink. The waitress nodded, smiling, and hurried off, leaving a group of first years standing behind her.
"No – you're the one that needs it."
"But she's bigger than me, and you're closer to her height."
The taller of the two boys finally shoved the smaller boy over to Lily's table. She felt sorry for the first year about to wet his pants.
Lily smiled kindly. "Hello," she replied, unable to keep a laugh out of her voice.
The boy merely stood there, looking up at Lily sitting on a stool.
"Did you want something?" she questioned politely.
Lily coughed, hiding a laugh. "And that would be…?"
"Can I have that?"
He pointed to the chair on the other side of the table. "The chair."
"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm waiting for a friend of mine to show up." A friend of mine, she thought to herself. That doesn't sound too bad. A friend.
"Alright," he said quickly, turning away.
"Hold it," the tall boy said, stepping up to Lily's table, nearly her height. And at such a young age. "You've been sitting with an empty chair across from you for over an hour, right?"
Lily nodded. She had been excited to meet James that she had arrived nearly two hours prior to their actual meeting time, catching an early lunch as well. "He's showing up in a little while, and I want there to be a chair. I was also here before you boys were; therefore, I deserve to have chairs reserved because I planned ahead."
The tall boy rolled his eyes and turned away, muttering something similar to, "loony," as he stalked off.
Of course I'm loony, Lily thought, taking no offense to the statement.
"You're Butterbeer, miss," the young waitress said.
"Thanks." Lily took a small sip.
Lily looked up just in time to get a face full of black robes. She felt herself being pushed away roughly, nearly tripping over her own feet. She caught herself just in time, but lost her book bag, spewing its contents across the floor.
"You'd think she'd learn not to walk in the hallway with a book out all the time. I even called her name!"
Lily looked up, abashed. She saw Sirius staring coldly down at her. "I'm sorry," she muttered, putting a bookmark between two pages in her book. "I wasn't - "
" – paying attention," Sirius cut her off, shaking his head at her. "Honestly. I did say your name, right?"
"Sirius, cool it," Remus said calmly behind him. "It was a small mistake. You don't have to take out your bad day on her."
Sirius nodded, crossing his arms over his chest. "Just – watch out next time. It tends to create less pandemonium."
Lily smirked to herself. Sirius Black; who knew he could say five syllable words. "Yes, sir," she said solemnly.
He gave her one last death glare, and turned away with Peter and Remus right at his heel. Rolling her eyes at the handsome boy, she kneeled down to the ground and began scooping the contents of her school items back into her bag.
Lily spun, surprised at the voice directly in her ear.
James smiled. "Take it easy on him, he had a bad day."
Lily felt herself collapse against the stone wall behind her, sitting in a puddle of ink. She quickly dropped her hands to her skirt, pulling it down over her legs, embarrassed. She coughed, clearing her throat. "Bad day?"
James held out a hand and pulled Lily to her feet. "First day he was ever turned down by a girl."
"You're kidding," Lily laughed, beginning to feel at ease. But the dripping ink onto the back of her legs grew increasingly noticeable. She pulled her robes back on over her outfit. "First ever? With his attitude, I might have thought more than once."
James shrugged. He casually leaned against the wall, looking as if he didn't have a care in the world. Instinctively, James reached up to his hair, but stopped himself and dropped his hand. "You have to get to know him."
"Tried in the first year on the train that one time," Lily said, proving him wrong. "But then he put a frog in my pumpkin juice."
James nodded. "Ah, yes, I remember that one." He seemed to be taking a trip back down Memory Lane. "Classic."
"I'm sure it was," Lily muttered, breaking his train of thought. She bent back down, picking up her items.
"Here." James picked up a few books and a quill, handing them to Lily. "I'm really sorry you two weren't able to start off on the right foot."
Lily sighed, heaving her bag over her shoulder. "It happens," she said. "Or in my case, happened with almost every person I know."
"What about me?" James asked, mock hurt. "We're… Well – you don't hate me, right?"
Lily swallowed. "No, I don't hate you. Plus, I said almost."
James scratched his head and stuck his hands into his pockets. "So… I'll see you in class?"
Lily nodded and walked away, thinking about his words. She could've sworn he was about to say they were friends – wasn't he? Why didn't he? She knew it wouldn't hurt to have one…
Lily's leg shook, bouncing up and down under the table. The clock on the wall had just clicked noticeably. Two small doors opened and a unicorn pranced delicately around the wooden balcony, entering from one door and leaving through the other.
It's one o'clock
Lily felt her heart jump into her throat. In fact, all she heard was her heart beating steadily throughout her body. Any minute, James Potter is going to walk through that door and sit down. At my table. By me.
Lily subconsciously reached up to her hair, to fix it as nicely as she could without a mirror. She then fumbled around with her watch and thin ring on her hand.
The door opened and a high pitched bell jingled from inside the back room. It was Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Immediately, their eyes scanned the room. Sirius' eyes stopped on her for a minute. She braved her fears and gave a small smile to him across the room. He looked away, pretending not to notice.
Well, at least I tried.
Lily held her breath in anticipation, hoping to see James following behind.
But he wasn't there.
Relax, Lily told herself. He just isn't here yet – he's just split away from them. Plus, Remus isn't even with them, either. He and Remus must have lost track of time looking for something…
After sitting at the bar, the two Marauders ordered two glasses of Butterbeer and gulped them down in record time. Sirius hit Peter's arm and nodded towards the doorway. They dropped coins onto the counter and walked out of the door, a bell ringing again. Once outside, the boys broke into a grin. Lily caught the sound of a laugh just as the door closed.
Lily scribbled away in her pocket sized book.
Goblins, Ghouls and other Galling Ghosts
-Not very educational, like I thought
-Compilation of short stories
-Story about the Muggle who hung himself because he refused to admit he saw a Goblin
There was a soft tap on her shoulder. Lily quickly snapped her book shut and turned around in the large chair beside the Gryffindor Common Room fireplace. She swooned, suppressing a sigh. "Hi, James."
James nodded, giving a slight wave of the hand. "How you doin'?"
Lily grinned. He was actually speaking to her. Like a normal conversation. "I'm pretty good." At least, now, I am.
"What were you writing?" he asked, looking interested.
"Nothing," she said quickly, dropping it into her lap and placing both hands over it, hiding the leather cover.
"That was a pretty quick 'nothing', so it sounds more like a 'something'." He smirked and pulled over a wooden chair from the table, now at eye level. "Is it a diary?"
"Are you kidding?" Lily said quickly, without thinking. "I have nothing to write about!" Her face began to heat up when she finished speaking, realizing what she had just said.
"I'm sure you have plenty you could write down. School events, how much we all hate teachers, stuff about me, of course, is always an option." James placed a hand over his heart and leaned in slightly with a serious face. "Lily, you have my approval to write about me all you would like."
Lily laughed shyly, and looked down into her lap. "Well, too bad it isn't a diary. It's a small pocket book that's supposed to be used for a diary that my cousin in Ireland sent me, but I write down the different books I read so I can remember what happened in each."
James raised an eyebrow, curious. "I have never met anyone who wrote down all of the books they read."
Lily shrugged, and felt herself shrink back into the cushions of the large armchair.
"But it's a fascinating idea," James said, smiling kindly at her. "I'll make a pocket book of book's myself, just to try it out and see why it's so interesting…"
Lily's heart beat rapidly at the thought of James doing something just because she was doing it. But he could be doing that just to please everyone, and go back on his word like anyone else would…
"However," he continued, "my real reason for coming over here was to ask about our Arithmancy project. I thought that maybe if we split it into parts that we each work on. I usually have Quidditch and I end up working on homework at late hours, and didn't want you to have to work around me, of course."
"Of course," Lily muttered, deflating like a balloon. His real reason for talking to me… He doesn't want to talk to me – he was just buttering me up. "I'm sure that could be arranged. I'll figure something out tomorrow during breakfast."
And with that note, Lily stood and left the room.
Lily drummed her fingers softly on the table, glancing at the clock again.
His watch died, she thought, thinking of her thousandth excuse of the day. He got sick and forgot to tell me. He lost track of time playing Quidditch this morning. Snape locked him in a broom closet.
Her face burned with embarrassment. She could feel the first years staring at her; Jodi – her roommate – watching her carefully; the little girl she had seen earlier eyeing the chair with a hungry look.
He just couldn't make it, it wasn't his fault, Lily thought, almost begging herself to believe. It's not his fault he's not here…
But the thought of Sirius and Peter entering the pub and looking directly at her continued replaying over and over in her mind, as much as she tried to block it out. They had searched for her, acted as if they didn't, and then laughed when they left.
She put her hands up to her face, covering her eyes. Don't do it, Lily told herself. Not in public. You've held it in before, you can do it again.
Lily looked up immediately. It was the waitress. "Hello," she said kindly, keeping control of herself.
The young girl pointed to the chair. "We do have a limit on how long people can reserve seats and you went over the limit an hour ago. Plus," she added, "I need to borrow that chair for getting some stuff in the back – do you mind?"
Calmly, Lily bit her lip and closed her eyes, squeezing them tight. Abruptly, taking the waitress by surprise, Lily stood and picked up her coat, folding it over her arm. "Take it," Lily said, fishing into her pocket. She pulled out several coins and dropped them into the waitress' hand, turning away. "Keep the change."
The waitress smiled kindly at the generous amount. "Thank you. Have a nice day, ma'am."
Lily wiped away a tear as she slammed through the door separating the Three Broomsticks and the harsh, winter wind outside.
The walk back to Hogwarts castle was a long and silent one. The low buzz of voices at Hogsmeade died down, and the only sound that Lily was left with was the crunching of the snow beneath her feet. Occasionally she would hear a thump of snow falling from heights, or the moan of crying wind in the trees.
The snow soon disappeared, revealing a stone pathway just before the entrance to Hogwarts. Lily paused a moment, staring at the twelve-foot doors before her, taking in the breathtaking sight.
She pulled off her hat and peeled the gloves off of her frozen fingers as she ran up the steps to Gryffindor Tower. She reached up to her cheek, pressing her warm hands to her cold face.
"Hornbeam," Lily muttered to the large woman before her.
"I'm sure, dear," the lady in pink giggled, waving around her glass of wine. The portrait swung open, revealing a passage to climb into. Lily did just so.
Lily found her books in the corner table exactly as she had left them that morning. Beginning to finally feel the full effect of the day set in on her, she hurriedly pushed them into a pile and dumped them in her back. She slung the book bag over her shoulder and wiped her eyes hastily, sniffing.
"Lily – are you – what's wrong?"
Lily walked to the steps leading to the girls' dormitory, ignoring the voice. His voice.
"Lily, wait, what's going on?" James ran to her, putting a hand on her shoulder, stopping her.
She spun on her heel, frustrated. "What do you want now, James? You think there's something more you could do for me?"
He frowned. "Me – what?"
She cut him off. "What did you think this would do? Earn a little trophy to add to your wall?" The tears rolled freely down her cheek, pausing at her chin, and then dropping onto the floor. "Well congratulations. You suckered me into your trap."
James began to become upset himself. "Trap – Lily, what's this 'trap'? I didn't do anything today! I worked on our project all morning." A drop of panic fell into his voice.
"Sure," Lily whispered, blinking several times and walking away, slamming the door at the top of the steps.
The rest of the day, Lily spent wrapped up in her bed sheets with the hangings closed. The sun was beating inside their window on the West side of Hogwarts castle, but no light came through the curtains. Lily heard her roommate enter the room several times. Jodi had changed into her pajamas and was climbing into bed when she asked, "Lily, are you alright?"
Lily took a hard swallow, clearing her voice. "I'm fine," she said firmly.
"Ok, I was just checking. Ebrill said Natalie said James was worried about… you."
Lily heard the hesitation in Jodi's voice and felt a surge of tears welling inside of her again. Now he feels sorry. "Nah, I'm perfectly fine. Good night," she said quickly, willing her roommate to stop speaking to her.
That night, Lily snuck out of her dormitory after she had heard all of the girls sleeping soundly. She had skipped dinner so she wouldn't have to be around James, but found it wasn't exactly an easy thing. She bit her lip just as her stomach let out a loud grumble.
"I heard that."
Lily narrowed her eyes, cursing her empty stomach. "Do you always have to catch me off guard?"
"Well," James said, standing from his spot on the couch, "I have to now when you're mad at me for something I didn't do."
Lily's eyes blazed with a fury. She turned around, but kept her temper bottled down. "Something you didn't do? James, you just – you hurt me. How could you have not done anything to me?"
It was James' turn to overreact. "Lily – I swear to you, I was here all day, I have no idea what you're talking about!"
Lily reached into her pocket and pulled out the slip of paper he had sent the week before. "Does this remind you of anything?" She threw it at him, watching it float like a leaf to the floor. She continued speaking. "Was it some sort of joke? Because it really wasn't something I want to laugh about. I thought you were my friend."
James bent over and picked up the note, reading it. "This?"
Lily's jaw dropped in amazement. Her throat constricted, the pain choking her.
"Lily, I didn't send this."
It was like a weight had dropped off of her shoulders. He didn't know…
"But," James added with a solemn tone, "I know exactly the person who did, as a mean and nasty prank."
Lily didn't care anymore who had sent the note or for what reason – as long as it wasn't James.
"Oh my god," she whispered, a hand coming to her mouth. "I'm so sorry – all of those things that I – I'm sorry, James."
James smirked. "No sweat. Small, uh… misunderstanding."
Lily laughed, beginning to blush. She had made that big deal out of nothing. He didn't hate her. He never meant to hurt her! It was all a misunderstanding…
Lily clasped her hands in front of her. "Is there anything I can do to let you forgive me?"
James pondered, deep in the thought. "There is one thing…"
Lily furrowed her eyebrows, almost worried. "And that is…"
James dropped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her towards him, giving her a hug. Lily smiled into his shirt, burning bright red. She silently was thankful for the fact that the room was dark, unable for anyone to see her face.
"Hey," James said, pulling away. He grabbed her hand and took her to the couch, sitting her down, and then proceeding to sit next to her. He pulled out a small book and handed it to her. Lily noticed he didn't let go of her hand.
"What is it?" she asked, smirking slightly. "A diary."
James scoffed, making a face. "Men don't keep diaries – they keep journals. Plus," he added, "it's not a journal. Look." He tapped the cover of it, waiting for her to open it.
She opened the booklet to the first page and read:
One Minute Feasts – It's Magic!
-Definitely magic when you need to keep Sirius from chewing off someone's arm from food deprivation for over three hours
-Have only used the recipe for giving a person boils and keeping Sirius' mouth closed (using the glue recipe)
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
-Got the book for Herbology
-Couldn't make it past number
Lily raised an eyebrow, amused. "Couldn't make it past what number?"
James leaned over, looking at the writing. "Oh," he said, nodding, "I went to see which number I stopped at, but I got distracted and forgot. It was three."
Lily laughed, handing the book back to him. "You know, I honestly didn't think you'd make it. I thought you were going to go back on your word."
"James Potter? Go back on his word? Impossible," he said, shaking his head.
Lily laughed again. "You really don't have to do this just for me."
He sighed, relieved. "Thank god. I really don't read that many books in the first place, but, as you just saw, my attention span wouldn't even last long enough to finish a sentence."
The pair stood up, walking towards the portrait hole.
Lily grinned, squeezing his hand. "I'm glad it wasn't you who actually sent the note," she said, stopping. Lily lowered her voice for her next words. "But I'm still sad I wasn't able to meet with you at lunch."
"Tomorrow," he said, grinning at her.
"Hogsmeade," James said in a matter-of-fact tone, his face animated.
Lily was confused. "But tomorrow isn't a Hogsmeade day."
James smiled mischievously up at the mistletoe. "You just wait and see, Lily my dear." He leaned over and kissed her, sending shivers up and down her spine.
"You just wait and see."
AUTHORS NOTE: Hope you all liked it – thanks for reading!