"She's been treating me like a person recently. It's weird. I suddenly don't know how to act around her anymore, now that I don't have to be an arrogant berk to get her attention."
"And that's a bad thing?" Sirius Black asked.
"Yes! I mean, no! I mean, what do I mean? I don't know, Padfoot! Help me here!" James Potter cried in desperation. "I've liked Evans for so long and I'm so used to being snubbed by her that now that she's actually willing to pay attention to me I don't know what to do! I'm pathetic!"
"Yes, yes you are," Sirius replied. "I'm glad you're finally acknowledging that fact."
"Padfoot! This is a serious situation!"
"I know. That's why you're coming to me for help."
"Ha. Ha. Ha. I said serious with an E-R-I-O-U, not an I-R-I-U." James raked his hand through his hair. He had liked Lily Evans since fourth year, if not earlier, and in a desperate attempt to make her at least acknowledge his presence he had become the most annoying, arrogant, self-centered, hex-happy prat he could be just so she would notice him. It had worked; Evans may not have liked him much, but he had her yelling at him almost daily. Merlin she had a gorgeous voice, and the way her eyes flared when she was angry and the two red blotches that graced her lovely cheeks… He was a whipped deer (couldn't be a whipped dog, since that was Sirius) and he knew it. Unfortunately she didn't know it. But ever since the end of sixth year, when Sirius had pulled that stupid stunt with Snape, James had given up most of his annoying, arrogant, self-centered hex-happy self and had miraculously (or accidentally… Dumbledore was getting up there in years, after all…) made Head Boy, Evans had been different around him. And it drove him nuts, because he loved it but didn't know how to respond. Pathetic didn't even begin to describe him. It didn't even begin to.
"Look, mate, why don't you try just talking to her?" Sirius asked. "Just try. Hey, I'll even go with you. Look, Prongs, she's over there beside the fire now—let's go. We'll just make friendly conversation and get you comfortable with your newfound friendship." James stood there, horrified, staring at Evans. No way. No way could he go and talk to her. It just wasn't possible. She would be nice and then he'd have to actually think up a response because he couldn't just act on instinct and be a prat. Not now where there was finally a glimmer of hope that she might potentially possibly plausibly just maybe find something of worth in him. No way.
Sirius did not share his view, however, and grabbed James' arm and forcibly dragged him towards Evans. James scowled. He always knew best friends were stupid. Since when did he need one anyway, huh? Huh? Well? Since when?
"Lily!" Sirius cried out, bounding over to her and giving her a hug while dragging James behind him. Oh yeah, since he couldn't talk to the girl of his dreams. He needed a best friend to be his Interpreter. Or Moral Support. Point was he needed the stupid mutt.
"All right, Evans?" James asked, trying to bury his nerves. Play it cool, mate. You can do this. You can talk to her. She's just Evans. She's only just never had a real conversation with you until this year because she was too busy telling you off for being a bigheaded git while glaring with all the strength she could muster and pointing her wand threateningly at very precious body parts—
Stop thinking, Potter. Right now.
"Fancy a chat with us?" Sirius asked. "I'm busy trying to convince Pro—er, James here that it's okay to talk. He's clammed up a bit recently and I think you can help me loosen him up."
Evans put down the book she was reading and shifted on the couch to make room for them. "Sure."
Such elegance. Such grace! She made that one word sound like a symphony of—Oh bloody Merlin Sirius just sat him down RIGHT NEXT TO HER. I'm sitting next to a fiery angel and I will keep my cool. I'm sitting next to my fiery angel and I will keep my cool. I'm sitting next to my fiery angel and I WILL KEEP MY COOL.
His palms were sweaty. Please oh PLEASE let them be the only sweaty thing. Please.
"What's on your mind, James?" she asked. Wow. The way she said his name made his spine tingle. Wait—since when did she call him James? Hmm, now that was something worth thinking about. She used to call him Potter or Bullying Arrogant Toerag or Stuck up Selfish Berk or Bloody Eejit. What had changed?
"Yes, Prongs, what IS on your mind?" Sirius asked, a knowing smirk on his face. Stupid best friend. Useless thing, really. James didn't need him. No siree.
Evans tapped him on the shoulder. She TAPPED HIM on the SHOULDER. It had to have been the first physical contact they had ever made. He wanted to grab her up and kiss her senseless and sweep her off her feet and live in a cottage with twenty kids and four or five dogs and six—
Since when did he get an imagination?
"James?" she asked. Ah, there was his name again. A beautiful thing, really. No! Stop thinking! Answer! And be clever about it!
"Animals." He could have slapped himself. Animals? ANIMALS? What a stupid thing to say! No doubt she would say so herself and probably laugh at him and maybe never speak to him again. Great. Juuuust great.
"Really?" Evans asked, excitement in her voice. "I love animals!"
Okay, so maybe it wasn't stupid after all. "Really? I always kind of thought you didn't like them."
"Oh, I do like them. I'm just not overly fond of having them as pets, what with all the effort it takes to love them. Exception goes to owls, of course. They're easy."
Sirius ventured a question. "So you like cats?"
Evans grinned and James thought he could die happy. Had he ever truly see her grin before? "I think my favourite day of Transfiguration was in third year when Professor McGonagall transformed into an animagus. Cats are great!" Cats. She likes cats. Get her a cat for her birthday or something. No! Wait! She doesn't want pets! A stuffed cat? But not a REAL stuffed cat, just one of those plushy animal things. Girls didn't like stuffed real animals very much.
Sirius frowned. "So…do you like dogs?"
Evans made a face. "No."
"AAAH! Why ever not?" Sirius exclaimed, half falling off of the couch.
It was Evans turn to frown. Merlin she was cute when she did that. "Well, they only come in two sizes, small and too big. The small dogs are all incredibly yappy and you can't get them to shut up short of shooting them. And the big dogs jump all over you and slobber on your clothes and face and hands and drool everywhere and bark like madmen."
"But, but, but, but… But dogs are so loveable!" Sirius cried, flailing his arms around. "They love you no matter what and they're man's best friend!"
Hah. James had never caught the irony of that phrase before. Dog's were man's best friend and Sirius was his best friend. …Did that make James a man? Excellent. He tried to sit a little taller and maybe jut his chest out a bit, but not too much in case Evans saw him and got mad and started yelling. Although if she did that he would know how to react…
"I don't know how you can like her," Sirius declared, resorting to pouting when Evans only shook her head at him. "She doesn't like dogs."
James shook his head himself. "Well, she has a point. And dogs do get fleas."
"Traitor," Sirius muttered.
James turned to Evans. "So, Evans, do you like deer?"
She frowned. "James, my name is Lily."
"Then why do you call me Evans?"
"Because it's your last name. You call me Potter."
"And when was the last time I called you Potter?"
"Just yes—" He cut off. She had a good point. When had she last called him Potter? "Okay, you win that one," he grumped.
"So you'll call me Lily from now on?"
He hesitated. "I'll try…"
"Try it now," she replied. "Say it. Lily. Lily. Lil-y."
"Liiiiiii—aw, I don't know if I can! Okay, okay, I'll do it, stop looking at me like that! Sheesh!" he ran his hand through his hair, but quickly stopped when he remembered how much she hated that gesture. "Okay. Liiiily. Lil-y. Lily. Lily. Lily!"
Lily laughed. "Very good, James. Gold star for you."
She waved it off. "Muggle thing."
"You never answered my question. Do you like deer?"
Her eyes lit up. Jackpot! Take that, Sirius! She liked deer! "Oh, yes! They taste very good!"
She did NOT just say that.
No freaking way.
YOU DO NOT EAT DEER!
"You don't eat deer!" he cried as Sirius started laughing.
"Yes you do," she said. "It tastes wonderful! Venison is one of my favourite things to eat. I take it you've never had it?" He shook his head dumbly. He couldn't speak. The girl he was madly in love with liked to eat his family. That was not good. Not good at all. "You'll just have to try it sometime! I know—why don't I make it for you sometime? I'll find a good time and I'll let you know and then you can try it! It's absolutely delicious."
Wait, that almost sounded like a date. But—but—but he could NOT go on a date and EAT DEER!
"S-s-s-sounds g-g-g-r-reat," Sirius got out, trying very hard to conceal his laughter. "I-I'll make sure J-James shows up. Oh, l-look, there's M-Moony—er, Remus—we g-gotta sp-split. See ya l-later, Lilykins!"
And they were off. Remus wasn't anywhere in sight since Sirius had just blatantly lied to Ev-Lily, so they headed up to the boys' dormitories. James was in shock. Once in their room he found his bed and collapsed on it. Lily just said she ate deer. SHE ATE DEER FOR FUN! How sadistic, how cruel, how unjust, how incredibly disgusting.
Life was so, so, SO not fair.
The next evening James was sitting in the common room with Sirius, Remus, and Peter. He had spent the day avoiding Lily. He didn't know how he felt about her anymore. How could she eat DEER? It was so wrong. Rather than confront her about her serious issues, he hid from her. Plus, if he was hiding from her, she could never find him and invite him to be a cannibal. Avoidance was the absolute BEST policy.
"Prongs, what is wrong with you?" Remus asked, looking over his book. "You've been acting weird all day."
Sirius grinned. "He talked to Lily Evans."
Remus raised an eyebrow and Peter asked, "Talk as in conversation talk or talk as in she tried to bite your head off again talk?"
Sirius grinned wider, if that was even possible. Stupid sadistic dog. "They talked. An actual, real conversation. James and Lily talked. To each other."
"And?" Peter squeaked.
Sirius paused for dramatic effect. "And she practically asked Prongs out!"
James buried his head in his hands. Maybe he should start avoiding Sirius, too.
"And this is bad how?" Remus asked.
"She wants to eat me!" James cried out. Remus fell off his chair laughing. James scowled into his hands. "It's not funny, Moony! She wants to eat me and you sit there laughing!" Peter and Sirius were doing a healthy amount of sniggering themselves. Stupid bloody friends!
Remus wiped tears of mirth from his eyes. "I'm s-sure Lily doesn't want to e-eat you, Prongs! She doesn't strike me to be a cannibal!"
"That's the problem!" James howled, looking up. "She invited me to eat DEER with her!"
And he lost his friends. Lost them to the Happy World of Laughing that he so desperately wanted to blow up. With a Muggle blow up device. And several Blast-Ended Skrewts. Die, laughing friends, die.
Unfortunately not everybody gets what they want in life (which is stupid. He deserved this. He really did.) After many agonizing minutes and lots of strange stares from other Gryffindors, Remus collected himself enough to say, "You can't very well say no!"
James glared his very best I'm-Lily-Evans-and-I-Hate-You-Potter-Die-NOW glare. It wasn't as good as hers, since he didn't hate his own guts, but it was good enough. "Of course I am. I will NOT eat my family. Nope. No way."
"Prongs, you've liked Lily forever. You can't now not go on a date with her over something as silly as deer meat."
"Moony, if your one true love said she wanted to eat you, what would you say?"
Remus sniggered before he could answer. "I'd let her."
"THAT IS NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER, REMUS JOHN LUPIN!" James howled. The entire Common Room went quiet and James buried his head in his hands again and waited until people started talking. "This is just so disappointing! Do you know why I decided to become a stag in the first place?"
That shut his friends up. They sat up and peered intently at James. "I've always wondered why you picked a stag," Sirius said thoughtfully. "I never did understand it."
"Remember second year when I overheard Lily talking about Bambi?"
A moment of silence ensued.
"…None of you remember?"
"Nope," Sirius confirmed.
Naturally. They didn't appreciate every word Lily Evans said like he did. "Well, she was talking with Alice about Bambi, which is apparently a…movie…that she…watched…as a kid, and it's about a deer. She said it was her favourite movie thingy, and she always cried when Bambi's mother died. Well, I thought that meant she liked deer, not that she ate them! That made stag the obvious choice. If I'd known she wanted to eat such innocent creatures I'd have picked a stampeding elephant or an angry cheetah or something else! Not a poor animal that gets EATEN!"
And again the friends were doing the laughing thing. Dirty ingrates.
"At least none of you have to worry about your girl eating you," he snapped.
"Only if I go to China…" Sirius mused. James picked up a pillow from an armchair and threw it at his best friend.
"I am going upstairs to die slowly. I'll see you in the morning."
It took seven days for Lily to corner James. He was rather proud of his avoidance skills. Too bad they didn't last longer.
"James Potter, are you avoiding me?" Lily demanded. He had nowhere to run because she had literally backed him into a corner. How did he let this happen? How? How, how, how, how, how?
Thank goodness he had taken to going everywhere with Sirius so the boy was right next to him.
"Yes, Jamesie boy has been avoiding you, Lilykins."
Die, Sirius, die.
"Why?" Lily asked, putting her hands on her hips, her eyes boring in James'. "What's wrong with you, Potter? Don't you like me anymore? You've chased me for the past, Merlin, I don't even know how many years, and now I suddenly show an interest and you RUN? I wish you would just tell me your feelings have changed before I do something stupid like show I actually like you."
And if she cried James would find the nearest rope-like thing and hang himself out of the Astronomy Tower. He felt like a slimy git, worse than Snivellus. And now he really wished he had been able to avoid her longer. There was simply no good way out of this. None. None at all. At least, there was no good way that didn't involve either him losing dignity or spilling Remus' secret, and that last one wasn't an option because it wasn't his secret to spill, so that meant he had to lose dignity. The things he did for Lily Evans.
"Well, see… It's not that I don't like you, Evans—Lily! I mean Lily!—I do, I just…it's just…" he trailed off, floundering for the right words, or even the semi-right words. Preferably anything that didn't make him look stupid, if that was possible.
"The thing of it is," Sirius drawled, "is that Prongsy-boy here has a thing for deer."
"A thing for deer?" Lily asked skeptically.
"Yes, a thing for deer," Sirius continued. "Like…You know Emily, that girl from Hufflepuff? She has a thing for ducks and you could sooner get her to kiss the giant squid than eat a duck. And Amy, that Ravenclaw in our year, she has a thing for frogs. I seem to recall her throwing her glass of water in her brother's face when he made fun of her for accidentally eating frog legs. James has a similar thing for deer, girly though it may be, and he likes you too much to admit that and so rather than hurt your feelings by saying he'd rather die than eat deer, he's been avoiding you which inadvertently hurt your feelings anyway and now he feels like pond scum and he's probably afraid you're going to cry on him."
Okay, so Sirius could be useful every now and then. James shot him a grateful look and then looked to Lily, hoping she would buy the story. Her brow was furrowed in concentration, but she eventually spoke. "I'm sorry, James, I didn't know. Don't worry, I won't make you eat something you don't want do. I just wish you had told me sooner. I would have been okay with it. And if I did get offended, I would have gotten over it in a day or two and then things would have been fine." Suddenly James really wished that he had told her the truth. Pond scum indeed. He was a horrible, horrible person. "Although, can I ask you a question?" Lily asked timidly. James nodded. "Why deer? And why are you so attached to them?"
He didn't want to answer the first and he couldn't answer the second. Great. Just great. What was he going to say? He couldn't just stand there and say nothing because that would count as awkward and he did not want to make Lily feel awkward. But what could he say? Oh bugger, he had to tell the truth. Upon occasion he could do that, and then run and hide in his bedroom while he tried to control his blushing. "Um, about why deer… Well…" He blushed from his roots to his toes. This was so embarrassing. "In our second year I overheard you talking about Bambi…"
Lily just looked at him. "When did you hear me talk about Bambi?"
"You were talking with Alice, explaining difference in Muggle culture and you listed ten different movies you liked and Bambi was at the top and you cried when Bambi's mother died—"
And now Lily was blushing, her face matching her hair. "I can't believe you not only listened to that, but remember it. I don't even remember that conversation!"
Sirius gave a cough that sounded suspiciously like 'stalker,' but James chose to ignore him for the time being.
"Yeah, well, um, yeah…" He raked his hand through his hair and shifted uncomfortably. This was so embarrassing.
Fortunately Lily let him off the hook, but unfortunately she went back to her second question. "Will you at least tell me why you're so attached to deer?"
He shared a look with Sirius before deciding on a safe answer. "That's a secret that's not mine to tell."
She looked disappointed. "Oh," was all she said.
"Look, Lily, I'd tell you if I could, but it's really not mine to tell. I'd tell you if I married you, but other than that there's really not much that could make me spill since it directly affects someone I love."
The strangest look overcame her face and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it. "I'm going to hold you to that, Potter," she said softly, and then walked away. James gaped at her retreating backside. He almost wasn't sure what to make of that. Almost.
"Did she just half agree to marry you?" Sirius asked, shocked. James nodded dumbly. Maybe miracles really did exist. But he hadn't seen any pigs flying, and as far as he knew Hell hadn't frozen over.
"I have to tell Moony," James said.
"What?" Sirius asked, annoyed. "Lily Evans just half agreed to marry you and you have to run tell MOONY?"
"Well, if she ever all the way agrees to marry me I just told her I'd tell her our little secret and I need Moony's blessing for it," James retorted.
"Oh. Good point."
James walked off, alternating between an insanely happy grin and whistling. Life was looking up for him. Lily had just half agreed to marry him! He could see it now: their happy little home, with lots of kids running around and several dogs to keep Sirius company and Lily cooking venison for dinner—
AAHHH! How could marry a girl who ate DEER? How could he have forgotten that he wanted to marry a girl who ate deer?
"Remuuus, help me…" James whimpered, running off to find his friend to both a blessing and advice.
An idea bit me. So I grabbed it and SLAPPED it down on the paper and said, "HAH! TAKE THAT!" Then a story formed and the idea laughed at me. whimper
Disclaimer: Ever noticed how there's an unspoken rivalry in the world of fanfiction on who can have the best disclaimer? Thought I'd point it out. It makes life interesting because I like reading the funny disclaimers. cough I own Harry Potter the same way I own Disney World and its many affiliates. That's why I just entered college and don't know if I'm gonna eat next month.
I appreciate reviews, but I also love all you readers who don't review. You know who you are, because you're sitting there now thinking you should review but you won't because you're lazy and you prefer to haunt stories. I love you all!