I don't own Harry Potter, Hogwarts, or any of the other characters, and I definitely don't pretend to be J.K. Rowling. :-)
A/N: What can I say? I'm a sucker for James and Lily getting together fics. Hope you enjoy!
It was late. Far too late to be up and far too late to be worried about the one person I hated most. James Potter had been on my mind for the better part of the night, and right when I should have been in bed, I found myself seated in front of the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. I shouldn't have been worried about him. I should have been happy that he had gone missing, but not knowing where he had been all night was driving me mad.
The Quidditch match earlier that day had been one of the best, and one of the worst experiences of my time at Hogwarts. Gryffindor beat out Slytherin for the Quidditch cup 260-110, but what happened afterwards was what made me look at James differently forever. He was zooming towards the Gryffindor stands after the match to be congratulated by our house, when one of the Slytherin beaters hit a bludger aimed directly at the back of his oversized head. James wasn't looking at the other players and it only took a few seconds for his body to hit the ground with a crunch that was enough to make everyone on the pitch lose their breath. It wasn't the first time I had seen him get hit by a bludger. It wasn't even the first time his body had hit the ground with such a resounding crunch. What unnerved me that time was the look on his face right before the bludger made contact with his head.
He had been watching me in between scores and throughout the entire match, and I could tell that he wasn't happy with what he was seeing. I had agreed to attend the match with Michael Smith, a seventh year Ravenclaw whom I often studied with and whom I enjoyed spending time with. James being James, had been adamant that I not go out with him. Of course him asking me to drop a date for his own selfish reasons occurred on a regular basis, but I was not about to break a date with a boy I enjoyed spending time with because the almighty James Potter asked me to. As I watched James make his way towards the Gryffindor stands after the match, Michael leaned over and gave me a congratulatory kiss on the lips. He claimed he kissed me because our house had just won the Quidditch cup, but I later found out from one of his house mates that he had done it because he saw James was heading straight at us and he wanted to make James jealous. He didn't even give me a chance to react before his lips touched mine and when they did, I saw James' expression from afar turn from one of pure exhilaration, to one of pure misery. James didn't see my reaction after the kiss, and he didn't see me push Michael away. I don't even think he saw how far up he was in the air before he fell.
I rushed after professor McGonagall when she carried him away in a stretcher and was met by the other Marauders who were obviously doing the same. Sirius gave me a puzzled look that I silenced with a glare fit to make a grown man cry, Remus patted me sympathetically on the shoulder, while Peter led the way as we all ran inside the castle. The four of us sat around James' bed all afternoon until Madam Pomfrey kicked us out claiming that he needed to rest without having us talk too loud and risk waking him up. Sirius tried sweet talking her so that she would allow him to stay a bit longer, but she quickly shooed him out with the rest of us. As I made my way back towards Gryffindor tower, I couldn't help but wonder why James' fall had affected me so much. For years I had been rejecting his advances and throwing every curse and hex in the book at him after he asked me out, but somehow seeing him fall off his broom that day brought out feelings in me that I didn't know I had. It had to have been the look on his face before the bludger hit him. I don't think I had ever seen him look so lost or so dejected. When I finally reached Gryffindor tower, I was pulled aside roughly by Sirius.
"What did you think you were doing going into that hospital wing?" he demanded pulling my arm as he led me away from the portrait.
"What's it to you?" I shot back loosing my cool at the fact that he was actually hurting me.
"What, I'm supposed to believe that you were actually worried about him?" he asked finally letting go of my arm and pacing in front of me. "Come on Evans, we all know he's wasting his time on you, please don't make it worse by getting his hopes up. I'm sure he'll hear all about your little visit from someone when he wakes up."
"I don't have to explain myself to you Sirius Black. What I do with my time is nobody's business but my own," I responded before turning around and huffing my way back down the corridor. As I made my way back to the portrait hole, I could feel his intense gaze burning a hole on the back of my head. He had a good point asking me why I had gone to visit James at the hospital wing. The only problem was that I didn't know why I had done it. Maybe I felt guilty because the entire incident had partially been my fault; had he not been looking in my direction, perhaps he would have seen the Slytherin beater pound that bludger his way. Maybe I was just curious to know why he had looked at me the way he did. I had never given him reason to believe that I liked him, so why would he be so hurt watching Michael kiss me? After all, he was simply infatuated with me and he knew he didn't actually have a chance in hell with me, right?
Keep telling yourself that Lily, the little voice in the back of my head shouted. I couldn't really pin-point when I realized his little infatuation was more than just that. He hadn't been the same after I first spotted him in the Prefect compartment on the Hogwarts Express with the Head Boy badge. It was a horrible dream come true when I saw who I was going to have to work with all year, but he surprised me. He took his responsibilities quite seriously and he stopped pestering me for a date everyday. Although he still occasionally played with the idea of going to Hogsmeade strictly as Head Boy and Head Girl to meet in a different setting, I knew he was only trying to get me to go out with him. I turned him down gently as opposed to insulting him as I had for so many years, but I still never gave him any reason to believe I had feelings for him. At least I didn't think I did. Our friendship, if you could call it that, was referred to by many Gryffindors as the 'Potter-Evans Agreement.' It was referred to as such because although we generally got along due our Head Boy and Head Girl status, we were often spotted yelling at each other in any given corridor, or out on the grounds between lessons. I admit, he had become less arrogant and had managed to stop hexing Slytherins simply because they existed, yet he slipped up sometimes and the old James Potter I met in first year snuck back out after a long hiatus.
Once I reached Gryffindor Tower, I immersed myself in my homework. I was not going to think about James Potter. It was a lot easier said than done because the moment I picked up my Transfiguration homework, his face popped up in my head. Oh, why did he have to be so good looking? It had been a lot easier turning him down in fourth year when he was still an awkward teenager with a cracking voice, but now he was just a tall, handsome and delectable wizard who had every witch groveling at his feet. What was I saying? Tall, handsome and delectable? I was losing it. James Potter was nothing more than an arrogant, bullying toerag that deserved nothing more than to be humiliated in front of the entire student body. As much as I tried telling myself that he half deserved what he got however, I couldn't help but feel badly for having those dreadful thoughts. Nobody deserved to be knocked out with a bludger to the head after a Quidditch match. Not even James 'Bigheaded' Potter.
Six hours, two essays and four chapters of History of Magic later, I gave up on doing homework altogether. I was convinced that it was my duty as Head girl to check up on the Head boy and make sure he was doing fine and able to resume his duties after being released from the hospital wing. It was my job to check on him. Nothing more. So what if my palms were sweaty and my stomach fluttery, and who cared if I had applied a vanity charm before I left my dormitory. It was a simple act of the Head girl visiting the Head boy. Right Lily, keep telling yourself that, the little voice in my head repeated once again.
It was late, and strictly speaking, I wasn't supposed to be wandering the halls. The hospital wing was closed, but my Head girl status provided me access to all the passwords and I was prepared to use them to my full advantage. I quietly made my way inside, afraid to wake James up in case he was asleep…only he wasn't there. I looked around and saw only two first years fast asleep at the far end of the wing. James was nowhere to be found. I panicked for a moment before I made my way back out of the hospital wing and towards Gryffindor tower. I stalked my way up the boys' staircase and found myself in front of the Head boy dormitory with no real reason to be there other than the truth, but I was not going to admit to him that I was worried about him. I knocked on the door three times and waited. Silence. I knocked again before opening the door and peeking inside. I had never been inside James' dormitory before, and I had to admit that I was surprised by what I found. I always imagined James to be the messy type with all sorts of experiments and gadgets lying around, but instead I was faced with shelves stocked full of scholarly books, and a wall full of Quidditch paraphernalia, but no James Potter.
So that's how I found myself in the common room at four o'clock in the morning with no sign of the Head boy. The other Marauders had walked into the common room a few minutes past curfew, but I was too worried about James to give them a proper punishment. Needless to say, I think I gained a few points with Sirius for it, but the three boys didn't seem to be too concerned over James' whereabouts. I was getting paranoid and began having visions of Death Eaters chasing after him in the dead of night. I envisioned Voldemort torturing him in some underground chamber where nobody would ever find him. I was about to get up and run to Dumbledore's office when the portrait hole opened and James walked in. Or at least he tried to. It was obvious that he wasn't himself and when he got closer, he reeked of firewhiskey.
"James Potter, where the hell have you been?" I practically yelled at him.
"Professor, it's not what you think," he slurred. "I was just taking a walk," he said as he stumbled towards an armchair.
"What are you talking about, I'm not….wait a minute," I paused. "James, who do you think I am?" I hesitantly asked.
"Sorry Moony, mate, I thought you were Professor McGonagall," he garbled.
"Moony?" I asked, confused. "James, where were you?" I asked taking a few tentative steps towards him.
"I was out," he said before dropping himself face first over the armrest of the armchair.
"Out where?" I asked beginning to lose my patience with him. I was never very patient with him to begin with, but I was quickly realizing that he was much more unbearable when inebriated.
"Hogsmeade," he stated matter-of-factly before slowly closing his eyes.
"Hogsmeade?" I yelled stomping towards him until I was only a few inches away from his slumped body. "How did you get there?"
"Stupid question Moony," he slurred putting his arm over his face.
"I'm not….okay," I started, trying to calm myself. "If you won't tell me how you got there, could you please tell me why you went there and why you're drunk?" I said taking a seat opposite him.
"Same old, same old," he said lifting his head to look at me. He must have registered the confused look on my face because he then mumbled "Evans" under his breath.
I stopped breathing. What did he mean, 'Evans'?
"Wh - what do you mean 'same old, same old'?" I asked trying to hide my alarm.
"She'll never love me the way I love her," he responded throwing his face back down on the armrest.
Love? Had he really said love? I was stunned. I was mortified. I was incredibly confused.
"And you've done this before?" I asked in barely a whisper.
"Stupid question Moony," he repeated.
"I – I forgot," I lamely responded. "Can you tell me again?" I asked.
He nodded, and for the first time I didn't see the over-confident seventeen year old James Potter. Instead I saw a humorless, crushed man who was torn and lost with his face firmly buried against the armchair, all traces of his cheery self left behind on that Quidditch pitch. I fought tears that were threatening to escape me at his confession as I slowly knelt in front of him.
"Why, James?" I whispered in his ear.
He turned his head to face me and the look in his eyes was so intense that I gasped and had to put my hand over my mouth.
"She hates me, but she doesn't even want to get to know me," he responded before closing his eyes.
That statement made me feel something so deep inside of me that I didn't think I was capable of such an emotion. A single tear flowed freely down my face as I moved my hand to stroke his hair. It was so soft, and not at all the way I thought it would feel just as I never knew he felt so strongly about me.
"I don't hate you James," I said to him as I continued to stroke his hair.
He lifted his head with such tremendous speed that he threw my hand away from him. He stared at me as if I were some strange creature before the features in his face changed, and I knew he realized I wasn't Remus and that he had just revealed something I'm sure he didn't want me to know. He tried getting up but only succeeded in falling back down on the armchair in his drunken state. He muttered a few choice curses before attempting to get up again with the same results. I walked over to him and held his arm.
"Let me help you," I told him as I put his arm around my shoulders for support. It wasn't easy getting him to move, but I was determined to get him sobered up, and soon were both climbing the stairs towards his dormitory. Once we got inside, he dropped himself on his bed with a loud thump and I watched him as he smothered his face in his pillow.
"James?" I asked. He didn't respond at first, he only waved his arm at me as if telling me to go away. "James," I repeated. "Are you alright, do you want me to get you a pepper up potion?"
He mumbled something incoherent into his pillow and I approached him. I knelt down next to his bed and pushed his head a little so that he was facing me.
"I said go away," he told me in a soft voice.
"Talk to me James," I whispered. He must have really been ashamed of what he had revealed to me because he muttered more nonsense before burying his face in the pillow again. "James stop being a prat and talk to me," I commanded.
He turned his head to face me again, and he slowly propped his head on his hands, his elbows firmly at the edge of the bed.
"What would you know? How can you possibly help me? You probably think I'm some pathetic, drunk lunatic that's obsessed with someone I have absolutely no chance at getting," he spat out before sitting up properly almost falling off the edge of the bed. "Go on, I know you've been waiting for another opportunity to humiliate me in front of everyone. The whole school will know about me getting drunk over you by breakfast, I'm sure," he said in a bitter tone as he began to rub his temples and closed his eyes.
"Do you really think I would do that?" I asked completely taken aback. "Do you think I'm such an awful person that I would reveal something like this about you to the entire school?"
"I've bothered you for so long that you're probably just waiting to teach me a big lesson," he said before throwing himself back on the bed and groaning.
We were both silent for a few minutes after his last statement. Was I really that snotty? Was that really what he thought I would do? Perhaps he knew me better than I knew myself. I never really thought of myself as the type of person who would do that to get back at somebody. I guess I never even considered that I was like that because he was the only one that I ever really lashed out at. I don't think any of my other friends would ever accuse me of such an act, but then again, I had never treated any of my friends the way I treated James Potter.
"I'm just as bad as you were," I whispered standing up and walking towards the window. I stood there for a few minutes thinking back on what had just transpired between the two of us. I had acted like a superior cow with him for so many years, and yet he still found something inside himself that kept him going back to me. I turned back around to look at him only to find him asleep, his lower body dangling off the bed. He looked incredibly quiet and peaceful that it was almost impossible to think this was the same James Potter that paraded loudly through the corridors in Hogwarts with his friends. I smiled thinking about his contagious laugh and the way he ran his hand through his already messy hair. I took the few hesitant steps that separated me from his bed and I slowly tangled my fingers through his hair. I smiled broadly at the way he whimpered in his sleep before I stopped abruptly and stumbled away from his bed. And then it hit me like a house falling out of the sky.
I liked James Potter.
I practically ran back down to the common room and when I reached the bottom, I had to stop to calm my breathing. I liked James Potter.
That statement was an oxymoron in itself coming from me, and it scared me to death. Not even an hour ago I had found out that James was in love with me, and at that moment I was struggling with my own feelings towards him. How was that possible? How could I like someone that had tortured me for so many years and that I had fought so hard to ignore? It was insanity. I wasn't thinking straight. I felt sorry for him, that was it. I felt bad because he had been hit with a bludger so hard that he had been unconscious for a day. I felt bad because he had gotten drunk thinking that I hated him…
I knew then that I only felt bad that I hadn't realized it sooner. James had become everything I ever wanted him to in our seventh year and yet I had been too blind to see it. As I walked up the stairs to my dormitory, I looked at the clock on the wall that read 4:35 in the morning. I shut the door behind me and slipped into my night gown. I lay down and as I looked up at total darkness, I couldn't help but remember the look of loss on James' face as he got hit by that bludger. That single moment in time had changed every perception I had about him for the last seven years, and I was damned if I didn't do something about it later that morning.
I didn't get much sleep seeing as how I never really closed my eyes until well after five in the morning. I got dressed when the clock read 9:30 and quickly made my way towards the common room. Remus and Peter were already up and were immersed in a game of chess when I walked down and sat down in an armchair by the fireplace. Sirius walked down a few minutes later shaking his head and glaring at me. I heard Remus ask him what was wrong and I saw Sirius say 'Same old, same old' in the same manner James had told me the night before. I felt a great pang of guilt run through me and I immediately looked down at my feet. I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to tell James that he had it all wrong and that I didn't hate him. I wanted to tell him that I did want to get to know him and that I had been too daft to realize I had feelings for him. Just then I heard loud stomping coming from the boy's stairway, and then a messy mop of hair peer through the doorway. Sirius rolled his eyes before getting up and dragging James out into the common room and practically pushed him into a chair right next to Peter. He was a mess. His hair was messier than usual, his eyes were red, and he was still wearing last night's robes.
I didn't know what I was doing, or why I decided to do it then, but I stood up from the armchair and slowly made my way towards him. Remus and Peter gave me questioning looks and Sirius was about to yell at me when I grabbed James by the front of his robes and pulled him into a tight embrace. He stumbled a little bit, still not oriented with his surroundings, when I pulled back from him slightly and held his head in my hands.
"Don't you ever do that again," I said before pressing my lips to his.
He was stunned, I could tell, and he didn't react immediately but when he did, a sort of high ran through my blood that I just couldn't explain. It was as if I had been waiting for that kiss my entire life. He came alive just then and snaked his arms around my waist as I let out a soft sigh and finally parted my lips from his. I put my head on his chest and squeezed his body tighter against mine as I felt him exhale a breath I wasn't even aware he was holding. The other three boys in the common room were taken aback so much that not even Sirius had a word to say to us. When I lifted my head to look into his blood-shot eyes, I finally saw what I had been refusing to acknowledge for so many years. James Potter really did love me and it was about time I returned the favor.
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