Under the Beech Tree
James Potter subscribed to the theory that one night could change everything. That you had one life, one shot to get it right, and sooner or later, it'll all make sense and everything will come out the way it was supposed to be. That everything was going to be alright in the end. If it wasn't alright, it wasn't the end. James Potter was the type of person that fought until the end.
Lily Evans was what he was fighting for.
He had to admit to himself that for the first six years of his Hogwarts career he was a bit…let's call it bigheaded. Well, seriously, can you blame him? He was probably one of the most popular kids in the school, had the majority of the female population at his call, was athletic, and his amazing looks and charm didn't deflate the ego that he was gaining over the years. While other people might say that this was well-deserved confidence, Lily Evans called him an egotistical jerk who thought that everyone should worship the ground he walked on just because of his looks and wit and charm. Over the years she grew to despise him. Over the years he grew to love her.
Twisted, isn't it?
But now that he was in his 7th year, he was convinced that it had to change.
So here he was, sitting in the common room, where two days ago a party was held in his honor because of his spectacular display on the Quidditch pitch. Lily attended the party for about fifteen minutes only because her best friend Marlene McKinnon, who was Seeker on the team, had forced her to come. Though James had tried to act as casually as possible that night, he still stole glances over at Lily about every five seconds. Maybe he was delusional, but he thought that once, she glanced back and smiled…perhaps against her will and in spite of everything she stood for.
They'd gotten better due to the fact that they were Head Boy and Girl and they had to work together. They were on a semi-first name basis, which was quite an accomplishment. After a little bit of coaxing, James got Lily to call him by his birth given name instead of "toerag", his surname, or his favorite: "hey idiot, move." Although it was a little forced sometimes, she kept her temper with him and he behaved…in front of her anyway. He hoped desperately that she saw that he had changed since his first year. He'd grown up a lot, mostly because of her. He wanted this to be the year that she saw him in a different light. He wanted this to be the day that changed everything. It'd happened once before on this day, he hoped that it would happen again.
Today was the eleventh of October. James would always remember this day. There would always be a sort of alarm clock in the back of his mind and he knew that no matter how hard he tried, the date would never escape him, nor would the significance of it. A few years ago today—it seemed like forever, now—he fell in love with Lily.
James looked into the fire. The common room was empty. It was much too late for anyone in their right mind to be up.
"Hey Jamesy," Sirius said, plopping down on the armchair next to him. Okay, so it was almost empty.
"Hey Sirius." James said, still to the fire.
"What's poppin'?" Sirius asked
"Did Remus send you down here?"
"Were you hitting him with your broom again while he was trying to sleep?"
Sirius blanched "well…yeah, but it had a pillow tied to it!"
"Were you hitting him with the pillow covered part?" James asked, suspiciously. Sirius looked down at the floor.
"No." he mumbled. "The other side makes more of a sound."
"Go upstairs and apologize to Remus." James ordered, sounding sickeningly like his mother. Both James and Sirius got off their armchairs. Sirius went in the direction of the boy's dormitory, but James headed toward the portrait hole.
"Where're you going?" Sirius asked, looking after James.
"Uh…Head Boy duties." James lied, perhaps speaking a little too quickly. Sirius looked at him for a moment, shrugged, and went upstairs.
James climbed through the portrait hole and looked at his watch. It was almost midnight. He stifled a yawn and headed quickly down the stairs. About 7 flights of steps and one annoying encounter with Peeves the poltergeist, James got to the door that lead to the Hogwarts grounds.
It was beautiful this time of night. Stars dotted the sky, which was a dark blue, not the inky black you'd expect at this time. The moon was shining brightly. James walked down toward the lake's edge, where the beech tree was.
The beech tree. James loved that tree. It was where he first met Sirius, Remus and Peter…they loved the tree as well. It was officially named the 'Marauder Meeting Spot' back when they thought that meeting spots were cool, and the title was relinquished a year later when they realized that they weren't. That tree was the spot that they first figured out how to become Animagi and that tree was the place where he was told that he was on the Quidditch team. He and Sirius were sitting under that tree when they were informed that they had set an all time school record of detentions in one year. It was the place where James could just come and think. It was James' spot.
He put his hand on the bark of the beech tree and sort of patted it. He'd been through a lot with this tree. He sighed and sat down on the hard ground and gazed out over the lake. The Forbidden Forest lined the outer bank and the stars twinkled down on the still lake. It was peaceful just sitting here, watching the serene landscape.
"Nice night." a voice broke the silence. James whipped his head around and saw Lily Evans standing beside the tree looking out across the lake.
"Lily!" James said, startled. "Wh-What are you doing here?"
"I could be asking the same question." She said, a smile playing around her lips. "D'you mind if I sit down?"
"No. Not at all. Go ahead." James said, and moved over a bit. Lily sat down and sighed. "So, what are you doing here, anyway?" James asked, purely out of curiosity. It was very un-Lily-like to make random midnight strolls, especially when they had a Transfiguration test the next day.
"I just—I—I came down here to think." Lily said evasively. "What about you?"
"Same. I'm shocked that the Head Girl would risk her reputation to come down here just to 'think'. Couldn't you do that up in the common room?" James asked. Lily quirked an eyebrow, and James added hastily, "Not that I don't love the company or anything, it's just—I mean I just figured—yea." James finished lamely. Lily laughed lightly and shrugged.
"It's more peaceful down here." She explained. "Why didn't you just stay up in the common room?"
"Me? I have a special bond with this tree, myself." James said, patting the tree trunk slightly.
"Ah. Care to explain that a little further?" Lily asked, curiously.
"This is just…my tree. I met my fellow marauders under this tree. We used to plan our mischief making underneath it. Under this tree, we found out—er—something about Remus…and helped him get through it. This tree was where we all saw Peter learn to swim…forcibly because the Giant Squid took him under the water…guess they're territorial or something, but still. This was the tree where I…" James broke off and looked down, uncomfortable.
"What?" Lily asked, shifting a little. He could feel her bright green eyes on him, and they made him nervous.
"Nothing." James mumbled "It's—" now he had the courage to look up into her eyes. He got lost. They were breathtaking. She was breathtaking. Her face held a look of curiosity as well as sincerity. He was worried about her reaction, but the will to tell her overpowered that particular little detail.
They looked at each other for a minute. In that minute, Lily noticed something about James. The way he was looking at her. She looked into his eyes and they told her everything. He was a little scared, which was an emotion that she thought he was immune to, even in these times where dark wizards who hide behind titles of 'Lord' or whatever are gathering strength and power. James always said that he wasn't scared of Voldemort. He was going to fight him one day and that when that day came, if he was supposed to die, he would do it with honor. Lily admired James for that more than she'd like to admit.
But right now, James was scared. She also saw that he wanted to tell her something, but it was hard. She noticed one more thing about the way that he was looking at her. It was with genuine love. Lily heard him say many times 'I love you, Evans' in an effort to persuade her to go out with him, but she never really believed it until now. Until that minute on October 11 when she finally looked and really saw what was in front of her.
"What?" she asked, a little softer.
"This was the tree where I first saw you across the lake." James said, "And where a few years later I realized that I was in love with you."
Then, something happened that James quite didn't expect.
The tree gained a new title.
It became the tree where they shared their first kiss.
About six months later, it became the tree where James Potter proposed to Lily Evans, and where she accepted.
It became proof that one night—one minute even—could change everything.
A/N: hey all. One of my fluffy little one-shots.
I have not given up on my other fic, It all Happens for a Reason, I am simply taking a tiny break. And aren't one-shots as amusing? Hope you enjoyed, and as always I must ask you to review plz!