Disclaimer: I own nothing.
There is a saying in certain primitive cultures that a camera 'steals your soul.'
Under no circumstances does Lily Evans want her soul stolen by James Potter.
"I swear to Merlin, get that camera away from me, Potter!"
There was a series of blinding incessant flashes as Lily shielded her bright green eyes. Keeping her head down and covering her with her hands and long red hair, she tried to make her way down the corridor despite the fact that she couldn't actually see where she was going.
"Potter, I mean it!" she growled, still protecting her face from the flickering camera light. Lily was on the verge of an epileptic fit. "Get that sodding camera away from me before I shove it up your nose!" The threat was taken light-heartedly as James continued to take photographs. Lily's eyes started to water. "And then you'll have nostrils the size of black holes!" she warned him. "They'll suck up carpet fluff like a hoover, Potter! A hoover!"
James stopped for a moment. "Lily, you're talking Muggle," he said, as though it were an entirely different language.
Lily sighed, letting her hands come down from her face to explain the Muggle appliance. "A hoover is a--oh, for God's sake!" she cut off, as James quickly returned to snapping more photographs. Lily tried to swipe it out of his hands. "Aaargh! Get away!" She tried knocking the camera out of his hand. "I said, get away!"
James stopped again, but only to look at the photograph he'd just taken. The magical camera in his hand - which looked similarly to a Muggle polaroid camera - shot out the last photo through a gap with a peculiar microwave oven 'ping!' sound. Lily watched James push his glasses up his nose as he examined the photograph closely.
"No, that's not good at all," he sighed, discarding the photo to the floor.
"I beg your pardon?" Lily snapped.
"Oh, this is a magical camera," James explained, gesturing to the contraption hung around his neck, though Lily had not asked, and was neither particularly interested in the mechanism. "You only ever get good pictures if the person you're photographing is willing for it to be taken."
Not willing was what Lily unquestionably was, and she looked down at the abandoned photo on the floor. The picture only showed the back of Lily's head.
"I even look horrible in pictures from the back," she complained, stomping her foot on the photo. If it were true that television added ten pounds to the person who was on it, it must have had the same effect on photos because Lily was quite sure her the back of her shoulders looked larger than they actually were.
"Let me take another one of you, then?" James suggested. However, Lily had sprinted her way down the corridor at the mention of more picture taking.
James, being the athletic, speedy person he was (that, and he felt a certain magnetism towards vivacious redheads) caught up with Lily within milliseconds.
"Come on, Lily, just one nice photo?"
She shook her head, currently using one hand to cover her face like some sort of gas mask, while using the other to feel the walls and corridor portraits that she hoped would lead her to the safety of the Gryffindor tower.
"But I'm taking photos of everyone," James protested, to make Lily feel like he hadn't singled her out, when he obviously had. "It's to preserve memories, honest. I've taken one of everyone in our year."
"That is a lie!" She used the hand she'd presently been using to grope the walls to point an accusing finger at him. "I have not seen you take one photo of anyone other than yourself!"
In Transfiguration that day, James had only been trying to prove the theory that each photo he took of himself turned out "simply fetching"every time. Pointing the camera to his face and surviving the blinding flash, James proved his theory right as every photograph displayed the same James Potter Smile with the devilish eyebrow raise and twinkle in his eye, which Lily swore was part of some spell. He must have been using a charm on his eyes to permanently sparkle like that.
James really should have checked to see if anyone had been watching his personal photoshoot; it had been purely for art and scientific purposes.
"Sure I've took pictures of other people!" scoffed James. He spotted someone passing them in the corridor - which, happened to be one unlucky Frank Longbottom - and clicked his camera at the boy. In actual fact, James had captured a picture of the wall moving, since he'd been paying more attention pulling a face of triumph at Lily.
"Oh, James," Frank tugged on his sleeve. "Can you take that picture again? I don't think you got my best side…or even a side at all-"
"Skedaddle, Frank," James said out of the corner his mouth, because he was obviously a third wheel. "Skedaddle, I say!"
With an odd stare, Frank shuffled off.
"So, where were we?" James asked, turning his interest back onto Lily who looked similar to a blind person while the portraits were her collection of guide dogs. "Please, Lily? Just one picture! C'mon, be reasonable!"
Lily was quite amazed - yet more noticeably annoyed - by James' determination. "I don't trust you. You might use my picture for some stupid love spell."
"There is no spell," James divulged, somewhat sorrowfully as he sighed, "I've already looked…"
Lily scowled at such stalker-like information.
"I said that out loud, didn't I?" James cringed, running a hand through his hair in embarrassment and nearly strangling himself with the necklace the camera was hung on around his neck. Hoping to catch her off guard as Lily was still displaying an appalled look about his researching of love spells, he speedily attempted to take another photo. Lily shot out her hands to cover the lens as she stumbled back from the flash.
The photo shot out with another 'ping!'.
"Oh, no," James said, tossing the photo over his shoulder. Lily found it really difficult not to be offended.
"Look, Potter, I just don't like pictures, okay? I only take photos with my family."
"I will consider pinning you to the floor, and on the subject of family, have you forgotten about my daily marriage proposals?"
Lily groaned. "Don't remind me. It's really odd," she stated.
James didn't find it odd in the slightest.
Watching Lily blindly continue her way down the corridor, James smiled as he thought of a theory to why Lily was so camera shy.
Lily whipped round with a puzzled look, though James couldn't tell her expression, as her hands were glued to her face for safety. "I beg your pardon?"
"You're afraid, aren't you?" James was impressed with himself for figuring out Lily's 'secret.' "Just like you're afraid to let me get close to you."
Lily scoffed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
James smiled even more as he unearthed what he thought were more discoveries. "You," he tugged her hand gently away her face, "are afraid of me stealing your soul."
Lily laughed absurdly. "What?"
"That's what those weird Muggles say, right? That a camera can steal your soul."
"Well, yes," she had heard that belief before, and was completely bewildered about where this conversation was going.
"I would never steal your soul," James reassured her. Lily continued to frown in confusion. "You know, when we're eventually married, I imagine both our souls merging in to one."
Slowly, Lily shut her eyes, simply stunned from yet another mention of marriage.
"Oh, my God," she mumbled under her breath, not dignifying him with an answer as she carried on walking down the corridor, with James shadowing her steps, grinning. To her delight, she found herself at the portrait of the Fat Lady. Rejoicing, she said the password.
"I know you're afraid, Lily."
James was not grinning anymore and held a look of honest sincerity.
"I'm not afraid of anything, Potter," she said barely above a whisper.
She stepped through the portrait, finding sanctuary in her dormitory, and went to bed early.
In the early hours of the next morning, James wandered into the empty common room after having trouble sleeping. He plonked down on one of the arm chairs in front of the fire. After twirling the camera in his hand for many minutes, he turned the camera to capture a picture of himself. Once the photo popped out, he examined the picture where he saw his face looking grimmer than ever with bags under his eyes, glancing into the camera unhappily before looking away again.
"Sleep is the new awake, hmm?"
James jumped when Lily appeared and came to stand in front of him. The flames from the fireplace illuminated her face, making her look almost like an angel. He pinched himself, wondering if he'd actually fallen asleep and was dreaming. The pinch hurt; Lily was real.
"Here," Lily said, dropping something into his lap.
"What are they?" James asked, not having the common sense to look at what she'd given him, but finding more interest in looking at her.
"You have eyes, Potter."
Eventually Jamestore his eyes away from her face and looked down at his lap to discover a handful of photographs. "They're not moving," he noticed.
"That's because they were taken with a Muggle camera," Lily explained. "Look at them."
James picked up the first one. "Is that… is that you?" he sputtered, trying desperately hard not to laugh.
"Yes," Lily confirmed.
James looked at the picture at all angles. Perhaps she would appear better upside down...
"I hated my red hair so much." Lily looked into the fire as she recalled the past while James observed her with quiet interest. "I was the only one of two redheads in my entire primary school. That's why I decided to dye my hair. And as you can see, that's where I went wrong," she tapped the photo of her grumpy younger self in school uniform, where her hair was a frizzy green.
"You looked nice," James strained a smile. Looking at the beautifully grown Lily now and looking at her back then, James really couldn't see how they were connected as one person. "I suppose the braces didn't help."
"Not really," she said. "Next photo."
Putting the first photo to the back of the pile, James looked at the second and smiled. "Who's that?" he gestured to the young girl of ten accompanying Lily in the picture. Both girls looked so happy and innocent as they linked arms, their heads resting against one another.
"My sister Petunia," Lily revealed. James felt the smile drain from his face as he examined the photo. Lily spoke again, her voice suddenly cold and bitter, "We used to be the best of friends, you know." She looked at the photo in James' hand and sighed. "Then she discovered I belonged… here," she gestured to the castle walls, "Hogwarts."
"I take it she wasn't happy for you," assumed James.
"She called me a freak and never talked to me again." Lily's tone was hollow and James felt a tinge of anger swell up inside because her sister had treated her like that. "Next photo."
Though he didn't want to move on - maybe talk about her sister with her a little more, her feelings - he obeyed her wishes and came to the final picture. "You and your grandmother?" He guessed from the typical frail old women with grey hair pictured next to Lily. There was a definite fake smile upon Lily's face.
"Yes," she confirmed. "I hated her," she admitted, rather guiltily. "She was from my dad's side. My mum hated her, too. She was purely evil. Manipulative, racist, had ridiculous traditional values," she listed. "But I put on a brave face every time she visited, to be polite. Until one day she insulted my mum right in front of me and I just cracked." James listened attentively, nodding in appropriate places. "I told her what a cruel human being she was. I told her I hated her, and I hated what she was."
James jumped ahead, guessing how this story ended. "She died soon after, didn't she."
"A week." Lily looked at her grandmother in the photo with sad eyes. "I never got to apologize."
"But you wouldn't have meant it."
"That's not the point. Apologies aren't always meant from the heart, Potter. They're said because they should be said." Lily tore her eyes away from the photo to look into his hazel ones. "So, tell me, Potter, am I refusing to let you take a picture of me because I'm afraid you'll 'take my soul'?" James sat awkwardly with the photos in his lap. "Or maybe I just don't want another photo to add to my collection of depressing memories?" He didn't answer straight away. "Well, Potter?" She waited for a reply.
"You shouldn't be focusing on the bad things that happened in the past," James said at last, knowing he had some bad memories of his own. "You should be focusing on the good that's happening now, in the present."
Lily had to admit he was right, nodding thoughtfully.
"Potter… what's the real reason for wanting a picture of me?"
James seemed strangely bashful all of a sudden. "What do you mean? I said before, didn't I? I'm taking pictures of everyone."
Lily raised an eyebrow at James. He played with the corners of the photographs when he continued with the truth, "You know, just in case our foreseeable marriage doesn't actually go to plan." He chuckled, and Lily oddly found herself joining in, "I want to be able to look back and… remember you."
As if he could ever forget her.
"All right, Potter, I'll let you have the bloody picture," Lily surrendered. One photo couldn't hurt, could it?
James beamed. "You don't mind if I'm in it too, do you?" he asked, getting the camera ready.
"What? We never agreed to that!"
"Oh, for the love of… fine," Lily huffed, crossing her arms. "But keep your hands where I can see them."
Before Lily could compose herself or fix her bed hair, James slid his hand up her back and onto her opposite shoulder, so they were pressed up tightly shoulder to shoulder.
"Smile for the camera." James turned the camera their way.
Though Lily was told directly where to look by James, somehow her eyes were not obeying her brain. Instead, they were examining how close she and James were standing together; the line of his jaw; his hand placed comfortably on her shoulder as though it had spent so long there it had gathered dust.
Seconds before the photograph was taken, James stole the opportunity to pull her towards him and crush his lips against hers.
Predictably, Lily slapped him.
(After four minutes and twenty seven seconds of murmuring against one another's mouths, much cupping of the face, the drop of a camera to the floor, and hands running through each other's hair.)
Lily hadn't lost her soul, but merely gained a new one, and it was all captured in a single snapshot.