Disclaimer: Any familiar Harry Potter-worldisms belong to J.K. Rowling
Author's Note: I know I should really finish stories before I start new ones, but this idea popped into my head last night, and I knew if I didn't get it down soon I'd forget it. It may turn out pretty good, or it may not, who knows? If I get into it it'll be good. Should be around ten/elevenish chapters in total… anyway, here's your summary:
The most romantic city in the world – if only Lily had someone to share it with.
Well, she has her guy-magnet friend Lia, but when she's flirting with strange men that she's just met half the time, even the vibrancy of Paris can get a little… lonely.
But they're not only here for leisure… oh, no. Lily and Lia, both as up-and-coming Aurors, have a very important job to do – secure a truce and an alliance with the French Ministry of Magic, so that they can get a little help against Lord Voldemort's army of Death Eaters and Dark creatures back home.
But Lily's such a workaholic anyway, it doesn't matter that she can't enjoy herself. Until one day, whilst on the Eiffel Tower, she meets a man. A man that teaches her how to live, how to let go, how to have fun, how to remember the things she's forgotten were like. One that shows her the true meaning of life lies not in her work, but in howshe chooses to live. One that she ends up falling, far too deep for.
Now, if only she could tell him who she really was…
But sometimes, things aren't just quite what they seem.
So… enjoy.Chapter One
A Chance Encounter
"What did Maddie say?"
I sighed, drummed my fingers against the table, and stared out of the window.
"She says they're still thinking about it."
Lia, my best friend and partner-in-crime (or, rather, anti-crime), groaned, and flopped down onto her bed.
"They've been thinking about it for the past week! When's the next meeting you set up with her?"
"This afternoon. Why?"
"Because I'm going with you this time."
"What?" I whipped my head around so fast to look at Lia that my neck made a wincing crack, indicating that I was most likely to going to have a painful crick in it for the rest of the day. "I thought we agreed on this back home; you stick to what we planned as your job, and I'll stick to mine. That's the way it works, and how we all stay safe – for all you know, we could be being watched."
"Number one," Lia replied, holding up one finger. "I've done about as much as I can on my job, but it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Number two," - she held a second finger up - "Clearly, you suck at this, and could stand to use a little help."
"One meeting won't hurt, Lil."
She fixed me with that annoying steely-eyed stare, showing that she wasn't going to give up without a fight.
I sighed. "Fine. But if anything goes wrong, you're responsible."
Lia's face split into a smile. "That's more like it. Now, you coming? I'm going to the Eiffel Tower today. Who knows, I might meet someone there. What?" she added defensively, catching my incredulous look. "It's my day off."
"It's not that," I replied, trying not to smirk. "It's more the fact that you said you might meet someone. You're more the type to meet a few someones."
"I'd protest, but you have a point," Lia replied, slipping on her shades and giving such a nonchalant shrug that it made me laugh. "Coming?"
"Nope," I answered, shaking my head. "I'm going to finish off some paperwork…" I reached into one of my bags and retrieved a large file.
Lia arched a perfectly defined eyebrow, lifting her shades, representing that she was very much appalled at my decision to stay in, on a beautiful summer's day like this.
"Darling, you have got to be kidding me."
"Lily." Lia sat down next to me, with a serious look on her face. She removed the shades completely to give me that annoying look again. "You cannot come to Paris and not go to the Eiffel Tower – or do anything else, for that matter. It's like the laws of nature. If you pass over anything in Paris for anything like this fucking paperwork-" she again eyed the sheets with disgust, "-then you deserve to be Avada Kedavra'd."
She plucked the file in my hand away from me and gave me a pointed look.
I leant forward slightly. "Lia," I replied, with an equally serious look on my face. "There are some of us who do not have the luxury of a large family fortune, and have to actually work for a living." I snatched my file back. "Some of us can't afford to lose their jobs. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some paperwork to be getting on with."
I returned my attention to the file, pulling out a sheet of parchment and began scratching a sentence out with my quill, aware of the funny look Lia was watching me with, but ignoring her otherwise.
"Then why the hell did you agree to come along to Paris with me? We're not just here to work, although you're making me feel guilty for going out all the time. It's like you've forgotten the meaning of life, ever since that..." she trailed off, not wanting to raise a sensitive topic. "I mean, how long has it been since you've really had fun, Lil? Six years?"
The quill paused, and a smug smile crossed the blonde's face as she glared at me.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
The reply came rather pathetically.
A scowl now graced Lia's face.
"Lily Evans, you know perfectly well what I'm talking about. Look at you! You haven't been on a proper break since before we left Hogwarts, you bury yourself in this mountain of crap you call work, you don't know what the bloody sun looks like anymore, and you sure as hell have forgotten how to have fun."
"I have not," I protested feebly.
Lia crossed her arms and glared. "When was the last time you went to a party?"
"That party you insisted on throwing for me last month which turned out to be some strange excuse for you to jump into bed with Emmeline's brother."
Lia opened her mouth but then closed it again as she remembered. A dreamy smile crossed her face.
I rolled my eyes.
Lia shook her head, waking up from her daydream. "Anyway, that's not the point. What I meant to say is, you are going to have to start fucking living or you're going to turn out like Professor McGonagall."
I raised an eyebrow. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Simple," Lia replied, turning away to search through one of her many suitcases. "You will turn out with no life, living in a big castle teaching a bunch of bratty kids how to wave a wand around and end up having to clear after them when they blow up a classroom." She tossed me a dress. "Put it on. You and I are going to have some fun."
The most romantic city in the world, below my feet, stretched out like a canvas before my eyes. Sparkling in the sunlight, the River Seine added to that mysterious, romantic glow of the already amazing city. I could see everything from up here, the most incredible city in the world…
So why the hell was I here alone?
Somewhere off to my left, I could hear the flirtatious giggles coming from Lia, as she chatted to (or up) some guy she just met. That Universal Dialect Charm was really coming in handy for her…I loved Lia to bits, but sometimes she could be so infuriating…
That was the trouble with being best friends with such a beautiful girl. You tended to become invisible very quickly, and paled dramatically in comparison. Usually I didn't mind, but it kind of sucked when you were alone on the Eiffel Tower, in the most romantic city in the world, and your best friend was flirting with the fifteenth man she'd met since we'd been on there (one hour).
It didn't help that Lia was the one that had forced me away from my work in the first place to drag me up here, and it didn't help that Lia was the one who was now abandoning me.
I rolled my eyes at the series of giggles that was escaping from my friend, who had successfully attracted the attention of three other men, and turned my head towards the right to see the view –
- but paused, when I found the man on my right watching me. He had a raised eyebrow, and his amused hazel eyes glinted behind his glasses. My immediate reaction, of course, was to blush furiously when I saw how attractive he was…
Don't think like that, Lily.
Quickly, I regained my composure and raised my own eyebrow.
"May I help you?"
"I was right," he said, by the way of a reply. The first thing I noticed about his voice was how unbelievably profound his accent was. "You are English."
"And so are you," I replied calmly. "But that doesn't answer my question."
The man smirked – infuriating little...! – and I noticed the whiteness of his teeth. He gestured towards where Lia was letting off a stream of giggles, attracting even more male attention.
"Friend that attracts too much attention?" he asked. "Too flirty for their own good? Annoying, isn't it?"
"Usually isn't," I replied, wondering why I was still talking to this stranger. "But there's something about this place…" I waved a hand in the air rather vaguely.
The man's smirk disappeared, and was replaced by a more genuine, yet heartbreakingly handsome, smile. "How do you think I feel? I live here with my attention-over-attracting friend."
I rose an eyebrow again. "And there's me thinking you were another tourist, like me."
"Nope," he shook his head, and then adapted a Cockney accent. "Born, bred, schooled in merry olde England, I was," – his accent morphed into a more sophisticated French one – "But I moved to 'ze romantique city of Paris four years ago. Haven't looked back since - but there's always things I miss."
"Yeah, you gotta love that rain."
The man laughed, a very attractive laugh, I noticed. Again, at this thought, I turned red – what was I thinking? I had only just met this man, yet I found myself inexplicably drawn to him.
You don't even know his name! You're not Lia, Lily. You don't have her confidence and that thing that makes her jump into bed with any guy she wants!
Yet there's something so deliciously tempting about him…
I flushed again at the thought.
"…so what's your story?" I heard him saying.
I opened my mouth to reply, and the next words that flowed out of it both shocked and surprised me.
"Buy me a coffee, and maybe I'll entertain you."
The man grinned –I blushed (again). I had never been so forward to a man in my life, ever. Not even back in Hogwarts, during my hormonally driven teenage years, when I wasn't so afraid of being brazen.
What shocked me more was that the stranger actually obliged, leading me to one of the small tables. Five minutes later, I was holding a cup of coffee in my hands, eyeing my newfound companion with a small smile on my face.
Lines like that would never usually work for me. Sure, they worked for Lia, who had never seemed to lose confidence in herself and had a way with men like a siren, but never for me, even when I did use them.
"Well?" he asked, sipping his own drink.
"My mummy always told me not to talk to strangers," I answered, adopting an innocent tone with a pair of equally innocent eyes.
What am I doing?
He humoured me. "If you knew my name, would we still be strangers?" he asked, his own innocent tone betrayed by the grin on his face.
I could get used to that grin… no! What is wrong with me?
"I guess not."
Stop it, Lily.
The man lifted his cup in acknowledgment. "James Potter, mademoiselle, at your service."
The wizarding world currently had precious few half-decent Aurors, and even fewer amazing, celebrated, name-that-will-be-remembered-in-history ones. Alastor Moody was one of these, as were the Longbottoms, Frank and Alice… myself and Lia were nearing that list if we pulled off what we were hoping to with the French Ministry… and a few years back, a certain James Potter also made the list.
But something had happened - nobody was ever quite sure what - something happened that led to Potter's disappearance from the wizarding world, and many now presumed him dead. The Department Of Magical Law Enforcement knew better, though, and after a mysterious hint had come in that he had been sighted in Paris, the DMLE had sent us to find him - we needed more Aurors like him, especially now - linking with my alliance-seeking mission with the French Ministry.
But Potter's been missing for years… he was one of the best… we can't have found him this easily. It can't be him. Must be just a coincidence.
"Well, Mr Potter-"
"James, what exactly would you like to know about me?"
"Hmm…" he feigned thoughtfulness for a moment. "Your name would be a good start, I guess."
"My name?" I smiled coyly, taking another sip of coffee. "Tell you what, you guess it, and I'll buy you a coffee. You don't, you buy me another one."
Okay, that is it. I have officially turned into a Lia clone.
"Do I hear a challenge being issued?" James asked. "I accept!" He grinned, and held out a hand to me.We shook on it.
"Let's see…" he squinted critically at me up and down, and after a while, his eyes landed on my dark red hair. "I suppose your parents weren't cruel enough to call you Carrot-Top?" His face was serious, but he burst out laughing when he saw the murderous expression on my face.
"Okay, okay," he said, gasping for breath. "Your hair's pretty cool, to tell the truth."
"Your eyes…" he squinted at my emerald green eyes critically, head tilting in thought. "The shape… you're not called Almond, are you?"
"Felicitations," I replied sarcastically. "You're one step closer to being pushed off this Tower."
"I don't think that's even a name."
"How about Margaret?"
"You clearly don't know a lot about women, do you, James?"
"I do. I'm just not doing a very good job of showing that great, extensive knowledge right now."
"Obviously. Keep guessing, Mr. Extensive Knowledge."
"If I didn't like this purse so much, I would have dented you in the head with it by now."
"Okay, I'll be serious." A pensive look crossed his face, but the effect was ruined when his features crumpled together in a frown – his rather attractive features.
Fuck! I thought I'd gotten that voice under control!
"Don't frown, James. It's not a good look for you. You look like a turtle."
Great. Now I sound like his mother.
His face straightened out for a moment, but then crumpled again. "There's about ten thousand names in the English language," he complained. "Just a little hint, pwetty pwease?" He gave me a puppy-dog look. I could feel my heart melt at the look…
No! No more of this! You've only just met him!
"It starts with an 'L'."
"Lucy? Larissa? Leandra? Leonora?"
"Just to let you know, I prefer mocha lattes to regular coffee."
He pouted, and I suddenly wondered what it would be like to kiss that lip…
I spend too much time with Lia. I can't keep thinking like this, I can't, I can't, I can't…
"Fine. It's - "
I was cut off by a voice calling out tome – one that I recognized all too well, and giggled far too much, in my opinion. It belonged to somebody called Aurelia Reeser, more commonly known as Lia for short.
"Evans! Quit flirting with strangers and get your arse over here!"
I rolled my eyes, drained my cup, and stood up.
"Filthy hypocrite!" I called back to Lia, who reacted by finger-waving me. I stuck my tongue out in return.
James was laughing at our banter. "It was nice meeting you, by the way," he said, standing up too.
"Likewise," I said, holding out my hand. "Thanks for the coffee."
Very much to my surprise, instead of shaking my outstretched hand, James chose to lift it to his lips and place a kiss upon it. For the second time, I flushed visibly, and I felt suddenly very fluttery at his touch.
"I'll be seeing you," he murmured. "I have a feeling that we'll meet again."
It took all of my self-control not to grab James and snog him until my lungs gave out.
I need to stop doing that.
"Maybe," I replied mysteriously, and began to turn away. "And when we do, you owe me another coffee, James."
I walked calmly towards Lia, grateful that James could not see the relieved expression that crossed my face, but all the while aware that he was watching me walk away.
"Who's your friend then?" Lia asked, the second that I was within earshot. "Don't worry," she added, knowing exactly what I was thinking, without having to look at the frown on my face. "I'm not about to steal your boyfriend from you… just curious…"
"He's not my boyfriend," I said, another hot flush crossing my cheeks, knowing that James was stillstaring at me. "I've only known him ten minutes. I'm not you, Lee."
"Ouch," Lia said sarcastically. "Hitting me right where it hurts. My love life." A grin spread across her face again. "Well? Name?"
The question reminded me of something that I hadn't told him yet, and I looked over my shoulder to find James still looking at me. He mouthed one word at me, knowing that I now realized what I owed him.
I smiled, hooked my arm through Lia's, and headed towards the elevator. Just before I got in, I turned back around and mouthed something back.