He had changed. He didn't smile very easily or laugh very loudly anymore. He was almost always partners with Remus. He stuck to himself mostly. He didn't seek anyone out anymore than he had to.
She had thought at first that he would get over whatever it was rather quickly, but he had been like this since the beginning of November, and now, coming on the beginning of March, she was not so sure. He was… different.
He walked along the hall with time to kill before class and nothing to do. There had been a time when he was perpetually late for everything, the fifteen minutes of a passing period always pregnant with possibility. No rest for the wicked and all that.
He turned along the third floor corridor on the west wing. It was his favorite hallway of the castle. Giant suits of armor lined one side of the wall, and could quite well hide a person or two standing between the statues. The other wall was lined with ceiling to floor windows that looked out over the Quidditch pitch. He liked to disillusion himself on occasion and hide there, staring out over the green fields in the afternoon sun.
He couldn't today though – too many people were using the hall. In fact, several paces ahead of him, Serveus Snape swept along. When he dropped a book without notice, James sighed and picked it up, calling out, "Snape?"
The other boy shot around with his wand raised, but James just patiently held out the book. "You dropped this," he said. Serveus eyed the article distastefully.
"And what curse did you decide to put on it Potter?" Serveus bit out. James just shook his head and forced the book into the boy's hands, before beginning to brush past him. James heard the hex and felt the force of the magic exploding from Severus's wand and knew he didn't have time to block it. He ducked, and heard a startled student cry out as it hit. He grabbed his wand and spun around, shouting, "Immobilous! Expelliarimus!"
Serveus froze and James caught his wand before turning back around. Lily Evans had obviously been knocked backwards by the blow, her books taking the brunt of the curse, a few hairs singed.
"I know," James said. "No dueling in the halls." He came forward, and whispered words much more advanced than the simple repair charm and Lily watched, amazed, as her books began to re-grow their pages and covers. He gathered them up, and looked to her.
She watched as, for a moment, his gaze lingered on her legs. Her skirt, in her fall, had hitched to mid-thigh, and she quickly stood, allowing the garment to fall back to its regulation length just below her knees. He looked up at her for a moment, an unreadable expression in his eyes, before standing. She tried to regain a composed stature and reached for her books, but he did not hold them out to her.
"Come on," he said. "I'll walk you to class."
As they passed by Serveus, James replaced his wand in his hand without comment. The look of absolute hatred on Severus's frozen face was matched not with an equal look, but with one of polite resentment from James – a rare expression these days because it was an expression at all from the passive boy.
The walk to class was silent, and Lily felt awkward without having her books to hold over her chest. She was rather embarrassed by how much it had grown during the past year. She had always been rather flat-chested and had not minded, but now it seemed, her female form was making itself known and the attention she received as a result made her uncomfortable.
She stood a little closer to James as they walked by a group of seventh year boys, several of whom decided to turn their heads as they walked by. James glowered darkly at them, turning his own head, until they looked away, and even though it wasn't his place to do such a thing, she was grateful.
When James looked at her, she was of course embarrassed, but he had always looked at her like that, even when there was nothing to see, and so it did not bother her in the way it did when other boys stared. Other boys made her feel angry and disgusted, but also slightly dirty and ashamed of her body. James just made her feel pretty.
She shook her head and tried not to blush at the thoughts. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. His face had grown into strong angular lines that were quite attractive, but he didn't look happy so much anymore, and it changed his face, not being stretched into a smile. She found she rather liked his smiling face more, though she never would have thought she'd miss his annoying grin.
Her eyes traveled down to his hands. When had they become that of a man? She wasn't sure when they had changed from the cold clammy tiny ones to his large square long warm ones, only that they made hers look delicate in comparison.
He glanced over at her, and she realized he had felt her watching him. His eyes had changed as well. There was a hidden spark always twinkling behind his eyes that had slipped away somehow and only came out on rare occasions.
This, more than anything else, suddenly made her feel older, because he had grown up, and she was not far behind. Part of her wanted to stomp her feet and demand that her body stop, and another part of her, a very secret part of her, wanted to grow up for no other reason than she wanted to match him as she did in every other aspect of their lives.
She looked away from his deep gaze and for the rest of the walk looked anywhere else but at him. He opened the door and held it for her as she walked in. The small scuffle in the hall meant that they were not the first to arrive, nor were they the last. He settled her books on her normal desk, and went and sat with Remus who was reading a book. Lily watched as he just sat there, waiting for class to start and not trying to distract Remus. It was so…un-James. He had changed.
AN: I think this was just a little one-shot. I :heart: reviews.