Author's Note: This is the longest one-shot I've ever written…
I'm not actually expecting that much response from this, seeing as how the tone changes so much, the story doesn't flow that well anymore, and I don't think it's that great. Lily doesn't seem to have much depth, either, and she didn't turn out to how I wanted to. Although it is pretty fun to read. Just remember to review at the end and tell me what you think!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns all recognizable characters
The Power Of Verbal Communication
I am ill.
I am dying.
Illness doesn't feel like this. Illness is sore throats, headaches, stuffy noses, colds, fevers, et cetera.
Dying, however, is agonizing pain, which is exactly what I'm going through now.
I have a completely blocked nose, heartburn, headache, backache, leg-ache, arm-ache (basically any other ache you can think of), a burning forehead, the taste of bile at the back of my throat, the feeling of nausea in my stomach, and possibly worst of all, a sore throat.
But it is no normal sore throat. It is the feeling that my entire throat is on fire every time I open my mouth, and every time I cough, it sounds like the engine on a motorcycle. But a million times louder and more spluttery.
Trust me, this is the monster of all illnesses. I'm not even sure what it is… except that Nina and I have pretty much deduced that it seems like flu, pneumonia, and a couple of other magical diseases thrown in as one.
You know the worst thing about my sore throat though?
I have lost my voice and the ability to speak.
It may not seem like such a big deal, but when you're me, you need your voice constantly. As in:
Talking to Nina
Nina Rowan (some of the Muggleborns in our year call her Neenaw, as in fire engines go nee-naw: real mature) is my best friend and I've known her since before we came to Hogwarts. Anyway, I chat to Nina on a secondly basis (as in hours, minutes, seconds), but guess what? Can't do that anymore.
Answering teachers' questions
Because that's what good Head Girls do. But hey, can't do that anymore.
Because I am Head Girl, and the topstudent authority figure in this entire school, I have to do a lot of disciplining and handing out of punishments on a daily basis. So, not good.
None of this either.
I'm a good Head Girl, but I'm not that good. Sometimes they really deserve it. And sometimes I'm a real hypocrite. But don't tell anyone… I can't have my reputation ruined now, can I?
Lost my fun in life.
And last, but certainly not least,
Talking to James Potter
For the past few months, James has started to grow on me. Oh, sure, we still argue. We still fight – it's a mandatory thing for us. People expect it – we're just giving the people what they want. But I can't deny that I've been growing feelings for him. I miss talking to him.
But just to clarify something, James Potter no longer likes me that way. He cares about me, but that is because of the whole 'We Are Friends' deal.
Nina told me to tell him how I feel.
I told her to go shove her ideas up her –
If you want an idea of how I can't use my voice anymore, there is no better example of it than what happened this afternoon after lunch. Picture, if you will, a large crowd of students gathered on the fourth floor west wing corridor, many rules being broken, and bedlam.
Nina and I are walking down said corridor, with me chewing on yet another blackcurrant cough sweet – which suck, by the way. Utterly useless, as I told the person that gave them to me (Nina). I had just come from my prefect meeting, and Nina had come from… I don't know where. She had met me straight outside the classroom of my meeting.
Anyway, we were walking along; me chewing my cough sweets and Nina eyeing her newly dyed hair tips apprehensively. Hey, it's her fault; I told her that the pink and purple dye wouldn't work, but did she listen? No. Her hair is as black as ever, but the ends are now the seven plus colours of the rainbow. Blond, pink, red, purple, blue, green, white… she has white hair at the age of seventeen.
She was complaining as per usual, which is what she does best, when we turned the corner and what do we see?
Complete and total chaos.
It was like the Apocalypse had come to Hogwarts, only instead of Judgement Day, it was Mayhem Day. And instead of simple, easy, heaven and hell, it was not-so-simple, not-so-easy, mess and more mess.
I opened my mouth to call for order and an explanation – but nothing came out. Alas, my voice had decided that it had been overused during my meeting and had gone off to party with other lost voices somewhere exotic. Maybe the Caribbean; I hear it's nice there.
I was silently jumping up and down, waving my arms around like a madwoman for what seemed like a year before Nina finally noticed that I was trying to get her attention. She looked at me – I pointed to my throat – and then, in understanding, put two fingers in her mouth and let out an ear-piercing whistle.
I swear I actually heard someone yell: 'It's a banshee! There's more!" before the noise level dropped and all eyes turned to look at her (and me, now that I think about it).
She looked at me again, and I made several more vague, waving hand motions that she surprisingly understood, because the next words that she said were:
"Thanks for your attention. Now can somebody please tell us what happened here?"
The good news is we got an answer. The bad news is that everybody decided to answer the question at the same time. The noise instantly jumped back up, louder than before if possible, as everyone tried to explain.
"The ceiling started to spit red stuff - "
"This thing jumped out and somebody - "
"I saw Peeves, he was carrying a big bucket of - "
"And then there was this huge BANG and people started - "
"Hey! There's a chicken in my robe!"
Nina looked at me, and again I started to gesture frantically. She apparently understood what I was getting at, because she let out a loud whistle again.
The corridor fell silent.
"Thank you. Does anyone know who's responsible for this?"
Instantly, about two hundred and fifty hands rose and pointed to us.
My eyes bugged.
Nina's jaw dropped.
"Excuse me?" I managed to croak – like a frog, might I add. My voice had decided to return from partying in Barbados, but only temporarily and part of it, it seemed, as it disappeared again. Also, with a blocked nose, it sounded more like: "Ecooth ee?"
"Us?" Nina added in disbelief.
Two hundred and fifty heads shook and jabbed their two hundred and fifty fingers at us – or behind us, to be exact - more incessantly.
We both turned around.
You know how I said it was like the Apocalypse? Well, instead of the Four Horsemen, it was the Four Marauders. Capitalized.
That explained why the Head Boy was missing, then. He was probably the one that created it. Unfortunate. I thought that he was finally growing up, as well…
Sirius Black let out a low whistle. "Well," he said, stepping forward to survey the mess. "It's a tad bit messy here, isn't it?"
My eyes must have flashed murder, because Black caught sight of them and immediately shut up, squeaked, and hid behind Remus Lupin.
Nina didn't have to look at me to voice what I was thinking this time, because she said it straight out.
Black gave her the finger.
Nina gave him red and gold polka-dot shorts.
Black examined his new clothing critically. "Hmm," he said, studying the colour. "At least you've still got your Gryffindor pride, Rowan."
Nina gave him matching tentacles.
"Honestly, children," James chided, stepping in between Nina and Black – or rather, Lupin, as Black was hiding behind him – before Black said something else stupid and Nina hexed him again. "Play nicely."
I snorted, doubting that Nina and Black could ever 'play nicely' and James looked at me.
"Why aren't you back in bed?" he demanded, looking at my stuffed-up red nose and me. Yes, apparently my nose comes before me when I am ill. "You looked a little worse for wear during the meeting – I thought I told you that you needed to take the day off, Lily."
I pretended to take it as an insult, although I couldn't help but wonder if he really was concerned – but I failed to call my voice back from the Caribbean, so I settled for giving him the evils.
"Have you got conjunctivitis as well?" Peter Pettigrew piped up, looking at me closely.
Well, that backfired pretty miserably.
I turned to Nina and gave her a pleading look to please wrap this up and please clean it up and please send everyone away.
"Look," she said, sighing. "We haven't got time for this. Can you guys just clean up your mess so we can send everyone on their way and you can brag about the next set of detentions you've managed to get yourselves?"
"As much as we'd love to," Black said, still wearing his Nina Rowan-brand polka-dot shorts (now with free matching tentacles!). "We can't take all the credit for this. The chickens were my little addition, but we didn't do it."
Nina looked at me. I rolled my eyes.
"Likely," she replied, turning back to the boys, her eyes falling on Black. "Your record isn't exactly your best defence mechanism right now. And your tentacles are spurting ink."
"Seriously," James replied, looking at me, which was odd, seeing as how I hadn't even said a word. And then I understood. "You should get back to bed, Lily. And also, it couldn't have been me – I've been in the meeting with you, and I've been in your classes all day too."
I was his alibi, apparently. Can't argue with that.
I gestured to Nina to tell her that James had a point. She seemed to have thought of something else, however.
"It might not have been you," she said. "But you can't say that it wasn't one of your bitches."
"Marauders," the four of them corrected her in perfect sync.
Nina rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Even if you have an alibi, what do your bum boys ('Marauders!') have to say for themselves?"
"I was with a girl," Black replied, unabashed. "Ravenclaw, I think. Sixth-year. Classroom twenty-three. Second floor. You can check if you-"
I gave a silent squeal of protest.
"No, thank you," Nina said. She turned to Lupin and Pettigrew. "What about you two?"
"The Charms essay."
They can even finish off each other's sentences. How very girly of them.
"How very girly of you," Nina sniped, and brandished her wand again.
Two hundred and fifty four people took a step backwards, eyeing aforementioned wand with slight nervousness.
"Even if it wasn't you, can you guys help me clear it up? Lily's having a slight… communication problem at the moment."
Potter gave me a look, and then pulled out his own wand. Within minutes, the paint was back on the portraits, the chickens were in a large cage, the feathers were made into feather dusters, students were back in classes, Black was tentacle-less and fully dressed again, and Peeves was taking bets on which ant (1 or 2) would win in a race to the window.
All was well.
James tucked his wand back into his robes and looked back at me.
"She's still looking a little pale, Nina. Maybe you should take her to the hospital wing?"
I pretended to ignore him and popped another cough sweet in my mouth.
"She's Lily Evans," Nina replied. "She's super-student and Head Girl-extraordinaire. She doesn't skip classes because of a simple sore throat. She goes to class as normal and pretends that nothing's wrong."
Excuse me, but my sore throat is anything but simple.
"Yeah, but it can't be hygienic," Pettigrew cut in. "I mean, if she's diseased, she shouldn't go to class."
I glowered at him. I am not diseased!
"I know, but she's Lily," Nina replied.
She was agreeing with them? That little… eeee! Cough sweet stuck! Choking! Can't breathe!
"…and she's stubborn," James agreed. "But still… it's not good for her. Maybe she should go see Poppy…"
Can't breathe, can't breathe… what does a girl have to do to get their bloody attention?
Nina snorted. "Good luck. I've already gotten her to the door twice this morning before classes, but she squirmed and ran away both times. If you think she should go, you drag her there."
Black grinned at James, and hit him on the back. "Yeah, good luck with that, Pr-James."
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? CAN'T YOU TELL WHEN SOMEBODY'S DYING RIGHT BEHIND YOU?
James had a determined look on his face. "Fine, I'll take her there. But I'll be sure to tell her how-"
Lupin interrupted them, staring at me. "Er, guys?"
Thank you, God! Save me, Lupin!
"What?" Potter turned around, as did Nina, Black and Pettigrew, and stopped in shock.
About bloody time…
"She's choking!" Black yelled.
Award for Stating The Most Obvious Fact Of The Year goes to… Sirius Black!
"What do we do?" Nina screeched, almost hyperventilating. She stumbled backwards onto Black, who caught her and yelled: "It'll be okay! Breathe in and breathe out, Nina, breathe!"
Am I the one dying or is she… hey, am I turning purple?
James, surprisingly, was the one that gathered his wits long enough to grab me and heave (oh, please don't let this be a dream). Almost immediately, the cough sweet unstuck itself from my mouth and went flying through the air… and landed in the middle of Pettigrew's forehead.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and I sunk to the floor with James' arms still around me. I breathed in deeply. Good old oxygen… how I missed you.
"Do you want to go to the hospital wing now, Lil?" Nina asked, disentangling herself from Black (apparently gaining her breathing ability back too). Behind her, Lupin flicked the cough sweet off Pettigrew's forehead with distaste.
I nodded numbly, but my vision started to flicker.
"Come on," James attempted to haul me up, but my legs were limp as I saw distant blackness surrounding me.
"Lily?" he glanced curiously at me, and then his look turned into one of horror. "Oh, Merlin… Lily!"
Surprisingly, the last thought that entered my mind before I blacked out was:
Who knew that James Potter could perform the Heimlich manoeuvre?
So, not only did my sore throat cause me to lose my voice, but apparently it was responsible for my almost-death. Cough sweets are evil, I tell you…
I came round about an hour later, to find James sitting next to me. Surprisingly, I noticed flecks of gold in those hazel eyes of his that I had never seen before.
I noticed that those eyes were staring right back into my own. I took especially keen notice in his very handsome, very finely cut face... ode to the person that created and cut him so perfectly.
How unfortunate that next second, I leant over the side of the bed and hurled on him.
I have to hand it to James, he took it all in his stride. He conjured up a bucket, which he held up, and held my messy hair back. When I finally finished puking up my guts, I leant back onto my bed weakly.
"Better?" he asked calmly, considering that he had the entire contents of my breakfast and lunch all over him.
I nodded, flushing red. And realizing that I still couldn't speak.
"Good," he said, and I heard him vanishing the bucket and cleaning his robes. He reached over to me and cleaned me up too… with a glass of water, tissues… and a Peppermint Toad!
I guess he knew that I liked it due to the squeal that I gave out, and he grinned.
"I thought that it would meet your approval," he said, as I happily nibbled away. "I should go tell Nina that you're up…" He stood up and began to turn away. My eyes bugged open and I grabbed hold of his sleeve. He turned back to me, and I shook my head.
"You want me to stay?" he asked softly. I nodded shyly.
There were a thousand things running through my head at that precise second. Like: why are you asking him to stay? Is it because he gave you a Peppermint Toad? Or that he saved your life?
And my favourite one of all: you like him, you really really like him.
All thoughts flew out of my mind at that second though, when he conjured up a trayful of goodies, and put them on my bed.
The man is a godsend.
He must have noticed the look on my face, because he said, very quickly: "I figured that you might be hungry when you woke up… you could eat Sirius under the table every morning."
How did he know that? I stared at him in surprise, and was astonished to see him colour. He never colours. But now he was turning a rather attractive shade of red…
I patted the end of my bed, and he sat down on the end of it, still looking delightfully flushed.
"Not that I've been watching you or anything," he added quickly. "I'm not some crazy stalker guy. Although you should know Peppermint Toads have been known to give witches, teenage ones in particular, a rather bad case of toothingitis."
I dropped the Toad onto the goodie tray.
He laughed and picked up a Jelly Slug. I was tempted to point out a fact about Jelly Slugs, but when I opened my mouth, I remembered my little communication problem, so I closed it again.
"That'll make you think twice before eating one of those again," he teased, nibbling at a Jelly Slug. Normally, nibbling annoys me, but on James, I could stand it.
This had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I noticed how full and strong-looking his lips were.
Then I remembered that I still hadn't answered him, so I shook my head quickly. I grabbed another Peppermint Toad – one that I hadn't dropped – and began to chew again, deep in thought. All the while, I was aware that he was watching me.
"You've changed, Lily," he said suddenly. I looked up at him questioningly. "Last year, if you woke up in the hospital wing with me beside you, you would have screamed bloody murder and hexed me to Pluto – but you seem like you can actually stand me now."
I wanted desperately to tell him that I could more than stand him, but alas, my voice was still up, up and away. I turned back to my Toad, annoyed and desperate.
"I never did give up on you, Lily," he said, unabashed. My head snapped back up to stare at him again. "And it wasn't some 'for-the-chase' thing, like everyone says. I really do like you, but I guess I missed – or ruined – my chance. Do you think that it would be weird for us to be more than friends now?"
Um, try no.
"Sirius was right," he said, and chuckled. "Never thought I'd say that, but he was. I should have done something genuine to prove it to you years ago, when I still had the chance. But you'd never give me the time of the day now, would you? I mean, we're friends, and that's good enough for me."
Okay, who kidnapped the confident, arrogant James Potter that I knew?
"You've always known how I felt," he said. "But maybe it's time for me to move on. Unless there's something you want to tell me?" He gave me a hopeful look, but of course, I couldn't say anything.
He didn't know that of course, and I could only watch as his face fell.
Oh, I sighed internally. What have I done?
"Oh well," he said brightly. "Never mind. Doesn't matter."
I was so desperate to tell him that it did matter, and if there was a time that I really needed my voice, it was now. The man I liked had confessed to me that he still really, really liked me, and I could only sit and listen, and disappoint.
I'm sorry, I managed to mouth to him. He smiled, obviously thinking that I couldn't say it aloud due to guilt, and moved on.
We spent the next half hour nibbling away on our sweets, James chatting to me about the pranks that he and his friends had done in the past, and getting me in such hysterics that I felt like I was going to explode.
"…and then we threw the frogspawn in his face and legged it!" he finished off, trying desperately to keep himself together. I, however, was in such hysterics that tears were flowing from my eyes. He took one look at me and couldn't contain himself any longer, bursting into fits of laughter.
"Merlin, I love you, James Potter," I giggled, as I reached for the glass of water on my bedside table.
"Okay," he replied, laughing too.
Then we both realized what I'd said.
He stared at me.
I nipped out from my body and I stared at me.
If there was a time and place for my voice to come back, this was most certainly not it. Why now, of all times?
"I'm sorry," he said slowly, dropping the sugar quill he was holding. "Did you just say that you love me?"
I was suddenly finding the white and pink china set that Madam Pomfrey kept in the corner cupboard very interesting.
"Lily." James grabbed hold of my upper arms and whirled me around to face him. "Say that again."
I gulped my water, bit my lip, and turned my head away again. James placed a finger on my chin and turned it back.
I pulled away.
He turned it back.
I pulled away.
He… well, let's just say that it carried on like that for a while before he threw his hands up in frustration and practically yelled: "Lily!"
I looked at him quizzically.
Oh, I could still speak then.
"Lily," he said in normal tones again. "Did you say to me that you love me?"
I don't know where I got my newfound strength from, but suddenly I felt compelled to stare him straight in the eye and say –
"Hey! You said 'okay'."
James just gawped at me, his mouth hanging open. He seemed frozen in place, so I decided to test my theory.
I snapped my fingers in front of his face.
I pulled a face.
I closed his jaw.
Finally, I smacked him round the head and he came around. His hazel eyes slid back into focus and looked at me blankly.
"Sorry," he choked out in a dry voice. "I'm just a bit… shell shocked."
I gave him a sympathetic pat on the head. "Understandable," I replied. "I mean, it's not everyday that the girl you've liked for years tells you that she loves you."
"No," he agreed. "It isn't."
"Look, I know you said that you still like me," I continued. "But you also said that you were going to move on. That's perfectly fine with me, you know. I know I said that I love you, but I also didn't tell you that when I had the chance because I couldn't, so I would understand if you left right now. Mostly."
James just looked at me.
"You like me," I said, emphasizing the 'like'. "But I love you. If that's a little hard to take in, I don't mind. You can leave if you want, just go, and marry your six foot four supermodel wife with the perfect hair and the perfect looks and the perfect personality, with your three perfect kids, and live happily ever after. Go on."
He continued to look at me.
I sighed. "James, can you just go and stop making this so uncomfortable? Haven't you had enough time to get over it yet? Look, you can get up, say sorry, and walk out of that door right now to make our lives a little easier, or you can stop staring at me, lean over and-"
I never did get the chance to finish, because at that precise moment, James dived across the tray of sweets, pinned me to the bed, and stopped me mid-ramble with a kiss.
One of his hands was in my hair… the other around my waist… my own arms clinging to his neck… both our legs tangled together… it was the softest, sweetest, yet most intense kiss I had ever experienced in my life. And I worked at a kissing booth in a county fair once.
And for the record: I was right. His lips are very strong.
When we finally broke apart (hey, we needed to breathe some time), he looked at me with those captivating eyes, and asked, rather breathlessly:
"What were you going to say before I interrupted you?"
I shrugged and tightened my grip.
He grinned down at me, his eyes sparkling. "It might be important."
I sighed, like it was a great deal of effort remembering.
"Fine. I was going to say, 'or, you can stop staring at me, lean over and kiss me, and tell me you love me too.' You did three out of four successfully. Full marks, especially on that last bit. But you still haven't done the last bit, so I'm afraid you may still fail."
He grinned, and leant closer. I could feel his warm breath on my ear, as he whispered those magic words.
"I love you too."
I smiled into his neck.
Then he kissed me again.
…though he ruined the effect when he pulled away, despite my pull on his neck, and asked:
"So, do I pass?"
I glared up at him.
"James," I said sweetly.
"Shut up and kiss me."
I am pleased to report that he gladly obliged.
Nina and Sirius grinned as they watched their two best friends engage in their kissing session, aided by a bewitched bowl of water. The image buzzed, and faded completely. Nina sat up straight and stretched out.
"Mission accomplished," she yawned.
Sirius sat up too.
"So, are you ever going to tell them you were the one that spiked her pumpkin juice yesterday and made her lose her voice?"
Nina turned to look at him.
"Well, are you ever going to tell them you were the one that added a Courage Concoction to her cough sweets?"