A Lily/James story, just for Halloween, because it's JKR's favourite holiday. We don't really make a big deal of it here in NZ, but I thought that I might get into the spirit of things for once. It's quite long – a lot longer than most of my oneshots. Just fluffness mostly, tinged with a little bit of the drama and the bittersweetness that for some reason I tend to write a lot of …
Chapter fic updates are coming, I promise! Ahh! Don't hurt me! Check me out on deviantart (link from profile) if you would like to see what I've been up to lately.
Anyone, who picks up the reference to Flight of the Conchords wins a million awesome points. Anyone who even knows who they are gets half that. This does not apply to Liz, just so you know. (You're awesome enough as it is.)
P.S: Characters belong to JK Rowling. Setting is also JK Rowling's. Halloween belongs to the creatures of the night, mwahaha!
er … ahem.
Happy (belated) Halloween!
All Hallow's Eve
'Lily? You're still awake?'
'I can't sleep.'
'I almost woke up Harry, just to have someone to comfort.'
'Yeah, I know how you feel.'
'It's going to be all right, isn't it?'
'I'm sure it will be, Lily.'
'I know. I am too.'
'Let's talk about something else, okay?'
'Sure. What do you want to talk about?'
'Well, today was Halloween.'
'I always liked Halloween. A whole holiday devoted to gorging yourself on sweets and scaring the wits out of people.'
'Yes, I can see how it would appeal to someone like you.'
'Ha ha. Don't you like Halloween, Lily-flower?'
'Oh, I like it now well enough. I never used to.'
'I don't know. I just didn't like it. It didn't help that every year I would end up eating something nasty courtesy of yourself or your mate Black.'
'Heh. We did get you every year.'
'I remember, trust me. Vividly.'
'Well then, what happened to make you change your mind?'
'Don't you remember seventh year?'
'Parts of it are somewhat blurred …'
'You're joking, right? You remember what happened on Halloween that year?'
'How could you forget?'
'Just tell the story, Lily.'
'I don't understand you sometimes. It was Slughorn's party, remember? Only, you and Sirius had detention …'
It was Halloween, and James Potter had a plan.
'Don't you always?' Remus Lupin sighed when James announced the fact to his friends at breakfast. James shot him his infamous lopsided grin.
'Well, yes,' he admitted. 'I'm glad you've noticed, Moony.'
'As long as it's got nothing to do with Lily Evans, I'm in,' Sirius Black announced. 'I just can't deal with seeing you get rejected again, Jimmy-boy. I'm sorry.'
James narrowed his eyes at his best friend. 'Who says I'm going to get rejected again?' he demanded.
Sirius just sent him a look that spoke volumes. Remus picked up a textbook and proceeded to immerse himself in its pages. Peter Pettigrew made an odd noise, somewhere between a snort of laughter and a choking sound. James glared across the table at him.
'Wormtail? Something to add?'
Peter shook his head and busied himself with his bacon and eggs.
'Oh, come on Prongsie.' Sirius sighed. 'You're going to have to admit it sooner or later – you have completely buggered all your chances where Evans is concerned. Better to quit now and save whatever shred of dignity you still have.'
James rolled his eyes.
'Your lack of faith is disconcerting, Padfoot. Nothing's going to go wrong tonight – I've got it all worked out. She's not going to get mad at me this Halloween.'
'Really? You usually have some sort of tiff with her on Halloween. Wouldn't want to break tradition.'
'I'm trying something new.'
All of a sudden, there was a scream from over at the Slytherin table. James frowned, and turned to Sirius. So did Remus and Peter.
'So am I,' he said mischievously. Remus rolled his eyes as James and Peter craned their necks for a better view.
'Is Snivellus … melting?'
'Nifty little hex, isn't it?' Sirius said conversationally, buttering a piece of toast. 'Serves him bloody right, too. Transfigured my hair into bats last week, he did.'
James laughed appreciatively. He waved a finger at his friend.
'As Head Boy, I have half a mind to put you on detention for that little display, Padfoot.'
'Yeah, well, lucky that the half of your mind that's still a marauder will curse the other half for being a git if you do,' Sirius replied unconcernedly. James grinned.
'Lucky, that,' he agreed, settling back into his seat. Peter followed.
Remus cleared his throat. 'One problem with pranks at mealtimes, though …'
'Good morning, boys. Halloween high spirits, is it?'
'Professor,' Sirius grinned and winked at the formidable figure of Professor McGonagall, who was wearing a stern expression. 'Lovely day, isn't it?'
'That depends, Black,' McGonagall said, raising an eyebrow. 'Did you have any plans for tonight?'
'Not as such, Professor. I'm all yours.'
'Good. Detention, seven o'clock. Honestly, the slightest hint of trouble and all I have to do is look for you lot.' She glared at them all over her square spectacles.
James cleared his throat. 'Excuse me, Professor, but –'
'You too, Potter. Detention.'
'But I didn't have anything to do with it!'
And he might have been able to convince her, too, if Sirius hadn't spoken up at that very moment.
'Don't be so modest, Jamie! You showed me that little jinx months ago, remember?'
James spluttered his protest, but McGonagall had already swept off, muttering a few choice phrases under her breath – one of which James was certain contained the words 'act their age, for once …'
'Bloody hell, Padfoot!' James finally exclaimed, once the power of speech had returned to him. Sirius was unfazed.
'Look at it this way, Jim,' he shrugged, devouring a mouthful of scrambled eggs. 'This way, you'll avoid being slapped or hexed or whatever it is that Evans has decided to throw at you this Halloween, and I'll avoid having to calm you down after it happens.'
James glared at him.
'You're a class-A git, do you know that?' he muttered, stabbing a fried tomato with far more force than was necessary. 'It was going to work tonight. I swear it was.'
Sirius rolled his eyes at the other two. 'Keep telling yourself that, Jamie,' he said sarcastically. 'You just keep telling yourself that.'
'Sirius Black, world's biggest git.'
'Oh James, stop being melodramatic. Besides, it wouldn't have worked.'
'Whatever plan you had to win me over.'
'Well, we'll never know now, will we? It could have worked.'
'I highly doubt it.'
'Besides, it hardly matters really, does it? In light of what happened?'
'Well, no. But that's not the point. I'd actually forgotten that Sirius dobbed me in – I might curse the prat next time I see him.'
'You mean you didn't do it at the time?'
'No, I was too busy coming up with a plan to get out of detention. And afterwards …'
'How did you get out of detention, anyway? You never really explained it to me.'
'You don't know? It was you that got me out …'
Lily sighed. Potter again. Couldn't he use her given name just once? No doubt he was trying to get her into position for whatever Halloween practical joke he had cooked up this year. She kept walking, thinking that she would let him catch up to her if he wanted to talk to her …
As it turned out, that was her first mistake.
Her feet flew out in front of her as she slipped on some sort of slimy substance that had been left on the floor. Her arms flailing as she tried to regain her balance, she tripped backwards and began to fall, waiting for the flagstones to jump up and greet her …
James rushed forward to catch her, but her momentum and his own unsure footing ended up carrying them both to the ground.
Lily struggled to pull herself into a sort of half-lying, half-sitting position. She didn't even realise how close they were until she looked down and caught his eye.
She swallowed forcefully.
He grinned. 'I tried to warn you,' he pointed out.
'Sorry,' she mumbled, still inexplicably caught in his gaze. For some odd reason, her heart was pounding unnaturally loudly. 'I didn't realise.'
'Don't worry about it. We all have our less than graceful moments.'
He was still grinning like a fool.
Why did he have to grin at her like that?
Why had she just caught herself thinking that he might be charming, after all?
Why did that look in his eye make her feel as though she was still falling?
'Why are we still on the floor?' she asked dazedly.
He chuckled. 'That would be because you're on top of me, love,' he said, raising an eyebrow. She gasped.
'Oh Merlin's beard, I'm so sorry!' she exclaimed, jumping to her feet. James pulled himself up more slowly, still laughing as he brushed off his robes.
'Forget it, Evans. I expect that you hit your head or something.'
She shot him a glare. 'Careful, Potter. Did you have a reason for hailing me just before?'
'Apart from the chivalrous compulsion to make sure you didn't fall flat on your face? No.' He shrugged.
'Oh. Well, thanks for that, anyway.'
Lily stood awkwardly for a moment.
'Sorry,' she said. 'For, er …well.'
'Ah, you know me Evans,' he shrugged. 'I don't hold a grudge.'
She raised an eyebrow.
'Well, obviously excepting where Slytherins are concerned,' he added, grinning as he rolled his eyes melodramatically. She laughed.
'Shall I walk with you to Potions?' he asked. 'Help you avoid whatever obstacles might be in your way? You will have to listen to me, though, if you want to prevent another embarrassing episode like that.'
She cursed herself for blushing.
'Fine, let's go or we'll be late.'
They set off down the corridor, taking care to avoid the puddle of slime which, James informed her, was the result of a mock duel between Sirius and Peter the night before.
'Not a bad spell, really – who knew Pete had it in him? Course, Sirius will tell you that it was a lucky shot, but he's a poor loser, obviously.'
Lily laughed again and James grinned. Moments like these were not as rare as they had once been – these days, Lily didn't mind James's company so much. As long as he wasn't pestering her to join him at an intimate table in Madam Puddifoot's, she supposed he wasn't all that bad to be around. And to be fair, he was shaping up to be a good Head Boy.
Which reminded her …
'Are you going to Slughorn's Halloween thing tonight?' she asked. He glanced at her for a second, and then quickly looked away.
'Not sure. It's not looking good.' He sighed bitterly.
For years afterwards, Lily was not sure what made her say it.
'I thought I'd give it a miss myself, you know.'
James shot her a look of pure surprise.
'Really?' His lopsided grin was back within seconds. 'Sluggie won't like that – his golden girl standing him up at his own party …'
She shrugged. 'I guess, but I can't be bothered, you know? I've got to sort out that prefect roster – hey, if you're not going either, you can help me.'
He frowned, but only for a second. Then his grin was back, even wider than before.
'I'd be glad to, Evans. It's about time I got down to some of this Head Boy responsibility guff, I'm sure.'
James pulled open the door to the Potions class and, ever the chivalrous Gryffindor, stood back to allow her through first. She offered him a smile.
'You're doing a fine job of being Head Boy, Potter,' she told him. His grin, which really shouldn't have stretched any wider, somehow managed to include an extra couple of teeth.
'Thanks, Evans. That means a lot.'
'Don't mention it, it's true. I mean, when was the last time that you got detention? I think you might be getting the hang of this.' She nodded and headed to her seat near the front of the class, leaving just in time to miss James's grin die at her comment.
'I'm sorry, I still don't understand how that helped you get out of detention.'
'Well, you see, I might have implied to McGonagall that you had volunteered to take my detention …'
'What? How did you manage that?'
'You expect me to believe that Miss Evans actually volunteered to give up her Halloween evening plans to supervise your detention, Potter?' McGonagall asked shrewdly during Transfiguration later that day.
'She did, I'll prove it,' James said, turning to find Lily in the class. 'Oy, Evans!'
'You, me, seven o'clock, Prefect's lounge – right?'
Lily waved her hand in acquiescence before turning back to the conversation she had been having with her girlfriend. James turned back to McGonagall hopefully.
The Professor was taken aback.
'Well, all right Potter. I'm sure Miss Evans will take this opportunity to get her own back on Halloweens past. You may go back to your seat. And get Black to do some work, will you?'
James turned and grinned at Sirius, who was leaning back casually on two legs of his chair, playing a game with Peter where they had both levitated their inkpots and were trying to knock each other out of the air. The contest was surprisingly even – Sirius was better with his charmwork and so his inkpot was stronger and faster, but Peter was skilled in the art of misdirection and strategy.
'Sneaky, Wormtail,' Sirius was saying as James made his way over. Peter had just forced Sirius into a dive with his inkpot, both of them pulling out just before smashing on the floor of the classroom. 'But not sneaky enough.'
'Best to put it away, lads,' James said. 'Unless you want another detention, Padfoot?'
'Going to put me in detention, Head Boy Prongs?' Sirius asked, still attempting to fly at Peter's inkpot, which resolutely remained just out of reach.
'No, but Head Girl Evans is probably just itching for a reason – not to mention McGonagall,' James pointed out. Sirius looked up to see the teacher giving him the evil eye.
'All right, fair enough. We will pursue this later, my worthy opponent.'
Peter grinned. 'Sure thing, Padfoot.'
James settled into the empty seat next to Sirius. His eyes sought out Lily across the room.
'You look pleased with yourself, James,' Remus noted warily. 'Do I want to ask what you just discussed with McGonagall?'
James smirked to himself.
'The plan is back on, gents,' he explained simply. Sirius frowned.
'You got out of the detention?'
'Even better. I'm going to spend the evening in the company of our lovely Head Girl.'
The other three exchanged a glance.
'You know, I got you that detention for your own good,' Sirius said, sounding slightly miffed. 'She's just going to hex you again.'
James rolled his eyes.
'Oh, ye of little faith,' he sighed. 'Trust me, this is foolproof. Once I execute this plan, Lily Evans will be begging me for a date. Conditions are perfect.'
'But … you never got to 'execute' your plan, did you?'
'No. That doesn't detract from the fact that it would have worked, though.'
'If you say so, James. So, what happened? It sounds like everything was going fine. Conditions were perfect, isn't that what you said?'
'They were! And I was all ready to show you how great it would be to go on a date with me and all that. I had food from the kitchens, a Celestina Warbeck record, the whole deal. But it didn't quite work out like I had planned …'
'That's right, I remember.'
'Geez, who's telling this story, anyway?'
Lily was walking to the Prefect's common room, hoping to get there before the arranged time so that she could look like she had gone there to work. Which, of course, she had … but she didn't want to give James the wrong idea. He could do that well enough on his own, without her help.
She smiled a little to herself, having little doubt that this evening was going to be a lot more entertaining than Slughorn's soiree. James was a bit like that. He never missed an opportunity to make a joke. He was a good guy, really – if a little annoying at times.
And then there was the look in his eye when he thought she wasn't looking at him …
She smiled a little more. He could be cute, sometimes.
Of course, if he tried to ask her out again, she'd have to tell him no. That was all there was to it – she had promised herself that she would never go out with James Potter, and she'd be damned if she was going to back down now. There was a whole list of reasons why she wouldn't do it.
Of course, she was having trouble coming up with more than two at the moment … but that was beside the point.
She rounded a corner and found her thoughts of James interrupted by the sight of a group of older Slytherins harassing some second-year Hufflepuffs. She grabbed her wand and put on her best 'Head Girl' voice.
'All right you lot, break it up.'
One of the Slytherins looked up with a glare.
'Get lost, mudblood,' he sneered. Lily bristled with anger and fought to control the urge to hex him and get it over with. There were better ways to fight.
'Detention, Avery,' she said swiftly. 'Get off to your common room, now, before I go and get Slughorn.'
Avery jerked his head at the rest, who came up behind him, forming a sort of guard. Lily clutched her wand more tightly still.
'You don't impress us, Evans,' Avery spat. 'You may have Slughorn wrapped around your little finger and James Potter at your beck and call, but to us you're just a jumped up little mudblood who doesn't know what's good for her.'
Lily ground her teeth in frustration.
'I'm warning you, Avery,' she growled. 'Call me that one more time and I'll …'
'You'll what? You can't possibly hope to take on all of us.'
Lily set her jaw and raised her wand. She hated to admit it, but he was right. She was pitifully outnumbered. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the Hufflepuffs scampering away down the corridor – hopefully to get help, but she couldn't be sure …
Avery raised his wand.
'You've picked the wrong people to boss around, Head Girl,' he said maliciously.
'How did you know where I was anyway, James?'
'Call it a sixth sense, love.'
'Hm. Why don't I believe you?'
James was in the Prefect's lounge, having anticipated that Lily would probably turn up early. She was reliable like that. You could always count on her to try and get the upper hand in any situation.
He wasn't sure if he'd imagined it, that look in her eye. It had been bugging him for weeks, because every time he thought he'd caught her out it had been gone within an instant. Lately he wasn't even sure if it was what he thought (or perhaps hoped) it might be, or something else.
But James Potter was not one to let even the slightest hint of an opportunity pass him by.
Besides, if it wasn't … if it was something else, or if she was just being friendlier than usual for the sake of their professional relationship as Head Boy and Girl, well … bugger it. What was the worst she could do, right? She could only say no, and she'd done that already too many times to count, so it shouldn't come as too much of a shock.
And if it was what he thought it was, if perhaps she could … well, he had to know, either way. Even if he had resolved not to put himself through it anymore, he had to know.
Suddenly he frowned and checked his watch. Lily was late. It was almost seven, and she should definitely have been early. She was always early and besides, she would have wanted to beat him to it. It wasn't like her to look so unprofessional.
James knew that while he was not as close to Lily Evans as he might have liked (either figuratively or physically) he knew her well enough to guess that something had happened to hold her up. And, considering all the things that could happen to a muggle-born witch who chose to wander the halls of the castle by herself – owing to a stubborn streak that absolutely refused to surrender to growing pressure – he felt that perhaps he ought to go and look for her.
Then again, maybe she was just late. He sighed. If he left the room she would no doubt turn up and get angry at him for not being there. Not to mention the fact that this was supposed to be a detention, so if McGonagall found him wandering about there would be hell to pay.
Lily could look after herself. Bloody hell, he knew that well enough. He had the scars to prove it.
Still, if she'd met trouble …
He stood. Then he sat back down. Lily was always saying that she could deal with her own problems. This was her battle to fight.
Merlin's beard! He didn't even know that she was in trouble. For all he knew, it could be Remus holding her up with some question about Potions. He could be worrying over nothing.
He checked his watch again. It was seven. He bit his lip in frustration. She was now officially late.
If Lily Evans had ever been late for anything before, James couldn't recall it. And considering the amount of times he himself had attempted to waylay her, this was no mean feat.
What if she had decided to stand him up? What if she had decided that just one moment alone in his company would be too much?
No, that couldn't be it.
He had seen, in her eyes … that couldn't just be his imagination, there was something there for sure.
She wouldn't do this on purpose. Something was wrong. He stood and went to the door, wishing that Sirius hadn't taken the Marauder's map with him to his own detention. He yanked the door open.
A second year Hufflepuff stood paralysed for a moment, his hand raised to knock. James heard scampering feet running away down the corridor.
'What's wrong?' he demanded. The kid gulped, brushing long hair out of his eyes.
'Charms corridor,' the boy gasped. 'Head Girl. Avery. Help!'
James set his jaw. 'Get a teacher,' he told the kid. 'Any teacher. I'll help Lily.'
The Hufflepuff ran off and James headed in the opposite direction, pulling out his invisibility cloak as he ran.
'But by the time I got there, you were out and Avery was cackling to himself. I landed a punch right on the bastard's nose and he got spooked and cleared off.'
'My knight in shining armour.'
'You're being sarcastic, aren't you? After all that I've done for you over the years …'
'Oh, give it a rest, James. Besides, I wasn't out.'
'Oh? What were you doing, playing dead?'
The pain from the curse Avery was using was unlike anything Lily had ever felt before. She screamed but of course no one was there to hear her … they were all off at Slughorn's party …
Avery lifted his wand and the curse. Lily fell to the floor, twitching. Her entire body echoed her scream and she tried to keep still, so as not to upset the aches that the curse had left behind.
'Had enough, mudblood?' asked Avery, to the amusement of the surrounding Slytherins. Lily didn't move, didn't say anything. If they thought she was unconscious perhaps they would leave her alone …
'I know you're still awake, you know,' Avery drawled. 'Perhaps another shot will teach you to answer when you're spoken to …'
He raised his wand again, but he never got to utter his curse.
He turned as though someone had tapped him on the shoulder, and then there was a sickening crack and he stumbled back, clutching his nose. Blood seeped out between his fingers. The Slytherins gasped and a few of them pointed their wands at Lily.
There was another muffled noise and a second person was sent stumbling into the wall, clutching their stomach and gasping for air. A couple turned tail and ran off back to their common room at that point. Avery stumbled forward.
'Evans! You'll pay for that one, you little …'
Lily could swear she heard a male voice mutter; 'Oh no you don't, you bastard …' before Avery was thrown into the stone wall. Groaning, he struggled to his feet.
'Come on, let's get out of here,' one of his mates said worriedly.
Avery seemed to agree, because he followed the ones who had already left with a great deal of enthusiasm.
'Yeah, get lost, you slimy gits,' the same voice called after them. Lily groaned and pulled herself into a sitting position.
'Potter?' she said groggily. She heard footsteps and felt a hand on the small of her back – but to all appearances there was no one there.
'Lily, are you all right?'
'Where are you?'
James Potter materialised in front of her as he pulled off his infamous invisibility cloak. He was smiling sheepishly. 'Better?'
'Much,' Lily smiled weakly. 'Thanks for helping out.'
'Does it hurt?'
'No, it's fine,' Lily lied, feeling the memory of the curse in her bones. 'Wish I could punch that git for myself, though.'
James surveyed her concernedly. 'Plenty of time for that,' he reasoned. 'Come on, I'll help you to the Hospital wing.'
'Really, I'm fine –'
'I don't believe you for a second. Come on. Can you walk, or do you want me to carry you?'
'I would really rather not go to the Hospital wing, Potter.'
'You're right, the Prefect's common room is closer. Come on.' He put his arm around her and pulled her to her feet. She opened her mouth to complain, but was interrupted.
'Lily! Are you all right?'
Slughorn was lumbering along the corridor towards them, with Professors McGonagall and Flitwick trailing along behind him. Lily sighed.
'I'm fine, Professor,' she assured him, trying to dislodge James's arm. It wouldn't budge.
'No thanks to Avery and that lot,' James snarled next to her. Slughorn frowned.
'I'll certainly have a word with them, my dear. We can't have this sort of thing happening to the Head Girl, can we? My word, what is the world coming to …'
McGonagall raised an eyebrow at James, who sent her a look of steel in return. In the end the various teachers decided that there was nothing wrong with Lily that a bit of rest wouldn't fix, and allowed the pair to go back to the Prefect's common room.
Lily sat down on the couch and pulled some papers out of her bag, all too aware that James was watching her carefully.
'Shall we get started on that roster, then?' she asked, over-brightly. James stared.
'You … are you …'
'I guess I just … how do you do that?'
'Act like everything's normal! You just got attacked, for Merlin's sake!'
Lily shrugged and avoided his eyes. 'I guess I'm just trying not to think about it. We've got a job to do, after all.'
James took the seat next to her, still staring at her incredulously.
'Are you seriously going to act like it doesn't bother you?'
'Of course it bothers me, Potter, but there's not much I can do about it, is there?' Lily snapped. 'Now, are you going to help me with this or not?'
James sighed and leaned back into the back of the couch, frowning.
'I'm going to kill that psychotic bastard Avery next time I see him,' he vowed. Lily rolled her eyes.
'Don't be stupid, Potter. You're not going to kill anyone.'
'If he points his wand at you again, I might. Are you sure you're all right, Lily?'
Lily frowned lightly as she tried to work out what was wrong with the sentence. After a moment she dismissed the feeling.
'I'm fine,' she replied. 'A little sore is all.'
'I just don't know how you can be so calm about it all. Avery and those guys could have really hurt you if I hadn't shown up.'
Lily shrugged. 'But you did turn up, and everything's fine, so …'
'Yeah, but, you know, I might not always be there,' James said, in a serious tone she'd never heard him use before. 'Lily, I worry about you. And I don't want to see you get hurt by those idiots. And I know you can look after yourself,' he added quickly, just as she opened her mouth, 'and I know you don't need my protection or whatever, but …' he sighed. 'I just get so frustrated with the whole thing – the war, all the stupid politics and ridiculous prejudice – but it's not even me who's on the receiving end. It's you. And how you can just sit there after something like that and be so calm …'
He shook his head and shrugged.
Lily stared at him for a moment. She'd never heard him talk about the war before – it wasn't something often discussed within the Gryffindor common room, most people preferring to pretend that it wasn't going on at all. She knew, of course, that once their last year was over the stories in the Daily Prophet would stop being just headlines and become reality, and that they would have to face a world caught in terror and turmoil. But for now it seemed so far away – even attacks like the one she had just experienced didn't really bring it home exactly what they would be facing once they left the safety of the castle.
But to hear James Potter talk of it like that … well, that was a different story. He looked so much older when he spoke in that quiet, serious tone – there was a hardness to his normally laughing eyes and somehow, something about his pose suggested that he had thought on this topic for long periods of time.
She had never thought of James Potter as particularly deep – certainly he was intelligent, topping the school in all his classes, but she had always considered this to be rather more due to good fortune than any consideration on his part. She'd never imagined that he spent lengths of time thinking about politics and the like – but now she supposed he must. What a strange thing.
Even stranger, she remembered, was the fact that he was pureblood. The war shouldn't mean anything to him beyond a few extremists to be treated with caution. It didn't apply to him, he wasn't in danger from them …
'It's … you know …' She frowned. 'To hear you talk like that, it's …' she sighed. 'It's frightening.'
His lip twitched into a somewhat rueful smile.
'Sorry. Even the best of us get melancholy sometimes. Perhaps Remus is rubbing off on me.'
'I just never realised that it bothered you so much,' she admitted. 'I mean, you're pureblood, aren't you –'
'But that's just the problem, isn't it?' he interjected. 'I'm pureblood, and so are they. We're the same, and yet look at what they're capable of. It makes me ill to think of it. I almost hate myself for being pureblood sometimes, knowing what those people do. It shouldn't mean anything – who may parents are, who your parents are, it's all the same – but they've made it mean something. They put a connotation to the word 'pureblood' that I don't care to be associated with.' His expression was one of disgust mingled with one of disappointment.
Lily wondered if she should say something. She didn't quite know what. Perhaps she might have thought that he was just trying to take on her cause as his own in some ill-fated attempt to win her over if she hadn't recognised the sincerity in his voice.
She was saved from adding anything, though, because he spoke again; this time in a voice that was barely above a murmur.
'I used to be proud of where I came from,' he said thoughtfully, as though he had forgotten that she was there. 'Not in the way Sirius's family are, mind you, but still proud. Proud to think of all the great people who I could call my ancestors. We've got all these old records at home, and I used to go through them and learn all the family trees and all that … Sirius and I are cousins, you know. I always thought that was neat …
'But it's hard to think that way now. It's hard to be proud of where you come from if someone will use it as a reason that you should live while another person should die. Every time I think about my family, I sort of wish they weren't all wizards. And that probably sounds stupid to you, all things considered, but that's the truth of it. I wish I wasn't pureblood, because every time I remember that fact I end up wishing I could apologise to the whole damn world for everything they've done. Like it's my fault, because we're the same.' He sighed. 'I'm probably not making much sense.'
'You're making perfect sense to me,' Lily murmured.
He caught her eye and for a moment, the room around them seemed blurred.
She hardly noticed.
'You're not like them, James,' she told him. 'I know that you're not.'
'And you're the greatest witch I've ever met,' he said, causing her to blush. 'Honestly, you are. Anyone who doesn't see that is blind. I might be a complete prat, but I know magical talent when I see it.'
She cast her eyes downwards shyly. Only when he took one of her hands in his own did she look up.
She thought that she should probably jerk her hand away, or at least find a way to take it back. She didn't want to give him the wrong idea.
But she didn't jerk away.
'Lily, I …' he glanced at his hands, still cradling hers, as though he was searching for the right words to say. Lily watched him swallow nervously and thought that her earlier thought had been right … he was certainly rather adorable, particularly – for some bizarre reason – when he was nervous.
Then again, she wasn't sure that she'd ever seen him nervous before.
'I don't know why I told you all that, just now,' he admitted with a small laugh.
She imitated his laugh without thinking.
'It's certainly a new side of you, James,' she said coyly. He laughed again.
'You're going to think I'm mental now, aren't you?' he sighed dramatically. She giggled a little.
'Not mental,' she assured him. 'Just … more serious than I had anticipated.'
He grinned. 'Well, I can probably live with that.' He bit his lip for a moment, before setting her hand carefully on the sofa between them. His own hands rested lightly on his knees.
'Sorry I'm such a depressing git,' he said with a shrug. 'You're probably right – there's not much you and I can do about prejudice right now, so maybe we shouldn't waste our time worrying about it.'
Lily watched his hands for a moment without really thinking. Her own hand tingled slightly from his brief touch. Frowning slightly, she raised her eyes to meet his.
'And from what I remember, that was the point where you snogged me senseless.'
'Don't be such a git, James.'
Their eyes met. And James – who had in light of Avery's attack and their subsequent conversation momentarily forgotten the question which had plagued him earlier that evening – suddenly remembered why he had been looking forward to this particular Halloween.
For the first time he managed to hold her gaze long enough to know that it wasn't his imagination. He grinned.
'Did you want to … er … prefect roster?' He gestured to the papers lying abandoned on the coffee table.
'Not really,' she said with a small laugh. He grinned even wider.
She moved first. That was a good sign. He barely had time to think before her lips were on his. Any thoughts that had been moving through his mind before that second disappeared at the taste of her mouth. His hands moved around her waist and up her back as her arms wound themselves around his neck. Her lips were soft, but the pressure of the kiss was firm and sure. When she pulled back slightly he pulled her closer, breaking contact at their lips to trail little kisses along her jaw and neck.
'I'm not sure why I did that,' she murmured, slightly dazedly. James smiled against her cheek.
'It's certainly a new side of you, Miss Evans,' he whispered, kissing her again.
She laughed, and leaned her forehead against his.
'You're a git,' she said with a teasing smile. He grinned.
'You like me anyway,' he said.
And before she could reply either way, he kissed her again, vowing to himself that from that moment on, he would never let her go.
'I always liked Halloween.'
'So you said.'
'I think I'll go to bed, James. Are you coming?'
'I'll check up down here and join you, all right?'
'I love you, Lily.'
'I love you too, James.'
Reviewers may request a Halloween marauder of their choice, bearing candy. Prongs is dressed as a knight in shining armour, and he's got candy hearts which all say 'I love Lily'. Padfoot has a devil costume, and he'll scare you out of your wits before handing over the pepper imps - after which he'll laugh himself silly at the smoke pouring out of your ears. Moony has somehow been talked into the big bad wolf outfit, and of course he's offering to share a block of Honeyduke's finest, or at least give you a piece. And Wormtail has unfortunately allowed James and Sirius to choose his costume, so he'll hand you his bag of fizzing whizzbees before running off to the bathroom to work out the counter jinx (trust me, you don't want to know.).