Author's Note: I think it's safe to say we all thought this would never get posted.
Check out the author's note below.
The Curtain Call
James sat up quickly, staring blearily around the room. He expected Sirius to be tearing through massive amounts of wrapping paper already, but soon realized that everyone in his dormitory was still asleep – or had been before the wake up call.
"What the…?" Remus' groggy voice chimed in. He looked up at the door and realized, without much surprise, that Jimmy – the new first-year addition to the seventh year Gryffindor boys' dormitory – was barreling through the entryway with his arms wrapped around a pile of presents.
"Morning, Jimmy," James greeted him in a tired voice. He looked down at his watch, groaning as he realized it wasn't even eight in the morning, yet. "Do you think you could have given us another hour of sleep or two?"
Jimmy dropped to his knees, setting down his presents. "Well, I was already up…" he mumbled, trailing off as he couldn't think up a legitimate excuse. And then, sucking in a deep breath, Jimmy shouted, "Sirius! Wake up!"
Sirius kicked and tossed beneath his bed sheets, but he woke up as commanded. "What the hell, Jimmy?" he grumbled, looking thoroughly ticked off that he had been so abruptly woken from his sleep. "Why did – shit, presents! Why didn't you wake me sooner?"
Remus chuckled as Sirius leapt to the floor, directly beside Jimmy, and started to tear through his own pile of gifts.
"Knock knock," a voice sounded at the door. James quickly glanced up, instantly recognizing the light, melodious voice. "Mind if we join?"
James tried to ignore the pleasant butterflies he got in his stomach every time Lily was around. "Don't mind at all," he automatically replied with a grin as he threw back his covers. He patted the spot beside him, signaling for Lily to join him on the bed. "Come on in!"
Lily bounded over to the bed and climbed beneath the bed sheets beside James as her roommates, Anna and Chelsie, followed silently behind her.
"Merry Christmas," James softly greeted her. "Did you have a good night's sleep?" he asked, placing a soft kiss on her forehead.
"Mm," she hummed to herself, still faintly blushing at their display of affection. That was one thing that never got old; no matter how much time they spent together, she always maintained an adorable pink blush on her cheeks every time he kissed her in public. So, naturally, James tried to kiss her as often as possible.
Lily threw her arms around James' middle, resting her cheek on his chest as he leaned back against the headboard. "It could have been better," she finally murmured in response to his question.
The hand James had been using to stroke through Lily's hair paused. "Why – what happened?" he asked sharply.
"Nothing," she muttered. He caught Lily's smile just before she buried her face into his chest. "But you could have been there."
James smiled, resuming the stroking of her hair with his free hand as the tips of his ears turned a light shade of red. He also ignored Sirius' not-so-subtle murmuring of, "Gag me…"
"Erm," Chelsie started softly, "I hope you don't mind that I brought Gordy." She shuffled nervously into the room, followed by an equally hesitant Anna. Both girls, despite their excitement to hear that James and Lily were "official," still had not become fully comfortable with the idea of hanging around with James' friends outside of the classroom.
Peter was just now crawling out of bed and moving to sit beside his own pile of gifts. He took a moment to notice the fuzzy ball of hair in Chelsie's hands. "Gordy?" he repeated.
"Well, yes," Chelsie firmly held her ground as many pairs of eyes turned to take in her animal that should have been banned from Hogwarts' grounds. "I mean – he used to be Gordina," she informed her audience. "But then I found out it was a boy, so I just shortened it to Gordy."
Remus' interest seemed to have been piqued by the arrival of the pink, furry creature. "You have a Puffskein?" he asked. "But those aren't allowed at Hogwarts…"
Chelsie didn't appear to be concerned. "Yeah," she softly agreed with him. "I've had him for years, though. But I'm not about to just leave him at home with my Augurey. She'd kill Gordy, for sure."
Remus' eyes widened. "You have an Augurey?" He was beginning to feel like a broken record player after repeating every one of her statements.
"Sure," Chelsie calmly replied. "I would have brought her to school, too, but have you heard the noise those birds make? I wouldn't make it through the day unnoticed. McGonagall would have my head for sure."
Remus was now so intrigued by Chelsie's responses to his inquiries that he was close to falling off of his bed if he leaned any closer to her. "I take it you're a big fan of the Care of Magical Creatures classes, then?"
Chelsie finally expressed an emotion other than her reserved responses. "They're my favorite!" She enthusiastically replied. She decided to make herself comfortable on the floor directly in front of Remus' trunk, cradling her Puffskein to her chest. "Do you? Enjoy those classes, I mean," Chelsie amended her question after becoming too excited to appropriately ask it correctly the first time.
Remus nodded. His gaze never moved from Chelsie's as he clambered down off of his bed and took the spot on the floor beside her. "If I may ask – what's your opinion on werewolves?"
Chelsie cringed, making a face. At first, Remus dreaded the answer he was about to receive, but was stunned when they next words out of her mouth were, "Our wizarding society just doesn't understand them! Werewolves are human beings just like you and me, right? It's completely unfair for anyone else to treat them like monsters when they so clearly aren't! It's not even their fault in the first place!" Chelsie concluded her argument with a pound of her fist on her knee, making her Puffskein purr at the jolt.
Remus expelled a soft sigh. "Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about," he murmured, unable to look away from her for longer than a few seconds. "I agree one-hundred percent."
Anna appeared to have another opinion on the matter. "Chelsie, you'd love any creature you met so long as it didn't kill you first."
Chelsie tried to take offense to this comment, but Sirius surprisingly stepped in first. "You have a problem with werewolves?" he defensively retorted.
Anna turned her penetrating gaze on Sirius to find that he had stopped digging through Jimmy's new bag of Zonko's products and was now watching her curiously. "I never said that."
Sirius rotated his entire body so that he could face her straight on. "Well it sure sounded like – "
"I was just making the observation that not all animals are as good as you necessarily believe they are," Anna responded. "Werewolves, on the one hand, are people, too, and deserve the same rights that we receive."
"Of course," Sirius automatically agreed, but he still seemed guarded as he waited for her to finish her explanation.
"But then there's the typical household type animal, you see," Anna continued. "For example: the standard owl. Now, owls have a function – they send and receive letters for you. When they need to eat, you simply let them out of their cage so that they can hunt on their own. Very easy to care for."
"Right," Sirius softly agreed. He frowned, trying to pinpoint where exactly her argument was going.
"Then," Anna continued in a passionate tone, "there's those horrible sorts of pets, like dogs."
Sirius' eyes bulged out of their sockets. "Dogs?" he repeated in disbelief. "What do you have against dogs?"
Anna was not appalled by his reaction whatsoever. "They're disgusting creatures!" she countered. "Completely dependent on you for everything – food, walks, hygiene – you get the idea. And don't even think of letting them run around on their own – you won't see them for weeks – that is if the dog even returns in the first place!" Anna added. She scoffed at the thought of owning a dog as she calmly returned to playing with the bracelet on her wrist that Lily had given her that morning. "Don't even get me started on how 'lovable' some people think those creatures are – they're simply put on this planet to bark at all hours of the night and slobber on everything in the house. Stupid animal…"
Sirius couldn't have dropped his jaw any further.
"The first to leave him speechless," James murmured, smirking at the thought of a girl finally conquering the wit of Sirius Black. "Quite a talent."
Lily laughed openly at James' comment, but was sure to add a soft slap to his chest for offending his friend in the first place.
"Ha, ha, very funny, James," Sirius smartly retorted with an eye roll. He threw a stray Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean at his friend still lounging beneath the covers in bed. "Are you even going to open your presents?" he added. "Because if you don't want them, I'll gladly take them. I just gave you chocolate frogs, anyway."
James groaned and made a noise. "Sirius, I hate those!"
Sirius grinned. "I know – more for me."
James picked up the jellybean lying on his comforter that Sirius had thrown and chucked it back at him. "Alright, all of you, out! Get out!"
"What – James, we didn't even do anything!" Remus called back, sounding offended.
"Doesn't matter," James responded, tightening his hold around Lily's waist. "I've got to give my girl, here, her present and I'd rather you lot not be present."
A general grumbling filled the room as the seventh years – plus Jimmy – started to rise to their feet to give the couple their privacy. They were just in the process of making plans to grab some breakfast together before they chose to engage in their previously scheduled afternoon snowball fight when Lily, of all people, chastised James for his comment to the group.
"You're girl?" she repeated.
James looked over at her, feigning ignorance to his demeaning remark. "Would you prefer 'woman'?"
Lily slugged him in the shoulder; she knew full well that he was aware of exactly why she was bothered.
"Alright, how about 'my love'?" James asked.
Lily nodded with a smile adorning the corners of her lips. "That's certainly an improvement."
James just chuckled before leaning down to nuzzle his nose into the nape of her neck. He placed a single kiss against the side of her throat before pulling away to open the drawer in his nightstand. He took out two wrapped items and set them both in Lily's lap. She simply looked up at him, as if asking for permission to open them, while James just nodded, wrapping both arms around Lily and resting his chin comfortably on the top of her head.
Lily opened the first square object, inhaling sharply when she found a velvet box inside.
"This better not cost that much," she immediately reprimanded James before opening the case.
James' response was a half-hearted shrug. "Every Knut was worth it."
Lily blushed at his words, but silently opened the box. "Oh, James…"
He released his grasp on Lily's waist so that he could grab the box and pull out the pair of diamond, dangling earrings so that she could insert them into her lobes at once.
"I wore these at the Ministry Ball!" Lily realized with a surprised gasp. "But – aren't these your mother's?" she asked, tightening the backs of the earrings, glittering in the light as she turned her head this way and that.
"Yes," James affirmed. "You looked beautiful in them," he told her in all honesty. "And trust me when I tell you that my mother drives a hard bargain."
Lily smiled. "They're gorgeous, James. Thank you." Then, picking up the second object, she lifted an eyebrow. "Is this present just as expensive? Because if it is, I might have to tell you to just keep it and give it to me for my birthday instead – at this rate, you're going to be broke before our one-year anniversary!"
James couldn't disguise his larger-than-life grin at the mention of sharing important events in their future as a couple. "I think I can manage," he told her. "Besides – this one wasn't nearly as detrimental on my wallet."
Lily took him at his word and slowly peeled back the wrapping before throwing her head back in a full on belly laugh.
"Don't think I never noticed you reading those trashy Muggle romance novels in between scenes at rehearsal!" James explained with a smile as Lily inspected the cover of a shirtless male with his hair blowing in the wind caressing the young, damsel in distress standing in front of him. "I figured you would enjoy adding another to your collection."
Lily giggled before laying the paperback novel down on her lap. She turned in James' arms so that she could reach up and place a chaste kips on his lips. "Thank you, James."
James hummed at the physical contact. He leaned in, trying to snag another kiss or two from Lily, but she was far too fast for him and hopped out of bed. "Not now!" she firmly commanded. "I have to give you your presents, now!"
James continued to lounge in bed. "Presents as in plural?" he asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Yes," she told him, running out in the hallway to grab her gift. She was back in seconds, holding an object behind her back. "Are you ready?" she asked, building up the suspense before he received his gift.
He let out a chuckle before sitting up in bed. "Beyond ready," he calmly responded.
But his look was anything but the epitome of calmness once Lily revealed her gift to him.
"That – but that's – oh my God…"
James clambered out of bed, staring in awe at the redwood handle – the gold hilt – the thin blade – before piecing together that Lily was balancing the Claymore sword from the medieval history museum over her upward facing palms.
"Did you – did you buy this?" James asked in astonishment. "From Bernie back at the museum?" He gingerly reached out to pick up the sword and cradle it within his own grasp before chuckling in disbelief at the situation. "Lily, I hate to break it to you, but you're hardly one to criticize me for spending too much on you."
Lily held her hands locked behind her back as she watched James analyze every crevice of the instrument. "My dad helped," she admitted with a shrug. "He donated some of the money we earned from the performances over the summer to the museum."
"Donated?" James asked with a hint of a confused frown on his lips.
She nodded. "The museum was going out of business," Lily softly explained. "So I decided my present to you would be enough of a donation to get the building up and running again, since I know how much you loved that museum. When I told my dad about my idea, he wanted to chip in. Of course, then I told Bernie about your love for this sword in particular, and he insisted that if he trusted anyone with it, it would be you and that it would be in good hands, so he – "
Lily was cut off mid-sentence as James dropped the sword on his mattress and sped forward to gather her face in his hands, planting his lips firmly against hers. He stepped closer, pressing every bit of his body from his toes to his torso up against Lily. Just as it started to dawn on Lily that he was kissing her, and rather passionately, James' hands had slipped down to her waist, locking her against him and ensuring that she was going nowhere anytime soon.
Lily giggled into his urgent kiss. James simply smiled back against her lips, placing one kiss on her mouth, on her cheek, on her chin, on her neck, before finally resolving to hug her body to his and simply rocking them back and forth in a gentle, swaying motion.
"Thank you," he whispered into her ear. "Thank you – so – much."
Lily beamed, proud to have chosen the perfect gift for James after all. "You're more than welcome."
James turned, facing the sword lying on his bed, but didn't dare release Lily to do so. He sighed, staring at it wistfully. "You do know, however," James softly told her, "that I won't be able to keep it." He remained quiet, waiting for a cry of outrage from Lily, but she made no sound. "I love it, honestly – but it deserves to stay in the museum collection," James regretfully explained. "Just keeping the museum open is more than enough for me."
Lily mirrored his sigh. "I figured you would say that."
He pulled away from Lily, holding her waist out at arm's length from his body. "You knew I would say that?"
She smiled and shrugged. "I guessed – which is why I got you something else."
James' eyebrows shot up in surprise. "More?" he asked, watching as she moved across the room to grab the object he never caught her bringing in earlier.
"Don't worry," she assured him, handing over the heavy, square object. "It's not too expensive."
James dug through the wrapping before Lily could finish her statement.
"Sword history," she informed him, nervously chewing on her fingernails as he inspected the large book in his hands. "Like I said – not as much as the actual sword, but I thought you would enjoy it nonetheless. I even flipped through it," she added, pointing at the book. "There's an entire chapter devoted to the Claymore sword. You'll like it."
James grinned, running his thumb over the embossed title. "I love it," he corrected her. He pulled her close once again with his free hand, kissing her forehead. "Thanks, Lily. It's great."
She smiled, proud that her gifts had been such a huge success. "Good," she eventually responded. "And now, if we don't have anything else planned, I think Sirius wanted to start some sort of snowball fight. I'm going to head back to my room and change into warmer clothes. Do you want to meet downstairs in the common room in about half an hour or so?"
James immediately agreed. "Sounds great. I'll meet you there."
Lily reached up on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek before departing. "Alright – enjoy that chapter on Claymore swords," she added in a hurried tone, glancing down at the hardcover before backing quickly out of the door.
James smiled and shook his head at Lily's odd behavior. He set the book beside the sword lying on his bed, hurrying to prepare for the day. Once James was ready to leave the dormitory – ten minutes earlier than scheduled – he eagerly picked up his book and sat back down on his bed, ensuring that he did not sit atop the sword on his mattress. Then, just as he had been instructed, he flipped through the book until he found the chapter on Claymore swords.
A slip of paper fell out from between the pages as soon as he reached his destination. He picked up the object in his lap, only to realize that it wasn't a piece of paper after all, but a picture – one of him and Lily, to be precise.
James smiled down at the moving photograph, thrilled to have found such a precious gift left behind by Lily. It had been taken just after opening weekend at Bennett Theater. James and Lily were huddled together on a large boulder just in front of the pond in his backyard. He smiled as the James in the picture couldn't resist stealing a kiss or two from Lily in the picture every time she glanced over at him.
It was perfect. They couldn't have looked happier at that snapshot in time. The only thing that had grown between them since that day was the love they held for one another. The excitement of a fresh relationship was still kept alive today. The happy-go-lucky attitude both had adopted around one another was forever present, much to Sirius' annoyance. Even their physical appearance didn't seem to have changed from that one picture six months prior.
She was perfect, James reasoned. He picked up the picture frame of his family setting on his bedside table so that he could swap the picture with this memory.
Lily was everything he wanted and more. She was exactly what he needed in life. There was no other option, if he was being honest. He knew they would be together for life. They would get married someday – that was a given for him. He had bought the ring over a month ago, after all. The only reason it wasn't already on her finger was for convention's sake.
James already had an elaborate plan for his proposal. He would spend the month prior recreating their first outings. They would tour the medieval history museum, spend another night out camping beneath the stars, even take her to the annual Ministry Ball, and finally, just as their one-year anniversary rolled around, he would propose to her at Bennett Theater, where everything seemed to have happened between them: where they first met, first despised, first tolerated, first befriended, first kissed, first loved. But of course, his plans would be shot to hell several months prior, most likely during March or April, when he just wouldn't be able to contain himself any longer and would propose to Lily on a whim and sooner than he planned – but would be thrilled to have finally asked her nonetheless.
James smiled as thoughts of Lily filled his mind. Truly, she would be the death of him. She had no idea how much his life revolved around hers.
Just as James had opened the back of the picture frame and was about to place the photo from Lily inside, he stopped as soon as he noticed that there was faint writing on the back. He held the photograph closer to his face to make out the words:
Best friends for life.
All my love – forever and always.
James grinned, running his calloused fingers over Lily's writing, before securing the photo safely within the frame. He gently maneuvered the frame so that it sat on the corner of his nightstand, facing him as he slept.
Then, with a final brush of his fingers against the wooden paneling around the picture, James walked silently out of the room to be reunited – forever and always – with Lily Evans.
Author's Note: Well, since I had a "next chapter" thing going for all of these chapters, I thought I'd have a "things you didn't know" segment instead since there is no next chapter!
1) Jimmy originally wasn't in the story when I first started it. Sad, right?
2) The Ministry Ball (chapters 8-10) was meant to be just one chapter... oops.
3) This story was created when I saw my cousin riding a horse at a competition over the summer. I started to think of an activity that Lily and James might do in the summer and Bennett Theater was created!
4) After I had developed the plot and key turning points, I learned that a new director at my high school would be stepping in for the semester play and, coincidentally, cast her daughter as the lead in the show! Unfortunately, she had no James Potter working backstage to fall in love with!
5) I was terrified to write this story because I knew it would be a stretch putting Lily and James in the Muggle world and still keeping it realistic... Glad the feedback was more positive that I expected! You all are wonderful as always!
On another note - posted a short little story called THE DATE! It focuses on Lily and James' first date... and Lily doesn't even REALIZE that it's a date!
Thanks, all! You're the best!