Potters and Redheads
For everyone patiently waiting
for the next update of Snippets.
Hope this will tide you over.
She was, James Potter decided, the most annoying girl he'd ever had the misfortune of running across. She was also, he could tell, the girl he'd be forced into marrying some day.
"How d'you reckon that?" Sirius Black – the bloke he'd sat next to on the train, and also his new best friend (really, you can't have a sense of humor so perfectly matched with somebody and not know that its destiny) – asked, running a hand through his hair.
James shrugged. "Buggered why I'm going to get stuck with her," he grumbled. "But it's 'cause she has red hair. All the blokes in my family marry dames with red hair. Something about Potters and redheads, I guess."
Sirius sent him a look of pity. "Rotten luck, mate."
He sighed theatrically. "I always did have the worst luck with women. This one time, I was with my cousin Anne …"
"Potter, if you can't pay attention to me for more than five seconds, how are we supposed to get this project finished?!"
James looked dolefully over Lily Evans head at Sirius, Remus, and Peter, two of which were miming throwing up and the third pretending to have hung himself. "Not sure, Evans," he admitted cheerfully. "Of course, I'm not sure why we've got to finish it at all."
She stared at him, her mouth open as though he had suggested that they assault Filch and string up Mrs. Norris by the tail. "Not finish? But – Professor Binns said that the assignment is due tomorrow! What about your grades?"
Hr shrugged theatrically. "Grades, shmades. You know Binns doesn't even read these things anyway, he just glances at the pictures. If we make it super colorful, he'll mistake it for effort and boom! We've gotten top marks."
Evans stared blankly at him for several seconds. "You are absolutely the laziest boy I've ever had to suffer."
James grinned. "Why, Evans, don't flatter me. You're making me blush." His year-mates burst into appreciative laughter, and he grinned over her head at them.
Evans just rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest and telling him in a voice that reminded him of his mother, "Look here, Potter. You may be content to get by slacking off and receiving undeserved praise, but I happen to have some form of scruples. We will finish this project, we will turn it in completed, and we will receive top marks. Is that clear?"
He raised his hands in defeat, allowing her to push his feet off of the coffee table and "focused" (or rather, forced his eyes to stay in the general vicinity of the parchment) on their assignment.
She left an hour later, exasperated but finished, and he rejoined his friends. Sirius chucked him sympathetically on the shoulder. "Bad luck, mate," he said sadly. "And what in the name of Merlin is a scruple?"
James shrugged. "Buggered if I know. She always says things like that, but that's just 'cause she's bloody nutters."
It was on the second Hogsmeade weekend that James realized, with a shock so large he nearly tripped, that Lily Evans was really quite … pretty, if you looked at her in the right light. It was something about the way her heart shaped face fit into her hair, and the weirdly attractive scowl that donned her face whenever she looked at him.
"Oi, Evans. Can I talk to you for a second?"
She arched an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest. "What do you want?"
James smiled charmingly at her friends, shrugging as if to say, What did I do to deserve that, eh? I'm just a nice bloke. They all smiled back at him, giggling just a little (it was at this time that he realized just how much power he held over the opposite sex; he would learn to love this power, and use it both for good … and for evil). "I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go to Hogsmeade with me next weekend … you know … as a date?"
Although the girls behind her broke into wide smiles and squeals as though he had asked them instead, Lily stared blankly at him. "Are you mad?" She scoffed. "Why'd you wanna go with me, anyhow?"
He thought about that for a moment, and then decided that honesty was probably the best route to take. "Well, you're quite pretty," he told her frankly, "And also, I'm vaguely sure that we'll end up married some day, so we might as well get a head start."
She blinked, her mouth falling open. "Married?" She cried, sounding almost distraught. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure!" He said haughtily. "I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't sure, now would I? That would just be embarrassing."
She frowned at him, clearly unimpressed. "Yes, and I can tell by those ridiculous socks you're wearing that you have a deep concern for your dignity," she said scathingly. "No, I won't go with you, Potter, and for future reference, I won't marry you, either!"
He gasped as she walked away – had she really just insulted the funny rainbow socks that he'd gotten from his house-elf? He was quite fond of them, and his mother even complimented the colors, using the word 'gaudy', which he'd taken to mean 'spectacular'.
"I guess this means I shouldn't ask her to help me write my potions essay," he mused aloud.
"And then what happened?"
James smiled at Jane, or Jamie, or whoever it was whose name begun with a J that was tucked beneath his arm as the six of them strolled down the crowded street. "Well, it wouldn't be quite fair of me to tell," James said cheerfully. "I don't want to take all the glory, although it was my idea. Sirius, you go ahead."
He gestured generously for Sirius to finish the story, and the Black grinned wolfishly down at Anna or Amy or whoever he was shacking up with (really, James had more trouble keeping track of Sirius' various pursuits than his own). "Well, you see, we knew that awful git Snape would be sitting in his usual place, and since he was always so mean to James – really, girls, he's a soft soul underneath, just a tough exterior is all – " James nodded solemnly, trying to look deep and vulnerable. Jane – Jamie – whoever snuggled into him sympathetically. "We decided we'd give him a little comeuppance. I mean, is that wrong?"
"Not at all," Anna/Amy cried. "He deserves it!"
"Right! So anyways, we waited 'till he was sitting down, then turned him into a donut! That fat lout Goyle almost ate him, too, but our good, good friend Remus – he's so kind and caring about everyone, girls, it's just silly. I mean, did you know, he saved a litter of kittens the other day? It was just darling."
The pretty girl on Remus' arm smiled admiringly up at him. "Aww! Were they very cute Remus?"
He shrugged mildly, an amused expression on his face, and James jumped in. "They were so cute, you should have seen them, uh – "
"Rachel," Remus supplied.
"Of course, Rachel. I was about to say that."
Sirius came to a stop outside of Madam Malkin's and sighed sadly. "Well, ladies, this is your stop. I'm afraid that we have some very serious business to attend to…I'm not sure if you know this, but our Peter here is in the Wizard Protection Program…can't give you the details, I'm afraid…"
Peter tucked his hands into his pockets and looked downtrodden. "If only you knew the horrors I've seen, ladies…"
They clucked and patted his shoulder comfortingly as they filed inside the warm clothing shop. As soon as the door had shut, the four Marauders (as they had begun to call themselves) burst into raucous laughter. "Saving kittens!" James shrieked.
"Now, James, what with your sensitive soul I'd think you'd have liked that," Remus reprimanded jokingly.
"Nah, his soul is a right old veteran by now, what with all the damage done by his future wife." Sirius made a face. "Lily Potter. A nice little ring to it – maybe we ought to ask Jackie" – that was her name! – "what she thinks."
James blushed, wrapping his scarf tighter around his neck and scuffing the back of Sirius' head. "Oi, shut up," he joked. "I'm headed to Zonko's…you know, in case Snape is a wanker again and I need to sooth my soul…" Sirius darted ahead of him and he took up the chase, hurling snowballs at the back of his head.
Peter rolled his eyes as he and Remus followed more slowly behind. "I probably will end up in the Wizard Protection Program after living with those two," he said dryly.
"I'm not going out with you."
"But Evans — "
"I am not going out with you!"
"Well, I wasn't going to ask you to!"
Lily paused, staring at him. "You weren't." She said flatly.
"No," he promised.
"You weren't going to ask me the same question that you always ask me, even though I always give you the same answer, and the reason for this is that you are insufferably big-headed prick who seems to have the memory of a goldfish?"
"Yes," he said cheerfully, and then paused, frowning. "I mean, no. I mean … geez, I don't even know how to answer that without insulting myself."
She looked at him dispassionately and said flatly, "I've had lots of practice." He ignored her, simply looking at her and smiling until she was forced to ask, "All right! Fine! What did you want to ask me?"
"I was wondering if you, Lily Evans, wanted to go … in with me."
Her expression fell from mildly interested to mildly annoyed. James was proud, in a roundabout way, of the ease which he could make her do that. It was almost like with Snape — if you poked him enough, he'd get really really upset and then all sorts of fun things happened. "Go in with you," she repeated dully.
"Which is really just another way of asking me to go out with you, isn't it?"
"Not at all!" He cried, as though offended. "I'd like you and I to go in to Madam Puddifo — actually, no, that place is awful. I'd like us to go in to the Three Broomsticks together, sit down together, share a meal, and then spend the rest of our lives in much the same manner."
She gazed at him without blinking. "You'd like to live in the Three Broomsticks?"
"No, but if you have your heart set on it then I suppose I could make do."
Lily rolled her eyes, hoisting her bag onto her shoulder and getting up from the table. "One: I am not going in, nor out, nor around, nor any other direction word, with you. Two: I will not marry you, I have no idea where you go that absurd idea – "
"Potters and redheads, Evans, you can't fight fate – "
"And Three: Would you kindly stop looking at, speaking to, or standing anywhere near my person for the next … hm … well, let's just say eternity and leave it at that." She stalked away, and James watched her go with a small but admiring smile.
"She loves me," he said to Remus from the corner of his mouth. "You'll see."
James stood in the front of the mirror, desperately trying to convince his hair to lie flat. "Please," he begged, "Just this once will you cooperate? I'm not asking for a miracle or anything, I mean, I get that you won't do it every day of the year – I wouldn't want you to, I mean, hey, I'm not going to lie, most dames dig it – but just today…"
"James," Sirius poked his head out from his bed and had an eyebrow arched over his head. "Are you talking to your hair again?"
"Yes," he replied shamelessly. "I mean, nothing else seems to work."
Peter pushed his curtains aside and rolled onto his stomach so that he could look at his friend. "What are you so worried about, anyway? I mean, it's just a date. It's not like you've never gone on one before."
James spun around, scandalized. "Just a date!" He cried. "Just a date? Peter, this is not just a date, it is the beginning of the rest of my life! It is the beginning of the end for me, mate! This is…this is the last first date that I'll ever attend!" He paled slightly at his own comment but stood strong in his convictions.
"Well I, for one, commend you for your determination, James," Remus commented from his own four-poster. "You've chipped away at the Lily Evans Block of Steel for six years now, and I think that you deserve this." He paused and then added dryly, "Of course, let's just hope that it wasn't all for nothing, and that you actually have some sort of success tonight…"
He paled, turning back to the mirror and frantically resuming his work on his hair. "Flat! Flat! Flat!"
Sirius smirked and chucked a book in the direction of the werewolf, who caught it deftly and simple began to read the inside cover. "Not a bad choice," he commented. "How to be a Completely Incompetent Moron for Dummies and Squibs."
His friend rolled his eyes. "Better then, 'How to Lose Control and Become a Large and Alarming Animal Every Month'."
James waves his hands in the air, grabbing their attention. "What do you think?" He asked hurriedly. "Is it flatter?"
Sirius did not answer, just popped back into his bed with a snort. "It looks fine, James," Remus said comfortingly. But instead of being soothed, James' expression was horrified.
"Fine? Fine? That's terrible! That's awful! I don't want to look fine, Remus, I have to look spectacular! Dashing! Noble! She has to take one look at me and faint!"
Remus rolled his eyes. "Maybe not faint, James, as that may put a damper on your outing."
A little bit of color flooded back into James' face. "Yes, and other … activities," he agreed slyly, before taking a deep breath and tugging at his shirt. "All right. I'm off. Wish me luck."
"Good luck, mate."
James nodded and then paused at the door. "I am going to marry her, you know, so you might as well warm up to the idea, Sirius," he said softly. His only answer was another book, which he calmly deflected with his wand. He glanced over his shoulder. "'How To Be A Traitor in Ten Easy Steps'," he read appreciatively. "Nice choice."
"An inkblot? Geez, James, what do you take me for?!" James smiled sheepishly over at his girlfriend, who was directing a highly amused glance in his direction. "An inkblot. Really." She shook her head, tucking her books under her arm and saying flatly, "I am not telling you what your birthday gift is, so stop asking!"
He maneuvered himself so that he was standing in front of her, his best puppy-dog face on. "Please?" He begged. "Please oh please oh please?"
She simply smirked at him and dropped a feather-light kiss on his lips. "No," she said firmly. "If I tell you than it won't be a surprise!"
"I don't like surprises," he returned instantly. "They make me anxious. You know how I am, Lily – all nerves."
"Mmmm," she murmured ambiguously, "It must have something to do with that low self-esteem that you suffer from."
He grinned roguishly as he moved to walk beside her, tucking her hand into his. "What can I say? I'm a modest man."
She laughed, gently giving his hand a squeeze as he swung her arm back and forth. "And it was that modesty that caused you to propose the very first time you asked me out, I suppose?" She challenged, an amused lilt in her voice.
"Potters and redheads," he replied immediately. "You can't fight fate."
Lily stopped walking for a second and studied him. "I wouldn't want to," she told him, very quietly, before abruptly smirking again. "Although I'd like to see this 'fate' once we've graduated. It's a big world, James, a lot of very attractive fish out there for me to fry…"
He made a face of disgust at her. "Gee, if I'd known you had a weird passion for dead seafood, maybe I'd have been a little less determined to go out with you…"
"Oh, don't tease," Lily retorted flatly before breaking into a smile.
"Admit it," James challenged, "It was my determination that finally persuaded you to see what everyone else had known all along…that I am a charming and wonderful human being."
She rolled her eyes at him. "It helped," she admitted, "But that wasn't the only reason."
"Aside from my dashing good looks?" He asked cheerfully. "Was it, perhaps, my charm?"
"Please. You have as much charm as a garden gnome," she laughed. "No…it was – you aren't going to believe this – it was how you acted as a prefect. You know, how you'd get so nervous when I made you comfort the first year girls, and how when that git Parkinson threatened Barnaby and you docked points in front of all those boys instead of hexing him…what?"
James didn't look at her, but she could see his cheeks tinged red. "Well…it's just that…er…I did hex him, later on. It wasn't a nasty hex," he added hastily, "Just a nice little warning one! Just a little pixie buzzing in his ear is all, really very harmless…"
He glanced nervously over at her and was gratified to see her laughing. "I know you did, you great prat," she told him fondly. "I meant that you waited to do it in private instead of showing off in front of everyone. And…" here she dropped off nervously. "Look, I know you don't like to talk about it, but…the thing that really persuaded me to go out with you…was when you stood up for me to Sirius."
James looked away, and decided very suddenly that the wall was the most interesting thing he'd ever seen. Why, those cracks! Note the way the blocks fit together so perfectly! It was truly remarkable…
"James," she said quietly and he sighed, turning to look at her. "I know he didn't like me and I'm sorry that I ever put strain on your relationship with him. I never thanked you for standing up for me and I…I just…you know."
He shrugged. "Look, you're important to me, okay? Sirius was being a nasty little bugger. It wasn't a big thing."
"It was to me," she insisted, and then let the subject drop. "Anyway, since we're all chummy now I suppose it doesn't really matter. I always knew Sirius would come around. I think he actually fancies me."
"That's because he doesn't know you," James quipped, and laughed as she lightly slapped the back of his head. "You know, I meant what I said all those years ago." Lily arched a quizzical eyebrow at him. "About marrying you. It'll happen, Lils. I mean, I'm not proposing or anything, but I just wanted to let you know so that you could get attached and do whatever it is you have to do, because in the end, it'll be you 'n' me. That's the truth, you know, it's just something about – "
"Potters and redheads," she finished with a smile, and kissed him. "I know."