Summary: Lily Evans and James Potter meet each other in a muggle cafe, manipulated by fate and one little hair ribbon.
Disclaimer: Lily Evans, James Potter, Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley do not belong to me. The latter label includes Ollivander's, Gringott's Bank, Eeylop's Owl Emporium, Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, The Leaky Cauldron, and Madam Malkin's. All else is the product of my imagination and the influence of one too many delightful fanfics and a song.
Diagon Alley was bubbling with cheer on the first day of summer. Cool yet crisp, the fresh air revived life everywhere, bringing in shoppers to flood the small wizarding town.
However, not everybody found themselves enjoying the hustle and bustle of the happy, busy streets. Ollivander's was filled with first-years-to-be, excitedly waiting to try their hands at a prank or two once that special wand had been found. Impatient parents rushed to and fro Gringotts Bank, hoping to satisfy their children's need for stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Eeylop's Owl Emporium hooted and hollered in a cacophony of wildness. Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor was stifled to the door with customers awaiting their sweet, creamy treat, and nearby, The Leaky Cauldron exploded with laughter as the liquor-filled cellars were emptied by the bottle. After emerging from Madam Malkin's with ideas for two new sets of robes to be purchased sometime later that summer and an earful of squealing over this dress or that, Lily Evans had decided that she'd had enough noise for a day.
Her educational career finished, Lily was finally able to find the freedom she'd been wanting for nearly three years. At home, she and Petunia had slowly drifted apart as a result of both living in separate boarding schools for three-fourths of the year, and it caused her parents to fuss excessively. At Hogwarts, teachers, caretakers and headmasters reigned. Now, eighteen, she needed no one to accompany her to the small coffee shop nearby.
The coffee shop, however close to Diagon Alley, held no magic. Exiting the Leaky Cauldron, she instinctively turned to the right. She gave a sigh of relief as she arrived in the muggle side of things. It was miraculous, really, the difference between the two worlds. Without magic, the hum of life seemed so much…quieter.
She brightened when the café came into sight. Although the building was small, its corner location, added with its colorful ambience, made it stand out from the rest of its neighbors. The door tinkled slightly as she pulled it open, courtesy of the bells tied merrily to the door handle, and it was with further relief that she saw that the café was empty.
Staring contemplatively at the menu at the top of the wall, she tapped her finger on the side of her chin in thought. Habit, she supposed, but she made no move to stop.
'A strawberry smoothie? I'm not in the mood for shaved ice, though. Caramel Latte, Chocolate Mocha…Kiwi Mango? How unappetizing…'
She hadn't noticed that she'd been voicing the words aloud; however, a voice at her shoulder had.
"What about the mint chocolate smoothie? If I can recall, you do like mint."
Whirling around, she narrowed her eyes at the person beside her. Golden-hazel eyes sparkled back with amusement.
"Hello, Lily. By the way, I don't think I've ever actually heard someone use the word 'unappetizing' in a sentence before."
"James." She attempted a polite smile. Still slightly unsettled, she unconsciously smoothed down the light linen of her skirt. She was all too aware that she was wearing her oldest sundress, white and simple, that hung off her shoulders on two thin straps and barely brushed the top of her calves. Never had she thought a classmate would catch her when she was wearing such an outfit. Or an ex-classmate, for that matter.
She'd much rather James Potter caught her wearing jeans.
However, he didn't seem to be thinking the same thing. "You look beautiful," he said conversationally.
"Oh." She flushed slightly. "You look…er, beautiful as well." She quirked a smile at him. Dressed in a light sweater of dark umber and a baby blue shirt peeking through to cover the top of his khakis, he managed to look casual and presentable at the same time. His hair, somewhat windswept, fringed his glasses, and he reached a hand to brush it aside. Thinking he was going to ruffle his hair like he had so often at school, Lily stretched out her hand.
"No. Don't." Lightly, she touched his wrist. He smiled roguishly at her action.
"You know that there's six cafes on this block alone? And that we both ended up in this one? It's fate, I think."
She had to bite back a giggle at the absurdity of the statement. Ignoring the hidden mirth behind her hand, he continued.
"It's also fate that I found this." With a flourish, a ribbon appeared out of his pocket and into his hand. Stroking it between his thumb and forefinger, he smoothed out the wrinkles.
"I think someone in particular lost this down by the lake a few days ago. Here."
She stared at the proffered ribbon, unable to believe that someone had actually found the thin, now mud-stained piece of cloth. As she made no move to take it, he stepped around her, gathering her long, straight auburn hair in his hands before loosely tying it up. She found that she couldn't move.
"One mint smoothie and one kiwi-mango smoothie, please," he announced casually to the cashier.
Lily fumed at his back, her face heating up. His obsession with hair was infuriating. First, he couldn't seem to keep his hands off of his own hair, then he had to touch hers. What was so fascinating about hair? As he returned, balancing the two drinks and the change, she nearly snatched hers out of his hand. He dodged out of the way.
"Come on. Let's sit for a bit."
She considered him for a moment, then gave a small nod, following him across the café. Nothing too bad could come out of a small conversation with James.
Maybe. Her lips twitched at the idea as she slid into the booth, seating herself across from him. He flicked a glance at her, sipping at his straw. However, he never once opened his mouth to say anything. She fiddled with the cover of her drink, flustered, before finally blurting out, "Why did you wait this long to give it to me?"
He looked surprised, then perplexed. "Give what to you?"
She gestured to her hair. "This. The ribbon. Do you know how much grief this little piece of cloth cost me? The whole time my grandmother was here, I couldn't find it to put in my hair! I can't imagine how offended she must have felt that I didn't even once wear her graduation present for me that whole week she visited!" Her hands stilled as she gazed moodily at her cup. James only chuckled.
"Tell her that you misplaced it after wearing it at the graduation ceremony; I'm sure she'd understand. But you should be thanking me, now ranting at me," he teased.
She tried to glower at him, but a small, apologetic smile took over. "I'm sorry…thank you."
Looking away, she fiddled with the ends of her hair, then gave her straw a long, satisfying pull. Swallowing her mouthful of drink, she began to feel that once again the silence had grown awkward between them. James, however, seemed content to gaze out the window or at her hair ribbon.
"What kind of smoothie do you have?" she asked abruptly.
"Kiwi-mango. The unappetizing one."
"Oh." She'd forgotten.
"Do you want to try some?"
A startled look crossed her face, followed one of mixed disgust and horror.
"Er…no, that's okay."
"Oh, come on, it's not that bad," he cajoled. "Try it."
She tried to object, but he pushed it across the table. The look on his face dared her to try a sip.
"Fine." Ignoring the mischievous amusement written all over his features, she tasted the strange mixture, prepared to make another face. However, she was pleasantly surprised.
"Not so unappetizing?"
She shook her head and grinned faintly, sliding his drink back across the tabletop. "No."
The silence that followed was a comfortable one and she found that she had nearly finished her drink before one of them spoke up. This time, however, it was James who broke the silence.
"What?" he asked.
She echoed his word. "What?"
"You're staring at me."
Embarrassed, she averted her eyes. "Oh…sorry. It's nothing. Just…" She met his eyes. "Why did you keep the ribbon for so long? And in your pocket, of all places? I don't mean to bug you about it, it's just that…you could've owled it or something."
He pushed himself up from the table, taking both of their empty cups. An odd smile appeared. "I don't know. Maybe I never thought about it. But I think I kept it for a different reason."
She looked up at him, curious. "Why?" she repeated.
"It gave me an excuse to see you again."
A napkin fluttered down before Lily, a lifelike sketch of herself smiling back at her. James had scrawled his name in the corner and signed the words 'For you', followed by a small heart. Speechless, she looked up to see him exiting the café. Only the napkin and the ribbon he had returned to her remained.
Just a small one-shot I wrote a while ago on whim. I heard a song on the radio and wrote the first half, then finished the second half a few days later. I hope you enjoyed it!
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