A/N: I know, I know I should be updating 'Footsteps in Time: Year Two'. The next chapter is almost ready, so now worries there. This is a short L/J story (about six chapters, five of which have been written already, I've been working on for some time now. It started as a one-shot and then I decided to keep going. I had a beta look this over, so hopefully most of the grammatical errors have been caught. I hope you enjoy this chapter and I will be updating 'Footsteps' very, very soon.
Chapter One: Spectemur agendo
At first glance the scene appeared quite ordinary. A sixteen year old girl with long auburn hair was flipping through a textbook in the school library accompanied by a friend. On closer inspection one would notice the girl had startling green eyes and was studying a book labeled Magical Healing Properties of Herbs and other Ordinary Plants. Perhaps even more extraordinary was that inside the girl's satchel was a wooden wand deemed by its maker to be excellent for charm work.
Though this school had many of the same aspects as any boarding school around the world, such as sleeping corridors, a House point system, a school sport, and long lists of rules and banned items, there was one very important difference. This remote boarding school had not been built to educate just any group of young people, but specifically young people with magic in their blood – witches and wizards. Most Muggles went about their lives blissfully unaware such a place existed, while to others, Lily Evans included, Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry had become a second home.
Lily Evans was currently staring longingly out the window watching groups of students steal the last few precious carefree moments before final exams, O.W.L.s, and N.E.W.T.s began. Lily was beginning to regret politely declining her roommates' pleas to join them outside. Instantly she felt guilty remembering she was here to help her Hufflepuff friend, Allie, who had recently broken up with her first boyfriend. Lily's grand plans to cheer Allie had fallen short in the stifling setting. Perhaps she could still coax Allie outside for some fresh air.
As luck would have it Allie's old beau sauntered into the library. His sudden presence caused many heads to pop up from behind books and shy smiles to be thrown his way. Completely used to the attention like that, Sirius Black did not even look the least bit fazed. Then a frown slowly appeared, yet it did nothing to detract from his handsome features. Sirius had elegant black hair, cool grey eyes, and an ease about him that made everything he did look effortless. Black could casually lean against a wall and half the female population of Hogwarts would turn weak legged. Unfortunately that was not an exaggeration, and Lily had found Sirius much more agreeable before he realized the power of being popular, handsome and rich. Lily was proud of the fact that she was one of the few who could register in their mind that Sirius Black was good looking without falling all over him.
Please don't come over here, Lily mentally prayed when she noticed Sirius was searching the room for someone. Then Black's eyes rested on her and he abruptly strode over to their table.
The nerve! She gave him her most unwelcoming look, which she knew was quite fierce. Her friends joked that her icy glance could stop a raging Hippogriff in its tracks. Sirius did not heed her facial warnings and sat across from where Allie and Lily were seated. Allie's face had turned an interesting crimson color and she averted her eyes.
"Hello, Evans." Sirius paused and in a much quieter voice, "McCoy." Allie looked up suddenly turning pale as her eyes met Black's. Lily couldn't decide if she should be grateful Sirius had addressed Allie in a formal manner or angry that he could be so distant to a girl he had snogged not so long ago.
"Black, what can I do for you?" Lily was surprised that her tone was almost polite.
"I was hoping to speak with you." Sirius smiled at her as if they chatted regularly. Well at least he wasn't here to call on Allie. Lily should be thankful for small favors. Taking a deep breath, she responded curtly, "I don't think that's a good idea." It was best to be firm and a bit harsh when dealing with someone like Black.
Sirius had the audacity to smirk at her! "Is it not your duty as a Prefect to at least hear me out?"
Blast it, Black had her. He knew, as most of the school did, that she highly valued her sense of duty.
"Last time I checked a member of your quartet is a Prefect. Do go bother him." Lily waved him away all the while smiling sweetly.
"What if I say this is about Remus?"
Remus Lupin was the only semi-sensible one of the self-proclaimed Marauders; Hogwarts own band of mischief makers. Though recently Lily was beginning to doubt his complete innocence in Marauder missions; she had a feeling Lupin could be as clever and crafty as his friends when he wanted to be.
"In a way, yes. Come on, Evans. Don't make me beg!"
Although the idea of making Black beg was appealing, he did remind her of a dog at times, she felt her resistance waning. "Well go on then…"
"Can we speak alone?" Sirius glanced discreetly at Allie.
"Oh –I-I'll go," stammered Allie, her stuff already half gathered. At the same time Lily angrily stated, "No, you don't have to…"
Then Sirius's voice cut through clearly, "I meant outside the library."
"Hold on…I didn't agree to go anywhere with you, Black."
Sirius now looked irritated and he stood up and proceeded to grab Lily's bag. Lily watched him head out of the library forcing her to follow. She wouldn't trust Black a moment with her things. Many eyes followed her and she could imagine the millions of rumors Black had started by this stunt.
"Black! Would you slow down?" Lily had to take two steps to his one long stride. Sirius eventually stopped outside a vacant classroom and wordlessly held the door open for her. Against her better judgment Lily entered the room; Black was after all used to getting his way and she took a seat upon the desk. Sirius handed Lily her bag back and took a seat upon the desk next to her.
"Relax, Evans. I'm not going to bite you. I'm well trained." He grinned wryly. "I've known how to conduct myself properly in front of young ladies since I was four."
"If you've known all along how to act civilized then why don't you?"
Sirius looked startled by her bitterness and softly added, "The people who taught me those manners would hardly consider you proper company." Sirius didn't need to elaborate any more. Lily knew by people he meant his parents and by proper company, he meant that she was Muggle-born.
Lily now remembered the rumors that had spread about Sirius running away from his home and going to live with the Potters. Though Lily had a large group of friends and was generally liked by most students, she could not imagine arriving at any of their houses in the middle of the night requesting to stay there the rest of the summer. Lily couldn't help being slightly jealous of the close bond of friendship between Potter and Black and in a slightly less degree with Lupin and Pettigrew. They were lucky; many people never experienced such a special bond ever in their life.
She wondered if it was true he had also been disowned for that stunt. Sirius's school robes this year were not made of expensive silky material most rich pureblood students wore, but of a less expensive fabric. Sirius had also taken to wearing more Muggle clothing, especially a black leather jacket. Lily wondered where on earth Black would have even found a leather jacket.
"Ok. Ok. So what is it that was so important you had to speak to me about?" When Sirius didn't answer her she continued. "Merlin, don't tell me Potter is hidden somewhere."
Lily began to search the vacant room for any shadow that resembled an annoying messy haired boy.
"James," Sirius pointedly used his best friend's first name. "Doesn't know I'm here. He'd probably kill me for even talking about this to you."
"Why should he? I'm free to speak with you if I choose. Unless you're here to express your undying love."
"Oh, no!" Sirius looked appalled and Lily despite herself was annoyed that he didn't particularly think she was attractive. As if reading her mind, Sirius sighed in wonderment. "Are all girls so insecure?"
Lily blushed slightly and Sirius's bark-like laugh filled the room. "First of all I didn't say you weren't pretty, but you're Prongs's girl." Lily rolled her eyes at the use of one of the silly nicknames the boys had for each other. Really, something like that could be cute for a group of ten year olds, but not sixteen year olds. Not to mention that the first word that came to Lily's mind when hearing the word "Prongs" was sharp. And sharp was not a word to describe James Potter. His hair fell messily about never lying flat. His hazel eyes were soft and he was very comfortable and relaxed around other people.
"And I could never picture us in a relationship."
"Oh, yes, I forgot you prey on more innocent girls such as Allie." Lily knew she was treating Sirius rather coldly, but this was about being loyal to her friend.
"I don't know what Allie told you or what you heard. Last rumor I heard was I dumped her via owl." Sirius looked at her carefully. "Allie and I talked this over. I told her our relationship was going nowhere and that we should break it off. I was protecting her before she became too attached."
"You couldn't just stay away from my friends?" Lily didn't care if she was being unfair. Black's dating record wasn't exactly perfect.
"First of all Allie approached me," he said, anger gathering in his voice, "and Allie kissed me first."
"Still…" Lily said locking eyes with him.
"I have not been with nearly as many girls as some would like to believe. A combination of wishful fantasies and a smile in some third years direction and she's suddenly telling her friends that we're going out." Sirius leaned back and now in a teasing voice said, "I didn't think a sensible lass like you would believe such rubbish."
"How would I know the truth?" Lily replied indignantly, her cheeks felt as if they were on fire. Gathering her composure she said, "Regardless about all that, you were wrong with your first conclusion. I will never be Potter's girl!"
"Would it literally kill you to give him a chance? One date? Would the cosmos crash as a result of such a horrific suggestion?"
"If you are here to convince me to give Potter a chance, save your breath!" Lily was now in familiar territory and was gaining back some of the confidence Sirius's words had stripped down. "He's arrogant, a bullying toe rag…"
"And you'd rather go out with the giant squid than him," Sirius finished. "WE KNOW. We all heard it loud and clear the first time."
"And yet your friend still hasn't gotten the message," Lily answered covering the embarrassment she still felt over the fifth year incident by the lake with anger.
"None of that really matters to me anyway because I don't think you're good enough for him."
"You heard me." Sirius's face had suddenly turned unpleasant. "If you can't see what a great guy Prongs-James is then you don't deserve him," he finished fiercely.
"It's very admirable to hex people in the hallways just for fun, especially first years…how very noble," Lily replied sarcastically eagerly waiting for Black to talk his way around those facts.
He was ready for her.
"There are worse things than being conceited, Evans. For Merlin's sake, you see the good in Snivellus."
"His name is Severus Snape," Lily corrected.
"See what I mean? He calls you a mudblood and you still defend him. Mark my words; he'll be joining up with Voldemort as soon as he's out of school."
"Is that why you're here, to lecture me?"
"No, no it's not." Sirius sighed heavily. "Before you hear me out, just remember I'd rather James drop his pursuit of you, but he won't allow himself such happiness until he wins your affection."
"He can have any girl he wants. I don't understand why he chose me. I'm nothing special."
"I think you've answered your own question, Evans."
"So he thinks I'm not special?" she asked slyly.
"Perhaps he feels you'll make him a better person."
Lily shook her head, turning away from Black.
"So remember a few months ago when I was suspended for a few days?" Sirius was tapping his foot nervously.
How could she forget?! No one had really understood what had occurred, but whatever had happened caused the close-knitted group of Marauders to split up for a whole month. Both James and Remus had refused to talk, sit, or be near Sirius for a full two weeks. And then one day James was back to being friendly with Sirius and a little later everyone was back to normal.
"I remember," she responded quietly.
"Do you remember the reason for the suspension?"
"Something about illegal drinking at Hogsmeade…"
"Professor Dumbledore's doing. I may not have been myself that day, but it had nothing to do with alcohol."
Lily gave a slight nod; her interest in the topic of conversation had certainly peaked and she was afraid if she spoke Sirius might decide not to tell her all about it.
"Ever wonder why James wasn't punished along with me?"
Not only had Sirius been suspended, but all his privileges such as Hogsmeade visits and watching Quidditch games had been revoked and he had lost Gryffindor one hundred and fifty points.
"I figured you took the blame for it all as usual."
"No, it was nothing as noble as that. In fact James was a completely innocent accomplice. James saved us all. Remus's life, my life and Sniv-Snape's life. All because I made a reckless decision."
"You must be joking," Lily answered faintly.
Potter saved Snape's life?
"I can't tell you the details, but he risked his own life to save Snape…I would have lost two hundred and fifty points, but James was awarded quietly one hundred points for his deed."
Thousands of questions milled around in Lily's mind, two in particular. "How was Remus involved? Why didn't tell Dumbledore tell everyone the truth?"
"I can't divulge that information. It isn't for me to tell. All I know is you believed James was involved in that whole mess and I wanted to clear it up."
Lily didn't know what was more amazing; James saving his enemy's life or the fact he hadn't boasted about it to everyone.
"Dumbledore had every right to expel me though. I deserved more than I received. If it hadn't been for James, I'd hate to think what could have occurred."
Feeling a strange compassion towards Black, Lily said, "We all make mistakes."
Sirius laughed, giving her a smile. "You're as complicated as they come; I'll never understand you."
"Thanks for telling me…not that this will make a difference…"
"Well you are free of your obligation as a Prefect." Sirius stood abruptly and he headed toward the door.
"Black!" Lily called out. "Why didn't Potter tell me himself? Why didn't he want me to know the truth?"
Sirius turned around, his hands in his pockets. "Would you have believed him?"
His statement hung in the air long after he was gone. The truth was she would have not believed him. She would have thought he was lying or trying to be heroic to get her to go out with him. This truth was rather startling. Lily didn't like to think herself as someone who didn't give others a fair chance, but when it came to Potter the worst came out in her.
As final exams ended and as everyone was packing their bags, Lily was still milling over her conversation with Black. What did it all mean? Did it matter? Potter was still a prat, yet he had turned hero and hadn't flaunted it. Perhaps he was changing and growing up – it did have to happen eventually. And if he was changing – so what? It shouldn't matter to her and at the same time it made a difference and more difference then she could admit at the present moment.
At the Platform, Lily lugged her trunk over to a wooden bench that hadn't had a proper painting in years. Her parents had owled her that they'd be about fifteen to twenty minutes late.
Unconsciously her gaze found Potter and as usual he was surrounded by his gang. She watched him warmly clap Peter on the back, who left with a plump looking woman who must have been his mother. She watched as James said something witty to Remus who laughed and embraced James in a brotherly manner. Only Sirius and James were left now, and Sirius was motioning James toward the platform entrance that separated the Wizard world from the Muggle world.
As Sirius went through the barrier, James stopped, having finally felt her eyes upon him and he caught Lily's eyes unsurely. Lily couldn't remember the last words she had spoken to him, but most likely Lily had been yelling at him for something. Lily gave him a half wave and a cautious smile; a hopeful smile crossed Potter's face. He glanced over at her again as if to reassure himself that he hadn't been dreaming and then he too was gone. Lily supposed the cosmos wouldn't crash if she were more polite toward James.
Title translation: 'Let us be judged by our actions'
A/N: Thanks for READING and please REVIEW.
Also just as a note, I've posted the first chapter of this story on Mugglenet Fanfiction as well.