Butterflies and Lilies
James Potter paced around the sixth-year Gryffindor boy's dorm nervously. He ran a hand through his already messy jet-black hair. His bright hazel eyes were wide with worry behind his black, round glasses. He pulled on his already-loosened red-and-gold striped tie and muttered to himself under his breath. He still wore his school robes, even though classes had ended hours ago. They hung around him awkwardly, just a bit too small, even though they had fit when he had purchased them two months ago, in November.
Sirius Black, James's best friend, leaned against his bed-pole casually, watching James pace with interest. His equally dark hair flopped against his pale face elegantly. His tie was loosened, also, and his white button-up shirt slightly open at the collar; his shoes lay, forgotten, at the foot of his messy bed. Sirius's dark eyes followed James as he walked to the window, turned, and crossed the room again. When James passed him, Sirius muttered under his breath: "Seventy-five..."
The door opened suddenly, and their two other dorm-mates, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, entered. They immediately stopped talking, and watched James curiously. Finally, Remus crossed over to Sirius.
"What the bloody hell is he doing?" Remus demanded.
"Pacing," Sirius replied simply, "Seventy-eight..."
"Well I can see that! Why is he pacing, you dolt?"
Peter came over to join them.
"He's finally cracked, hasn't he? Prongs has finally been driven to insanity."
Sirius shook his head, still following James with his eyes. "He was insane by third year at the latest, Worms. Eighty-two..."
"This wouldn't have anything to do with a certain redhead, would it?" Remus asked.
Sirius grinned widely. "You got it, Moony. Eighty-four..."
Remus stared at Sirius curiously. "What about her? I thought he decided to stop asking her out last October...he can't possibly be planning another 'Woo Lily Evans' scheme."
"Eighty-eight...He's not planning on asking her out, mate, he's just trying to figure out what to give her. It's tomorrow, you know. Eighty-nine..."
"What's tomorrow?" Peter asked.
"Evans's sixteenth birthday...ninety-one..."
"Of course, how could we have forgotten," Remus said sarcastically, "How's he going to get her a gift this late though? All the shops in Hogsmeade closed an hour ago, and we have classes all day tomorrow."
"He'll find a way, it is Evans, after all. Ninety-Five..."
"Why does he have to get her a present, anyways?" Peter asked.
Sirius finally tore his eyes away from James to glare at Peter.
"Have you gone completely barmy? It's Lily Evans! Lily Evans, the girl-ninety-seven-Prongs has been obsessing about since the third year! Lily-ninety eight-Evans, the girl he claims he'll marry someday! He's head-over-heels in love with her, Pete-ninety-nine-of course he wants to get her the world's best sixteenth birthday present!"
Sirius turned, moved towards James, and grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt.
"All right now, mate, you've paced around this room one hundred bloody times! You've got to have some idea!"
James looked at Sirius, wide-eyed and slightly panicked-looking.
"I have no idea, Pads! What the bloody hell am I supposed to get her?
Sirius groaned and slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand.
"No idea?" He exclaimed, "You've been up here for over an hour and you have no idea? You're Prongs, for Merlin's sake! You're a Marauder! You always have ideas!"
James shook his head, "Not this time, mate. I knew I shouldn't have waited this long, I just knew it!"
And James resumed his pacing, met with groans and eye-rolling from his friends.
"Veristerium is one of the most difficult potions to brew; it requires time, effort, and intense concentration. Only the most skilled wizards can successfully create a perfect batch. I do not, by any means, expect any of you to make this perfectly. Now, if you will please turn to page four hundred seventy-three of Advanced Potion-Making..."
Lily Evans doodled absent-mindedly on a piece of scratch parchment as Professor Slughorn droned on about Veristerium, N.E.W.T.s, and their future careers. A small, jewel-encrusted butterfly clip held her dark red hair away from her face, and her usually bright eyes were slightly glazed over. Finally, Mary McDonald leaned over and waved a hand in front of her best friend's face.
Lily blinked and sat up straighter, glancing towards Slughorn to make sure he wasn't looking their way.
"What?" She asked innocently.
"Is there a particular reason you're not listening? Merlin, Lily, I can't copy your notes if you don't take any!"
"Well, why don't you take your own?" Lily suggested.
"Ladies, is your conversation so terribly important that it can't wait until after class?"
Lily looked up at Slughorn and smiled nervously.
"That's quite all right, Miss Evans. Now, as I was saying..."
Mary waited until Slughorn had turned away and whispered, "Good thing he likes you. So what's distracting you? Thinking of going out to celebrate your birthday?"
Lily bit her lip and played with her butterfly clip. "I dunno. I'd rather not..."
Mary poked her arm sharply. "Are you insane? This is your last year of childhood! We have to celebrate!"
Lily repositioned the clip in her hair before finally replying: "I'm really just in the mood to veg, Mary. I'm just exhausted, y'know?"
She nodded. "Sure, Lils. But we will celebrate eventually?"
"Of course, Mare."
Meanwhile, in the back of the classroom, James Potter was still panicking about what to get Lily for her birthday.
"Merlin, mate, just forget it! She won't care if you don't get her something! Just say 'Happy Birthday, Lily,' and it'll all be fine!"
James turned to Sirius and whispered angrily, "Pads, I have to get her something. It's Lily we're talking about here!" He turned back to the front of the classroom angrily. Sirius glanced at Remus and Peter. Both shrugged, and went back to ignoring Slughorn.
What the bloody hell am I going to get her?
What about chocolates? Girls like chocolate...
Idiot! You can't give Lily Evans chocolate for her birthday!
Why not? If she likes them...
Yeah, but chocolates are cheap. You have to get something more meaningful.
Why does my conscience sound like Moony?
Stop talking to yourself and just come up with a genius idea.
James groaned and slammed his head into the table.
Slughorn stopped his speech and looked at James, concerned. James waved a hand around in the air.
"He's fine, professor," Sirius assured him, "Didn't get enough sleep, you know."
An hour later, the class filed out, muttering about their upcoming N.E.W.T.s and what they'd be having for supper. Lily gratefully shouldered her school bag and hurried down to the Great Hall, closely followed by Mary.
"You're sure you don't want to celebrate, Lils?"
Lily sighed and glared at her friend.
"Mary, right now I just want to go eat. Then I'm going upstairs, sitting in front of the fire, and falling asleep."
Mary rolled her eyes. "All right Lily, just remember when you're completely bored that it's not my fault..."
"Evans! Oi, Evans!" A deep voice yelled from behind Lily, and she shut her eyes tightly.
"Who is it?" She whispered between her teeth.
"Potter," Mary replied, glancing behind them.
Lily took off to the Great Hall, Mary panting to keep up behind her. They collapsed at the Gryffindor table, and Lily began piling food on her plate.
"Is there a reason we're rushing through dinner?"
Lily nodded and swallowed. "This is what you can do for my birthday, Mary: Keep Potter away." She took one more bite and left. Moments later, Mary was confronted by none other than James Potter.
"Where's Lily?" He gasped, red-faced, as if he, too, had sprinted from the dungeons.
Mary shrugged. "Haven't seen her. Lily who? Coming!"
As she made to walk away, James grabbed her sleeve and pulled her back down.
"Yes you have, Lily Evans, nobody called you. Where. Is. Lily?"
Mary looked at him for a moment.
"Look, Potter, it's her sixteenth birthday. Leave her the hell alone," she said, before storming out of the Great Hall.
"Stupid first-years," Lily muttered darkly, trying to drown out the incessant chattering of the younger students as she settled into her favorite armchair before the fire.
"Oi, shut it!" She yelled, covering her ears.
The Common Room was silent for a few moments. A few third-years giggled nervously, and everyone began talking again.
Mary entered the Common Room, glanced around once, and walked over to Lily.
"Potter's still looking for you, y'know. Maybe you should just talk to him."
Lily shook her head.
"Not gonna happen." She reached up to her hair, gasped, and stood up swiftly, looking around.
"What's wrong?" Mary asked, as Lily began peering under the chairs.
"My grandmum's butterfly clip! I can't find it!"
"So? It's just a clip, you can get a new one," as soon as the words left Mary's mouth, she knew she shouldn't have said anything. Lily stood up straight and glared.
"Just a clip? That's been in the family for over a century! My grandmum left it to me when she died! Do you know how important that clip is to me?"
Mary thought for a moment.
"Well, I guess we should go look for it then, huh?"
"Uh, yeah!" Lily took one last look around the Common Room and ran through the portrait hole. Mary glanced behind the couch and then followed her.
Three hours later, Lily and Mary had scoured the dungeons, hallways, and the Great Hall. They had talked to a passing house elf to see if she, or any other elves, had found the clip anywhere. They had even looked through the dinner waste in the kitchen to see if it had ended up there. No luck.
When they finally returned to the common room, Lily slumped down into the chair, disappointed. Mary suggested hopefully that maybe it would turn up tomorrow before she went up to bed. Lily stayed in front of the fire, eyes tearing up.
"It's just a stupid clip, Evans, stop freaking out about it," she said aloud.
"First sign of insanity, talking to yourself," she heard.
Lily turned. James Potter leaned against the back of her chair, grinning widely.
"Actually that's probably the last sign of insanity," she corrected.
"No, the last sign is losing an argument with yourself."
Lily grinned, then immediately turned back to the fire and said sourly,
"Go away, Potter."
"Come on, Lils, can't a guy wish someone a happy birthday without getting snapped at?"
"I'm not in the mood to talk to you, Potter."
Lily turned. "Huh?"
"The name's James. Not Potter, not Githead. Not even Go-Away-Arrogant-Toerag. James."
"Alright, James, can you leave me alone?"
"No. What's bothering you, Lily?"
"So why're you sitting in front of a fire, talking to yourself?"
"It's nothing, I said," seeing that James wouldn't go away unless she humored him, she added, "I've just had a really crappy month, and I'd very much like to be left alone."
Lily sighed and closed her eyes again.
"Despite the fact that N.E.W.T.s are coming up?"
James hummed and twirled a strand of her hair around his finger.
"Well, there's the fact that my grandmum passed away recently, my sister thinks I'm a freak, my ex-best friend is a Death Eater-wannabee, I'm on the verge of failing Transfiguration, and my cat ran away."
"Wow, that is a lot to worry about."
"Which is why I just want to rest. Unfortunately, the younger students have picked tonight to be exceptionally loud and rambunctious, and I can't so much as hear myself think, let alone sleep."
James nodded and turned around.
"Oi, midgets! Go to bed; it's past curfew!"
"Is not!" retorted a seventh-year, "Besides, you're not even a prefect!"
James untangled his fingers from Lily's hair and stood up.
"Mate, do you know who I am?"
A group of fifth-years in the corner looked between James and the Seventh-Year nervously.
"I'm a Marauder, git." With a flick of his wand, a pile of spare parchment, four quills, and a rather heavy Transfiguration textbook chased the Seventh-Year upstairs. The rest of the Gryffindors glanced at James and rushed up to the dorm rooms.
"There ya go, one problem solved."
"As for the rest, well, your sister's an idiot. You're not a freak, Lily. Everybody likes you. You have a ton of friends; there's no possible way a freak could be that popular.
"Hagrid'll find your cat eventually. He found Peter's toad when he ran away second year. We'll go see him tomorrow, maybe he found her already.
"I can tutor you in Transfiguration, if you want. It's my best subject; I've been tutoring Sirius, Remus, and Peter since first year, and they've all said I'm an alright teacher.
"I presume Snape is the Death Eater wannabee you're talking about, and trust me, he's not Death Eater material. Snape's a git, but he's not evil. Even I'll admit that, and I can't stand him.
"And as for your grandmum...It's hard to lose someone you love, Lils. My parents both died the first night of school this year. Old age."
Seeing Lily's confused look, he added, "My mum had me when she was over sixty. It's different than with muggles; we tend to age slower. I was still a 'miracle-child', though. My parents thought they'd never have kids. They'd given up ages before my mum found out she was pregnant with me."
"I'm sorry; I didn't know..."
"Well I didn't really make a big deal about it. I didn't go to classes for a few days, but I'd kind of been expecting it. They'd been getting ill a lot before hand. Before I came this year, they'd even talked to me about it. At first, I was mad at everyone. I wouldn't even talk to Sirius. It just doesn't seem fair at first, especially with loosing two people at the same time. The pain dulls after awhile though. You'll still feel sad for quite a bit, but it won't be as hard. Especially if you have your friends."
Lily nodded and smiled slightly.
"By the way," he reached into his pocket, "You dropped this earlier."
James dropped a small, shiny object into Lily's lap and stood up.
"Happy Birthday, Lily," he said, pressing a light kiss to her forehead. "Sorry I didn't get you anything."
Lily watched James's retreating back as he climbed the stairs to his dorm. Once he turned the corner, she picked up her grandmother's butterfly clip that James had dropped on her lap, clutched it tightly, grinned, and leaned back into the chair.
James Potter had given her the perfect birthday present. Maybe he wasn't so bad after all.
A/N: This is probably my favorite oneshot of mine so far…review?