Lily was placidly walking down a corridor and was about to turn a corner when a very familiar person whizzed passed on his backside laughing his heart out.
"Black?" she asked disbelievingly after doing double take. She only had a moment to consider this anomaly before a chortling Remus came sliding past on his stomach. "Okay," she said slowly.
She peered round the corner hesitantly, wanting Potter to come past in some equally ridiculous position, but she was only to be disappointed.
She had been delusional to hope. It was just wishful thinking that he may have reverted back to his old self.
Something had definitely happened to him this summer, and even she had to admit that privately she was starting to worry about him.
Since returning to school she had noticed that his personality had totally transformed. He was nothing like his old self. He participated in class, she had even actually seen him doing his homework, he treated everyone from first years to Slytherine seventh years with courtesy and kindness, he was no longer childish and silly, he hadn't hit on her in months, and perhaps most disturbingly he hadn't done a single prank.
When she had looked to him after the usual start of term feast, trying to gauge what exactly to expect and when, she had been fully expecting to see him and his friends running around like children on a sugar high, laughing like hyenas. So naturally she had been shocked to see him walking placidly out of the Great Hall. Alone.
At first she had thought they were just building up for something really big, but she had been wrong. There was no elaborate plan, no escapade. He had just become … well there was no other word for it, but dull. Dull was not a word she thought she would ever associate with Potter as he had always seemed to exude life and energy and excitement.
None of the changes were necessarily bad. She had been telling him for years that he needed to grow up, but she had only thought he needed a mild adjustment, not a full personality transplant.
She hadn't really consciously acknowledged it before, but suddenly the old phrase 'you don't miss something until it's gone,' seemed very pertinent. She hadn't noticed that his charisma and enthusiasm permeated everyone he came into contact with, but it did, and his lack of energy and laughter was having its effect.; without his usual gusto the Marauders had a certain listlessness to them, and in turn the common room was less raucous, there was a lot less laughter, and generally a lot less chaos.
Without the usual chaos he created everything was off.
She had noticed, to her total shock and dismay, that his change had had a negative impact on her. She was wound up tighter that a drum. She had never realised just how much he helped her keep her sanity. In fact she had always thought it was his sole purpose in life to drive her mental, but in fact, he had always been on hand with a joke to distract her or to purposely say something so obnoxious that she had a legitimate reason to shout at him.
He was her release and she had taken it for granted, in fact she had never even really noticed what he did for her.
So with those revelations in mind she had discovered she missed him just as much as everyone else seemed to. Perhaps even a little more and that was totally freaking her out.
"Hey Evans," said a morose voice from behind her. "Seen Sirius and Remus?"
She whipped around so fast her neck clicked, she had resigned herself to not seeing him.
After standing and staring at him a moment she said: "two Sirius and Remus shaped blurs just went that way." With that information she gave him a hesitant smile and pointed down the adjoining corridor
Last year he would have beamed at the fact she was actually directing a smile his way, and then promptly started to flirt outrageously with her. Instead he just gave a quick nod of his head and said: "don't worry I won't let them get away with it."
"No, that's not what I meant," she said, her smile faltering, but he had already turned to go.
"They definitely meander to a different drummer don't they?" she asked quickly, attempting to get him to stay, to get him to actually talk to her.
He grunted, and continued to walk in the direction she had pointed.
"You used to meander with them," she called to his retreating back.
He stopped his back stiffening. His brows furrowed in confusion, "did you want something Lily?"
"Umm, no- well yes- well I guess- just to ask if you were okay? -- I haven't really spoken to you since school started and you don't seem like you usual self… and well… I just wondered if perhaps something had happened?" She asked haltingly.
He slowly turned to face her. "Why? Do you even care?" he demanded.
"Of course I care, I've always cared," she said a little hurt.
He raised his eyebrows at her
"Just not the way you wanted me to," she added under his scrutiny.
He just scoffed and started to turn back around.
"Please tell me," she asked imploringly, knowing he wouldn't be able to resist her if she begged.
"Please, I promise I won't laugh, or say anything hurtful, and I won't shout. I just want to know because I do care… I care… a lot."
He looked at her so intensely that he seemed to be staring right through her. Finally he seemed to come to a decision.
He looked steadily in to her eyes before saying, "you."
"Wha- what?" she stuttered.
He swallowed hard then repeated, "you happened. I finally got it through my thick skull that I was no where near-- this was what you wanted, for me to leave you alone, to grow up, to take responsibility for my actions."
"But-" she started, but he interrupted seemly determined to get all he had to say out.
"You know, I used to wish futilely that I could turn back time, to change all the things I'd done, to just start over so that you wouldn't hate me anymore, wouldn't give me those horrible looks, wouldn't turn around and walk in the other direction every time I even entered the same corridor. It was unbearable, having the person I cared so much about treat me that way," he said as if in a daze.
"But I can't turn back time," he said forcefully. "So I'm trying to make it up to you. Everything I've been doing I've been doing it for you. To prove to you I have potential; to prove I can be more than just an irritation in your life."
"Why change yourself? You shouldn't have to do that especially not for me," she said earnestly. "I'm awful to you."
"I know, and that's because you never saw me. You never took the time to look at the good because you couldn't see past the bad. And that is totally understandable. I was awful to everyone, but you and my friends. At the end of last year it hit me that I was everything you had said I was. So I decided to take the bad out of the equation. I don't expect anything from you. I know the damage is done. I just want to prove to you, and perhaps a little to myself, that I'm not as terrible as you think I am."
"I can't believe that is what this has all been about," she mumbled almost to herself. "I really underestimated the kind of impact I was having. Honestly though," she pleaded "I really didn't- couldn't believe that your feelings for me were strong enough that I could cause such a severe reaction."
She waited a moment trying to gather her thoughts before saying very carefully, "I appreciate the effort this change must have taken and I'm sorry about what I'm going to say next, but I have to say it because I think there has been a misunderstanding."
He just continued to look at her waiting for her to continue.
"You're not terrible you never were. You were just a little too… exuberant. I liked the old you better and I would really like it if you changed back," she said fidgeting nervously. "I'm sorry I didn't see it earlier," she added earnestly and slowly so as to make sure he didn't miss a word.
"Great," he said, "Feel better now or is there something else you wanted?"
"There is nothing I want," she persevered. "Except for you to tell me an exceptionally pathetic joke; to blow something up; to go sliding down this corridor on your backside; to stalk me… Do something, anything that you used to do. Just be you."
He hesitated a moment inspecting her, trying to read her. Eventually he asked: "what's it worth?"
She smiled and responded, "everything."
He seemed to be thinking and eventually after taking a deep breath said "Okay then, you ready? Prepare yourself."
She tensed and closed her eyes expecting Armageddon. After all he must have a lot of pent up mischief.
"Go out with me Evans," he whispered softly.
Her eyes flickered open to see that he was standing right in front of her watching her with such intensity it shocked her.
"Okay?" he asked disbelievingly. "…Okay."
"So just to clarify…You like me?" He asked, testing out the words. "You like me the way I was? As in messy, annoying, bigheaded, and totally obsessed with you. You liked me the whole time?"
"I wouldn't go that far," she said shyly. "But let's just say I have always appreciated your … uniqueness."
His face broke out into the biggest grin she had ever seen.
"Well my plan worked even if it wasn't in quite the way I anticipated," he mused as he made a move to touch her face before he seemed to realise what he was doing and restrained himself.
"It's okay," she said smiling cautiously and taking the last few steps so that she came so close to him that there was less then a centimetre between them. Tentatively she stretched her fingers out until they gently touched the tips of his. He looked down at what she was doing in wonder. As she interlinked their hands she moved her lips to his ear and whispered: "you're allowed to do that now."
Then she kissed him tenderly just underneath his ear. Slowly she moved to his jaw bone, and then onto his neck, placing butterfly kisses anywhere she could reach along the way. He held his breath as she continued her ministrations. He didn't dare move in case she stopped, but eventually he couldn't fight the overwhelming urge to touch her. So he slowly raised the hand that was not still holding her small delicate one and ran it up her spine and into her hair, causing her to shiver.
She stopped kissing his neck causing him to groan, but the groan quickly turned into a moan when she kissed him full on the mouth. It was slow, hot and deep, and she tasted wonderful. It was everything he had ever imagined it would be. More.
"Wow," he said pulling slowly away from her with his eyes still closed. "Who knew you could kiss like that? Miss prim and proper!" He said when he opened his eyes which were now sparkling with happiness and perhaps a little mirth.
She just smiled alluringly at him and said, "It only gets better, and hey, just imagine all the other things you don't know I'm good at."
His smile grew impossibly wide at this, and he chuckled at her. She could feel it rumbling under her cheek which was resting on his chest.
Suddenly she shoved him away from her. He looked confused and disappointed for a moment.
"Now go make mischief!" she ordered. He was shocked at first by the abrupt change in her tone. Then he laughed, turned, and took a running start before he went sliding down the corridor superman style. She watched him go with a small smile on her face.
Distantly she heard Sirius and Remus whooping.
What had she done?
She had released the monster, but she realised she couldn't have been more happy about it.