Author's Note: Here's a little James/Lily one-shot because I haven't quite finished that last chapter of Curtain Call quite yet and I feel really bad about it... So maybe this will bribe you into giving me a little more time...?
He Wasn't All Bad
"Violet!" A large woman dressed in pink grinned from ear to ear as she spotted her close friend attempting to slip into her portrait. "Vi – I didn't think you would visit so soon!"
A pair of wrinkly hands clung onto the frame of the Fat Lady's portrait. Soon, the hands weren't the only visible thing; a pair of legs, a torso, and a narrow face sporting a pointy hat managed to wriggle their way into the picture as well. She beamed once she stumbled through. After dusting off the bottom of her long, black robe, she stood up straight and tall, waving around a bottle of wine.
The Fat Lady chortled, turning in her spot to pick up two goblets that had been sitting behind her on a small table. "Had a relaxing day, did you?"
The witch put a hand to her forehead, letting out a loud sigh. "The twins were at my portrait, again…"
"Already?" The Fat Lady clicked her tongue, wasting no time in removing the cork from the wine bottle. She poured their glasses to the brim as she spoke. "But they've only been back at school for – has it been a week already?"
Violet agreed with a soft grumble. She quickly snatched the filled wine goblet from the Fat Lady and drank half of its contents in one gulp. "They set off a string of Filibuster Fireworks – right underneath my portrait!" The witch muttered a string of nonsense syllables under her breath, and then spoke up once more. "The noise nearly made me fall off of my broom!"
The Fat Lady made sure she was looking away before she smiled at this comment. The idea of Violet slipping off of her broom while she had been flying around in her portrait was a rather humorous thought.
The large woman immediately regained her composure, wiping the smirk off of her face and replacing it with a frown. "That's horrible, Vi!" she replied, sympathizing with her friend. "But I'm sure the Weasley's weren't trying to scare you, specifically…"
The old witch threw a disbelieving look at the woman dressed in pink. She probably shouldn't have been surprised, she realized, when she knew, all along, that the Fat Lady tended to have a soft spot for all students that belonged to Gryffindor. "Like hell they weren't…"
The Fat Lady smiled and sat at a small, round table, inviting her friend to sit across from her. "You know they've got another brother, don't you?"
Violet's eyes shot up in surprise as she slipped into a vacant, wooden chair. "Another sibling?" she asked, slapping her free hand onto the surface of the table. "You're kidding!"
The Fat Lady shook her head, swirling the contents of her glass as a means of entertainment. "His name's Ron, I think." She took a sip of her drink and smiled, looking like a proud mother. "He was sorted into Gryffindor just last week, of course."
Violet set down her glass with a dull thud, throwing a helpless look towards her friend. "I hope he's not as much of a troublemaker as his older brothers."
The Fat Lady shrugged. She lifted the goblet to her lips, but suddenly felt herself being thrown forward, accidentally sloshing bits of her drink across the table. Looking out of her portrait, she noticed that she was no longer facing the opposite wall, but gazing down to the end of a long corridor.
"Bloody kids," Violet complained, checking her outfit for stains from the wine. When she found none, she continued to vent her anger. "I don't see why you ever volunteered to be the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. Especially," she added, pointing at a pair of Gryffindor students now walking past them, "when you always have these kids barging in and out of the entrance whenever they feel like it." The portrait finally swung back into its place, latching itself securely back into the wall. "No consideration…"
The Fat Lady did not seem to be listening to her friend's words. Instead, she leaned across the table, speaking in a hurried whisper. "Vi – do you see those boys?"
Violet looked over in the direction where her friend was pointing. It was the two boys that had just slipped out from behind the Fat Lady's portrait, now well on their way down the corridor and, most likely, headed towards the Great Hall for dinner. "Of course I saw them – what has that got to do with anything?"
The Fat Lady quickly explained. "The one on the right – with the red hair – that's the Weasley I told you about. But the other one – that's Harry Potter."
Violet sat straight up in her chair, forgetting entirely about her annoyance with the two boys merely seconds before. "I heard a rumor that he was here, but I never actually believed it…"
The Fat Lady sat back in her chair, feeling rather knowledgeable at the moment. "You better start believing it, then, 'cause it's true." She took a sip from her glass. "He has that scar on his forehead and everything."
Violet's eyebrows shot into her hairline. "No kidding…"
The Fat Lady reached across the table for the bottle of wine. "But I doubt he'll be as bad as his father was," she commented, filling her glass to the brim. "At least I hope he doesn't get into as much trouble as his father…"
Violet snatched up the bottle the moment the Fat Lady had released it from her fingers. "No one could ever be as bad as James and Sirius," Violet grunted. "Not even the Weasley twins!"
The Fat Lady shrugged, clearly thinking otherwise. "I'm not so sure about that," she muttered. "I'm fully aware that those boys got into plenty of trouble – but I know James wasn't all bad…"
Violet was intrigued by this casual statement. "James Potter?" she asked, confirming that they were, indeed, talking about the same person. When the Fat Lady nodded her head, Violet let out a shrill cackle. "What on earth makes you think he was any good?"
"You see," the Fat Lady started out slowly, clearly dragging out her next story, "James had a way with the ladies…"
"I don't mean to be rude, Sir Cadogan, but a lady needs her beauty rest…"
The man dressed in a full suit of armor bowed, nearly toppling over at the weight of his helmet. "Of course," the knight announced in an incredibly loud, booming voice. "And I'm sure you will want plenty of sleep."
The Fat Lady's eyes opened wide in astonishment. "Excuse me?" she hissed, highly offended by his words.
Sir Cadogan seemed to have suddenly realized what he had said. "I – oh dear – I didn't mean it like that. I just thought – "
"Out!" the Fat Lady shrieked, pointing a stubby finger down the corridor, clearly wanting the knight to leave her portrait and return to his own as soon as possible. Her face started to burn a bright, cherry red, and her body began to shake as fury built inside of her. "Now!"
Sir Cadogan nearly tripped over his own metal boots in his attempt to escape quickly. He had been on this woman's bad side once before – he didn't want to be there again…
"Y-yes, ma'am," he stammered. And then, trying his best to keep his gaze fixed on the ground in order to avoid the Fat Lady's deadly glare, he missed his exit, resulting in him knocking his helmet into the frame of the portrait. The knight fell down onto his backside, groaning, but was quick to get back on his feet and dart out of the painting.
"Finally," the Fat Lady sighed, wearily shaking her head. Within seconds, she had calmed down and found a comfortable spot in her portrait to fall asleep. "A bit of peace and quiet…"
Just as her eyes started to fall closed, a faint whispering picked up down the hallway.
No, the woman moaned, unwilling to open her eyes. I thought all of the students were back from Hogsmeade by now…
"It's a great investment, Lily – I already talked to the owner!"
The Fat Lady sighed, nearly kicking herself. She should have known that the only two people out this late at night would be none other than James and Lily, most likely patrolling the corridors as a part of their Head duties. One hardly went anywhere without the other trailing close behind, anymore.
Sensing frustration in Lily's voice, the Fat Lady peeked through one eye, eager to eavesdrop on this couple's conversation.
"James – I understand it must be a great investment," Lily explained, trying her best to keep her voice at a minimal volume, "but I just don't think it's wise."
The dark-haired boy looked stunned. He scratched his head and pushed his glasses further up his nose before responding. "Lily – this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal we're looking at!" Up until this point, they had been walking down the hallway, but once they reached the Fat Lady's portrait, James darted in front of Lily and put both of his hands on her shoulders, stopping her abruptly in her tracks. "Think about it – think about how much money we could save!"
"James." There was a dangerous underlying tone in Lily's voice. She calmly pulled James' hands off of her shoulders and threaded her fingers through his before continuing. "Think about what you're saying."
James' brown eyes softened and his shoulders slumped forward. "I have thought about it, Lily!" he countered, his voice rising slightly louder than a whisper. Lily quickly shushed him by covering his mouth with one of her hands.
Her red hair spun in all directions as she frantically checked over both of her shoulders, as if worried that someone might spot them. James merely smiled at her, adoring the fact that she appeared nervous because she was out past curfew. "No one will catch us," James softly reassured her, kissing the fingers that she had placed over his lips. "It's only midnight."
"Only midnight?" Lily hissed, stepping closer in order to avoid being overheard. "We were supposed to finish our rounds at eleven!" And then a thought occurred to her. Raising a suspicious eyebrow, she asked, "How late do you and your friends normally stay out?"
James frowned, not exactly planning on their conversation traveling down this path. "Irrelevant," he muttered, brushing off Lily's question. "What we need to be talking about is why you're so opposed to my idea!"
Lily sighed, clearly exhausted by this conversation. "James," she explained, "you're asking me to move in with you." Her eyes widened, causing their emerald color to catch in the flickering light of a torch hanging on a wall. "You do realize that we started dating last October, don't you?" She did some quick calculations in her head and exclaimed, "It's hasn't even been three months!" She chuckled, entertained by the fact that James did not appear to understand why this was a problem. Shaking her head, she continued. "There are still another five months, at least, until we need to move out and look for a place to stay!"
"And your point?" James asked, raising an eyebrow. "I've just made it easier to find a place for us to stay – we won't need to search for one when we decide to get a flat!"
Lily laughed, again. "James – my point is that we've just started dating." She seemed to have a problem formulating her next sentence, thrown off by the fact that James still did not seem to understand. "You don't know what will happen to us in a few months!"
James frowned. "What – like what jobs we decide to take?" he asked, puzzled. "You think we won't work in the same part of town – is that it?" He then lowered his head, leaning in towards Lily with a slight grin on his face. "Because, in case you haven't noticed, you could apparate to and from work, if you want."
"No, James!" Lily exclaimed, so exasperated by their conversation that she hardly seemed to care that her voice had tripled in volume. "I mean – well, what if we aren't dating in a few months?" she asked, interested in James' response.
James' jaw slackened, looking as if he had never considered this bit of information. And then he asked, almost bashfully, "Well – why wouldn't we be?"
Lily took one look at his innocent expression, sure that he must be joking, and then broke into peals of laughter. She put both arms over her stomach, bending over at the waist as she giggled. Once she noticed James didn't seem to be joining in with her laughter, Lily's chuckles slowly died out.
The color drained from her face.
"Oh," she whispered, biting her lower lip. "You're serious."
James tried to appear unfazed by Lily's reaction, but she could see the pain that he was trying to hide. "Never mind," he mumbled, turning towards the portrait. He smiled slightly, acting as if he had said something ridiculous. "Just – forget it, forget I even said it, just – never mind."
"No – James, wait." Lily begged James not to walk away from her by reaching out and placing a firm hand on his arm.
He reluctantly stopped and turned around, facing Lily with a heavy sigh. "What?" he asked, his mood suddenly changing from upbeat to almost irritated. "What is it?"
Lily blinked several times before she could even formulate a question that seemed to make sense. "Do – do you really think we'll still be together by this summer?"
James rolled his eyes. "I told you to drop it, Lily," he muttered, trying not to let his anger flare up.
"No," Lily cut him off, unwilling to let him avoid the conversation. "You started this."
"And I ended it," James countered, roughly pulling his arm from Lily's grip. "So we're finished."
"We're not finished," Lily snapped, quickly stepping between James and the portrait of the Fat Lady. "I want to know why you think we'll be together when we've only been dating for two months!"
When James did nothing but swallow, the air surrounding them seemed to change.
"Well," James started, clearing his throat. "I just thought that – you and I, you know," he stammered, piecing together multiple thoughts into one sentence. "And everything's been fine – why wouldn't we? And – " He broke off, realizing that nothing made sense. He stared down into Lily's bright, green eyes, and shook his head, looking defeated. Dropping his head onto his chest, James mumbled the last of his explanation. "Because I – I think I love you and – well, I might want to be with you for the rest of my life."
Lily's eyebrows shot up, surprised to hear these words coming from James' lips. "You – think you love me?" she repeated, trying to process his words. And then she pulled her hands out in front of her and clasped them together tightly, looking slightly hurt. "You're not sure?"
James quickly shook his head, starting to realize how badly he must have hurt Lily by his words. "Well…" He kicked his foot around the floor awkwardly, avoiding eye contact. "I mean – well, I might know – if you let me know what you know." He shrugged, looking back up at Lily. "'Cause – if you told me what you think, then maybe – "
Lily shook her head, utterly confused. James' words didn't seem to make sense in the slightest. "James – what are you talking – "
"I love you – alright?" James was now bent over so he was speaking every word directly into Lily's face. "Are you happy? I said it." The corridor grew silent as James' outburst died down. His face paled as he realized what he had just said. Taking several calming breaths, James stumbled backwards, away from Lily and towards the wall, opposite of the Fat Lady. When Lily approached him, placing a kind hand on his arm, he started to speak again. "Look," he said in a soft whisper, causing the Fat Lady to strain in order to hear every word. "I love you," he repeated, finding it easier to say it for a second time. "I love you – I want to be with you – I want to marry you, Lily! I just…" James head dropped wearily to his chest, making it impossible for Lily to look into his eyes. "I didn't want to say it if you didn't feel the same way."
Lily breathing grew ragged, coming in sharp gasps. She put her free hand to her mouth, blinking with wide eyes. "Wow," she whispered, shaken by this revelation. "I wasn't really expecting – Merlin's beard."
James' eyes shot up, watching Lily stumble over her words. She didn't say anything about her feelings – almost as if she was trying to talk her way out of responding to his confession.
Crushed by her reaction, James shook his head and shoved past her. "Forget I ever said it," he mumbled, wishing that he had never started this conversation. "If you don't feel the same, I don't blame you, but you didn't have to spare my feelings." James was now looking up at the Fat Lady – the woman's eyes were tightly closed, hoping that neither of them had seen her spying on them – when he finished speaking. "I can take rejection, Lily."
"No, James," Lily whispered sharply, sprinting to his side. "It's not that, I just – " She watched as James stared back at her blankly, appearing not to care. Lily looked down at her feet. "I mean – what I'm trying to say is – " Lily swallowed, looking back up into James' dark eyes " – I love you, too."
Instantly, James' face lit up, causing Lily to grin in return. A sound of laughter reached Lily's ears as James bent over and circled his hands around her waist. He picked her up and spun her around, looking like the happiest man alive.
Once they stopped spinning and Lily reached up to pull James' face down, closer to hers, the Fat Lady – whose eyes had opened for a brief moment – now closed her eyes once again, realizing, with a smile, that this couple deserved a private moment.
"Oh, that's so romantic," Violet sighed, gently placing her glass back onto the table. "I never would have dreamed James Potter could ever be such a sentimental guy!"
The Fat Lady nodded, a smirk coming to her face. "Surprising, isn't it?" She reached across the table to grab the wine bottle. Holding it upside down over her glass, her smiled disappeared as nothing spilled out. "Did you take the last of it?"
Violet snapped out of her daydream, facing the Fat Lady with an air of surprise. "Sorry? Oh…" The old witch ducked beneath the table, searching for something. She pulled back up, grinning as she held up a second bottle of wine. "I brought extras."
The Fat Lady grinned. "Clever woman…"
Violet downed the last of her drink and patiently waited for her friend to open the wine bottle. She drummed her fingers on the table and leaned on her other hand. "I wish something like that would happen in front of my portrait…"
The Fat Lady grinned proudly as the cork went flying across the room with a loud pop. "I've got plenty of stories," the large woman boasted, pouring the drink into each of their glasses.
Violet's eyes doubled. "Really?" she asked, her jaw dropped in surprise. "Better than that last one?"
"Oh, no," the Fat Lady corrected her friend, shaking her head. "I doubt I have any stories that even come close to that one." She licked her lips, trying to think of another tale. "Although I do have some rather humorous ones," she assured Violet.
Violet nodded eagerly. "Let's hear it, then!"
The Fat Lady took in a deep breath, as if she were preparing herself for a great hardship. Throwing back her glass and swallowing the last of her drink, the woman slammed her glass back down to the table and sighed wearily.
"You remember Sirius Black?"
Hope you liked it!