You didn't have to be a witch or a wizard to understand. Students all over the world are no doubt intimately familiar with the hurried, desperate, painful and sleepless Sunday-all-nighter after a wild, fun-filled weekend.
It was one of those evenings.
Tensions ran high in the Gryffindor Common Room that Sunday, every sound curiously muffled except the occasional thunderclap and the harsh pitter-patter of the October rain on the windows. The room was full to its maximum capacity, the older years squashed into sofas and armchairs, while the young ones sat scattered around the carpet, desperately attempting to complete assignments that were blissfully ignored the whole weekend.
The entire crowd seemed to be on edge, foreheads bent low, brows furrowed, as quills were unsheathed violently and dipped savagely into inkbottles, poking holes and leaving ponds of ink dripping down their parchments in their haste to get to bed. Hushed conversations were occasionally interrupted by long-winded profanities uttered by frustrated students discussing the properties of Moonstones and Bezoars, utterly befuddled by how on earth the knowledge they were scampering to soak up could ever benefit anyone, anywhere.
Groans and grunts were heard so often that it was difficult at first to deduce from where they emerged. They seemed to be coming from the mouths of crazed six years, grumpy and purple in the face. This was a peculiar sight indeed, as at first glance, they appeared to be experiencing severe constipation, or something just as unpleasant. It was only after careful observation that one noticed they were attempting to master the use of non-verbal spell casting, and not experiencing the initial contractions of childbirth.
And as it always happens in such situations, some reveled in the delight of completely ignoring their pressing workload, laughing and lounging carelessly, playing exploding snap and chess. Sitting right beside them, a completely separate group of fortunate students had already finished their work, now with nothing to do but to enjoy the last minutes of the evening by relishing in candy and chocolate frogs, munching away and privately enjoying the feeling of smug superiority.
As the night dragged on, the already sensitive seventh years that were wrestling with a long-winded Potions essay, grew even more irritable at the sight of first years who were messing up and complaining about a simple engorgement charm, which by all means they should have been able to do in their sleep by now. Copious amounts of bodily harm was wished upon them readily, though the majority of curses tended to be directed to their fat potions master.
This dialogue grew to the point where older students were beginning to subtly cast impervio on the frogs first years were trying to charm, and then proceeding to sit in the corner and cackle evilly. To their sheer delight, first years grew just as tired, grouchy and pink in the face. The phrase "life lesson" was uttered here and there, to justify their evil deeds.
And as unrelenting as ever, time inched on, encouraging several students to rise to their feet in a fountain of profanities, and march, fuming, back to their dormitories, grumpy, sleepy and frustrated. Homework, they decided, was not worth their sanity. A select few remained behind, stifling yawns with the backs of their hands and desperately attempting to make sense of what they were reading.
A few of the first years looked just about ready to nod off, when the slamming of the portrait hole cut through the fuzzy, warm air, startling everyone awake. Heads turned in alarm, inquiring as to the source of the noise, and it soon became very evident that the source of the noise was not at all happy.
A slender, willowy girl, who appeared taller when fuming with anger, stood next to the portrait hole, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet, her eyes zipping across the common room, breathing fire from her nose. Several first years, as well as many cowardly older students, jumped out of their seats and leapt for cover, barricading themselves behind desks and taller students in a desperate and pathetic attempt to protect themselves from her scorching gaze. They needn't have bothered, for the object of her anger became crystal clear when a particular seventh year boy, infamous for his arrogant and pompous ways, began to sink in his chair with fright, cowering away from the limelight for the first time in his life.
Of course, he hadn't calculated his tall frame in his plans, and still remained perfectly visible over the armchair. Naturally, his three friends didn't help much either in the way of hiding, as they clearly lacked the appropriate attitude for covert and subtle avoidance.
"OI, EVANS – HE'S HERE!"
"James, do stop hiding. It's rather embarrassing."
"COME GET 'EM, TIGER!"
She spotted his distinguished dark hair and picked up on the very subtle hints his friends were dropping – and her head spun, her eyes locked onto him, her target was acquired. She cut across the entire room, thundering in his direction, as students jumped left and right out of her path to avoid being violently trampled or hexed out of the way. James shot his friends a rather ferocious glare for their apparent lack of tact and failure to keep to the Marauder Code (which encompassed a large library of rules, from decorum, to dating, to appropriate snoring levels within the dormitory.) He then proceeded to sink even lower in his chair, and peeked at his beloved from behind the armrest, hoping against all odds that she was heading murderously towards some other unfortunate bloke.
Of course, it was entirely evident to everyone in the room that this wasn't the case. He snapped his head forward again when he saw the homicidal look on her face and clamped his eyes shut, willing her away for the first time in his life.
But Lily Evans was out for blood. He didn't stand a chance.
A second of silence.
She screamed from halfway across the room, not pausing to help up the second year she so roughly shoved out of her way. The boy whom her scream was directed at, if possible, sunk even lower in his chair, looking as though he was attempting to become one with the bottom cushion. As she yelled again, this time louder and at a closer range, he gulped loudly and sent a murderous look the way of his friends, who were very subtly dragging their fingers across their throats in a cutting motion, looking excited, giddy, even. One was jumping up and down and clapping his hands like a lunatic.
Several seventh and sixth years in the vicinity stifled snorts and laughter into their palms, looking between the girl and boy, expecting a shouting match. The younger years, however, scrambled their way up the stairs to their respective dormitories, tripping over their robes, their friends, and the general ground while escaping the threat, and watching from the safety of the balcony above.
She stopped suddenly by the armchair the boy occupied, and began tapping her foot impatiently, staring down at him. He peered up at her and cracked a handsome smile that wavered slightly. "Hi, Evans, how could I possibly help you this fine evening?"
Exhaling sharply through her nose, clenching and unclenching her fists at her side, she looked as though she was about the punch him in the face. He looked ready to off himself. "Yes, you can help me," she replied curtly. "You can help me by telling me who the hell you think you are!"
The boy blinked several times in rapid succession, a blank look on his face. "How do you mean?"
A growl escaped from her throat and she closed her eyes momentarily to compose herself, or to refrain from strangling the boy in front of her, students mused. His friends watched on, looking amused, worried, and frightened respectively.
She took a calming breath, and exhaled. "You've hexed him," she stated and his face flooded with comprehension. She didn't miss it.
A large, albeit strangely terrified and hysterical snort of laughter came bursting out from behind one of the tables used for the defense of the younger students, however Lily failed to notice that her brawl with James had an audience.
Clambering to his feet before replying, James composed himself in front of her, and fixed an unfaltering gaze on her face.
That faltered just a tiny bit.
He opened his mouth to reply, and the whole House was all ears, expecting a biting comeback or retort. Something smart, at least. Or something stupid, knowing the boy, that'd only anger her futher. The two were very prone to bellowing. "I…." he stuttered momentarily, "I-I don't know what you're talking about, Evans."
Though his six foot something frame was now towering over Lily, it was still evident to him, as well as the entirely interested audience that she commanded more presence than he ever did in his wretched existence. Crumbling under her cold and disbelieving gaze, he crossed his arms and went for the lazy, indifferent approach.
He missed, miserably.
"Oh?" she inquired, running a hand through her flaming red hair, which looked like it had a life of its own. "Oh, you have no idea what I'm talking about?"
He shook his head vehemently.
His friends mimicked him exactly.
"I'll clear it up for you, then." She smiled sweetly for a second before her expression turned into an angry grimace. "Potter," she began, her foot resuming its incessant tapping, "Explain to me," she began, deadly calm, "Why exactly you've hexed my boyfriend."
A beat of silence passed. "Your boyfriend?" James repeated, his face folding into a puzzled expression that she could see right through. "Hmm, he tall? Blonde? Looks like a cross between an ogre and a gnome?" He shrugged, ticking the properties off his fingers, as she stood there, fuming. "Nope, m'afraid I haven't seen him all day."
Her face stood devoid of expression or humor. "Answer the question, Potter."
"I hexed your boyfriend?" He brought a hand to his chest, looking surprised, almost offended at the accusation. "I don't remember hexing anyone…" He spun around and pleaded help from his friends. "Did I hex anyone, folks?"
"In the past hour?"
"Hex someone? You? NEVER!"
Peter's eyes widened and he yelped as she snapped her gaze to them. Remus smiled uncomfortably as Sirius tutted, "What a ghastly accusation."
She was losing patience. Fast.
She grabbed James's arm roughly and twisted him around, his eyes widened at her force. "Don't lie to me," she muttered, her voice rising. "You've hexed him, and now he's lying in the Hospital Wing, supporting a urinal for a head!"
While Sirius threw back his head and laughed shamelessly, several people from the crowd joining him, James fought the urge and covered his snort with a well-placed coughing fit. "Really?" He asked, faking genuine interest. "I gave him a urinal for a head? Now, now, that doesn't sound like me at all."
"That sounds exactly like you, Potter," she refuted coldly. "Besides, he told me you did it."
His friends nudged each other, suddenly wondering how on earth a urinal was able to communicate this to a human being. Assuming that's what she was, of course, and not some crazy, twisted Greek Goddess unleashed to punish men for existing. Just as one attempted to voice this question to her ear, they were all silenced by a glare that seemed to assure them they would not be physically able to bear children if they continued interrupting. All three boys immediately began staring at their shoelaces with extreme interest.
James scoffed, high pitched in response to her accusation. "I'm a very good person, Evans, I wouldn't do that."
"Good people don't turn other people into toilets!"
He snorted, taking a couple of steps back. "I can assure you, I had nothing to do with it."
"You're telling me that he just spontaneously sprouted a urinal?"
"Well," he said fairly, shrugging. "Maybe he saw his true calling in meeting the toiletry needs of other people." The room twittered with scattered laughter. She ignored it.
"Answer the question, Potter."
James sighed. "The guy is a bit of a jerk, love, I wouldn't rule out anybody if I were to investigate the responsible party."
"I'm not your 'love', you pompous arse!" She yelled, poking his chest sharply with her finger, jerking awake some of the occupants in the room who had fallen asleep due to the lack of screaming. "How dare you attack my boyfriend?"
James scoffed disbelievingly, retreating and half-sitting on the armrest of the chair he vacated moments ago. "You call that dolt your boyfriend?" He rolled his eyes visibly and cocked his head to the side. "He can't even stand up straight with that gigantic head on his shoulders."
"You're one to talk," she snarled, taking a step closer and looking down at him. "I wonder from day to day how you balance on a broom with the head on your shoulders."
"Now, now. You're being hurtful."
She ignored his prompt at humor. "I'd appreciate it if you accepted the reality of my relationship with Richard and stopped bothering us."
"Whose Richard?" A small voice wondered from the other side of the room.
"He's affectionately known as: Richie, The Urinal, Wormtail."
"Oh. Why is she dating a urinal?"
"You would now, would you?" James sneered bitterly, calling out to her retreating back, his smile dissolving. "Am I meddling in your perfect relationship by ruining the perfect face of your perfect boyfriend?"
She spun around, face pink, glowing with rage. "Leave. Us. Alone." She said clearly, as if she was speaking to a mentally slow, hospitalized person.
"And why would I do that?" He asked stubbornly, standing up abruptly to face her. "I happen to like annoying you two. It makes my day, really."
"At least I'm honest," he retorted, "What's your excuse for lying to yourself?"
A pregnant, awkward silence filled the room, and Lily dropped her gaze. She raked her hands through her hair again, joining them behind her head and exhaling sharply to herself. To an outsider, she would have looked barking mad. And it so happens that she did.
After a full minute of this disturbing silence, during which several students shuffled their feet nervously, she looked up at him, but didn't reply.
James mouth lifted in a smug smirk. "Answer the question, Evans."
"I am not lying to myself," she snarled, her voice carrying higher and higher. "You've chased me relentlessly for four years, bordering very much on stalker, and I've just about grown sick of you!"
"But – " James began, ready to interrupt before she exploded into a speech, her yells, far more powerful than his, showered over him and engulfed his voice.
" – annoying the hell out of me, flirting with me, threatening me, bothering me, and it makes me sick to my stomach!"
"I haven't – "
"Oh you haven't?" She screamed, throwing her head back in cruel laughter. "The only thing you hadn't done is attack him, and you've done that too! Just goes to show what kind of person you are! And you still ask me why we don't stand a chance at a relationship! You make me SICK!"
Her eyes were beginning to water steadily, though it was unclear if it was because of anger or tears. The majority of the occupants of the room chalked it up to anger, seeing the state of her. For this reason alone, almost every first and second year had ran terrified from the room, tripping and stumbling all the way up the stairs. Only one or two had stayed behind to brave the fight.
He froze, dumbfounded and silent. Chest heaving violently, she gave him one last pitying look and swung around, walking briskly back to the Portrait hole. Students shuffled past her and escaped into the seventh floor corridor before her hand reached the door knob. But James would sooner jump off the top of the Astronomy tower before letting her walk away.
"He's not right for you."
It was a small sentence that came out of his mouth, but the light atmosphere that the common room had adopted since Lily walked away evaporated immediately.
Sirius, noticing this sudden change, proceeded to wallop his friend upside the head.
Curious eyes occupying even more curious heads swiveled towards Lily, who froze with her hand on the wooden push/pull door that led outside. "What did you just say?"
"DON'T SAY IT!"
"YOU'RE GOING TO GET KILLED!"
"PRONGS I WILL NOT BE LEFT A WIDOW!"
James ignored comments and suggestions from his friends. His posture stiffened, and lifting his head up higher, he prepared himself for the fight that was about to come. "Richard," he spat out the name, "He isn't right for you."
No one was daring to breathe loudly, and Merlin forbid someone try to clear their larynx.
She marched up straight to him and shoved him with all the strength she could muster. He stumbled back several steps. "It is not your place to tell me who's right and who's wrong for me, Potter."
"Someone has to. Clearly, no one else is willing to tell you the truth. The guy doesn't give a toss about you."
Oddly enough, Lily exploded with a shriek of laughter, working herself up to the point of hysteria. She continued to laugh shamelessly, ridiculing the words that had just escaped from his mouth. "Richard doesn't care does he?" she cried, her voice no longer a scream, but closer to something that would come out of the mouths of merpeople once they were out of the mollifying waters. "How in the world would you know? You haven't spoken two words with him!"
Individuals were now escaping outside the dormitory to get away, privately declaring that they'd rather take Filch's wrath over Lily's anyday.
"But – " James put in pitifully.
"He doesn't argue with me every single living moment, he doesn't annoy me so much I want to hex him into oblivion, and he manages to make me not hate him!"
"He doesn't care about you!" James bellowed, screaming over her this time, spit flying out of his furious mouth in all directions.
"He doesn't argue because he doesn't listen to what you say, he doesn't annoy you because it's convenient and he doesn't even know you enough to know how, and he's only dating you because he'd rather not be alone!"
She shook her head attempting to get a word in, "You don't know anything about – "
"You're probably right, I don't know the guy," James cut across her, "But for someone so lucky to get to spend so much time with you, he sure seems like he isn't enjoying it."
She flushed puce. "You're – "
"I know I'm an arsehole," he breathed, his chest heaving. "I'm arrogant, I annoy you, I argue with you, and make you want to kill me. And nobody would blame you if you had, a long, long time ago. Everyone admires your restraint, really." Many people nodded in agreement. "I'm a prick, and I know it. I'm a prick who is very much in love with you."
He said the words quietly, but it was probably the most meaningful thing that ever came out of his soap-ridden mouth. Well, there wasn't really much of a competition, seeing as the only thing that ever came out of his mouth was either cursing homework, cursing teachers, cursing his friends, cursing Snape, cursing his mum, or cursing his own stupidity.
He'd of course, declared his undying love for Lily a thousand times, the entire world had lost count as to how many, he'd never actually said the words. The Gryffindor House watched with bated breaths. Many girls were leaking here and there, and boys were shifting in their armchairs uncomfortably.
The crowd expecting a passionate revealing kiss at the newly expressed feelings, drew in a collective breath as Lily marched right up to him and stood on her tiptoes to level herself out. He looked down and grinned lopsidedly at her for the full effect, but his smile was shattered as she slapped him full across the face.
Sirius gasped girlishly and tugged on Remus's sleeve. Peter barricaded himself behind a frilly pillow.
"Don't you dare," she whispered, her eyes making into dangerous slits. The common room fire burned crimson against her cheeks, and shone bright in her eyes. "Don't you dare tell me you love me."
His jaw muscles bunched and relaxed, as he swiveled his head back around to look at her head on. "I love you," he repeated, unfaltering.
The entire female population in Gryffindor Tower had let out a resounding intake of breath at his words.
Lily made an odd sound, almost between a sob and a gasp. "No, you don't." She sniffed and straightened up, fixing her face into a solemn expression. "You just want me because you can't have me."
The corners of his mouth twitched. "You've made yourself believe that for how long now?"
"You don't love me," she repeated, shaking her head violently. "You can't love me."
James walked the only step he had to take until he was body to body with her. She refused to look into his eyes and averted her gaze, but he leaned over and pressed his forehead against hers, forcing her straying eyes to look at him.
"Do you love Richard?"
She faltered. The audience leaned forward in anticipation. She pulled back and wiped her cheeks. "W-What?"
"Do you love him?" He asked, as if it was the simplest question in the world.
The common room drew in a collective breath. Answer too slow, and it was obvious. Answer too late, and it was only too obvious.
She hesitated for a second, only the second lasted much longer than a second. "Yes."
The momentary hesitation was enough. "You're lying."
"Prove it, then."
"Just show me how."
In one fluid motion, he dipped his head and pressed his lips against hers.
The crowd released a collective gasp.
Letting out a squawk as he continued kissing her, Lily threw her arms around helplessly, their lips still glued together. Struggling slightly in his grasp around her waist, she tried to pull away as James unclasped his hands from behind her and dropped them to his sides, allowing her space to leave if she desired.
Seconds later, Lily threw her arms around his neck and pulled herself to him. Grinning coyly for everyone to see, he wrapped his hands around her, picking her up off the ground.
They continued, paying no mind to the whistles, cheers and comments that were flying around the room, as well as the collection of things that were being thrown at them. His hand cupped the back of her head, and her fingers tangled in the hair on the base of his neck. Several people belted out wolf whistles and shouts of exasperation, and Sirius even flung a rather large quill case towards the middle of the room, screaming at them, rather like a jealous girlfriend, to part.
They finally broke for air, and as Lily adjusted, James leaned in, bringing their faces together so that their noses were touching. "You don't play fair," she whispered, gasping for breath.
"I'm known for it," James flashed a toothy grin.
"You love me."
He shrugged. "That's all I've been saying."
At the other side of the room, Peter swooned, falling flat backwards onto Remus and Sirius. "This is so romantic!"
Sirius cringed, crinkling his nose and shoving his friend off of himself and onto the floor. "It's disgusting."