"She'll kick me in the gonads."
Sirius rolled his eyes; Remus let out a long-suffering sigh.
"She won't Prongs," the sandy haired boy assured him, perhaps for the fifth time that morning.
"She will," James persisted, in a hopeless sort of voice. He was sitting limply on one of the benches on platform nine and three quarters, in front of the smoking 'Hogwarts Express.' "She'll take one look at my shiny Head Boy badge, and sock one to the twins."
"The twins will be fine," Sirius told him irritably. His eyes were baggy, and his sleek hair didn't possess its usual lustre. "Give it a rest James, you've been moaning for the last thirty-six hours."
"Right in the twins," the miserable boy repeated, his voice muffled in his hands.
The reason why James was so miserable was because he had been elected Head Boy. For most people, this would be a cause for celebration, and indeed, in the initial days, the Potter manor had been full of excitement, gloating, and cries of 'take that, wankers!' However, all of this came to a screeching halt one day when James and Remus had been visiting Diagon Alley for the purchasing of booklists and other assorted products (fresh out of dung bombs, his cauldron was rusted through and Sirius had flushed the last of the sugar quills down the toilet) whereupon they saw fast approaching the object of James' desire.
James panicked. Without a word, he dropped his shopping bags and darted behind a nearby tree.
Just out of earshot and barely concealed, he watched as Lily greeted Remus with a quick hug, and then after an exchange of words, they hugged again, with more vigour. James felt jealousy prowl in his stomach as Remus held Lily from arms length; he was laughing exuberantly, and shaking her shoulders – shaking her? – and she was laughing too, almost maniacally. She grabbed him in another hug, jumping up and down.
Now that they had both calmed down, Lily was looking at her watch – she pointed somewhere behind her – and with one last swift hug, she ran off in the direction in which she had come.
Remus was picking up the discarded shopping bags, when he saw a decidedly unpleasant looking James storm out from behind the tree. "James, why'd you run off like that-aaack – " He was cut off due to the fact he was unceremoniously grabbed by his collar and lifted a few centimetres off the ground.
"What were you hugging her for!" James demanded. "And you touched her bum!"
"I didn't!" Remus rasped.
"You did! What'd you hug her for!"
"I was congratulating her, you idiot!"
James let him down. "Congratulating her?"
Remus was not amused. "Yes," he snapped, straightening his collar, and shoving James's bags into his chest. "I hugged her to congratulate her for getting Head Girl and I did not touch her bottom."
James' face had gone rather blank. "...for getting what?"
Despite his anger at his best friend, he still couldn't maintain his grin. "Guess who got Head Girl?" He asked, preparing himself for loud bouts of whooping.
James heart speed seemed to have quadrupled. He was Head Boy. And Lily was Head Girl. They were Head Boy and girl. Lily Evans and James Potter were the Head Boy and girl. The two of them. Head Boy and Head Girl.
This was good. This was very, very good.
No, it wasn't.
This was bad.
This was very, very bad.
...this was a disaster.
"You right there mate?" Remus asked, slightly concerned. Silence was not the usual reaction from James. Ever.
"What did she say when you told her I got it?"
"Oh. Oh, well, I didn't. Sorry mate, but you saw, it was just sort of a hit and run…"
"Yeah." James paused. "Maybe that's just as well."
"What do you mean?"
"I..." James made a face. "I don't know." He put down his various bags where he stood, upturned his cauldron, all in the middle of the thoroughfare, and sat down to think. He seemed to be unaware that he was obstructing the pathway.
"Uh..." Remus tugged at his sleeve and winced as a woman swung her heavy bags into him to make him move. "Sorry!" he called after her, as he tripped another passer-by. "Uh, James, maybe we should move."
"This is simultaneously the best and worse thing that's ever happened to me," James said in a faraway voice, ignoring Remus' request completely.
"Well, that's very interesting James. How about you get up and we have a little talk about it – "
"See, on one hand, we have to spend lots of time together," the dazed boy continued, deaf to his friend's pleas, "which would be a good thing, but, it's not a good thing, because she hates me, and would therefore hate being around me, which just isn't good news for me, is it, considering how we have to spend so much time together now... What should I do? Do I resign? Do I warn her in case she wants to resign? Moony?" James turned around, to see Remus being verbally abused by an old woman and beaten with her handbag.
"So's you're mother!" Remus called after the irate woman as she stalked off.
"Moony! What are you doing?! That was a little old lady! Is someone a bit cranky coz it's that time of the month? Eh? That time of the month? Get it?"
Remus could only marvel that out of the thirty-five boys in seventh year, Dumbledore decided James was the best candidate for Head Boy
And thus had begun the end of James' life as he knew it. Now he was waiting to board the train back to school, and was not looking forward to the prospect at all.
"What's wrong with him?" a newcomer inquired, dumping his trunk on the pavement.
"Hey Pete," Sirius grunted with his eyes closed. "James is being a pussy."
"What about? And what's wrong with you?" The boy kicked Sirius in the shins. Giving up any hope of sleep, Sirius straightened up and opened his eyes. "I'm tired because this one," he glared reproachfully at James, "Kept me up all night with his whining about Head Boy."
Peter looked at James as if he was very dull, which was not a thing to brag about. "You tosser, what's to whine about."
"Evans," Sirius said simply.
Peter continued to look at James with disgusted bemusement. "Prongs," he said very slowly. "I thought you fancied her. Wouldn't that be a good thing?"
"She thinks I'm a prat," James muttered. "She'll never think I'm good enough.
"You're different now," Remus assured him.
"Yeah, you aren't half the toe-rag you used to be," Sirius put in with a smirk.
"I just – argh," James buried his face in his hands. "I dunno, it's just… okay, this is my last chance, and I don't want to muck it up. This is it. We'll graduate and… I'll probably never see her again."
Sirius felt bad for him. "I know what you mean, Prongs."
"Thanks. And… well, I've liked her for – for a fair while now, and, I don't want to start being an idiot again, or for her to think I'm an idiot. Ugh. You know what," he said with unexpected deliberation, "Stuff this. I'll have to show her why I was chosen. Let's go." He stood up abruptly. His friends blinked in surprise.
"That's right Prongs, be positive!" Peter said winningly, handed him the handle to his trunk.
"Go hard, son!" Sirius added. James nodded, hyping himself up.
Their attention was momentarily grabbed by a redhead and her raucously laughing friends, as they walked onto the train. James sat down again with what sounded suspiciously like a whimper.
Remus expelled another of his long-suffering sighs.
"HEAD GIRL PILE UP!"
Under a pile of shrieking and laughing girls, Lily spat out a mouthful of hair. "Shirley, you moll!" She gasped, uncontrollable mirth making it hard for her to breath. The laughter subsided, and the girls got off poor battered Lily, and took their seats in the train compartment. The girl named Shirley grinned evilly. "Don't think you're days of pain and torture are over, just coz you're Head Girl," she teased, pinching Lily's cheeks. "You'll always be the same snarky wench to me, shiny badge or not, and I shall treat you as such."
"Oh, well I knew I could always rely on you to keep me humble," Lily replied. She made to pull on Shirley's braid, but with practiced ease, she dodged it and flicked Lily in the ear.
Shirley cackled. "Too slow, Evans."
"She's hopeless, isn't she?"
"Don't know why they made her Head Girl."
"Me neither, Ab." Lily replied, half jokingly, but half genuinely. "I'm always getting in trouble for being snarky."
Abby rolled her eyes. "But you're generally alright."
"Generally," Sarah added wickedly.
"Hmm... Just a bit of a surprise. I wasn't a prefect or anything."
"You don't have to be," Sarah reminded her. "I told you, my brother got Head Boy five years back, and he wasn't a prefect."
"Oh yes, that's right," Lily said, with a very casual air. "I wonder who Head Boy is," she mused aloud after a moment, as if it was of no consequence.
"Hmm yes, I wonder," Shirley echoed in a snooty accent, her eyes twinkling knowingly. "Who would you like Head Boy to be, Lily?"
"Oh, well, naturally, Remus Lupin," Lily said quickly, playing with the hem of her skirt. "But, well, I don't think he got it... See, I ran into him at Diagon Alley the other day, and he would have mentioned it if he did..."
"It might have been your friend, Phys Llewellyn, from Ravenclaw," Abby guessed.
"He's a dish," Sarah added.
"Yes, I think he might have got it," Lily said. "And yes, he is a bit dishy," she added as an after thought.
"I fancy him," Sarah announced.
"He's practically your family!" Abby rebuked her, slightly disturbed.
"Yes, I know, I was talking to him at the wedding - " Sarah's brother, the Head Boy from five years back, and married Phys' sister Blodwyn during the summer – "And he said he didn't."
"Oh." Lily flushed slightly.
"Well... I was counting on Phys getting it... because I wrote to Todd and Blake from Hufflepuff and Slytherin last week asking them if they got it."
"Neither of them got Head Boy."
Lily stirred in her seat, still slightly pink. "Yeah, so... a non-prefect obviously got it."
"Obviously." Sarah scratched her nose. "Might have been that smarmy bloke from Hufflepuff. He was pretty upset when he didn't get prefect."
"Who, Mitchell Wilson?" Lily wrinkled his nose. "Oh, no it couldn't be him. Dumbledore would never appoint him."
"Ooh, what if it's that dishy Sirius Black," Sarah exclaimed with delighted relish. Everyone snorted.
"That won't happen," Lily scoffed. "We'd never get any work done, he'd always be checking himself out in his hand mirror."
"He can't get enough of himself, that one," Abby added spitefully.
"Yes, we can rule out Black," Shirley agreed. She was silent for a moment, as if suspended in thought. "Oh, but – oh, no, he'd never get it."
"Who?" Lily inquired, a little too quickly.
"Oh, I thought, maybe – no," Shirley let out fluttering peal of laughter. "No, impossible."
"No, go on, who?" Lily repeated, her mask of disinterest not fooling anyone.
"Oh – I thought – maybe – James Potter?"
Suddenly everyone was silent and looking anywhere but where Lily was, but she seemed slightly breathless and didn't notice. Shirley smiled demurely.
"Ja – Potter? Well, I suppose. Maybe. I mean, it's possible. He's changed quite a bit. He's not the same person he used to be. He doesn't really play up in class anymore, and I can't remember the last time he hexed anyone, or given anyone a hard time and he's barely even said a word to Severus Snape and there's never any dung bombs set off in the common room, or fire crackers put in the Slytherins' breakfast, and I think I even saw him studying for the final exams last term."
"Well, you've certainly kept an eye on him, for all that you hate him so," Abby said after a stunned silence.
"I don't really hate him anymore," Lily murmured. She rubbed her nose and played with the hem of her robe. Looking up at her friends she saw them all grinning eagerly at her. "But hopefully he won't be," she continued with some of her old Potter-is-such-a-wanker vigour, "Because it would be so tiresome putting up with his showing off and flirting."
"Oh Lily, he doesn't fancy you anymore," Shirley laughed. "You do think highly of yourself, don't you?"
Lily looked a little stricken. "What makes you say that?"
"Um, Lily, he's definitely over you," Sarah said as if it was very obvious, catching on with Shirley. "Has been for quite a while."
"But," Lily argued, "He – he was staring at me in class, even the end of term exams, and didn't you see him grin like that when I said goodbye at the train station – " Lily promptly clammed it when Sarah began giggling, slumping onto the wall."
"You fancy him!" Abby accused, grinning.
"I most certainly do not!" Lily shot back indignantly, but her pale skin betrayed her. Sarah collapsed to the floor. "Oh, shut up!" Lily told the cackling girl.
"It's not only a river in Egypt," Abby snickered.
"Lily," Shirley said, shaking her head disapprovingly. Taking a hold of Lily's shoulders, she spoke to the flushing girl firmly. "You fancy James, and there's no point in lying to us, because we could tell when you started liking him during revision four months ago. Every time you deny it, we will find it increasingly amusing, for you are transparent, oh pasty-skinned one."
"You are," Sarah, agreed, having recovered.
For a moment, Lily seemed to inflate angrily, but then she crumbled, burying her face in her hands. "Fine," she snapped, hands muffling her voice. "You're all very clever shits, bravo."
"I knew it!" Shirley exclaimed triumphantly, finally laughing. Lily raised her head long enough to give her a withering look, then re-buried her face.
"Oh darling," Abby smiled, rubbing her friend's shoulders, "doesn't it feel good admitting it?"
"No. I hate you all. And it was dead wicked of you to have known all along and not say anything."
"But then how would we have any fun?" Shirley hugged her friend. "You can lift your head up now, we aren't laughing."
"Am I still red in the face?"
Lily grumbled. "Oh, I don't care." She regarded them all cautiously. "Were you serious about him not liking me anymore?"
Abby grinned. "No, those were lies. He likes you."
A wide toothed grin lit Lily's flushed face. "And he's Head Boy…?"
"Oh. No. I mean, he could be, but we don't know. You idiot Lily, why didn't you ask Remus when you ran into him?"
"I was too scared," Lily said mournfully. "I was almost going to, but Remus would have figured it out right away, and told James, oh, and I think I'd just die if he knew. And he would have told me if he was," she added as an after thought.
"Yes, but Lily, how will you be when James does find out you fancy him?" Sarah asked reasonably. "Because you know, if you don't tell him we will – "
"You wouldn't!" Lily rolled her eyes. "Okay, you would. I don't know, he'd just be unbearably smug." She laughed. "Maybe not, he has changed. Oh, but I so would love for him to be Head Boy. That would just – " Lily sighed happily.
"You know Lily, I think you'd be better off being Head with Black, because you definitely wouldn't get any work done with Potter – "
"Shirley!" Lily exclaimed, blushing crimson. They all laughed harder at her embarrassment. "Ah, he probably won't get it anyway, not with his past record. But it's okay. I mean, we have most of our classes together, I could always…"
"Yeah, as soon as he gets wind of it, he's going to jump you, love," Abby told her knowingly.
Lily laughed, but no one could sense how her heart rate sped up at the mental image this statement produced. She looked at her watch and swore. "Sod it, I'm meant to meet with whoever-he-is before the prefect meeting in five minutes."
"Well, go on then," Shirley told her, stretching out across where Lily was sitting. "And do come back post-haste to tell us if he got it."
"I will." The new head-girl looked nervous. "Wish me luck."
"Luck," they all chorused. Abby looked pointedly at her watch.
"Lily, go. We've no use for you anymore."
Lily smiled, rolling her eyes, and she was out of the compartment.
"So who told you two he got it?" Abby said casually, taking out a pack of exploding snap cards.
"My father found out from his mother," Shirley replied, dealing out the cards.
"My uncle's friends with someone in the school board of directors."
"I saw his badge when I passed him on the platform," Sarah finished. "We aren't cruel for not telling her, are we?"
The long silence was followed by wicked laughter.
The atmosphere had been tense in the Marauders' compartment, the only noises Remus' feeble attempts at coaxing James out of the foetal position and Sirius' snoring. After which point in time where Peter saw fit to comment that James may or may not be growing a vagina, Remus took it as a sign to lob James off to the Heads' compartment for their pre-prefect meeting.
Remus pulled James along the train corridors, and judging by shaky breathing coming from James' direction, he wondered whether Dumbledore should have chosen someone with slightly more grit in the face of adversity.
"James, please tell me you brought all of the stuff McGonagall sent you with your letter," Remus asked him, suddenly remembering. James mutely pulled out a sheaf of parchment; lists of things to talk about with the Head Girl, and then for the prefects meeting.
"I wrote a speech so she wouldn't think I was hopeless," James muttered. He winced as several rowdy Gryffindor fifth year boys congratulated him noisily for his new position. "Because admit it, there's a good chance she'll kick me in the – " Remus stopped suddenly and smacked James in the head.
"Ow!" He cowered under Remus' angry glare. "I mean… nothing."
"Now listen here, Prongs," Remus began waspishly, "You're being pathetic. Did you know that?"
"I – …yes."
"Right. Now, if you go in with that defeatist attitude, do you think Lily will think you're up for the job?"
"No." Remus rubbed his nose tiredly; he was getting a headache. "Look James, she doesn't hate you. I think since last term she'd even consider you maybe an almost-friend – maybe," he said warningly, seeing the spark of hope in James' eyes. "In any case, she isn't going to resign her position because you're her counterpart, so I wish you'd stop being such a miserable pessimist. That's not like you."
He grinned. "Yeah, I know." For a moment, Remus saw the real James; anxious, but grinning. "But shit Moony, I'm sodding nervous. Can you blame me?"
Remus smiled wryly. "Yes! Now suck it up, or she will resign." He stopped outside a compartment. "Well, here you go."
James' smile disappeared. "What? Already?"
"Yes. Already. Go inside."
"Hello?" The door opened, and Lily poked her head out, James leaping behind it just in time. He was clutching the left side of his chest with a wide eyed look of horror.
"Er, hi Lily," Remus muttered. He glanced at James who looked like he was ready to go into the foetal position again.
"You – you're Head Boy?" Lily's expression was unreadable. "But you never said it was you – "
"I'm not," Remus replied through gritted teeth. He grabbed James by the collar and pulled him into view.
James and Lily's eyes met. Lily stared at him. James stared back with his gob open, realised what he was doing, and stared at the ground instead.
"Hi," James said to his feet, holding up his hand in greeting. He then made to rub his eye but was stupid enough to hit his lenses instead. Remus nearly groaned out loud.
Lily blinked disbelievingly. "Wait. James… you got it? Head Boy?"
He winced, preparing himself for the onslaught. "Uh… sorry?" He risked a look; Lily was positively beaming.
Well that was unexpected.
"Oh, congratulations!" she squealed, squeezing him around the middle in a hug. "That's brilliant!"
James' look of horror melted away into a wide eyed expression of shock, which was rather worsened by his face burning bright red; frozen stock-still, he could only stand there mutely and let Lily squeeze him. Remus, who could see this, couldn't help but snicker. The smooth James Potter – yeah, right. Finally Lily let go, grinning up at him with a starry look in her eyes.
Remus cocked an eyebrow.
"James, oh this year will be so much fun! I'm so glad I'm not stuck with some dull old stiff – " She bit her lip guiltily at the inclination of her words. "Not meaning you, of course, Remus."
"No, you're alright Lily." Remus covered his grin. James' eyes widened further, as if beholding an unseen horror at the mention of the word 'stiff'.
Lily laughed apologetically and caught sight of James' odd expression. "James? James. Um… are you quite alright? You're very red in the face."
James spluttered incoherently in reply. Lily looked inquiringly at Remus.
"He um… He's got a touch of sunstroke," Remus blurted, inventing wildly.
The girl frowned. "Sunstroke?"
"Yes! He er, he was helping his mum in the garden yesterday, and stopped for a rest, and fell asleep in the sun…" Remus trailed off.
James, who was trying to regain control of his lungs and get rid of the clenching feeling in his throat silently cursed the boy for his pathetic lie. God, how he hated Moony.
"Oh, you poor thing James! And how sweet of you to help your mother – come on, sit down in the compartment – do you want a drink?" And Lily was petting his hand, pushing her bottle of pumpkin juice to his lips, touching his face and pushing his fringe back to feel for a temperature.
God, how he loved Moony.
"Well… I'll just leave you two to it," Remus said, bemused by Lily's behaviour, downright amused at James'.
Lily smiled, pulling James by the hand into the compartment. "See you in half an hour, Remus!"
James could only shoot Remus a flabbergasted look before the door shut behind him.
Remus looked at the door, rubbing his hair thoughtfully, a hint of a smile on his lips. It seemed that perhaps James' love wasn't so unrequited after all.
Lily shut the door behind her and turned around to survey James. She was still beaming, and its effects were quite nerve-racking for James. Not quite knowing what to do, he gulped down half of her pumpkin juice. And chocked on it violently.
"Oh!" Lily exclaimed, and hurried over to him, rapping him smartly on the back. He expelled the offending beverage with a mighty hack of a cough, and sprayed her legs with a mixture of pumpkin juice and saliva.
"Oh no – sorry," James winced. Smooth, James. Smooth.
Lily gave a strangled laugh. "No, don't worry about it, it's just pumpkin juice, I can get anything out. I spilled coffee on these pants not so long ago, right on the crotch – " Lily coloured. "But you probably didn't want to know that. No, you really didn't. Um." Seemingly embarrassed, she quickly cleaned her jeans with a quick scourgify charm.
James cleared his throat and attempted conversation. "You er – you must get frustrated not being able to do magic at home. I mean, I can get away with it, but I guess you can't really, because of .." His voice trailed off. It seemed tactless to say 'because of the muggles'. Her family were muggles, after all.
"Oh, well, I'm of age now, so it's not really a problem," Lily replied, not yet recovered from her embarrassment. "It's quite good now though, because I can show my parents everything I've learned over the years. Mum thinks I'm brilliant, because I can clean the whole house with a few flicks of my wand – with all the curtains closed, of course. Wouldn't do if the neighbours saw the dishes washing themselves." She laughed at her lame joke, James a step behind. He was hardly paying attention to what she was saying, just thrilled at the fact that she actually was saying something.
"So… they'd never seen magic?"
Lily shook her head. "No… not my parents…" Her eyes took on a sly quality.
"What?" James asked, curious. Lily merely smiled innocently. "No, go on, I want to know now."
Lily seemed to think – and then let out a fiendish giggle. "Oh, it was the best bit of magic I've ever done," she delightedly, as if relishing the memory.
"You – you did illegal magic on a muggle?" James asked incredulously.
Lily nodded, still giggling.
James was full-out grinning now. "Lily Evans, you dark horse. Who was it?"
"Just my sister. She deserved it anyway." Lily rubbed her nose. "She isn't very nice."
There was an awkward pause. "Oh. Right." James said. He had forgotten why they were there.
Lily was busy ruffling through bits of parchment in her satchel. "Don't tell me I forgot my notes… Ah, here we are." She pulled out a list of typed bullet points. "Um, McGonagall said in a letter you were sent half the stuff…"
"Oh. Oh yeah." James pulled out his own pile of parchment, including the new passwords for the four Houses. He felt that McGonagall must have found it very difficult to entrust him with the password for the Slytherin common room.
"I er… I wrote a speech too…" James muttered, handing it to her also.
"Oooh, can I read?" Lily asked eagerly. Their fingers brushed when she took the parchment from him.
As Lily read, James stared at her, with unabashed admiration; he'd never really had the chance (well… been allowed) to stare at her face for this long a time at such close proximity.
"Wow, this is good James," Lily murmured, playing with a strand of hair.
He'd never noticed the light dusting of freckles across her nose, or the glow of her pale skin. Or that her eyelashes were very long, and her teeth were very straight. The bottom of James' stomach dropped as she began to chew on her bottom lip, her ignorance to the effect it had on James making it all the more tantalising. He longed to rip the parchment from her hands, and –
"- loads better than mine, I didn't even think to… James?" Lily made a face at the boy's vacant expression. He was staring at her again blankly. "I'm sorry, am I boring you?"
"What?" James snapped out of his reverie and saw Lily looking at him glumly. "No! No not at all, I'm just a bit nervous coz, you know, I wasn't a prefect and all that, and I'm not quite sure how I'll deal with the other prefects and…"
The girl looked relieved with his lie. "Oh, you have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that," she confessed, rubbing her face. "I don't think I've been so nervous in my whole life."
Nervous? "What have you got be nervous about Lily? I mean it's pretty obvious why they chose you."
The girl sighed. "No it's not. I mean, I can understand you getting chosen – top of the year, confident, charismatic, a born leader – " she stopped very suddenly, realising she was gushing – and James was raising his eyebrow at her and smirking. "Erm…"
"You really think all that?" he asked, his confidence rapidly returning to its former glory.
Lily swallowed. He was still smirking. "Well – yes, I do," she replied, breaking eye contact and straightening the papers. She knew she was blushing furiously. "You're an excellent choice for Head Boy. You'll have no trouble making people respect and follow you – because – well, because everyone already likes you."
"Oh. Well, thank you. Although… I didn't quite think that everyone liked me," he said slowly, looking at her meaningfully. "In fact, I was under the impression that some thought I was downright detestable."
Lily laughed nervously – so he was going to bring it up. "Ah. About that…" She rubbed her nose. "What can I say? You're not so bad anymore. And I never really hated you," she added on, smiling at James' disbelieving expression.
"Um. I'm pretty sure you did," he replied incredulously.
"No! I assure you I didn't," Lily laughed. "Just certain aspects of you… infuriated me."
"Oh." James paused awkwardly. "Right."
Lily bit her lip. "You were – well, you were – "
"An 'arrogant toe-rag'?" James asked slyly.
"That was the censored version." She rubbed her face. "If there's anything I can't stand, it's a bully."
There was silence.
"I'm sorry," James said humbly at last. "I was just a stupid kid – "
"I know," Lily agreed quickly.
" – and I'm not like that anymore – "
"Exactly! Hence the Head Boy appointment."
"Yes." He cleared his throat. "So what say we just forget that the past six years or so haven't happened?"
Lily stuck out her hand. "Lily Evans."
James took it and shook it warmly. "James Potter. So Lily – I may call you Lily, yes?"
"You may, James," Lily replied with mock graveness.
"Lily, I am very much so looking forward to the commencing the final year of school with you, Head Girl, as my partner in… whatever we do. What do we do?"
"It's basically figure-head stuff, from what I've gathered," Lily replied. She pulled out a piece of parchment that detailed a schedule and handed it to him. "And patrolling corridors."
"Blimey, McGonagall's given us all the early morning shifts!" He rolled his eyes. "I bet it's so she can have a lie in, the selfish old bat."
Lily giggled; to James it sounded like a bubbling stream in the spring-time. "Well, we'd better be heading off; we have to meet with the prefects."
"Ah prefects," James sighed, as he pulled his school robes over his head. "How ironic it is that after years of evading their wrath, I am now their leader."
Lily giggled again. "I think they're trying to coerce you into behaving properly."
"That, or Dumbledore smokes crack for recreational purposes."
Lily giggled even harder, and James, his insides doing the tango, decided he liked making her laugh very much. They made the short walk over to the prefect carriage, and as they pushed open the door the two of them were met with loud chatter.
" – did you hear, James Potter and Lily Evans, they aren't even prefects – "
" – some obvious favouritism of Gryffindor going on, two prefects and the two heads – "
" – reckon it's brilliant, Potter's a real decent bloke– "
" – don't know what Dumbledore was thinking – "
"Neither do we, in fact," James said loudly, striding into the compartment. Everybody jumped and snapped their heads towards the two figures that had just entered the room, and quieted down immediately, some with guilty faces and some with delighted. "In fact Lily and I were just discussing it ourselves. Seems Dumbledore's dementia is finally started to kick in – doesn't he remember I was the one behind the most peculiar ailment that made all the professors only able to communicate through interpretive dance?"
Everyone laughed; even the most pompous, rule-loving 7th year prefects, stung that they had missed out on the Head positions to a couple of non-prefects, smiled reminiscently.
"How did you do that, anyway?" asked one of the fifth year Hufflepuffs.
"Oh, it was easy. Just spiked the staff room's coffee pot. It's a little known fact that the entire Hogwart's faculty are caffeine addicts. But maybe this isn't the best time or place to talk about that. Later," he added in a stage whisper to the boy. Everyone laughed again. When it died out, James' face took on a more serious quality.
"Look. I know that everyone must be a little... erm," he glanced at Lily.
"Miffed," she offered.
"Yes, a little miffed that we – ok, Lily everyone can understand - that I scored Head Boy without being a prefect. Or even being a moderately well behaved student. Or going a few days without getting detention. Point is," James continued, over the snickering of the group, "I'm not going to treat this as a holiday. I'm actually going to try to help the school and make it better – try and make our schooling experience more enjoyable and less… well, shit."
The whole room laughed again – the new prefects from the fifth year seemed utterly delighted that their new Head Boy had sworn. James snuck a glace at Lily; she was grinning and nodded encouragingly at him to continue.
James pulled out the speech he had written, containing the aims and goals he wished to achieve as Head Boy. He had written it in an attempt to impress upon Lily his Head Boy-prowess and had put in a lot of quotes and big words, but now it seemed very pretentious and silly. Besides, judging by the grin on her face, he had a better chance of doing that by being himself, so he crumpled it up and shoved it in his pocket.
"So, instead or reading out this wanky speech like I was going to, let's just do that. How can we make our time at Hogwarts less shit?" James surveyed the prefects, who looked at each other with blank expressions. "Anyone?"
There was silence until Lily tentatively cleared her throat. "How about something to encourage Hogwart's culture and inter-house community? Clubs do a good job of that… How about a sort of information day when all the club and society presidents show up and put a table together or something where students can sign up, and learn about what clubs there are and what they're all about? I met loads of people through wizard chess club."
James blinked at her. "That's… that's a really brilliant idea! Can we make a list? Is there a scribe to write that down?"
"I'll do it James," Remus said, pulling out a piece of parchment and quill.
"Thanks mate. Anyone else?"
Phys Llewellyn, the good-looking seventh year Ravenclaw prefect raised his hand. "I see a lot of the first year students getting lost around the castle and grounds," he said. "It might be a good idea to have some tours of the school on the weekends, and we can show them where the main class-rooms are, how to use the library, where the trick stair cases are, so on so forth?
"Yeah, that's great," James said excitedly. "And maybe we can do some sort of a buddy system, where prefects or seventh years volunteer to get paired up with a first year, kind of like a big brother-little brother/big sister-little sister thing, yeah?" Everyone murmured their approval, and Remus started writing faster.
"How about putting coffee and tea stations in the Common rooms for people staying up late doing homework?"
"Maybe there could be some regular help sessions for people having trouble with particular subjects?"
"Activities during the Christmas holidays for students who stay at school?"
"Student-run flying lessons – I mean, that one session during first-year isn't really enough…"
"One at a time please guys!" Remus called, frantically scribbling in attempt to keep up with the flying suggestions.
"This is fantastic James," Lily whispered to him excitedly.
"Yeah, they're loads better than my ideas… The best one I had was unisex showers."
Lily giggled and cleared her throat again. Everyone fell silent. "Bullying isn't much of a problem anymore, but it's still here," she said in a clear voice. "I think there should be some sort of social-network ran by students for students who feel a little alone and powerless; teachers can't always solve problems, but having a friend's support always makes life a little easier."
"Yeah, just send me their names and I'll give them detention being Sirius Black's personal assistant; a day of listening to his whinging and plucking his eyebrows will set 'em straight."
For the next half-hour or so, all everyone shot out ideas to improve the school. A lot of the ideas were impractical and would never be acted upon, but James was simply glad that that the prefects were listening to each other's opinions. They drafted a formal proposal to Professor McGonagall to consider implementing a buddy system for the first-year students. Also, they were making plans to have a Hogwarts clubs and societies promotion day on the soonest weekend possible, and everyone in the room had agreed to give tours of the school to interested first-years before and after classes the next day.
"This was the most productive meeting we've ever had," said Katrina Davis, one of the sixth-year Ravenclaw prefects. "Usually we just argue over swapping patrol shifts, and go over duties and expectations."
"Oh bollocks, we'd better do that," James said with a start, ruffling through the parchments. "Okay, here are your patrol rosters. If you don't like them, don't bother telling me, because I don't care that much. Organise it amongst yourselves if you must. Lily, you'd better tell them what things prefects are supposed to do, because I haven't a clue what they are."
"Er…" Lily pulled out a sheet of parchment. "You sixth and seventh years obviously already know… Prefects are required to follow and uphold the rules of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at all times," she read, straight from the parchment. "'While prefects are expected to encourage good behaviour in their fellow students, they cannot take points or award detentions. Instead, prefects are required to report any misbehaviour to their House Professor.' Blah, blah, blah…" Lily skimmed through the paper. "You get the drift. Just remember to be nice to the first-years, especially the muggle-borns, and show them the way to their common rooms. Speaking of which, here are the passwords to the common rooms – oh! Remember, the prefects bathrooms are on the firth floor – boys, yours is four doors to the left of the statue of Boris the Bewildered, password is greasy, and girls, opposite the portrait of Boris being beheaded – password's bubbles. I think that's it. James have you got anything to add?"
"Nah, let's go, it's lunch time. Unless you do?"
"I'll be brief." She smiled at the students. "Just to repeat James… I know I wasn't a prefect, but I'm still going to do my utmost to make this the best year possible. Seventh years," she looked towards the eight oldest students, "James and I will be depending on your help this year, because you've already had two years experience. But I hope that we're all going to really depend on each other and work as a team. I've got a really positive feeling about this group, we had some great ideas in our brainstorming session, and I can't describe how thrilled I am at the chance to be working with you all this year." There was an outburst of applause and Lily, a little flushed, grinned in response. "That's all, I'll see you for our meeting in a fortnight."
As the majority of students stood up and walked towards the door, chattering happily, a handful stayed behind to speak enthusiastically with the new Heads. Todd McDougal and Phys Llewellyn made a beeline for Lily, and half a dozen others flocked around James.
"Good job, Potter!"
"Yeah, we didn't know you had it in you James."
"Prongs!" Remus hissed, grabbing James's arm. "Let's just say I had my doubts, but no one can say Dumbledore's made a mistake in choosing you. You're brought an – an exuberance, such a sense of innovation – "
"Thanks, Moony, but never mind that! I think Lily likes me!"
"Yes, I think we can safely say she no longer hates you – "
"No! I mean – she really likes me!"
The corner of Remus' mouth twitched. "I had a feeling she may have…"
"What! When? How – "
"When she bought that rubbish that you had sunstroke earlier before – she was all over you she may as well have been licking your face – "
"She said that I was a born leader! And charismatic, and smart, and funny – I keep making her laugh! - and she was blushing!"
Remus made a shushing sound, but he was grinning himself. "Yes, great James, but keep your voice down, it wouldn't do for her to hear you." His eyes glinted with excitement for his friend. "Are you going to ask here out?"
"Soon," James whispered. "I'll wait a few days maybe, to make sure she really does." He glanced over at Lily, who was talking to Todd McDougal, the Hufflepuff prefect, and happened to be looking at James herself; she looked away quickly when she realised she'd been caught.
"I'll catch you later, mate," James said to Remus, and walked over to stand with Lily and Todd. It appeared the pompous boy trying valiantly to mask his disappointment in not being Head Boy in a long-winded compliment.
" – perhaps beginning to see Dumbledore's motives for bringing in two non-Prefects; you haven't been conditioned like the rest of us have, therefore, your ideas are dynamic and – oh – " Todd seized James' hand as he stood next to Lily, and shook it repeatedly. "Marvellous, Potter, to have you onboard, marvellous, I say – "
"Yes, it is rather marvellous, yes," James replied, mimicking Todd's tone, yet managing to keep an utterly straight face. Phys smiled and Lily hastily covered her hand over her mouth.
"Must admit, I was a spot perturbed when I heard the news- " he laughed with unconvincing humour, "- but maybe you're just what the school needs, a Head Boy that the common masses can relate and identify with, without feeling intimidated – "
"Rather than feeling as though they were talking to a seventeen going on seventy-year-old unable to grow facial hair? I agree entirely," James finished jovially, playfully punching Todd in the arm.
Todd's smile faltered, but he hitched it up again. "Ah James, always a kidder! Well. I must be off – I'm sure the carriages are in chaos without the order us prefects bring."
Lily laughed out loud at the expression on James' face as Todd left the compartment.
"Honestly, what a tosser," James exclaimed, half incredulous, half amused. "I'm beginning to see why I got Head Boy."
"Congratulations, by the way, Potter," Phys said in his quiet voice, holding out his hand.
"Thanks mate," James replied, shaking his hand vigorously. Llewellyn really was a nice bloke.
"I can't wait until the next meeting," Phys continued. "I imagine it will be as unorthodox as today's meeting?"
"I dunno. 'How to make school less rubbish' will be a tough act to follow."
"I'm sure you'll manage," the other boy said half wryly, half amused, and turned to Lily. "So, have you read the new text book for Ancient Runes?"
Lily shuddered. "Urgh, only a few chapters. I honestly can't get my head around most of the content. I really need your help. Could we…?" She looked imploringly at Phys. James suddenly became very interested in their conversation.
Phys nodded eagerly. "Of course – I always enjoyed our one-on-one sessions."
"Oh great, because I think you'll be able to help me understand Chaldean methodology…"
"Oh yeah, I understood that that, it's easy. So the usual, at our table?"
"Yes, I'll see you then."
"Alright. Well, congratulations, again, you deserve it," Phys finished, and, horror of horrors, he leaned in and kissed Lily on the cheek -
That smarmy bastard.
"See you later guys," the dirty sleaze said as he oozed out of the compartment.
"Bye!" Lily called, a little pink in the face.
"Yeah. Bye," James remarked through clenched teeth.
So. Lily had a usual at a table - 'their' table – with Phys Llewellyn, of all people, for a one-on-one study session in Ancient Runes. And by one-on-one study session, they meant composing their wedding vows according to the'Chaldean Method'…
"I left my bag in the Heads' compartment," Lily said, snapping James out of a particularly pleasant fantasy involving Llewellyn being hit around the head with Advanced Ancient Runes. "Are you coming?"
"Oh… yeah, I left some of my stuff in there too." James cleared his throat. "So, er… he's in you're Ancient Runes class, then?"
Lily nodded. "Yeah. We help each other out, it's really… helpful."
They finished their short walk to their compartment, and started collecting their items. James couldn't stand it any longer. He would just ask her and have it done with. "So, er… you involved with him, then?"
"Are you… are you seeing him…?"
Lily blinked. "Oh! Oh, no."
James smiled sheepishly. "Er… so clever, handsome prefects aren't your type?"
Lily laughed nervously. "Well… not Phys at least. I mean, he's a nice person and everything but…" she lowered her voice, "Don't you think he's a bit dull?"
"As flobberworm dung."
Lily laughed in reply. "Exactly. He's far too serious, I'd be bored. And I can't have a joke with him. I need somebody who can make me laugh," she said matter-of-factly, smiling up at James.
Perhaps it was his raised eyebrows, or the way he began to grin in that infuriatingly confident way of his, but Lily realised the implications of her words, and promptly turned scarlet.
"Right! Well, I have to be off now," Lily said in a brusque, yet quavering voice, and stood up. James, grinning, stood up with her. "I told my girlfriends I'd come back post-haste to tell them if you got Head Boy, and they – "
Lily glanced at him, still scarlet. "What?"
"You said you had to tell them whether I got Head Boy…?"
Lily looked very embarrassed. "No I didn't."
"Er, yes, actually, you did."
Amazingly, the girl went even redder. "Well, I have to be off now, I have to find my friends – "
"To tell them I got Head Boy?"
"No! I just have to find them! I'll – I'll see you at the feast – "
Lily got up and left the compartment. After she'd gone, James picked her satchel off the floor, and stood at the door. A moment later, she was back, crimson as ever. "Forgot my – oh." She saw James standing there, holding out her bag. "Thanks."
James shook with laughter as she turned and walked away with her fists clenched, but still, he didn't move from the doorway. Sure enough, Lily had returned a few moments later, eyes glued determinedly at the floor.
"Went the wrong – "
"You went the wrong way? I noticed. This way," James said, pointing out the correct direction, and not making any effort to hide his amusement.
Lily looked as though she wanted to disappear, but she forced a smile, said 'right' very stiffly, and hurried away very quickly. James watched, seemingly in slow motion, as Lily, in her haste, tripped over the front hem of her robes and fell face first onto the floor.
He decided it would be tactless to laugh audibly." Lily! Are you alright?"
There was a muffled groan in reply.
James was at her side in an instant. "Did you hurt yourself?"
"Just my pride," she replied wearily. She held out her hand. "Please help me up."
James complied with his most annoying grin; he didn't let go of her hand.
And perhaps it was because she looked nearly humiliated to tears, or because he noticed the hand that he held was very sweaty, or maybe because he didn't think he'd ever been more in love with Lily Evans, James tilted her head back, and kissed her.
After a warm, lingering moment, he broke the kiss gently.
Still flushed, although in a different way, Lily laughed. "Yes," she said shyly.
For a second, they stood there grinning stupidly at each other. Lily readjusted her bag on her shoulder and cleared her throat. "Well, I'd really better be heading off now – "
"To tell your friends that I, specifically, got Head Boy?"
Lily rolled her eyes, but she was still smiling. "Yes, James, to tell them that you, specifically, got Head Boy. Happy?"
James messed up his hair for old time's sake, because he knew it would enrage her. "Yes, it pleases me greatly."
"No – no, don't start that again!" Lily shrieked, laughing, and flattened his hair down as best she could.
James ducked away from her efforts. "Don't Lily, you have to go and tell your friends that you just passionately kissed James Potter, the Head Boy, go on – "
"Oh, you are so infuriating!"
"But that's why you fancy me, isn't it?"
And with that, she threw him an unmistakable look of smouldering desire and stormed off.
Well, it was nice to know that not everything had changed.
I must admit, I really enjoyed writing that!! I hope you liked reading it. Anyhoo, I'd greatly appreciate reviews as they will:
A) encourage me to write more one shots, if you liked it, or
B) encourage me to stop writing, if you thought it was rubbish.
It really is up to you!