She waited patiently amongst the hustle and bustle of chattering students, taking in the pleasant yet excited atmosphere that could only be associated with a Hogsmeade weekend. She observed groups of students piling into various carriages, sometimes in groups of five or six and other times as couples.
Smiling to herself, she could instantly tell which pairs were first timers and which were in seemingly serious relationships. First timers were always extra, extra courteous towards one another, she thought as she observed a fifth year Huffleboy boy stumble over his feet in his attempt to open the carriage door for his blushing Ravenclaw date. Yep, definitely first timers and amateur first timers at that.
Then there were the 'serious relationship' types who were either so loved up that it became a little sickening or those that seemed to have lost all form of courtesy for one another altogether, she thought observing Harietta Bulstrode shout out to her boyfriend from one of the carriages. The latter was too wrapped up in something his housemate was saying to care.
"Hurry Up Marcus!" The shrill voice of Harietta shouted, leaning out the door.
"In a minute!" Marcus had shouted back not even sparing her a glance as he did so.
How they had lasted three years, Lily never knew.
All in all, it was shaping up to be just another typical Hogsmeade weekend.
Only, for Lily this wasn't just another Hogsmeade weekend, she mused as she searched around the students which were now rapidly dwindling in number, as they boarded carriages.
Where was he?
She started to fidget impatiently, subconsciously touching her hair which was pinned up into a twisted knot at the back of her head. Usually she wore her hair out.
She spun round to see Dorcas' short, round frame hurrying towards her.
"What are you still doing here?" She barked, looking around. "Isn't he here yet?"
"Obviously not!" Lily bit back harshly, then immediately regretting her tone. It wasn't Dorcas' fault that Potter was a tardy prat.
If Dorcas had noticed Lily's tone, she paid no attention to it. "Bloody hell, you'd think Potter would be make sure to be on time considering it's only your second date"
Lily had no response to that.
After a few tense moments of silence, Dorcas spoke
"Look Lily, you might as well go in to Hogsmeade with Charlie and me for now" She offered indicating to her on again, off again boyfriend who was patiently waiting outside a carriage, observing them.
"No, that's OK; I think I'll just wait for James"
"Lil, he could be ages and there's practically no carriages left. Do you really want to risk being stuck at Hogwarts. Just...just come with us for now and you can meet him in Hogsmeade, I'm sure he'll find his way there"
Resigned to the fact that Dorcas may be right and dreading the prospect of being stuck at Hogwarts with annoying first and second years, Lily boarded the carriage with her friend, inwardly cursing James Potter.
On the ride there her mind wandered back to their first date and how it had transpired. She closed her eyes, recalling the details.
It was ...it was just...there were no words for it. The entire date was absolutely...awful, painful even. There was no disguising the fact that the date had been horrible. NOT horrible in the sense in that he was late, or looked terrible or smelt foul, not even horrible in the sense in that he was obnoxious, rude, pigheaded or too forward. Not at all.
In fact, James had arrived extra early, looked absolutely gorgeous in a casual red sweater, and had smelt delicious, like apples, spices and the outdoors. He was the perfect gentleman throughout the date, pulling out her chair and sitting close but not too close. He said the right things and kept polite conversation flowing, completely devoid of his usual sarcastic remarks or perverted humour.
And that, right there was the problem. The problem was that James Potter, was being anything but James Potter.
He didn't even try anything past a quick peck on the cheek and Lily couldn't help but wonder what had happened to the guy who had, without her consent, so brazenly ran his hands under her shirt not a week ago. What happened to the guy who had so often pulled her in for a rough kiss, at the times she least expected?
The whole ordeal had been unnerving and frustrating to say the least.
There were times when his attention would wander and he would smirk at something or other, leaning towards her as if to divulge a secret, eyes still fixed on the object of his amusement. Lily loved those moments because she knew he was about to say something incredibly hilarious or scandalous. But then, his eyes would snap to her and she could see him re-assessing whatever it was he was about to say, choosing instead to keep quiet. Lily hated it.
Lily hated it, as she knew the reason for his behaviour was her. He was acting this way because he believed, it was what she wanted. How could she blame him for it when she was the one who had only so often berated him for everything that he represented. She had consistently expressed annoyance for the way he walked, talked, the things he said, the things he did. Was it really any wonder why he was so on guard with her?
It had all been blown so completely out of proportion. Sure she believed he could do with maturing a little...or a lot but she didn't want him to change for her. She didn't want him to change any essence of him that made him James Potter.
She could tell he was just as miserable putting on the farce as she was watching it. He was combination of being on his guard and being bored out of his mind. Two things he had probably never felt in his life. James Potter lived life on the edge and he lived it laughing. He wasn't someone who mellowed down in order to impress a girl.
Now that she thought about it, she couldn't help but wonder whether she'd been stood up. It was after all a plausible possibility. The thought gave her a bitter taste in her mouth.
Sighing to herself she looked across the carriage and noticed Charlie staring at her long crossed legs. Sending a glare in his direction, she promptly uncrossed her legs and attempted to pull down the hem of her too short for comfort skirt. A difficult task when one is sitting down.
Struggling with her skirt, Lily cursed herself, for she knew she was no better than James when it came to changing yourself to impress someone else. Damn Marlene and her insistence to give Lily a 'make-over' for her date. It was that very reason as to why she was so uncomfortable, freezing her socks off in a short skirt and heels that were practically impossible to walk in but gave her 'killer legs' according to Marlene.
She was now conscious of her off the shoulders sweater (which was actually designed to be on the shoulders, but Marlene had improvised) which she was thankful for at least having a fairly loose fit. The last date, Marlene had leant her a tight fitting blouse which had been very uncomfortable indeed. She had done the heels with a tight pencil skirt then too and James reaction had been...odd
She remembered meeting him by the carriages, where he had greeted her before slowly running his eyes up and down her figure, taking in her appearance. When he met her eyes, his were filled with...confusion as if he wasn't sure why she was dressed that way.
"You look...different" He had said, sounding a little perplexed.
Well there could have been worse reactions and for that Lily was grateful. He hadn't seemed particularly impressed by her attire, nor displeased, so honestly she wasn't sure what to make of his reaction.
Walking around Hogsmeade had been a complete nightmare since her feet were throbbing and she had tried so hard not to let her pain show on her face. To her horror she had tripped a few times but James had always caught her before she actually fell. The first two times she had tripped he had caught her with a grin on his face, clearly amused, with a "Maybe I should carry you Evans." but the third time she tripped he had caught her with a look of impatience and obvious annoyance. She was embarrassed by it.
Then there were the awkward silences. For some god forsaken reason, she would verbally clamp up around him, and he would go through periods of silence, solemn silence, as if lost in his own world.
It was almost as if they had nothing to talk about if they weren't arguing or yelling at each other. It saddened Lily.
Towards the end of the date they could barely look at each other, he hadn't even held her hand on the walk back to the carriages and didn't even kiss her on the cheek as he left, nor asked her out to the next Hogsmeade trip.
They had seemingly parted ways on depressing terms both filled with a deep but inexplicable sense of failure and loss. It was only with a deep resolve, fearlessness, and a shot of firewhisky that Lily had approached him in the common room two days later and asked him for a second date in front his friends. Remus looked shocked, Sirius looked impressed by her, and Peter was anticipating James' response as if waiting for the climax of a dramatic film.
James was infuriatingly not bothered at all it seemed. He tiredly considered me for a while and then an understanding passed between us. As if we both acknowledged how ridiculous our first date had been and we needed another chance to compensate. He slowly nodded and then spoke.
"Sure why not"
"I'll meet you at the carriages at ten then?"
He turned back to the gobstones match he had been occupied with. "I'll be there"
Except he hadn't been there. Prick.
As the three got off the carriage, she glanced down the high street and around the bustling students. Maybe he hadn't seen her and got onto another carriage?
He wasn't anywhere in sight.
"Lily, Charlie and I are going to Honeydukes before we head to the Three Broomsticks. His brother's birthday is in a few days so we're going to get some sweets to send him, fancy tagging along?"
James wouldn't be in Honeydukes, he was more of the Three Broomsticks or Zonko's type.
Politely declining Lily headed off to the Three Broomsticks, knowing that sooner or later he could make his way there.
The pub was predictably crowded and noisy and Lily had to push her way through a group of rowdy fifth year Gryffindor boys to find a seat in a corner where she had a clear of the pub.
She busied herself with observing random students, and even made pleasant conversation with Emmeline a fellow housemate whom she got along well with, before ordering herself a plate of chips.
Twenty minutes later, she began to worry. She hadn't even seen any of the marauders, now that she thought about it. Maybe one of them was hurt or sick, maybe James was hurt or sick. What if he was in trouble.
She considered returning to Hogwarts and going to the hospital wing just in case. When it had been a full half hour, she got up off her seat intending to do just that, when she heard a bark like laughter sound from the entrance.
Looking up she saw Sirius followed by Remus, Peter and then him. He sauntered in with that distinctive lazy yet authorative gait of his smiling crookedly. At his arrival the rowdy Gryffindor boys cheered.
"Well look who it is! The Quidditch Extraordinaire" "Get over here Potter have a free drink on us" "You were brilliant in that last match, we caned Slytherin"
As usual he was the centre of attention and basking in it. He was in his prime and Lily couldn't help but feel that was where he belonged. Mischievous and carefree.
She just sat quietly in her booth, and watched him with his friends and admirers for about five minutes before she saw Sirius glance at her, nudge James in his side and cock his head in Lily's direction. James noticing her for the first time, downed his drink and casually made his way over to her booth.
"Nice skirt Evans" He smirked, sliding into the booth.
She rolled her eyes.
He sat back against the cushioned seat, casually propping one leg up onto the table.
"Why so mellow?" He enquired
She crossed her arms "You tell me Potter"
He took a chip off her plate and ate it before replying.
"If I could tell you, why would I ask in the first place Ev?"
Loud laughter cut through their conversation as Justin Fletcher fell off his seat in a drunken stupor a few booths away.
James looked over and shook his head disdainfully but insincerely, before turning back to Lily.
"Amateur. Don't you just hate it when a person can't handle their alcohol" he asked comically
"Don't you just hate it when you make arrangements to meet a person, but then they don't show up." She retorted giving him a hard look.
He was unfazed.
"I know right!" That really grates on my nerves"
"James" She spoke seriously "You were supposed to meet me by the carriages"
He took another chip, much to Lily's annoyance, and appeared to be thinking it over.
"Was I now?"
He leant forward conspiratorially "Are you sure Evans? Are you one hundred percent sur..."
"Yes! James Yes!" She cut in vexed.
He sat back smirking which only aggravated Lily even more.
"What the hell are you looking so pleased about?"
"Sorry, I just wanted to hear you say 'Yes James Yes'" He imitated, laughing.
She shot up in a huff and would have left the table if James hadn't grabbed her arm.
"Shit! It was a joke alright" He sat her back down
"It's not funny"
"It is to those of us who have actually developed a sense of humour. Don't worry though Evs, I'm sure your time will come soon"
She took a deep breath to calm herself, before she slapped the idiot.
"James. Please take me seriously" She spoke quietly, sincerely.
His eyes shifted.
Softly grabbing both her hands in his, he leant forward, getting impossibly close to her face. His eyes were smouldering and Lily felt almost hypnotised. She nearly sighed
Then he broke the spell.
Cocking his head to the side in a comically caring fashion, he spoke in a patronizing tone. "What is it Lily? Go on, tell Jamie what the matter is"
She looked at him in disbelief. Pulling her hands roughly out of his she got up and left the pub as quickly as she could. Hating him, hating herself, and hating Hogsmeade.
Ten minutes later she heard his footsteps behind her, following her.
"Go away James!" She shouted without facing him.
"Nah I rather not" He spoke
She spun round to face him, stopping him in his tracks.
"How did you find me?" Her eyes were angry, green and smouldering. There was no one like her.
"It was easy. I knew you wouldn't get very far wearing those stilts that you call shoes. Trip up recently Evans?"
She stared at him, anger turning into confusion. "Why are you being like this?" She nearly whispered.
"Being like what?"
She was shaking her head
"Last week you were so...so"
"So what Lily? Perfect, kind, courteous, sweet" He spoke bitterly. "Is that what you want Lily? Is that what you look for in a bloke?
She was about to protest, but he wasn't finished.
"Because that's not me alright. I'm not Prince Charming. I never have been and I never will be. Merlin knows I tried. Tried it for you, for you Evans.But I can't lie to myself or to you anymore, because the truth is that farce I played that day, it...it was killing me."
He gently grabbed her arms taking a step towards her.
"This is me Lily" He spoke with absolute conviction that thrilled her to the core, "This is me" And he smashed his lips to hers and Lily saw stars.
It was as if all his power, all his energy, his spark and everything that made him James Potter was being fused into her. She could tell how much he must have been dying to kiss her. She in turn hoped he could tell just how much she had wanted to be kissed. She felt his tongue in her mouth and would have melted to the floor if his arms weren't latched around her waist.
Just as she began reciprocating he pulled away harshly and she made a noise of protest at the separation.
"This is me" She marvelled at his ability to speak so soon after the mind-blowing kiss they shared
"I'm arrogant, I'm a prat, I play Quidditch better than most people, I'm tardy, I never lie, I get into fights all the time, I hate, absolutely hate pumpkin juice, I'm going to be an auror, I would die for those I love in a second, I would kill for those I love in a second, I don't take things seriously, even when I probably should, I don't take no for an answer (Lily smiled at that one)
"And...and..." He seemed to struggle with what he was about to say next. Swallowing hard he held her face making sure she was looking into his eyes.
"I'm absolutely crazy about you" It was Lily who had spoken and even she seemed shocked at herself.
James looked at her in shock "How did...how did you know I was going to say..." He trailed off, staring at her in awe,
"I... I didn't know you were going to say that" She covered his hand with hers, the hand that was covering her cheek.
"I said it because I meant it. I'm crazy about you James" She repeated. "The real you. The arrogant prat, the one who doesn't take things seriously, the one who hates pumpkin juice" She finished on a laugh.
He didn't respond. Clearly this wasn't the reaction he expected. His face was blank as his eyes bore in to hers.
She threw herself at him, hugging him tight and burying her face into his shoulder.
"You shouldn't have tried to change for me James"
No response from him. He hadn't even returned her embrace. She pulled back to look up at him.
"Never change" She whispered so quietly it was as if she was speaking to herself.
He frowned at her. "Then why are you trying to change?" He spoke darkly, pulling out of her embrace.
"What do you mean"
"Why are you trying to change who you are"
"I'm not try-"
"Lily" He cut across
She said nothing.
He looked her up and down, just like he did on their first date. She was intimidated by his stare, and took a conscious step away from him, which he promptly followed.
He was stood right in front of her, appraising her features slowly. She had never felt so self conscious before in her life.
"This isn't you" He stated softly.
She swallowed hard. His proximity and the intimate way in which he was gazing at her were doing crazy things to her.
"Let's fix that" He spoke getting closer to her still.
She could do nothing but nod slowly.
He reached out to her, running his hands carefully but deliberately over her trembling shoulders, going down to the straps hanging off the edges. His eyes had been following the movement of his own hands but were now boring into hers as he gently brought the straps back up to her shoulders, where they were meant to be.
Then he carefully did up two of the three buttons which had been undone on her sweater.
Lily thought it unbelievable how he could make something like dressing her seem so...erotic.
Still keeping his eyes firmly fixed on hers, he reached behind her head and slowly but deftly pulled out the pins that kept her hair in a knot, causing red lustrous waves to fall and cascade over her shoulders.
Running his hand smoothly through her hair, he smiled at her. "There's my Lily" He uttered.
She couldn't believe how sweet he was being to her, and as they were walking around Hogsmeade, fingers interlaced, she felt incredibly lucky to be with him.
But of course, the prat had to ruin it when he turned to speak hotly in her ear
"Oh and if you enjoyed that, imagine what'll be like when I undress you" He smirked against her ear.
Because after all, he is James Potter.
A/N Go on then, let me have it. Don't make me beg.