TAKE A WALK IN THE SNOW

Marauders Era: The 7th-years of Hogwarts go on a school trip to Godric's Hollow, the assumed birthplace of Godric Gryffindor. Will James finally take the opportunity to make his move with Lily?

Chapter 1: Game on.

Winter had descended upon the castle of Hogwarts during the night. It's roofs and towers were glazed with a layer of fresh snow, and the windows were covered in frost patterns. Said windows were presently being lit all across the school as teachers and students got up to greet the winter morning. The grounds were still as quiet as the bottom of a lake.

Equally quiet was a certain boys' dormitory in Gryffindor Tower. Its inhabitants lay dead still in their beds, some of them emitting small snores and other sleepy sounds.

In the four-poster closest to the door lay a young man with long black locks and a chiseled face, currently half-buried in his pillows. In the next bed a smaller and plumper blonde boy lay snoring. The bed closest to the window housed a pale and slender youth who had obviously fallen asleep while reading, as he now cuddled an old Transfiguration book like a long-lost teddy bear.

In the fourth and last bed however, there was no sleeping going on.

James Potter had been awake for nearly an hour now, contemplating the awaiting day. A few weeks ago, Professor McGonagall had announced that the entire 7th year would be going on an overnight field trip to Godric's Hollow, and now the day had come. The marauders had all been considerably excited about it, relishing a chance to travel outside the castle and, not to mention, being relieved from classes for two whole days.

After the initial exhilaration, James had realized what else this trip meant. He was after all Head Boy now. He and Lily would probably be expected to take some responsibility during the trip, actually they might have to work together for quite some time..

Alone-time with Lily!

What better time to show her, once and for all, how he'd changed in the past months!

Or so Remus and the others had said.

James had been in love with Lily for years, but she hadn't started even tolerating the sight of him until this autumn. He had finally realized that maybe he'd been a bit of a twat when he was younger, and was now making a real effort to become more like the sort of guy she might like…or even love.

Anyway, this was going to be it. The big test.

He'd already enlisted the help of his best friends, who had promised to do their very best. Unless of course, as Sirius put it, "I'm busy with my own witch-hunting pursuits".

Can't say fairer than that, James had figured.

He supposed this was one of those occasions when - even among best friends - it was every man for his own.

"Whoa!" exclaimed James suddenly, a carelessly flung pillow hitting him right in the face. "What the..!"

"Rise and shine, Romeo!"

Sirius was beaming, sitting up in his bed with another pillow on the ready.

"You haven't forgotten which day it is, have you?" he grinned. "The Great Witch-Hunt of -77 is about to commence!"

"Urgh", said a yawning Remus from underneath the Transfiguration book, "Tone it down a bit, would you Pads? It's 7 o'clock in the bloody morning!"

Bleary-eyed, Remus pushed the book off his cheek and sat up.

"Uh-oh, someone hasn't had his fill of chocolate…" said Sirius in a sing-song voice, but after a deadly stare from the wolf he threw over a bar of Honeyduke's Finest.

Remus broke off a piece and put it in his mouth, instantaneously feeling better.

"Ah.. Right, let's get this going then! And someone wake up Peter, for Merlin's sake."

Sirius and his pillow happily obliged.

An hour or so later the boys were ready, packed, and heading down for breakfast.

Despite heavy protests they had been instructed a few days ago that "All students will wear their regulated uniforms, even though not on school property, and will behave themselves according to the high standards of Hogwarts School of Witching and Wizardry at all times!" They had been allowed casual clothes to wear in the evening though, as they'd be staying in Godric's Hollow overnight.

James walked into the Great Hall closely tailed by his friends, who were currently sniggering at some rude remark about witches and stake-burning. James chose to ignore it, instead scouting for Lily.

He finally saw her at the end of the Gryffindor table, apparently deep in conversation with her friend Alice.

As James approached Alice looked up, and quickly whispered something to Lily. She promptly answered by throwing a piece of toast at her friend, which hit Alice's nose and set both girls off giggling.

James' step faltered a little.

Were they laughing at him?

Just as he was about to turn around with his tail tucked between his legs, Sirius pushed past him and plopped down next to Alice.

"Morning girls!" he said with his most winning smile.

"Got room for a couple of Marauders here?"

Alice smiled and nodded – she had always liked the Marauders, despite Lily's complaints – and the rest of the boys seated themselves. James ended up next to Sirius, across the table from Lily.

He had really wanted to sit down next to her, maybe tell her that funny joke about stake-burning…but no. That was the old James!

This year he was the new, improved and respectable James!

Who sat across the table from the girl he loved more than anything in the world – and would do anything to protect – and who he really REALLY just wanted to sit down next to - so maybe she'd notice him - and maybe….

Merlin.

Watching Lily sitting there and chatting with Sirius, he thought about how those two had resented one another in the past. Lily despised Sirius for his arrogance and rule-breaking, while Sirius habitually referred to Lily as "that uptight carrot-top". Now however, they seemed to get along great. They fought just as frequently, but the clashes seemed to last shorter and venom had been largely replaced with mirth. James knew this was partly due to an effort on Sirius' part, and Remus and Pete too for that matter.

He still remembered that day his friends finally realized he was serious about "that annoying Evans girl"…

It was the summer of 1975, and four lazy 5th-years lay spread out on the lush grass of the grounds outside school. The hot day had chased most of the students outside, as school work seemed to be impossible on a day like this.

The boys were lounging on their usual spot, sunbathing under a big oak tree near the lake. Peter lay half asleep in the shadow, every now and then emitting small satisfied snores. Remus had, judging by the copy of "5th level Charms" laying open next to him, apparently made a futile try at catching up on his homework. Now however, he was lying on his back with a concentrated look and crooked smile, busy air-fencing with Sirius. They had enchanted some downfallen branches from the oak tree, and were having quite the match a couple of meters up above their heads.

James sat a little way apart from the others, leaning against the trunk of the tree. He was watching something down by the lake.

Lily sat there on the narrow pier, next to a skinny, dark haired boy with slightly slumped shoulders. They were both cooling their feet in the water. Lily's shoes and stockings lay intertwined with the boy's things on the grass behind them.

A giggle suddenly erupted from Lily, as she wiggled her feet and splashed water all over her companion's trousers. The boy had a slimy voice, James thought, but his laughter seemed to be filled with more joy than James himself had experienced in all of his 15 years. The pair continued splashing about a bit more, until Lily pulled up her feet to lay down on the pier next to Severus. She rested her head on his lap, obviously completely relaxed. James could see the boy's shoulders stiffen all the way up from where he was sitting.

Why on earth a girl like Lily was friends with someone like Severus Snape, James would never understand.

Lily was stubborn and annoying, sure, and definitely didn't appreciate a good joke – but she was also pretty, popular, funny, smart, vivacious... And Snape? Skinny, almost sick-looking, a Slytherin, rude, obnoxious, disgusting.. and obviously more than a tiny bit interested in the Dark Arts. For gods sakes, he was friends with the likes of Mulciber! Those people were all bastards.

And still he was Lily Evans' friend.

Her best bloody friend.

"Bollocks!"

James was driven out of his menacing thoughts by Sirius' outburst.

"Damn Moony! If I'd known you'd actually be good at this I never would have suggested it…"

Two oak braches sailed down towards the ground again, one of them now nearly broken in half.

"Oi Prongs, what's up? You look like you've seen a ghost or something!"

Sirius elegantly flipped over to his side, giving his friend an inquisitive look. "Don't tell me – you've got a new idea for pranking Dolohov tonight!"

The other boys grinned and drew closer with curiosity. Peter too had been woken up by Sirius' roaring.

James sent his friend an annoyed glance over the top of his glasses. Sirius was a great – his best friend ever, like a brother actually – but sensitivity wasn't his strongest point.

"Nah..is nuthin'" he muttered, trying to look indifferent.

It didn't work. The three boys surrounding him groaned and looked at each other.

"Right.." Remus began. "Would this be the nothing with the long red hair?

"And 'emerald-green eyes'?" added Peter.

"Which goes by the name of… Lils, Lilypad, Lily-flower, my itty-bitty Lilykins? Ring a bell?" Remus grinned.

Sirius sneered at James.

"Mate", Sirius said seriously, "You're my best friend, but you have seriously got to stop obsessing over that bird. What's so great about her anyway? You're James Potter, best bloody Chaser this side of the century! Gryffindor's finest! There's bound to be better girls out there for you mate!"

Somewhere in James' stomach, something growled angrily at this statement. A part of him wanted to punch his best friend in the face for suggesting there could ever be anyone better than Lily Evans. Luckily, his brain also had a say in things.

James rolled his eyes. "Merlin, guys. Who said anything about Evans? I was just thinking about the game on Saturday."

It wasn't entirely untrue. He had been wondering whether Lily would show up to see him play, and whether maybe he could suggest that Moony take her with him.

But Sirius didn't need to know that.

"And 'my itty-bitty-Lilykins'? – what is that supposed to be?" James added.

Sirius took on a businesslike look. "Well, I figured since 'Evans' isn't getting you anywhere, maybe you need a new approach?"

Peter snorted. "I second that! Try it out!"

James smiled despite himself. "You guys are bastards, you do know that?"

"Hey, watch who you call a bastard, we're not the ones spending our time ogling innocent girls" chipped Moony. "But seriously, Prongs", he eyed his friend with a more sober look, "You're a great guy and one of my best friends….but you act like an enormous arse in front of Lily. Maybe you need to just, I don't know, relax a little?"

James rolled his eyes again.

"Right, if you say so Moons…Because you're such a ladies' man, right?"

"Hey" said Remus, opening his palms in a defensive gesture, "At least I'm friends with her, that's more than you can say for yourself!"

At this, James seemed to deflate a little. In fact, he looked completely miserable.

"Man, you've really got it bad don't you?" Peter sounded astonished.

Sirius looked thoughtful.

"You know what, mate? If this is what you want – let's do it!"

"Do what?" answered James suspiciously, worried Sirius was about to suggest some horrible scheme to find him another girl. There was no other.

Sirius looked at him incredulously.

"Get the girl, you dimwit! You know, your adored Lilykins! We're the Marauders, aren't we? There's nothing we can't do!" His face split up in the huge, all-encompassing and SO Sirius-y grin which clearly stated to the world that he knew what to do – and would stop at nothing to do it.

Remus laughed. "I agree – we're great!"

"The best!" added Peter.

James stared at his friends. "You'd really help me? Seriously, you're not just taking the piss?"

"Taking the piss?" Sirius looked positively hurt. "We're you're best mates, moron. Now, enough with this girly chatting. Let's start working on Plan Get Evans!"

"How about calling it Plan Charm Lily?"

"Or Getting Lily – The Plan."

"No: The Lily Evans scheme! That's way cooler!"

"Wormtail? That's the lamest thing I've ever heard."

"Is not."

"Is too."

"We're not calling it The Lily Evans Scheme!"

"Guys? Shut it."

"Touchy, touchy….."

"Hey, how about The Getting Lily Scheme?"

"Or Plan Lilykins – Marauders' style!"

"How about I shove this book up your arse?"

James smiled to himself, returning to the present.

The two years of pleading, haggling, asking, begging, and tricking which had followed the birth of "Plan Evans/The Lily-Scheme" hadn't resulted in much. Lily had been as stubborn as ever, and not noticeably impressed by James' interest.

Enter: The new and improved James Potter (Autumn 1977-model).

But… while being the new and improved James was all well and nice, he couldn't help but wonder…

How the heck did nice guys move things along?!

He glanced over at Lily, who at the moment was tossing her fiery-red hair out of her eyes, emerald eyes gleaming with laughter at some dry remark from Remus.

Hmm.

All right.

He had his friends with him, and this was going to work. No matter what!

So just…

Let the witch-hunt begin.

Author's notes: Hi lovelies! I'm currently revamping and evolving this story, with the fabulous help of my beta reader ControlYourWorld!

But what do you think so far , interested to read more?

Reviews are the air I breathe - if you read then let me know