Boys always teased Lily in that hair-pulling-you-can't-catch-me way that little boys will. She suspected it was her hair, which was very long and very red and quite pretty, if she did say so herself.
But she wasn't up for teasing on her first day at Hogwarts. There had been some nasty boys on the train and Severus was in another house and she had never been away from home for longer than a night. Her dormmates, three other girls who seemed nice enough but weren't nervous at all, were already asleep. Lily had tried all sorts of positions in an attempt to do the same, but it just wasn't working. With a sigh, she dug her tape player out of her trunk, trying to muffle the noise as much as possible. She pulled on her quilted dressing gown, the one whose pockets her mother had embroidered with her name, and went down to the room at the bottom of the stairs, the one they called the common room. A fire was still burning in the hearth and she wondered if it was a magical fire. Did it stay lit all the time? She supposed she would wait and see.
Everything seemed calmer and less scary down here. She picked the cushiest looking chair and tucked herself into it. She put in the headphones and turned on the tape, ready for Rod Stewart to soothe her to sleep.
Perhaps it needed new batteries. That would be disappointing because she didn't know where you could buy batteries at Hogwarts. Perhaps she could ask Sev in the morning, whenever she saw him. The thought depressed her. She focused on fiddling with the tape, the headphones, the batteries, hoping that her music would start.
"It won't work."
Lily looked up at the pale, handsome, slightly snotty face of one of the boys from the train.
"It's Muggle stuff. Won't work at Hogwarts."
Lily recalled dimly the professor who had come to explain to her and her parents about magic and Hogwarts. She had said something about this, but Lily had forgotten in the excitement that Severus had not been lying, that she no longer had to worry about turning her nasty history teacher's hair blue, that she was not a freak.
The boy, who she remembered was called James Potter at the Sorting, was tapping her tape player with his finger.
"What does this do?"
A more objective observer would probably have seen James's comment as simple curiosity, but the tired, lonely eleven-year-old girl was sure she heard condescension in his voice.
"Give it back." She made a grab for it but he held it out of her reach and took out his wand.
"No, what does it do? I'll fix it. I'll make it magic."
"It doesn't want to be magic," she hissed furiously and pushed him. He fell, losing his hold on the tape player. Lily picked it up, flicked her long hair over her shoulder and stormed back up to her dormitory.
The next morning James Potter and his friends snickered as she sat down in a bowl of oatmeal that they had placed on her seat. Her face burned, but she ignored them. In later years, she would be glad that they hadn't yet learned enough magic to make her the target of one of their soon to be famous pranks.
Lily had assumed that the piano in the common room of the Heads' quarters was decorative. It was a week past New Year's when she found out otherwise.
Lily was a night owl, but she had learned early on that James was not. She would come down at half nine to find the Head Boy dead to the world on the sofa while his friends returned to Gryffindor Tower, Sirius complaining loudly that his best friend was such a lightweight.
So she was surprised to hear music coming from the common room at midnight. Looking over the railing, she saw James gently making his way through a Beethoven sonata. Lily had grown up listening to her mother's music students crashing or tinkling their way through various pieces and she could tell that James was good. Not stunning, but definitely solid with the Muggle classics in a way that most wizards she knew wouldn't be. She ignored the oddness that it was James Potter playing and just listened to the music.
He finished the piece and in the silence, she heard a sniff. It struck her as bizarre and impossible. James didn't cry, not even when he fell off his broom and broke half the bones in his body.
She crept down the stairs hoping to see that he was laughing over some joke from one of his mates. But he heard her step and looked up at her, his neck craned at an odd angle. The tears on his face broke her heart. She climbed down the rest of the way and slid in beside him.
She didn't recognize this person who was being nice to James "Toerag" Potter. She had hated him since first year, although she could no longer clearly remember why. But he was crying, something she never thought she'd see, so she rubbed her hand up and down his arm.
"My grandad died."
"I'm so sorry, James." It sounded overly formal, not like something a teenager would say, but James nodded, accepting.
"I just got the owl that he was sick. I didn't even know. They didn't think it was serious enough to tell me. He wasn't even that old, at least not for a wizard." He wiped a hand across his eyes. "He would have hated that, going down in his bed, not fighting anyone, not dying for a purpose. He was a complicated man, my grandad. He used to tell me stories about fighting Grindlewald," James ran a hand over the piano, "But then he would sit down and teach me to play, always classical Muggle music."
"Was he a muggleborn?"
"Yeah, from Canada. He had this bizarre accent and would spend hours tapping the wireless with his wand, trying to get it to play his hockey games."
"Nah, ice hockey. They're mad about it in Canada. Grandad was always trying to explain the rules about skating and hitting a ball with sticks, but it always seemed like they just liked to make each other bleed." He grinned. "It's great."
Lily was glad to see James looking more like himself. Things felt like they were righting themselves. "Is your grandmother still alive?"
His grin grew. "Yeah, Grandmum'll probably outlive us all. Grandad always said she was a pistol. She's got the loudest voice I've ever heard, even louder than Molly Prewett- remember her, a couple years above us?- and they always have her send me Howlers when I need them."
"So nearly every day, then?" The comment had none of her usual bite, just gentle teasing. He looked directly at her and smiled and she suddenly understood why he had the reputation he did. It wasn't that he was attractive. He was too messy and Quidditch player thin to be handsome, but when he smiled, something in her stomach swooped.
"Grandmum calls my hair 'that horrid mop' or 'The Beast.'"
"Sounds like your grandmum and I would agree on a lot of things."
"You should meet her some time." He snapped his mouth shut as he finished but the words had escaped already. For the first time in the encounter, he looked awkward. "I didn't mean-"
"It's alright," she said, but knew that the moment was over. She wondered if there would be more of them and surprised herself by hoping so. Strangely, she liked this James who could be serious and still find humor, who could make fun of himself, who cared for others. For the first time, she didn't question Dumbledore's decision to make James Head Boy.
She stood. "I'm off to bed. Charms first thing tomorrow."
"Not like you couldn't do that half asleep and still get a gold star."
"Well, not without the practice that some of us have."
He smiled again and she backed towards the stairs. "Good night, James."
"Good night, Lily."
As she went to her room and he returned to playing quietly along the keys, she wondered how one night could make them from "Evans and Potter, Mortal Enemies" to "Lily and James, Something Like Friends."
Lily listens to the Beatles while she washes the dishes. She sings along, loudly. James has learned the words and sings a passable tenor alongside Lily's horrible voice.
But that is in the quiet moments between the war that seems to be slowly infecting their whole lives.
Things with Voldemort are getting worse. They've already lost friends- Mary MacDonald, a school friend of Lily's (she cried for days), and Kevin Jenks, a chaser rival of James's- and they cling to the ones they have left.
In their house, just down the road from James's parents, things feel safe. Outside, when they go to fight for the Order, to go to work or even to do some shopping, every moment feels rushed and worried. The two of them escaped Voldemort again last night, apparating out at the last minute. Lily caresses the small bump just now becoming visible against her shirt, and knows it's too dangerous.
When she tells James that she will no longer be going to fight, he looks relieved, like he was putting off asking her to do it.
She doesn't want to stay home, hates it when James comes home bloody and shaken and she has just been pacing around the house. But she needs her baby to be safe, so she curls around her own growing abdomen, waiting.
It hurts a little that Harry looks so much like James. She tries not to feel it, but when she sees them bent together, identical, she feels like yelling, "I was the one who carried you for nine months!"
But then he looks up at her with her own eyes and she thinks, "There I am." Those eyes are laughing now as he tracks a blue puff of smoke shaped like a duck and pokes a finger through it. He chuckles and claps.
"James, don't get him worked up right before bed." She smiles down at them from the doorway.
"I'll put him down, Lil," James promises, looking up at her winningly. He's restless here and she can't blame him.
"No, I'll do it." She wants some time alone with her boy, just a lullaby and a cuddle at the end of the day. She wants to tell him about Hogwarts and his Marauder uncles. She wants to promise that she'll take care of him, fight to the death for him.
She sees the full October moon out the sitting room window and picks one of the stars beside it to wish on. A simple wish for the baby she loves so completely, just that he will grow up safe and happy and loved. In the growing darkness, surrounded by the giggles of her son, Lily closes her eyes and hopes.
A/N: Written for banana7pancakes on livejournal. The prompt was Lily/James, music. I hope you liked it!