Disclaimer: All the names your recognize belong to JK Rowling
"Settle down class!" Professor McGonagall commanded, surveying us all from behind her desk.
I looked down at my watch, and then swivelled around to glance at the door for any sign of Alice. No such luck. I sighed. Turning back around to face the front, I briefly spotted the Marauders stumbling into class, laughing amongst themselves. Rolling my eyes this time, I pleaded silently to myself for Alice, Mary, Merlin, anyone to come sit in the empty seat next to me before...
"Ah, my favourite bird, Evans!"
"Go away, Potter," I ordered without looking up.
"Come now, Evans, go out with me to Hogsmeade next weekend," he pleaded earnestly, "then I'll go and sit with Padfoot."
"Or," I said menacingly, wand in hand and look of hatred etched on my face, "I could make you get up–"
Damn. I regretted that as soon as it came out of my mouth.
"Oh!" Potter said, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, "You could make me? Eh?"
"Ew Potter, get yourself and your perverted thoughts away from me!" I leaned away from him, completely repulsed.
"Mr. Potter! Either return to your usual seat, or keep quiet and settle down," McGonagall's voice cut through Potter's response.
"Er, right, Professor," Potter said sheepishly, running a hand through his messy black hair. He sat up straighter and gave McGonagall a cheeky grin.
I rolled my eyes.
McGonagall gave Potter a sceptical look, but passed on to turn her attention to Black, who was busy magically folding paper aeroplanes and flying them around the back of the classroom to whack Remus repeatedly in the head.
"So Evans," Potter whispered while McGonagall was sternly telling off Black, "What about that date?"
"No date, not next weekend, not ever. Merlin, Potter, will you ever get that into your thick skull?" I whispered exasperatedly.
Okay, I admit, that was a little harsh.
Still, I didn't feel too badly, because Potter always seemed to bounce back twice as exuberant as before. Sure enough–
"Come on now Evans, I know you don't mean that," Potter said earnestly. "Just give me one date, that's all I ask." His eyes roved over my face for my reaction.
"No," I said with finality. Unfortunately from experience, I knew Potter couldn't pick up on little hints like the word 'no' or 'bugger off' or variations to that effect.
Thankfully, a great bang interrupted us at that moment. The doors suddenly flew open and Alice stumbled in. "Sorry Professor!" she said loudly. "I was in the Hospital Wing, just got out, you know..." she drifted off apologetically.
Of course. She had to make a scene. Drama and Alice just seemed to go hand in hand nowadays.
"Miss Greengrass, sit down this instant!" McGonagall barked.
Alice blushed, and looked around the classroom. Her gaze quickly flew to Potter, and then back to me. My eyes narrowed at the sly grin that was creeping up the sides of her mouth.
"Miss Greengrass?" McGonagall repeated, her eyebrows raised in surprise.
Yeah? That grin? Gone now. Ha, take that Alice!
Alice quickly sat down in the vacant seat next to Black.
Not to be distracted, Potter opened his mouth to respond, but by this time McGonagall had finished her lecturing and so he was mercifully interrupted.
"Class, now that the various disruptions have ended," here she gave a sharp glare to the back of the classroom. Black gave a little wave in her direction which ended abruptly as Alice nudged him sharply in the ribs. McGonagall snorted delicately before continuing. "As deputy headmistress and head of Gryffindor house, it is my duty to announce to all the seventh years a new project to encourage interhouse unity."
McGonagall directly ignored the groans and mutterings that accompanied her announcement of more responsibilities and more time consuming activities.
Staring the class into silence once again, McGonagall continued, "That is why I, as well as the other heads of houses, have called special seventh year meetings. The headmaster thinks that, as the next wizarding generation to come of age and enter the wizarding world, you must not keep old prejudices especially with threats like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named out there to prey upon those who harbour intolerance for those around them. Therefore Professor Dumbledore thought that it would be best to establish a bond with those students of different houses. You will be participating an anonymous mail correspondent relationship with someone of another house assigned randomly to you by the headmaster. You must write at least forty-nine letters to your chosen partner-"
McGonagall stopped speaking when renewed complaints piped up from all around her. Seriously, McGonagall? It's not bad enough that we have to suffer through NEWTs but you're giving us this letter thing too? Ugh. It would be just my luck to be saddled with some muggle-hating pureblood fanatic; I mean, with all Gryffindors out of commission, I'd have a thirty percent chance of getting a Slytherin, won't I? I chanced a glance at Potter's face. He was staring at her, with a slightly quizzical look as he absorbed what he was saying. Weirdly enough, he seemed to be smiling slightly.
Whatever. I stopped trying to figure out what went on in Potter's mind two years ago.
"And each letter will be enchanted so that you must write an actual letter, and not just send an empty piece of parchment." McGonagall glared at us all, as if to dare us to suffer the repercussions of her wrath. "Now," she said in a business-like tone as she ducked behind her desk to receive slips of paper, "Here are your correspondents," she said as she went around the room handing out each slip to a specific person. "There is no due date for the first letter, but all your letters must have been sent by the end of term. Also, the headmaster requests that you perform a basic forging charm to disguise your handwriting. We will have a meeting of all the seventh years at the end of term to reveal your correspondents." Finished, she turned around and waved her wand. Suddenly all the notes transfigured themselves into live, hooting owls.
I stared at the small grey owl now perched on the edge of my desk. Hesitantly I reached out a finger to pat its head. Warily it looked up at me, keeping its eyes trained on my finger. Ah well. At least it didn't bite me.
I chuckled to myself as I heard Black yelling loudly in the back of the class, bemoaning the drops of blood that fell on his Gryffindor tie.
Looking around, I saw Potter already had his owl on his shoulder. It was hooting softly in his ear, and staring around. Eerily enough, it seemed to have developed a fixation on me, of all people. As I stared around the room for a couple of minutes, watching people interact with their owls, I caught Potter's staring at me several times.
I sighed. It seemed like Potter's owl had caught his Evans fascination. Bloody little feathery bugger.
"Now," McGonagall started once she had satisfied herself that every student had an identical bird sitting on their respective desks, "All your owls have been charmed to know your assigned correspondent. If I find that you have tried to counter this charm, either confound your owl or obiliviate it, the appropriate punishments will be given."
Merlin, McGonagall, what's with all the glares? It's like she expects us to try to mess up. I craned my neck around to glance at the Marauders in the back of the room and the unfortunate one sitting next to me. I suppose I wouldn't put it past them to bypass any extra rules just on principal either.
"That is all, you are dismissed," said McGonagall suddenly.
Thank Merlin! I quickly gathered my things, all the while ignoring Potter's unsuccessful stabs at conversation, and charged past other straggling Gryffindors to where Alice was flirting with Black.
"Alice!" I snapped my fingers in front of her face to get her attention.
Giving an annoyed huff, she turned to me. "Come on, Lily! Can't you see I'm busy here?" she narrowed her eyes, daring me to interrupt her again. She jerked her head at Black, who was smiling up at me, not unlike his mate, who by now had caught up to me and was sitting casually on top of Remus's desk.
Well. I have never backed down from a dare. Call it my innate Gryffindor bravery. Or stupidity, you know, depending on the situation. "Please Alice, we have to get to class. And I have to talk to you!"
She continued to gesture pointedly at Black. I saw that he had given up his silent and futile appeals to tell me to go away, and had engaged Potter in conversation. From what I could tell, it was over the gravely serious topic of canine hygiene. Boys are so weird.
"Ugh fine, Lily," Alice said, giving up.
I gave her a huge smile in return.
"I'll see you later, Sirius... James, Remus, Pete," she said, nodding at them in farewell.
"See you," Potter said in a friendly manner, clearly directing the goodbye at Alice, but staring fixedly at me.
"Let's go," I said, forcing a smile on my face, as I physically dragged Alice out of the transfiguration classroom by her elbow.
"Merlin, Lily," she said once we had cleared the classroom and were walking towards the owlery to drop off our newfound charges, "What's the big hurry?" she asked, rubbing the spot where I had grabbed her in my haste.
I gave her an appraising eye. "You left me all alone!" I accused hotly.
She looked at me with a bemused expression, petting her owl thoughtfully.
"With Potter?" I elaborated.
The flash of recognition on her face was quickly replaced with an expression of forced innocence. "Really?" she said calmly, continuing to stroke the owl's head, "I didn't..."
"Oh Alice, don't give me that," I said angrily. "Where were you?" I asked, searching her round face for any hint of her true intentions.
She responded to my question with a shrug, her deep brown eyes wide. "Like I said," she said defensively, "the hospital wing."
I gave her a disbelieving look.
"Really," she said loudly. "I tripped down the stairs on the way out of the Great Hall after breakfast."
I rolled my eyes. That was just so... Alice. Of course she would find a way for her extreme clumsiness to work to her advantage.
"So," she continued, "Longbottom nicely accompanied me to the Hospital Wing."
"Longbottom?" I frowned at the semi-unfamiliar name. I mean, going to a school with a class size of around fifty, it's inevitable that you've met everyone. It wasn't that I didn't know his name, just that I really didn't know anything about this mysterious fellow.
"Yeah, you know him, that bloke from Hufflepuff; that smart one who gets all those good marks in Herbology and Charms?" Alice searched my face for any sign of recognition. "Merlin Lily, you've spent six years worth of classes with the bloke," she broke off as I continued to stare at her blankly. "He claimed that he tripped me, and so insisted that he come with me to explain to Madam Pomfery, what happened."
Oh yeah. I remember him now; he sometimes went to the Slug Club parties. I had stopped going to those as of late. I personally wanted to keep some of my sanity. I swear, madness would soon be on the horizon if I was forced to listen to Slughorn's story about the Daily Prophet editor, the new chaser for the Holy Head Harpies and the Minister of Magic just one more time...
"Anyway," Alice continued, "He's kind of cute-"
"But what about Black?" I said, interrupting her. "You were flirting with him all through that special meeting. Right in front of McGonagall, no less," I said disapprovingly.
"I know," Alice sighed. "But that's nothing with Sirius." She gave me a winning smile. "Honestly, Lily, it's just a spot of fun. You may not know, but we witches usually enjoy interacting with wizards of high repute-"
I snorted. Black and 'high repute'? they really didn't belong in the same sentence. Or same paragraph, if you catch my drift. Let's just say that Black, for the past two years or so, has gone through women faster than Remus has with tissues during the flu season. I swear, that boy got sick every other week.
"and having, you know, fun?" She gave me a critical look. "You may not know what it is, Miss Evans, having never had such leisure time to experience the phenomenon commonly referred to as 'fun.' It's quite enjoyable, really, you should try it sometime." Alice finished her pseudo-lecture with a bracing pat on my back.
Seriously? "I have fun!" I protested.
Now it was Alice's turn to snort loudly. "No, Lily, studying does not count as 'having fun' by anyone's standards." She gave a shudder.
"That's not what I meant," I started. "I do lots of fun things..."
Alice smirked. "Yeah? Like what?" Her smile grew more pronounced as I floundered for examples to give her.
Merlin, I don't work well under pressure.
Well. Except when pressured to accept one of Potter's preposterous proposals; then biting comebacks just seemed to roll off my tongue. I mean, it's only Potter.
"Ah!" Alice burst out triumphantly. "See?" She poked me. "No fun."
"Then why are you my friend, if I'm so lacking in the fun department?" I grumbled as we marched up the owlery stairs.
Alice paused, debating her answer. "Because I took pity on you," she said condescendingly, patting me on the back consolingly.
I harrumphed. "More like I was the only non-slag in our dormitory and you could barely do a levitating charm by second year. And I, as the ultimate charms master, was the only person who could help you." I looked at her scowling face, my own smile getting bigger as she started to mutter ominously under her breath.
"Please," Alice said irritably, "Plenty of other people could help me. You were just too damn bossy and I didn't have the heart to tell you."
I pretended to be highly affronted. Eyes wide and hands thrown up in the air in a gesture of shock I spluttered, "Bossy? Me?" I made sounds of incredulity which were quickly drowned by Alice's laughter.
"Come on Lily, you know I love you and all, but sometimes you can be, er, slightly overbearing."
"Overbearing, my arse," I said flippantly as we reached the open door to the owlery.
Alice simply continued to laugh.
"Should we write a letter now?" I asked her, turning to look questioningly at my new owl. "To get one over with?"
Alice shook her head. "Naw, no time, I don't think." She held up her wrist to check her watch in the afternoon sun pouring in from the large windows of the owlery. "Only five minutes until class. Tell you what, how about we write one of these blasted things after dinner?"
"Sure," I agreed. My anticipation was not nearly enough to dominate my fear of getting to class late.
Damn what do I have next? I opened my rucksack to check my timetable.
"Transfiguration," I groaned.
"We just came from there," Alice complained despondently. "Better get going then." She stomped slowly toward the door.
I followed her. "You excited about his new letter thing we have to do?" I asked her as we walked down the stairs.
"Hell no," she said shortly. "My timetable's busy enough as it is. I have no time to write to some anonymous stranger, as romantic as that sounds."
"I don't know, you could get someone you could really connect with, you know?"
"I guess," came her dubious answer. "Knowing my luck, I'll probably get one of my pureblood crazy relatives. You know my mum, 'the Greengrasses have been around and pure of blood since the Teutonic knights; Alice you're a disgrace to our noble green and silver lineage!'" She gave a harsh laugh as she imitated her mother, who I have never met, with a strident high pitched voice. "What a load of rubbish." She shook her head.
"Mental," I agreed. Truthfully I was scared of getting a similar person. I mean, Hogwarts can proclaim their tolerance all they want, but the matter still stands that, despite what both of us joked about otherwise, I met Alice and become friends with her when she punched some Slytherin git in the mouth after he had set my shoes on fire. 'To match your mudblood hair' he had said before flames engulfed my feet.
Bringing myself back to the present, I belatedly heard Alice greet newcomers at the base of the owlery stairs. Quickly I jogged down to where I heard Alice's voice floating back to me.
Suddenly I wished that I could backtrack without looking like a complete idiot.
"Evans!" Ugh that boy made me hate my surname.
"Potter," I said curtly as I looked at all the Marauders gathered at the base of the stairs.
Potter opened his mouth to say something, probably one of his ridiculous date offers again, but thankfully Remus nudged him hard in the ribs, shutting him up before he could utter one more syllable.
"We're going back to class," Alice was saying to Black. "You?" she asked.
"Us too," Black confirmed, clapping a glaring Potter on the back. "After the owlery, of course," he added.
"Well, see you there," Alice said cheerfully, taking my arm and steering me away from the group of troublemakers.
We walked in silence for a few seconds until the boys were out of earshot. Suddenly I exclaimed, "I can't stand them!"
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Please, don't go on one of your 'I detest James Potter' rants again. I've heard it all before. Multiple times," she grimaced.
"Fine. I won't repeat myself, but-" I started
"'But,'" Alice muttered. "There's always a 'but.'" She sighed. "Look Lily I know you say that you hate-"
"What do you mean 'say' Alice?" I asked, completely baffled as to what she was getting at. "Of course I hate Potter. You would too if he asked you out every single bloody Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Sunday since fourth year."
Alice laughed. "Seriously? He's that regular?"
I gave a sharp nod.
"Anyway," she continued, "that's not the point I was trying to get at. What I mean to say is that I think you should give James a shot."
I gaped at her wordlessly.
"Don't look at me like that," Alice said huffily. "I only think that, if he's this persistent, he must really fancy you. Surely you can give the bloke a break? He's been waiting for what, three years?" She crossed her arms over her chest with some sort of finality.
Um no, Allie. That's not how it works.
"As if," I said shortly. "Potter's had other dates in the past."
Alice shrugged. "None of them mattered that much. It was mostly to add to his rep as a good snogger anyway. Why won't you say yes?" Alice asked, changing the subject.
I rolled my eyes. "Because he's an egotistical, arrogant prat who needs to have his enormous head deflated because it takes up too much oxygen in the room."
Alice threw me an exasperated look. "No, he's not."
I looked at her incredulously.
She tossed her hands up in the air in a gesture of annoyance. "He's changed," she explained.
I narrowed my eyes and threw her a sceptical look.
"Don't look at me like that," Alice said, hoisting her bag further up her shoulder as we entered the transfiguration classroom. "It's just that, well, when was the last time you saw James hexing someone for the hell of it? Or bossing around younger students like he did last year?"
Well. I guess those were legitimate points. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen Potter do any of those things in a while.
"Still," I said aloud, "he's still an obnoxious git who needs to stop asking me out every other day."
"But Lily, I thought he only did it Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays?" Alice asked mischievously.
"Don't be a smartarse. It's not becoming," I told her primly.
She laughed and took the seat next to me in the front of the classroom that had previously been occupied by Potter.
"But seriously Lily," Alice started, but was cut off by McGonagall.
"Settle down class!" McGonagall's gaze swept over the students, lingering on the Marauder infested corner. And so the Transfiguration class commenced, continued, and ended. Mostly without incident, thank Merlin.
"As I was saying," Alice continued, as if there had been no interruption, "I mean, he's Head Boy now, right? Dumbledore must have noticed that James has changed."
I gave her a look that clearly said, 'So?'
"All I'm saying is that you should at least try to see that he's different. Merlin's beard, I'm not asking you to proclaim you're love to the bloke."
"Yeah, because he's already done that. Twice!" I laughed hollowly.
"Oh yeah," Alice said, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. Clearly she was remembering that incident in the Great Hall in fifth year, and again in the beginning of sixth.
The first time everyone had been pleasantly amused to come into the Great Hall for dinner and find a giant scarlet and gold banner proclaiming, 'L. Evans loves J. Potter' in enormous red letters right above the teacher's table. Unfortunately, after everyone had gotten over their initial shock of the thing and had finished snickering, Potter had the not-so-smashing idea to cast a sonorous charm and shout, "How about it Evans? Come with me next Hogsmeade weekend?"
Publicly humiliated and probably with a face as red as a tomato, I had spat out, "Never in a million years would I ever even consider going out with the likes of you James Potter!" Then, classy as always, I had walked up to him and poured a whole pitcher of pumpkin juice on his stupid hair. Amidst the spluttering noises coming from Potter and howling laughter coming from the other Marauders, I had stalked out of the Great Hall.
The second time was worse. Naturally, just because Potter had gained a year in age did not mean in any way that he had gained any wisdom to match. In fact, I'm almost confident that he had become downright stupider during that time. He had been always one to go against the seemingly universal rules anyway. This time the Great Hall had been spared from any defiling hangings, but sadly the same could not be said for the rest of the castle. The day everyone came back from winter holidays they had found that the Marauders had run around the halls, scrawling 'JP + LE,' 'Evans and Potter' and even the occasional, 'Lily + Prongs 4 ever' on the staircases, walls, chairs, and there was even a rumour that a 'Lily loves James' had been inscribed on the Headmaster's desk. Later that day during dinner, Potter had asked me out again, yelling across the hall to the other end of the Gryffindor table where I was sitting, "Hey Evans! You, me, Hogsmeade next weekend?" with what he had supposed to be a charming smile.
To which I ha replied smiling just as brightly, "You, your ego, long walk, short pier, I'll see you when your body resurfaces from the lake, yeah?" and then stormed out, mortified, to the sound of gales of laughter in my wake.
"Yes, well..." Alice coughed delicately, most assuredly hiding a small chuckle, "He hasn't done anything that outrageous yet, has he?"
"No. But that doesn't mean it's not coming," I muttered darkly. "I wouldn't put anything past their lot." I jerked my head toward the back of the classroom where I could hear Remus giving a quiet lecture to the rest of his friends. It seemed to be on the proper etiquette acceptable in classrooms.
Ha! Good luck with that one Remus, old pal. Not that it hasn't sunk in during the past fifty times you've given that speech, or anything.
"Whatever. The marauders are their own business. I just thank my lucky stars that Potter hasn't been a completely incompetent Head Boy," I said as I got up from my seat to leave.
"Aha! So you do acknowledge that he's matured!" Alice exclaimed, jumping up and following me out the door.
Humph. "That's inconsequential when talking about my love life."
"No, it's not Lily!" Alice said earnestly, looking directly into my eyes. "Didn't you tell him that you'd accept one date when he grew up?"
"I did," I said. As Alice prepared to do some sort of victory dance right in the middle of the corridor, I continued on quickly, "But, you seem to have forgotten the second part of my deal with Potter."
Alice gave me a bemused look.
"He has to deflate that overly large head of his before I consider willingly spending more than five minutes in his company," I said smartly, turning up the stairs to head to Gryffindor tower.
"Fine," Alice said grumpily. "I'll give you that."
"What's with the Potter inquisition?" I asked her appraisingly.
Alice scratched the back of her head. "Er, during all your head duties, I've been bored!" She paused, "And, um, there's no one else to hang out with, so I've been spending most of my free time with Sirius, Remus and Pete."
I rolled my eyes. "No one else?"
"No one," Alice repeated determinedly. "And, although I know you're at loath to admit it, but they're quite funny to listen to."
I didn't respond. Sure, the Marauders were funny, no one in their right mind could argue against that. But it was that they just broke so many school rules...as Head Girl I couldn't let them get away with all of that, could I?
"Let's go to dinner." Alice's voice broke though my thoughts.
"Sure." I sighed. It was going to be a long year.
A/N: Next chapter is from James's POV