Disclaimer: If only I had as brilliant of a creative mind as JK Rowling...well, it probably wouldn't be so difficult for me to update or follow through with one story...
A/N: Well, this is slightly embarrassing, considering this is my third attempt at a story within a time period of about four months (see my profile for more information on Encoded Charm and Solar Powered). Please, try not to judge me. :) Okay, I'm going to take some time to defend my decision to start this story and actually finish it (and, yes, you all can hold me to that promise, because I WILL finish this one if it's the last thing I do!). First of all, this story is going to take place in Lily and James's summer after their sixth year. And I love summer. Not to mention that I'm in summer mode right now, so this story is all up in my alley. It's lighthearted, happy, and, well to be clichéd, sunny. Also, I relate to the Lily in this story a lot, so it's fun for me to write her, because it's sort of like personal therapy sessions or something...and I can not believe I just said that. Hehe. Aw, well. You're my readers, so I might as well be honest with you all. And for all of you who are brand new to my random ramblings, I'm really not insane. I swear. Cross my heart, hope (not) to die.
So, here in America, it's still June 21st, which is actually the FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF SUMMER! And, the weather here just started getting nice, so it's a sign for the promise of this story and my wonderful pool weather. :) Sorry to all of you who aren't in America or on pacific coast time, because your first day of summer has probably already passed without you even realizing it. But never fear, this chapter will bring that glorious day and the feeling associated with it back. Or, at least I hope it does. And, I just had to publish this story on this date...you'll see why once you've finished this chapter.
As usual, feel free to scroll down and enjoy yourself in this new story of mine. I'm really excited guys (and I know I've said that in the past), but this time it's different, because I'm going back to my roots. Good old Lily and James, when things between them were still confusing, yet light and flirtatious. Ah, I'm so excited to write this. Just thinking about all of my ideas...AH! So stocked.
I hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 1: If I had a Galleon for Every Time I Said Something Stupid…
You wear your smile like a summer sky
Just shining down on me and you
I swear your heart is a free bird
On a lazy Sunday afternoon
I love the way that you were up for anything
Never worried 'bout what people say
That's right, oh that's right
What we got is
Just like driving on an open highway
Never knowing what we're gonna find
Just like two kids, baby, always trying to live it up
Whoa, yeah, that's our kind of love
-Our Kind of Love, Lady Antebellum
What a glorious day. I pranced down the front entrance of the most beautiful, wonderful school in either the Muggle or magical world, kicking off my sandals without abandon as I reached the last step. They flew a little farther than was necessary, but that was just fine. My toes gingerly pressed upon the tickling springy grass, reveling in its sweetness, its comfort. I'd always felt as if grass had its own distinct scent—something like lawn mowers and swimming pools. As I bent down to retrieve my shoes, the sun shone down onto my back, the warmth of it sending tingles up my spine into my hairline, thawing out every inch of me.
June 21st. The first official day of summer.
And it wasn't as if the weather were any better today than it had been on the twentieth—well, it had hailed for ten minutes yesterday, but this was Scotland. Unplanned rain showers were more than expected, they were planned for, but still…the first official day.
There was just something about summer. It wasn't only the fact that summer happened to be the season of a much deserved break from examinations and papers. In fact, I still had a few weeks until all of the stress of memorization of potion ingredients and practicing of wand movements were behind me. No, it wasn't just the no-schoolwork clause that had me smiling so much. Ever since I'd been little, I'd always adored summers. The sun and the warmth it exuded…it was almost as if it had its own distinctive smell of golden apples and lemonade. It made me feel secure, as if nothing could touch me under the protection of the sun's fingers. As if everything was right with the world. Or rather, as if the world wanted to make everything right. Fighting the darkness with one flower petal and swimming costume at a time.
I tossed my book bag onto the earth near the lake, placing myself beside it so that I was out of the shade, closing my eyes against the brightness and wiggling my toes. At home, I had my own hammock in our family garden to do my summer homework. But here, at Hogwarts, I had marked my studying space in a rather grassier part of the grounds—a part where it seemed a lawn mower had never trespassed—near the lake where I had easy access to the water's edge. The flow of the current and the sloshing noise of the water as it splashed up against the shore put me in a hazy daze.
From my current vantage point of lying flat on the ground on my back, the girl's face was masked in a shadow, obscured by the sun that was hidden behind her head. Her long, black hair fell towards me as she leaned over. I groaned at her for blocking my rays. "Sit down, Chadna. Enjoy yourself," I invited my friend, shutting my eyes again.
She laughed. "Summer syndrome," she commented as she plopped down beside me.
"I'll study tomorrow," I complained. "Today's the first day of summer; I'll never get it back again."
"Until next year," she retorted.
I sat up onto my elbows, smirking at my dark-skinned friend. "It's not summer's fault that you have flocks of boys waiting for you in London."
She pulled up a handful of grass from its roots and threw it at me. "Arranged marriage is so not me." And her point was aptly made. Tradition was not something that fit well with my best friend. In fact, everything about her screamed that she was determined to be her own person. I looked at her gold nose ring, her loose, flowing top that she'd made out of her red bed hangings, and her shorts that weren't booty-pants by any means but short enough to send her mum into a heart attack, not to mention the Firewhiskey bottle tops she'd replaced the buttons with …Chadna was simply that. Herself. Which clashed with her home life.
Chadna's parents had moved to England from India after their marriage nearly twenty years ago. While her father had studied at the Wizarding school there, her mum was a very traditionalist Muggle who wanted her daughter to have the best of both worlds; English witch and Indian woman. Her mother was fighting for Chadna to agree to an arranged marriage, something that Chadna found ridiculous seeing as her mother hadn't had one; it had become a two year argument that her dad had tried to stay out of. Unfortunately, Chadna wanted little to do with the Muggle university graduates who were on their way to becoming doctors or lawyers, men who her mother deemed as worthy.
An awful glint appeared in her brown eyes then as she said, "I wonder what my mum would do if I brought home Sirius Black."
"Probably beat you over the head with a Buddha."
She rolled her eyes dramatically at me. "She's Hindu, Lily."
"Fine. Hit you with karma then."
Chadna laughed shortly, before resorting back to her pout. I hated people who could still look cute while scowling…I simply looked like an enraged hippogriff, or rather like a hippogriff had gotten a hold of my face. Her gaze drifted to the other side of the lake. "I hate summers."
"Well," I began, "you know what they say?" I made a large hand gesture in the air that formed the shape of a very misshapen heart. "Summer's the season of love."
"Speaking of love," she began before nodding off to where she'd been staring a few seconds earlier. I followed her line of sight and automatically frowned. For on the other side of the lake, a group of boys were rolling and ducking as if they were having a play-duel, their laughter and shouts carrying over to us. One of the boys, the one with incredibly messy hair on a head so big that I was surprised his neck could support its weight, seemed to have sensed our presence. His face turned right towards mine, and he waved enthusiastically before his friend jumped him from behind.
I quickly looked down and away. "And there goes my perfect day," I muttered. "Do you think I should go over there and bust them for using magic outside of the school?" I fingered my Prefect's badge thoughtfully.
"Only if you want to give James a chance to ask you out," Chadna responded.
I bit my lip and then smiled. "At least they're not hurting anyone."
"Other than themselves," Chadna continued as James Potter hoisted Sirius Black up into the air by his ankle with a flick of his wrist...not that I could see their antics that closely from this far away, but I could see the wand protruding from Potter's hand. For some reason, that little charm had become extremely popular among the students at Hogwarts. I was almost positive its popularity had been bolstered by Potter's and Black's use of it, to be honest. Not that I approved…most of the time. Some of the time, the two best mates actually could be amusing. When they weren't humiliating some poor innocent first year, that is.
I pulled my bag towards me, slipping out my Transfiguration textbook, the one class that seemed to be written in Goblin language-to me anyways-and the exam that I would have first come July 2nd. "They haven't been so bad this year," I mumbled distractedly, trying to drown out the boys' shouts so that I could concentrate. "All things considered."
She was still watching the group of friends, a faint smile on her face. "By all things considered," she started, "do you mean their never ceasing abuse of Severus Snape or James's constantly hopeless Hogsmeade proposals?"
Wrinkling my nose in distaste, I responded, "Both."
"Well," Chadna stated, "at least you don't have to worry about your mum arranging your nuptials with James."
"Back to that, are we?" I joked lightly.
Without any warning whatsoever—and some sort of S.O.S notice would have been helpful—a voice came up from behind me, causing us both to jump and sending my textbook from my lap onto a one-way crash course with my toe rather painfully. "Been talking about marrying me, Evans?"
For the moment, I ignored my throbbing big toe. Where in the name of Dumbledore's left sock had he come from? As I turned around to throw him a rather witty insult, I got my answer. He was straddling his precious broomstick, hovering six inches off of the ground. Prat. "Only in my nightmares, Potter," I shot back.
"I knew you thought about me," he said as he hopped off of his broom gracefully, planting both of his feet on the ground shoulder width a part. A stance of control, power; I swear, his Quidditch captaincy had really gone to his head this term. His hand automatically flew to his hair, mussing it up even more than the breeze had. He had an annoying habit of doing that when near me; it was annoying because it actually made his hair look inviting, all fluffed up and casual, like he didn't have a care in the world…Of course, I would never tell him that.
"Yes. Congratulations, Potter. My thoughts have come up with multiple murder possibilities. In fact, you're at the top of my hit list."
The way his hazel eyes sparkled caused me to immediately regret the words that had just come out of my mouth. Trust James Potter to turn the worst of insults into some form of a compliment. It was like rude words simply bounced off of his thick skull. "You're welcome to hit on me whenever you like, Evans." He threw his arms open wide and winked roguishly. Chadna stifled her laugh into a cough.
I glared. "Can I use your Beater bat?"
He smirked wider. "Using Quidditch terminology now?"
It was a good thing that it took a lot to make me blush. Git. Pervy git. I really had to learn to think before I opened my mouth, especially when it came to dealing with boy-wonder Potter. His hormonal brain could flip anything I said. Boys. I pushed my red curls out of my face and over my shoulder agitatedly. "You're such a prick," I told him, playing it safe and resorting to good old name calling.
Make of that what you will, Potter.
Chadna sighed incredibly loudly, throwing us both a look that clearly said that she didn't approve of being ignored.
Potter seemed to catch Chadna's disapproval as well, and his amused chuckles continued as he sat down cross legged beside me, his broomstick on his other side. "Hullo, Chadna," he greeted, throwing a wink in her direction, his smile easy. "What are you beautiful ladies up to?" he asked, looking between the two of us.
Psh. He thought he was so charming.
"Actually," Chadna answered, "I was just about to head inside—" She turned to me—"to send an owl back to my parents."
As quick as a cobra ready to reel in some unsuspecting baby mouse, I clapped her on the shoulder, gripping it with a hold worthy of Gryffindor's Seeker on the Snitch. "Chad—" I shook her slightly—"I'm sure you can do that later." I gave her that pointed look, the look that clearly told her that under no circumstances should she leave me with Quidditch boy unless she wanted to suffer my wrath later.
She patted my hand. To be honest, my wrath couldn't even compare to that of a bumblebee's. No wonder she never took me seriously. "If I want to remain unwed for another few years, this letter really can't wait." With a nod to Potter, she shifted her shoulder out from underneath my grasp. "Be careful with her, James."
"Don't worry, we'll have a baby by the time you get back."
"Hands to yourself, Potter," I immediately countered.
"Last time I checked, hands weren't a necessary participant." I shoved him away in disgust as he grinned eerily. "Hands to yourself, Evans," he mocked me. Instantly, I gripped them into fists in my lap to keep them away from my wand.
Too late it seemed, I turned my attention back to my friend. She never did like being the odd third person—she would usually just leave so that she wouldn't have to put herself through it. In horror, I watched her get up. She met my accusatory glare with a shrug. "What?" she defended herself, "when you two get going at it, I feel like a third wheel on an awkward outing with my parents on their anniversary at a fancy Indian Cuisine buffet."
"We'll double sometime," Potter said joyfully, his smirk a little too pronounced as he glanced at me, "I'm sure Sirius would love it." I threw his arm off of me as soon as it had touched my shoulders.
"Please," I begged her, eyes wide.
"I'll come back as soon as my letter is sent to make sure neither one of you is on the Giant Squid's dinner menu." She waved before turning her back on us, a hideous grin across her lips. "Play nicely."
My arms crossed across my chest defensively, habitually coiling away from his presence, drawing my legs to my side and placing my bum on top of my feet. I placed my weight onto my left hand, leaning away from him. He just grinned innocently. I had half a mind to follow Chadna back into the castle, but it was such a nice day, and I still had two hours of daylight left. It would be such a waste. My love for summer beat out my dislike for Potter's antics. Instead of tolerating his presence, however, I decided to ignore it as I pulled my Transfiguration book back towards me.
It was silent for one special moment, though it was made all the more uncomfortable by the holes Potter's gaze seemed to be drilling into my body. Sighing, I flipped the page.
"I could help with that, you know," he finally said.
"You're right," I agreed, "You transfigure yourself into the world's largest prat quite frequently. If that's not talent, I don't know what is."
"I can also turn Sirius into a chauvinistic pig, but I'm not one for bragging."
His response actually pulled a short bout of laughter out of me. Encouraged, he ruffled his hair some more. I averted my stare back to my book. It would be stupid to deny Potter's blasted good looks. He was rather handsome, though not classically so. His boyish grin, rather thin frame, and the black rimmed glasses that adorned his long nose gave him more of an adorable look. After all, he played Quidditch; he wasn't a heavyweight champion.
So, yes, he was attractive. James Potter was the height of cool. Even he knew it. Which was the part that wasn't attractive. Our personalities were complete opposites, which I supposed was what enabled us to shoot insults and comebacks at each other like two people who'd been cursed with a babbling charm.
I felt him staring at me again, and I tugged at the ends of my hair distractedly. My eyes roamed over the words on the page without really taking them in. Curse him. If I failed my Transfiguration exam I would have no one but him to blame.
"Hey, Evans," he said after a while. "Question for you."
I often wondered why I even bothered answering him. "What is it, Potter?"
"How about dinner tonight?"
Inwardly, I sighed. "When pigs fly."
It was as if I could picture his smirk just by the tone of his voice. "Technically speaking, one little Transfiguration charm could turn your wish into my demand."
Bullocks. I hated when Muggle sayings didn't hold up to magical standards. And I wouldn't inflame his ever swelling ego by telling him how impressive it would be if he could transfigure a pig into some sort of winged animal. And, blimey, how did he always do that? It was as if he spent his nights thinking up of clever sayings that could counteract any possible thing I could ever say to him.
"But you're right," he continued, without giving me a chance to redeem myself, "dinner is far to clichéd for our first date."
Giving up, I shut my book. To hell with it. The sun would be just as good tomorrow. Hopefully. After all, this was Scottish weather I was placing my hope upon. "I dunno what you know about dating, Potter, but typically the other person involved has to agree to a date before there is a first."
"You haven't declined it though."
I grinned shortly, standing up. "Sorry for the miscommunication, then. This is me, politely declining." I scooped up my bag into my arms and began to walk away.
His large, calloused hand closed around my upper arm. "Alright, I've got it," he announced, falling into step beside me and casually ignoring my not so subtle 'no'. "Our first date—we'll go on a picnic; you like the outdoors."
I was slightly surprised by how he knew that about me. Although, come to think of it, we had lived in the same confinements for nearly six whole years. After all, I knew that he hated chicken noodle soup, so I supposed we were even. "And a picnic isn't as clichéd as a dinner?"
"Not when it's a picnic on brooms."
I eyed his Cleansweep wearily. "And have you showoff by performing flips and dives, and we end up losing our lunch to the ground?"
He looked at me for a moment, his forehead scrunched together in thought. "That did make my idea lose its romantic edge."
"A study date, then," he continued. "I'll help you with McGonagall's class."
Did he never give up? He was too persistent for his own good. "I've already had plenty of first dates with my textbooks, Potter."
He ran in front of me, stopping my feet in their tracks. The brightness in his eyes made me aware that he had turned the true meaning of whatever I had said upside down once again. "So, you're looking for something more." His eyebrows rose up his forehead suggestively, his teeth gleaming against his red lips as they turned upwards.
My patience was really starting to wane, which was dangerous because patience had never been a strong point of mine. Well, I should say that my patience was really only low when I felt like other people were getting the better of me. Call it pride. Call it stubbornness. Whichever. But when it was gone, it exploded, and I usually ended up saying or doing something I'd regret later. Run-ins with my sister had proved that enough times.
"I'll let you know when I see him," I responded, pushing past him.
"Will you see him over the summer?"
I groaned. "I dunno, Potter."
"Well, you are now." He held his arms out, as if it would be a delicious treat if I were to accept him with whipped cream and all. "A Muggle date. You can show me how it's done."
His voice was starting to pound against my temple. It was the whole flirtatious 'I'm-going-to-talk-big-so-people-think-I'm-big' tone that really riled me up. Because, really, I knew for a fact that he hadn't been on more than three dates during our six years at Hogwarts. And only one of them had moved on to a second date. He just talked as if he was such a ladies man to up his cool. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Potter."
There was an intake of breath as he pointed to himself. "Me? That was completely innocent on my part," he retorted, lying on the whole innocent façade so thickly that I'm sure bubotber pus would have looked to have the consistency of water next to it.
"Innocent my arse," I muttered. He just grinned.
"So, what do you say, Evans? Let me visit you this summer."
I just couldn't take it anymore. I snapped. He just kept pushing and shoving and poking his way into my delicate brain, testing my will power, breaking down my endurance. And in an act of pure insanity on my part, I agreed to his nonstop proposals for the first time in Evans-Potter history. I also blamed it on the fact that the mere mention of summer seemed to even make the most hideous of prospects appear somewhat endearing. And I found myself nodding. Maybe Chadna would ship me off to St. Mungo's later. I deserved it.
So, I threw up my arms as my voice snapped, "Fine, Potter." I really hated it when my mouth worked too fast for my more rational brain to catch up with it. My mother had always said that my spontaneity would be my downfall.
He paused shortly, and in that split second, my brain jumped into rewind mode, replaying everything that had just happened. For a second, I froze. What had he done to me? Well, that answer was easy. He'd done what he'd always been able to do. His talent of pushing the right buttons to send me into moments of insanity was uncanny. My head was spinning; I felt drunk. I swallowed. He wouldn't…he couldn't…
Wait. He couldn't. He really couldn't. It wasn't as if he even knew what town I lived in, let alone which house number.
"Honestly?" He asked incredulously. Yep. That's right, Potter. It was too good to be true, wasn't it?
I tried to fix my sudden lapse of judgment. Make known that I hadn't willingly given in for no reason at all. As if he hadn't been the one to force the answer out of me. "If it will get you to shut up."
Suddenly, his hand was in front of my face, palm up, waiting for a handshake. "Deal."
I backtracked. "That means no more date propositions for the rest of the year," I clarified, eyes narrowed.
I felt slightly sick as I looked into his shining yet determined face. Perhaps I'd just given him a bit too much hope to fuel his ever consistent ego. And hope was like water to him. It gave him strength. It wasn't as if I would actually allow him to come to my house. That would consist of me handing him my address which slightly frightened me. I could easily wake up in the morning and see that he had turned my house inside out; after all, we were allowed to use magic this summer, as we were both seventeen now. Not to mention that he had a habit of creating a ruckus wherever he went, whether it be a classroom, detention, or the seventh floor staircase. As Prefect, I'd had to clean up after him and his friends enough times…granted, the solution was simply a cleaning charm, but still, the intention was there.
Yeah, definitely a bad idea. Besides, I felt like he stalked me enough at school.
And yet, if there was one thing I knew about Potter it was that he was competitive. He would never forget this, especially since, for some reason, this seemed rather important to him. I really wasn't that special, or interesting for that matter.
"So," Potter broke the silence again, "aren't you going to tell me where you live?" As I glanced at him, it became obvious that he didn't actually expect me to give him the answer. His tone was sarcastically mocking, his mouth turned upwards into a half smirk, as if he were challenging me to stop this…game? The most obnoxious part was that he knew I wouldn't let him get the best of me.
Suddenly, everything was very clear. I was an idiot, and there was nothing I could do to undo this. Because putting a stop to this now would only make Potter feel as if he'd won. Winner by forfeit. Besides, how was James Potter going to figure out where I lived? It wasn't as if Hogwarts had a directory book. I'd never signed up for the Ministry's white pages. I chuckled at the thought. I began to feel better about this; I mean, what were the odds? Surely, he'd find something better to do with his summer, like blowing up trees with his wand. I turned to stare at him from the corner of my eye.
"That's for me to know, and you—I pray to Godric—to never find out."
He stared back, his hazel eyes hard with resolve. "The challenge is on, Evans."
Oh, Godric. The glint in his eyes shone gold and bright.
What had I just done?
I'd officially just set him the challenge of figuring out my address. Where there was a will, there was a way...Merlin, I really hoped that Potter didn't have a will.
My moronic mouth had done it again. Really, it amazed me how I could muck up the simplest of things. And summer was supposed to be pure, untouched.
James Potter was a schmuck.
So, what else could I do? I looked him square in the eye, fighting the hope there with my own unbeatable determination to win this match. I grabbed his hand, shaking it firmly. "May the best Witch win, Potter."
Yay. Chapter 1! I hope you all had an amazing first official day of summer, even if you didn't have your own personal James Potter asking you out. As for this story, I'm going to attempt to post a new chapter every Monday, or every other Monday, depending on how long the chapters turn out to be. Why Mondays, you ask? Well, I work all day Monday through Fridays and writing over the weekends helps relax me. Thus, I should have the following chapter finished on Mondays, and I'll post them when I get home from work. Probably around the same time as this one (8pm PCT). And, besides, the prospect of a new chapter will make my Monday's just that much better...and hopefully your's as well.
But, please, let me know what you think of this story. Leave a review, a nice little message, or maybe a not-so-nice message depending on whether or not this chapter was your cup of tea. I just really like to hear from you guys. :)
Chapter 2 has already been written, so hopefully I'll talk to you all next Monday. Until then, write me a message, have a great week, and make sure to always me on the lookout for your James Potter or Lily Evans!