The Perfect Proposal
By Molly The Monster
Setting: December 1978
James still hadn't arrived. And it wasn't like him to be late.
Lily Evans paced across the floor of the living room of her flat in London. She peered at her watch to see that it was five thirty. James should have been there half an hour ago. Lily wandered over to the window and looked out. It was a lovely day outside. The sun was high in the sky and there wasn't a cloud in sight. Muggle cars whizzed by and Muggles walked down the street, minding their own business.
She crossed her arms over her chest and stared out the window. Where in the world was he? Normally Lily wouldn't give it a second thought. People are allowed to be late occasionally. But James had been starting to act very strange and even worse, he had started acting secretive. He was always late and he would always stop what he was doing whenever Lily walked into a room that he was in. Lily may have been young, but she was certainly not naive. She knew when someone was hiding something from her. And James was definitely hiding something from her.
The sound of jingling keys came from the other side of the door and Lily whipped her head around. The door swung open to reveal not only James, but her friend and roommate Melanie Willingham.
"Look who I ran into downstairs," Melanie said cheerily and James followed in behind her. She was carrying three large shopping bags. Lily couldn't tell where they were from.
"What's in the bags?" Lily asked curiously.
"Nothing!" James responded immediately, looking slightly nervous.
Lily raised an eyebrow curiously. "It's nothing, really," said Melanie, giving Lily a reassuring smile.
"How about I take these to your room, Mel?" James asked, but he didn't wait for a response before taking the bags out of her hands. He disappeared through a door. Lily gave Melanie a look, but she just shrugged unknowingly. James appeared back into the living room. "Well, I best be off."
Lily was puzzled. "You're–you're leaving? I thought we were going out," she reminded him, hoping he would remember.
James shifted uncomfortably. "Er, yeah, but something came up. I can't stay," he said sounding slightly nervous.
Lily was still confused. "What do you have to do?" she asked, wondering why James was canceling their plans. What was it that was so important that he had to go and do it instead of having dinner with her like he promised?
"Oh, it's nothing," he said, trying to sound like whatever it was that he had to do was no big deal.
But that wasn't going to be enough for her. She crossed her arms over her chest. "So you're going to break out plans to do nothing?" What was he trying to hide from her?
"Oh, I think I hear, er, my mother calling," said Melanie, obviously making a lame excuse to leave. She quickly disappeared into her bedroom and shut the door behind her. Melanie liked to meddle in other people's business–after four years of being her best friend, Lily knew that much–so she was terribly confused as to why Melanie was deciding to bail on her now.
"Lily, something came up," he said, trying to sound as serious as possible. "It's no big deal, really." He moved slowly toward the door, watching Lily carefully. "You don't have to worry or anything." But of course, when someone told Lily Evans not to worry, she decided it would be a good idea to worry.
"James–" Lily began, but he was already halfway out the door.
He stuck his head back in the door. "I really have to go. Love you," he said and then the door slammed shut.
"I love you, too," she said, more to herself than anyone else because James was already gone.
What in the bloody hell was that all about? "Melanie!" Lily called. She'd get this out of her friend somehow. She went to her friends door and banged on it.
"Yes?" Melanie asked innocently, opening the door to her bedroom and standing in front of Lily.
Lily wasn't buying her I-know-absolutely-nothing attitude. "What's up with James?" she asked suspiciously, eyeing Melanie.
Melanie shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. Like I said, I just ran into him downstairs," she said simply but it sounded to Lily like she was being careful with her words.
"What's in the bags?" Lily asked when she spotted them in the corner of Melanie's room. She made a move to go into the room, but Melanie immediately grabbed her shoulders to stop her.
"Nothing!" she said immediately, much like James had said. Lily was about to protest when Melanie added, "Christmas gifts. And one of them is for you. No peeking!" Melanie reached into her pocket, pulled out her wand and waved it behind her, lifting the bags and putting them into her closet. "You wouldn't want to ruin the surprise." Melanie was so convincing, Lily almost started to believe it. But she knew Melanie all too well. And Melanie was definitely hiding something. Something that probably had to do with James and what she had in those bags.
Lily decided to leave it alone. For the time being anyway. The next day when Melanie was out, Lily tried to sneak into her room to see what was in the bags. However, Melanie must have done a good job hiding them because Lily checked virtually everywhere and she didn't find a single one. There was nothing in there that looked suspicious or that hadn't been in there before. Damn, Melanie was good. Lily knew she was good, but not that good.
This was something far beyond Christmas presents. But what was it?
The next few days progressed much like that first day. James declined her invitations to spend time together, Melanie was barely home. And Lily couldn't help but think they were always together. On more than one occasion, Melanie mentioned something funny James had said or done that Lily didn't recall so she must not have been there. And Melanie was acting weird. Constantly asking Lily what was her favorite food, who was her favorite composer, what was her idea of the most romantic date. Strange questions like that. But why?
Almost two weeks after the first incident, Melanie came through the door looking happy as ever. And Lily had a feeling it reached far beyond the fact that tomorrow was Christmas Eve. "Evening Lily!" she said when she saw Lily in the kitchen.
"Hey Mel. How's it going?" she asked, trying her best not to sound suspicious or accusatory. She tried to sound relaxed, calm and most importantly casual. But today was the day. She was going to figure out what all of this crap was about.
Melanie looked around as if she was looking for something. "I'm fine," she said lightly, walking into the kitchen. She started going through the cabinets quickly, still as if she was trying to find something.
"What are you looking for?" Lily asked.
"Oh, nothing," she said as if she wasn't just flinging open all the cabinet doors. "I can't find it anyway. So, um, I'm going out." She closed the last of the cabinet doors and headed toward the front door.
"What? You just got back. Where are you going?" Lily asked, a swirl of questions in her head. This could not possibly be normal behavior. Lily was supposed to be getting answers from Melanie now, she didn't need her running out already.
Melanie looked a bit nervous. Or maybe Lily was just imagining things. "Oh, um, nowhere. Just going to get something to eat for dinner," she replied with a smile.
"Oh, great, I'll come with you," Lily said, looking around for her purse quickly.
"No!" Melanie practically shouted the second Lily offered to come along.
If Melanie wasn't acting suspicious before, she was certainly acting suspicious now. "Why not?" Lily asked, once again trying not to sound suspicious. The two of them going out to dinner would give Lily plenty of time to interrogate her about what was going on. But Lily had a feeling that Melanie wasn't going to give much up.
Melanie stood by the front door, still in her winter jacket and Gryffindor scarf. Lily loved how Melanie still wore that thing. "Er, well," Melanie began and it almost sounded like she was racking through her brain for an excuse. "It's kind of, well." Lily eyed her, but she was still trying not to look like she was suspicious. "I'm going on a date. But you know, it's a new relationship, a guy I just met. I don't want to jinx anything but talking about it. Gotta go. Bye!" And she was out the door before Lily had the chance to ask any more questions.
But Lily knew Melanie was lying. She knew her well enough to be able to tell. And Lily needed answers. She needed serious answers.
Before she had a plan on what she was going to do, she grabbed her coat, her purse and she was out the front door. Good thing Melanie was slow. As soon as Lily got down the stairs she spotted Melanie walking out the front door. She felt like a stalker as she followed Melanie, and she was terrified of what Melanie would do if she noticed, but, like always, Melanie was off in her own fantasy world as she wove through the streets of London.
Lily hung back when Melanie arrived at her destination. It was a quaint little restaurant. Perhaps Lily was just being paranoid and Melanie really was going on a date. But of course, curiosity killed the cat. Lily snuck inside and sat herself at a table some distance from Melanie but she could still see her. She lifted the menu up and hid behind it.
A feeling of horror washed over Lily when she realized who Melanie sat down across from. The two of them had been ditching her to spend time with each other? Melanie and James were leaning over the table, discussing something very intently. Lily wasn't sure how long she sat there watching them. That stalker feeling was coming back. But she wanted some answers. Several times the waiter came up to her and asked her if she wanted anything, but she just kept asking for water. He was getting angry, probably thinking she was some kind of psychotic homeless person who couldn't pay for actual food. Eventually she ordered tea, just to shut him up.
They weren't doing anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. They were just talking. Well, at first they were. Melanie reached into her back pocket and pulled something out. Lily couldn't tell what it was because she was too far away, but it looked like a little red box. Next thing she knew, James' face lit up and he reached across the tabled, pulled her face towards his and planted a big, fat kiss on Melanie's cheek.
And that was enough to set Lily off. She slammed her menu down on the table, her tea falling over and spilling everywhere. Several people turned to see what the commotion was, including Melanie and James. They didn't seem to realize what was going on or who was there until they really looked. When James and Melanie realized that it was Lily causing all the commotion, Melanie and James looked like they had just seen a ghost. Well, if seeing a ghost was a paranormal occurrence for three young witches and wizards. The two stared at her until she stalked out of the restaurant.
She was so angry, so upset, so hurt, so betrayed. She didn't even know what she was. Everything was blurry from her tears. But she felt more angry than upset. At least she thought she did. She couldn't even think straight.
Somehow, she managed to make it back to her flat. And in one piece. She couldn't even begin to describe what was going on through her head. She knocked over a vase that was on the counter onto the ground, the glass shattering, water spilling everywhere and the flowers laying helplessly on the ground.
Sometime later, as she was stalking back and forth, she heard the rustle of keys outside. The door opened, but Lily had locked the door chain, so it only opened several inches.
She heard Melanie's voice outside. "Lily, open the door," she said like she was running out of patience.
"No," Lily stated simply, hot tears filling the corners of her eyes.
When she turned around, however, James was coming into the apartment, tucking his wand into his back pocket. "How quickly you forget these things," he said with a bit of a smile on his face. Did he think this was somehow funny? Melanie was nowhere in sight. Good, because if she was around, Lily might have killed her on the spot. Or at least cursed her.
Lily turned away from him, crossing her arms over her chest. "You can leave now," she said.
"Can I ask you a question?" he asked, and Lily was sure that even if she said no, he would have asked anyway. When she didn't respond, James must have taken that as his cue to continue. "Why were you following Melanie?" He sounded a bit angry. As if she had done something wrong. It was a good thing she had followed her.
But Lily didn't say anything. He was in no position to be interrogating her. "What were you doing with her?" she asked quietly, though she was almost positive she wouldn't get an honest answer.
James didn't respond right away. "We were eating dinner. It was nothing, really," he insisted, though Lily knew exactly what was going on.
"Then why didn't Melanie tell me about it?" she asked, her voice getting louder and stronger with each word.
James sighed. "I don't know. Why don't you ask her?"
"Because if you haven't noticed, she's not here," Lily pointed out. Her voice was bitter.
"Look, Lily–" James began, but Lily didn't want to hear it.
"Just leave," she said, her back still to him. "I don't want to talk to you. Ever. Just leave and don't bother coming back."
James groaned in frustration. "Why must you always be so suspicious of everything?" James shouted, frustration prevalent in his voice. "Why can't you leave anything alone and just trust me for once?" It wasn't like James to blow up like that. Lily usually did most of the yelling. It was that temper of hers that went along with the red hair. She was a bit taken aback. She didn't even know where it came from.
"Why in the world are you sneaking around behind my back?" Lily challenged, shouting back at him. "And with my best friend no less you disgusting...filthy...jerk!" Normally Lily was a lot more skilled with her insults. But this time was different. This wasn't James making fun of Severus. This wasn't an argument with Sirius. This was something real. This was the realization that James was sneaking around with her best friend. This was the ultimate betrayal. Her anger was so strong, so intense that she could barely think. Words were coming out of her mouth before she knew what they were. She was so hot with anger, she was sure that her face was an even deeper shade of red than her hair.
James let out a grown of frustration. "Why couldn't you just trust me?" James shouted again and Lily felt that the argument was going to go around in circles all night.
"Because obviously that trust would have been misplaced," she informed him, her voice still so loud that she was sure the Muggles in the street could hear her. "After all, I did catch you snogging my best friend. And don't you worry, she's going to get her fair share of the wrath of Lily as soon as she decides to come back."
"I was not snogging Melanie!" James cried incredulously. He seemed almost insulted by the accusation. His face softened a bit when he admitted the next part. "I kissed her one time to thank her for helping me with something! And it wasn't even on the mouth!" But Lily knew what she saw. "I kissed her in a fit of excitement because she helped me plan a really important surprise for you that you are ruining right now!"
Lily didn't respond right away. "Yeah, well–"
James interrupted her before she could speak though. She was somewhat relieved, considering she wasn't really sure what she was going to say. "Tomorrow was supposed to be perfect, Lily. Perfect!" He repeated the word for emphasis. "Melanie and I have been spending time together to plan this day for you. It was supposed to be Christmas Eve, your favorite time of year because I know how much you love Christmas. We were supposed to have a romantic dinner. You were not supposed to follow Melanie when she went to meet me today. We were supposed to take a nice, long walk in the park and when we got back to your flat, there was supposed to be flowers everywhere and Bach was supposed to be playing because I know how much you love–"
This time it was Lily's turn to interrupt. "What are you talking about?" she asked, because he was making no sense. She had lowered her voice a bit. She was still yelling, just not as loudly as she had been before. He was going on about flowers and dinner. All which had nothing to do with what had been going on with him
"I love you, Lily," he said and he lowered his voice slightly too. "I always have. And after seven years of chasing you, I thought you would know that I didn't want to be with anyone but you, least of all Melanie." James's look of frustration was starting to turn into a look that more closely resembled disappointment. "I mean, I like the girl and everything, but she's no you."
"Whether you love me or not doesn't explain any of your behavior," Lily said, the anger inside of her creeping back up into her voice. She hated hearing him say he loved her after everything that had been going on with him lately. When you love someone, you don't sneak around. You don't lie to them. And you certainly don't snog their friend, no matter how innocent you try to make it out to be. "And I'm still furious about everything that's been going on between you and Melanie."
"Nothing is going on between me and Melanie!" James shouted back immediately. His voice was even louder and angrier than before. "At least not what you think. And I'll prove it to you. Melanie picked this up today. This is why I snogged her."
Lily crossed her arms over her chest and watched him intently as he reached into his pocket. What he pulled out, however, is the last thing Lily expected.
In his hand he held a tiny box. The box that Melanie had showed James. It was simple. Red in color and square with no fancy designs or anything on it. He held the box out to her and said, "Here." His voice was still frustrated, like he couldn't handle any more arguing.
Lily reached out and ripped the box out of his hands, her anger still there. It was not about to melt away just because he bought her some earrings.
When she opened the box, however, it was not earrings staring back up at her, but a ring. The ring was almost as simple as the box, except for the fact that there was a rather large diamond. It was a plain, silver band with a round diamond set right in the middle. It wasn't flashy or in your face, but it was beautiful. Simple, just the way Lily liked things.
Well, that was certainly one way to shut her up. "Fine," she stated simply, slamming the box shut. She gripped it in her hand, wondering what the bloody hell just happened.
"Fine?" James asked, sounding very surprised by her response.
"That's what I said, isn't it?" she snapped, her fiery temper not missing a beat.
James cleared his throat. "Well...er...good. It's settled then."
"Fine. I'm going to bed," Lily informed him, turning around. This wasn't quite the night she had in mind. Even though she was angrier than she had ever been in her entire life, she couldn't stop the butterflies that were in her stomach.
"Fine. I'll see you in the morning," said James. He looked about as confused as Lily felt.
Before she entered her bedroom, however, Lily turned around. "What kind of flowers?" she asked. Somehow, that seemed to be the most important question on her mind right now.
"What?" James asked sounding very confused.
"You said there were supposed to be flowers everywhere," she reminded him. "What kind of flowers?"
A small smile began to creep up onto his face. "Lilies. What else?" he said, the smile becoming more evident.
"Good," she stated simply. She turned around again before she went into her room. "James?" she asked, because he had turned around and was now facing the front door.
He turned so that he was facing her. "Yes?"
"I love you," she said simply.
"I love you, too."
She went into her bedroom silently and if anyone had seen her, they might have been concerned. Her smile was so big, her face was very close to cracking in half.
She didn't sleep that night. She laid there the entire time, staring at the ring. She couldn't put it on. Wasn't he supposed to do that? It may not have been exactly what James wanted, but somehow, it was still the perfect proposal. Not because of the way it happened, but because of the person she said yes to.
There! Not your typical, lovey-dovey proposal. But somehow, I thought it fit. Bit of a cheesy ending, I know. But I couldn't figure out how to end it! And you know how everyone always asks to tell the proposal story? Well, I thought this would be an interesting story to tell. Haha. Anyway, I hope you liked it.
Oh, and this story is dedicated to: Account is not in use. Sorry, aalizzwell, AlwaysInADream, angelgirl, Anonymous Santa, APWBDumbledore, GrowOldAndDieInNeverland, Hippogriffs Fly Free, jamespotterthefirst, pinkdude64, and Rani Jashalithie for reviewing my first story, A Warm Day In Winter!