Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the amazingly talented J.K Rowling. I'm only borrowing the characters and world that she has so brilliantly created.
"Bribery" – OneShot
Horace Slughorn was just putting the finishing touches on his lesson plans for the first day of classes when a heard a sharp knock at the door to his office.
"Come in!" he called, setting aside his quill and notes, fully expecting the person on the other side of the door to be a fellow professor. He was rather surprised, then, when the person who entered his office was not a professor, but a student.
"Mr. Potter!" he exclaimed, hastily standing up and moving towards his guest. "How are you, my boy? Had a good holiday, I trust?"
"Yes, Sir. And yourself?"
Over the last six years, Horace had personally witnessed just exactly how mischievous James Potter could be, but he had also seen how charming the boy could be. That charm was in full force now.
"Quite well, thank you. I took a lovely trip to the Hebrides, looking for some Potions materials." Horace replied, wondering why exactly James had come to his office. If it was one thing he had learned about James Potter, it was that few of his actions were unintentional.
Horace was supplied with a partial answer as James reached into the left pocket of his robes and pulled out a small tin.
"My mum is a bit of an amateur herbologist," James explained, offering the tin to him with a slight, tantalizing shake. "We don't have any other use for these, and I thought you might like these for use in class."
Horace reached out to take the tin, his curiosity piqued. He was not disappointed when he opened the lid to discover a number of tentacula leaves.
"My boy, these are exceedingly rare!" he marveled, taking in the exquisite quality of the leaves. "How very kind of you. Please pass along my thanks to your dear mother. And if there's anything I can do for you – though nothing related to your academic marks, of course, not that you need it…"
"Well, Sir," James began, a telling smirk playing at the corners of his mouth, "I can think of something. I know if may sound a bit odd, but I was hoping to be invited to the Slug Club. Just a few times, mind. At the beginning of term, perhaps?"
Horace was instantly wary. "As I recall, you showed very little interest in the Slug Club when I invited you a few years ago." The memory of his brand new curtains gone up in a fiery blaze was still very fresh in Horace's mind.
James at least had the decency to look repentant. Horace pondered why a boy who seemingly had such little use for authority and absolutely no interest in networking within the wizarding community would suddenly want to attend Slug Club gatherings. He thought about the other students who regularly attended, and suddenly things became clear.
"This wouldn't have anything to do with your long-standing infatuation with Miss Evans, would it, James?" he asked certain that he already knew the answer to that question.
"Not at all, Professor," James quickly assured him, his face the very picture of innocence.
After six years of observing Lily and James in class, Horace seriously doubted this, but smiled in response anyway. He considered the tin tentacula leaves thoughtfully.
It was clear that James only wanted to attend Slug Club gatherings because of Lily, but was there really any harm in it? Horace liked people with intelligence, power, and influence, and James Potter possessed all of those qualities. Both James and Lily were no doubt destined to do great things and the two would certainly make a dynamic couple, that was certain. To be able to say that he had had a hand in the formation of their relationship would be quite something to boast about.
"I suppose I could indulge your little whim," Horace replied. "But I don't want you setting anything on fire this time! I want all of my possessions exactly as they were," he wagged his finger menacingly at James in warning.
"Yes, Sir," James replied, unable to keep a smile completely off of his face.
"Look for my owl, then," he told James by way of dismissal. "I expect I'll plan a little welcome back party for old students and potential members."
"Thank you, Sir!" James said, his hazel eyes lighting up behind his glasses. "And if my mum happens to have anymore leaves, I'll be sure to send them your way."
Then he was gone, leaving Horace alone in his office once more.
"Merlin's beard," he muttered to himself, shaking his head at the events of the last few minutes. What might come of having James Potter present at a Slug Club function, one could only guess.
But a week later, Horace could not have been more pleased with the outcome. The first Slug Club gathering of the year was in full in full swing and there were several new students who seemed very promising indeed. Best of all, his curtains looked splendid, and were still intact in spite of the fact that James Potter was in attendance.
The boy had been on especially good behavior all night. Horace supposed that this was due to the presence of Lily Evans, though that had certainly never deterred James from making a spectacle of himself in the past. However, he appeared to be testing out a new strategy for wooing the girl that had less to do with showy displays of affections and much more to do with actually talking to her and getting to know her.
Horace himself was partial to large tokens of admiration and displays of affection, but James's new tactic seemed to be working rather well with Lily. The two had been chatting amiably for quite some time now, and Lily hadn't stormed off in a huff or even rolled her eyes once.
Horace's mind strayed to thoughts of what might happen if James was successful in his pursuit of Lily Evans and the two became a couple. First, he would be able to prove to Minerva that he had indeed known all a long that the two students were destined for each other. His Slytherin Quidditch team had done so poorly last term that he rather needed something with which he would be able to trump Minerva.
And secondly, James had come specifically to him for help in finding a setting in which to talk to Lily. Because he had willingly obliged, one could technically argue that Horace Slughorn had played an integral role in the courtship of Lily Evans and James Potter. James might be so grateful that Horace might well find himself in the possession of many more tentacula leaves and perhaps even a few tins of candied pineapple.
Horace's high hopes were not in vain, for a little over a month later, he walked into his office to find a tin full of of tentacula leaves and a large crate of candied pineapple resting on top of his desk with a short note which read,
Thanks for your help. Lily says thanks too. –James
And a few years later, at the wedding of James Potter and Lily Evans, Horace was able to congratulate himself most heartily. Why, if he hadn't invited James to the Slug Club, the couple may never have gotten together and he would not have been sitting there eating a large piece of simply scrumptious cake and discussing the upcoming inter-House Quidditch season with Minerva and Filius.
Never mind that James had only been invited to the Slug Club as the result of bribery. Never mind that if James hadn't been invited, he surely would have found another way in which to spend time with Lily. These were merely trifling details as far as Horace Slughorn was concerned.
Yes, Horace reflected with great satisfaction, he had truly brought Lily Evans and James Potter together.
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