Author's Note: I've had a really crazy time of it lately and therefore I have had no time for writing and, when I did have time, no inclination for it at all. At the start of September I went through a really stressful and traumatic time at home and it really killed my writing buzz, and once that was over we had to start preparing at Halloween at work and it just keeps getting busier. Halloween is our busiest time of year (I work in a joke/wig/costume shop where I am fabulously overpaid and it's amazing); we're pretty much one of the only shops in the country who caters for Halloween so I couldn't describe how manic it is at work to you even if I wanted to because you wouldn't believe me. It's mania for a month, and if you don't develop insomnia/an anxiety disorder/drop 20lbs in a week you're doing well. I guarantee you that all three of the above will happen to me. As it is I come home from work completely drained every day. I will try to keep writing but, just to warn you, normal programming will not resume again until November. Thanks for being so lovely and reading my fics, though. I hate how much I consistently let you all down.
This little ditty is something I wrote for a prompt challenge a couple of months ago, so I thought I'd post it now just so you guys know I'm still alive. Love me?
She's So Lovely
She was frowning, much as he had seen her do in classes countless times, the little crease between her eyebrows and pout of her lips a sign that she was absorbed in the task at hand and unmindful of her surroundings. Her hair was pulled up in a messy bun at the back of her head, hurriedly assembled as though to keep it out of the way but desperately trying to escape in scarlet tendrils. She was dressed down for the occasion, a rare thing indeed, in a simple white vest and jeans, and ratty old trainers.
He liked her best like this.
No, that wasn't strictly true. It didn't really matter what Lily was wearing, or how she did her hair. James just liked her best.
"Stop staring at me, Potter," she muttered darkly, without so much as a slight glance in his direction. She had gotten detecting his staring down to a fine art. "It's creepy."
"No," he said, the faintest hint of petulance creeping into his tone. "My eyes aren't hurting you."
She tutted, quietly. "You're not helping me."
"You wouldn't let me help, even if I offered," he pointed out.
She didn't answer him, but continued to scrub away at the frying pan above her basin of murky water. James could tell she regretted consenting to give somebody else a shot at cooking with it. Lily was the kind of person who absolutely could not trust another person to do something that she considered herself able to do herself without assistance, an aspect of her personality that she found it difficult to own up to when questioned about it. She would deny this with vehemence, but the fact remained that she was terribly proud and possessive, and only she ever ended up suffering for it.
In this case, though, James could hardly blame her for being reluctant to waive her rights to their little camp-side kitchen. The food had burned to a crisp and the frying pan was left in a critical condition, coated in such a thick, charred layer of grease that it was now a drawn battle between Lily's scrubbing-brush and the desecrated bottom of the pan. A fight to the death, she had declared not moments earlier. James was in no doubt that she would end up winning, no matter what it took.
"I wish I could take a photo of your face right now," he commented, from his comfortable spot on the sun lounger, where he was laying with his arms behind his head like a lazy prince (at least, he thought he looked princely). "I've seen less intense concentration from people in the middle of N.E.W.T exams."
"Heh." Lily stopped scrubbing for a breather, and shrugged noncommittally. "Some people just don't care enough about exams."
He laughed, and sat up straight, stretching his cramped arms above his head. "Yeah, that's the problem here, Evans, other people and their lack of consideration for exams. Merlin only knows what they'd do in this situation. Leave the pan to rust, I'd imagine. That's a classic example of the lack of morals in young people today, rusty frying pans. What would their parents think? What would society think?"
"You didn't have to stay, you know," she reminded him curtly, allowing the pan to sink into the basin and looking up at him, brandishing her scrubbing-brush in a semi-threatening manner. "You could have gone exploring with the others."
"And leave you here unprotected?" James gasped, in mock affront. "What kind of man would that make me?"
"A considerate one," she retorted, wiping her hands with the tea-towel and sighing. "You're being terribly annoying."
"It's not me that's annoying you, love, it's the frying pan. Just use your wand," he offered helpfully. This earned him a look of pure disdain from the red-haired maiden from whom he was garnering so much amusement.
"We're supposed to be acting like Muggles, Potter," she reminded him, with a roll of her eyes, even though the majority of the people at the campsite were ignoring this rule and had erected their tents using magic, decorated their tents with clearly magical items ranging from flags that sung the national anthem to miniature fireworks, and were cooking outside using cauldrons or conjured fires of various different colours. As if she knew that he was thinking along these lines, Lily added, "You and the boys agreed that acting like Muggles for a couple of days would be a good learning experience."
"Yeah but, you and Mary are doing everything," he argued. "You won't let us help."
Granted, some people in their group were better off not helping. Unable to grasp the concept that they weren't meant to be using magic, Peter had tried to charm a waving Spanish flag onto the side of their tent and had just about managed to get the colours right when Lily had returned from the toilet, risen up in outraged majesty and flatly refused to allow it. Mary's boyfriend Eddie, too, was having fun performing magic just to irritate his girlfriend, claiming that he hadn't been able to understand the rules that had been laid down by the Ministry official who had greeted them at their campsite and therefore didn't know for sure that he wasn't meant to use magic at this, a Muggle campsite. It was a weak excuse, given that even though the 1978 Quidditch World Cup was being held in Italy that year, the official was clearly from Bristol, and given the fact that Eddie's father was a high-up in the Department of Magical Games and Sports.
Not to mention that Sirius had burned their dinner.
"That's not true," said Lily reasonably. "We let Remus help us."
"Remus Schmeemus," mumbled James, quite childishly, and folded his arms across his chest. "Remus wasn't Head Boy, was he?"
He wasn't jealous of his friend, exactly, but he'd be lying if he claimed not to sometimes wonder if a staid, sensible person like Remus wasn't rather well suited to somebody like Lily, who seemed to find James' bizarre and sometimes irresponsible antics completely baffling at the best of times. James was still trying to get around the fact that Dumbledore had made him Head Boy to begin with, even now that he'd managed the job quite well for the whole year and graduated with heaped praise from his professors. Even a converted Minerva McGonagall was known to tell people at times that James Potter had developed into quite a fine, estimable young man. It was all very well and good, but it didn't change the fact that he was James and Remus was Remus, and Lily, well, a lot of people used to be of the opinion that Lily and Remus could have made a rather nice couple.
"No, dear, he wasn't." Lily had taken up the pan again and resumed her scrubbing, not really interested in the conversation. "Nor was he ever Gryffindor Quidditch Captain, or occasionally a stag, I know."
"So," said James, as if that settled everything and Lily could not possibly argue her way out of this. "Let me help."
She sighed heavily, dropped the pan for a second time and pushed an errant hair out of her face as she took the time to regard him critically.
"Fine," she eventually consented, with the air of one being lead to the gallows. "Come over here and dry those cups for me."
Victorious, James leapt up from his sun lounger and ambled over to the large log that Lily was sitting on, washing dishes, with his hands in his pockets. Lily handed him the tea towel when he sat down and he cheerfully set to work drying the tin cups and watching her struggle with the frying pan.
He would have offered to do it himself, having stronger arms than she, but she would have refused.
"You're still staring," she said, after a few moments of comfortable silence. James laughed softly and picked up another cup.
"Of course I'm staring, you're beautiful," he said, the innocuous comment meant as a simple statement of facts, rather than any kind of poetic sentiment, which Lily was not fond of. There had been a time, months ago, when Lily would reprimand him sharply for saying things like that and refuse to believe him, but she had soon come to realize that he was being sincere. She allowed his little comments, but pretended that she wasn't happy about it. Nonetheless, she blushed, a pretty pink colour that sent a sharp, painful jolt through his chest.
She caught him off guard like this sometimes, just by doing the simplest things, like smiling, or blushing, or touching his hand; the same regular, everyday things that didn't normally set his heart beating faster than it should have. That feeling came about every now and then and reminded him of just how lucky he was.
It was a really nice thing, being Lily's boyfriend.
"My supposed great beauty," Lily scoffed, not being weighed down by arrogance, even though she would openly admit that she herself was happy with the way she looked. "You're the only one who sees it, and you're no fair judge."
"Because," she said, as if the answer were obvious. "You're in love with me."
If his pride could allow him to wince with embarrassment, he would have.
After their exams had finished, two nights before they had finished school forever, James had done a very stupid thing indeed. Following a day of non-stop drinking in Hogsmeade with Peter, Remus and Sirius, and fuelled by the latter's suggestions and encouragements, he had drunkenly made his way back to the common room in the evening, located his girlfriend and told her brazenly, loudly, and in front of half the house, that he loved her. Lily had responded by putting him to bed with her teddy bear and a kiss on the forehead, and hadn't mentioned it since, which he thought was particularly sensitive and lovely for her, even if it stung a little that she swept it under the rug so easily.
Apparently, though, now was the right time to remind him that he hadn't dreamed it all, as he had been hoping. He noted, with a pang, that she didn't seem to feel like saying it back, either.
He snapped out of his woeful daydream to find Lily looking at him in confusion. "Huh?"
"You dropped the cup," she said, looking awkward. "Into the basin."
James looked down; the tin cup he had been drying was bobbing on the surface of the washing water. He fished it out and began drying again, shooting Lily sheepish glances every now and then.
Presently, she let out a heavy sigh, and dropped the scrubbing-brush to the ground and the pan into the water. James looked at her with a raised eyebrow, assuming that the frying pan had won and she was suffering the aftermath of a sorry defeat.
"What's wrong, love?"
"Oh, nothing really," Lily replied. "I guess coming here with everyone just reminded me that we're all done with school and won't have much chance to be together like this. It's not anything major, just your standard resistance to change." She gazed up at him and gave him a small smile. "I'm honestly fine, though, you don't have to worry. It's silly anyway."
Telling James not to worry about Lily when she was even the slightest bit sad was like telling Remus to lay off being a werewolf for a few months: absolutely not possible. He dropped what he was doing and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.
"Hey, that's not silly," he assured her, and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I miss it too."
Lily snuggled into him and sighed again, a happier one this time, when he kissed her. "Yeah?"
"Yeah, of course," he said, tracing a pattern on her shoulder with his fingers. Her skin was so soft. "But we'll all still do things like this when we can, and you'll see Mary all the time." Wild horses couldn't keep Lily Evans and Mary MacDonald apart. "And you've got me, if that helps matters any."
"It helps loads, I wouldn't be half so happy without you," she said simply, seemingly unaware of what her words did to her boyfriend's excitable little heart. "Speaking of, I'm sorry if I've been a bit crotchety today, I didn't get much sleep last night and after all the travelling and whatnot today, I'm really tired."
"You shouldn't do so much," he pointed out, looking around at their little campsite, most of which had been assembled and sorted by Lily. "If you're tired, rest, and let me take up some of the slack. I know you think I'll burn down the camp, but-"
"That's why you think I won't let you help out?" she said incredulously, pulling gently out of his arms and looking at him as if he were crazy. When he responded with a nod, she laughed outright and kissed him briefly out of nowhere, as if she just couldn't not. "You're so silly."
He frowned, somewhat confused, but mostly because he missed her lips. "That's not why?"
"No, you idiot boy," she said, still giggling. "I like organizing and working and being an anal, bossy headcase, and you hate it, remember? You've just spent the whole year working your arse off to be a great Head Boy and fly through your exams and trying to turn over a new leaf and impress everyone, I just thought you deserved to have some fun and relax."
"Oh." James was horribly ashamed of himself for blushing, but blush he did. He hadn't realized that Lily had noticed any of his efforts to prove himself to Dumbledore and everyone else. "I thought you just didn't trust me to do anything right."
"Never, you utter twat. I just want you to have fun."
"I honestly didn't realize," he said, and scratched the back of his head, confused. "Mary kept shooting you looks and muttering to herself. I assumed she must have thought you were shouldering too much as well."
Lily laughed again, and shook her head.
"Mary scolded me right and proper for giving you preferential treatment, she said I should have made you pull your weight, but I refused to let her ask you to help." She shrugged her shoulders. "She thinks I'm nuts, probably."
James was a little bit befuddled.
And happy. Befuddled and happy.
"You really went through all that thought and effort and squared off with Mary MacDonald," he probed, just in case he wasn't clear on this. Mary was a tough cookie, and just a tiny bit frightening sometimes. "Just for me?"
"Well, yes, James," said Lily happily, her beautifully green eyes locked onto his hazel ones, and smiled the prettiest smile. "I love you."
And just like that, all of the sound was sucked from the air. Just like that, his heart sped up dangerously. Just like that, some irrepressible feeling seemed to be welling up inside him and overwhelmed him to the point where he felt like he needed to do something or say something utterly spectacular in order to show the whole world what he was feeling right now, but he couldn't, because nothing would be good enough, and the ensuing explosion alone might just kill him.
Just like that, Lily Evans loved him.
"The others will be gone for a while, won't they?" Lily suddenly piped up, boldly cutting into his thoughts, the brass band that was playing a fanfare in his mind, the utter shock that he was experiencing, and he felt her soft, tiny hand slip into his much larger one.
"Uh, yeah," he answered blankly, and looked down at her. In spite of Lily's hatred of sentiment, and whatever tantrum she might throw if he said it to her face, she really was the most exquisite girl he had ever known in his life. "Why?"
"Because, James Potter, we have a tent that locks from the inside all to ourselves, and the match doesn't start for hours," she explained, her eyes sparkling with mischief, as she tugged him to his feet. "Who says I shouldn't get to have any fun?"
A/N: Aaaaaaaaaannnd scene!