[SPELLING & GRAMMAR CHECKED AND UPDATED: 22/12/2010]
I was hit with the inspiration bug, which hasn't visited for a while, so decided I should forget my chemistry homework and jot this down instead. It's a very quick little piece, which is really just me having fun with a new narraive voice, and some good ol' Lily/James fluffiness.
Sorry if it seems a bit rough - my only excuse for it seeming rough is that it is rough, and that's not really an excuse at all.
Honestly, this is for past-me, who wrote down the word 'Tuesday' on a piece of paper and stuck it in one of my pockets.
I still have no idea what happened or will happen on Tuesday, but I am looking forward to finding out!
Waiting For Wormtail
Lily Evans is wearing a flower in her hair.
There is absolutely no doubt in James Potter's mind as he observes this abnormality, taking it in over breakfast as he waits for Wormtail to finish shovelling porridge into his mouth and actually try swallowing the sloppy stuff. Were Moony here, he'd probably think it appropriate for James to inform his porridge-shovelling friend that he severely dislikes porridge and has been known to throw heavy objects at anyone who tries to defend the sad excuse for a food-product from his wrath. However, Moony isn't here, and neither is Padfoot (who has been on the receiving end of a large projectile or two, launched in a fit of anger as he casually scooped the remaining dregs of oats from the dip of his bowl during past breakfasts), so James has no choice but to wait for his other friend to finish the disgusting goo.
Of course, waiting for Wormtail (which James notes could be a good name for a book of some sort... perhaps a short story?), gives James ample time to puzzle over the flower nestled comfortably amongst the shimmering dark red strands of Lily's hair. It is an unobtrusive flower: white, medium-sized, with a little bit of rich green stem just visible if one tilts their head to the right and squints from that particular angle – perfect, really, for a girl to put in her hair.
So, James concludes, it is not so much the flower itself that bothers him, but rather the girl that the flower is – temporarily, he'll admit – attached to. Because, as far back as James can remember (and that is a fair way, he reminds himself), Lily Evans has never, ever worn any sort of ornament, least of all one that goes in her hair. She "detests flashy things", as she once oh-so-eloquently informed him when he tried to give her a necklace that he'd taken from his cousin's dressing table one Christmas.
Which begged the question of why that flower was in the hair of that girl on this particular day?
Was there something special about the flower? It was fairly unremarkable as far as James could tell. Pretty, certainly, in a feminine way, maybe the type of flower a guy would purchase in a bunch from Hogsmede, if that guy were buying flowers for a girl that he knew.
Was there something special about the girl? Well, of course, but, if James had to be perfectly honest, he couldn't see what was any more special about her today than yesterday. She seemed almost exactly the same to him – same thick red hair, same slim, tired-looking face, same beautiful, entrancing green eyes as ever.
Then that meant, simply by a process of elimination, that there must be something special about the day. Was there? Quickly scanning the Great Hall, James is unable to find anything that indicates today is any different from the day before, other than the fact that now it is Wednesday, and one of those hasn't come around for a week. Is that the occasion? he wonders. Is the flower simply there to celebrate Wednesday, hump day, as some liked to call it, although not for the reasons that Padfoot often called it that?
Beside him, Wormtail has finally finished his mush, and is wiping his face with his serviette. James thinks it wouldn't be prudent to ask why his friend's whole face requires wiping when he's simply been eating breakfast, so doesn't. With a content sigh, Wormtail stands up from the table and nods his head in the direction of the doors to indicate that he is ready for him and James to leave.
"I'll catch up in bit," James says, standing too, and turning to face the doors.
Wormtail shrugs and goes on his way, deciding not to think too much about his friend's behaviour, as thinking about things like that often gives him a dreadful headache.
As Wormtail disappears into the Entrance Hall, James doubles back, heading to the other end of the table, where the elusive redhead with the flower in her hair is still seated. Conveniently, Lily's small group of friends simultaneously stand and surreptitiously disappear as James approaches their spot at the table, whispering and giving each other significant looks as they disband.
Lily seems annoyed at this childish show, giving an impatient and slightly petulant huff as James takes a seat beside her.
"I told them they didn't have to go," she explains, her tone slightly defensive. "But I think they're scared that I'll accidentally hex one of them again. Marlene hasn't really forgiven me for the tail that she ended up with after our last fight. I think she didn't like the fact that it had replaced her nose."
James nods, "Yes, I can see that she might be a little bit worried about that. From my experience, I've noticed that girls tend to be very concerned about their appearance."
Lily rolls her eyes, but chooses not to respond, trying to maintain the recently-established peace-treaty that her and James have agreed on.
"Speaking of girls and their appearance," James segues, "I've noticed that you've got a flower in your hair."
A suspicious frown dents Lily's face. "And?"
"Well, you don't usually have flowers in your hair. I thought it might have fallen in there by accident, or perhaps been thrown at you by one of your adversaries during an argument. If that's the case, it could be cursed, you know. Perhaps I should remove it?"
Lily shrinks back a bit, her hand moving up instinctively to protect her head. "No, thank you," she says. "I quite like it where it is. Besides, I know it isn't cursed."
"How do you know that?"
"It isn't the first flower that I've gotten this week. Another two were sent to me yesterday and the day before. Neither of them has shown any signs of being cursed, so I think this one's probably safe, too."
James exhales noisily, as if annoyed that he's out of reasons for Lily to take the flower out of her hair. Sensing that he's given up, Lily lets a small, smug smile crawl on to her face.
"Disappointed that someone else has been sending me flowers, Potter?" she teases.
"No," he answers pointedly. "Just wondering why the guy hasn't revealed his identity yet. Surely this-" he motions to the flower in Lily's hair "-would be an indication that you're ready for your mystery flower-sender to begin..." he pauses, searching for a word, "courting... you openly."
Lily shrugs. "He'll reveal himself to me in good time, I'm sure."
James smirks. "I like that you have faith in the male gender. If I were a girl, I'd have no such belief that men can do anything even remotely sensible."
Immediately after he's spoken, James realises that he just began a sentence with the words 'if I were a girl', and cringes appropriately, much to the satisfaction of Lily, who laughs.
"Luckily, I don't think we're going to have to face the problem of you changing gender any time soon, so forgive me for choosing to disregard what you'd think if you were a girl." She can't keep a straight face through the whole sentence, and the last bit comes out with a bit of a giggle.
Unable to help smiling at the way her face screws up when she laughs, James watches with an amused expression as Lily's laughter becomes less inhibited, echoing in shouts through the slowly emptying Hall. It's not until teacher stands up from the head table, looking down at the Gryffindors with a beady eye, that James pokes Lily in the side, muttering for her to "keep it down, or we'll get in trouble". Taking deep breaths, Lily manages to make her laughter subside, wriggling uncomfortably as James continues to poke her until she stops completely.
"Stop with the poking!" she admonishes, hitting his hand away with a bit more force than she intends.
The contact makes them realise how close together they are now sitting, and how strangely happy they must have looked, laughing and poking as they were. The inappropriateness of it all makes them both slide away from each other on the bench, creating unnecessary space to accommodate for the undeniable tension between them. James fiddles in his pocket for a piece of paper and a quill, and begins drawing absent-mindedlt on it, and Lily clears her throat loudly, swallowing a non-existent cough.
As the seconds of silence stretch out into minutes, Lily's foot begins to tap impatiently under the table, and she almost wishes they were back to the friendly conversation of a few minutes ago. James abruptly flips over the paper he's been scribbling on and stands up, making Lily look up at him.
"Well," he starts, the awkwardness clear in his tone. "I should be going. Don't want to be late for Care of Magical Creatures."
Lily nods, secretly relieved that she chose not to take that subject. "I'll see you later," she says, inwardly squirming at the fake casualness of the words.
It's not until after James has disappeared from sight that Lily notices the piece of paper that he'd been scribbling on is still sitting on the table. She considers the plain white sheet for a long moment – so innocent and unobtrusive, as if it was trying to be missed. Knowing it's the wrong thing to do, but also aware that her curiosity will inevitably get the better of her, she picks up the paper, noticing that it's folded in half. Biting her lip, Lily turns the paper over in her hands, and is surprised to see her name written neatly on the other side, as if James had intended for her to pick it up and read it.
Utterly convinced that her name is some sort of permission, she quickly unfolds the paper, taking a moment to take in what is written on it. The thing that immediately stands out is the small drawings around the edge of the paper, forming a border of swirling lines intertwined with a broomstick here, a cauldron there. A couple of more meaningful things are scattered around the border – a carefully shaded snitch, a dog chasing its tail, a wolf under a full moon and, most perplexing of all, two letters, their tails curling elaborately around to join them together: an 'L' and a 'J'.
From the startling discovery of these letters, Lily lets her eyes wander to the middle of the paper, which appears to be a receipt of some sort, written in the hasty, messy scrawl of an impatient shopkeeper on a windy Hogsmede weekend. The precise words are hard to make out, but the meaning is painfully clear. This is a receipt for the purchase of seven flowers. Seven white flowers with rich green stems, exactly the sort of flower that a boy might buy a girl who had once told him she didn't like "flashy things".
The type of flowers that a boy (let's call him Bob), who liked a girl (let's call her Jane), might give to that girl as a way of apologising for the years of arrogance she'd had to put up with. Bob might send Jane these flowers if he were not only seeking forgiveness, but also something more. Perhaps Bob would like to explain the reason for the years of arguing, the years of unexplainable tension and fire that has smouldered between him and Jane. It could even be suggested that Bob might be sending these flowers for the simple reason that, even though it has taken him thoroughly too long to understand it, he really does quite like Jane, to the point where he may even be thinking about falling in love with her. And these flowers are just his way of telling her that, if she wants, she can fall in love with him in return.
James had concluded while he was waiting for Wormtail that there was nothing special about the flower, nothing specifically remarkable about Lily, and nothing to make this day any different from any other Wednesday. As Lily stood up from the table, the receipt clutched in her hand, her heart pounding at a million miles an hour, it was clear to anyone that has an insight into both James and Lily's minds, that James had been wrong. Very, very wrong indeed.
That simple white flower was about to permanently alter his future. That slim-faced, red-haired, green-eyed girl, was about to rock his world. This Wednesday was going to be exceptional.
Yay! I really like that narrative voice, it makes me feel like I'm in the story, rather than just taking it down. Did you like it? Cos seriously, I'd like to know!