Disclaimer: I don't own anything. JK Rowling does, though.
I posted it sooner than I thought I would. Also, per request, I actually proofread it this time! To the person who suggested this, GOOD! That is the kind of feedback that I appreciate!
I may have missed some things, though. I apologize in advance for the mistakes I didn't catch and correct.
Turning, the red-haired witch stared across the crowded corridor in confusion, searching for the source of her name.
"Lily! Over here!" Locating the sound, her eyes landed upon a tall boy with hair the color of the nighttime sky and eyes that shone like a cats, dancing on her behind a pair of small spectacles. At only the sight of him, Lily could feel herself blushing and breaking into a smile, though confusion was conveyed through her green eyes, since James should have been in a class on the other side of the castle.
"What's he doing here?" Ellie whispered into her ear. "He does realize he has a class on the over side of the school now, doesn't he?"
"If he doesn't, I'll have to remind him. I'm dating the James Potter I know, not the James Potter he was two years ago. The James Potter I am dating does not skip class." Lily returned firmly. "I'll be right in. Hold a seat for me, please."
Nodding, Ellie shot James a quizzical look and entered the room, leaving James and Lily in the hallway, which had suddenly been cleared of students. Glancing down at her watch, she saw she had two minutes before she needed to be in her seat, and therefore could manage to squeeze in a quick chat, though not if they did, James was not going to make across the school before the bell begun. Deciding to act responsibly, she gave him a small smile, which he returned with a wide grin and a happy head nod. She turned to enter the room, but James stopped her.
"Lily, come here!" He called, beckoning to her with his finger. "Just for a minute, please."
Analyzing her watch, she deduced the fastest way to get herself and James to class was to entertain James for a few moments. She glided toward him, and planted a light kiss on his cheek.
"I take it you've had a fine day?" He asked before she could speak.
"Yes, it's gone swimmingly. Class wasn't hard at all, we mostly just practiced and spoke about spells we had learned ages ago." She answered shortly, leaning in and breathing the scent she had come to love. It was fresh and clean, sweet and warm, just as it had been that evening in the closet. Throughout the months, Lily had begun to look forward to just passing James on the way to separate classes, if only to catch of a whiff of the scent that was purely him.
"Well, I would expect that." James said knowingly, opening her arms to give her a hug. "Anyway, I've got good news for you! It is good news for me, as well."
"May I ask what you're doing on this side of the school?" She asked, stepping slightly away from him. Even though they had been dating for almost four months, Lily still felt unsettled when they would publicly display affection.
"Oh, that ties directly into my good news!" He was practically bouncing on the balls of his feet, and was holding her wrists. Lily couldn't help but laugh at his childish antics. "Guess! Guess what my news is, Lily!"
"I do hope it involves you leaving for class now." Lily shook her arm from his grasp. "Since I know that both of us have class in about a minute, and you need to get across the school."
James laughed. "No, that is absurd. Guess again!"
"James... you need to go class, as do I." She bite her lip and looked at her watch. "We only have a bit over a minute before the bell, and you need to reach the dungeons. I don't want to make you late."
"No, I don't. It's been raining rather heavily lately, and half of the dungeons are flooded! We can't work knee-deep in water, so Slughorn naturally canceled class, meaning I have a free period." James said, practically dancing with glee.
"That will be nice." She said, distracted by the time, which was closing in quickly to the beginning of class. "Are you heading down to the pitch with Sirius, then?"
"I was going to, but then I got a better idea." James voice was merry. "I was thinking it would be a fine time for lesson four."
Glancing away from her watch, eyes opened wide. James nodded down to her watch, his face innocent, as if he wasn't suggesting the one thing Lily would refuse to do.
"I honestly hope you are not suggesting what I think you are suggesting." She said, crossing her arms and staring at him in disbelief, waiting for the smile, smirk or glint in his eye that told her he was just kidding. Searching his face, however, she found none. His features remained completely still, smiling lightly, as if he had suggested they meet before dinner.
"James, that bet is over." Lily stressed, speaking slowly. "We're dating now. It came to a draw."
"Ah." James shook his head. "That is where you, Miss Evans, are incorrect. For the bet to be officially over, we would have to come to a winner. To come to a winner, one of us would have to have lost. Neither of us have done that yet, so, the bet remains."
Lily pulled away from him a second time, a smile playing on her coral colored lips. "Then I win. Correct me if I'm wrong, but our bet said that I would learn to be more fun if you learned to be a better person, did it not? A good person does not skip class, which is what you would have to do to execute this task."
James shook his head again. "Weren't you listening? My class was cancelled due to flooding. The truth is, you only have two options. Just miss one class and spend the day with me, or lose the bet."
"James, I am head girl. I cannot just play hooky with you."
"But Lily…" James whined. "It's so beautiful outside. Look!"
He gestured to a window, and looking out of it, Lily could see it was indeed beautiful. The rain, which had been ever present for the last few days had finally past, making everything feel fresh and alive. Early summer flowers were blooming, surrounding the building in a plume of color. Ivy had grown up the sides of the castle, making it feel like a scene from a fairy tale. Even the lake, which was usually murky, seemed crystal clear.
"I cannot skip class." She requisitioned. "What if I miss something important?"
"N.E. were last week. We're seventh years. They are not going to teach us anything in the next two weeks. I don't even know why we bother going to class, since it's not like we're learning anything. It's perfect, so come with me! There isn't a reason not to." James smiled optimistically. "And if you don't, there is a good chance I'll never let it go, also."
Lily opened her mouth to protest, but closed it again. She sighed and pressed the tips of fingers against her temple, weighing the options. Going to class and losing the bet was the logical answer. However, that meant that James would probably never let it go, and Lily would have to listen to James relay how he, James Potter, had outsmarted the brilliant Lily Evans. Skipping also meant she would get to spend the next hour and a half doing nothing but laughing, talking and enjoying James' company, which sounded as wonderful as slipping into bed after a long day of studying. It would be absolute bliss. Nevertheless, Lily was not the kind of girl to not show up to a class. She showed up faithfully, did her homework well and on time, usually in advance, and worked diligently. She was the brightest witch in their year for a reason, and that was not a reputation she was interested in losing.
"I don't have a good option here, do I?" She finally asked.
"No, not really." James said, shrugging his shoulders. "Want me to make this choice easier for you?"
"Please do." She said, her voice full of sarcasm, though with a hint of hope. Maybe James would simply let the bet end in a draw. She could hear her classmates getting quieter in the room, preparing for the start of class.
"Close your eyes." He instructed. Lily rolled her eyes, but chose to play along. Letting her eyes slid shut, she assumed he would kiss her and then disappear, so Lily could continue to class. However, she felt a piece of cloth cover her eyes. Surprised, Lily reached up to remove the blindfold.
"Leave it on." James commanded.
Lily complied and left the cover where it was. Standing still, she felt his hand slip into to hers, and smiled. However, the delight disappeared as she felt James drag her across the room.
She ripped the blindfold from her face just as James began running, pulling her along behind him. Staring at him in astonishment, they ran like this for a few minutes. When the reached the stairway in the Great Hall, he turned and grinned at her, before releasing her hand and darting ahead.
Not one to be outdone, Lily quickened her pace and was able to easily catch up with him. They raced, each step trying to gain an advantage on the other, until they burst outside and onto the lush green landscape. They followed an unseen path until, neck in neck, a small birch tree next to the lake came into view. James, determined to win, dove and landed against the bark only seconds before the girl.
Panting filled the air as the sat under the tree in silence. After her breathing steadied, Lily smiled.
"I'm cutting class." She said slowly, letting the words dance across her tongue and fill her mind. "I'm cutting class, and I don't even really care."
James grinned broadly. "Quite a rush, isn't it? And think! We have the whole double period to do nothing, if we chose."
"Yes, it is." Lily said, taking in the scene. A few students, presumably from the cancelled potions class, milled around, laughing and joking with each other. Other than that, the grounds were mostly quiet. Lily could hear a few birds, and a few bees fluttered from flower to flower, taking pollen as the followed their seemingly random flights. Lily turned to James and found him gazing down into the water. She joined him and almost gasped. "I don't think I've ever seen the lake this clear before. You can practically see the bottom!" She exclaimed.
The water was like glass, reflecting into a whole different world. Even at the edges, the lake was deep and for the first time, Lily could see the sand at the bottom. There were fish of all colors. Some with stripes, others monochromatic, some long, others entirely flat. The kept in schools, bright and quick, sunlight glimmering off their scales. Pink, yellow, white and blue plants were flowering between the pieces of seagrass and sunlight created patterns across the sand. The entire seen was off-set by the gently rippling of the water, making the whole view seem unreal.
"You can see the bottom." James said. Lily could feel him studying her, but she refused to take her eyes from the sight. "It happens every year. I think the Headmaster must do something, since the lakes actually quite muddy and it's not as if having a giant squid or merpeople really helps with keeping the water clean. Haven't you ever seen it this way before?"
"No." Lily said, distantly. "It happens every year?"
"Yes. Every year, around the end of term."
Lily finally torn her eyes from the scene and was surprised to find James had settled against the tree, eyes closed, without any shoes on.
"What are you doing?" She asked, crossing her eyes. "Why aren't you wearing shoes?"
James opened his eyes and grinned at her. "Do you spend every moment studying, Lily?" He asked, sitting up and reaching for her foot. Bringing it to his lap, he gently pulled her foot from her loafers and removed her sock. He then did the same with the other foot, before letting the two drop into the grass.
Lily was surprised as to soft the grass was and instantly understood James' excitement as to getting to spend the day outside as opposed to sitting in class.
They sat like this for almost an hour, neither wearing shoes or socks. They spoke of a spread of topics, ranging from Slughorn's recent weight gain to the latest Deatheater attacks. Lily was shocked to find she was enjoying herself more than she thought she ever would by skipping class. Whether it was a mix of adrenaline, romance or fear of being caught, Lily didn't know, but she didn't care, either.
"I love this." She said, smiling down at him.
"I thought you would. And the fact that, I! I, James Potter, have managed to get to you do the one thing that anyone would swear, above all, you would never do, that's a victory for me."
"I can't believe I actually did it, either. I would love it if no one knew of this day, other than me, you and Ellie." Lily requested. "Anyway, does the fact I actually completed this task mean I've won?"
James bite his lip, thinking. "Well, no. Neither of us have broken the terms of agreement yet, so, no. However, you did much more than I expected, and we did reach the end result, so, I suppose the whole thing is void."
"Then the bet is over?" Lily asked, perking up. "We never have to go through this ridiculous process again."
James slightly shook his head and sat up, taking in her profile. His hazel eyes were serious as they flicked over her face for what felt like hours.
"Lily." He said, gently taking her delicate hands in his larger ones. "Lily Evans, I have a deal for you."
Bewilderment was running rampant through Lily's mind, curious as to why his tone was so serious. She nodded, inviting him to continue.
"Lily Evans, I will never tell anyone of this day. Hell, I'll never tell anyone of the bet or the tasks or any of it, if you'll do something for me." James took a long breath. "I'll never bring this up if you'll marry me."
Lily eyes grew wide, and she opened her mouth, but James cut her off.
"I know what you're thinking!" He said, rushing his words. "It's too soon. It's just that we've spent seven years -seven years, Lily!- getting to know each other, learning what sets each other off, learning what makes each other happy! That's longer than some couples stay married, even! I've given it quite a bit of thought, and I don't think I have the ability to love someone as much as I love you, and if you think it's an awful idea, I'll drop it. Maybe you never want to marry or you think the idea of marriage is barbaric or something, and that's fine. I love you for you, and if you disagree, then I'm willing to drop the entire matter."
Lily sat in silence, letting the meaning of his words seep in. Her thoughts floated slowly back to beginning of the year, when she could barely be in the same room as James to the night they created the bet. She thought of the first task, the prank she had pulled with Sirius. She thought of the day James had taught her to fly a broom, and the day in the Owlery. She thought of Christmas morning, and all the trouble James had gone through to make it feel like home. She thought of when he had given her the task of dating him and when she had broken his heart. She thought of the minute she knew she wanted to be with James and Lily thought of when she had found out James was seeing Elizabeth and the heartbreak she had felt. She thought of night locked in a closet and she thought of the moment, staring into the water.
And she knew, it wasn't too soon. She never wanted James to be with anyone else. She never wanted to be with anyone. James took a space Lily hadn't known had been empty and filled it. He brought a side of her she didn't know existed out.
"It's okay that you don't want to, it's fine!" James said, fighting to keep his voice, light, though Lily could detect the catch. He had taken her silence as a no.
"No!" She exclaimed. "No, James. I'm not saying no, I'm saying yes!"
His eyes filled with pure joy, and she kissed him, feeling lighter and happier than she ever had before.
Thanks for the memories.
And no, there will NOT be a sequel. One of the most important aspects of writing is knowing when and where to stop. Even an epilogue is kinda dragging things out, but I had left the bet plot hanging and I needed to fix that.