Something of the Sort

Author's Note: A short piece I put together while brainstorming the plot of something longer. Aside from letting you know that I wrote it on my front porch during a rainstorm, I'm not sure if anything really inspired it. Just an idea I actually took the time to bring to life. Please let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is always welcome and so humbly appreciated.

Disclaimer: The things you know and love aren't mine; I'm simply borrowing them for a bit.

She stared at a blank sheet of parchment for the better part of an hour before she determined it necessary to acknowledge her insatiable desire to cross the common room to the open window. She'd dipped the quill in ink countless times, watching the liquid ebony drip from its tip, and had still not managed a single line of the two hundred expected of her midterm potions essay. She shifted the open book balanced on her lap in a way that allowed for the sunlight to spill across its ancient pages and, despite her best attempts to keep attention focused on the essay at hand, allowed her pale emerald eyes to follow its path to the glittering textured glass.

It had been left open, allowing for a crisp autumn breeze to drift effortlessly across the near-empty common room; warmed somewhere along the way by friendly sunbeams lest it be considered uncomfortable. And with the breeze was the gentle rustle of thousands of colored leaves, changing tawny and ochre on their branches, which brought a peace to which Lily Evans silently smiled her satisfaction.

Taking a deep breath and letting her dark brown lashes fall flush against delicate rose-colored cheekbones, the auburn haired beauty closed the book in her lap and let the parchment fall to the floor. With careful steps, she opened the window a bit further to allow a better view of the Forbidden Forest in its breathtaking array of seasonal colors and she sighed something careful, quiet to herself as her forehead fell gently against the cool metal window pane.

"It's a right shame you won't be going to Hogsmeade this afternoon, Evans."

With a sharp gasp, the slender redhead was torn from the subtle beginnings of her silent reverie and jarred back to the reality of a charming-egotistical-raven-haired Marauder standing beside her. He ran a hand quickly through his messy black hair and peered at her over the dark rims of his too-thick glasses, a knowing smirk the only evidence that he had absolutely relished catching her so unaware of her surroundings.

Taking slow, determined breaths in a rather futile attempt to steady her rapidly-beating heart, Lily's lips parted slightly, as though she were about to speak; instead she brought her right hand to her chest to feel the rise and fall of her breath, as though it might calm her nerves. But to state her displeasure in the situation risked saying more than she ought and rewarding the frustratingly insatiable object of her most secret desires with the conversation he had been hoping for. And where James Potter was concerned, Lily Evans was convinced that less was most definitely more… so she settled for her well-rehearsed fall-back, "The answer is no, Potter! It is always no."

He turned away from the windows, his hands finding their way into the deep pockets of his khaki-colored trousers, and shrugged his shoulders as though he were indifferent to the rejection. And, considering it had been the only fruit of his labors where the fiery red-haired Lily Evans was concerned, perhaps he should have been just that… indifferent. Though, if he was anything but, the leader of the Marauders was certainly good at hiding it. His voice was soft, almost teasing her patience as he pouted, "But you haven't even allowed me to ask the question, yet, Evans!"

Another breeze and Lily felt her lungs fill with the chill of it.

"Then ask if you must. But be warned you already know the answer."

She wasn't allowing herself to look at him in case he noticed the slight rose-colored hue that her cheeks had taken on and would allow himself to interpret it as anything other than the brisk autumn chill it most certainly was. Her sea-green eyes were focused somewhere in the distance, perhaps the Quiddich pitch, though James Potter was far from foolish enough to drop his guard for even a moment in an attempt to contemplate the possibilities.

"May I have your word?"

Sharp green eyes met handsome hazel and she felt the corners of her lips turning upwards towards the beginning of a smile. This form of banter was certainly something new, for Potter, in all his insufferable years of persistence, had never before asked for her promise. And Lily had never once, in all of those years, conducted herself in a manner to be construed as anything but honorable. So her voice was soft, cautious, as she responded, "My word?"

He'd leaned closer to her, determining the faint hint of cinnamon in the air to be some effect of her charms, and dropped his voice low so that she was positively hypnotized by the strong, familiar tones, "That I already know your answer to my question."

"Hmm?" the small sound, murmured before she'd even registered that she'd given any indication of a response, had shocked her. Her eyes widened, a glint of fear that she might have given away more than she had intended, but James was already taking careful steps to cut the distance between them.

"Promise me you won't change your answer once I've asked my question, Evans."

His face was a matter of inches away from hers, his strong arms had somehow managed to settle on either side of her, pinning the helpless red-haired beauty to a corner. Her back was pressed against the stone wall on one side, her neck subject to another cool breeze from the still-open window. And it seemed, for that moment at least, that time stood completely still as green eyes studied hazel for any indication that he had something hidden in his motives. Biting her lower lip to keep from inhaling sharply, Lily closed her eyes and placed a cautious hand against James' chest, creating a bit of that comfortable distance between them, that she might clear her thoughts and begin thinking for herself again.

But what was the harm in a simple promise?

"I promise."

And her fate was sealed in just three simple syllables, uttered no louder than a whisper. She knew immediately to regret her answer when she saw the smile cross James' handsome features, the knowing glint in his eyes that he was up to something mischievous. Lily had spent the better part of her six-and-counting years at Hogwarts avoiding that glance but she'd somehow managed to make herself the subject of it. To say she was uneasy would have been an understatement.

James leaned closer to her still and moved her soft red hair away from her ear so he could whisper, "Is there anything in this world you'd rather do than allow me to accompany you to Hogsmeade this afternoon?"

She didn't have time to contemplate the roller-coaster of reactions passing in and out of her consciousness, as far as the fiery red head was concerned there was no cause and effect, no consequence, no second-thoughts or regrets… there was just the present. A moment of opportunity…

It was just her and James in the common room. An open window and the honest autumn chill. His hazel eyes, the mischievous glint that indicated he knew he'd won, and the knowing smirk. The supplies she'd set out with to write her potions essay. His fingers tangled in the long locks of her auburn hair; his body as close to hers as it had ever been before. And then there was her, quivering in the corner for fear that he might actually discover how difficult it was, each time, for her to turn him down… to so openly reject him time after time.

There was no choice… only one option.

She smiled openly up at him; her heart beating faster than normal but an even breath disguised any uncertainty that might betray her sudden burst of confidence. And Lily laughed sweetly and honestly, her eyes alight with an appreciation for the Marauder that had so cunningly outsmarted her.

"No, James, there's nothing I'd rather do."

And Lily wasn't sure that she could interpret the look he gave her next. Hazel eyes searched emerald for some sign that might betray her answer to be of the same sarcasm she normally reserved for the raven-haired Marauder. She was certain there was a note of caution in his gaze, as though James were preparing for rejection again. It was the first time that the red-head could honestly say that she felt remorseful for her previous actions towards the handsome young man before her.

She'd already stepped leaps and bounds out of the familiar contexts of their relationship. And it was far too late to turn back now… Taking a deep breath, Lily cautiously reached her hand forward to brush a few strands of James' unruly hair away from his eyes. Though she had often fantasized about what it might be like to touch those gorgeous locks, Lily was convinced that no power on earth would ever be great enough to actually cause her to act on those desires.

Apparently, it had been all the indication that he'd needed, for James was fast to scoop Lily into his arms. He laughed; shaking his head at the irony of the entire situation that it had been a battle of wits he had ended up winning in the end… and after so many rounds of losing.

"Oh, Lily," he breathed into her hair, smiling all the while. "Lovely Lily, please tell me you mean it."

She wrapped her arms around his neck, her answer a whisper for only him to hear, "I promise."

And from the bottom of the staircase that led to the boys' dormitory, hidden beneath an invisibility cloak, Sirius Black handed Remus Lupin three Sickles and two bronze Knuts, to which the sandy-haired Marauder responded, "Didn't I assure you she would appreciate being so honestly out-witted by our dear Prongs?"