Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the characters involved in this piece, sadly, do not belong to me.
Poking at the shepherd's pie on her plate, Lily raised the fork to her mouth before setting her eyes on the book she had managed to prop up on an upturned goblet and three salt and pepper shakers.
"The process of turning oneself into an animagi is a long process that can take years to master. Many of the great animagi in history took time to figure out this complex and time consuming piece of magic..."
Lifting the fork to her mouth again, Lily heard someone place a plate onto the table opposite her, and drop down on to the bench at the same time. She sighed pointedly as if the person had disturbed her, even though they hadn't. In fact, if Lily hadn't had the hearing of a scared deer, she probably wouldn't have heard them sit down at all.
Lily glanced upwards hoping to see Alice or Marlene, but she didn't. Instead she found James Potter sitting with his fork in one hand and a book in the other.
Lily frowned. She had not expected to see James sat opposite her, and she definitely did not expect to see him with a book in his hand, because for the six years she had known him, she had never seen him with a book, making her come to the conclusion that James Potter was not the kind of person to read.
Hell, she knew Remus read books, and she could guess that Sirius had been forced to read a couple in his life time, but James Potter? Not a chance. She guessed that the most he'd ever read was a book on Quidditch, and that he'd probably needed help to read that.
Confused by what she was seeing, she watched him struggle for a moment as he placed his fork down to shift the book from one hand to the other, the entire time, his eyes scanning the words of the page, not wavering away from them for a second.
And for the first time in her life she was torn.
Before this moment, she had never willingly started a conversation with James Potter. He had always started them with her. In the back of her mind though, something though was telling her to speak to him, to almost help him read and eat simultaneously, because they, for what Lily thought was the first time ever, had something in common.
"Potter, you know it's much easier to read and eat if you prop your book up on something?"
James jumped in surprise causing Lily to frown in confusion. He couldn't have possibly been that interested in the book, could he?
"I mean," she said, shaking off her disbelief, "If you put the book against something and use the salt shakers to keep it open, you can use both hands to eat and keep reading."
"Thanks." James said, a huge contagious smile spreading across his features, which made Lily think that he was good looking, before smiling back at him.
Before Lily could appreciate his face more, he turned back to his book and started to read again avidly. Placing down her fork, she watched his peculiar behaviour before leaning a little to one side, in hope of seeing what he was reading, only to find that the book was a navy blue hard back with no indication of what it was about.
Lily bit her lip. She was inquisitive. She had always wanted to know what had been going on around her, even when she was small. She loved sitting and watching people go about their business, and watching their quirks, and watching James Potter's biggest quirk now, she just had to know what it was that he just had to focus all his attention on.
"Potter, I hope you don't find this awfully forward of me, but what is it that you are reading?" Lily found herself asking, gesturing at the book.
Lily watched as James pressed one finger lightly against a spot on the page before he looked at her.
"You'll laugh if I tell you."
Lily suppressed a giggle.
"You're reading a book. I have never seen you do that before, and I never expected to see you do it, ever. There is a low chance that I will laugh at what you're reading."
James rolled his eyes and picked up the book from where he had just propped it up. Lily watched as he memorized the page he was on, before closing it and offering it to her.
She took it from him carefully and opened the front cover, revealing the answer to her question.
"The Picture of Dorian Grey?" She asked, gently flicking through the pages, remembering the first time she had read it, "Are you enjoying it?"
James grinned as she leafed through his favourite book.
"I always enjoy when I read it," he said with a shrug, "It reminds me of a certain best friend of mine. A narcissistic best friend that is too handsome for his own good. I assume that you've read it before then?"
Lily offered the book back to him, which he placed next to his plate, causing Lily to roll her eyes. Of course, he would choose a conversation when offered one over a book; this was James Potter for Merlin's sake. Lily knew that some things about him really wouldn't change after all.
Taking a mouthful of her dinner delicately, Lily nodded.
"It was one of the first books that I completed in one sitting." She shrugged idly at her comment before continuing. "When I was little I only had one friend, because kids thought I was weird. I was only 8 when I found it on my mother's bedside table, and I swore to start reading it the second I got up the next morning, and I did. It was during the summer holidays that year, so when my sister was off being a social butterfly, I could just read it without interruptions. I didn't stop to eat or sleep, I just read it."
Lily smiled sadly before eating another mouthful of shepherd's pie, feeling the awkward atmosphere she had just created between the two of them with all the information she had just offloaded onto him.
"So, how many times have you read it then?" She asked him after swallowing her food, "You said you always enjoyed when you read it."
James glanced to the book before looking back at Lily. Her green eyes met his hazel ones for a brief second and she felt her stomach flip over unexpectedly, causing her to gasp.
Lily noticed that he had chosen to ignore the gasp she'd made as to stop her embarrassment, but that his smile seemed a little wider than before.
"I've lost count." James said his eyes alight as he spoke about something he clearly enjoyed talking about. "My mother made me read it and I just liked it. I always read it at Christmas and at least twice during the summer."
Lily smiled at him once more, her curiosity contented for a small while, before returning to her book. She hadn't read two words before James Potters voice sprang from nowhere.
"So Evans, seeing as we have at least one thing in common, I was thinking that you…"
"No." She almost shouted, refusing to let him finish him finish his sentence, "You used that book as a way to get me talking to you! I bet you only sat there so you could get me talking before you swooped in with your 'go on a date with me Evans' bull crap. Just get lost, please."
Lily shook her head and looked back at her book. She could feel the embarrassment burning at her cheeks. She'd been so naive to James Potter's niceties that she had forgotten that he almost always had a plan and an ulterior motive. She glanced up hoping to find he had disappeared, but he hadn't. Instead he remained sat still, a faint blush on his cheeks, shock marring his handsome features.
"Evans, I sat here because it was quiet and I wouldn't get disturbed all that much. I also thought that someone who liked books as much as you do would appreciate a conversation about something other than how bad Dorcas' latest haircut is." He said quietly, staring at the red haired girl before him. "I sat here because I wanted to finish this book without Sirius asking me what was happening every 5 seconds, or Peter asking me if I'd help him with his homework instead. I have been polite to you Evans when you have asked me questions, and now you're telling me to get lost when I try to ask you something without you listening to it first, because I didn't think you were like that."
Once he was finished talking, he stared at her head until she raised it and made eye contact with him. She looked ashamed of herself.
"I'm sorry." She mumbled.
"It's been 2 months already since we were given the Head Student titles, and we have been as civil as possible, but it's awkward, even you can see that. I was only going to ask you if you wanted to be friends, because it we might get along and do a better job if we are." He sighed before starting again.
"I thought you might have seen that I had matured, Lily. I got the message that you didn't want to date me and I stopped asking, I guess you didn't notice though. And I guess you weren't the person I thought you were."
Lily suddenly felt disappointed with herself. He had stopped asking her for a date, and she had noticed that it was awkward between then, and this little speech of his showed he was a hell of a lot more mature that he used to be.
And he called her Lily.
She wanted to kick herself in that moment. She wanted to turn back the clock and listen to him instead of jumping to a conclusion.
"I'm sorry, James." She said with as much courage as she could muster, "I'm sorry that I judged you, and that I shouted."
She sighed. He mind was in overdrive, and she could see only one way to put this right. She slowly lifted her right arm until it was completely extended towards him, her hand vertical and stiff.
"Friends?" she asked quietly, hoping that he wouldn't reject her offer.
"Friends," he said. A lopsided smile graced his face after a few seconds, and he gratefully shook her hand.
She smiled back at him before standing up, and snapping her book shut, taking the chance to glance at James one last time.
"Remember though, Potter, just because we're friends now, doesn't mean that I want to date you. If I want to do that, I will ask you, so don't get any ideas about romantic proposals or anything. Okay?"
James chuckled and opened his book, propping it up against the salt shakers again.
"I wouldn't dream of it."
And with a smile, Lily left the great hall thinking about the events of the last thirty minutes. Maybe being friends with James wouldn't be so bad after all.