AN: Just wanted to write a little something about how Lily and James would have met in an Alternate Universe. Hence, this shall take place in a world where Hogwarts and magic do not exist. Also, you should know I am horrible about updating anything. Please forgive me in advanced.
And yes, this switches from Lily to James with no specific consistency. Let's see how it goes!
Disclaimer: Not Jo :(
That particular September morning held no promise that the day would be different from any other. Her alarm blared through the tiny flat at exactly thirty minutes before it usually did. As expected, she pressed snooze three times before groggily dragging her feet to the shower.
She dressed, greeted her roommate, and chose tea over coffee— the same routine of every morning. It was an almost mundane start of the day to her, until she couldn't find her keys.
Had she found her keys, her day would have gone as it normally did: she would have carefully driven to work, arrived safely and on time to class with no interruption. But one of her best mates, Benjy Fenwick, had borrowed her car the previous night after Marlene McKinnon had loudly declared she was craving pizza. Lily had no recollection of exactly where her keys ended up in the excitement the arrival of food caused.
"Lils, Marlene's here to pick me up," her roommate called from the living room as she collected a few items on her way to the door. "See you at lunch, yeah?"
Lily, who was crouched down, searching for any sign of her keys under the kitchen table, called back, "Yeah!" Then, as an afterthought, she yelled, "Cas, have you seen my—" But the sound of the door shutting against its frame told her Dorcas was long gone.
After ten minutes of rummaging through the flat, turning drawers upside down and throwing cushions on the floor, Lily found them, tucked in between the cushions of the couch. She snatched them up with such force that the cold metal hurt her shaky fingers.
Not bothering with breakfast, Lily grabbed her book bag and darted toward the door. In her haste, she almost stepped on the flowerbed Dorcas insisted on having at the entrance of the building. They'll cheer up the place, she had argued. Lily had to admit, she was right. They made the dingy brick building look livelier somehow. Lily was grateful the door lock cooperated with her that morning, it had been protesting stubbornly for the past few weeks. The rain had also ceased and Lily sighed in relief. The last thing she needed was traffic, late as she was.
But of course there was traffic by the time Lily was actually on the road, far too much than was normal for the busy part of town. Cars trailed dangerously close to each other for as far as she could see, their drivers gripping the steering wheel tighter with each frustrated fraction of a foot they moved. Twenty minutes in, Lily let her head fall back against the headrest almost painfully, kissing her spot in one of the most coveted classes at the university goodbye. From what she heard from Dorcas, her professor had little to no tolerance for late arrivals.
"She's notorious for moving your empty desk out to the hall," Dorcas had told her after their pizza had been devoured by the four the previous night. "I'd wake up extra early if I were you, just to make sure you're there with plenty of time."
And Lily had waken up thirty minutes before, but what she had not factored in was pressing snooze for ten more glorious minutes of sleep each time. And of course, there was losing her bloody keys. She made a mental note to scold her friend Benjy for borrowing them so late at night, instantly dismissing the thought and reminding herself it was no one's fault.
They moved again, but just as before, their progress was irritatingly minimal. Lily clenched her jaw, her knuckles ghostly white against the grey swirl of clouds on her windshield. The car beside her jerked into a different lane rather recklessly, opening the way for her to mirror its rash move and merge into the faster lane. Without a second thought, she seized the opportunity, narrowly missing the car behind her. Feeling a shot of adrenaline course through her, she continued down the flow of moving cars, only to stop abruptly as her lane slowed down again.
"Damn," she hissed, feeling her muscles tense up once more.
She was seconds away from considering dropping out of university if it meant never putting up with the horrid town, when they neared an intersection. Lily slammed her foot on the break as the sluggish traffic ceased again, her finger tapping against the steering wheel as she considered turning into the new street.
It was a route she had never taken to school before. The name of the street alone sounded intimidating, almost frightening when she remembered it being uttered by some of her classmates. If she remembered correctly, it was the street with the most luxury flats where the upper-class students preferred to live. She could only imagine what her poor, rumbling beige car from almost two decades ago would look like next to the flashy sports cars parked all along the street.
They began to move again, the opulent street passing her with every foot she advanced.
Lily's eyes darted to look at the street one more time, mentally preparing herself to say goodbye to the opportunity. The breath-taking building facades paled in comparison to the beautifully deserted road.
Making up her mind at the very last second, she swiveled the steering wheel abruptly, her car turning sharply into the street and squealing away from the angry blaring of horns that followed her. She sped up the unfamiliar road, pulse racing, her hands shaking at the memory of the uncharacteristic and dangerous move. As she advanced smoothly, she found that she cared less and less, mostly because if she drove slightly above the speed limit, she would just make it to class on time.
Elated, Lily sang out loud when her favorite song came on the radio, the lavish buildings she sped by nothing but a blur. Perhaps Marlene was right when she said she had to be more aggressive in order to get the results she wanted.
Life was looking rather bright when a flash of scarlet flashed out of nowhere a few feet ahead. Her reflexes recognized it as another car before her mind did. Before she knew it, her foot stomped on the break so hard that she thought she would break the pedal off. With a jolt that sent her whole body lurching forward, her car stalled. Lily, momentarily restrained by her seatbelt, was thrown back violently against her seat. The car behind her, having enough time to swerve onto the next lane, honked angrily at her as it passed.
There was no use trying to regain control of her hands. They were shaking frantically against her will, to the point where it was impossible to reach out and take her car off gear. She could hear her frantic pulse drum unsteadily against her ears and her head was spinning. Lily's mind first registered that she was alive and well. Another part of her mind wondered if this was punishment for trying to cheat traffic.
With a deep breath meant to calm herself down, she took in the scene before her. The scarlet and rather expensive-looking car she had seen had also come to a sudden halt. It was in the middle of coming out of the inconspicuous entryway of a coffee shop when Lily had seen it.
The door of the offending car shot open, allowing the driver to hurry out and examine the cars for possible damage. He was about the same age as Lily— tall, bespectacled, with black hair that stuck at odd angles, not in a sloppy manner but more in one that exuded charm. Paying no attention to Lily, he squat down to take a closer look at the front bumper of his car. Lily, having found the feeling in her legs once more, took that as her opportunity to exit her car and do the same.
She walked around the front of her small car and a quick glance told her that their cars had not actually touched but were very close to doing so. The young man, too, seemed satisfied that no damage had been done and stood up straight, unaware that Lily was standing mere inches from him. He was almost face to face with her and staring at her straight in the eye when he turned.
He blinked, taken aback by their unexpected proximity but he did not step away immediately. Instead, he watched her for a moment, at first with interest. Then, something else sparked in his eyes, which she noted were hazel. Intimidated, Lily backed away and tore her eyes from his, feeling embarrassed for doing so. To her utter surprise, he laughed.
Lily didn't know exactly why, but it irritated her. When she looked up at him again, she saw he was grinning— a confident, amused smirk— which did nothing to improve her disposition.
"Are you all right?" he asked her. His hand, which had been in his pocket, shot to his hair, ruffling it mindlessly as if it was some sort of reflex.
Instead of answering that she was, she snapped, "How careless of a driver can someone be?"
Her voice was almost drowned by the sound of traffic.
He raised an eyebrow. "I didn't see you," he began. He looked over his shoulder at the shrubbery decorating the sidewalk by the entryway.
But Lily cut him off. "Hasn't anyone told you to stop and check traffic before you turn? I mean, do you realize how bad of a crash this could have been?"
Instead of answering, he studied her for a moment and to her dismay, he grew more amused. "I'm James," he said at last, unfazed by her sharp tone. "James Potter."
Lily gaped, incredulous at how lightly he was taking the situation. She was about to retort when he said, "Are you sure you're alright? You look shaken up." His voice dropped some of its previous confidence, replaced with concern. Lily, however, was far too angry to register it. She would never arrive on time now, even if she abandoned the situation, jumped in her car, and sped her car far beyond its limit.
James, meanwhile, nodded toward the small building behind him. "You look like you need some tea, it can really calm-"
Lily glanced around to look at him, incredulous. "You're joking, right?"
He blinked, but otherwise shook off her sharp tone.
"I'm not," he replied cheerfully. "It's miraculous what tea does. Alcohol, too, but given the circumstances…" he swept a hand vaguely at their almost collided cars, "tea would be a wiser option."
"I don't want tea," she said tensely, examining their cars for the second time. She surveyed his more closely than hers, afraid that she may have missed any damage to the expensive paint job.
"Coffee?" he offered uncertainly. "That might not be a good idea either in your state. It might make you—"
"I'm fine," she cut it, crossing her arms to stop them from shaking.
He did not miss the gesture, raising his eyebrows at her.
"Honestly," was all she could say when his eyes studied her closely, looking far from convinced.
In the five seconds it took him to discern that she was lying, she could see the color returning to his face and hands. He had been just as terrified as she had been at their near collision. Lily's eyes traveled back to his face, almost astonished to see that it betrayed no signs of fright despite his previous pallor.
The deafening sound of a car horn brought them back to the present situation. Their stalled cars were blocking most of the lane, forcing oncoming cars to swerve out of the way. Lily felt the icy panic of missing her lesson settle over her body, her stomach dropping as she registered the time. "I have to go," she told him, already marching to her car.
He trailed her at once. "At least take a minute to calm down," he said over the angry and very colorful words a middle-aged woman sent their way.
"I don't have time to take a minute," she retorted, feeling her previous annoyance return.
"Why not?" he asked.
"Because you almost hit me!"
"Precisely why," he said. "I wasn't joking when I said tea would-"
"And you've made me late!" she interrupted, her voice far louder than it needed to be. She regretted it immediately, her cheeks steadily feeling hotter. Taking in a deep breath, she tried again. "I'm really late for a class I can't afford to miss," she explained, unsure why. She was wasting time. "I don't have time for tea or for a date."
His eyebrows shot up again. "Date?" he asked, the amused smirk returning to his face. "Is that what you thought I was doing?"
Lily said nothing, feeling her ears grow hot.
" I wasn't offering tea as a way of asking you out," he explained with laughter in his voice and crossing his arms over his chest. Doing so made him look taller somehow. "You really did look awful. After all, we almost did die together back there." He gestured to the scene of the near-accident with his head. His grin widened. "You really thought I was asking you out?"
Lily remained rooted on the spot, horrified.
"If you wanted a date with me that badly, you could have just asked me yourself," he said quite seriously, though his grin said the complete opposite. "Ball was on your court anyway. I don't usually ask out girls whose names I don't know." He watched her, something in her mortified expression amusing him to no end. "What's yours, by the way?"
"Prick," she muttered as she recovered, ignoring his last question.
"That's an interesting name," he observed. "A bit unusual and unfortunate, though. Not as unfortunate as my cousin Ignotus's name, thinking about it. That's just uncreative on top of horrid. The fact that it's a family name is really no excuse. Prick, on the other hand, works for both a boy and a girl. Creative the more I say it. Prick," he said to himself, emphasizing the last letter so that the muscles of his neck jolted against his skin. "Tell me, Prick, what last name goes with such a clever name?"
Lily, having glared determinately at the traffic instead of him as he spoke, looked up. "Prick Potter seems to fit," she returned, proud she had remembered his surname.
His dark eyebrows shot up as he considered her less than admirable attempt at an insult. Lily regretted that she was still shaken up from nearly crashing. Under normal circumstances, she could have managed a far wittier retort.
"Isn't that a bit forward?" he asked at last.
"I meant you're the-"
"Shouldn't you invite me to coffee before you start taking my last name?"
"I'm leaving," she announced, turning on her heel to continue toward her car.
James chuckled, following her again. "I was only joking," he told her. "Just… hang on."
She was so very late yet, reluctantly, she did.
"At least tell me your name?" he asked, all traces of humor slipping from his voice.
"Lily," she replied before she could consider it. Before he could make any comment, she climbed inside her car.
"Wait, shouldn't we exchange information?" he asked.
"There was no impact."
"I disagree," he replied.
Lily's eyes widened, already tallying the innumerable amount of money she would have to pay to fix even the slightest scratch on his car. He must have read her mind because he laughed. "No, don't worry, my car's fine."
Lily shot him an unamused glare.
"I'm really leaving now," she said dryly.
Before he could say anything to stop her, she started her engine, grateful it did not embarrass her with the loud groans it randomly emitted. Without sparing him a glance, she put her car in first gear, ready to maneuver around his car. Before she did so, however, his eyes fell on something on her dashboard and recognition flitted in his expression, "Hey, you go to—"
But Lily never heard the end of that sentence. She successfully swerved around his car and sped off. She could see him standing there through her rearview mirror and even as he grew tinier, she could tell her was grinning.
When Lily arrived on campus, she wasted even more time outside her lecture hall, deciding whether to go inside or not. At least her desk was nowhere in sight like Dorcas had warned. In the end, she decided to take a chance and walk into the lecture lest her dangerous race to get there go to waste. The Arthurian Literature professor, a strict woman of about fifty with black, graying hair and stern features, stopped mid-sentence at her arrival, glared at her from atop her glasses and assured her that the next time she was late to her lecture, she would deduct a whole letter from her final grade.
Mumbling her apologies, and avoiding the fifty pairs of eyes that followed her, Lily sank into her seat.
Already, the morning was one of the most eventful ones she had ever had. Lily couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not.
In years to come, however, she would decide it was her luckiest morning, and avoiding a crash or being allowed to stay in class had nothing to do with that.
All because she lost her bloody keys.
AN: Let me know what you think, please?I might expand to more chapters in the future.
EDIT: The date is December 31st, 2015. I originally published this chapter on June 24, 2011. I have edited this majorly because I don't know why anyone let me write back then. Sorry if editing this is a bad thing. I tried to be gentle.