AN: This fic has been the bane of my existence for the past two months, but it's finally done and I really hope you enjoy it because lord knows it's taken up enough of my time.
Noun: a huge, powerful, overwhelming, destructive, inescapable force or object
Things to do over Easter:
Revise for N.E.W.T.s.
Try not to fight with Petunia
Try not to fight with gran
Avoid thinking about James Potter
Joyce Evans took her tea with milk and half a teaspoon of sugar. That was the way she had always liked it and for the past fifty years she had never even sipped a cup of tea that was lacking in milk or half a teaspoon of sugar. With that in mind, you can imagine her predicament when she opened the fridge at half past six in the morning to find it completely vacant of anything that vaguely resembled milk. She was absolutely appalled. It wasn't her fridge of course; the fridge belonged to her son, as did the whole house in fact.
So when she muttered with venom, "This would never happen in my house," she was perfectly within her right to do so.
Sighing, she turned away from the milkless sham of a kitchen and shuffled to the hallway. Placing a delicately wrinkled hand on the stair rail, blue veins flushing against white wood, she smacked her thin lips and proceeded to wake up her slumbering granddaughters with gusto.
"Girls!" she cried, her voice shrill. "Get up and get dressed. We're popping to the shops!"
The eldest was the first to appear; her blonde hair uncharacteristically tangled.
She put a bony hand to her forehead and sighed, "Gran, do you know what time it is?"
"Time for you to be up and about. Come on," she said briskly as she walked away from the staircase, forcing her granddaughter to follow, "It's a lovely spring day outside. It'd do you some good to get some fresh air. You look like death."
The blonde slumped into the first chair she could reach, resting her elbow on the dining room table, and allowing her eyes to glaze over and her grandma's word to go straight over her head.
The young girl gave a start and looked up at her grandma with drowsy eyes.
"Yes?" she asked.
"Are you ignoring me?"
"Of course not."
"Then what did I just ask you to do?"
Yawning, Petunia dropped her hands away from her face. "You wanted me to wake my sister up?"
Joyce narrowed her eyes. "I was actually reminding you to catch the sun while you can. You're so pale, you lot. Not that that's your fault. I warned your father what would happen if he married an Irish woman, but did he listen?"
"Yes, quite right," Petunia cut her short, not bothering to remind her grandma that her mother had only been a quarter Irish and that there was probably more Irish blood on her father's side.
"Do you want me to go and get Lily up?" she offered.
"If you wouldn't mind."
"LILY!" bellowed Petunia, barely bothering to turn to face the staircase.
"Well I could have done that, couldn't I?" snapped Joyce. "Go and get her properly."
Fortunately for Petunia, her younger sister made an appearance at that exact moment.
"I'm up! I'm awake! What's going on?" her voice was little more than a croak as she lumbered down the stairs with such little grace that, despite her petite build, her footsteps could easily be mistaken for those of a man.
Lily Evans, however, was not a man. She was an eighteen year old girl with vivid red hair and freckles scattered across the almost every inch of her pale skin. Fairer still than her older sister and far more prone to burning at the first sign of sunlight.
"What did I miss?" she asked, lowering herself in the chair opposite Petunia.
"Gran decided that it might be fun for us girls to go to the shop."
"It's not even seven!" cried Lily. "The shops don't open for at least two hours. Besides, I was really hoping to get some revision done today."
Joyce Evans waved away the complaints as though they were nothing more than dust in the air.
"Nonsense," she said briskly, vanishing behind a door and into the kitchen. "I've come all the way down to stay with you while your father's away so the least you can do is lend me a hand. The daylight'll do you good. You're both so pale! Besides, it's not as if the shops aren't just around the corner."
Rolling her eyes, Lily reached for an orange from the fruit bowel. Petunia mirrored her movement; peeling her own orange with ease due to her sharp and well kept nails, in contrast the Lily's which were bitten until raw.
As she popped a segment into her mouth, Petunia watched her younger sister struggle with her own fruit. Just when she was about to give up and try with her teeth, Petunia sighed and held out a hand across the table.
Lily looked up at her suspiciously.
"Hand it over then," said Petunia.
Lily passed the orange and smiled gratefully as Petunia peeled it for her. However, the eldest sister did not respond with equal warmth.
"Important revision to do today then?" she asked coolly.
Lily blinked and her smile faltered. "Very important, actually."
"If you like you can borrow one of my hats and practice pulling a rabbit out of it."
The now naked orange was thrown lightly back across the table with a flair of superiority on Petunia's part.
"Thanks," Lily replied sarcastically, catching it.
Joyce reappeared a moment later with a plate in either hand. "What are you two whispering about?"
"Nothing," said both girls quickly.
"What have you got there?" Lily inquired of her grandma, determinately not looking at Petunia.
"Toast," came the simple answer.
The girls ate their breakfast slowly, still groggy due to the unique combination of being a teenager and being awake before nine in the morning.
"Now, which one of you would like to come with me to the shop?"
Petunia sighed in mock regret. "I'm so sorry, Gran. It'll have to be Lily. I'm going down to Brighton with Vernon's family and I need to make myself presentable for when he comes to pick me up at noon," she then turned to look directly at Lily, "in his car."
Unfazed, Lily snorted with laughter. "But, Tuney, that only leaves you – what? – four hours to get ready? I think you should have started earlier."
Petunia made a face at her sister before slinking upstairs. As soon as she heard Petunia's bedroom door slam, Lily leaned forwards to finish off the breakfast that Petunia had only picked at.
"Your sister never eats what I give her. I don't know why I bother."
"No wonder she's so bloody skinny," said Lily through a mouthful of cold toast.
Joyce gave her a sharp look. "Manners, Lily! Don't speak with your mouth full."
After just over an hour of orange juice, arguments, showers, and searches for hairbrushes, Lily was looking herself up and down in the mirror. She had opted for a brown skirt, black tights, and a white jumper. For a second she contemplated wearing something warmer, then quickly dismissed this because she was in no mood to change. All that was left was her hair, which was still sopping wet from the shower.
Had Lily been at school she could have dried it in an instant. However, she was not at school so had to go about drying the regular, long way, her wand remaining discarded at the bottom of her trunk. She didn't need her gran to raise anymore questions about where her youngest granddaughter vanished to for more than half the year.
So at approximately twenty minutes to nine, Lily switched on her hairdryer. Unfortunately, the noise drowned out a knock on the door which occurred precisely two and a half minutes later. If Lily had been able to dry her hair with magic like usual, she might have been able to prepare herself for what came next.
As it happened, she remained blissfully unaware right up until her gran's head poked round her bedroom door.
"Lily, someone's here to see you!"
Perplexed, Lily put down her hairdryer and made her way to the door. Before she could make her way to the stairs, however, Joyce caught her wrist with her bony fingers and gave her a stern look.
"Now, I'm not going to say I disapprove. Lord knows I stepped out with a few iffy blokes in my day. But I don't like him. He's almost as smarmy as then fat git your sister brought home."
If Lily had not been sufficiently confused by this, imagine how her confusion increased when she reached the front door.
Lily found herself standing in front of a very familiar boy with messy black hair and glasses clinging to the end of his long nose.
"James!" she cried in surprise.
"Before you go mental at me," he said quickly, holding up his hands in defence, "I promised your grandma we'd go buy her some milk."
It was then that Lily decided that it was best to abandon her Easter to do list as it was very hard to ignore James Potter when he was at your front door.
"Here's a five pound note for the shops," said Joyce, appearing at Lily's side. "Well, here you go then." She held the money up, expectantly.
There was a brief moment where nothing happened before, finally, James smiled gratefully and took the note while Lily remained still in her catatonic state of utter confusion.
"As long as you get me some milk, I don't mind what you spend the rest on," said Joyce as she shuffled out of sight.
James prepared himself for a verbal attack from the stunned ginger, but it never came. She simply remained... well, stunned.
"Evans, are you alright?" he asked.
"I... um... I don't... what?"
"Thanks for the clarification. I understand you perfectly now."
She screwed up her face and gave him a pathetic punch on the shoulder.
"What in the name of Merlin's pants are you doing here?" she cried.
"You said I could come."
"I don't think I did."
"Yeah, well you gave me your address which was basically an invitation," he said fairly.
"You said you'd only use it in case of emergencies! Like if you were in the area and got mauled by a goose or something."
"This is an emergency!"
Her hand flew to her hip and she looked at him in disbelief, almost as if to say: "go on then, this better be good."
"I was bored."
She rolled her eyes. "That's not an emergency, Potter."
"It is. It's a head emergency."
"The head boy needs the head girl to entertain him."
"Why can't you just play with Sirius?" she sighed.
"Because I've been hanging out with him non-stop for about a week and he's already pissing me off," he said.
"So you thought you'd piss me off?"
He smiled sheepishly. "Happy Easter?"
After mulling the situation over for a moment or two, she conceded. "Fine," she said, closing the door behind her as she stepped out of her house. "I will let you accompany me to buy milk, but then you have to go home."
"We'll see," he said.
She did not argue further because he was stubborn, she was bored, and to be perfectly honest, he wasn't terrible company either.
The walk from the Evans' front garden to the shops was an awkward one. James was beginning to regret his decision of turning up out of the blue and Lily was still trying to comprehend James' presence in her town.
"What did you say to my gran?" said Lily suddenly, about ten feet from the shop.
He took a deep breath as though preparing to give and long speech but then immediately burst out laughing. "I can't really remember. I was a bit nervous and just started babbling about how she didn't have to worry that I wasn't good enough for you because I was head boy at our school."
Lily chuckled at that; it explained why her gran had described him as a smarmy.
"Why? Did she say something to you about me?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing really. I think she liked you," she lied.
"Well obviously. I've found myself to be quite a likable person."
"Have you now?"
"Well, you like me, don't you?"
It was a question that she had posed herself many a time before. Did she like James Potter? She certainly didn't hate him anymore and he was somewhat entertaining when he wasn't trying to flirt with her, but did she like him? Usually she didn't ponder this question for too long due to the fact that she was terrified of the answer and what it might mean. She could not admit to liking him because that could start a dangerous road on which they could become friends and she utterly refused to be friends with James Potter. Yet, here he was, walking beside her to the local shop and asking the very question which she had never really wanted to answer.
"Well," she began slowly, "I suppose I do sometimes."
She wasn't lying either, because she definitely did like him some of the time; it was whether she liked him all the time that baffled her.
"Sometimes? Your words sting, Evans. I thought we were friends."
She laughed. "I don't think so. My friends generally call me Lily."
"Well yes but it'd be weird to start calling you 'Lily' after all these years."
"I dunno. It just feels wrong."
They had reached their destination, but James didn't realise this and continued to walk on. She could have used her words to call him back, she knew this, however her brain rejected that option and dictated that she should grab the sleeve of his jacket and pull him back towards her.
Utterly bewildered, James allowed himself to be led along by his sleeve and into a very dark and cramped shop.
"This is the direction you'd like me to go in then?" he chuckled.
"Oh, hush," she said, releasing his sleeve very quickly and pretending to investigate the milk.
James took this time to inspect his surroundings. It was a small shop; there couldn't have been more than three aisles and yet somehow she managed to lose him.
Not that she minded him wandering off. It wasn't as though she needed him around. Except she sort of did, she had just forgotten.
"Just this?" asked the man behind the counter, gesturing to the bottle of milk before him.
Lily smiled back. "Yeah, thanks."
"That'll be seventy pence."
"Okay," she said, reaching into her pocket for the five pound note that wasn't there. "I'm so sorry; my... my friend has the money. I won't be a minute."
Poking her head around a shelf, she found him investigating the sweet section with a bemused expression.
"James," she whispered urgently.
"Hey, Evans," he said without looking up. "What's up with these sweets? I mean, they don't do anything!"
She glanced at his hand and saw him clutching a bag of jelly snakes.
"No, but they taste better than cockroach cluster."
"I'll bet you anything that you've never tried cockroach cluster."
"Nope and I never will."
He raised an eyebrow. "You seem to be severely lacking in an open mind there, Evans."
"I'd rather have a closed mind than no mind at all."
"What are you suggesting? That I'm brainless."
"It wasn't a suggestion so much as an observation."
"Well, that's just rude. Don't you know you're supposed to be polite to the differently abled."
"And you're 'differently abled' are you?" she asked, folding her arms as she did so.
"Well, I've had a rough life, being born without a brain and whatnot. I can't tell you my surprise when I was made head boy. I couldn't believe that I was head of anything, what with my own being so empty."
"It's not empty exactly, more like filled with rubbish."
"Well you can't blame me for that. I suspect it's largely due to pollution."
Rolling her eyes, she held her hand out. "Give me the money."
"Are you mugging me, Evans?" he asked.
"No, you have the money. You know, the money my gran gave you."
"Oh, I remember now: she trusted me to look after the money because I'm manly and responsible."
She rolled her eyes but chose to appease him rather than argue further: "Yes exactly, now can I have it?"
"Excuse me, but did your gran put you in charge of the money?"
"I don't think she thought too much about it."
"I beg to differ."
"Oh, come on. I'm only teasing you. You're very uptight, you know."
She opened her mouth to retort but was interrupted by a cry from behind the counter: "Are you two quite done flirting? I've got other customers you know!"
The man held up the abandoned milk bottle and waved it about a little to catch their attention.
Lily's cheeks flushed with pink and she was thankful that James was walking towards the counter at that moment; he couldn't have noticed her embarrassment.
He noticed and allowed himself a smirk at the thought of Lily Evans getting flustered over him. Then he paid for the milk.
A few moments later, Lily found herself outside and pale once more.
"So how's your Easter going?" she asked, lost for a topic of greater interest.
"Pretty average really. I've either been hanging out with Sirius (which I do all the time anyway) or being forced to study for our exams."
"Study? You? Never!"
"I know! It's ridiculous."
"It's almost as if your parents want you to do well in school."
"Who said anything about my parents? Moony's the one that's been shoving revision timetables down all our throats."
"I'm serious!" he cried. "He's obsessed with studying; I swear to Merlin that I caught him humping his Charms text book."
Some seconds later, the two eighteen year olds were standing at the Evans' front door, recovering from laughter.
"Well, Potter," she sighed, "I'm afraid to say that this is where we say goodbye."
"I suppose you could always invite me in."
"I could but I won't."
"I did pay for the milk while you were busy being distracted by my good-looks."
"You had the money!" she cried.
"Nevertheless, I think I should be the one to give your gran the milk."
She shook her head. "I don't think so."
"Come on, I'm bored as hell at home! Just let me in for five minutes."
Lily contemplated the consequences of letting James Potter in her house. She could muster three reasons altogether: three very big reasons why it was a catastrophic idea. However, none of these reasons seemed all that important when applied to the time frame of five minutes.
"Alright then, but only for five minutes."
Because really, how much could happen in five minutes?
(Five minutes later)
"Evans!" he called, running across her front lawn, trying to keep up with her rapid pace. "Evans, are you seriously that pissed off at me?"
She didn't stop. She didn't even slow down.
"You said five minutes!"
"We were only in there for five minutes," he defended.
"During which you invited yourself to dinner at my house."
"I think you'll find that your gran invited me."
"You didn't have to accept! Now I'm stuck with you for the whole day."
"That's just charming, isn't it? Has it occurred to you that maybe I wanted to accept and maybe, just maybe, I want to hang out with you today and that's why I came here?"
Finally stopping, she turned to face him. She didn't respond because she didn't really know what to say to him. He stared back and the only sound that escaped either of them was Lily trying to steady her breathing after working herself up so much.
"What's so bad about me having dinner with you?"
Lily had three reasons, three very good reasons, but one was ridiculous and the other was far too destructive to be acknowledged. That left one reason that she felt free to share, the most offensive and the weakest reason of all: James Potter was annoying. Sort of.
"Because you're just going to be there the whole day now and I don't think I can handle spending the whole day with you!" she cried.
"You're very bitchy today, y'know. What's that about?"
She smiled sarcastically. "I suppose you just bring out the worst in me."
"Ah, I thought that might be it," he hung his head forward in shame. "It's a fatal flaw really: I make all these 'good girls' so sexually frustrated that they don't know what to do with themselves. They get so pent up that they end up massive bitches. It's quite sad."
She frowned at him. "What's sad is that you think you have the ability to make anyone sexually frustrated."
"I don't frustrate you sexually?"
"It's not that you don't frustrate me, Potter. I think you've just picked the wrong adverb," she quipped.
He snorted with laughter.
"What?" she asked.
When he shrugged and looked embarrassed, she realised what had made him laugh.
"You're so childish."
"Oi, I think we've had enough of that now."
"Enough of what?"
"You being rude to me. Especially after I've been so nice as to sacrifice a whole day of my Easter to keep you company."
"What would be nice is if you would leave right now," she almost pleaded.
"Ah, but I've promise your gran that I'd come to dinner. I reckon it'd break her fragile little heart."
Lily scoffed. "My gran does not have a fragile anything."
"Well then, I'm sure your heart would break if I left."
"I think I'll survive. Now go!"
"Evans, I think you need to come to terms with the fact that the more you ask me to leave, the more I want to stay."
"Fine!" she cried, making her way to a bench not far off from where they stood and plopping herself down. There she sat for a few moments, in utter silence, with folded arms and a stony look.
"What are you doing?" he asked, amused.
"If you must know, I'm ignoring you until you go away."
"Well that's incredibly mature."
"I can't hear you; I'm ignoring you."
"Honestly, Evans, when has ignoring me ever worked in your favour?"
He did have a point, but Lily's temperament was generally inclined to be stubborn and so she did not change tact.
Tutting loudly, James shook his head. "You're a bit of a brat aren't you? You always have to have things your way."
She twisted around in order to retort but he was not there anymore. A quick scan of the street told her that he was just a little way up the road, not turning down an alley way to apparate, but towards the shop they had visited earlier.
"What in Merlin's name is he doing?" she breathed, taking no notice of the man walking past who wore a face that seemed to say: "Why is that bizarre ginger girl talking to herself?"
James returned almost ten minutes later to find Lily tapping her foot lightly to a tune in her head, humming along as she did so. The corners of his mouth twitched at the sight; she was completely barmy.
"Evans," he greeted, slumping down in the vacant space beside her.
The song in her head must have been good because she continued to hum a little as she turned to face him.
"Where have you been?" she wondered aloud.
"I've got you a present."
"A present? What for?"
He shrugged. "Think of it as bribery."
Pulling out a packet of what looked like sweets he tossed them into her lap.
"What are these?"
"The ones that looked the most interesting."
He looked down in the bag in her hand and read out: "Aniseed twists."
"They sounded like they'd take the nicest."
"Well, I expect they taste like aniseed."
She tore a neat little opening at the corner and reached in for one.
"Are they nice?" he asked, watching her pop a small, red boiled sweet into her mouth. Her expression was thoughtful at first, as though she wasn't quite sure what to think of them. Unfortunately, curiosity turned very quickly into disgust.
He winced. "That bad?"
No response was necessary, he could reach his own conclusion from the way she scrunched up her face and held up a hand to spit the sweet out into.
Finally, she spoke,"If you're ever buying me sweets again, Potter, no aniseed, okay?"
"Now let's go for a walk; this bench is making my bum sore."
James did not know the area at all, but from what he saw it didn't look like a very nice place for walking. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't scenic. Fortunately, Lily did know the area and chose a very nice walk for them, through a gathering of trees towards a nice little clearing where there were several screaming children and boys playing football.
"It's quite warm isn't it?" he mused.
"I suppose so."
As though he had been waiting for her confirmation of the current temperature, he pushed up the sleeves of his jumper.
His arms were skinny, she noted, but they were developing what could one day be muscle. Then something shiny caught her eye, something shiny around his wrist area.
"Nice trinket," she teased.
He looked bewildered for a moment before he realised that there was a very heavy gold watch on his wrist. "Damn, I keep forgetting to take this off."
"What's wrong with it?"
"It's humiliating!" he cried, holding it up for her to inspect. It was very shiny.
"Why are you wearing it then?"
"My parents bought it for my birthday last year and it cost them a fortune and a half, so I try to wear it when I'm home for the holidays. It makes them happy anyway."
"Why don't you wear it all the time?" she asked, trying not to smile too widely. "Other than the fact that it's terribly shiny."
"Watches are pointless."
"Good for telling the time though."
"Who needs to know the time? I turn up when I want to."
"Which is why you're never on time for lessons."
He shrugged, bored of the watch conversation. "You don't live with your grandma, do you?" he inquired. "It's just that I don't remember you ever saying it."
She laughed softly. "No I don't live with my grandma, but she might as well live with us. Every time my dad goes away for work she feels the need to come and stay with us," snorting, she continued: "It's not as though Tuney and I aren't adults. We aren't completely incompetent. I mean, Tuney's getting married for goodness sake!"
"Tuney's the mental sister, right?"
She narrowed her eyes at him.
"What?" he cried. "I'm only going off what you've told me."
"Well, I suppose mental wouldn't be the most inaccurate description of her. You should she the bloke she's marrying. Nobody of sound mind could choose to spend the rest of their lives with that git."
"Is that contempt in your voice, Evans? And is it actually directed at someone other than me?"
"Shockingly enough, not everything I do revolves around you."
"Just nearly everything?"
In response, she stuck her tongue out at him.
"What's so bad about the git?"
"He's just so up his own arse! He looks down on our family just because his have a bit of money, he hates me because I don't fawn over his shiny new car, and not to mention the fact that whenever he comes over he eats us out of house and home. No wonder he's the size of a bungalow!"
"Why a bungalow?"
"And," she continued, not answering him, "When he came over on my birthday, he ate half my cake! He can't take the time to be courteous to me but he can take the time to wolf down half a Victoria sponge with my name iced onto it! Not to mention when he tried to 'do up the garden' and he brought his rake round to our house..." she trailed off at the look on James' face. "I'm rambling aren't I?"
"Just a little."
"I blame my lack of sleep," Lily said wearily, before catching the eye of a group of boys playing football and waving to the stumpiest one.
James might have been jealous, except the boy was twelve.
"So your sister's bloke's large, is he?" he asked, drawing her attention back onto him.
"What gave you that impression?"
"Oh, nothing much. Just the bungalow comment and something about cake."
He thought she might laugh, but instead she gave a guilty sigh. "Yes, he's enormous, but I really shouldn't be judging him for that. I should just judge him for being a pretentious berk."
"Still, it explains why, when I knocked on your door and said I had come to see you, your gran said 'at least you're skinny.'"
"It was quite rude of her really," he mused.
"Hey, I've just gone through a growth spurt!"
"This is insulting to my manhood."
"I'm incredibly manly."
And that was when it hit him in the face.
The football, that is.
Lily gasped, attempting to search him for any sign of injury. Her attempts were hindered, however, by the fact that James had brought his hands up to his face and had not yet removed them.
"Are you alright?" she asked, tentatively.
"I am absolutely fantastic!"
One of the boys jogged over. Incidentally the same one that Lily had waved to earlier and the one who had kicked the ball in their direction. He looked up at the teenagers with apologetic eyes.
"Don't worry about it, Simon" said Lily. "Just watch where you're kicking next time."
"I'm fine by the way, I don't need an apology," groaned James, letting his hands fall from his face.
"Who's the git?" asked Simon.
"That's Mr. Git to you, young man."
"Simon, this is James," Lily said loudly, trying to drown out any possibility of am argument. "James this is Simon, he lives next door to me."
Simon glared. "Is this he your boyfriend?" his contempt rang through in the last word.
"So what if I am?"
"He's not!" Lily cried, but she was ignored.
"Watch your back, mate. In a few years time she'll be mine."
"In a few years time or a few feet time?" asked James, patting the boy on the head to highlight his lack of height.
"Just because you're taller than me doesn't make you better! If it came down to it then I'd easily beat you."
"Beat me at what?"
"Boys," she pleaded.
"Anything," said Simon. "I could take a sissy like you any day."
"Are you challenging me to a duel, little boy?"
James rolled his eyes. "A fight."
"Bring it on."
He turned to look at Lily who was practically hopping up and down in desperation.
"Relax," he muttered so only she could hear. "I'm not actually going to fight him."
"What are you going to do then?" she whispered in reply.
He shrugged then spotted several large branches that had been discarded at the roots of a nearby tree.
"Looks like someone was trying to build a fire," he said, walking towards the small pile and picking out two branches. He tossed the larger one to the boy and twirled his own between his fingers.
"Come, young adversary, I challenge you to a branch duel."
"A branch fight,"
"For the lady's honour then?"
"For the lady's honour," Simon repeated, grinning.
Simon lunged first, brandishing the point of his branch in the vague direction of James' belly. In response, James gave an overly theatrical leap backwards to dodge advances of his rival.
"Are you just going to run away?" Simon cat-called.
With that, James made as though to strike his shoulder.
"Oi, watch it!"
"You wanted a fight," reasoned James.
Simon then swung for his legs. He missed by miles, but it was enough for James to throw himself to the ground in agony. The twelve-year old was still for a moment before moving cautiously towards his fallen opponent.
"Did I really hurt you?" he asked in a quiet voice.
With a grin, James leaned forward and pulled Simon to the ground with him.
"James!" cried Lily, but Simon was laughing, as was James in fact.
"You two are ridiculous!"
The two boys were helping each other to their feet, the laughter continuing.
"Are you finished being childish?"
"Oh, don't be a kill joy!" cried Simon, before turning to James. "I reckon you won her fair and square."
"Well you got me, didn't you?"
"I suppose I did."
Lily narrowed her eyes and made her way over to them. "Can I reclaim the git now?" she asked, giving James' shoulder a quick squeeze to indicate which git she was referring to.
"Why not yet?" the teenagers both asked at the same time.
"Well, you won her, now you have to kiss her."
Lily's eyes widened. "I beg your pardon?"
"He wants us to kiss."
"I heard him, I just don't get why," she said.
"Because he won you," said Simon, as though it was the most reasonable thing in the world.
Both boys' eyes turned on her. She didn't really know what she thought was going to happen but she could feel her hands growing clammy and her heart thudding shamelessly against her chest.
Simon grew impatient. "I didn't ask you to recite the bible. Just give him a kiss!"
She looked to James for some sort of assistance but he didn't quite look up to offering it at that moment.
"Come on then, Evans," he coaxed.
"You cannot be serious."
Simon nodded in encouragement. "Go on, Lily."
Go on, Lily?
After being dead set on not kissing James Potter for the past seven years, there was absolutely no way she was going to change her mind.
Well, not because of a taunting pre-pubescent in any case.
Her eyes found James' and she noticed a vague shadow of what might just be a plan. Almost as if he had figured out a way to cheat the system.
Cheat the system to kiss her?
"I'm not kissing you!" she cried, incredulous to why he would think she would.
Rolling his eyes, he leaned forwards. She didn't know whether or not to jump backwards, but something (confusion, she supposed) kept her rooted to the spot. Then, at the last minute, he grinned and turned his face to offer her his cheek.
She tried not to let out a breath of relief as she stood on her tippy toes and pressed her lips firmly against his cheek. The kiss was filled with perhaps a little more gusto than she had intended, due to the fact that she was feeling a surge of emotion towards the boy in the form of gratitude.
When she pulled away, she found that she was grinning widely, as was he.
"That was rubbish," moaned Simon from some forgotten location just feet away. "I think I might've changed my mind about you, Lily. I'm not sure I can let you be my girlfriend if that's what your kisses look like."
And with that, the boy departed and rejoined his abandoned friends, taking the football with him.
"James," breathed Lily.
"Yes?" he replied, imitating her breathy tone.
"Did I just get rejected by a child?"
He let out a roar of laughter and clapped her lightly on the back. "Don't worry about it too much, Evans."
"I did though, didn't I?"
"Well, I think he liked me in the end."
"Of course he did!" she chuckled. "Five minutes is all it takes to fall in love with The Great James Potter."
He raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"So I've heard."
"I think you're just jealous."
"Of what exactly?"
"That Simon likes me better."
She scoffed. "I'll live. Besides," she said, as they began walking once more, "he's not really my type."
"What is your type then?" asked James, slipping his hands into his pockets.
"I don't know. Someone older perhaps?"
"Oh, really? Older or someone closer to your age?" he grinned down at her. "Maybe even someone in the same year at school? Maybe the same house?"
Suppressing her laughter, she swatted at his arm. "Bugger off, Potter."
"What? You said you wanted someone older than a twelve year old."
"And more mature than one preferably."
He gave an over exaggerated gasp and clutched at his chest. "Evans! Are you saying that I'm not mature?"
"In my experience, mature people don't attack children with branches."
"I think you've got mature mixed up with boring."
"I think you've got boring mixed up with sensible."
He shook his head in disbelief. "Right, so what's your type other than old and sensible?"
Pursing her lips, she contemplated the question for a moment. "Kind, I suppose."
"Kind?" he exclaimed.
"Yes: Kind, is there anything wrong with that?"
"Not at all, Evans. In fact, I love how you describe your dream man with such passion: old, sensible, and kind? Merlin, I think I'm falling in love with the bloke myself."
"Well let's see you try!" she cried. "Go on; describe your 'type' to me in three words."
He looked at her incredulously for what felt like a very long time. "Well I'd go for ginger, freckly, and completely oblivious," he said.
Her breath caught in her throat at his words and she felt a familiar fluttering in her chest. The fluttering was decisively suppressed, however, and she made a mental note not to inquire after James Potter's romantic preferences ever again.
Minutes passed where the only noise either of them made came from the sound of twigs and dried leaves crunching beneath their feet.
Then, finally, Lily broke their silence.
"Thank you for back there." She gestured over her shoulder. "I appreciate it."
James' mouth formed a half smile at the memory. "Well you're not a real man until you duel for your woman's honour using only a branch."
"Not that. I meant the thing with the kiss."
His eyes dropped to his shoes as his face flushed a little. "Oh, right. That. Well, I knew that if I let you kiss me properly you wouldn't have been able to control yourselves and it would have gotten very inappropriate. Especially with a minor there."
She tried to say "shut up," she honestly did. What came out of her mouth, however, was uncontrollable laughter. He was quick to join her and very soon they were emerging from the trees and onto the road in, chuckling as they went.
Almost as soon as they were in sight of the high street, Lily stopped walking. "Can you smell that?" she asked.
He turned to look at her. "Smell what?"
With little care whether or not she looked idiotic doing so, Lily sucked in the air around her in one glorious sniff.
"Fish and chips," she said with a dreamy smile. "What do you say, Potter? Fancy some lunch?"
As it turned out, fish and chips weren't really an option due to one slight problem.
"What do you mean you think you lost the money?"
"Well, when I fell down during the duel..."
She folded her arms impatiently. "So it fell out of your pocket when you threw yourself on the ground?"
"So we're penniless."
"No! Not penniless. Look!" he pulled a coin from his pocket and held it up for her to see. "What can we get for this?"
Her eyes drifted to the menu board behind him. "Chips for two?" she suggested.
"Sounds good to me."
"Why would they put lemons on chips?" he asked, joining her, chips in hand, at the table she had saved for them. "We got water as well because apparently that's free."
Lily did not respond, however, because as soon as the chips were placed in front of her, Lily reached for the bottle to her left and began to drown them in vinegar.
He chuckled softly; she was so predictable.
"You don't mind vinegar do you?" she asked.
"Well, it's a little late now, isn't it?" he said, glancing down at the soggy chips.
"Don't be. I like vinegar."
"Good," she smiled, picking at the label for a minute or two. Then, after some stretch of silence: "What would you do if I poured this vinegar in my eyes?"
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Laugh, I suppose," he said cautiously, not entirely sure what conversation he has stumbled into.
"What if I turned blind?"
"I'd lend you my glasses."
She scoffed. "How would they help me?"
"I don't know, Evans. Why don't you just not pour vinegar in your eyes?"
"Because that's not part of the game!" she cried.
"We're playing a game?"
"Yes and you're terrible at it."
"Maybe you should explain the rules."
She sighed impatiently. "It's the 'what would you do if' game."
"That's the title not the rules."
"Well, you ask questions like 'what would you do if I got trampled by a horse?'"
"Well, I'm certainly thrilled by it."
"Fine!" she said. "I was just trying to make conversation."
"Well it was a pretty terrible attempt."
"Sorry for trying to make this day bearable."
She folded her arms crossly and leaned back in her seat.
"Oh, stop it," he teased.
"Pretending like this day has been unbearable for you."
"Who's to say it hasn't?"
James rolled his eyes and began to pick the lemons off of the chips.
She allowed her mind to wander back to their conversation a few hours beforehand...
"What's so bad about me having dinner with you?"
There were three reasons. Three big reasons. Except not really, because the first reason was weak and he didn't irritate her all that much.
There were two reasons left. Two incredibly big and important reasons.
Reason number two was simple; James Potter could not experience prolonged interaction with her grandma.
Reason number three was... well, not so simple. It was best ignored really.
"Why would anyone put lemons on chips?" he asked, snapping her out of her thoughts inspecting a slice before tossing it aside.
"I think it's for the fish," she mused. "Y'know, if you can afford to order any."
"Well that's just disrespectful to the poor."
Quite forgetting that she was angry with him, she giggled softly and watched as he picked off the last lemon and tossed it away with distaste.
For some reason, she was reminded of something. "You don't like strawberries," she said, suddenly.
He looked up at her with a curious expression. "Sorry?"
"You don't like strawberries."
"No I don't."
"Because they're too sweet."
"All you ever eat are sweets!" she cried. "In fact, I've spent half my year picking up your sweet wrappers up from the floor in the head office."
"Yeah but sweets are supposed to be sweet. It's in the name. Strawberries are fruit and fruit shouldn't be that sweet."
"Rubbish! Loads of fruit's sweet."
"Not proper fruit," he stated matter-of-factly.
"I dunno. Bananas?" he suggested.
"Bananas don't count! Bananas are rubbish."
"Bananas are brilliant."
"What would you do if I told you that bananas have just become extinct?"
"I would cry," he said simply. "What would you do if I told you that strawberries are a death eater plot?"
"I would join the death eaters."
"Okay, what would you do if I told you that I was a strawberry in disguise?"
"I'd marry you."
"Evans," he said seriously, leaning across the table and staring at her intently.
She tried not to blush as she asked: "Yes?"
"I'm a strawberry in disguise."
He sat back with a grin, which quickly faded into a thoughtful smile.
"Why did you bring up strawberries?"
She shrugged and bit into a chip. "The way you were picking off the lemons reminded me of how you always pick the strawberries off of the chocolate tarts at Hogwarts."
"Those are good tarts."
"Even better with strawberries."
"But still, how did you know that I pick off my strawberries."
"I don't really know. I suppose, if you spend seven years eating dinner with someone then you tend to notice their eating habits," she said thoughtfully.
"Right, like the way you always cover your chips in vinegar?"
"Exactly, except that doesn't count because you just noticed that now."
"Or maybe I noticed it in second year when you accidentally poured it on your spaghetti as well and then spent the next five minutes trying to sponge it up with your napkin."
She frowned and tilted her head in curiosity.
"I remember because it was the first time I ever heard you swear," he continued, trying not to meet her eye. "You only said 'bloody hell' but I thought it was brilliant because you'd been so goody-goody for the past two years that it was nice to see you had a dark side."
"A dark side?"
"Also a laid back side because you ate the spaghetti anyway."
She giggled and shook her head.
"And," he continued, encouraged by her laughter, "you spilled a whole bottle at dinner in fifth year. It went all over your skirt and it splattered a little on Mary Macdonald's cloak. She almost cried."
"I remember that, actually! She spent all night trying to get it to stop smelling like vinegar."
"Didn't she try scourgify?"
"Several times but apparently it did nothing for the vinegary smell."
He grinned and bowed his head to devour more chips. "What would you do if I bought you vinegar for your birthday?" he asked, still not looking at anything but the chips before him.
"I would wonder why you were buying me a present two months late," she replied.
"For you next birthday then?"
"I'd wonder why you tracked me down just to give me a bottle of vinegar."
"You don't think we'll keep in touch then?" It was meant to be a casual question, but the way that he glanced up at her fervently, she could tell it wasn't as casual as he might have wanted it to seem.
"What would you do if you woke up covered in hair?" she quickly changed the subject.
"Rubbish question. What would you do if I jumped through that window?"
"You mean after I had finished picking the shards of glass out of my hair and mopping up my blood?"
"Yes after that."
She gave a reluctant sigh. "I reckon I would have to make sure you were okay, but only because people would probably give me funny looks if I didn't seem bothered that you were dying on the floor outside and I didn't seem to care."
"Because we're on a date and you're supposed to care about my well-being?"
"We're not on a date."
"I bought you food!" He gestured to the chips between them.
"That was my gran's money!" she countered.
"You're awfully rude to me, you know. I can't think what I've done to deserve it so I'm going to assume that it's your problem."
"Are you sure you haven't brought it on yourself by being such an insufferable git?"
"No, I'm being perfectly charming. It's definitely your problem."
"I'm sorry to tell you this, but my only problem right now is you."
"What's so problematic about me?"
"Other than your hatred for strawberries?"
"Why is that a problem?" he demanded.
"It bothers me!"
"Fine, other than that"
"Well your presence for starters..." she said slyly.
"Ouch. That one hurt like a knife to the knackers."
She let out a gasp of mock delight. "Oh, Potter, there is poetry in your soul."
"It's a gift really. Much like my remarkable accuracy when pissing."
"Oh, my heart's beating a mile a minute."
"I detect sarcasm."
"Oh come on, Evans; just admit that you're having a good time with me."
The corners of her mouth twitched upwards and she was forced to chew on the inside of her mouth to stop a smile from forming.
He tutted to himself while shaking his head in disappointment. "You could show a little more gratitude. I did go up and get the chips."
"How heroic of you."
"But only one portion of course because you lost the rest of the money fighting crime and twelve year olds."
"Now you're getting the picture."
"But at least you got me those lovely sweets earlier," she said sarcastically.
"It's the thought that counts."
"What was the thought behind them exactly?" she inquired.
He considered the question carefully before answering, taking a sip from the glass of water.
"An apologetic thought, I suppose," he said thoughtfully.
The honesty in his voice caught her off guard. She stared at him for a while, only he didn't notice.
She needed more water. Or was it just hot in there?
"Let's get out of here," she said suddenly.
"Can I finish eating first?"
"No, come on!"
He was about to protest but she had already jumped up and was tugging at his shoulder. His powers of argument were somewhat compromised when Lily Evans was touching him.
Lily led them to a river just down the road. It wasn't a pretty place, but James dropped down carelessly, as though he was utterly unaware of the patchy grass and abundance of mud. Lily did not move.
"You alright, there?" he asked, awkwardly glancing between her and the space beside him.
Nodding, she still did not sit. What she did do, however, was notice that there was a certain vulnerability to James Potter that was, apparently, only observable from three feet above him.
It was a rather unsettling experience, like when you spot a shadow outside your window: you can stare at it for hours and be certain that it's a bird but then something rustles in the wind and it reveals itself to be a leaf.
She didn't like being taller than him.
She had had to stand on her tippy toes to kiss his cheek earlier... she quite liked that for some reason.
"Are you gonna sit down or what?"
Biting her lip, still lost in thought, she lowered herself to sit beside him.
"Well, it's gonna be awkward if you don't talk to me," he joked.
"Maybe we don't have anything left to say and we can just sit in uncomfortable silence."
(An hour or so later)
"You cannot produce a patronus, Potter!"
"I can and I have."
He shrugged. "I've practiced a few times."
"And you've been able to produce a properly corporeal patronus?" she asked skeptically
"I'm not sure I believe that."
"Well you should because it is completely true."
"What is it then?"
"Your patronus? What is it?"
"Well it's a patronus for starters..."
"Fine!" he laughed, before saying with some pride: "It's a stag."
"A stag?" she repeated, unimpressed. "Like a deer?"
"No! Like a stag."
"Which is a deer."
"It's not a deer."
"It's definitely a deer."
"Alright, it's a deer, but it's a male deer!"
"That doesn't really make it any manlier. You can get male unicorns and they're still pretty feminine."
"Stags have antlers."
"Unicorns have horns!" she said triumphantly.
"Are you trying to make me cry, Evans? You've dishonoured my manhood far too many times today and I will make you pay," he said, narrowing his eyes at her.
"What are you going to do?"
"I'll probably just pay Mary Macdonald to cut off all your hair at night."
"Mary would never do that, especially not for money."
"I'd pay her in love and affection."
Lily raised an eyebrow. "You'd give Mary your love so she'd cut off my hair?"
Wincing at the thought of it, he backtracked quickly. "Fine, I'd give her Moony's love."
"Well then I couldn't blame her for ridding me of my hair."
"Moony's love is that valuable?"
"But mine isn't?" he asked, offended.
"Out of curiosity, how valuable is my love?"
She nodded her head as though trying to count in her mind. "About two knuts," she said with a smile.
"And a half."
"Oh, that's a relief; the half makes all the difference."
"Well, to tell you the truth, I only added it to make you feel better."
"Thanks for that."
"No problem," she grinned. "Also deer are girly."
"Yeah well, I bet anything that your patronus is a flobber worm."
"You heard me," he said.
They fell silent for a moment.
"What's the point in them?" she asked, lying back on the grass.
"What's the point in flobberworms?" he repeated.
"Yes. I mean, what do they do?"
He turned his head towards her and scowled as though the answer was obvious and she was being very stupid. "They flobber."
"Flobber isn't a verb."
"Tell that to a flobber worm."
"Oh, come on, you know what I mean."
He shrugged. "I wouldn't get too worked up about it."
"I won't," she smiled. "But still, you have to wonder."
"Well, a flobber worm might argue that there isn't much point in people."
"But a flobber worm can't argue."
"How do you know? Can you speak flobber worm?"
She giggled softly, shaking her head.
"You're not going to fall asleep on me now are you, Evans?"
"Of course not."
"Then open your eyes."
"I'm just resting them."
"But you're missing out on so much beauty. I mean, it's everywhere."
She opened one eye. "Where exactly? In the brown river or in the patchy grass."
"In my face," he said.
"Oh, yeah?" with more energy than she knew she had left, she sat straight back up, dipped her finger in the muddy bank beside them, then proceeded to smear this on his cheek.
"Watch it! This face is valuable."
Letting out a sleepy laugh, she fell backward again.
"I'm glad you're head boy."
She didn't know if her drowsiness was making her honest or delusional, but she was certain that she meant it.
"Cheers," he said, not bothering to hide his grin because her eyes were completely shut now. "Don't fall asleep," he added.
And with that, she drifted off to sleep.
Lily was awoken with a startling attack on the senses. She could smell grass, hear water, and feel something that either closely resembled or was in fact her own saliva collecting in a pool on her upper arm.
As her vision returned, she saw a small river, a large tree, and a James Potter. Remembering where she was, she groaned.
"How long was I asleep for?" she said drowsily, rubbing her left eye with the palm of her hand.
James soon came back into focus. He had a smudge of dirt on his cheek and a smirk on his face.
"Only twenty minutes or so," he said.
"What?" she croaked. "Why didn't you wake me?"
In a heartbeat, his lip became curled and he lifted his chin haughtily. "Because you looked so completely spiffing in your slumbers, darling," he said with mock snobbery.
Lily let out a breathy laugh and then went on to reiterate his point by wiping away the drool from her chin with the sleeve of something. What was it? A coat? She hadn't been wearing one.
Frowning, she gazed down to investigate and realised that James' jumper was draped over her. Then she realised that he had just watched her wipe her saliva onto it.
"Sorry," she said quickly.
He chuckled. "It's fine, really."
Her front teeth chewed thoughtfully at her bottom lip as the continued to stare at each other. The sunlight had weakened while she slept, leaving her to wake to a yellowing afternoon and a gentle breeze. She shivered slightly under the jumper, noticing that the temperature too had fallen dramatically. Blinking herself out of a stupor, she glanced down at James' jumper then back up at the owner guiltily.
"It appears I've stolen your jumper," she said, her eyes inspecting his bare arms and noticing a swarm of goosebumps over from his thin wrists all the way up to the sleeve of his t-shirt. "Aren't you frozen?"
"Not really. I'm a man and we tend not to feel the cold."
Lily was not convinced by this.
"You have goosebumps!" she cried.
"But I'm cold and I'm wearing more clothes than you are. You're only got that t-shirt," she said, her voice filled with concern.
"Oh, Evans, As entertaining as it is that you've examined the exact number of clothing we both have on, I'm still not cold."
"Are you sure?"
Grinning, James leaned forwards a little so that their noses were almost touching and his hazel eyes could stare directly into her emerald ones. "I'm perfectly fine," he said, not blinking.
Her chewed lips spread into a rather reluctant smile as dropped her gaze in embarrassment. "Okay then."
They were still for a few moments until Lily became very aware of how close they were. If she were to look up at him, she would see her own blushing face reflected in his glasses.
"Thanks for giving me your jumper," she said, still not meeting his eye.
"You looked cold," said James with a shrug.
She nodded slowly, trying to process the fact that she had fallen asleep next to James Potter and not only had he let her sleep, but he had taken off his own jumper and draped it over her to keep her warm.
Finally, she looked up and out into the dirty water. "So what did you do while I was sleeping?"
"Well," he began, shifting his weight so that he was sitting directly beside her. "I threw stones at the ducks and watched you dribble."
"You saw the dribbling?"
"And the snoring."
She let out a small noise of offense and smacked him lightly on his thigh. "I do not snore."
"How would you know? You're always asleep when it happens."
His logic was hard to argue with and she was too tired to try so she moved past it.
"So you sat there doing nothing for half an hour? You must have been bored out of your mind. Why didn't you wake me up?"
"I assumed you were tired."
"Weren't you bored?"
"I kept myself entertained," he said, leaning back on his elbows.
Her eyes narrowed. "How?"
James flashed a toothy grin but did not respond.
"What did you do?" she cried.
"Alright, don't get your knickers in a twist. I just made some minor improvements to your hair."
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. "Potter, please tell me that you didn't set my hair on fire."
"Nothing like that," he said with a chuckle. "I just thought it could use some green."
Slowly, she raised her hand to her hair and pulled out an enormous clump of grass.
"You do realise that I only washed my hair this morning," she said, slightly amused.
"I did not. Did you realise that you still haven't got most of it out?"
She stuck her tongue out at him before grabbing another handful of grass from the top of her head and blowing it into his face.
Blinking away the vegetation, he said, "Do you mind?"
"Not at all," she grinned and repeated the action.
"Well that's not very mature is it? What would your sensible and mature dream bloke think of you if you did that to him?"
She shrugged. "I suppose my dream bloke wouldn't put grass in my hair in the first place and force me to retaliate."
"I think he would."
"What's the supposed to mean?" she asked a little too quickly.
All of a sudden she had lost him to his own thoughts. Watching him for a few moments, she noted that he opened and closed his mouth several times and frowned a great deal when in a state of contemplation. She then cursed herself for retaining this information about James Potter.
Her observations were shattered as his face softened and he turned to look her directly in the eyes.
"Evans, can I ask you something?"
Her heart began to thud heavily against her delicate chest, sending blood rushing up to her hair and flushing her face to match her hair no doubt. He couldn't ask her out again, he just couldn't. She had never had to answer that particular question in such close proximity and she could not trust herself to speak responsibly at this moment in time.
Mulling it over, she reached her conclusion: "That depends, have you asked it before?" she said carefully.
"No," he replied.
She laughed from relief. "Then fire away."
But he still did not ask anything. It was almost as if he wanted her to cease breathing entirely before he finally released her from her anguish.
"James?" she prompted, nudging him with her elbow a little.
"Do you fancy me?" he asked bluntly.
"Erm... I think you've definitely asked me that before."
"I can assure you I haven't."
She threw him a skeptic look.
"Alright, I might've asked you out a couple of times," he said, "but this is a different question entirely."
"Well, for starters, the wording is very different."
Her face attempted to frown but it was far too tempted to smile at his nonsense.
"Go on," she said, smile-frowning as she did so.
"Just think about it."
"I am thinking about it and I think that you're completely insane."
He assumed the smile-frown himself and leaned in closer. "Well, you might agree to go out with someone but not fancy them at all. It could be a pity thing or something," he said, leaning further still so that their foreheads were almost touching. "On the other hand," he continued, his voice little more than a whisper. "You could turn someone down a thousand times and yet still fancy them. You see, Evans, they are two very different questions."
"I suppose they are," she breathed.
"So I'll ask you again then: do you fancy me?"
Every second she didn't answer, was a second James used to inch closer and closer to her. Close enough that their noses would collide any moment.
"Are you sure you're not cold?" she blurted out.
Distancing himself by a fraction of an inch, his expression was a mixture of amusement and disappointment. For some reason, this made her feel guilty
"Because I'm absolutely freezing," she explained.
"I see," said James.
Slowly, he reached for the jumper in her lap. Once it was in his hands, he shook away the grass and dirt that had gathered on it before reaching forward and attempting to pull it over her head.
"What are you doing?" she cried, resisting.
"Just keeping you warm, love."
"You don't have to man-handle me!"
She might have sounded genuinely angry had her words not been followed by a rush of laughter on both of their parts.
"Just... hold still," he said, still struggling to fit her head through the hole. "There ya go."
James leaned back to observe his work and had to stifle a snigger. As she had refused to raise her arms, the jumper simply hung limply around her neck, her orange hair in wild disarray from the struggle.
"Are you happy now?" she asked sarcastically through a curtain of ginger.
His hands twitched tentatively, before slowly making their way towards her, brushing her hair out of her eyes. "You're not going to answer my question are you?" he asked, still stroking her hair.
As his fingers travelled through her ginger locks, something got caught and she winced a little in pain.
"Sorry, that'd be my watch," he said.
She giggled. "It's fine."
Smiling awkwardly, he fumbled with the clasp of his golden watch, trying to detach himself from her as painlessly as possible. When they were finally apart, the moment had passed and he could not conjure a valid reason to touch her again.
"Bloody watch," he mumbled. "I told you they're rubbish."
"Still handy for telling the time though," she said, pulling her arms through the sleeves of his jumper. "What is the time?"
He glanced down to check for her. "Erm... half six. Blimey, we've been out for ages. What are you doing?"
She had just leapt to her feet looking frantic.
"Merlin, we're late for dinner! I told gran we'd be back for six!"
"Shit," he said from the floor.
"Why aren't you getting up? We have to go!"
With the little strength she possessed, she grabbed one of his hands and tried to pull him up. Fortunately, he complied because even though James was quite thin, all she was managing to lift was his right arm.
"Alright let's go then!" he cried and in one swift movement towards her waist, managed to scoop her up and throw her over his shoulder.
Her scream was muffled by his back as she dangled limply.
"What are you doing?" she managed to articulate, in spite of the large amount of blood that was flooding to her head.
"Taking you home, now stop wriggling around."
Wriggling all the way, she remained slung over his shoulder for the remainder of their journey.
"We could've been back quicker if you'd have let me walk," she said, just feet away from her front door.
"Agree to disagree."
And with that he plopped her down on the ground. Once the world was right-side-up again, she saw not only that dusk was falling fast, but that her grandma was scowling at her from her doorway.
"You're late, madam!" she said.
"I know! I'm so sorry, we just lost track of time," Lily began to say, but Joyce was having none of it.
"No excuses, young lady! In the house! Now!"
Lily was not going to argue with that so she shot James an apologetic look before vanishing into the house.
"I'm so sorry, Mrs. Evans," he said.
As he turned to leave he was stopped by an angry cry from the elderly woman behind him.
"Just where do you think you're going?"
"Home," he said. "I assumed you wouldn't..."
"Oh, there's no time to be melodramatic!" she cried, impatiently. "I've already cooked extra for you so you'll bloody well eat it."
"Yes, Mrs. Evans," he said quickly, running into the house after Lily.
"Half an hour late: what next?" Joyce sighed, placing two plates in front of Lily and James with a clash of such extraordinary volume that they both jumped a little.
"The food'll be frozen through," she continued, bustling back into the kitchen.
Not wanting to delay eating any longer, James tucked straight into his plate. Scooping a large spoonful of mash into his mouth, he let out a gasp and the potato fall of his tongue.
"That's bloody hot," he said with a numb tongue.
Lily giggled as he took a large gulp of water, blowing on her own potatoes as she watched him.
"She said it'd be cold," he whispered.
My gran says a lot of things. You don't know the half of it, she thought bitterly.
"Don't think I don't know what you were up to," said Joyce, reappearing with her own plate of food. "Coming home with grass in your hair and wearing a boy's jumper, what next?"
Lily choked on her mouthful: it seemed as though he would know 'the half of it' by the end of dinner. If he survived.
James started stammering like an idiot: "No, no, no," he said, shaking his head. "It's not... I mean, we weren't... we never."
"I'm not here to judge. Lord knows I got around enough when I was your age, younger even."
"No, Lily, I'll have my say. Now, you treat my granddaughter like the wonderful woman she is or I'll hack off your man parts."
"For the last time, gran, he's not my boyfriend!"
"I'm not here to judge! I realise that in these modern days you kids are reluctant to put 'labels' on things, but just so you know, if she gets pregnant I expect you to marry her."
"This is the worst moment of my life."
A quick glance at Lily with her head in her hands told James that she was suffering an indescribable level of humiliation. Although he found the whole situation slightly hilarious, he didn't want her having a go at him for not defending her.
"I promise you that no one's getting pregnant," he said.
"Well I should hope not!" Joyce said, before leaning closer to James and saying in a rather loud whisper: "She hasn't really got the body for preggnancy yet. I know that it's a bit late to hope for her to fill out properly but it can't hurt to wait can it?"
James was nodding at her words, now biting down on the inside of his mouth to hold in his laughter.
Lily was thankful that he wasn't fumbling over his words and had managed to keep a relatively straight face the whole time. This was the best she could possibly hope for a friend meeting her gran. What she didn't expect was for James to go a step further: "Honestly, I think she's filled out very nicely."
Lily's eyes almost popped out of the sockets.
"I like that you're straight to the point," said Joyce, unperturbed.
Not only was James Potter surviving dinner with Joyce Evans, but he was actually handling her quite well.
There went reason number two.
He was laughing. Whether it was at her, her grandma, or the ridiculousness of the situation overall, she didn't know. She didn't much care either because James Potter had a particularly nice laugh.
"Are you quite finished?" she asked after a moment, smiling in spite of the false impatience her words suggested.
He wasn't finished. The laughter continued.
"It's not funny!" she cried.
But it was and so she laughed too.
"Your gran is brilliant," he said finally.
It was then that she had to acknowledge her own stupidity. Her three big reasons were nonsense because James was sort of wonderful to be with and there was no way that he wouldn't be able to handle dinner with a bitter seventy year old.
She didn't have three very big reasons.
She had one.
The one reason that she didn't want to think about because it was terrifying and better left unacknowledged.
In Lily's silent contemplation, James suddenly felt very tall and out of place. He simply had too many limbs. Unsure what to do with himself, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and blinked a lot.
"So," he said, not quite meeting her eye, "I suppose I'll be off then."
"Oh? Okay then."
He let out a small cough. "Yeah."
"Oh, I'm wearing your jumper!"
She wanted to pull it off quickly, but struggled a little, and by the end of it she emerged red-faced and found James to be highly amused.
"Here you go."
"Thanks, Evans. We'll have to do this again sometime, yeah?"
She let out a laugh and shook her head. "I don't think so."
"What? Not up for a second date?"
"There hasn't been a first date!"
"Oh, come off it! We shared chips."
"Whatever, Evans," he said, rolling his eyes and turning to leave.
It was funny really. She had been so desperate for him to depart just a few hours ago and now, for some reason, seeing him walk away from her gave her heart a rather unpleasant sinking feeling.
That was it though, wasn't it? The real reason why she hadn't wanted him to stay in the first place.
She hadn't wanted to admit it, but she had wanted him to stay with her... and that why he couldn't. The more time she spent with him, the more often she felt those dreaded butterflies, or felt an overwhelming sense of light headedness.
It was that great big shadow that loomed over every second she spent with him. It was the part of her brain which was always off wondering what James was doing.
It was the reason that, whenever she was in his presence, every ounce of her sense was willing her to get away from him as quickly as possible.
Because whatever caused those butterflies, those face flushes, those heart palpitations, it was dangerous and it was her fear of this danger that caused her to restrain herself, to retreat from his company.
The one very, very, very big reason.
The juggernaut factor that plagued their every interaction, the terrifying thought that maybe, just maybe, she might have feelings for James Potter.
But there's something you have to realise about a boy who buys you sweets that taste like torture, fights a branch duel for your honour, or lets you dribble on his jumper: a boy like that should never be ignored. See that's the thing about juggernauts. Generally, they're unavoidable.
"James, wait!" she called out before her common sense, or whatever it was that reined her in, could stop her.
He had managed to make his way halfway down her front garden so that he was nothing more than a silhouette in the evening light. It was only when she had hurried out to meet him, bare foot and cold, that she realised she had absolutely no idea what she was going to say to him.
"Evans?" he stared at her curiously.
What an earth was she going to say?
"Thanks for spending the day with me, I guess."
He had a rather nice smile, she thought as one spread across his face.
"Yeah," she said. "I mean, if you hadn't shown up I would've just spent the day revising or something useless like that."
"Well, you're lucky I turned up then."
"Is that it?"
"No," she said quickly.
His smile was incredibly nice come to think of it.
If she were to go on tippy toes right then her smile would be level with his.
"Were you going to say something?"
"Just thanks again."
"Alright," he chuckled. "Turning to leave again. I'll see you around."
She was going to say something, but she just couldn't.
You see, there is a concept held by some people (primarily teenage girls) that however unavoidable something might be, that doesn't mean it can't be postponed. At least until tomorrow.
Especially if they're huge, powerful, overwhelming, and destructive things.
Like fancying James Potter for example.
AN: So that's it. I really hope you liked it because otherwise that's two months of my life down the drain.
If you have the time please review because it would truly mean the world to me.
Thanks for reading.