Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me. All rights go to JK Rowling/Warner Bros. I do not profit in any way.
James Potter was beginning to think that being Head Boy... it really wasn't all that bad.
He'd thought it would be drag at first, to have to set aside time to go to meetings with all the stuffy Prefects – to have to set aside three hours a week to patrol the hallways with the Head Girl.
That was, of course, before he'd found out who the Head Girl would be.
Lily Evans. The number of times that name had appeared in his thoughts over the last few years was beyond comprehension.
He couldn't really help it though.
Lily fascinated him. She was so guarded with her thoughts most of the time that James desperately wanted to know them. Somewhere around Fifth Year, he'd found that the only time Lily Evans truly expressed herself to him was when she was angry.
So, naturally, James had delighted in prompting this response – even if it did result in a bruised ego and his suffering from the aftermath of a well-placed stinging hex.
Not that he'd only asked her out to prompt a response – he did truly want to go out with her; but that angry flush on her cheeks and the stream of sharp words spilling from her lips... they were an added bonus.
But after two years of this tactic – on and off – James had to admit that maybe it wasn't working the way it once had. Lily became indifferent to him; she no longer hurled insults and hexes his way... and maybe James was getting a little bored of the game too. Lily Evans was never going to go to Hogsmeade with him, and he was getting too old to keep making a fool out of himself.
So over the summer between sixth and seventh year, James attempted to banish Lily Evans from his thoughts. He would no longer think of her red hair nor her flashing green eyes. He wouldn't badger his friends on the best way to ask her out – to make her like him – and he wouldn't replay her words in his head.
It wasn't all that hard, considering the events of the summer. His thoughts were sufficiently directed elsewhere.
Because during the second week of that wet English Summer, James Potter's father was taken ill.
Charlus Potter was nearing his seventies, but this wasn't particularly old for wizard-kind. So it was a shock to his family when he was rushed to St. Mungo's with Spattergroit.
The Healers had predicted he only had months to live.
It was a particularly dark summer for Dorea and James Potter. Charlus's wife and son visited him regularly at the wizarding hospital (often taking practically-adopted-son Sirius along with them), and it was clear that his situation was deteriorating.
James returned to school in September having grown up more than he realised, through the shock of his father's illness. He was grateful to the Marauders for keeping his spirits up, for else he was certain that he would think of nothing but his father's condition.
He'd almost forgotten his little crush on Lily Evans.
That is, until he saw her on the platform.
Their relationship was different throughout their seventh year. It was odd, but somehow it was more satisfying for James to be friends with Lily – even knowing that nothing would happen between them – than being thought an irritating prick by the one he most hoped to impress.
If only fifth-year-James had made this realisation, perhaps their past would be a little less rocky.
They grew close over the first few months of their joint Headship, and in time James confided in Lily the nature of his father's illness.
She offered him comfort and warmth, but didn't smother him; and James was more grateful that Lily could ever comprehend.
Of course, James would still prefer Lily to be his girlfriend, but he no longer made the fact obvious in front of her. He still noticed all of her mannerisms – how she'd take Treacle Tart over any other desert at pudding, how she'd carry her battered grey leather diary around with her, and how she'd scribble in it at any given opportunity. But at the same time, James was happy to be her friend.
As their friendship built, so did their mutual trust. Lily talked with him about her worries. She told him about her relationship with her sister Petunia, and when the letter had arrived from home, she ranted at him about Petunia's soon-to-be groom, Vernon Dursley. From what Lily had told him about the bloke, James had a strong urge to punch him in the face.
James and Lily were sitting in the library one day, for they had been paired up for a Charms project.
Flitwick had requested that the partnership test the effects of various Charms on muggle objects, and comparing the effect when the same was done to their magical equivalent.
Lily had finished testing the objects, and James was writing up the results they'd found.
She was scribbling in that diary again. The way he ached to know what was going on in Lily Evans's mind hadn't changed in the slightest. James longed to grab the book from her, but he wouldn't. He wouldn't want to embarrass her, nor would it be a very chivalrous action: James had his Gryffindor pride to keep intact.
"You can get going if you want, Lil," James said, twirling his quill between his fingers. "You've still got Slughorn's essay to do, haven't you?"
Lily looked up at him briefly with her head still lowered from writing; her red hair spilling around her face. She snapped her diary closed, placed her quill on the table, and looked round at him again.
"I can stay," she said, "The Potions essay will be a piece of cake, and it's not fair that you have to do all the writing... sorry – give it here."
She attempted to grab the stack of parchment from him, but James restrained her grabbing hands with one arm, and pushed the parchment beyond her grip.
"Give it!" she said, trying to reach round him.
"You did most of the spellwork!"
She glared. James grinned.
He also became distinctly aware that Lily was leaning across his lap in her efforts – having almost fully abandoned her own chair.
James denied the urge to pull Lily even closer and snog the bloody life out of her, but couldn't help comment.
"You know, Evans; if you wanted to be splayed across my person, all you had to do was ask."
James watched as Lily registered the familiar smirk settled on his face, before moving back and punching his shoulder.
"Prat," she said shortly, but James noted the familiar upturn to her lips as she tried not to laugh.
"Are you going to let me help you?" Lily asked, obviously still trying to control her expression. Or maybe it was only obvious to James... he did make it his business to know each and every one of Lily's expressions.
"Depends what kind of help you're offer-"
Lily did smile this time. "Alright then, I suppose. Thanks." She stood up and ruffled his hair before picking up her bag. James made a show of mock-annoyance; running a hand over his mop as if trying to tame it into submission.
Lily laughed. "See you in the common room," she said, before turning in a swish of red hair.
James watched her, grinning, until the heavy oak door of the library shut behind her; and then continued to write up the tests they'd completed together.
'Test Seven: Recall charms on muggle 'pens' compared to quills.'
James commenced to write up the work they'd done on that test: Lily had written a sentence with both pen and quill, and then cast 'Revocare!' on both. The pen and the quill had both levitated and replicated the sentence Lily had written with them, but James had noted that the quill's writing was more similar to hers, so they'd concluded that the spell was more effective on quills.
James finished writing this up, and then glanced up. The library was quiet this time of night – it was nearly eight, and there was nothing to particularly distract him from his work. James was about to pick up his quill and start writing again, when he noticed the familiar brown-feathered writing utensil sat on the table beside him.
An idea struck.
James tried to talk himself out of it, to tell himself that what he was planning was a bad thing to do – that Lily would not be happy with him in the slightest – that it was invasion of her privacy.
But as James contemplated these thoughts, he was at the same time reaching for the quill that Lily had been writing in her diary with only minutes before.
Thirst for the thoughts of Lily Evans had always been his greatest weakness.
Setting the quill on a new sheet of parchment, James hastily looked around for witnesses; before picking up his wand, flicking it in a semicircle anticlockwise, and muttering, "Revocare!"
Instantly, Lily's familiar loopy handwriting began to fill the page, and James hastily started reading.
'November 22nd, 1978.
In the library with James still, working on the project.
I should probably be helping him with the write up, but if I interrupt him, we won't get any work done. He'll grin at me and I'll get distracted ... Merlin knows I need to be the driving force in this working relationship, but he's so bloody distracting.
James Potter is going to be the death of me – I swear it.
The prat doesn't even know what he's doing to me – sitting there with the little cleft in his forehead he gets when he's concentrating, hair all over the place. He looks up at me every now and then, and even when he's not speaking, those hazel eyes of his are hard enough to ignore.
This is bloody Dumbledore's fault.'
James was grinning more widely than he ever had, but he still snorted at the last line. Mental woman. He was interested to hear the meaning behind that one.
And find out he would, for James brought along the sheet of parchment for their next patrol, the following evening.
"So I was doing some follow-up research on Recall Charms last night," James said as they walked side by side down the Transfiguration corridor. His tone was casual, despite his heart beating double time.
"Yeah?" she replied, opening a broom cupboard to check for an amorous couple. Lily glanced inside it, assured there was no human presence, and then shut the door again behind her, continuing with James down the corridor.
"Yeah," he said, reaching into his pocket to pull out the small brown feather quill. "You left this behind."
Lily raised her hand to take the quill from him, and then froze – as if just realising the implication of the two phrases strung together.
James stopped too, standing in front of her.
She looked up at him, eyes narrowed. "You didn't..."
"Why'd you blame Dumbledore?"
Lily froze again, wide-eyed for a moment, and then swiftly came back into motion again.
James had pictured this scene several times since the previous night; but never once had he imagined the reality – a stinging slap across the face, and Lily storming away from him.
James hastened to catch up, one hand cupping his red cheek. "Lily! Wait!"
She spun around, glaring more fiercely than James had ever seen her.
Unless he was very much mistaken, there were about to be a lot of thoughts from Lily Evans sent his way.
"I can't believe you did that," she said heatedly, "you're a bloody arrogant tosser, you know that? Why do you think you're... ugh."
Lily started to walk away again, but James grabbed her hand from behind, halting her movement.
"Let. Me. Go," she hissed at him, trying to tug her hand away, but James held fast.
"No," he said, taking her other hand too, and pulling him towards her. "Stop trying to walk away from this, Lily Evans."
She perhaps sensed the seriousness of his words, because she stopped trying to get away.
Lily was flaming red, and met his eyes as she said, "I know we're just friends, you don't fancy me. I get it. I wasn't expecting you to bloody read what I'd written in my diary. Can you just let me- why are you laughing?"
James tried to control his laughter, and let go of one of Lily's hands to rub his forehead as the last chuckles died.
"Merlin, Evans, you thought I don't fancy you? I must be a better actor than I thought!"
"Of course I bloody do! What did you think the last two years were about?"
Lily was blushing impossibly further now, but a small smile was starting to claim her lips.
James grinned, and all thoughts of patrol forgotten, started to back her up against the corridor wall, hands at her waist.
"Tell me," he said. "What do I have Dumbledore to thank for?"
Lily laughed, her arms stringing behind his neck; her hands playing with the back of his hair. "Sticking me with you for hours every week didn't help matters."
"Ahh," James said, grinning, "Don't blame Albus; it was only a matter of time before you succumbed to my allure."
Lily snorted indelicately. "Shut up."
James had little choice in the matter, for at that moment Lily reached up on her tiptoes to crush her lips against his.
A/N: This was the product of a Word War (write as many words as you can in an allotted time) with jamesfedorapotter and sparklyfaerie. Hope you liked it!
P.S. I lost. This took me about 3 hours. But still.
P.P.S. Reviews are welcome!