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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 3 : Head Boy and Girl
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 61


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Amazing Chapter Image created by Pheonixn @ The Dark Arts.

Chapter 3 - Head Boy and Girl


Lily made her way with James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Alice, Belle, and Frank into the Great Hall. The astounding appearance of the bewitched ceiling captured her and coaxed the corners of her full lips to tilt up by just a fraction.

A million stars shined against a sky full of royal purple and black, with a barely there sliver of a moon resting contently on the night. The feeling of happiness felt so foreign to her that it took a moment of acceptance before she realized that she was, in fact, experiencing the warm sense of joy.

“Welcome home, Evans,” James whispered to her, grabbing her hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze. The easy touch of affection caused her heart to do a small leap inside her chest.

No, the word jumped from somewhere in the back of her mind to the very front, focusing all of her thoughts on it. No. It wasn’t time to think about exactly what had happened between her and James during the last three weeks. The essence of her parents still strangled her with nearly every breath, and wondering why her heart had leapt so willingly just had no place.

Something crept up behind the odd contradiction of emotions, and as soon as she recognized the feeling, she willed herself to stop thinking: guilt. It slowly surrounded her on all sides; her parents were less than three weeks in the ground — why had she even felt that small leap? Was she so cold that she could just move on with her life? The idea blurred out the chaos of the Great Hall and for a moment she became terrified it would overtake her.

“What do you think, Lily?” Sirius's voice cut through her thoughts, and she silently thanked God for small mercies.

“Ehr, sorry, about what?”

“Where do you reckon Dumbledore is?” Lily’s head shot up to the front of the room where the teachers sat. The gold, throne like chair in the middle was indeed empty. She frowned a bit, trying to remember if there was ever a time when they arrived with the Headmaster absent.

They continued to make their way through the crowded chaos of the Great Hall, finally getting through the swarm of bodies and taking their places at the Gryffindor table. Lily greeted and waved to the friends that she hadn’t seen over the summer, and waited for the hand to clasp over her heart once again and begin squeezing. But even through the handfuls of condolences that poured in, despite her own fear that she was forgetting her parents too easily, the happiness of being home hummed through her.

Her eyes danced over the staff table as they all waited for the Headmaster to appear, and fell upon a new face.

“It looks like we have another Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Lily mumbled, her gaze still lingering over the woman. “I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. No one really expected Professor Goldbard to stay after the boggart incident last year. Isn’t that right, Frank?” She directed the comment to her friend, one eyebrow raised.

“Come off it, Lily. He didn’t have two sickles of sense. Was it really my fault that he couldn’t handle a boggart?” Frank asked, trying to maintain a serious expression.

“I think she was referring to the fact that you pointed out to the entire class that he couldn’t handle the boggart, then showed him up by dealing with it yourself, mate,” Sirius answered through large gulps of pumpkin juice.

“Well, what kind of bloody Defence professor are they giving us that can’t manage a simple boggart? What happens when we need to defend ourselves against an actual threat?” Frank asked, looking around the table at them all.

“Excuse me, Mr. Potter, Ms. Evans,” the stern voice of Minerva McGonagall brought them to a quick hush. “The Headmaster requests to see you. If you would just step outside, you will find him waiting in the corridor. As for the rest of you, do try to behave yourselves. Mr. Longbottom. I believe this year's professor should be up to your standards.” Her cat like eyes fell directly onto Frank, causing him to blush. “Welcome back, students,” she said with something that could have been close to a smile, then turned on her heels and continued to the staff table.

“Uh.. sure thing professor,” James muttered, even though she was already out of ear shot. He swung his legs over the bench and stood with a stretch, then reached a hand down to help Lily up. Her palm meeting his drove a small spark of electricity through her, which she immediately vowed to ignore. Instead, she muttered something about being able to get up on her own, and lengthened her strides to pace herself ahead of him.

They made their way back through the Great Hall, Lily’s eyes wandering over all the faces of Hogwarts.

“Do you reckon Dumbledore will make an announcement about the attacks this summer?” James asked her, referring to a few deaths that had been in the Daily Prophet.

“I’m not sure, they were all Muggles, and there isn’t really much he can tell us about it that we don’t know,” she answered, shrugging her shoulders. In all honestly, she had thought very little of the darkness that had fallen on their world. Her own suffering had been too great.

Being a Muggle born did worry her, but she was at Hogwarts, under the watch of the world’s best wizard. She was confident there was nearly nothing that could harm her here, and by the time she made her way into the real world, the Ministry was sure to have a handle on it. She knew James was taking it more seriously, though.

“What do your parents think about it all?” she questioned.

She felt the hesitation in his movements. Was there something he didn’t want to tell her?

“James?”

“They spent the better part of sixty years fighting against dark wizards, and played a large part in rescuing and housing witches and wizards that fled from Grindlewald during his time. I think now that they're retired and this is happening, it makes it harder. There have always been those nutters trying to start this kind of thing. I think this one is just a bit more organized, it worries them. But, they're my mum and dad, everything worries them," James joked. Lily still felt him holding something back from her. Before she could push the topic further, Professor Dumbledore came into view.

“Ah, Ms. Evans, Mr. Potter, good evening to the both of you.” Albus Dumbledore stood near the entrance of the castle, one hand stroking his long silvery beard, the other held out in greeting. His dark purple and gold robes had small flecks of light being cast on them from the flamed torches decking the wall behind him. His appearance always stunned Lily. The way someone could seem so gentle, yet commanding, all at once.

She glanced towards James, surprised to find his eyes on her. She immediately looked back at the Headmaster, pushing away that same sense of guilt.

“Now, as you know, I am aware of your situation Ms. Evans. You have suffered a great loss; if there is anything I can do for you, all you need is to ask.” Lily nodded, her eyes glued to the blue twinkling ones. “Mr. Potter, your family and yourself have been very kind. To watch a friend go through this emotional turmoil is quite painful. Alas, loss is part of life and our hearts must remember the beauty of it, and let the darkness that death creates inside the soul slip away.

"I am sure you don't wish to dwell on this; let me address my reason for disturbing your first evening back. I sent along twenty-two letters informing twenty-two students of their new position, Prefect. Now, I have two more letters to deliver, ones that would replace our seventh year Gryffindor Prefects and act as Head boy and Girl,” Dumbledore paused, and seemed to be very focused with something on his sleeve.

James and Lily glanced at one another, neither uttering a word as they waited for their professor to continue.

“Ah ha!” Dumbledore pulled a star from his robe. It reminded Lily of the way a child would peel their sticker from its holder. “Now, those two letters were, of course, meant for you both. It was my wish ask you directly if you would be up to this new challenge.”

Lily waited to see what James would say, but after a moment of silence, she answered. “Sir, I believe we can handle it. If you still think we’re qualified.” James nodded at Lily’s words.

“Excellent! Excellent! Your things will be waiting for you in your new dormitories. I am sure you are aware that Heads are each awarded their own rooms and washrooms, along with a shared common area. Though these privileges don't come without responsibility.

“Please follow the main staircases up to the second floor; you will locate a portrait of the both of you. Stick this star anyplace you wish on the painting to let it know that you are the two I’ve assigned this new adventure.” He held out the thin, sparkling piece of watery cloak and Lily took it gently between her fingers.

“Then state your full name, a secret about yourself and a password of your choosing to gain access. This should tell you all there is to know about your new positions,” he reached a wrinkled hand into one of his deep cloak pockets and came out with two small, white envelopes with green cursive. “If you will now excuse me, I believe it is time to get our feast started!” Dumbledore clapped his hands together and smiled kindly before turning on his heels and disappearing back into the Great Hall.

Lily felt another rush of the newly found, guilt coated happiness flooding her. Head Girl!

Part of her couldn’t help but wonder about Professor Dumbledore’s choice for Head Boy. James had never done anything to show a desire to enforce rules, in fact, he had always partook in quite the opposite. Maybe Dumbledore, like her, had seen more sides to James Potter than most?

“So, any ideas?”

They stood in front of a large portrait with their pictures painted into it. Portrait Lily was sitting on the grass, ignoring James as he swooped around on his racing broom.

Their new quarters were in a convenient part of the castle, at least that’s what James told her when he realized it would be a much shorter walk to the Great Hall than it was from the Gryffindor tower.

“Let’s do something simple that isn’t too easy to notice if someone overhears us,” James suggested in regards to their password.

Their painted selves had just started arguing about Lily visiting another portrait without telling James. What do you know...? He’s even overbearing in portrait form, Lily thought. She stood leaning against the wall, her eyes growing heavy from the long day back. James was pacing in front of her, one hand submerged in his black mess of hair, the other waving about as he spoke. Lily never realized how long this boy took to make a decision!

If they kept it up at this rate, it would be time for Transfiguration in the morning before they ever got into their new dorms! After debating passwords for half an hour, they settled on Chudley Cannons, James’s favorite Quidditch team.

“Lily Evans, I enjoy Country Western music, Chudley Cannons.”

“Country music? Really, Evans?” James said with a snort.

“James Potter, I didn’t actually snog Pippa in sixth year, Chudley Cannons.” Lily raised an eyebrow at James's secret, then motioned for him to enter first.

The common area had a large fireplace; two plush, light cream sofas; a deep red rug with a gold lion embroidered into it covering the smoky white tiled floor; and looked as is if it was fit for royalty.

“Blimey,” James muttered under his breath as he walked over to the enormous fireplace and brushed his hand along the stone.

Surrounding the tender flames were two, light cream sofas atop a lion embroidered rug. The rug was nearly as large as the room, but the areas it didn’t cover were an impressive smokey stone that gleamed in orange light. The ebony colored table between the two sofas was set up with ink, quills, parchment, and everything else they could need to study.

After another few minutes of letting her eyes explore the room, James motioned for Lily to head up the spiral staircase.

Lily checked out her room first, it had a very traditional feel with a huge four poster bed against a large window and an enchanted wardrobe that would hang and fold her clothes, all she had to do was toss them inside.

The bathroom was similar to the others in Hogwarts, made mainly of stone and mirror. Next, she peeked in at James’s quarters, which were similar to hers. Much to his delight, in the corner of his room was an entire broom cleaning and storing station.

“Do you remember Peter telling us that the castle forms to our needs?” James asked as they headed back down the spiral stairs.

“Erm, I think so. That was after one of Professor Binns' painfully long lectures that none of us really understood, right?”

“Really, Lily?” he asked with a cocked brow as they reached the floor of their common area. “All of his lectures are like that. So yes. Anyway, he was telling us that Hogwarts has so much old magic, it can form to its students.

"Dumbledore’s a great Headmaster and all, but I don’t think even he could put so many details into this place to make it fit us this well. I reckon he must have told these rooms we would be the next Heads, and then it transformed to fit us,” James said, as he threw his body onto one of the sofas.

“Since when do you know so much about Hogwarts, Potter? That means that Professor Dumbledore must have already assumed we’d accept the position,” Lily replied, laughing as he pulled her down onto the sofa next to him. She scooted herself over an inch or two away from his, feeling a ball of anxiety knot in her stomach at the realization that they would have to talk soon. She'd been thinking about what to do all evening.

“Stick with me, Evans, and you’ll know all the secrets. Anyway, I think I might ask McGonagall about it in the morning.”

Lily knew he had meant sticking with him as a joke, but her anxiety started building up nonetheless, hadn’t she proven the last month between her parents leaving her and Petunia further ostracizing her that she couldn’t stick with anyone?

“James...I can’t imagine what would have happened without you this summer. You and your family have done so much for me, I just don’t want you to get the wrong idea about...”

“About what, Lily?” James answered, a hint of impatience flickering in his eyes.

“Just about, um, our friendship?”

“Our friendship? We had a friendship last year, too. I think we even went an entire six months with enjoying each others company. Why would I get the wrong idea now?” Lily wanted to think he was being kind, but the tone in his voice, the arrogance seeping through, told her otherwise.

She wanted to stop and just leave it, but she couldn’t handle looking at him and wondering what if. People didn’t think about things as childish as crushes after both of their parents died in front of them. She needed to make sure he understood, then maybe the gnawing guilt would let her be.

“I guess just because we spent so much time together the last few weeks, and I just didn’t want you to think that because…” she lost her words.

“Let me help you,” James stood from the couch as he spoke, backing away from her towards the fireplace. “Because now that you realize I do care about you, you’ve decided it’s best I don’t and that you wanted to squash any intention of that now?” Lily was a bit surprised about the sudden tension that James’s sentence created.

“No, I didn’t mean it to sound like that, I don’t think. I just, I’m really grateful that you kept me company, that all of you did. I just want us to stay friends like we are now,” what was she even saying anymore? She just needed to make it clear that they wouldn’t be dating, because people didn’t date after losing the majority of their worlds.

“Oh, so now that you’re back at Hogwarts you don’t need my help anymore?” James looked annoyed and amused all at once, and for some reason it had waves of anger crashing toward Lily’s surface.

“I didn’t need you, or your help, in the first place, James. Now I think we should just go back to getting to know each other as friends,” she whispered, a bit surprised at the coldness of her own words.

“Because you’re so damn perfect? Lily Evans doesn’t need help from anyone, right?” His hazel eyes ate away any annoyance and sparked straight to anger.

“Sure James, sure. And now I see that you helping me was completely no strings attached? I didn’t realize it came with a boyfriend clause.” Lily stood as she answered, heat filling her words.

“Oh right, Lily. I’m just sitting over here saying that I expect you to date me just because I wanted to help? You’re the one going off about getting to know each other as friends and some other shit. I already know plenty about you. And I would never have brought up the idea of a relationship if you didn’t start it. But since you did, might as well continue. You did need my help. You still do, and you don’t have to date me to get it. That doesn’t change the fact that we both still know where this is headed.”

“Oh we do, do we?” Lily couldn’t maintain the quiet tone of anger the way James could, and she felt her voice raise with ever syllable. “If you really knew plenty about me, then you’d realize that we don’t know where this is headed because it isn’t heading anywhere.”

“Let me tell you what I know about you, Lily.” He turned slowly and moved closer to her, forcing her to look up to keep her eyes locked into his. The heat of the argument slashed through her and gave her something she hadn’t felt in weeks — it made her feel alive.

“I know that you’ve never gotten anything but a perfect mark in Potions,” he stepped forward, causing her to take a step back to keep her body from touching his. “I know that when it starts raining, you say you’re going to go to the library, but half the time you just pace around the castle because you get restless. I know that, even though you’re a really brilliant and kind person most of the time, when your plans fall through or when you can’t get something to work, you can be quite the bitch.”

Part of Lily couldn't believe what James had just said to her. Despite the flares of rage firing through her, she held her bottom lip with her teeth to stop herself from calling him an array of colorful names. She had annoyed James, offended him maybe, exhausted him countless times - but this was the first time she had ever really pissed off James Potter and she couldn’t help but think that it was rather exhilarating.

“I get that it might not be the right time, Lily. But don’t act like because you don’t want to face your feelings, that mine aren’t real.” James backed away as he spoke the words, his fingers finding their place in his hair and running through it.

Part of Lily wanted to thank him, to tell him to keep fighting, to let her yell, because for whatever reason, is was helping. It was helping all those lingering back-droppings of anger and finally giving them a reason to come out, it was helping her heart remember what it was like to need blood so much, that it pumped faster and faster. She wanted to yell, she needed to. And why shouldn’t they keep yelling at each other? It wasn’t as if she could yell at her parents for leaving her, so why not James?

The last thought struck her and stole the air from her lungs. She wanted to open her mouth and continue, but the idea the idea was too painful. The awareness that it as really her parents she wanted to be yelling at shot an iron fist around her heart and kept her voice from working.

Before she could even start to process it, James turned around and stormed through the portrait hole with both hands held tightly in his pockets.

James made his way through the nearly deserted halls of Hogwarts, his hard steps muffled by the dense stone floors. He was thankful that it was barely after eight and not yet curfew; his desire to get away from Lily before he said something he regretted had been too strong and caused him to forget his cloak.

The walk through the dimming halls was usually one he enjoyed. Coming from a pure-blood family didn’t mean that magic still didn’t astound him, it did. Hogwarts was by far the most magical place out there, and he usually liked to take his time moving through the rarely deserted corridors. But this evening he just wanted to get the hell away from the second floor entirely and up the Gryffidor common room.

The Fat Lady came into view, and he gave her a half smile as he told her the password that had been written in the letter Dumbledore handed him earlier. He nearly forgot to compliment her on the never changing hair style, but remember last minute as he stepped himself through the entrance.

The size of the common room always surprised him. The way the ceiling never seemed to end as the sets of spiraling cases disappeared into the wall. Tonight was no different, and for a moment he nearly wished this was his one and only common room. He and Lily wouldn’t have started a row if they’d been surrounded by their classmates. Well, they may have, but it wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand.

He waved to Margaret and Alexander, the star Beaters of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and made a mental note to ask why a Captain hadn’t yet been announced. Unless whoever it was, was simply not telling anyone that they received the letter awarding them the position just yet.

He tried to ignore the sting of that thought. Part of him had really thought he’d made that position, but maybe McGonagall assumed it was too much with being Head Boy too?

He filed away those thoughts for another time as he glanced around for his friends.

He saw Sirius’s head from above the couch, with Alice and Frank next to him. He just wanted his best mates. Not everyone else, not right now. He stayed in the background for a moment and thought on the best way to avoid being bombarded with attention. Luckily for him, Peter looked up from his conversation with Belle and James caught his attention. He motioned his hand forward and pointed at the backs of Remus’s and Sirius’s heads.

Peter quickly gathered the other two and headed towards the boys dormitory staircase. James followed up behind them, ignoring Sirius’s questioning look.

When they opened the door to his friends dormitories, he was annoyed to see a few of their other friends already in it.

“Listen up," Sirius began, "unless you want us to test out a new stinking spell, clear out for a bit." His eyes fell on the two boys unloading their trunks. Tig, who understood Sirius’s ability to back up anything he threatened, glanced at the other seventh year and nodded his head toward the door.

When the room was clear Sirius pulled out a what looked like a stick of deodorant. He uncapped it and tipped it over, which caused a small bottle of Firewhiskey to tumble out.

James was even more impressed with his friend then usual, and smiled as the bottle was passed his way.

“So, trouble already?” Sirius asked with a smirk as they all got comfortable on two of the beds.

“You could say that,” he sighed and reached across the floor and tried to grab the bottle from Sirius.

“Lily kick you out of bed already?” Sirius dangled the bottle an inch from him, waiting for an answer.

“Yeah right, the second I step foot in that room every alarm in Hogwarts goes off. It’s the same deal as the Gryffindor dorms, no boys in the girls. Lily can go in mine, I think. But there’s section of the letter detailing anything inappropriate occurring in the room of the opposite sex is grounds for immediate removing of badge and Head duties. Honestly, the way it was written, I’m afraid that room has shag sensors or something.” James laughed as he drank down a large swig of the cinnamon flavored alcohol.

“So the only difference is you aren’t sharing a room with other people? That sounds kind of lonely.” Peter commented, grabbing the bottle from James.

After another moment of letting his friends joke about the Heads’ Quarters, he took a deep breath and began telling them about the fight.

“And you really had to provoke her, Prongs? All you had to do was say that you understood about the friendship thing and be done with it. Why did you try — you know, I’m not entirely sure what you were even trying to do.” Remus lectured.

“Honestly? Me either. I guess I was just so annoyed that she still kept up with the just friends thing. I mean I’m friends with Alice and Belle, but if something happened to either of their families I wouldn’t have been the same way I was with Lily.”

“What does that matter, thought? She’ll date you when she wants, no sense starting out the year with a row. Unless you get, you know, the make up shag.” Sirius said with a wink.

“Sirius has had so many ‘make up’ shags hasn’t he, guys? You know, between the two girls he’s kind of been with, I’m sure one of them was a ‘make up’ one.”

Sirius tossed the empty bottle at Remus, though it was clear he wasn’t really offended by his friend’s words.

“I just thought once she realized that I do care, she’d get over the just friends thing,” James continued, ignoring the glass bottle now being propelled back and forth.

“But, even though we know this isn’t true, it basically sounds like you’re saying you used this to show her you could be, erm, caring.” Peter said, with Remus nodding in agreement.

James reached his hand to the side and intercepted the bottle before Remus could grab it. This conversation wasn’t going how it was supposed to.

James made his way back through the halls. It was getting close to curfew, and despite the buzz wearing off, he didn’t need to get in trouble his first night as Head Boy.

Once he was finally within touching distance of the painting, he let his body relax against the stone wall. The cold, uneven texture felt remarkable on his back.

He sensed the sober part of is brain start to pick at him, lecturing him for the way he had treated Lily. She’s fragile. She’s been through Hell and back. He should just be happy she’s alive, with the way she'd seemed set on starving herself the past few weeks. He wasn’t even angry about her not wanting to deal with her feelings. That didn’t bother him; James was patient.

When it came to the things he wanted, James Potter was very much a hunter. He could stay silent in the bushes, casing out his prey — well, maybe prey wasn’t the best way to think of Lily — then when it was time, he’d spring in. Yes, he knew how to bide his time.

So what was he angry about? Was it the way she was so ready to casually dismiss him, like his job was finished and they could go back to business as usual? One thing he was sure of: he was used to Lily. He was used to her just being there to talk about anything — when she was feeling strong enough to just talk. If he had to be patient, if he had to let her think that this wasn’t going anywhere, fine. It was worth it to keep their friendship.

On that thought, he moved his back away from the wall and faced the painting.

“James Potter-" he paused to think of a secret. "Sometimes I want to shake some sense into Lily even more than I want to kiss her. Chudley Cannons.”

The frame moved aside and James crept into the room. He turned left to face the towering bookshelf and chose one quickly. How To Be An Unstoppable Chaser and Other Quidditch Tips. He wasn’t ready to sleep; he needed to wind down.

When he stepped towards the sofas, he saw a small body curled under a blanket.

“Lily?” he whispered, unsure if she was already fast asleep. When he saw the form move he pulled his wand out from his pocket and set two of the oil lamps adorning the wall aflame.

“Hi,” she mumbled as she pulled the blanket from her head. He had to hold back a chuckle as the static forced stray bits of her hair to the blanket, causing it to stick up in every which way.

“Hi,” he answered as he sat on the couch opposite to her, his hands moving over his legs, unsure where to rest. “Listen, I’m going to get this over with. I’m sorry if I took things too far, okay? You’re a good friend, Lily. I’d rather keep you as that instead of you pretending to hate me.” He looked up at her, happy to see she was staring back.

“I shouldn’t have yelled at you, either. It’s not your fault, I just — I’ve just been like that. I meant what I said, about not needing your help, so don’t feel like you have to give it,” she paused, probably letting herself think of the perfect way to choose what she’d say next. “But, I appreciate it. And I like knowing that you’ll talk to me about my — about them. And that you’ll understand. Friends?” Lily smiled as she said the words and held out her hand across the table to him.

“Friends,” he whispered as he grasped her hand and shook it lightly.

AN:

Any and all reviews are extremely appreciated! Your critiques and thoughts mean very much to me. I hope it's understand why Lily's emotional recovery is moving along slowly...

Thank you so much for reading!!


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