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Once Defied by pennyardelle

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 161,202
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, Pettigrew, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/Lily, Other Pairing

First Published: 06/01/2009
Last Chapter: 04/28/2010
Last Updated: 06/10/2014

Summary:
banner by Alora at The Dark Arts

At the beginning of their seventh and final year at Hogwarts, Lily Evans and James Potter find themselves closer to one another than ever before. With darkness taking over the world around them, they discover that love—the mix of fluttering heartbeats, stolen glances, shared smiles, and squirming stomachs—is the most powerful magic of all.

:: 2012 Dobby Awards Winner for Best Canon ::


Chapter 21: Birthday Tea

Chapter Twenty-One
Birthday Tea




Lily remembered from her Apparition lessons exactly how and why Splinching occurred. Emily Plunkett, a Hufflepuff girl from her year, had accidentally Splinched both her hands off while they were practicing in the Great Hall, and that had been enough for Lily to make sure she was always sufficiently "determined" before trying to Apparate.

Of course, determination was not really a problem when it came to Apparating to James’ house. She could hardly remember wanting to get to a place so completely, and she found herself at what seemed to be the place he had described in one piece. It was grey and misty day out, and Lily felt like a tangled mess of nerves as soon as she realized that she had made it and now had no excuse to not show up. Of course, it wasn’t really that she didn’t want to show up. She just had no idea what to expect after three days of playing out a dozen different scenarios in her mind, all of which seemed to hinge on finally telling him how she felt. She had half-resolved herself to doing it, in fact, but now that it was imminent, she felt uncertain.

She stepped out from the little copse of trees she had just Apparated into and saw the ivy-covered fence that James had described to her left. If everything had gone according to plan, the gate out in front of his house should be just around the bend in the lane.

The first sight she caught of his house made her slow her steps slightly. It was a stone manor of fair size, half-covered in ivy, with large windows and a dark wood door. There was a great deal of lawn space surrounded by trees, but no manicured gardens or grand pathway leading up to the front door. It had an air of having been slightly neglected for some time. Still, it was much nicer than Lily’s crowded, drab street, where everyone was lucky to get four feet of yellowing front lawn, and it was a little intimidating.

She took a quick breath before she picked up the heavy brass knocker. Her surroundings had momentarily distracted her from the butterflies in her stomach, but they returned in full force as she waited for someone to answer the door. She really hoped it was James and not one of his parents, because she wasn’t quite sure what she would say if that were the case. In fact, this entire situation was becoming more and more ludicrous by the second, and if she hadn’t already knocked on the door she would have seriously thought about turning around and pretending she’d never made it there.

When the door opened, she was very confused for a moment because there appeared to be no one there, but then she realized that there was a house elf standing on the threshold, looking up at her.

“Oh—hello,” she said. This was certainly a situation she had never found herself in before. “I’m here to see James. Is he in?”

It was a silly question, of course, since he was the one expecting her, but it did seem like good manners to ask.

James suddenly emerged into the foyer, and she felt better immediately. “I’ve got it, Sprotty,” he said to the elf, who inclined his head slightly and walked out of the room. “Well, come in,” he said to Lily.

She stepped into the paneled room and James offered to take her coat. “Happy Birthday,” she said as he hung it up on the coat rack. “Oh, wait, I almost forgot!” She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope. “I got you a card.”

“Thanks,” he replied, smiling. “That was nice of you. And I’m glad you didn’t get Splinched.”

“So am I,” Lily said. She felt a little uncomfortable under the intense gaze he was giving her, and avoided making eye contact.

“You, er, look really nice,” he said.

“Thank you,” she replied, blushing furiously.

“Well,” James said, and Lily was a little relieved that she was not the only one who appeared to be nervous, “do you want to go sit in the kitchen, then?”

She followed him down the hallway and into his low-ceilinged stone kitchen. Despite the grey skies outside, the room was bathed in golden light from the fireplace that stood at one end of the room. Lily smiled a little bit when she saw that there was already tea made and two cups set out—James had obviously put some preparation into this.

“You can sit down,” James said, pointing to a small table next to one of the windows. “I’ll take care of the tea.”

Lily sat down and found that she was having a very hard time thinking of things to say. It was as if the change of setting had taken away all her conversational skills. Or perhaps it was the distraction of admiring the strong, clean lines of his profile. It felt like it had been ages since she had last seen him, even though it had only been a few days.

“So...how has your birthday been so far?” she asked.

“Pretty ordinary,” James said, walking over to the table with the cups in hand. “Sirius came by earlier, though.”

“Did he? I hope he didn’t leave on my account,” Lily replied.

“Oh, no,” James said. “He just came by to tell me that he bought a motorcycle.”

Lily opened her mouth in shock. “He bought a what?”

“I think that’s what it’s called—I could be getting the name wrong, though.”

“If it’s a Muggle vehicle with two wheels that’s really dangerous, then you’ve got the right name,” Lily said. All of the nervousness she had been feeling before had been shattered, and everything was normal again. “Why in the world would he buy one of those?”

“I think it might have something to do with the ‘dangerous’ part,” James said, smiling slyly at her. “It’s not a regular one, though. He said he bought it from some wizard he met at a pub in London, and apparently it had some work done on it.”

“Sounds ominous,” Lily said, laughing.

“Especially since he wouldn’t tell me what had been done to it,” James said. “He kept saying it was a surprise, and he’d show me tonight when we take it out.”

She shook her head, amused, and wrapped her hands around the warm porcelain of the teacup.

“So, do a lot of Muggles have these motorcycles, then?” James asked.

“No, I wouldn’t say a lot,” Lily replied. “They tend to appeal to certain personalities.”

“How do people ride around when it’s raining without Impervius Charms, though? Do they have special umbrellas?”

She laughed again. “I imagine they just don’t ride them, or they wear a raincoat. They do manage to get by without magic, impossible as it may seem.”

“Oh no, now I’ve offended her Muggle sensibilities,” James said with mock-concern.

“I suppose I can’t expect much more from someone who has a house-elf greeting people at their door,” she teased.

Lily could not remember when she had ever spent a more pleasant afternoon. They sat there at the table long after their cups were empty, and it seemed silly that she had ever worried about what they would talk about. There seemed to be an endless flow of conversation, and they discussed everything from Muggle transportation to his birthday gifts to N.E.W.T.s. It was not only James’ ability to make her laugh no matter what they were talking about that made their conversation so nice, but also that she was continually learning new things about him, like the fact that he fell off the first time he rode a broom, and that he had always wanted to try driving a car. Perhaps most comforting was discovering that he, like her, had no idea what he wanted to do after they were finished with school, and they had a good laugh over the irony of the Head Boy and Girl being so utterly direction-less.

Sometimes James stared across the table at her so intently that she lost track of her words and ending up stammering through a sentence, but other than that her nervousness had disappeared completely.

It took a very long time before there was any real pause, and Lily looked out the window at the sloping lawn behind his house. She was not surprised to see a makeshift Quidditch hoop sticking up from the ground, with a couple lawn chairs nearby.

“You have such a beautiful house,” she said to him, and he shrugged.

“I’ve always thought it was a bit big for just me and my parents,” he said, “but our family’s always lived here, generations back.”

“Well, you must be able to have some nice family parties at the holidays, at least,” Lily replied.

“Not really. We don’t actually have that many relatives to invite,” James said.

“Oh—I’m sorry,” Lily replied, feeling like she had put her foot in her mouth.

“No, it’s not that they’ve all died off, or anything like that,” James said, smiling. “It’s only—well, at the risk of sounding like a pompous prat, it’s just that it’s a pureblood thing.” She laughed a little. “Really, it is. Sirius’ family is the same. Most of my relatives either never married or only had one or two kids. There aren’t many branches on the family tree, I guess you could say.”

“My family is kind of the same, actually,” Lily said. “I only have one uncle, my dad’s brother—my parents call him the ‘perpetual bachelor’. Family gatherings were never very much fun when I was younger. It was really just me and my sister.”

James stood up from the table suddenly. “Come with me,” he said, “I want to show you something.”

She gave him a quizzical look but got up and followed him nonetheless. They left the kitchen and he led her into a rather dim sitting room off the front hall where there was a side table covered with about a dozen framed pictures, some of which looked very old.

“These include every member of the Potter family for the last four decades, if you can believe it,” he said. He pointed to a small painted portrait of a very tall, burly man and a wispy-looking woman with her hair in ringlets. “Those are my great-grandparents. My dad says that great-granddad was six-and-a-half feet tall.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. He trained Abraxan horses, apparently,” James said. He then pointed to a few different pictures in succession. “They had four kids. There’s my dad’s aunt Bronwyn, who never got married; and then his uncle Gareth, who only had one son. There’s also great-uncle Caius and his wife Freya, who was this really loony witch, and they named their daughter Caravel.”

“Pardon me?” Lily asked, laughing. James chuckled as well.

“They were obviously a bit barmy,” he said. “Anyway, there’s also my granddad Magnus and my grandmum, Calpurnia. They had my dad, obviously, and also my aunt Deirdre, but she never got married.”

“Are—are your grandparents still alive?” Lily asked, noticing how old and worn the pictures of them looked.

“Nah, they died years ago,” James said. “I can’t even remember them.”

Silence fell for a moment or two. “What about this one?” Lily said, reaching out and touching the corner of a tarnished silver frame that James had not addressed.

“My dad’s cousin Charlus, his wife, Dorea, and their son, Otto,” James said, pointing to each figure in the photo. “Otto’s the closest in age to me out of everyone, but I think he’s almost thirty. His parents are both dead now, though.”

“That’s too bad,” Lily said. It was a bit difficult, trying to sound sincerely sympathetic about people she’d never met.

“To be honest,” James said, leaning in conspiratorially, “I never really liked them much. They were kind of into the blood status thing a little too much.”

“Sounds a bit like Sirius’ family,” Lily said. “From what you’ve told me, at least.”

“Actually, they are Sirius’ family,” James said. “Dorea’s one of Sirius’ great-aunts.”

“So you two are related?”

“By marriage, yeah. Although we secretly think that we’re brothers, and my parents tragically gave him up for adoption when he was born.”

She laughed, and for the first time since they had entered the room, she realized that they were standing so close that their arms were brushing together. It was strange that her entire body had not been aware of it, since contact with him usually put her on high alert.

“Anyway, that’s all of them,” James said.

“Well, thanks for showing me,” Lily replied, and she meant it. Only now, the aching desire to throw herself into his arms had grown even stronger. Seeing pictures of his relatives was such a small thing, really, but it felt oddly intimate. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect when you—”

She was interrupted by the sound of someone else entering the room behind them: a thin, silver-haired woman wearing high-necked robes of deep purple. She assumed that it must be his mother, but only because he had already told her his grandmother was no longer alive.

There you are, James, dear,” she said. “And you have company?”

“Oh, yeah, this is Lily,” James said. “She’s just a friend from school. Lily, this is my mum.”

Lily said what she hoped was a polite hello and tried to ignore the stabbing sensation that came along with him calling her “just a friend from school.”

“Oh?” his mother said, looking at Lily with a degree of interest. She felt like a fool for wearing a Muggle dress now that she was under the stare of this imperious- and traditional-looking woman. “Well, it’s very nice for James to have a visit on his birthday. Not all of his friends are so obliging.”

“Mum, come on,” James said. “I already told you, I promised Remus I’d go over to his house instead.”

“You know your father and I would be perfectly happy to entertain them here instead,” his mother said. Lily was starting to feel a little invisible as they went back-and-forth.

“I’ll stay until you and dad go to bed, if that makes you feel better,” James said, and Mrs Potter smiled at him.

 “I’m sorry to be a nag, darling,” his mother, “but it is very hard to have your only son growing up so fast.”

James now looked thoroughly aggravated, but said nothing as his mother picked up one of the framed pictures off the side table.

“It seems just yesterday that he was that small,” Mrs Potter said fondly, showing the picture to Lily. “Isn’t he the perfect little gentleman?”

In the picture, James was no taller than his parents’ knees and wearing a small set of dress robes. He did look rather adorable, actually.

“He looks just like my father, you know,” Mrs Potter continued. “Except for the glasses—it’s my husband’s family that gives him the poor eyesight.”

Seeing the look on James’ face, Lily had to hold back a laugh. She was surprised that he hadn’t told his mother to leave, considering that he had never had trouble defying authority figures before. It seemed that his mother was the exception.

“And now look at him,” Mrs Potter said. “Taller than his mother, almost finished with school...”

“I thought we went through this last year when I turned seventeen,” James said.

Every birthday is hard when you’re a parent, dear,” his mother said, replacing the photograph.

“You know, I think Lily has to go home now,” he said.

“Well, make sure you show her to the door,” Mrs Potter said, “and I do think we should discuss your plans further. It was lovely to meet you, Lily.”

“Sorry about that,” James muttered when she had left the room. “She can never let anything go.”

“Oh, she’s just sad that you’re getting older,” Lily said. “All parents are like that. She obviously loves you very much.”

Too much.”

“Is there such a thing?” she asked.

“When it gets to the point of suffocation, yes,” James said, exhaling loudly. “Anyway, hopefully that didn’t ruin your visit too much.”

“Not at all,” Lily replied. “You know, I really should go, though, or else I won’t be home in time for supper.”

“Oh, you don’t have to,” James said. “I only said that because the only way she’d leave is if she thought you weren’t staying.”

“Well, that’s polite of her,” Lily said.

“Actually—erm—she just has a thing about supervision,” he mumbled, almost inaudibly.

“What do you mean?”

“Well...she probably assumed that we’re dating, and...you know...back to the suffocation,” James said, avoiding eye contact with her. “Not that I’ve ever had any other girls here, of course,” he added quickly. “It’s just something she’d do.”

Lily felt heat rise in her cheeks, but after weeks of waiting for him to bring something like this up, she wasn’t stupid enough to miss out on the opportunity. She couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Oh...well, I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make,” she said. Her voice sounded unnaturally high and squeaky.

“You think so?” James asked.

Lily hesitated, feeling like her face was nearing the temperature of the sun. She looked at him and reminded herself of all the nice conversation and how tall and handsome he was.

“We do spend a lot of time together,” she said quietly, “and we get along really well. So...I mean, it’s not that ridiculous. That we would be dating, I mean. I don’t think so, anyway.”

James was staring at her uncertainly, and she waited for him to say something. Surely if he didn’t do something now, in the face of such an obvious pronouncement, it meant that he was never going to. After a protracted silence, Lily sighed and decided to give up.

“Walk me out?” she asked, her heart sinking.

They walked back into the front hall and James helped her put her coat on. It was painful to have him acting a gentleman when he obviously wanted to be nothing more than friends. She thought it would have been easier if he had pushed her out the door with a good riddance. He was still staring at her very seriously when she turned around, and she was about to say goodbye when he cleared his throat.

“Lily, would you—do you think we could see each other again, before the holidays are over?” he asked. “Just the two of us together?”

Something in his tone made her feel certain that he was not talking about some casual tea between friends. She suddenly felt light-headed, and smiled up at him.

“I’d really like that,” she replied. “Very much.”

“You would?” he asked, and Lily nodded. The look on his face made her heart a little pained for all the times she had ever turned him down. “Right. Well, that’s—that’s fantastic.”

“Write to me, and maybe we can plan for next week?” she asked.

“So you think tomorrow might be too soon, then?” he asked, smiling. “Or maybe you could just come back in a few hours?”

Lily laughed. “I wouldn’t want to ruin your other plans,” she said.

“What were those again?”

“Oh, stop it,” she said, still laughing. How could she have ever thought that he didn’t like her anymore? “You’re making me feel embarrassed about agreeing to it at all.”

James’ look softened. “I’ll owl you.” He reached out ran his fingers along her hair, his thumb lingering for a moment underneath her ear. Lily felt her knees threaten to give out. In that moment, with the way he was looking at her, Lily thought she had never been happier before in her life. It made her feel giddy and shaky, and she hoped she didn’t start giggling uncontrollably, or something equally embarrassing.

“Well, happy birthday, again,” she said, “and I hope you have a nice time tonight. Please try not to get yourself killed.”

“Believe me, I definitely want to be alive for next week,” James said.

“Me too,” Lily said. He opened the door for her and she was about to step out when she stopped, stood up on her toes, and kissed him on the cheek. He looked surprised but very pleased, and even though Lily expected to feel her face get warm again, it didn’t. Now that they were going on a date, and she knew without a doubt that James still liked her, everything seemed much less embarrassing.

She turned at the gate and he waved to her from the doorway. Out of all the ways she had ever imagined James asking her out on a date, none had been so simple or near-disastrous as what had just happened, but she was certain that none of them could have made her happier. Everything she had ever asked for had been granted by the real thing, in no matter what form it had come.



..........




James had not exactly done a good job at keeping out of mortal danger when he, Sirius, and Peter, had gone out for his birthday the night before. It was an unlucky coincidence that it was also full moon, and only the three of them had been able to gather at Sirius’ flat in London. From there, Sirius had insisted on going to The Leaky Cauldron to listen to the broadcast of the Quidditch match between the Moutohora Macaws and the Falmouth Falcons. Everything had gone downhill from there.

Admittedly, it had probably been a very foolish mistake to don shirts bearing the Macaws’ mascot, Sparky the phoenix when The Leaky Cauldron was chock-full of the notoriously aggressive fans of the Falcons. It had certainly been a mistake to cheer obnoxiously for the Macaws in the midst of said fans, even though it had seemed funny for about twenty minutes. And it certainly hadn’t made matters any better that the Falcons were playing abysmally, so that their cheers were essentially salt in the wound.

The biggest mistake had probably been not backing down and insisting on defending themselves against the three very muscular neanderthals that had approached their table, but it had seemed out of the question to sit there when their masculinity was being put into question. When they had finally gotten enough sense to get out of there (or perhaps it had been that the barkeep had kicked them out), the neanderthals had stalked off with their big eyebrows and square jaws—not to get another drink, but to get their silver Falcons brooms. It had been hard to tell whether they intended to chase after the three boys or if they simply wanted to bludgeon them (or perhaps both), but none of them had wanted to stick around to find out.

“Do I really have to be the one to transform again?” Peter had asked as they walked over to the bike.

“Oh no, Wormtail,” Sirius said caustically. “I’m sure Prongs will fit inside my coat pocket nicely. His antlers might be a squeeze, but I’m sure there’s room enough.”

“All right, all right,” Peter mumbled, and he slid into the nearest alley. Moments later a rat crawled across the sidewalk, and Sirius picked him up and eased him into his pocket.

“Time to go,” James said. The neanderthals had just emerged from the door of The Leaky Cauldron, brooms in hand and looking murderous.

They zoomed off into the night with an ear-splitting rumble. It was a testament to how much the neanderthals wanted to wring their necks that they were actually willing to chase after them in Muggle London on broomsticks and risk breaking the Statute of Secrecy—either that or proof that they were half-troll in terms of intelligence as well as appearance.

Just when they thought they had lost them, some Muggle car with flashing lights had started following them around for some reason, making noises like a banshee. Sirius tried turning down a side street to get out of their way, but the car also turned and continued to follow them.

“What the hell is going on?” Sirius yelled over the roar of the motorcycle.

“No idea,” James replied, glancing back at the flashing lights. He had spent no more time in the Muggle world than Sirius had, but there did seem to be something strangely familiar about this...

Sirius swerved off down another narrow street so suddenly that James almost lost his hold and flew off. Still the car pursued them, and then James realized why it was familiar—hadn’t he been talking earlier that day with Lily about the Muggles who would chase you around in a car and arrest you if you were doing something illegal while driving? The last thing he wanted was to end up in a Muggle prison before the end of the night.

“I think they’re trying to arrest us,” James yelled.

“What?”

“Arrest us,” he repeated, even louder. “We have to lose them!”

It seemed that it was too late for that, though, since they had reached a dead end. Sirius stopped the bike and turned to look back at James.

“Good steering, don’t you think?” he asked, smirking.

“Excellent,” James replied, watching as the Muggles extricated themselves from the car. “Now, what should we do about them?”

“This is where the extra features come in,” Sirius said, just as the Muggles yelled for them to get off the motorcycle.

James followed Sirius’ lead in stalling the Muggles, hoping that Sirius had a very good plan to get them out of there. Just when it seemed they had run out of time, the idiots from The Leaky Cauldron, still flying along on their brooms, appeared at the end of the alleyway. There was no reason to keep up pretences anymore, and since they were going to have to do a Memory Charm on the Muggles anyway, James had drawn his wand.

Actually, it turned out to be a bit of a blessing—apparently running a broomstick into the solid metal of the Muggle car had a slightly damaging effect. James really thought they ought to have tried to salvage the brooms, as they could easily be resold for fifty Galleons apiece, but there had still been the matter of escaping. Fortunately, it turned out that Sirius’ motorcycle could fly, which was handy when you needed to get past a very tall stone wall.

Yes, it had not been very intelligent, but James blamed Lily entirely. Her finally saying yes to going on a date had clearly pushed him into a state of semi-lunacy where things like good judgement did not exist and happiness was in constant supply. Even with everything that had happened the night before, James woke up feeling ecstatic. It was by far the best birthday he had ever had. The most unpleasant of moments paled in comparison to the memory of her smiling at him in her pale yellow dress, agreeing to go out with them, and then kissing him. Sometimes the spot on his cheek actually tingled a little, and he was quite sure that he wasn’t just imagining it (even though it only happened when he was thinking about her kissing him).

He was still bewildered about why Lily had all of a sudden expressed her feelings to him, since he had been under the impression that she was only interested in being friends. He certainly wasn’t about to question it, though—if he did, then she might start having second thoughts and that was the last thing he wanted.

It was nearing afternoon when he woke up, still wearing the phoenix-emblazoned shirt he worn the night before. Sirius and Peter, always late risers, were still asleep, but James was starving and got up anyway, trying to find where he had put his glasses before he had gone to bed. He found them among the clutter on Sirius’ dresser and headed into the kitchen.

Apparently Sirius didn’t eat much, since all James could find was a box of crackers, three pieces of bread, and almost-empty jar of marmalade. The lack of food reflected the bareness of the rest of the flat. There was nothing sitting out on the kitchen counters, and most of the cupboards were empty. Only a dusty green couch and battered rectangular coffee table sat in the living room, and those had come with the apartment. The walls were a dull shade of gray-green. The only other rooms were the small tiled bathroom and Sirius’ cramped bedroom. No matter how un-lived-in the place seemed, however, James knew that Sirius was very attached to it, for the sense of independence that it gave him. He still spent time at James’ house on holidays, but now it was not because he had nowhere else to go. His problems with his family were not hanging over him in the same way that they used to.

“Prongs?”

James turned and saw Sirius walking into the kitchen.

“Morning,” James said. “Or afternoon, I suppose.”

Sirius yawned. “You know, I think if it weren’t for school, I might become nocturnal.”

“Peter still asleep?” James asked.

“Of course,” Sirius replied. “Hungry?”

“Yeah, actually.”

“Well, you’re not going to find any food here,” Sirius said.

“When Peter wakes up we can Apparate to my place,” James said, and Sirius nodded. “You know, I was thinking—”

“That Evans is the only girl for you, and you never gave up hope that she’d one day feel the same way?”

“Did I say that?” James asked. He had gotten a little overenthusiastic when he’d told Sirius and Peter about Lily agreeing to go out with him.

“A few times, yeah,” Sirius said, smirking. “But, to be fair, you weren’t nearly as bad as I expected you to be when this moment came.”

“Thanks,” James said, raising an eyebrow. “But actually, I was thinking we should go visit Moony sometime today.”

“Good idea,” Sirius said. “I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to hear about last night’s adventure.”

“I think he’ll be most thrilled that he wasn’t with us,” James said.

“Who wouldn’t want to be around us?” Sirius asked. “Absurd.”

They roused Peter and James borrowed a shirt from Sirius, thinking that it might raise some suspicion if he showed up at his house wearing the same one as Peter. After Sirius had gathered up some things so he could stay over at James’ house for a few days, they Apparated to Remus’ house and tried to distract him from his illness and injuries by telling him about the previous night, and about James’ upcoming date with Lily. He did not seem particularly surprised by either, but it may have just been because he was feeling slightly nauseous.

When James finally returned to his house and his own bedroom, he spotted the card Lily had given him sitting on his bed. With the other developments of that day, he had forgotten about it until Sirius had arrived, and he had not wanted to read it then. But now he hung back while Sirius went down to the kitchen and opened the envelope with James written on the outside in small cursive. Inside the card in the same hand was written:

Happy Birthday, James!

I never would have imagined myself writing you a birthday card (truth be told, I'm still shocked), but I’m really glad that I am. You’re a great friend, and you deserve to have a wonderful day.

Lily


It was a simple message, but now that they were no longer just friends, the words meant much more. He read it over at least three times before he stuck it in between the pages of his copy of Quidditch Through The Ages and placed it on the shelf of his nightstand, until the curve of every letter was embedded in his mind. The girl who had written that card, with the loopy y’s, was going out on a date with him.

Oh, Merlin—what was he supposed to do now?

 



Author’s Note: I wanted to leave a little note about the motorcycle bit in this chapter: if you’ve ever read the really short prequel that JKR wrote for Waterstone’s in 2008, you might have had an inkling that I was alluding to it. The plot of the prequel is filled with a lot of ambiguities which I’ve tried to flesh out, perhaps not in the most conventional way, but I hope it all makes sense and is at least somewhat plausible.

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