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Of Heart and Home by Pointless Nostalgic

Format: Novella
Chapters: 8
Word Count: 20,057
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language

Genres: General, Humor, Romance
Characters: Lily, James
Pairings: James/Lily

First Published: 01/31/2010
Last Chapter: 10/06/2012
Last Updated: 10/06/2012

Summary:





James signs up for an extra credit opportunity in Muggle Studies, wherein he will visit a Muggleborn's home and live a Muggle life first hand for a week.  As luck would have it, he is assigned to live with Lily and her family.  Can he survive a week with no magic?  Can she survive entertaining him for a week?  Only time will tell.

A thousand thanks to SpottedZebra for the spectacular banner!


Chapter 1: Of Cabs and Galleons
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Of Heart and Home

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, please sit down!  Sit, sit!  Now, really, put that down!”  The entreaties came from the Muggle Studies professor who was attempting with all his might to manage the chaos ignited by his students as they filed in noisily.  “Please, we have some guests today who I am quite excited about!”  The students quieted down as they moved to their seats, watching him in anticipation. 

James Potter settled into his seat, slinging his bookbag over the back of his chair.  Silently, he fixed his eyes on the professor at the front, ignoring the underclassmen mingling around him. 

“Now, if you’ll recall, I told you all about an extra credit opportunity for those of you who were interested.  I am thrilled to finally announce what I have planned for those of you who have chosen to participate.”  Turning towards the door, a wide smile on his face as he hollered, “Come on in!” 

One by one, students of all ages filed in, nodding to the professor as they moved to stand in a straight line at the front of the classroom.  None of them caught James’ attention until one redhead entered the room at the end of the line, a wide smile on her face.  Suddenly, it wasn’t hard to figure out who these people were—a line of Muggleborns.  The stakes had raised and James became alert, his eyes shifting between the professor and Lily as he waited for some explanation. 

“This week marks our annual fall break, and I’ve asked those of you who were interested to keep that time open.”

 James’ heart began to beat faster as he saw Lily’s eyes scanning the room jovially until the moment her eyes met his.  Her smile faded when their eyes finally locked, until a few seconds later when she averted her eyes distractedly to the professor.  Did she know that he had signed up for this extra credit opportunity?  Obviously not… 

“You won’t be disappointed, ladies and gentlemen, because these Muggleborns in front of you have offered their homes to you.  You will go home with them for the week and experience the life of a Muggle.  The experience is truly invaluable…” 

James stopped listening altogether as the professor bantered on, laughing sporadically at his own jokes.  It wasn’t until he heard names being called out when his attention was sparked once more.  When he noticed that same genders were being paired together, he noted the relief that flooded Lily’s eyes.  He could only imagine what was going through her head at this moment, though it was clear enough that she was dreading the possibility of being stuck with him for a week.

“Now, I know that I paired like genders together for comfort, but unfortunately, we had an uneven number and I figured that of all the students, Mr. Potter and Ms. Evans would be fine together.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’m sure you two spend plenty of time together as Head Students already!”

Stifling silence held the room as his classmates looked around at each other uneasily.  James’ eyes flitted up to Lily’s, who stood at the front of the room with her jaw held tight and eyes trained straight ahead. 

“I’ll give those of you who are participating a few minutes to speak to your partners before we begin class,” he continued, oblivious of the tenseness that filled the classroom.  Students stood up and moved around quickly and James slowly pushed himself out of his desk, shuffling over to Lily. 

“You did this on purpose, didn’t you?” Lily muttered as soon as James came within hearing distance of her, a look of disdain on her face.

“No, I didn’t,” James insisted, putting up his hands in defense. 

“First Head Boy and now this!” she exclaimed, gritting her teeth together.  “Why did you even sign up for this?  Don’t you have better things to do over your break?” she continued quickly, a bit of her anger giving way to desperation.

“Well, no…  My friends are all going home for the week, but my parents are on leave in Russia right now—don’t even ask—so I figured this would be a good opportunity,” he told her simply, shrugging as he finished.

“You knew this was the extra credit project, didn’t you?  I bet the professor told you and—…” Lily persisted with narrowed eyes, but James interrupted her halfway through.

“No, I had no idea what we were doing.  Would you like me to switch with someone?  I really would if you wanted to be with someone else,” James told her, motioning to the second and third year students surrounding him. 

Lily surveyed the room skeptically, sighing a bit to herself.  “Why are you even taking this class?” she asked quietly, frowning.

“I found Muggles interesting, and I figured this would be a good class for my profession.”

Auror?” she asked incredulously, raising an eyebrow in disbelief. 

“Lily, Muggles are everywhere, as you of course know.  I’m going to have to interact with them daily, so I thought it would be best to have a better understanding of their culture,” he replied.  “Now, would you like to switch?” he asked obdurately. 

“No, no,” Lily said with reluctance, shaking her head.  “I don’t want to cause problems.  I agreed to this, after all,” she reasoned, looking down at her feet uncomfortably.  After a moment, Lily looked up decisively and began speaking once more.  “We’re leaving tonight after dinner,” she informed him cordially, nodding once.

James was caught somewhat off-guard, but nodded in affirmation hesitantly nevertheless.  “Will we be Apparating?” he asked her slowly, raising an eyebrow.

Lily’s disposition changed as she restrained a laugh and shook her head.  “Uh, no,” she answered, a smirk bubbling onto her face.  “We’re going to a completely Muggle town.  We’ll be taking the train and then a cab.  I assume you know what a cab is?” Lily asked, raising an eyebrow in question, though she continued before he could respond.  “They’ll be providing carriages to the train station tonight.  Just meet in the Front Hall and we’ll go together from there.”

“Right…” he murmured, his eyes a bit wider than usual.  “Should I bring any specific clothes?” he asked suddenly, furrowing his brow. 

“Anything but what you’re wearing now,” she said, eyeing his uniform.  “Think Muggle,” she told him, a barely condescending smile coming to her face.  “I’ll see you then,” she said finally, nodding in farewell before she turned swiftly, exiting the room before the professor began reeling in his students to begin the lesson.  James stood still as he watched her turn down the hall until he finally slinked back to his desk, sinking into the stiff chair. 


 


 

                James ambled down to the Front Hall, suitcase in tow, as soon as dinner had finished.  Lily was already there, though she had no suitcase with her.  All she had were a few books under one arm as she stood, tapping one foot on the ground impatiently. 

                “Come on!” she called across the hall as she saw him struggling down the stairs.  James jumped in surprise before he began to hurry down the stairs, his suitcase slamming loudly against each step as he did so. 

                “You could be a little less disruptive,” she chastised him when he finally neared her.

                He ignored this comment, though, and looked her up and down in confusion.  “Where’s all your stuff?” he asked her quickly.

                “You forget that we’re going to my house.  I have plenty of things there already,” she told him simply, turning to head out the door without another word. 

                They didn’t have to walk far before they reached the carriages that would bring them to the train, though James found himself straying quite a bit behind Lily as he struggled to lug his suitcase through the dirt and rocks.  The carriage ride was short and silent, and before long, they had reached the train and settled in their seats.  The ride stretched out for hours and was filled with a tense silence that he dared not interrupt.  Even as they reached the platform and began walking out of the station, James remained silent and followed obediently.  When they finally stepped in the cab, he was surprised to hear her voice again as she mumbled an address to the cab driver. 

Without looking at James, Lily put on her seatbelt and told him quietly to do the same.  Fumbling with the strap, he examined the metal on the seatbelt, curiously following Lily’s movements.  As soon as he heard the click, the car lurched and James grabbed the arm rest, his eyes widening.  “Is this normal?” he muttered under his breath to Lily. 

Lily gave him a sidelong glance, unable to keep from smiling.  “Yeah, it is,” she replied almost inaudibly.

They turned a corner and James immediately fell against Lily, who let out a shocked gasp.  Her eyes darted to the rearview mirror, where she saw the cab driver looking back at them quizzically.

“This kid never been in a car?” he asked gruffly, furrowing his brow.

James opened his mouth to speak, but Lily spoke over him rapidly.  “No, he hasn’t.  He’s from a remote town in Yugoslavia, actually.  No cars there,” she told the cab driver seamlessly, flashing a charming smile to him before looking over to James expectantly. 

James cleared his throat, looking to the cab driver as he mumbled, “Zauvjek sam tvoj!” Lily’s eyes widened and she looked back to the cab driver, but he looked pleased enough and set his eyes on the road once again. 

Silence emanated once again until they finally came to a stop in front of a small house.  When James observed Lily fumbling through her pockets for a few bills, he reached in his own and grabbed a handful of galleons, bending forward to hand them to the cab driver. 

The driver looked down at the gold with a grimace before looking back at James.  “What the hell is this?  Gold? That’s not legal tender here, you moron,” he spat. 

Lily quickly grabbed the gold from his hand, replacing it with a stack of pounds.  “I’m sorry about him.  Have a good night,” she rushed, dashing out of the cab and indicating for James to do the same. 

Once they were safely out of the curb, watching the cab speed off, Lily shot an incredulous look at her fellow Gryffindor.  “Galleons?  Are you bloody serious?” 

“No, I’m James…” he defended automatically, but Lily narrowed her eyes at this.

“That joke got old in second year.  And how did you know Yugoslavian?!” she continued, raising her eyebrows expectantly.

“That was Yugoslavian?” he responded, surprised at himself.  When Lily only scoffed in reply, he looked up to survey her house.  It was dark, but he could tell that it was modest at best.  Nevertheless, it held a cozy feeling that he had never experienced in his home…Manor, really. 

“Yeah, I don’t live in a mansion,” Lily said when she observed his looks.

“No, no,” James immediately amended, shaking his head adamantly.  “I really like it,” he continued, looking back towards the house.

“Well, come on.  My parents will be waiting.”  Lily looked at him, about to continue speaking, but she stopped herself suddenly and instead walked towards the house. 

James watched her in fascination as she ambled to the front door, reaching just above the door jamb to grab at something that wasn’t visible to him.  She retrieved a key and shoved it into the door knob before opening the door with a twist of her hand.  Replacing the key about the door, she entered and called out, “Mom, dad!” 

It smelled like her…  That was the first thing James noticed when he entered the house.  It had that distinct smell of lavender intermingling with roses that he knew to be hers.  Smiling to himself, James closed the door behind him and took in the rest of the house.  He spotted a family portrait on the wall and strained to see it, but before he could discern the figures, he saw Lily’s parents coming from what looked like the kitchen. 

“Lily!” her mother exclaimed, holding out her arms to give Lily a hug.  Her mother released Lily after a moment and turned to James, smiling brightly.  “And you must be the student staying with us.  I’m Mrs. Evans, but you are welcome to call me Carol.”  If Lily resembled either of her parents, it was her mother.  They had the same red hair, facial structure, and pale complexion, though she got her green eyes from her father to be sure. 

“Nice to meet you Carol,” James responded, unable to keep a smile off of his face.  “I’m James Potter.”  He saw something flash in Mrs. Evans’ eyes as they flickered towards Lily, but only a second later, he found himself in an embrace.

“It’s wonderful to meet you, James,” she told him, releasing him and taking a step back. 

Before he could glance over to see Lily’s reaction, her father was in front of him, holding out his hand.  “I’m Mr. Evans,” he said simply, a terse smile on his face.

Shaking his hand, James introduced himself once again.  “James Potter.  Nice to meet you.”

“Now, have you two eaten?  I know it’s late, but I can whip something up if you would like!” Carol said jovially, but Lily shook her head quickly.

“No, we had dinner at the castle.  We should probably just head to bed tonight,” she insisted, still avoiding James’ eyes. 

“Well, I’ll see you two in the morning then.  We’re so glad to have you here, James,” Carol gushed, her eyes twinkling with cheerfulness. 

He had barely said, “Good night!” before Lily had grabbed his arm and begun to lead him up a narrow set of stairs. 

“Your parents are nice,” James commented once they reached the top of the flight.

“Yeah,” was all she responded as she continued walking, stopping in front of a door at the end of the hall.  “This is your room.  Mine’s across the hall, so don’t do anything stupid.” 

Lily turned away, placing her hand on the knob to open her door before she stopped abruptly, turning back to him momentarily.  “Good night,” she told him with all the civility she could muster, even going so far as to smile a bit. 

“Good night, Lily,” he responded, gladly returning her smile. 

With that, Lily turned the knob and entered her own room, closing the door behind her.  James did the same and dragged his suitcase into the room behind him.  With a sigh, he flopped down on the bed and stared up at the ceiling restlessly.

This would certainly prove to be an interesting week.


 


 

I promised another story, and here it is!  I’m really excited for the things I have in store for this and I hope you’ve enjoyed it thusfar.  I want to say upfront, though, that I know there is no fall break in the Hogwarts school year, but I figured I would take a bit of artistic license for the sake of the story.  Let me know what you think, and I’ll see if I can get out another chapter soon!

 

Until next time,

 

Christine

Chapter 2: Of Twizzlies and Light Sabers
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Of Heart and Home

 

            James awoke the next morning to the sun streaming in from a window above his head.  He vaguely could hear the clinking of dishes downstairs and the sound of Lily laughing.  Rubbing his eyes, James rolled out of bed, habitually running a hand through his hair.  He trudged to his suitcase, flipping it open to survey the clothes he had brought.  It had taken quite a bit of effort to pull together enough clothes for the week that had no remnants of the Wizarding World on them.  He had never noticed just how many of his shirts had Quidditch terms and pictures on them, nor had he realized how short he was on casual pants.  Luckily, Peter had a few pairs of jeans that James had snatched, though as he pulled a pair on, he immediately noticed the too large waist and the too short legs.  With a sigh, he pulled a plain shirt over his head and resolved to trek downstairs for breakfast despite his wardrobe issues.

            When he reached the doorway that led to the kitchen, Lily was the first thing that caught his eye.  She was smiling brightly, laughing once more at something her mother had said.  Her eyes twinkled in delight, a sight he had rarely seen when he was in her presence.  He only had a split second to witness this, though, before Lily caught his figure in the doorway and stopped laughing.  

            “Good morning, James,” Lily’s mother said jovially, beckoning him towards the table.  

            As he entered, Lily stood up quickly, moving towards a cupboard.  “Would you like anything to drink?” she asked him without meeting his eyes.

            James surveyed the table before he sat down in front of an empty plate.  “Uh, I’ll just have some orange juice.  Thanks,” he said quickly.  He watched as Lily took out a tall glass and filled it before bringing it back and setting it in front of his plate.  “I hope I didn’t sleep in too long,” he said, noticing that the two of them were nearly done eating.  

            Before Lily could respond, her mother chimed in.  “Oh, no.  We’re just early risers.  No need to worry!  Please, help yourself.”

            James smiled and took a few pancakes off of the pile in the middle of the table with his fork, along with a spoonful of scrambled eggs and a muffin.  

            He began eating and he heard Lily’s voice from across the table.  “What, are you a bottomless pit or something?”  

            Lily’s mother quickly shushed her daughter, though, and looked at James with that warm smile that he was beginning to become accustomed to.  “Please, have as much as you’d like.  I made plenty.”  

            James set down his fork in surprise, a quizzical look coming across his face.  “You made all this?” he asked suddenly, furrowing his brow.

            “Well, yes, of course,” Lily’s mother said, glancing momentarily at her daughter.  “Who else would make it?”

            “Well, I knew you didn’t have house elves, but—ow!”  He was cut off quickly when he felt a sharp kick in the shin delivered by Lily.  “It’s just so delicious,” he corrected, looking momentarily to Lily for approval, who smiled simply in response.  

            “Well, thank you, James.  That’s very kind of you,” she responded amiably, taking one more bite off of her plate before she stood up resolutely and looked to Lily.  “Lily, would you mind cleaning up here?”

            “Of course,” Lily responded warmly, standing up as well as her mother left the kitchen.  James watched her begin to pick up the empty plates, stacking the silverware on top of them.  Taking a few large bites, he finished up the food on his plate and stood up hastily.

            “Let me help you out,” he offered as she turned towards the sink with the dishes.  

            “No, really, that’s fine.  You’re not here to clean my house,” she said, but he seemed not to hear.  Taking out the wand that had been residing in his back pocket, he flicked it, watching in approval as the remaining dishes slowly began to float off of the table.  Lily turned back to pick up the rest of the dishes and gasped loudly as she saw the floating china.  “James!  Stop!” she exclaimed in a strained whisper.  

            In confusion, James let the plates slowly drift back to the table.  “What?” he asked, bewildered.

            “What part of Muggles don’t you understand?” she demanded, grabbing the remaining plates from the table indignantly.

            “Oh…” he said slowly, pocketing his wand once again.

            “My parents have never seen me do magic.  And if you take out that wand anywhere around here, people will think you’re crazy,” she told him as she moved back to the sink, grabbing some dish soap and a sponge.  

            “Right…  So no magic?” he asked with a frown.

            “No magic.  In fact, I would hide that wand away in your trunk somewhere.  My sister will flip out if she sees that.  And I think her heart my stop at the sight of floating dishes.”  It did not escape James’ observation that Lily scrubbed with more determination as she said this.  

            “You have a sister?” he asked, moving towards her slowly.

“Yeah.  Petunia.  You’ll meet her soon enough,” she said through gritted teeth, her eyes trained on the dishes. 

            James opened his mouth to respond, but before a word came out of his mouth, a wet dish was shoved into his hands. 

            “You want to be helpful?  Dry this,” Lily said, tossing a towel to him. 

            They two of them stood in silence, Lily passing dishes to James and James drying and setting them down on the counter.  After several minutes, Lily spoke once more.

            “So, we were told that as hosts, we are supposed to bring you out to do Muggle things.  I figured I could bring you out to see a movie,” she muttered without looking at him.

            “Oh, the moving picture thing?” James asked quickly, his eyes brightening.

            Lily glanced over to him, smiling a bit.  “Yeah, the moving picture thing.  There’s a movie theatre a few blocks away that’s still playing Star Wars.  I figured you’d like that,” she continued as she went back to washing the dishes. 

            “Star Wars?” James asked, furrowing his brow.  “I didn’t know stars could fight…”

            “Don’t worry about it.  You’ll like it.”  With that, she passed off the final dish to James.  “Thanks for the help.  If you want to go put your wand away, we’ll head off in a few minutes.”  She began to leave the kitchen, calling out as she passed through the doorway.  “Oh, and nice pants by the way!” 

            James chuckled, setting down the last dry dish before he followed her out.  Taking the stairs by twos, he reached his room quickly and placed his wand carefully at the bottom of his suitcase.  When he walked back downstairs, he saw Lily near the front door with a purse over her shoulder.  She was taking a handful of foiled chocolates from a bowl in the front hall, dropping them into her bag when he finally reached her. 

            “You ready?” she asked simply, to which he nodded in response.  Motioning towards the door, Lily exited and James followed behind her, closing the door as he passed through. 

            “Are we going by taxi again?” he asked her.

            Lily shook her head, not looking back at him.  “No, we’re taking my car.”  With that, she took out a ring of keys, jingling them for him to see. 

            “Oh…” James murmured under his breath, noticing suddenly that they were approaching a car that was parked on the street next to the house.  “Am I allowed to sit in the front?” he asked hesitantly before Lily got in the car. 

            “Yeah.  Get on in,” she said, opening the door and sliding into the seat. 

            Gingerly, he touched the door handle and pulled at it, surprised when it flew open so suddenly.  He got into the front seat, closing the door behind him and reaching for the seatbelt proudly. “I didn’t forget this time,” he told her, delighted with himself. 

            She didn’t respond as she jammed her keys into the ignition, shifting gears before she pulled away from her house.  James grabbed the side of his seat as they drove through her neighborhood, nervously looking between her and the road.

            “Should we be going this fast?” he asked slowly.

            “We haven’t even left the neighborhood yet…  I’m barely going fast at all,” she responded indignantly, changing gears once again.  “Besides, the taxi driver went plenty faster than this.”

            “But he’s a professional,” James insisted, frowning as Lily burst out in laughter.

            “But you fly twice as fast as I ever drive.  Why should this freak you out?” she asked, glancing over at him.

            “Keep your eyes on the road!” he exclaimed, pointing frantically towards the road.   “And that’s different…I’m in the air…There’s nothing to hit.”  Despite his fear, he watched in fascination as she slowed to a stop, turning to face her once again.  “I didn’t mean that you had to stop…”

            “It’s a stop sign, James.  Leave the driving to me.” 

            As they continued, he became more and more comfortable with the concept of driving.  He couldn’t help but observe Lily with utter absorption, trying to grasp the mechanics of driving.  He had a million questions to ask, desperate to understand how she controlled the speed of the car, what the gear shift was for, how she knew how to stay inside the lines on the road, how it was powered.  Lily was happy to answer every question with perfect civility, explaining to the best of her knowledge how the car worked.  When he asked if he could drive it sometime, though, she laughed and shook her head. 

            “I don’t think so.  That would be highly illegal.  You don’t want to get in trouble with Muggle law,” she asserted, which James seemed to accept. 

            Fifteen minutes later, they reached the movie theatre and Lily parked.  They got out of the car and James looked around in fascination at the Muggles walking to and from their cars as Lily locked the door.  She watched him in amusement, tugging at his arm to get him to follow her to the entrance of the movie theatre. 

            “Have you never interacted with Muggles before?” she asked quietly, eyeing him. 

            “Not often…” he mumbled in return.  “I don’t get outside the Wizarding community very often,” he said under his breath.

            “Just don’t be stupid, okay?” Lily said doubtfully.  “Just treat them how you would treat any Wizard you know.  Except don’t mention magic…” she amended, giving him a sideways glance. 

            “Right,” he replied, nodding adamantly as they reached the ticket counter. 

            “What movie?” the slouching boy behind the counter asked monotonously.

            “Hi!  I’m James!” James said overly brightly, smiling to the boy who looked quite confused by the introduction. 

            He saw Lily roll her eyes suddenly, shaking her head.  “Two for Star Wars, please,” she responded, pushing a few bills to the teller. 

            “Third theatre on the left,” he responded dully, handing her back the tickets. 

            Lily grabbed his elbow, pulling him away from the booth.  “Is that how you would talk to someone at school that you had just met?” she asked accusingly, narrowing her eyes.

            “I guess not…” he said sheepishly, dropping his eyes to the floor.         

            “That’s what I thought.  Now, do you want anything to eat or drink?” she inquired, pointing towards the concessions. 

            James looked towards the counter, marveling at the rows of candy displayed behind the glass. 

            Lily waited for a few moments as he stared at the variety of candy before she sighed and went up to the counter.  “He’d like a pack of Twizzlers and a Cola,” she said decisively, handing over a few more bills as the cashier took out a package of licorice and filled up a cup of soda.   Lily grabbed a straw from the counter, tapping it on the surface to remove the wrapping and sticking it into the cup.  Picking up both the candy and the drink, she shoved them towards James.

            “Here,” she said resolutely, turning to walk towards the theatre as James fumbled with his recent acquisitions.  Frenetically, James rushed behind her, barely catching up as she opened the door to the dark theatre.  He followed behind her, fazed by the darkness that suddenly surrounded him.  She led him to a row near the middle, scooting past a few people to reach two seats near the center of the theatre.  James could feel Lily watching as he desperately tried to pass the people in the row without kicking their feet or knocking over their drinks. 

            “Home free,” James sighed in relief as he finally sat down, placing the soda in a cup holder, just like he had seen the other people do. 

            They had made it just in time, for the movie started only a few minutes after they entered.  James looked around as the theatre got darker, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Lily was unwrapping and eating something. 

            “Do you want a kiss?” she said almost inaudibly. 

            His head whipped around to look at her, eyes wide.  “What did you say?” he said rather loudly, his mouth hanging agape. 

            Lily cleared her throat, looking uncomfortably at the other movie goers who were glaring at them.  “It’s chocolate…” she responded under her breath, holding out the wrapped candy she had been putting in her purse earlier that day. 

            “Oh…” he responded, taking it tentatively from her hand.  “Thanks…”  He slowly unwrapped it, popping the chocolate into his mouth. 

            “Mmmm…This is good!” he exclaimed, to which he received several loud shushes. 

            “James…  You need to—…” she began, but he had already torn open the licorice and had begun eating.

            “And these Twizzlies are fantastic!”  he informed her mirthfully.

            A man leaned down from the row behind them, tapping Lily angrily on the shoulder.  “Keep your boyfriend quiet or take him outside,” he hissed nastily.

            James turned around, glaring at the man.  “Don’t talk to her like that!” he retorted.

            Lily shook her head, though, placing a hand on James’ arm to quiet him.  “No, stop,” she said to James, turning back to the man.  “I’m sorry, sir.  He doesn’t get out often.  I’ll make sure to keep him quiet, though,” she whispered apologetically before turning around, giving James a look. 

            “Sorry…” he mouthed to her, turning back forward to watch the movie.


 





 

            “And then when Obi-Wan and that Vader guy had that duel, and they use those wand things—…” James gushed as they walked back out to the parking lot.

            “Lightsabers,” Lily offered, smiling to herself. 

            “And he was swinging it around and was like—…”  With that, James jumped in front of Lily, holding an imaginary lightsaber, imitating its sound as he spun around pretended to duel with Lily.

            Laughing, Lily shook her head and continued to walk.  “Well, I’m glad you liked it,” she responded. 

            “Do Muggles have that stuff?  Like the Death Star and tractor beams and droids and Jedis and stuff?” he demanded, following close behind her. 
            “No, it’s all make believe,” she told him, giving him a sympathetic look as she watched him deflate. 

            “That’s okay, though,” he said after a moment.  “It was really good.”

            “I’m glad you liked it,” she responded with a smile when they reached the car.  Unlocking it, they both got inside and she turned on the ignition.

            “Thanks for bringing me,” he said, settling into his seat and buckling his seat belt.  “And thanks for the kiss,” he added, sneaking a glance to her as he smirked jokingly.

            Lily was about to open up her mouth to protest, but quickly noted the sly look on his face and closed her mouth, looking back ahead.  “Yeah, yeah…” she murmured grudgingly, unable to keep a small smile off of her face. 

            Things were certainly looking up.


 





 

Hope you’re liking it so far!  This story is so much fun for me to write, though it’s taking quite a bit of research to ensure that I have everything correct for the year.  There are lots of fun scenes to come, so I hope you’re looking forward to those!  Drop me a review and let me know what you think so far.

 

Until next time,

 

Christine

             

Chapter 3: Of Breakfast and Pansyball
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Of Heart and Home

It was customary for Lily to wake up the moment a fraction of light peaked through her window, but this morning was inexplicably different. Dawn had barely arrived when Lily awoke to the sound of clinking plates and sizzling skillets—sounds she was not accustomed to hearing from her room. She knew that her mother would be awake, but she was taken aback to hear breakfast being made so early. Brushing the thought away, she pushed herself out of bed, rubbing her eyes as she trudged downstairs. And what a sight she encountered there.


The first thing she saw was James, laughing at something her mother had said while he pushed scrambled eggs around the skillet with spatula. Her mother, meanwhile, was pouring muffin batter into tins, her eyes twinkling jovially. Half convinced that she was still dreaming, Lily didn’t even attempt to hide her incredulous expression as she looked between the two of them, waiting for one of them to notice her.


“Lily!” her mother finally exclaimed before letting out another residual chuckle. “Pardon me—James here was just telling me about the time he let pigs lose across Hogwarts. It sounded like quite a production!”


Lily shot James a less than amused look, crossing her arms. Oh yes, she remembered that incident… “What are you doing?” she asked bluntly, eyeing the stovetop warily. Even if her mother didn’t believe it, she knew that James had no experience working with kitchenware.


“Helping Carol here with breakfast, of course,” he responded with a triumphant grin, gesturing to the eggs.


“Can you believe he had never made scrambled eggs before, Lily? I simply had to remedy that,” her mother gushed as she placed the muffins in the oven, wiping her hands on a rag.


“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” Lily muttered under her breath.


“Lily, dear, would you mind pouring some juice and helping James with the eggs?” Mrs. Evans continued smoothly, having missed her daughter’s comment.


“Of course,” Lily said as her mother bustled out of the kitchen. As soon as she had closed the door, Lily turned to James with narrowed eyes and crossed arms.
“What are you doing?” she demanded once again, her eyes shifting between him and the skillet.


“I told you—I’m helping your mom—…” he insisted, turning back to the stove with carefree innocence.


“You know that you don’t earn brownie points with me by winning over my mom, right?” Lily said with a raise of her eyebrow.


“I’m shocked and appalled that you’d accuse me of such an ulterior motive,” James gasped, a hand flying to his chest in astonishment. “I was up, you weren’t, and Carol needed help! Simple as that.”


Lily eyed him suspiciously, moving over to lean an arm on the countertop. “Furthermore, you never released pigs at Hogwarts.”

“You’re right—they were fire crabs. But I figured I shouldn’t say that, seeing as this is a Muggle household,” he said proudly, shooting her a toothy smile.


“Charming. So, I suppose you didn’t tell her that one of them set a first year on fire, then.” Lily pursed her lips as she eyed him.


“It was a Slytherin, if that helps,” James shrugged, to which Lily rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Besides, they were pigs in this version, and pigs don’t shoot fire. That would ruin my entire story!” he continued, giving her an expectant look.


Rather than arguing, though, she merely leaned over to look at the eggs. “Those are done,” she told him smoothly.


“How do you know?” he demanded, looking down in confusion at the mass of fluffy eggs.


“I just do,” she said, unable to stifle a chuckle. Grabbing the spatula out of James’ hand, Lily poked at them before handing the spatula back to him, ignoring the alarmed look on his face. “As I suspected,” she grinned, moving to grab a few glasses out of the cupboard.


“You just poked them! How did that tell you anything?” James asked skeptically, leaning down with distrusting eyes to inspect the eggs.


“Don’t get so close!” Lily shrieked, setting down the glasses and rushing over to James, pulling him away from the stove by his shoulder. “My mom would kill me if you set your hair on fire or something.”


James’ eyes widened immediately and a hand flew to his hair, grasping at the strands to ensure they were still there. Lily didn’t notice, though, as she grabbed an oven mitt and took the skillet off of the stove. She turned off the flame promptly and walked to the counter, scraping the eggs onto a ready plate.


When she glanced back, she saw the alarmed look written on his face and she sighed. “You’re fine now—the flame is out.” His face still held immense concern, though, and she let out a laugh before changing the subject.


“Well, do you want to hear what we’re doing today?” Lily asked, pulling the muffins out of the oven deftly.


“Sure,” he choked, lowering his hand to his side.


“The school down the street is on fall break as well, and they’re having a football game this afternoon with our rival school. I figured since you’re such a Quidditch fanatic, you’d enjoy that,” she said, setting down the pan and turning to him.


“That’s like… Quidditch on the ground, right?” he asked slowly, clamping his mouth shut as Mrs. Evans rushed back into the kitchen.


“Oh, good! You got the muffins out. Let me just set the plates and we’ll eat!” she said cheerfully and she swept to the cupboards.


“You’ll see,” was all that Lily said to James, a smile briefly lighting up her face.

---

They walked to the nearby school (much to James’ relief—he wasn’t sure he could handle the car again just yet) and found their way to the field. When they arrived on campus, though, James stopped abruptly on several occasions to stare at the school before him, leading Lily to grab him by the shirt and drag him along with her.


“Would you have gone to this school?” he demanded as he reluctantly followed her, straining the keep an eye on the meager brick buildings.


“Yes,” she said simply, glancing at him for a moment. “Why?”


“These buildings are so…Ugly,” he grimaced unpleasantly. “Who would want to go here if you could live in a magnificent castle? There’s no lake, no forest, no towers, no—”


“I’m not sure they get much of a choice,” she smiled, shaking her head at his disgusted face. When they finally rounded the corner to the field, Lily gestured in front of her. “Here it is!”


“There are so many people!” James exclaimed as his eyes scanned the stands and the pitch. It was true—they had gotten there relatively late, and the stands were nearly filled to capacity with spectators awaiting the game.


“Well, just think of it as Quidditch. The stands are filled for all of your games, aren’t they?” Lily mused as they made their way up to towards the bleachers. They hadn’t made it very far, though, before they heard Lily’s name shouted from a nearby stand. The two turned simultaneously and saw as four teenagers rushing towards them, each one waving frantically.


“Who are these people?” James muttered to Lily, shooting a half-hearted wave to them as they neared.


“My friends, of course,” she said, not bothering to lower her voice. “Great to see you guys!” She gave each of the four a quick hug, her face lit up with enthusiasm. “Adam, Lindsay, Bobby, Zachary—this is James! James, these are my friends from home.”
There was a chorus of greetings and James smiled uncomfortably, avoiding prolonged eye contact with any of them.


“Is he your boyfriend or something?” asked Lindsay, not bothering to avert her gaze on James.


“No,” Lily laughed as she shook her head. “Just a….Friend.” Part of her hated to claim they were the least bit friendly, but she knew she couldn’t relate his visit to school. Indeed, describing him as a friend was much easier than coming up with some clever substitute for Muggle Studies.


“Of course he is,” Adam smirked, rising an eyebrow as he watched James.
“You know, we keep meaning to take a trip to visit you, but it’s just so far away. There never seems to be the time,” Bobby said with disappointment, but Lily waved a hand dismissively.


“Don’t think twice about it—it’s so far away; I couldn’t bear to make you guys travel that far.”


They all laughed for a moment until Zachary began. “Well, Lils, it’s pretty packed where we’re sitting, but we should all catch up sometime. Are you free tomorrow?”
“It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow, actually. Does Wednesday work?”


There was another round of nods before they agreed on where and when to meet. After a few more cordial words, they went their separate ways and Lily began to lead them to an empty spot in the bleachers.


“I didn’t know you had friends,” he began, clearing his throat immediately. “I mean… Friends here.”


Lily shrugged nonchalantly before responding. “I lived here year round for eleven years, and I’m here for several months in the summer. I’d be pretty bored if I didn’t keep in contact with a few people.”


“But they’re…Guys,” he said unwillingly, frowning as he ran a hand through his hand. “Who call you Lils. You never let me all you that!”


“Jealous?” Lily asked, turning to take in his expression before finally sitting down.


“Perhaps,” James grumbled, a pout forming on his lips. “They talked about visiting you… It’s not that far to Scotland, is it? Not that they could come if they wanted to,” James considered.


“Oh, they think I go to a boarding school in Switzerland.” He gave her a look and she shrugged before continuing. “I needed somewhere close enough to be reasonable, but plenty far away so that no one would ever really considered visiting. I thought Switzerland would be nice.”


“Ah…” James nodded contentedly. “By the way, were you planning on telling me that it’s your mom’s birthday tomorrow?”


“Oh… It didn’t cross my mind, I suppose,” Lily said simply, leaning forward on her elbows as she waited for the game to begin.


“We should do something for her,” James said inudden excitement, and she could nearly hear the wheels turning in his head as he wracked his brain. “Let’s bake her a cake!” 

Lily leaned back and gave him a look. “That sounds disastrous,” she scoffed with a short laugh.


Before he had time to rebut, though, the two teams were running out onto the field. Thunderous applause echoed through the stadium, and James leaned over to Lily, eyes glued on the pitch.


“So…No brooms?” he asked hesitantly, clearly unable to comprehend how gameplay could proceed without them.


“No brooms,” Lily confirmed asshe clapped exuberantly, letting out a short cheer. “So they’ll line up and have a coin toss, and the winner chooses which goal they want to attack. The loser takes the kick-off,” she explained as she leaned towards him once again.

James said nothing, but watched in enthrallment as the ball was put into play and the teams were running across the field. With every kick of that little black and white ball, every change in direction, and every foul, James was wincing and cheering along with commitment that diehard football fans would envy. In fact, it didn’t escape Lily’s attention that he was balancing on the edge of the bleacher for the entirety of the first half.


“You wish you were out there, I suppose,” Lily asked casually, keeping her eyes on the game.


“More than anything. Except I’m not sure how I feel about this much running,” he considered. “Or bouncing a ball off of my head. Or having to dive into grass to stop a ball from getting into the goal. That doesn’t seem fun,” James scowled as his face contorted at the thought.


“But you’re willing to potentially fall hundreds of feet to the ground and have your classmates lob balls across the pitch with the intention of hitting you.” She would be more apprehensive about people hearing her, but everyone within her close vicinity was cheering emphatically.


“It’s different,” James said with a wave of his hand. Not a moment later, he threw his hands up in disgust as a penalty was called. “What is this—football or pansyball?” he exclaimed in horror. Lily couldn’t restrain a giggle at this, but she covered her mouth quickly. “What?” he asked, turning to her with raised eyebrows.


“I just think it’s funny how committed you are to a game you barely know,” she began, watching as he opened his mouth to object. “Not that it’s a bad thing!” she rushed before he could argue. “It’s…” She wracked her brain for the right word. Cute? Charming? Amusing? Fascinating?


“It’s…?” he pressed when she didn’t answer, turning and meeting her eyes.
She was immediately shaken out of her reverie as their eyes met and she cleared her throat. “Nevermind,” she amended, turning back to the game. For some reason, no matter what she did, she was unable to shake the butterflies suddenly fluttering in her stomach; and even worse, she couldn’t figure out if the feeling was out of nervousness, excitement, or both.


The game continued on, though, and they talked intermittently as they felt inclined. Lily and James alike were more than pleased when her team blew their rival out of the water, and the two of them left in an energetic mood. They walked home slowly, and Lily listened as James gushed about the game, his ardent desire to participate in the sport, and how lucky she was to have such a thrilling game to watch at her leisure.

It was an odd sensation, walking beside him. In fact, as they continued, Lily found herself hoping that they could delay reaching her home for as long as possible. And while she hoped that time would slow down for them, she would catch herself forgetting who was beside her. It couldn’t possibly be James Potter who she was strolling along the sidewalk and talking civilly with. No, she couldn’t actually be enjoying his company.
And yet, she was.

---


Huzzah! So, now that I finished another story out of HP genre, I can finally come back to this one. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter after my oh so long hiatus! Just a note—I am most definitely American, and I generally don’t use British vernacular or idioms, but when I use the word football in this chapter, it is equivalent to American soccer. I just couldn’t bear to use the Americanized word in the scene. :) Anyways, I hope to get another chapter out by the end of next week, so look forward to that. Cheers!
Until Next Time,
Christine
 

 


Chapter 4: Of Chicken Scratch and Flour Fears
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 Of Heart and Home

The next morning, Lily was neither surprised nor disappointed when she awoke to the sounds of James and Carol in the kitchen.  Little else could be expected, after all.  And so with a smile on her face, she got out of bed and made her way downstairs to enjoy another entertaining breakfast.

“Good morning,” she said jovially as she entered the room, and she heard a chorus of greetings from each of them.  “How did you slee—“ she began, but stopped as James turned to her.  “What in the world is on your face?” she said quickly, squinting as she took in the little white marks on his cheeks and neck.  Realizing that they were bits of toilet paper, she grinned to herself.    

He, on the other hand, reddened and looked down as he cleared his throat.  “I, uh…  Tried to shave this morning…With one of those razy things…  And I overestimated its ease of use…  And my abilities…” he muttered guiltily. 

Before she could send a witty remark his way, her mother interrupted them.  “Breakfast’s ready!” 

Lily watched as James scuttled to the table in embarrassment, clearly ready to change the subject.  And of course, ever charming, he had the perfect topic to divert attention from his nicked up face. 

“A little bird told me that it may just be your birthday today, Carol,” he said with a sudden debonair grin. 

Lily watched in amusement as her mother blushed and looked down at her plate with a smile.  “It sure is,” she said sheepishly, though the beam never left her face.

“I must warn you, I am notorious for birthday surprises, so I hope you’re prepared,” he told her, a sly look in his eyes. 

After Lily’s mother insisted ardently that he needn’t fuss over her, they spoke no more about it and continued their breakfast.  That is, until Carol left the kitchen, headed for the garden, and Lily and James began to clean up the dishes. 

“Chocolate or vanilla?” was all that James said, and Lily shot him a look from the sink.

“Pardon?” she asked cautiously. 

“Should we make chocolate or vanilla cake?  And then what kind of frosting?  Does she like sprinkles?” he began hurriedly, collecting the glasses from the table with a bit more vigor than before as he wracked his mind for ideas. 

“Woah, woah,” Lily laughed.  “I don’t know if a cake is the best idea.”  After all, James had no experience with Muggle cooking (save for scrambled eggs), and it had been years since Lily had baked. 

“I’ve got it,” James said, pointing a victorious finger in the air as he ignored her words.  “We’ll make a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Double layered,” he said pointedly, raising his eyebrows to her before continuing.  “Buttercream frosting in between the layers, with ‘Happy Birthday, Carol!’ written in frosting on top.  Brilliant.” 

“James, I—“ Lily protested, but he held up a hand to silence her.

“I will not take no for an answer.  Now, do you have a cookbook handy?”

With a sigh, Lily placed the last of the dishes into the dishwasher before making her way to a far cupboard.  Reaching in, she took out several armfuls of cookbooks, plopping them onto the counter unceremoniously.  “There should be something in one of these.  Take one and start looking.”

Each of them took a book and began to flip through pages and search indexes in hopes of finding the perfect cake.  On several occasions, Lily pointed out various alternatives she found, but James firmly insisted that they must find the double layered yellow cake with chocolate frosting and buttercream filling. 

After fifteen minutes of searching in vain, Lily finally let out a defeated sigh.  “I really think you’re being too specific.  We can just combine recipes to get what you—“

“Found it!” he exclaimed, throwing his arms up proudly.  “I’m sorry, what were you saying?” he asked, turning to her with a mischievous smile. 

Lily merely rolled her eyes, but she could not force the smile off of her lips.  “Alright, what do we need?” 

He listed off a barrage of ingredients that Lily scrambled to find.  Once she had procured each and every ingredient, she pulled out several bowls and measuring cups before turning back to James.  “Do you want to start on the dry ingredients while I melt the butter?” she asked.  As she received a quick thumbs up, Lily turned her back to him and placed the butter in a bowl before popping it in the microwave. A few moments later, she took it out and turned back towards James. 

Or at least, she thought James was there somewhere…behind the puffs of flour that were shrouding the rest of the kitchen from her sight.  “James!” she exclaimed, rushing over and waving her hands through the air in hopes of dispersing the flour.  When her hand came in contact with his face and she heard a shout of pain, she immediately stopped.  Finally, the flour diffused and a very powdery James appeared, coughing and nursing his cheek. 

“What in the world did you do?!  I only turned my back for thirty seconds!” Lily exclaimed, waving away the last of the flour.

He frowned and began speaking at an immensely quick speed.  “Well, I opened the bag of flour and tried to pour it into the bowl, but I didn’t think it would be so heavy and too much flour poured out, so the bowl overflowed.  And I couldn’t stop the flour from coming out of the bag, and so it just kept coming and… Then I got lost in a flour bomb…” 

She wanted to be angry, but the mortified look on his face only brought a soft smile to her lips.  “It’s alright.  Let’s get this cleaned up and we’ll try again.”  She wetted a few rags and tossed him one.  The two of them got down on their hands and knees, wiping up the thin layer of flour off of the floor. When they had cleaned up the rest of the kitchen—counters, cupboards, and yes, even the ceiling—Lily found another bag of flour in the cupboard.  She opened it carefully, only to find James backing away from her slowly. 

“I really don’t think I should be anywhere near that,” he said fearfully, holding his hands up with wide eyes. 

“C’mon, future Auror!  I think you’re capable of scooping out a few cups of flour,” Lily joked, holding out a measuring cup to him.

“How did you know that I want to become an Auror?” he asked quickly, raising his eyebrows in surprise as his hands lowered to his sides. 

“Oh…” Lily muttered.  She could feel the blush rising on her cheeks and the flustered expression on her face.  “Wild guess?”  she said with a  shrug, shoving the measuring cup into his hand.  “Alright, go for it.  I’ll hold the bag to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere.”

He slowly made his way to the counter, peering warily over the edge of the bag.  When he reached the cup into the bag, a puff of flour came up and he jumped in surprise. 

“Face your fears,” she told him with a bright smile, and he scooped out two cups of flour, pouring them slowly into the mixing bowl.  In little time, of course, he was more than enthusiastic about his newfound prowess in the kitchen. 

After his success with the flour, James was more than ready to measure out the baking powder and salt. 

“And now you just whisk it all together,” she said, reaching over to grab the mixing utensil and handing it to him.  He took the whisk from her with delight, plunging it quickly into the powdery mixture.  When another puff of dusty ingredients floated into the air he immediately let go of the whisk. 

“What did I do?” he demanded, looking to her expectantly. 

“You’re just being a bit too aggressive with it.  If you just whisk a little slower, it won’t jump out at you like that,” she laughed, taking his hand and placing it on the whisk.  She let her hand rest lightly on top of his, helping him slowly mixed the ingredients.  At first, it didn’t occur to her how close they were…Or how the skin of her palm was tingling…  Or how thrilled she felt when their shoulders brushed. 

“What’s going on in here?” 

Lily flew away from James, turning around to see her mother standing in the doorway, a pleasant look on her face.  Before she could get too far away from him, though, she slid right beside him in order to block the mixing bowl from sight.  They looked at each for a moment, eyes wide, before turning back to Mrs. Evans. 

“Just talking,” Lily said, but she found that James had spoken at the same time.

“Just cleaning up.”

They exchanged looks once more, but James was ultimately the one to speak up. 

“We would hate for you to have to clean up on your birthday—in fact, you should be relaxing!” he insisted, flashing a charming smile. 

“What’s in your hair?” was all that Carol said as she cocked her head to the side slightly. 

James quickly ran a hand through his hair and watched in horror and cloud of flour emerged from it.  “Was my hair white?  You didn’t tell me!?” James gasped, looking to Lily in horror. 

“Mom, why don’t you go sit outside for a bit—enjoy the last of that nice fall air,” Lily said, disregarding James’ question.  Her mother merely shrugged and exited the kitchen once more. 

When the door finally closed, James threw both of his hands into his hair, watching in terror as wisps of flour met his eyes.  “Is it gone?” he pleaded, looking to Lily quickly. 

“Turn around,” she said with a sigh.  When he did so, she reluctantly ruffled the back of his hair to get the last of the flour out.  “There you go.  Let’s get on to the wet ingredients before she comes back snooping,” 

They were successful when it came to the sugar, vanilla, and milk, but when it came to the eggs, Lily knew that disaster was around the corner. 

“Why don’t I handle the eggs,” she said as she brought the carton over to the bowl. 

“Oh, ye of little faith,” James said dramatically before flipping open the egg carton and pulling out two eggs with flourish.  Cracking both on the side of the bowl, he opened them one handed, a wide grin playing on his lips.  “Remember, I’m the master of scrambled eggs,” he winked, throwing the shells out. 

“You’ve made scrambled eggs twice.  I hardly think that deserves the title of master,” she said flatly, placing her hands on her hips. 

“I believe the young squire is jealous,” he proclaimed gallantly, though he broke his pose as he took in Lily’s increasingly irate expression.  “You know I’m joking, Lily,” he amended, and her face softened. 

“Let’s finish this up so we can get it into the oven,” was all that she said, and they moved back to their bowls.  They finished off the wet ingredients and combined them with the dry before pouring the batter carefully into two pans.  Before they knew it, the layers were safely in the oven, cooking away. 

“Frosting?” James asked as she closed the oven door and she nodded, They found the ingredients for the buttercream and the chocolate frosting, and Lily was tempted to have them divide and conquer, but knew better than to trust James with a hand mixer.  And just as suspected, when she took out the mixer, James’ eyes shot to it. 

“What’s that?” he said quickly, eyeing the contraption in fascination. 

“It’s a hand mixer,” she said simply, setting it on the counter as she began to measure out the ingredients. 

“But we were already mixing by hand…” he said slowly, furrowing his brow in confusion. 

“You’ll see,” she laughed, shaking her head as she poured the powdered sugar into the bowl.  After they had finally gotten the rest of the ingredients in, she plugged the hand mixer into the wall and handed it to James.  “Would you like to do the honors?” she asked, but he shook his head ardently. 

She shrugged lightly and turned on the electric mixer, watching in delight as James jumped with alarm at the noise.  As she began to mix together the ingredients, though, his disconcertion began to fade, and he ventured a peak into the bowl. 

“That doesn’t look too bad…  Can I try?” he cautioned, and she moved to the side with a smile, giving him room to take the hand mixer from her.  “This looks a lot scarier than it is,” he laughed, looking over to Lily. 

Naturally, looking away from the bowl was his big mistake. 

As soon as he had turned to Lily, the hand mixer just barely lifted out of the frosting—just enough for frosting to fling out of the bowl and hit both Lily and James, among other things.   

“Put it back in!” Lily shrieked, rushing over and taking hold of the hand mixer, turning it off the second she touched it.  She let out a long sigh before glancing over at James.  As soon as their eyes met, they burst out in laughter, trying in vain to wipe off all the frosting on their faces, in their hair, and on their clothes. 

“Never let me touch another Muggle appliance ever,” James said through his laughter. 

“Will do,” she giggled as she licked a bit of frosting off her lower lip.  “Did I get it all off?” she asked, gesturing to her face. 

“Just a little on your nose,” James said with a grin, watching as she tried to get it off.  “No, to your left…  Other left…  Here, let me—“ he finally said, reaching over and wiping a bit off of the bridge of her nose. 

Lily let out another residual laugh as she thanked him.  “It’s all in your hair,” she said, and a new wave of laughter took over. 

“Someone is out to get me!” he exclaimed, doubling over in mirth as he ran his hands frantically through his hair. 

“You should just shave off all your hair—it would solve all of your problems,” she teased, watching as his eyes widened in panic. 

“That’s a terrible idea, Lily!”  When their eyes met once more, though, his horror vanished and chuckles bubbled up between them.  

“Alright, let’s finish this frosting before we coat the entire kitchen in it,” Lily said after a moment, moving back to the bowl and carefully turning the hand mixer back on. 

Before long they had finished both the buttercream and the frosting, and cake was out of the oven cooling.  They didn’t waste much time before frosting the cake, because they were worried that her mother would pop back in at any time.  As expected, by the time they had finished frosting the cake, there was more frosting on their hands and on the platter than on the cake, but they had long since accepted that this cake would not be getting high marks for presentation. 

“Do you want to write the message on the top?” Lily asked James once they had finished.  

“I can try,” James said with a shrug.  Thankfully, she had a few tubes of decorating frosting handy, and she handed one to him.  She watched keenly as he began to write ‘Happy Birthday, Carol’ on the top of the cake with much difficulty.  When he finished, they both stepped back and looked at it with looks of uncertainty. 

“It looks a bit like chicken scratch,” Lily finally said, turning to James. 

“It’s the thought that counts, right?” he grinned, and as if on cue, the door opened once again to reveal Lily’s mother. 

“What’s all this?” she exclaimed, clasping her hands together as she took in the cake and tried her best to discern the letters.  “Hubby pinthdug, Cunol…  Well, isn’t that…Nice…” she said slowly, looking between the two of them doubtfully. 

“Happy birthday!” the two of them said in unison, plastering on the biggest smiles they could manage in hopes of drawing attention from their disaster of a cake. 

“Well, thank you so much you two,” she gushed, a hand flying to her chest in appreciation.  “Let me just grab a knife and we’ll cut on into it.” 

Just as Lily’s mother turned her back to them, Lily peeked over at James.  “By the way, you’ve got frosting in your hair, honey,” Carol called out, and the two of them burst out in laughter once again, unable to stop themselves from doubling over in giggles. 

But just as James patted Lily good-heartedly on the back, she felt a wave of unexpected tingles shoot through her body as her breath ran short.  And no matter how her mind protested, she knew exactly what that meant.  

Lily Evans actually liked James Potter. 


 


 

And another one is done!  A quick note: One reviewer, Waffleiron Saboteur, suggested the bit about the razor, so that’s a little nod to you!  I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and I hope to hear from a few of you readers.  Endless thanks for all of the reviews—I truly appreciate each and every one! 

Until next time,

Christine


Chapter 5: Of Ice Fishing and Merlin
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 Of Heart and Home

Lily was taken by an uncharacteristic nervousness when she awoke the next morning.  Of course James had briefly met her friends, but something about spending a prolonged amount of time with them made her stomach twist in knots.  Perhaps she was afraid of the embarrassing stories they would tell; perhaps she was afraid that they would ask him questions about their school that he wouldn’t know how to answer; perhaps she was afraid of how she would react if they asked her how she felt about James.

Pushing her apprehension aside, Lily got dressed for the day and made her way downstairs.  After a pleasant breakfast of French toast and eggs, Lily and James left the house bound for a nearby park.  While a slight chill hung in the air, the weather was still accommodating for an afternoon outing, much to Lily’s relief.

“Lovely scrambled eggs this morning,” was the first thing that Lily said as they rounded the corner from her home. 

“I’ll never give away my secrets, no matter how much you flatter me,” James replied with a wink and a grin. 

“More salt?”  Lily asked pointedly, shooting him a knowing look. 

“You caught me,” he laughed, slipping his hands into his pockets.  “So, didn’t you say earlier this week that you had a sister?”

Lily looked at him for a moment as they walked, caught off guard by his sudden change of subjects, before looking back ahead with a sigh.  “Yeah, I did.  Petunia.  Why?”

“You said I’d meet her soon enough.  I haven’t seen her around the house once,” he explained with a shrug.  From her peripheries, she could see that his eyes were plainly on her. 

“I would hope not.  She’s living with Vernon, her significant other,” Lily said with distaste, her eyes shifting staunchly towards the ground.  “She comes by every so often, but she avoids me like the plague.”

“So I won’t meet her then?” James asked slowly, furrowing his brow. 

“Oh, no, you will,” Lily said, a tone of regret tingeing her voice.  “My mom is all but forcing her to come to dinner tomorrow evening, without Vernon.  And believe me, separating the two of them is going to be quite the accomplishment,” she said with a roll of her eyes. 

“Well, that sounds…Fun,” James said with a sympathetic smile.

“I’m going to apologize in advance for any insults she may throw your way.  I would say she doesn’t mean to be so disrespectful, but…She does,” she sighed, her eyes drifting towards the park as they neared it.  Without missing a beat, she changed the subject just as he had done a few minutes prior.  “Now you’re sure you don’t mind hanging out with my friends for the afternoon?  I really don’t want to bore you.”

 

“I don’t think that’s humanly possible,” he replied with a short laugh.  “Anything I need to know about them?  Secret pasts?  Undercover occupations?  Extra limbs?”

“You saw them all yesterday!” Lily objected, though she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. 

“I don’t know…Maybe one of them is really good at hiding their third ear...”  James muttered with a raised eyebrow. 

“They’re all perfectly intact, thank you very much.  As for what you should know, Adam will ask you about sports.  Say you play rugby,” she began.  She heard him repeat the word under his breath before she continued.  “Zachary might ask weird questions—he tends to get protective over me.” 

“Did you guys have a thing?” James asked immediately in a nonchalant voice that thinly veiled his alarm. 

“Absolutely not,” Lily laughed, shaking her head.  “He’s like a big brother, and has always been really defensive over me.  Don’t worry, though—you’ll be fine.” 

Before James could ask anything more, they had reached Lily’s friends, all seated in a circle on a large blanket. 

“Well, hello again,” Lindsay chirped, waving cheerily before gesturing for them to sit. 

“It’s James, right?” Zachary asked as he scooted over to make room.  As James nodded and sat down, Zachary stuck out a hand for him to shake.  “Great to see you again.” 

Lily didn’t miss the shock in James’ eyes as he registered the strength of Zachary’s handshake, but obligingly pretended not to notice his delay in response.  “Likewise,” he squeaked, flexing his hand uncomfortably when he was finally released. 

“Well, how’d you like that match yesterday?  Could you believe Collins—…” Adam began, Bobby piping in over him immediately. 

Lily, all too accustomed to multitasking, was only half listening; she had long since learned that an occasional nod and an encouraging smile was all it took to appear engaged.  Granted, she wasn’t one to let her thoughts wander, but this situation was different. 

At first, she was simply wrapped up in James’ animated speech as he tried his best to recount some of his favorite maneuvers.  Every time he would wave his hands expressively or make some joke that set off laughter around the circle, she felt her stomach leap a bit more. 

But then someone else caught her attention.  Lindsay, who was sitting adjacent to James, held the same wistful look on her face.  After only a moment of observance, it became clear that Lindsay’s nods and smiles were just as counterfeit as her own, and jealousy suddenly flooded through her veins.  Before the sour look on her face could be noticed, though, she was pulled out of her reverie by Bobby’s words.

“Remember when you used to drag that slimy kid to the football games when we were little, Lils?  What was his name?”  he asked laughingly, his eyes shifting around to the others for help.

“Oh, what was it!” Zachary exclaimed, snapping his fingers as if it would somehow sharpen his memory.  “Something like Snevvery—it was the oddest name I’d ever heard!”

“Snape?” James immediately butted in, his eyes meeting all but Lily’s.  Lily, meanwhile, felt her cheeks warming up as she looked down at the ground, hoping that somebody would change subjects.

“Yes, that was it!  It was Snape!”  Lindsay agreed, and the laughter that resounded between them was the slightest bit malicious. 

“Don’t tell me he lives around here!” James asked incredulously.  Lily could feel his eyes pass over her, but she made a point of staring down at the pattern on the blanket with interest. 

“Spinner’s End,” Lily muttered, and all of them looked at her for a moment, as if they had forgotten she was there. 

“Right—awful part of town, really,” Adam said with a shake of his head.  “She tried to bring him to a few games, but he wouldn’t say a word to us.  He wouldn’t even look at us!” He chuckled at the memory before continuing.  “It was like we were poisonous or something.”

“But he’s not around here during the year much, is he…” Zachary muttered, his eyes shooting upward in thought.  “Say, he’s not at that school you guys go to, is he?” he asked suddenly, his eyes darting between Lily and James.

Lily finally looked up at Zachary, but didn’t respond.  After a moment of tense silence, James finally cleared his throat.  “Uhm…No,” he recovered uncomfortably, adjusting his glasses.  “Lily here’s just told me a bit about him.  That’s all.” 

As chatter resumed amongst the group, Lily let out a slow sigh and saw James’ eyes glued with determination on her.  Unable to stop herself, she finally glanced at him; when he smiled softly to her, she felt her insides warm up again, and she couldn’t stop herself from returning it with a weak smile of her own. 

This hadn’t gone unnoticed, though, for not a moment later Zachary’s voice addressed James.  “Hey mate—mind if we talk in private for a moment?” 

Lily’s eyes widened in horror as James broke their gaze and looked up at Zachary hesitantly.  “Oh…Sure,” he stuttered, ambling into a standing position before they moved across the park out of hearing distance. 

“Reckon he’s asking James about his intentions?” Adam snorted, shooting a pointed look to Lily who shook her head in disbelief.

“You’d think he was my dad the way he acts.  There’s really no need for this,” she insisted, her eyes trailing over to watch the pair talking in the distance.

“So you’re saying there’s nothing going on between you two?” Lindsay asked suddenly, her gaze hot on Lily. 

Lily had just watched Zachary point a stern finger in James direction when she heard this.  Her eyes shot back to Lindsay, her mouth open slightly as she searched for something to say.  Anxiety mounted when she finally spoke.

“Absolutely not,” Lily said with as much indifference as she could muster, throwing in a shrug for good measure. 

“You’re sure?  Because…” Lindsay paused for a moment, ignoring the looks of Bobby and Adam as she leaned in towards Lily.  “Because I think he’s rather attractive, don’t you agree?”

“Well, ye—I mean…  No, have at it,” she mumbled, shifting her glance back to James and Zachary.

“Oi!” Bobby yelled suddenly, turning towards the two as well.  “Want to share your secrets with the lowly peons over here?”

Lily watched as Zachary patted James good-naturedly on the back before they returned, a weak smile playing on James’ face. 

“Just having a little chat is all,” Zachary explained simply as he sat back down. 

“Naturally,” Adam scoffed with a roll of his eyes, but didn’t linger on the subject for long. 

The afternoon ticked along, and the group talked without interlude about anything and everything.  James had been subjected to listing off his favorite rugby teams, but far from knowing what rugby even entailed, he was forced to make up his own names.  (“Battleheaded Skrewts?  I’ve never heard of them!” Adam had exclaimed.  “Are they in the league?”)

And of course, Lily and James endured concocting a ridiculous story that recounted their fictional past.  After all, they could not tell the truth about Lily’s revulsion towards James for six full years.  Unfortunately, their story of how they became such close friends (which involved cabbage, history notes, a missing pencil bag, and their shared love of ice fishing, among other things) only sparked more questioning as to why Lily had never mentioned him before. 

James’ solution, which was less than suave, went as follows:

“Merlin!  Is the sun setting already?  Lily, I promised your mom I’d help with dinner.  We should probably be going!”

Lily merely stared at him in shock, though, as did the rest of her friends.

“Did you just say Merlin?” Lindsay asked slowly, raising her eyebrows quickly.

James glanced at Lily, whose eyes were as wide as saucers, and he gulped quickly.  “Oh yes…Of course…  See, I’m trying to stop swearing…  And I’ve tried all these substitutes,” he said dismissively with a false laugh.  “Sometimes I say muffins, sometimes I say marmalade…  Merlin seems to be the only thing that works, though!” he exclaimed with a shrug. 

“Right…”  Zachary said slowly, narrowing his eyes.

Nevertheless, Lily stood up along with James and forced a smile on her face.  “Well, this was so lovely—I’ll write you guys and let you know if I’ll be back for Christmas or not.  Don’t get into too much trouble, alright?”  She would’ve given them each a hug, but she feared lingering any longer. 

“Let us know if James’ll be back, alright?” Lindsay said quickly before they turned to go, and Lily gave a slow nod. 

As they retreated far enough away from the park, Lily let out a loud snort.  “Muffins?” she asked mildly through her laughter. 

James eyed her in confusion, laughing halfheartedly himself.  “I thought you’d be mad…” he said slowly.

“Well, it was thoughtless, of course.  But I can’t seem to get the thought of you exclaiming various breakfast foods whenever you tripped or got hexed out of my head.  Marmalade…” she murmured with a bit of residual laughter.  “By the by, what did Zachary have to say to you?  Nothing too bad, I hope.”

“I’m just glad you warned me,” James said, smiling a bit to her.  “He just told me that you were a very special person, and that if he ever heard that I was taking advantage of you or did anything to hurt you, I would have him to answer to,” he said matter-of-factly, as if the words weren’t odd at all. 

“And that wasn’t weird to you?” Lily said slowly, cocking an eyebrow to him in disbelief. 

“Well, I already knew you were very special—that’s an understatement, really.  And I know I would never take advantage of you, nor would I hurt you.  Not knowingly, that is,” he added hastily, looking out at the trees that lined the sidewalk as he spoke. 

Lily watched him for a moment before looking ahead as well in order to hide the small smile lighting up her face.  They walked in silence for a moment as Lily marveled at the golden light that the setting sun emitted, enveloping their surroundings in a dull glow. 

“By the way,” she said, a bit quieter and with perfect somberness.  “Thank you for not telling them about Severus.  I know they would have hounded you for embarrassing stories about him…They never did like him,” she murmured, looking purposefully away as he glanced towards her. 

“No worries,” he said immediately, looking back ahead after a beat.  “I knew you two were friends for a long time… I had no idea he lived around here, though.” 

Lily didn’t respond for several seconds, as if debating how much she ought to say.  Finally, she began to speak once more, her words slow and morose.  “He was the one who told me I was a witch…He was always there for me, no matter what.”  She stopped here for a moment, as if unable to continue.  “We were best friends,” she finally said with candor, finally turning to look at him, unashamed, as they rounded the corner.  “But you probably don’t want to hear that,” she continued easily.

“No, I—,“ James began, but Lily let out a lackluster laugh followed by a slow sigh. 

“Well, everything’s changed now, hasn’t it.” 

And somehow, as they walked up the pathway towards her house, they both knew that she wasn’t talking about Severus anymore. 

 


 


 

Well, sorry for the delay.  My only excuse is that I took the break to read through all the Harry Potter books again, which was such a treat!  Anywho, for all the questions of Petunia and whether there is any somberness to come in the tale, I’m here to tell you that I’ve got it all planned!  Do not fret, for I’ve not forgotten!  That’s all I’m going to say, other than that I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and thank you endlessly to every reviewer! 

Until next time,

Christine

 


Chapter 6: Of Swings and Freaks
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 Of Heart and Home

The nervous anticipation that flooded Lily the previous morning was replaced with pure dread when she awoke.  How was she to face her sister, whom she had not heard two words from since she moved in with Vernon?  A small part of her wondered if maturity had set in, and if Petunia had moved past their petty arguments, but she knew that this was wishful thinking. 

What’s more, she hadn’t thought much about what her sister would say in front of James until very recently.  After all, it wasn’t until very recently when her feelings towards James began to change, and suddenly, something like a catty older sister seemed much more paramount.

Her mind raced from the moment she got out of bed, and her frantic thoughts did not dissipate as she went to breakfast.  In fact, they only seemed to mount as the day wore on, and she and James tried to pretend that disaster wasn’t imminent.  It wasn’t until the evening when she and James were sitting on her living room floor playing chess when the subject was broached. 

“So, your sister is coming tonight then?” James asked casually, though they both knew very well what the answer was. 

“Yeah—I’d expect her to be here soon,” she replied in an equally nonchalant tone, though her heart instinctively began to beat faster.  “Again, I apologize right now for any names she calls you.”

“Does she not interact with magical folk much, then?” he asked tentatively, eyeing her over his glasses for a moment before looking back at the board with interest. 

“Magical folk?  Oh, no, she’ll call it, ‘your kind’ or ‘those freaks.’  She’s never had any fondness towards the whole idea.”  Never before had Lily been so thankful for the chess board in front of her that she could stare at contemplatively; she would do anything to avoid making eye contact with James. 

“Is she jealous?” he asked plainly as he moved his rook. 

“I think she was when we were younger, and it’s possibly she still is now.  I think it terrifies her more than anything—Severus made a branch drop on her inadvertently once, and she’s never forgiven him it.  Not to mention all the times he described dementors to her…I think she thinks we keep them as pets or something,” she snorted, rolling her eyes.  When James didn’t respond for a second, she let out a slow sigh and continued.  “And so, I am deemed the freak of the family, and I’ve given up on acquiring a new title.”

“I’m sorry,” James said, and the genuine tone to his words made her breath hitch. 

“Every family has their problems, right?” Lily gave a half-hearted laugh as she finally looked up at James.  Their eyes had only met for a moment, though, when the doorbell finally rang, and Lily reluctantly packed away their partially finished game.  “I feel like I’m walking into the lion’s den,” she smiled, hoping that this attempt at a joke would loosen both of them up before Petunia walked through the door.

“Hello mother,” came a stiff voice from the adjacent room, and both of their heads turned quickly to take in the newcomer. 

She looked the same as she always had—blonde and abnormally horse-like—and her demeanor was as terse as ever.  Lily plastered her best attempt at a smile on her face as she neared her sister, arms out.  Petunia did not reciprocate this hug, though, and merely stiffened underneath her sister’s embrace, her jaw clenching perceptibly. 

“Great to see you, Tuney,” Lily said, hating the false cheerfulness in her tone. 

“It’s Petunia,” was all her sister said as she did her best to avoid Lily’s eyes.  As she looked everywhere else in the room, though, her eyes eventually fell upon James.  If possible, she became even more rigid.

“Petunia dear, this is James,” Lily’s mother piped in quickly, gesturing to him with a warm smile. 

“Oh, I see.  You have a freak boyfriend now, do you?” Petunia asked, her voice remaining eerily calm. 

“He’s a friend of mine.  He goes to school with me,” Lily said simply, all but ignoring the snide edge that Petunia’s question held.  

“Nice to meet you,” James smiled, holding out his hand for Petunia to shake.  When he only received a cold and rather disgusted stare, he withdrew it and glanced at Lily in uncertainty. 

She saw Petunia’s mouth open for a retort, but her mother began speaking once again in order to quell the tension.  “Well, your father is waiting, so why don’t we join him at the table!”  It was painfully evident just how accustomed Carol was to playing mediator between her two daughters.  

Lily thought she heard her sister mutter something about ‘getting it over with’ as she walked into the kitchen, James right behind her, but she chose to ignore the comment. 

There was a chorus of greetings between Petunia and her father as they all sat down.  Lily motioned for James to sit next to her while her mother and sister sat across from them and her father took up the head of the table. 

“Please, dig in!” Carol insisted immediately, and the five of them began to pass around dishes, scooping various food onto their plates.  It wasn’t until Lily was passed the potatoes when she realized that Petunia was all but glowering at James as she spooned out her food.

Clearing her throat, Lily looked at Petunia apprehensively, wracking her mind for something to say.  “How’s Vernon?” she said finally, hoping that her sister would break her death glare at James. 

“He’s wonderful,” she snapped, her eyes not breaking from James. 

For the first time, James looked up, and Lily could plainly read the alarm in his eyes as he saw Petunia’s stony stare.  “What does he do?” James asked, feigning interest, after taking a small sip of water. 

“He works with drills.”  Her words were clipped, and Lily could see James trying to maintain his charismatic air.  Of course, Lily was well aware that Petunia was not about to be won over by James, no matter how charming he was, but she didn’t want to be the one to break his spirits. 

“What do you want to do once you’re out of school?” Lily’s father asked as he cut through his chicken.  Lily swallowed and looked at James anxiously, for she knew that her father was still in the process of evaluating him. 

“I’ve always wanted to be an Auror, like my dad,” James replied confidently, though when he saw the bemused looks on their faces, he clarified.  “It’s a group of people who work to suppress and capture Dark wizards and witches.” 

Lily’s father examined James for a moment before a rare smile crossed over his lips for a moment.  “That sounds like a very admirable career path.” 

“It sounds stupid to me.  You should all be locked up if you ask me,” Petunia said defiantly, her eyes finally moving to Lily with malice. 

“Well, Aurors are actually trying to help Muggles as well as witches and wizards; after all, many who study and perform Dark Magic also believe in the inferiority of Muggles,” James said kindly, his eyes flitting to Mr. and Mrs. Evans for a moment, who were watching him in interest, before landing back on Petunia. 

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Petunia demanded, slamming her fork down loudly as she narrowed her eyes on James. 

“It means they want you to be locked up,” Lily finally said, and as Petunia met her eyes, she faced them with equal boldness.  “You should be thankful that there are witches and wizards out there ensuring your safety.”  She could feel the tranquility of her voice beginning to waver as she tried to control her temper. 

“I should be thankful?” Petunia all but shouted incredulously.  “I should be thankful that a bunch of you weirdos are flying about with your little sticks?” 

“Petunia,” Lily’s mother breathed, placing a hand on her daughter’s. Petunia merely pulled it away roughly, though, daring Lily to retort. 

“Yes, you should!  And frankly, I’m tired of you calling me names simply because you’re jealous or scared or whatever else you are!  I’m your sister!” Lily exclaimed, having completely forgotten about her food and about James, who was watching her closely. 

“You’re no sister of mine,” her sister spat, a cruel smile coming to her lips. 

“Petunia, you will not say such things in this house,” Mr. Evans said, carefully controlled fury in his voice.  “I will ask you to leave if you cannot behave civilly.”

“No, really—I’ll go, since I’m the freak here” Lily insisted, her hands balled into fists as she scooted her chair back and marched out of the room.  She could only hope that James would think better than to stay and would simply Apparate somewhere.  Any place but here. 

It wasn’t until she had slammed her front door shut and began to trudge blindly through the dark when she thought of just how humiliating it was to have James witness such a thing—James, whose family understood magic, and whose siblings (if he indeed had any) probably supported him wholeheartedly.  Without knowing what was happening, she felt her eyes begin to well up with tears, a sensation she hadn’t felt in some time, and she let out a useless sob as she made her way through the park. 

Before she knew it, she was sitting on one of the abandoned swings, not thinking twice about the deserted park or the foreboding dark.  Wiping furiously at her tears, she ran her shoes through the dirt, kicking up little clouds of it in frustration.  And to think that less than ten years prior, she and her sister had swung here, carefree and loving, unknowing of the disputes to come.

With these thoughts running through her head, she didn’t hear the running footsteps coming near her until the figure was just a few feet away. 

“Lily,” James breathed as he came to a stop before her.  She could feel him watching her, but she refused to look up to meet his eyes; what could be worse than seeing the pity written in his face? 

“James, just go,” Lily muttered as she trained her eyes on the scuffs in the dirt. 

“She should never have said those things to you,” he said quickly, and she looked up suddenly.  Her eyes, having begun to dry, pricked with tears once again. 

“It’s not that she said it to me—she says things like that all the time.”  She pushed herself up from the swing, watching him for a moment before turning and crossing her arms.  “It’s that she said it in front of you…  I’ve never been more embarrassed—,” she muttered under her breath, but was interrupted. 

“Don’t be embarrassed for my sake—,” he said, not hiding the dumbfounded tone in his voice. 

“And I just feel so stupid,” she continued easily, not daring to turn back to him.  “And Lindsay likes you—,” she said bitterly.

“Lindsay?” she heard him echo, but she didn’t acknowledge his question.

“And she’s so much prettier than I am,” Lily grumbled, shaking her head in hopes of ridding herself of the emotions she was surely betraying. 

Prettier?” James sputtered, finally coming around to meet her face to face.  “What’s this about, Lily?”

Her expression softened as she dropped her arms and met his gaze.  “I like you, James,” she said, not sure whether to be ashamed of the vulnerability of her voice. 

Before she had a chance to elaborate, though, he moved forward, placing a hand against her neck with an almost indiscernible touch.  She opened her mouth slightly, as if to question him, when his lips met hers for a brief moment.  When they broke, neither averted their gaze from the other and after a few seconds they both broke into smiles. 

They didn’t say anything more—they didn’t need to.  And as if on cue, they slowly made their way to the swings just a few feet away and sat down, swinging back and forth gently until the small hours of the morning. 


 


 

Well, another chapter done!  I believe there will be two more chapters to finish off the story, but I don’t expect to get them done for a few weeks.  Thanks for all the reviews!

Best,

Christine


Chapter 7: Of Mirrors and Misunderstandings
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 Of Heart and Home

The night had bled into morning, and by the time Lily found herself back in her house and comfortably in her bed, it was past four in the morning. They hadn’t talked much that night, but there hadn’t been a need to speak.  Rather, they sat side by side on the swings, periodically pointing out stars to one another as they listened to the wind whistle through the leaves.  The residual adrenaline that came from staying up so late still hung with her until the moment she fell into bed.  And somehow when she finally curled up beneath her blankets that morning, she could not keep the insatiable smile off of her face. 

The sun had well since risen by the time she opened her eyes, yet she didn’t feel her usual guilt for sleeping in.  Memories of the previous night flooded back, and that same uncanny smile came to her face as she rolled out of bed.  Pulling on clothes and tugging her hair into a ponytail, she walked past James’ door and saw that it was still dutifully shut.  She didn’t think twice of it, though, given how late they had been up.  She took the stairs by twos and was slightly taken aback to see her mother sitting at the kitchen table, newspaper in hand. 

“Good morning,” Lily said jovially, pushing aside her surprise as she strolled into the kitchen.  “Not up and about yet?” 

“I’m taking a day off.  The garden needs some serious help,” her mother said simply, a warm smile coming to her face.  As Lily turned towards the cupboard to find a cup, she could just feel the smile melt off of her mother’s face.  “Lily, I’m so sorry about what happened last night.  Petunia’s behavior was just unacceptable,” Carol said finally, causing Lily to pause slightly as she was moving towards the refrigerator.

“Don’t think twice about it, mom,” she responded, turning to her mother with an equally genuine smile.  In fact, it was difficult to even remember the hurtful words that Petunia had thrown at her.  It all seemed rather like a foggy dream, only half-remembered after waking up. 

She could tell that her mother didn’t want her to brush off the incident so easily, but she reluctantly let it go.  “Where’s James?” she asked instead, glancing at the clock.  “It’s quite late, isn’t it?”

“He’s still asleep, I think.  We were up late last night,” Lily reasoned, sitting down at the table with her glass of orange juice.  She could read her mother’s apprehension, and she shook her head assuredly.  “We were just out in the park.  He kind of calmed me down.”  She reached for a discarded section of the newspaper and did her best to focus on the headlines, hoping to keep her giddy mind off of James. 

She could feel her mother’s eyes on her, though, and her cheeks immediately betrayed her with a blush.  “You like him, don’t you,” her mother said slowly, eyeing her with an almost sly smile on her face.  Of course—mothers could always tell.

Lily couldn’t help but laugh at this, though, her eyes drifting up to her mother’s for just a second before she trained them back on the paper.  “I hated him a week ago,” she told her flatly, almost cynically.  “Or at least I thought I did.” 

“But not now?” she pressed delicately, to which Lily could only laugh once again, unable to come up with an adequate answer. 

“Why don’t you go out and garden or something?” Lily accused teasingly, biting on her lip to keep her cheerfulness reined in.  “You’re getting far too much enjoyment out of this,” she decided with a quick shake of her head.

Her mother obliged, let out a small laugh herself before she made her way out the front door.  Lily took a final gulp of her orange juice and put down the paper decisively, her eyes drifting towards the stairs.  With a deep breath and an utterly contagious smile on her face, she stood up and began to make her way upstairs to collect James. 

She was relieved to hear his voice inside of his room as she approached it—she wasn’t particularly prepared to pour water on his head to wake him up or anything of the like.  The image made another small laugh bubble up inside of her before she finally reached the door.  Behind it she could hear his laugh, and she furrowed her eyebrows momentarily, confused at what he could be laughing at.  Had he heard her own soft giggle in the hallway?  Surely that couldn’t be it…

Two voices.  That’s what really gave her pause.  For a split second, she wracked her mind for who could possibly be in the room with him, not even considering the fact that it was her house, and how utterly absurd it would be for him to invite someone there.  But it was only a moment before she recognized the second voice as that of the notorious Sirius Black.  Of course, she hadn’t a clue how they could be communicating, given that she wasn’t hooked up to the Floo Network, but the second half of Sirius’ sentence made such a thought leave her mind.

“When are you going to get with her?” his muffled voice asked with a good-natured laugh.  “You’ve put up this chivalrous act for long enough.  It’s about time you get something out of it, am I right?”  Her stomach immediately dropped as she heard James laugh in response. 

“She’ll come around soon.  I have confidence,” James reasoned, causing Lily’s mouth to go dry quite suddenly as her heartbeat began to race. 

“She better,” Sirius continued critically.  “Or else all of this would be a complete waste of time.” 

At this, she turned the knob slowly, not thinking twice of consequences or reason.  He was sprawled out across his bed, a mirror in his hand.  Her eyes met with Sirius’, who was reflected clearly back at her.  James turned around, initially surprised to see her. 

“Lily!” he exclaimed, looking back at Sirius for a moment.  “Say hello, Sirius,” James insisted, turning back to Lily with a smile as Sirius waved obligingly.  “Don’t tell anyone about this—I’m not particularly certain that it’s allowed on campus…”  His voice drifted off as he finally read her dead expression, and his smile melted into a confused frown.  “What’s wrong?” he asked as he dropped the mirror onto his bed despite Sirius’ shouts of indignation.  When she didn’t respond, he hopped off the bed and approached her slowly. 

“Is it Petunia?” he asked, and she almost laughed at the thought.  This only brought more puzzlement to James’ face, but she merely shook her head scathingly. 

“No, asshole, it’s you,” she spat, her eyes narrowing in disgust, if only to hide a wounded expression.

James swallowed, looking nervously around the room.  “Is this because I slept in?” he asked slowly, though even he couldn’t believe that this could be the cause.  “I’m sorry…I was tired…” he continued, lost and defeated. 

“No, I’m sorry,” she said, her tone laced with an unrestrained resentment.  “I wouldn’t want all of this to be a complete waste of time.” 

“What?” James demanded, his confusion giving way to something akin to frustration.  “What’s a waste of time?”

“Because you’ve put on this chivalrous act for quite long enough.  You really deserve to get something out of it, after all.”   She could feel her mouth quivering, but she pressed her lips together firmly in order to quell such an emotion.  And finally, his eyes widened with understanding, and he shook his head emphatically. 

“Oh, that?  No!  Lily, no, that’s not what—“ he exclaimed frantically, reaching for her automatically.

She recoiled quickly, averting her eyes to the ground immediately.  “I’d like you to leave.”  The words were decidedly cold, without room for argument. 

“Lily, you don’t understand,” he continued on, but she merely shook her head with an incredulous laugh. 

“And, I mean, who was I kidding?  What did I expect to happen?”  she asked to no one in particular before an icy laugh escaped her lips.

James’ eyebrows came together in confusion once more as he ran a nervous hand through his hair.  “What are you talking about?” he asked, his tone flustered and alarmed at the same time.

She met his eyes finally, her disappointment and embarrassment gone as she took a moment’s pause.  “How could I honestly expect to get back to school and just have things continue on miraculously?  What would people think?” she demanded, her words fueled with sudden clarity. 

“Who cares what people think?” he countered, to which her gaze became pointed and challenging.

“You care!  You care what other people think!”

“What are you talking about?” he begged, taking another step towards her.  She countered back once again before she continued on as if she hadn’t heard him.

“And I care what other people think!” she reasoned, looking away from him suddenly as if to consider her own self-consciousness.  He opened his mouth to speak, but she tore on, her eyes meeting his again.  “Six years of resentment, all gone after a week away from Hogwarts.  Everyone would be patting you on the back, congratulating you on melting Lily Evans’ heart of ice!” she exclaimed with another grim laugh. 

James stared at her for a moment, but the second he opened his mouth to speak she looked down to the ground and interrupted him.  “Please leave,” she said quietly, her voice suddenly meek.  He didn’t move for a moment, and she continued.  “You can Apparate from here to Hogsmeade.”

“What about the whole Muggle thing?” he asked slowly, but she merely shrugged. 

“I don’t care.”  With that, she turned around and left the room without so much as a glance at James.  She didn’t bother closing her own door as she drifted into her room, her mind all but blank.  It wasn’t a minute after she heard James’ ‘pop’ as he Apparated away and she heard her mother calling her from downstairs.  With a deep breath, she made her way down the stairs, forcing herself to meet the eyes of her mother, who was standing in the front doorway. 

“Do you think you could grab James for just a minute, dear?  I have a bag of mulch that’s giving me trouble,” she said amiably, having not heard a word of their yelling match.

“James isn’t here,” Lily responded with as much composure as she could muster. 

“What?” her mother asked with immediate bewilderment, looking around, as if she hoped to find him in the kitchen or around the corner.  “Where did he go?”

“Back to the castle,” she continued, doing her best to keep her face blank.  “I asked him to go.”

“Why is that?  I thought you liked him!” she reasoned, though Lily couldn’t help but notice the sadness in her mother’s voice. 

“Yeah,” Lily said with a nod as she turned back up the stairs.  “I suppose that was the problem.” 

 




“I just have a hard time believing that.”  It was the voice of Bobby, who sat across from her as they sat at the park. 

“I didn’t think you even liked him, Lily,” Lindsay said sharply, her expression revealing no sympathy. 

“Shut up, Lindsay,” Adam said automatically, to which she unwillingly obliged. 

“And how did you hear this, exactly?” Bobby asked again, raising an eyebrow in question.

“He was talking on the phone,” she said easily, having deliberately come up with an alternative to James’ mirror contraption.  “I didn’t mean to be a downer on everyone’s day—we really don’t need to sit and talk about me,” she continued uncomfortably as she pulled at the grass beneath her. 

“He’s a great guy, Lily,” Zachary said simply—the first time he had spoken since they had all met up.  “And believe me, I searched for any hint of an ulterior motive, and when he realized what I was doing, he wasn’t angry.  He was…  Almost troubled at the thought of someone taking advantage of you.”  He paused as Lily raised her eyes to meet his.  “He likes you so much.  And you know how critical I am about guys who go after you,” he continued with a short laugh. 

Lily couldn’t find a response to this, and so she was thankful when Bobby piped back in.  “Maybe it was a misunderstanding,” he offered, looking between the others for affirmation. 

“Look, guys, I know that you want to find something redeeming about all of this, but it’s really okay.  It’s not a big deal,” she insisted, forcing a smile on her face as she looked between each of her friends. 

“But it is,” Zachary said slowly, frowning a bit to himself.  “I’ve never seen you like this before.  I’ve never seen you smile at a guy like that, and I’ve never seen you so upset when something’s gone wrong.” 

“It was a week.  In the grand scheme of things, a week doesn’t amount to much,” she countered, though something inside of her knew that Zachary was right. 

“A lot can happen in a week, you know?” Adam shrugged, and Lily stared at him for a moment before she let out a sigh and went back to pulling at the grass beneath her. 

“Yeah, I know.” 

 




Where did I go, you ask?  Well, all that matters is that I’m determined to finish this little story up.  I hate unfinished business, you know?  I hope you all enjoyed it—I’ve obviously changed a lot in my writing style in the last year, but I hope it’s still enjoyable!!  Let me know what you think, lovely readers!

 

Until next time,

Christine


Chapter 8: Of Returns and Reconciliations
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 By the time Lily returned to school, she still hadn’t heard from James. She wasn’t sure if she had really expected him to contact her, but something told her that this only solidified his guilt—he knew he had done wrong, and therefore, would hide with his tail between his legs until she forgot about it and forgave him. Except, that wasn’t going to happen, and she would make sure of it.


And yet, even when she arrived back in the Gryffindor Common Room that night, she still instinctively thought that he would be there waiting, perhaps with flowers or flobberworms in hand. He always had odd ideas of what were appropriate gifts. But he wasn’t there. And why did that bother her so much? Her stomach dropped and she felt vaguely ill as she trekked up to her room. Perhaps this was what he had always wanted. Perhaps she had been a mere challenge all this time, one that he had finally given up on now that she had caught onto his scheme.


The thought nearly took her breath away, and she was thankful that nobody else was in the dormitory when she entered. Lily moved to her bed, dropping off her things carelessly as she sat down to regain her bearings. She didn’t care, of course. He had never meant anything to her, and a few days certainly couldn’t change that.


But then, there was something curious about those days—they seemed out of time and place, and she felt this undeniable connection that she couldn’t shake for the life of her. And something about being with him while he wasn’t surrounded by his friends and admirers had impacted her more than she could have imagined. He certainly wasn’t the same person she had once known. Or perhaps it was all one elaborate trick. Yes, that did seem more likely when you were dealing with a Marauder.


As she sat there, though, the magnitude of it all seemed to catch up to her. If it was all a big joke on Miss Perfect Prefect, then everyone would know by tomorrow. In fact, they probably already knew about it all. They were probably getting a great laugh out of her stupidity and ignorance, and congratulating James on his great work. She had never been one to mind the opinions of others, but the thought of the entire school mocking her brought on another wave of nausea.


With a sudden burst of determination, Lily tugged the blanket off of her bed and slid underneath it without bothering to change out of her clothes. She would not let this shake her. Things wouldn’t change, and what was done was done. And even if she couldn’t brush off this feeling that she had m missed out on something great, she had to let it go. For her own sanity.


With these thoughts forcefully present in her mind, she closed her eyes and waited for sleep to take over.
 





The next morning was odd. Just having to face her friends with a smile and behave as if nothing had happened was hard enough. They kept asking for details of her break and expected a few solid rants on the insufferable James Potter, but she couldn’t manage more than a couple of vague statements about the whole affair.


But what really made the morning one to remember was when she and her friends came down from their dormitory, only to find Sirius Black leaning against the wall at the foot of the stairs in wait. None of them took much notice of him as he straightened up casually, but Lily could feel his eyes on her from the moment he came into view. She tried to walk right past him, but he blocked her way before she could. Her friends slowed to a stop and turned around, sensing his movement.


“I need to talk to you, Evans,” he said in a flat tone.


All of them were now watching with full attention, eager to know what Lily would say. She held her head high as she glanced at them, nodding them along before she looked back at Sirius. Naturally, he would be here to defend James. To tell her that she had gotten it all wrong, somehow. Fantastic.


“What do you want?” she demanded, but he led her to a corner of the Common Room before he would respond.


Pulling her arm from his grasp, her expression became significantly more vehement as she continued. “Black, if you don’t—…” she began, but he spoke over her as if he hadn’t heard a word she said.


“What happened while James was with you?” he asked bluntly, only a hint of accusation in his voice. Her jaw nearly dropped as he said this, though, and she stared at him for a moment.


“I believe you were on the…mirror…with him the whole time,” she retorted, pausing as she recalled the mysterious contraption she had seen James using. “I think it’s pretty bloody clear what happened. Your friend is a git, and I dearly hope I never have to speak to him again. And given that we have to share Head duties, I have a feeling my dreams will not come true,” she hissed, her eyes narrowing as Sirius’ expression darkened.


“I think there’s been some kind of misunderstanding here, Evans…” he said slowly, but she merely rolled her eyes despite her quickened heartbeat.


“Sure, of course,” she laughed bitterly. “Potter is just upset that I heard him talking about me and how he just wanted to get into my pants. I think it’s pretty straight-forward, isn’t it.”


“What?” Sirius’ eyebrows furrowed, and for a moment she thought that he was honestly bewildered. But then she remembered just how devious he and his friends were and quickly banished the thought.


“‘She’ll come around soon,’ ‘This would have all been a complete waste of time,’ ‘It’s time you get something out of this’—Yeah, I think that explained it all quite well. I’m glad that I really understand why Potter’s been after me all these years. I’m afraid I really didn’t get it until now—…” she rambled on until Sirius nearly shouted over her in exasperation.


“That wasn’t about you!” he exclaimed, running a frustrated hand through his hair.
Lily stopped for a moment, staring at him with both shock and aggravation. Only having missed a beat, though, she continued on. “Oh, so he has another girl who he’s put up this ‘chivalrous act’ for?” she accused, crossing her arms stubbornly.


“It was about me,” he said evenly, letting out a low breath. “I—I have been after this girl in Hufflepuff, putting on that ‘chivalrous act.’ I was talking about myself—‘I keep asking myself, when I am going to get with her.’ C’mon, Evans, you know I’m the cad amongst my friends.” It was almost a joke, but neither of them laughed.


“I don’t understand…” Lily said in a significantly quieter tone.


“I was talking to James about her, and he was giving me advice. That was it.” Their eyes stayed locked for several seconds as Lily tried to read his expression, evaluating the truth behind the statement. Finally, Sirius let out another sigh and looked down at the ground. “Merlin, Evans. He’s mad about you. He always has been, and he wanted more than anything to get you to change your mind on this trip.”


“And I’m sure he told you all about it, didn’t he,” Lily muttered with sudden resentment, but she couldn’t keep the regret out of her voice.


“I have no idea what happened while he was there,” Sirius insisted with a slow shake of his head. “All I know is that he got back early and has barely spoken three words to us since then. And I know it has to do with you.” When she looked away and didn’t respond, he persisted on. “You need to apologize to him.”


“Excuse me?” she exclaimed, nearly jumping on top of his words. “I need to apologize?!”


“He didn’t do anything wrong!” Sirius yelled back, his understated insistence all but gone. “It’s just that you’re too stubborn to recognize that, and too self-absorbed to admit that something clearly happened this week that’s given you a change of heart!”


“You have no idea what happened, so don’t even try to lecture me,” Lily scoffed, rolling her eyes once again, but she couldn’t hide the vulnerability that she knew was bleeding into her features.


“You’re right. But here’s the thing, Evans—I know you care. You wouldn’t be arguing with me right now if you didn’t. People don’t fight this much about things they don’t care for.” His jaw clenched, and Lily felt her gaze wavering. “Do the right thing, Lily.”


He gave her one more hardened look before he cleared his throat and strolled out of the Common Room as if nothing had been said. She couldn’t move for a moment, completely taken aback by what had been said, but finally gathered her composure and made her wait out of the Common Room as well.

 










“Ladies and gentlemen, please! Must we go through this every time we meet for class?” The Muggle Studies professor was once again trying to quiet down the class as they chatted away endlessly amongst themselves. After a few moments, though, the conversations finally came to a close, and all eyes were back on the professor. All, of course, except for Lily’s, who kept drifting towards James Potter, who sat near the front of the room. The professor had asked her, and all of the other Muggleborns who had hosted students, to come back to class so that the pairs could share their experiences. Frankly, the thought of having to speak about the last week to anyone, let alone with Potter by her side, made her feel ill.


But then, it really wasn’t because she was angry at him. It was because she couldn’t even begin to process what had happened and whether or not to believe Sirius about the whole ordeal. And perhaps the fact that she was questioning it all was the scariest of all, because it meant that he was right all along—she really did care.


Nevertheless, when her name was called, she and James moved to the front of the room. James wouldn’t make eye contact with her, and she stood at a comfortable distance when they both reached the front. They looked sheepish up there together, and James kept his eyes dutifully trained on the ground. After a moment of silence, Lily cleared her throat and looked out at the students, who sent bored stares back at her. Before she even knew what she was feeling or how she should proceed, she began to speak.


“Well, we did a lot over the week. A lot of…Muggle stuff…” she stumbled as her heartbeat began to quicken inexplicably. “We went to the movies, and cooked without magic, and…Went out to a sports game…” she continued, sending a sideways glance to James. He still wouldn’t look back at her, though, and she took a deep breath as she turned back out.


“And we had a good time. And there may have been some…Misunderstandings…” she continued on hesitantly, watching out of the corner of her eyes as James’ expression changed almost imperceptibly. “Misunderstandings about Muggles, that is,” she amended quickly as the students began to look amongst themselves. “But I think he learned a lot. And…So did I.”


She finally turned her head slightly and caught James’ eye. His mouth hung slightly agape as he tried to read her expression, but she cleared her throat and made her way back to the back of the classroom to reclaim her seat. James lingered for just a moment longer before he, too, seated himself without so much as a word.


“Well, that was just fascinating,” the professor gushed, but Lily stopped listening as she waited with unexpected eagerness for the class to end. She stared down at her hands with determination, refusing to let her eyes drift up to look at James until the class was dismissed and the students filed out. Lily didn’t move, though, even as the professor left and closed the door behind him.


It was then when her gaze drifted up and she saw that James had lingered behind as well. He looked back, and their surprised eyes met one another. Lily stood up slowly as she searched for something to say, grasping for words that would not come. When he finally looked down to avert his gaze, words burst out of her mouth.
“I’m sorry, James.”


This had evidently not been the greeting he had expected, and his head shot back up, confusion written in his features.


“Lily, I—…” he began, but she continued without allowing him to continue.
“Sirius told me. And I made such a huge mistake,” she said breathlessly, shaking her head as she slowly made her way over to him. “I was such a bitch, I can’t even believe I—“ she continued, but James stopped her.


“No, Lily, that’s the last word I would use to describe you,” he insisted, taking a few steps to meet her in the middle of the classroom. “I just wanted this week to change everything, and I just hate myself for messing it up.”


“This week did change everything,” Lily said slowly, her breath catching in her throat at their sudden proximity. She held her breath for a moment, waiting for him to continue, but he seemed to be too absorbed in the words she had just said. “I would never have been so upset about what I thought I heard if it hadn’t,” she continued. “And I talked to my friends at home, and I didn’t really want to believe it. But then after Sirius came to me…” She drifted off for a moment, unable to finish her thought. When he didn’t respond, though, a smile came to her lips and she began to speak with sudden clarity.


“James, would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?” How odd it was to hear those words coming out of her mouth for a change, and her smile only widened at the thought.


His eyes lit up as she had never seen them before, and he let out a small laugh of relief. “Oh, Merlin, Lily. What a mess the two of us make.”


Lily only chuckled at this, shrugging a bit without a worry in sight. “I really wouldn’t have it any other way.”
 






Well, that’s it, folks! Thanks for reading, and once again, I apologize for the year-long hiatus, particularly since there were only two chapters left. Please let me know what you think! Cheers!

Until next time,
Christine


http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com