I took one last glance at the room’s occupants and then closed the door quietly. The atmosphere had been oddly tense, and even I had to admit that it had been quite a while since I had seen Black and Peter together. Even so, they were seated at a distance from one another, and it was clear that the air had been nothing short of awkward.
And now, by a stroke of luck, I was hired to scout for Remus and Potter. I didn’t know whether to celebrate or mourn.
I decided to find Potter first. Remus was easy, since he was almost always in the library—either that, or in the dorms. Potter, on the other hand, could’ve been anywhere. For all I knew, he was probably in the depth of the Slytherin dungeons, shagging some girl till she could no longer walk. And if that was the case, I was most definitely not fetching him.
Seeing as I still had an ounce of respect left for him, I decided to push away all thoughts regarding disreputable actions and headed towards the Quidditch pitch. If Potter were known for anything other than his pompous attitude, it would be for his remarkable talent in Quidditch.
But the pitch was barren and neglected when I arrived.
That ruled out one of the most obvious places. But where else could he be?
I headed towards the dorms.
Save for a few strays here and there, the common room was pretty much empty. I spotted Kathryn and Daniel sitting off to the side, discussing something under their breaths. Arthur Weasley, who Potter often hung out with recently, was nowhere in sight. I could only assume that the two of them were together.
Kathryn smiled when she saw me. “You appear rather lost.”
I scowled. “Lost, no. Frustrated, yes.”
Daniel grinned all-knowingly, flashing his white teeth. If there was anything to praise about Daniel Jenson, it was his charmingly good looks. He was an idiot who slept through his various classes, but in my opinion, he was an improvement from Potter and Black. At least he wasn’t pompous; he just didn’t care about anything.
“Why, did James ask you out again?” he asked.
Kathryn socked him in the arm. “Ignore him.” She furrowed her brows. “So why are you frustrated?”
“Why else? Stupid Potter,” I grumbled.
Her eyes widened in surprise. “So Daniel was right? James asked you out again?” She lowered her voice till it was a mere grumble. “And he said he’d stop too.”
I blinked. “What did you just say?”
Kathryn shook her head. “Nothing.” She grinned. “So, what pickup line did James use this time? Something witty and charming I hope? Or is it one thos—”
“Kathryn!” I snapped, effectively cutting her off. She looked surprised, though I couldn’t say I blamed her. I was having something similar to a mood swing at this point, and it did not feel the least bit pleasant. Thinking about Potter always intensified the urge to punch something. “Can we please stick to the point here? And no, Potter did not ask me out again.”
Daniel snickered. “Liar. You’re just evading the truth.”
I glared. “No, I’m not.”
“Then why are you showering sparks all over the place?”
“Because,” I gritted out, “McGonagall wants me to look for him, and I can’t find the stupid git.”
Kathryn appeared skeptical. “Did you even look for him yet?”
My draw dropped upon her implication. Did she believe that I would shimmy on out of this thing just because I despised the guy? Sure, I hated Potter with a passion, but I was a good student. I wouldn’t neglect a professor’s request just because I had personal grudges against someone.
“Of course I did,” I sputtered. “I searched the pitch!”
Daniel scoffed. Kathryn ignored him, but she didn’t seem very impressed with the bounds of my region. “That’s all?”
“This is Potter we’re talking about. Where else could he be? The library?” I snorted at my own pathetic excuse for a joke.
“Check the kitchens,” Kathryn advised.
Daniel smirked. “Yeah. He’s probably getting it on with one of the House Elves.”
Kathryn glared at him. “That was rude!”
“You don’t see him being nice to Sirius, do you?” As if by miracle, Daniel’s blue eyes darkened. “Why should I be nice to him?” He gestured towards me. “Evans isn’t even in this entire thing but she still despises Potter.”
“Don’t bring me into this,” I said defensively. “Our dislikes for Potter run on different scales. At least I have a good reason; yours is pathetic.”
Instead of growing angry, Daniel merely grinned. “And the girl still refuses to take a side. I applaud you.”
“Oh shush, both of you.” Kathryn looked from me to Daniel. “I agree with Lily. This entire thing is ridiculous.” She gave him a purposeful stare, but he only turned away and pretended to be fascinated by the Gryffindor tapestry. Kathryn scowled, but she let it go.
“All right,” I said. “I’m going to go look in the kitchens.”
It turned out to be easier said than done. I had reached the kitchens’, but instead of the doorway that I had expected, I was presented with brick walls. Now I had to figure a way to enter without tearing through the wall. How in the world was I supposed to master such a feat?
I circled around the region, my eyes scanning for any means of entry that I could’ve missed. None found. The only thing that was remotely close to a door was a huge painting of a bowl of fruit. Perhaps I could charm the painting off the wall and hope that there was a gaping hole behind it?
Oh indeed, I was most likely growing insane. I stared at the painting. It seemed like my only possible way of access, but it didn’t provide much help. I had forgotten to ask Kathryn about how I was supposed to enter the kitchens. Normal people used doors, but it hadn’t occurred to me that House Elves used Apparation as a means of transportation.
Just as I was considering going back to the common room to ask Kathryn about the entrance problem, the painting—yes, the painting—swung open, and Arthur walked out…or rather, peeked his head out. His eyes widened upon seeing me, and he quickly extracted himself fully from behind the object.
“Lily!” he exclaimed, sounding fully pleased to see me. “What a nice surprise.”
“Yeah,” I said wryly. “Nice indeed.” I glanced behind him at the painting. “Did you just come out from behind that thing?”
Arthur blinked. “I um…yeah, I believe so.” He smiled hesitantly. “Why? Do you want something to eat too?”
Something to eat? I stared. “Does that happen to provide entry to the…kitchens?”
He nodded. “I doubt many know about it, but word has been getting around.” He paused. “You mean…you don’t know how to get in there?”
“Well actually…” I cleared my throat. “I was just looking for Potter. I’m not particularly intereste—”
“Oh nonsense!” Arthur waved his hand dismissively. “I’ll teach you.” And to my utter surprise, he actually stepped forward and grabbed my hand. It wasn’t as if I was scared of guy-girl contact, but I hardly knew Arthur Weasley. It was a little odd, to state bluntly. “Here.”
He led me closer to the painting and practically shoved my face onto it in his eagerness. I narrowed my eyes. It was just a fruit bowl with random fruits here and there. An apple, a pear, a batch of grapes…
I looked at Arthur in confusion. “What?”
“Tickle the pear,” he responded, and as if I didn’t understand English, he reached out, grabbed my hand again, and brought it to where the pear rested. “Go on now. Tickle it.”
I did, and nearly jumped in alarm when the thing let out a peel of giggles. Was it supposed to do that? I got my answer when the painting swung open to reveal the kitchens.
Arthur grinned cheerfully at my wide-mouthed expression. “James is in there right now. If you can get the House Elves to shush when you enter, you might be able to startle him.” His eyes glowed. “I’ve always wanted to do that. Never managed to succeed though. The guy’s way too perceptive.”
I peered at Arthur queerly, but nodded my thanks.
“No problem.” He turned to go, but then stopped and looked at me again. “You won’t tell, will you? I mean, about this whole…” He gestured around.
“No.” The word came out before I had time to process it.
Arthur smiled. “Thanks.” And then he walked away.
I stepped into the bustling atmosphere. House Elves were running around, plates on their hands or on their heads. Food was floating all over the place, and there were random popping noises whenever the elves disappeared from here and then reappeared there. Truthfully, the entire place was in total chaos, but there seemed to be organization amidst the mess.
A House Elf nearly tripped over me in her haste to get to the pantry, and promptly let out a loud squeak. “Miss!” she squealed. “You a new face, Miss!”
I smiled and bent down so that I was at her height. “You’re a cute thing.”
She blushed and looked at the floor shyly. Another elf yelled from across the kitchen, snapping her out of her little reverie. “I is sorry, Miss! Missy forgets her manners.”
I laughed lightly. “Is your name Missy?”
Missy nodded. “Yes, Miss! Missy’s name is Missy.” She looked around, as if attempting to find someone, and then her wide eyes brightened. “Jamie gives me name, Miss! Jamie Potty!”
I struggled not to break down into peels of laughter. Jamie Potty?
“I heard that!” someone shouted from somewhere deeper in the kitchens. Missy let out another squeal. She looked like she wanted to run towards him, but at the last minute, she glanced at me and decided to stay. I was touched. “Missy, are you telling someone bad stuff about me again?”
And sure enough, speak of the devil. Mr. Potty appeared a second later, his smile wide and bright. Missy launched herself at his legs, and he bent down to give her a small hug. He had yet to take notice of me.
“Whom were you talking to, Missy?”
I decided to butt in, simply because he had failed to acknowledge my presence. “You could just ask me, you know.”
Potter finally turned in my direction. The smile slowly faded from his face and he stood, now looking down on me instead of up. I felt a little disheartened by the difference in height. Now I appeared inferior.
His voice was bland. “What can I do for you?”
I refused to be put off by his lack of interest. It wasn’t as if I cared that he was bored to see me. It wasn’t as if I wanted to see him in the first place. “McGonagall wants you.”
Potter lifted an eyebrow. “McGonagall?” He smirked then. “What did you say to her this time, Evans? Did I bully a student? Use magic in the corridors? Cheat on an exam? Use improper language?”
I stiffened. “Don’t use that tone of voice with me, Potter.”
“Oh come off it,” he retorted. “You honestly expect me to believe that you’re not the reason I’m summoned to her office?”
“I’m not,” I snapped. “If I were, I wouldn’t deny it.” I paused and took a breath, wondering if I was doing the right thing by telling him the reason. “It’s regarding Marauder business.”
He remained silent. I could see his body stiffen imperceptibly, but he relaxed a second later. Still, he was mute. What was this now? A contest to see who could stay silent the longest? I would’ve gladly participated, considering I’d beat him by a mile. But McGonagall was waiting, and I didn’t have the time to engage in pointless activities with him.
“Time is running short, Potter,” I reminded. “McGonagall’s waiting.”
Potter lifted an eyebrow. I stared back defiantly. He finally rolled his eyes and gave in. “All right. Thanks for telling me.” He turned and smiled at Missy, who had been watching us with wide, curious eyes. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? I have to go deal with the authorities.”
The elf nodded. “Missy will miss Jamie.”
Potter patted her head affectionately. “Enjoy yourself.”
We headed out of the kitchens. I bit my lip in thought. It had taken me four belated seconds to realize that James Potter had actually said ‘thank you’ to me. It had been stated so casually that I had no reason to feel surprised by it. And yet I was. James Potter? Saying thank you? The world has definitely tipped over.
He tilted his head. “Yeah?”
“Now I could’ve imagined this, and I probably did, but I just wanted to make sure.” I paused to let the words sink in, very aware that I didn’t make much sense at the moment. “Did you just happen to say…thank you?”
A corner of his lips turned up. “I did.”
I couldn’t help myself. “You did? Honestly?” Potter seemed very amused at my incredulity. I took a second to collect my bearings, and then asked, “Why?”
“Why?” he repeated, and then grinned. “Isn’t that what normal people say?”
“Well yeah,” I faltered, “but I didn’t expect you to say something like that.”
Potter chuckled and shook his head. “Why not me? Just because you hate me, Evans, doesn’t mean I dislike you.”
“Not hate,” I corrected automatically, and then wondered why I even bothered. “Just intense dislike.”
“I’m sure that makes a world of difference.”
I rolled my eyes. “Very funny, Potter. McGonagall’s waiting.”
He nodded and lifted a hand in a parting gesture.
I stared at his retreating figure and shook my head. Potter would always be Potter, even though it seemed like he had matured…just a little. At least the guy knew what the word ‘thanks’ meant. It was an improvement. I turned around and headed towards the library. I still had to fetch Remus.
I wasn’t sure how much time had passed since I had brought Remus and Potter to McGonagall’s office. I had simply returned to the common room, and found it mainly vacated. Kathryn and Daniel were nowhere in sight, and though Arthur was there, he was too engaged in a game of Exploding Snap to pay attention to me.
I opted for a book.
Typical Lily Evans fashion, some would say. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of light reading. It couldn’t hurt.
I was almost finished with the book when the portrait opened, and the Marauders came filing into the common room. This was a spectacle that most couldn’t miss. It had been ages since the Marauders were seen walking together. But from the looks on their faces, it didn’t seem like they were very willing to do so.
Peter trudged up to the dorms and Sirius waited a few seconds before heading up as well. I had a feeling that he had moved to Daniel’s dorm during this period of Marauder break-up time. I doubted that the four of them still slept in one dorm. Likewise, Potter had probably moved to Arthur’s.
This left Remus and Potter behind. Potter headed towards Arthur and plopped down beside him. The two temporarily broke away from the game and chatted in low whispers before they straightened again.
Remus took a seat next to me.
I smiled at him and book-marked the page I was on with my finger. “So how was it?”
His grin was crooked. “It went all right. I never knew McGonagall could throw such a big fit about the Marauders not being Marauders anymore. I swear she had always wanted to break the four of us up at any given opportunity in the past.”
“Oh nonsense.” I shook my head. “She was just annoyed, as was the rest of the professors. No one could truly want to break you guys up.”
“Too nice, Lily,” he muttered. “Too nice.”
I shoved his shoulder. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Remus quirked a brow and favored me with one of his I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about looks. In other words, his look of innocence. “Nothing.”
“Nothing my book,” I retorted. He looked at me strangely, and then burst into laughter. I glared. “Excuse me?”
“Merlin, Lily,” he gasped in between bouts of guffaws. “You’re the only one who would use your book’s name in vain.”
I scowled and purposefully opened up my book and propped it in front of me. Remus appeared amused, but I pointedly ignored him. He looked at me, sighed, and then pulled the book out of my hand, albeit gently to ensure that I didn’t get a paper cut. Oh honestly. Remus was probably the sweetest boy anyone would be able to find out there.
“I’m sorry. Forgive me?”
I huffed. “Only if you get me strawberries. Then I’ll consider forgiving you.”
Remus’s gray eyes were positively dancing. “Strawberries? At this time of year?”
“Oh I see how it is. You don’t want my forgiveness, do you?” I gave him a challenging look. “Fine then. It’s all good with me. You don’t want it, I won’t give it.”
He sighed loudly, though I could see the gentle curve of his lips. “I’ll get you those…strawberries then.” He slowly stood and handed me the book, his finger still marking the page. “Just indulge yourself in your God while I’m gone.”
My eyes narrowed. Had he just implied that the book was my God?
The nerve of him!
Remus gave me a cheerful wave and then walked out the portrait hole. I grinned. One could never stay mad at him for long, no matter the reason.
I felt content to return to my book, and had done so for only a couple of minutes when I felt the cushion beside me sink under pressure. I nearly fell over into the dent that had been created. I managed to grab hold of the armrest to prevent myself from slipping and looked at the couch invader.
It was Potter.
He grinned slightly. “I hope you don’t mind me sitting here.”
It took me a while to realize that he was talking to me. I was too busy wondering why he was next to me, since I had made it blatantly clear that I intensely disliked him. Potter just didn’t know when to quit.
“Why would I mind?” I finally said, adopting a nonchalant expression. “It’s not my couch.”
“Really now? So that disgruntled expression isn’t for me, right?”
I stiffened and shot him a withering glance. “If you’re here to antagonize me, then don’t bother. I’m not in the mood to engage in mindless banter with you.”
Potter shrugged. “Sure.” And then he fell silent.
I glanced at him suspiciously to see if he was going to pull a stunt or prank. He was completely silent. He had leaned forward on his elbows and was staring silent into the fire. If I hadn’t known any better, I’d say he was brooding. But since when did James Potter brood?
Fifteen or so minutes passed. Remus had not returned and Potter had not talked. I was growing restless.
“Okay,” I finally said, breaking the unbearable silence. “What do you really want? Just spit it out.”
His gaze was locked on the fire. “Nothing.”
I scoffed. “Try again, Potter. I don’t believe you.”
“Well…I was actually giving you the chance to ask whatever’s on your mind.” Potter offered me a crooked grin. “Just because I’m nice.”
I just looked at him as if he were on another planet. “What did you just say?”
He offered me one of his trademark raised-eyebrow look. “Have you grown deaf?”
I gave up. “You know what, Potter? If you want to be a prat, then go ahead. By all means, don’t let me stop you.”
He assessed me, hazel eyes sharp behind his glasses. For a second, his eyes almost seemed transparent, but then he blinked and the illusion was shattered. “Fine then. It’s your loss.”
And then he stood up and actually left. I wasn’t sure whether to lean more towards my surprised side or my get-back-here-git-before-I-fry-you-alive impulse. Both were equally prominent in my head, but there was one sliver of something else that I found myself unable to deny.
“Wait,” I called out.
Potter smirked and crossed his arms. “Regretting it now, Evans?” He nodded, looking rather full of himself. “I knew it.”
I took in several deep breaths to calm my rising fury. I remembered that Petunia had always told me that when dealing with someone of a lower brain capacity than yourself, you just had to take it in and simply accept the fact that you’re smarter. Of course, she had been referring to herself as the former and me as the latter at that time.
But what difference did it make?
“So tell me,” Potter said, once he had fully made himself comfortable on the couch again. “What brought on this sudden alteration of feeling?”
“Nothing ‘brought it on’,” I retorted. “And why are you even asking? You know I’m curious, you know I want to know some answers, and if you ask me, you’re taking advantage of that.” I watched as an irksome smirk spread across his lips. “That’s enough amusement for you in one day, Potter. Just spill.”
Potter clucked his tongue. “So demanding. I would’ve thought tha—”
“All right, all right,” he conceded.
I cleared my throat. “Good.” I shot him a sideways glance. “I don’t want to appear nosy, but you did say I could ask.”
He gestured for me to go ahead.
“I may not know you guys well, so I can’t really make a total assessment…but I just wanted to ask…that is…”
He blew out an exaggerated sigh. “I’m growing old, Evans.”
I huffed. “I’m trying to word this so it wouldn’t seem offensive. Excuse me for having some sort of tact.”
“I don’t think the question will be inoffensive no matter how it’s phrased.”
“Fine.” I brushed a lock of hair off my face. “You guys didn’t really break up because of a simple ‘misunderstanding,’ did you?”
Potter observed me with a mild expression. He didn’t accept nor deny my statement. I pondered. How close was I to the truth? Hot? Cold? Warm? Freezing? He finally shrugged. “Maybe.”
Cryptic, but at least it was an answer…or at least, some sort of an answer.
“Care to expand?”
I lifted an eyebrow. “Then what’s the whole point of you giving me the supposed ‘chance’ to let me ask whatever I want? You’re not going to answer anyway.” I crossed my arms. “Besides, you know as well as I do that your story is terrible. Hardly anyone believes it, save for those who are unable to use their heads.”
Potter leaned back into the couch. “That’s only what you believe, Evans.” He observed me with a wry smile. “You’re observant, but not many people are.”
“Kathryn is,” I pointed out.
“Once again, one of the few.”
“And Arthur,” I volunteered again.
Potter shot me a look, but there was no anger or annoyance. “Arthur knows some things, though definitely not the whole story.”
“And are you going to fill me in?” I said hopefully. I knew I was asking a bit too much, but it never hurt, right? I had always learned that it was easier to gain knowledge through curiosity. When I had left things alone, they usually stayed alone.
He snorted. “Oh truly Evans, you think?”
“But,” he continued, lips quirking at my obvious disappointment. “I will answer affirmative or negative to your questions. If you can guess it, then good for you. If not, too bad.”
My mouth fell open. “You’re not serious.”
Potter smiled. “I am.”
“But, but…” I spluttered. “It’s just…I can’t just…you can’t…”
“I can and I just did. Either take it or leave it.”
I gave him a distressed look. “Why don’t you just tell me? It’s so much simpler, and we wouldn’t have to go through all this unnecessary…”
“Because this isn’t completely my story to tell, and I’m not exactly fond of telling it, if you haven’t realized already.”
“Then why give me the chance to figure it out?” I was starting to get a little suspicious of his motives.
Potter glanced down at the carpet, and then at the fire crackling in the fireplace. He seemed lost in his thoughts for a while. I sat quietly, unwilling to deserve his musings. It was rare to see Potter in such a state, and I had to say, it was a rather novel experience.
“You’re close to Remus.” He shifted. “And…I just thought that I would give you a chance to figure things out.”
I peered at him. “That’s all? Just because I’m close to Remus?”
Potter shrugged, though he seemed a little uncomfortable at being under such intense scrutiny. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Okay then.” I felt a stab of pity for his situation and decided to let him off the hook. “So how many questions do I get?”
He favored me with a grin and held up both hands, all fingers outstretched. I counted the digits just to make sure that he wasn’t kidding. I was shocked once again. “Ten?!”
I sighed, defeated. If I wanted an answer, I would have to work for it. “Time limit?”
I looked at him warily. “And you will answer if I guess right?”
He shot me an exasperated look. “Evans, I play Quidditch. I have good sportsmanship. If I’m offering you this, I’m not going to lie. It would be pointless.”
“All right, I concede you.” I held out my hand. Potter glanced at it and then looked up at me with a faint questioning in his eyes. “It’s to secure the deal, in case you back out.”
He rolled his eyes but complied anyway. His grip was warm, and though it was firm, it didn’t hurt. I nodded approval. Quidditch-playing gave him steady hands.
“Did the sun rise in the west today?”
Potter and I suddenly jerked apart. Remus was standing near the fireplace, a plate of strawberries in one hand and a book in the other. His gray eyes were wide.
I glared at him. “ You’re out of your mind, Remus.”
Potter stood and offered Remus a nod before he headed back to Arthur and his group. I turned my attention back to Remus, and found that he was fighting to control that broad grin on his face.
“Honestly, Remus,” I said exasperatedly. “You can be so immature.”
Author's Note: Hey! Sorry about this late update. AP testing got the better of me, and I have another one on Monday. Technically, I'm supposed to be studying, but I decided to post instead :) Just because I'm so dedicated. Ahem x)
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to squish in any Sirius or Peter into this chapter. I was beginning to think that this story was lacking in some romance, since it is a romance novel...well, partially. So that's why it's mainly James and Lily. Hope you guys don't mind too much.
And now, like a promised :) You get to pick the next chapter's POV! I will attempt to write it to the best of my abilities ;)
Oh and one last thing. I don't repeat POVs two times in a row. For example, since I wrote about Lily in this chapter, the soonest I will write her again is in chapter 7.
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