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The Candlelight Dinner

The many things we had and shared
The sunsets
The candlelight dinners
Our passion and love

-Gary R. Hess


Lily couldn’t help her skepticism as she eyed Jamie for the thousandth time that evening. What was her friend so anxious about? She was pacing around in their dorm room, poking her head out the door every once in a while, and then slamming it shut again when she realized no one was out there.

Lily caught a few muttered words under Jamie’s breath that sounded oddly like ‘late,’ ‘stupid,’ and then, ‘bloody James.’

“James?”

Jamie stopped her pacing and gave Lily a sheepish smile. Her hazel eyes were wide and innocent in appearance, but six years had taught Lily to look past that. The Potter girl was definitely hiding something, and it had to do with her brother.

“Just spit it out, Jamie,” Lily said. “I can tell you want to tell me anyway.”

Jamie scowled. “I wasn’t planning on telling you at all, but the idiot’s late!” She threw her hands into the air. “He didn’t have to choose today to be tardy.”

Lily lifted an eyebrow. “But he’s always late. He’s never been on time to any of our meetings.”

Jamie huffed and crossed her arms, tapping her foot impatiently against the ground. “Well those are required. This is something he wants and he’s still late.”

Lily stared at her friend for another few seconds before she realized that Jamie wasn’t going to say anything else unless the situation became dire enough. Finding that it was useless for her to pry, she decided that she might as well take a nap to pass the time before dinner started. She plopped down on her bed, and was just about to lie down when Jamie suddenly grabbed her arm and pulled her up again.

“You can’t sleep yet!” she cried, sounding frantic. “You can’t mess up your hair.”

Lily ran a hand through her hair and frowned. “Why not?”

Jamie was flustered. “Well…because…”

She leaned forward and raised both her eyebrows. “Yes?”

“It um…”

There was a knock on the door. Jamie squealed in excitement and practically flew to the door in her haste. Lily didn’t bother looking. It was probably Marlene, coming back to grab a forgotten parchment or book. But she didn’t understand why Jamie was so eager to get the door. Was she waiting for someone?

There were dim voices, and then suddenly, Jamie materialized right next to Lily and gave her a rather rude shove out the door. She collided with the person standing at the door, but he managed to steady her before she lost her footing.

“Evans, you all right?”

Lily bristled. She knew that voice.

“James, you klutz,” Jamie reprimanded from behind and successfully pulled Lily back to a proper upright position. “Is that how you greet girls?”

James frowned indignantly. “But she came flying out at me first. It really isn’t my fault.”

Lily flushed furiously. “Well if you hadn’t decided to stand in front of the door, we wouldn’t even have this problem.”

“But I have every reason to stand in front of the door,” he replied. Lily opened her mouth to retort, but before she could say anything, James reached behind him and, with a flourish, produced a single rose.

A single red rose.

Lily didn’t know whether to feel alarmed or disturbed. Fairytales had always indicated a red rose as the symbol for true love. And while the gesture was sweet, it just didn’t feel right coming from James Potter. In fact, it was even a little disheartening.

Jamie clapped in delight. “Lily, it’s a rose!”

Lily stared at it for a moment, frowned, and then grabbed it from James’ hand. She chucked it right back at him.

James gaped.

“Hear me clearly, Potter,” she snapped. “I’m not going to be swept off my feet by any gesture of yours, so consider this a fair warning. Stop trying.”

He appeared flabbergasted for a moment, his eyes wide. Lily could hear her breaths coming in and out harshly, and she had to admit that the ranting felt pretty good. Sadly enough, James didn’t seem to have comprehended her seriousness because he shook himself out of his shock and smiled.

“Now you don’t truly mean that, Evans.”

Her eye twitched. “Oh but I do.”

“Nope, you don’t, and since I believe in second chances…” His smile widened, and with a flourish akin to the previous one, produced another red rose, no less perfect and beautiful as the last. “Here. For you.”

Jamie was prodding Lily on the back, urging her to take it. But Lily would have none of it. She snarled and threw it onto the ground this time, giving it an extra stomp to further prove her point.

James seemed a little hurt.

She looked at him in triumph. “Do you understand now, Potter? Leave.” She pointed a finger down the staircase that had led him up there in the first place.

After such an extravagant gesture, she was sure that he’d turn tail and walk away. But sadly enough, he didn’t seem to understand English anymore.

He let out a sigh. “Merlin knows I should be bloody mad by now, but since I believe in third chances…” He held before her, yet again, another beautifully bloomed red rose. Lily gritted her teeth so fiercely that she swore she felt a migraine coming on. Why couldn’t he just understand that she wanted nothing to do with him?

“James Potter!”

He smiled hopefully. “Yes?”

“I believe I told you to sod off!” She gave him a rough push as she enunciated her last words, causing James to stumble and crash into the wall behind him.

He looked half-surprised, half-hurt. Lily turned to Jamie for support, but to her astonishment, her friend looked…indignant? Outraged? She was confused. Normally, even though James was her brother, Jamie had always supported her. But why was her reaction so different this time?

“Jamie?” Lily asked tentatively.

She huffed, and without another word, stormed back into their dorm and slammed the door shut. Lily blanched. What was that all about?

“Well, I guess it’s just you and me now.”

Lily’s fists clenched and she closed her eyes, forcing herself to count to ten. If she didn’t, she knew she would’ve blown up right then and there, and it didn’t take a genius to know that it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight.

So, when she finally did count to ten, she opened her eyes, fully expecting to see James’ annoying face. Instead, she nearly choked from the strong fragrance that the bundle of roses produced. And yes, it was a bouquet!

She glared.

James shrugged hesitantly. “I thought you might like them.”

“Remember how I treated those other three roses? Does it look like I like them?”

He frowned faintly. “Well, Jamie was here, so I thought maybe you were just trying to give her the impression that you hate roses even though you don’t.”

Lily stared at him. She could hardly believe her ears. Only someone like James Potter would be arrogant enough to come up with such a lousy excuse in the face of rejection. She glared at him, and with narrowed eyes, grabbed the bundle out of his arms and flung it into the air.

“I hate roses!” she yelled in the downpour of flowers. “And I hate you too!”

James was first shocked, then hurt, and finally, angry. He crossed his arms in annoyance.

“Fine then, you bloody picky girl. See if I ever do anything for you again.”

And with that, he stomped down the stairs. Lily was left with a shower of roses at her feet, and she kicked the nearest one for good measure.

“Oh yes,” she started, in a mimic of James’ voice, “you bloody picky girl. See if I ever do anything for you again.” She threw her arms up in a little flurry of exasperation and then snorted at the sheer stupidity of his actions.

“Since when have you ever done anything good for me, Potter?” she shouted.

There was no reply.

Lily frowned, but then she mentally scolded herself for reacting to his silence. He was probably ducked in a corner, sulking in self-pity because he didn’t get his way. It was just so him. She crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, mentally ticking off the seconds until he would barge back up.

Three minutes and twenty-four seconds passed.

Lily was starting to get a little worried. James wasn’t one to just absorb insults. He should’ve been blowing up armchairs and tearing curtains by now, but he was as dormant as ever. Was there something wrong with him?

She tried to think of all the possibilities. Maybe he was so mad that he had fainted from anger? But try as she might, she couldn’t imagine James fainting, unless a Bludger knocked him out during a Quidditch game.

Deciding that she ought to see if he was still alive or not, Lily slowly pulled away from the wall and crept down the stairs. There were only a few students in the common room, but she didn’t pay any attention to them. Her sole focus was on James, whom she had just located, slouched against one of the tables near the windows. She blinked. So he was still sulking?

She stepped closer to him, her footsteps light and slow. She didn’t want to startle him out of his woefulness if he wanted to wallow in self-pity. She was only there to make sure that he hadn’t angered himself to death…if that was even possible.

Lily did a double take when she reached him. Were his shoulders shaking?

Was James Potter crying because he had been rejected?

Crying of all things?

Lily could hardly believe it. She had rejected James more times than she had ever said hello to him, but he had never reacted negatively to any of her words. In fact, they had spurred him on even more.

“James?” she asked tentatively.

He let out a loud sniffle—a bit too loud in her opinion—and said in a sulky voice, “What do you want?”

She frowned. “I was just…”

“Come to gloat?” he muttered.

Lily blinked in surprise. “Of course not. Why would I?”

“Then what are you doing here?” He still hadn’t lifted his head, but his voice sounded relatively normal, albeit a little wrangled.

“I…” She looked around for a suitable excuse, and when she didn’t find one, she stuck to the truth. “I was just wondering if you were okay.”

He shifted slightly, but he didn’t lift his head out of his arms. “I’m okay. Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Lily sighed, and for the first time in her life, felt a little guilty about treating James the way she had been. He had only asked her out one too many times. That was hardly a crime.

“I’m…I’m sorry…”

He froze, and his words came out hesitantly. “Really?”

Lily could feel her cheeks turning steadily red. “Yeah. I… Yeep!” She screeched as her feet suddenly left the ground, and she was set down rather unceremoniously on the nearby table with a light plop. She glared at James, her eyes wide and her breaths coming a bit too quickly for her liking.

James smirked at her expression. “Gotcha, Evans.” He winked and smoothly slipped another rose behind her ear. Lily was slightly surprised. She didn’t think he still had any after she had tossed the entire bouquet away.

His chuckle brought her back to reality, and she suddenly remembered why she was seated on the table. “You…you were never…”

James’ chuckle bloomed into full-out laughter. His words were filled with mirth. “You have no idea how difficult it was to keep from laughing. I was biting my lip so hard that I swear it was going to bleed.”

Lily entertained the thought of punching him.

“And then I had to make sure you didn’t know I was actually laughing instead of crying, so I had to muffle my words.” He continued talking, oblivious of Lily’s growing rage. “You sounded so hesitant and so apologetic that I… Oh damn it!”

Lily had finally let her fist fly. It had almost collided with his jaw, but James had ducked just in time, and her fist punched the wall instead. She let out a small cry of pain and rubbed her knuckles.

James shook his head in disbelief. “I know you want me, Evans, but try to control yourself, will you?”

She gritted her teeth. “Why I ought to…”

“Kiss me?” he offered. His grin was vibrant and his hazel eyes glittered. Lily scowled. “Now, I know you’d love to get your hands on me, but we actually have somewhere to be.” He paused, and then added, “But we can continue this later, if you’d like.”

“I would sooner kiss a fish,” Lily snapped.

James merely shrugged and lifted her off the table. He wrapped an arm around her waist and reached out and gently brushed the bangs out of her eyes. Lily was stiff during his ministrations, and when he finally leaned away from her again, she slowly let out the breath she hadn’t known she was holding.

“I’d like you to know, Evans,” he whispered, breath floating near her ear, “that I kiss infinitely better than a fish.”

He smiled roguishly and guided her out of the portrait hole. The corridors were mostly empty, which indicated that it was dinnertime.

“Potter, where are we going?”

James grinned. “Now that is for me to know and not for you to find out.”

Lily narrowed her eyes. “But I’m going to find out sooner or later. Why not tell me now?”

“Like I always say, better later than sooner.” He looked pointedly ahead. She huffed in annoyance when she realized that he wasn’t about to tell her anything anytime soon. He and Jamie were so similar in that aspect.

They passed the Great Hall, turned a few corners, walked up a few flights of stairs, and finally came to a stop in front of a wall. And it was a very unimpressive and bland-looking wall.

James was now eyeing it critically, as if he could decipher some mysterious carving on it. Lily was hardly impressed. Of all the places they could’ve ended up in, their destination just had to be in front of a wall. Had she given James’ creativity too much credit?

She gestured with a hand. “So this is the thing that’s for you to know and not for me to find out?”

He smirked triumphantly. “This is it.”

She shook her head. “I’m going back to the common room.”

James grabbed her arm before she could leave and promptly started an odd pacing towards the right. And then to the left. And then back to the right again. Lily was getting irritated.

“Potter,” she snapped, after their third round. “I think I’ve had enough of your games.”

James lifted an eyebrow. “Really?” He sounded amused. “Then you obviously haven’t seen this yet.” And with a sudden flourish, he pulled open the wall—get this, he pulled open the wall—and shoved her into the room.

Lily jerked to a halt. The room was dark, warm, and it smelled…queer. She felt James come in behind her and the door slammed shut.

James sniffed the air. “Lily…”

She glanced in the direction she thought his voice was coming from. “What?”

“Did you…did you just release some gas?”

Lily was so startled that she jumped, banged her head into something, and then crashed to the ground near two skinny…legs?

“Moo.”

She blanched and slowly felt up the legs. Were they James’ legs? But he wasn’t reacting to her touch, which meant they probably weren’t. Besides, the legs were too short to be James’, considering his height. So what were those sticks then?

“Moo.”

Lily let out a hesitant breath. “James?”

Some shuffling. “Yeah?”

“Are you making the…um…”

“Cow sounds?”

Lily nodded. “Yeah.”

“No. I thought you were.”

She snorted and rolled her eyes, even though he couldn’t see her. “Why would I make cow sounds? I’m not a cow.”

James sounded confused. “I realized that…but um…” He let out a muffled curse. “Um…Lily?”

It was her turn to snap. “What?”

“Why are you…that is to say…you uh…”

She was growing impatient, and she was still annoyed by the fact that she was half-blind. Her eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness in the room yet. “Spit it out, Potter.”

“Why are you touching me?”

Lily jumped. “What?” She quickly withdrew her hands and rubbed them against her robes. So those legs had been James’? No wonder they were so hairy and nasty.

“I am not touching you!” she cried. “And why did you lock me in a broom cupboard in the first place?”

“I didn’t!” he protested. “It’s actually a…”

There was a sudden bright flare, and then the lights came on. “Surprise!”

Lily winced and shielded her eyes. James let out a string of curses beside her. There was shuffling, and then something was pressed into her hand. A goblet? She peeled open an eye and glanced at the thing in her hand. It was indeed a drinking utensil, only it was a wine glass instead of a goblet. She peered at it hesitantly. Was that wine swishing around in it?

There was a loud cough to her right and Lily looked up. Her jaw dropped.

“What in Merlin’s name…”

Lily couldn’t help her shock. She must’ve been dreaming.

James was cursing so colorfully beside her that she could barely understand half of what he was saying. “Padfoot!” he roared. “Moony! Wormtail!”

The three named ones suddenly scuttled out of what seemed to be an adjoining room, sporting wide grins on their faces. Lily stared. Sirius was in a goofy chef’s outfit, complete with the white hat and the apron. Remus and Peter were both wearing tuxedos and waiter uniforms in a room full of…cows.

Cows. Yes, that was right. They were in a room full of cows.

What was going on?

“At your service, Mr. Potter and Mrs. Potter,” Sirius said professionally, sweeping a bow.

It took Lily five seconds to collect her bearings, five more to collect her marbles, and finally two more to collect her wits. She finally yelled, “I am not Mrs. Potter!”

James seemed to have more pressing issues to deal with. He looked particularly red in the face. “Guys,” he said, voice quivering with anger. “Why the hell are there cows in the room?”

Peter looked confused. “But didn’t you tell us to put cows here?”

As if on cue, Sirius and Remus nodded.

James blanched. Lily fumed. Had he expected her to feel touched by the fact that he had bothered to gather all the cows in England and distribute them in this room? Did he think she would thank him for all the time and effort?

She rounded on him. “Potter…”

James held up his hands. “Wait, stop! This is all wrong!” He turned to his friends. “Since when did I tell you to put cows here?”

Sirius frowned. “Yesterday. This morning too.”

Lily glanced at James. He was positively shaking with anger, but miraculously enough, his voice was still level. “I never said that.”

“Yes you did,” Remus replied. “You told us to prepare you a cattle night dinner.”

“A what?”

“Cattle night dinner,” Sirius repeated, and then said thoughtfully, “It is a little strange, but hey, we can pull anything off.” He gestured towards the cows in the room as if to make a point.

“And since cattle is basically a herd of cows, we decided to grab a few of every species,” Peter added, sounding very proud of himself.

James’ expression mirrored sheer incredulity. “I said,” he managed to sputter, “I said candlelight dinner, not cattle night dinner!”

The Marauders gaped. Sirius looked shocked, Remus appeared abashed, and Peter just stared with his innocent round-eyed look.

“Well,” Remus finally said, after a few seconds. “The two sound similar.”

Lily bit back a snicker. When it came to the Marauders, it seemed as if anything was possible. James looked beyond aggravated now, and she worried briefly for his hair. At the rate he was going, he would probably end up with a bald spot.

Sirius surveyed the situation with ease. “Oh don’t look so upset, Prongs,” he said gallantly. “We can still fix it.” And in a flash, he produced two candlesticks from thin air and held them out proudly for all to examine. “We have the candles, the cattle, the light, and the night.”

Peter clapped.

James narrowed his eyes, but he seemed to realize the hopelessness of the situation. He sighed and gestured towards the sole table in the room, which was currently surrounded by the cows.

“Well, Evans…shall we?”

Lily blinked at him. “You mean…here?”

“Yes,” he replied. “We do have the table and the food and the utensils.”

“And the cows,” she supplied helpfully.

James sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Those too.”

Lily crossed her arms. “So let me get this straight. You wanted to prepare a candlelight dinner, but instead you ended up with a room full of cows?”

“That was his fault,” Sirius cut in hurriedly, before James could say anything. “He didn’t enunciate.”

James’ mouth fell open. “What do you mean I didn’t…”

“Now, now,” Remus said, interrupting him with a wave of his hand. “Stop arguing before you upset your stomachs.” He gestured for Lily to follow as he cleared a path through the mooing mass.

She trailed behind him hesitantly, but her hesitance turned into partial delight as she stared in awe at the preparations on the table. At the center stood a delicate clear vase with a single rose in it. There were crystal goblets, fancy dishes, expensive utensils, and an expensive-looking tablecloth to complete the requirements for a romantic candlelight dinner. Sirius set his two conjured candlesticks on the table, one in front of Lily and the other in front of James.

“Mr. and Mrs. Potter,” Peter said, as if rehearsed. “Your dinner awaits.”

Lily opened her mouth to reiterate the fact that she was not Mrs. Potter, but Peter had left in such a hurry that she had no time to retort.

There was a moment of silence…or rather, a moment of silence on their part. The cows completely ignored the suddenly tense atmosphere and continued mooing and minding their own businesses.

“So,” James finally said. He glanced at the menu in front of him. “Shall we order?”

Lily opened her mouth to reply, but she was shocked to silence when Remus suddenly materialized next to her. A cow had gotten a little too close to him so he shooed the animal away irritably. “Actually, we’ve already ordered for you.”

James’ eyebrows rose. “Oh?”

“I’m pretty sure you’ll like the food,” Remus said. “Padfoot can be an excellent cook…once in a while.”

Lily’s eyes widened. Sirius Black? Cooking? “Remus, wait!” But he was already gone.

She chose to glare at James instead. “So this is what you wanted me to see?”

He nodded slowly. “Yes. And don’t look so traumatized. Padfoot is a pretty decent cook.” He gestured at the table before them. “And you have to admit that this does look pretty professional.” James leaned down slightly to examine the tablecloth. “I wonder where they got…”

Lily watched in amusement as one of the cows leaned forward and bit off a corner of the tablecloth. James looked twitchy. He eyed the animal with distaste, and from the gleam in his eyes, it looked as if he wanted to eat it for dinner instead of what Sirius was preparing.

“Now Potter,” she said wisely, “be nice to the poor thing. It wouldn’t… Yeow!” She jumped and found said ‘poor thing’ next to her, attempting to take a bite out of her robes. It had accidentally nipped her leg at the same time.

She snarled.

“Now Evans,” James said sarcastically, “be nice to the poor thing. It wouldn’t hurt you.”

Lily narrowed her eyes. “Be quiet before I castrate you along with this…this thing.” She seated herself again, cross-legged this time so that the cow had no access to her lower limbs.

“I would love to see you try.” James smirked and drank a big gulp of his wine.

Lily sniffed her wine glass hesitantly. Wasn’t she underage?

“Don’t worry,” James said, as if reading her troubled thoughts. “You won’t get drunk off this. It’s not even half as strong as firewhiskey.”

She looked at him suspiciously. “You’ve tried firewhiskey?”

He lifted an eyebrow as if she were stupid. “Is that a real question or are you just trying to make small talk?”

Lily was indignant. “Of course it was a real question!” She leaned back and crossed her arms. “But I forgot who I was talking to. You probably make it a habit to break all the rules, don’t you?”

“Rules or laws?” he asked with wide-eyed innocence.

Her jaw dropped. “You’ve…you’ve broken laws?”

“Just a couple,” he said cheerfully.

Lily was rendered speechless for a brief moment. A part of her mind was insisting that she should’ve known that the Marauders had broken at least one law with all the trouble they got into on a daily basis. And yet it was still rather startling to hear James admit to it.

“Evans? Are you still there?”

She blinked. “Yeah.”

James looked charmed. “Did I just freak you out?” When she didn’t say anything, his grin widened till he was flashing all his pearly whites. “I did, didn’t I?”

“It’s just hard to imagine how you guys can get away with it.”

“It’s not that hard,” he said off-handedly. “You just have to be efficient in hiding the evidence. And running from the scene.”

The way James explained it reminded Lily of a Muggle criminal. She briefly wondered how the Marauders would do if they were placed in Muggle England. Would they be criminal masterminds?

She was interrupted from her thoughts when Peter appeared. He set down two bowls of soup in front of them. Lily eyed hers. It actually appeared rather tasty. She was about to eat when another dish was set in front of her. She lifted an eyebrow. Was that the main course?

“Your soup,” he presented, “and your filet mignon.”

Lily frowned at the meat, wondering which poor cow it came from.

James looked confused. “Why are the soup and the main course together?”

Peter grinned sheepishly. “The soup would’ve been ready a few minutes ago, but Padfoot and Moony got into an argument, so Padfoot forgot about it. The filet mignon was done before you guys got here, so you get to have both the soup and the main course at the same time.”

Lily smiled reassuringly, ignoring James’ look of utter exasperation. “It’s all right, Peter. Thanks.” She turned back to her plate…and gaped.

It was empty.

She quickly glanced over to see if James had stolen her share, only to find him cutting into his own filet mignon thoughtfully. He hadn’t. Her bottom lip quivered. Where was her food?

“My food,” Lily whimpered.

James looked up from his plate. “What?”

“Someone stole my food!” she cried.

He frowned. “I think that guy stole it.” He directed his knife towards the left. Lily narrowed her eyes on the culprit, preparing to wrestle for the piece of meat. She stopped halfway when she saw a baby cow licking her dinner, taking a delicate bite once in a while. She softened. It was so cute!

She slowly sat back down and sighed wistfully. “I want my food.”

James lifted an eyebrow. “Then take it from him.” He nodded towards the innocent animal. “I’m pretty sure you can get it back.”

Lily pursed her lips. “It could be a she you know. No need to be discriminatory.”

He rolled his eyes. “Fine then. Take it from her.”

“But I think it deserves to eat it.” She paused for dramatic effect. “But you don’t.” And suddenly, she lunged towards his plate and grabbed the filet mignon barbarically with her bare hands. She smirked at James’ shocked expression and promptly shoved the entire piece into her mouth.

“Did you just…did you just shove that entire piece of meat into your mouth?” James asked incredulously.

Lily nodded, smiling as widely as possible. It ended up slightly distorted due to the large amount of food in her mouth.

James jumped out of his seat, shaking his head all the while. “I can’t believe…you’re such a…” He pointed his knife at her, his eyes huge. “You’re such a pig!” He swung his arm out in exasperation, but at that moment, his grip on the knife loosened.

Lily barely had enough time to realize that a knife was flying right at her before she shrieked and toppled out of her seat. The knife nailed itself into the back of the chair, where her chest had been only two seconds ago. She struggled back to her feet, only to see James frozen in shock, his hand still poised in the air.

Lily could barely choke out her words. “You just…you just threw a knife at me.”

His mouth moved, but no words came out.

“YOU JUST THREW A KNIFE AT ME, YOU PRAT!” she shrieked.

James finally found enough air to form words. “I…I…”

“You. Just. Threw. A. Knife. At. Me.”

He looked horrified. “Evans, I…”

"I hate you, James Potter!"


- - -



Author's Note: Thank you so much for the reviews, guys!!! I really, really appreciated it :) I can't believe how many people like this story so far. Thank you, thank you! Hope you enjoyed this chapter as well. The next chapter will feature the stroll under the moonlight ;)

Please review! :)

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