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Lily couldn't help but be in bright spirits the next morning, despite the dreary day and the fact that it was Monday. She still remembered the looks on the Marauders' faces from the night before. … It was a sight she would carry with her to the grave.
Her fellow female seventh years seemed to be of the same mentality. The four practically skipped down to breakfast together and sat down like they always did – Lily and Gwen side by side and Dorcas and Mary Katherine directly across from them towards the end of the long House table. Lily helped herself to a healthy helping of bacon and eggs and watched the Great Hall fill around them as she ate. The other three girls were discussing the new robe shop that had just opened in Hogsmeade.
"I still want to go see," Dorcas was saying stubbornly, taking a gulp of pumpkin juice. "It could be cool, Gwen."
"Nothing beats Madame Malkin's," Gwen argued. "And it's relatively new, it opened in – what, third year?"
"Second year," Mary Katherine corrected, neatly wiping her mouth. "Be open-minded, Gwen. This shop could be cool too-"
Just then, there was a loud rustling from above and the owls swarmed in, carrying packages and letters from home to the students. Lily was surprised to see an owl land in front of her – she hadn't expected her parents to write that quickly – but a glance at the envelope, which was heavy parchment as opposed to the flimsy paper her Muggle parents used, told her it wasn't from them. She opened the envelope and a short note fell out.
Thank you for your very decorous and prudent conduct at the unseemly show last night. I have scheduled a meeting for you and Mr. Potter tonight in hopes of catching the culprit. Be in my office at eight, if you please.
Lily laughed outright and passed the letter to Gwen. She leaned towards her curious friends and whispered, "She's going to corner Potter."
They read the note and all grinned evilly. "I'd like to see him squirm his way out of that one," Dorcas said in satisfaction, handing it back to Lily.
"Timetables! Here are your timetables – Mr. Potter, some assistance, if you please?"
Lily looked down to her right and saw Professor McGonagall bustling along with stacks of parchment in her hands, prodding James Potter on the shoulder. She stood up, feeling a bit embarrassed; she had always come down early and helped Professor McGonagall pass out timetables on the first day. What had she been thinking?
She hurried down to where the Professor was and apologized. "Oh, quite all right, Miss Evans," Professor McGonagall said dismissively, handing a heavy stack to Lily. James was on her other side, waiting expectantly for his own share of papers. Professor McGonagall stopped and lowered her voice.
"I trust you both received my note?"
Lily nodded primly, her eyes fixed, challenging, on James's. His own dark eyes flicked briefly down to McGonagall's but returned almost instantly to Lily.
"I have," he said mildly, but his own eyes held a bit of a challenge as well – he was prompting her to accuse him without evidence.
Professor McGonagall glanced sharply between the two students on either side of her. The tension between the two star pupils was almost palpable. She shook her head.
"Very well, I expect to see both of you there and on time," she said, before hurrying off with the timetables.
James arched a brow, a mocking smile playing around his lips. "See you there," he said, bumping into Lily as he passed.
"Can't wait," she muttered, rolling her eyes.
Lily's day went very well, despite the feeling of dread that rumbled in her stomach whenever she thought of the meeting with Professor McGonagall. Because she was a seventh year and knew what she wanted to be (a St. Mungo's Healer), she only took classes she would need and therefore liked. While she was a fan of history, the ghost Professor Binns made it so monotonous and boring that even she fell asleep a few times. Luckily, being a Healer didn't require knowledge of history. Potions, Herbology, Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Arithmancy were the classes she took. Arithmancy was the only class she took that she wouldn't actually need to become a Healer; she had always been excellent at Muggle math and wanted to continue in it. She enjoyed them all immensely – well, except Defense, but that was only because it was James's favorite class and so he got everything instantly right because he paid attention in it. He seemed to perform the complicated spells effortlessly, and proudly would tell anyone who would listen (i.e., everyone) that he wanted to follow in his famous father's footsteps and become an Auror.
It all made Lily rather nauseous. Arithmancy was the worst because they were the only Gryffindors in that class. Luckily, Lily's Ravenclaw friend Lauren was in it, so they usually ended up sitting together in the front, while James was silent in the back with a few Ravenclaws that tried to be his friends.
When school ended, Lily went to the library, as was her custom, and worked on her homework until dinner while it was still fresh in her mind. She then carried her heavy bag to the Great Hall, where she met her friends and enjoyed a happy meal. The four girls walked back up to Gryffindor Tower without incident (thankfully) and Lily did more of her homework while they gossiped.
Seven forty-five arrived entirely too soon.
Lily looked at her wristwatch regretfully and stood, stretching. The common room was quiet and full of busily working students of all ages (though James wasn't among them, she saw), and Lily waved goodbye to her friends and tiptoed out the portrait hole, not wanting to disturb anyone.
She walked briskly down stairs and through long corridors, finally coming to a stop at Professor McGonagall's office. She knocked on the door and was summoned inside. As she expected, James wasn't there, and she had to suppress a smug smile when McGonagall looked up from her desk and smiled approvingly at her. "Right on time, Miss Evans."
Lily walked fully into the room and sat down in one of the uncomfortable, high-backed chairs, taking McGonagall's polite offer of tea. They passed the minutes idly chatting, but when the clock chimed the half hour, Professor McGonagall started to become irritated.
"Well, Miss Evans," she said, her lips pursed, "thank you at least for coming. I shall have a word with the Headmaster about this, make no mistake-"
A loud knocking interrupted Professor McGonagall. Her lips pursed even tighter, and she called, "Come in."
It was James, looking completely windblown and out-of breath. "S-sorry, Professor," he gasped, coming all the way into the room and closing the door. "Quidditch meeting…"
Professor McGonagall softened slightly, and Lily stared at the two of them. No, surely not – McGonagall didn't buy that complete and obvious lie, did she?
"Well, Mr. Potter," she said, her tone much warmer than it should have been, "please be sure in the future not to schedule team meetings when you have one with me, yes?"
James shot a heart-breaking smile at her. "It won't happen again, Professor," he said and took the chair next to Lily.
Lily was clutching the arms of her chair so tightly her knuckles were turning white. What the hell just happened? If I had come in thirty minutes late, McGonagall would have fried me and taken my badge away! But all darling Mr. Potter gets is a warm rebuke?!
James winked at Lily smugly before turning to McGonagall. "I've been doing a lot of thinking about the incident last night, Professor," he said, completely solemn.
McGonagall's face was impassive, a look Lily recognized. She relaxed her grip on the arms of her chair slightly; McGonagall looked as if she knew exactly who had committed the "incident" last night. "Have you, Mr. Potter? I'll be very pleased to hear your thoughts."
"Yes, James, so will I," Lily chimed in sweetly.
James didn't even glance at her. "I did it," he said straight out.
Lily's jaw dropped. What? He wasn't supposed to tell the truth! He was supposed to lie about it and get his badge taken away!
"Well, we did," he amended, shrugging. Everyone knew who "we" was.
McGonagall was flabbergasted for a moment but quickly regained her dignity. "I thought as much," she said, her lips pursed. "Mr. Potter, we have been over this countless times. You will serve a month's detention, along with Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin, and Mr. Pettigrew." She stared at him for a moment, as if trying to decipher his calm and collected exterior. "I had rather hoped becoming Head Boy would mean more to you than silly childish pranks. If it happens again, Mr. Potter, rest assured I will ask the Headmaster to seriously consider revoking the privilege."
James nodded respectfully. "I understand completely, Professor."
"Aren't you going to apologize or anything, Potter?" Lily snapped, unable to believe his audacity. "You could have caused a serious accident! Not to mention the extra work for Professor Dumbledore and Mr. Filch!"
He looked at her, pushing the glasses up farther on his nose, not rattled at all. "But we didn't, did we?"
"But you could have!"
"Why waste time thinking of 'could haves,' Evans?"
"Because you should have given it more thought, Potter! What's your problem? Why doesn't anything seem to matter to you – even the highest position that can be awarded to a student?"
"You know what your problem is, Evans? You don't have a sense of humor at all! The only reason you're not walking around depressed all the time is because of–"
"Oh, don't even say that! You know perfectly well I have a sense of humor! Forgive me if I don't think it's hilarious to soak the entire student body and the entrance hall with fire hydrants! That sounds more immature to me than anything!"
"Immature?! And your little stunt afterwards was mature then, I suppose?!"
"That doesn't have anything to do with anything, you inconsiderate, childish, bast–"
"You are nothing but a heartless, cold, bit–"
"POTTER! EVANS! THAT IS QUITE ENOUGH!" Professor McGonagall roared, standing up in her chair and slamming a hand down on her desk, face white with fury. "YOU WILL BEHAVE CIVILLY TO EACH OTHER, BY HEAVEN, AND IF YOU DON'T, I'LL REVOKE BOTH OF YOUR DUTIES!"
Lily clenched her jaw and faced straight ahead, breathing heavily. Damn him!
"This is a problem that should be resolved immediately, before it becomes even larger!" Professor McGonagall continued, hitting her desk again. "The Head Boy and Girl are united roles – you cannot have one without the other! If there is a conflict between the two, it must be overcome. You cannot successfully do your duties if you are at odds with each other all the time!" She paused, glaring at both of them, letting her words soak in. When she spoke again many minutes later, it was in a somewhat more controlled voice. She sat back down. "You do not have to like one another, but you must be able to bear each other, and for heaven's sake, if you must argue, do so in private. Now, apologize."
Lily swallowed, still staring straight ahead. No way was she going to speak first.
"Mr. Potter, you first."
Lily heard James take a deep breath, and for one long moment, she feared he wasn't going to say anything – until he cleared his throat and said in a steady, low voice, "I'm sorry."
McGonagall turned her sharp eyes on Lily. "Go ahead, Miss Evans."
Lily cleared her throat as well and murmured, "I'm sorry," quietly to the floor at her feet.
"Now, you both must conduct weekly meetings to discuss the state of the school. You will have a monthly scheduled meeting with myself – but the meeting isn't only about the students, it is also about the relationship between the two of you, how well you are working together. And that report will always be satisfactory, won't it?" Her question held an unmistakable warning.
Lily nodded, getting her bearings. Breathe, Lily.
"Since I don't believe you two will speak to one another freely to set up your weekly meetings, I'll do it for you. Meet in the library every Wednesday night at eight o'clock, regardless, Mr. Potter, of Quidditch or whatever else might arise. Understood?"
"Yes, Professor," Lily said quietly as James muttered other words of agreement. McGonagall glared at them for a moment longer before waving her hand at the door. "You may go," she said, still stern. Lily got up and passed in front of James, taking care not to touch him at all, as McGonagall said, "Potter – Professor Kiser will be in touch with you about your detention."
"Of course, Professor," James said. "Goodnight." He closed the door behind himself and, without even a glance at Lily, walked away in the opposite direction of Gryffindor Tower. Lily scowled at his retreating back for a moment before turning and going her own way.
The week passed, thankfully without incident. Lily took ten points away from Ravenclaw because a third year was showing a spell he had learned to a group of friends in the hallways which was, of course, forbidden. She wore her badge proudly everyday and was secretly pleased when people looked at her with awe and respect.
Lily arrived in the library early (as was her custom) on Wednesday and grabbed a table in the middle of the room where James would be sure to see her. She positioned herself so she could see the door clearly; she wanted to be on guard when he came in. She always hated it when he caught her vulnerable – she never could think of anything sharp to say back to him and often her temper got the best of her anyway-
Lily jumped a foot in her chair, barely suppressing a shriek of surprise as James Potter came up behind her. How does he do that? she wondered angrily to herself as he sat down across from her, carrying an armful of books.
"Glad you decided to make it, Potter," she said huffily, trying to read the titles of the books. James noticed her attempts and turned the spines towards his chest. He half-smiled, his eyes mocking.
"I'm hurt, Evans," he said and leaned back in the chair, stretching. "So, which students have you marked this week?"
Lily raised her eyebrows. "Marked?"
"You know, put on your list," he elaborated. When Lily still looked perplexed, he sighed in mock impatience. "Honestly, Evans, everyone knows you've got it in for a couple of 'troublemakers.'"
"I do not!" Lily said hotly, leaning forward.
The librarian, Madam Porter, looked at her sharply. "Shhhh!" she said in rebuke, pressing a scarlet-nailed finger to her lips.
"You can't help provoking me, can you?" Lily hissed menacingly, sitting back again, folding her arms over her chest. What the bloody hell was he talking about? She didn't have a list! Sure, there were a few students who were troublemakers that she always took care to watch closely, but it wasn't as if she had a list or anything!
"I've only taken ten points this week, and that was because that third year Kennan was doing magic in the corridor."
He shrugged. "I took fifty from Slytherin."
Lily's jaw dropped. "Excuse me?"
He pushed a wrinkled piece of parchment to her across the table, and she unfolded it. His spiked handwriting, which she could read with a bit of difficulty, said:
Severus Snape: -10 for being greasy
-10 for having a big nose
-10 for having a nasty attitude
-10 for being friends with Snape
-10 for being friends with Lestrange, who, in turn, is friends with Snape
"It built up over the week," James said casually in reply to her dumbstruck look.
Lily shook her head in disbelief. "How can such a complete idiot make such good grades? McGonagall will never accept this, and I won't even discuss it," she said, pushing away from the table and standing up. "Tell me when you decide to grow up, Potter!"
Lily turned around and smiled at Christopher Miller, the good-looking Ravenclaw who should have been Head Boy (well, in her opinion, at least). He was smiling at her a bit shyly and gestured to the chair beside her.
"May I sit?"
"Oh, of course, Christopher!" Lily exclaimed, moving her books over so he could put his own down on the table. He slid into the chair and smiled rather grimly at her.
Lily returned his grim smile. "Yes. Stupid Potions, actually … I just can't seem to get that Nutrition Concoction," she said, letting a bit of her frustration enter her tone. She'd been trying for the past two hours to figure out the missing ingredient to the potion Professor Lektor had assigned. He was a jolly old man and enjoyed forcing his students to think as much as possible by setting up "games" – missing ingredients, wrong ingredients, etc – in his assignments, and if you solved the game and correctly brewed the potion, you got full marks. If you failed to solve it and brewed the potion wrongly, more than likely you would be failed. The missing ingredient in the Nutrition Concoction, which she would be brewing tomorrow (correctly or incorrectly), was the hardest Lily had yet come across.
Christopher smiled mysteriously. "It took me a while, but I got it. It's right there, I promise. But look, I'll help you with the potion if you'll give me a hand with the Transfiguration homework…"
"Deal," Lily said, smiling a bit bitterly. Oh, if only….Christopher was such a nice bloke, so sweet and kind and smart and caring….No way would he try to replace your quill with one that spurted out disgusting green goo if you bit it…. Lily shuddered at the memory as she half listened to Christopher. Just last week during their second prefect meeting, a certain Head Boy had switched her normal quill with the joke one, and as Lily had been writing down ideas for changing the prefects' bathroom password (as some mischievous younger students had figured it out the other week), she had bitten down thoughtfully on the end of the quill – and been covered in nasty, smelly green slime. The prefects had erupted into laughter; however, it was quickly stifled when they saw Lily's murderous look, heightened, she supposed, by the alarming goo. She had yelled at James in front of them all and Professor Kiser, the ill-tempered Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, had just happened to be passing by and had been only too glad to march both James and Lily to McGonagall's office. McGonagall had not been amused.
Lily's eyes abruptly refocused. Christopher Miller's face was close – almost too close – and he was staring at her with amused curiosity. Lily blushed faintly and scooted away from him as discreetly as possible. "Sorry, yes, please go on."
"You haven't been listening to a word I've said, have you?" A smile glimmered about his mouth. Lily blushed a little more and grinned apologetically.
"Sorry … I've been a bit preoccupied lately, I'm afraid," she explained, shrugging slightly. He moved a bit closer, though Lily couldn't tell if it was on purpose or not. She decided not to move away.
"With Potter, am I right?"
Lily was surprised, but her astonishment quickly gave way to apprehension. "Oh, no, it isn't obvious we're not getting along, is it?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Are you kidding?" Her face must have answered that question, and he continued, still looking taken aback. "You speak to each other in single syllables, he squirts you in the face with goo and humiliates you, and if I'm not mistaken, I could have sworn I saw you attempt to trip him in the corridor the other day after Charms…?"
Lily blushed horribly at that. Christ, she hadn't thought anyone had seen…. She tried to quickly regain most of her composure. "We just aren't very close, that's all."
"You'd make a terrific diplomat," Christopher grinned. He really was quite handsome, Lily thought absently. Wonderful smile. "But a horrendous actress."
Lily jerked back as her mouth dropped open in astonishment. "Pardon?"
He held his hands up and shrugged. "Just being honest."
Lily closed her mouth, a reluctant smile forming on her lips. "Thanks," she said dryly.
"So tell me about it," Christopher said, looking at her earnestly. "Why you don't get along and all that."
Lily frowned, thinking. She really shouldn't tell anyone (well, besides Gwen) about her real relationship with James, but if it was as obvious as Christopher said, surely it couldn't do any harm? Plus, he looked like he honestly didn't mind hearing her problems….
She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Christopher, but I really shouldn't…."
He shrugged good-naturedly. "It's no problem; I just thought you'd want to tell someone about it."
She hesitated and thankfully Christopher didn't press anymore. "Well, maybe some other time," he said with a wink. "Now, onto that charm…."
That proved to be only the beginning of Christopher Miller in Lily's life. She kept running into him in odd places, but they always had much to talk about. It didn't come as much of a surprise when he asked her to Hogsmeade over Halloween weekend.
They were sitting in the library again, discussing the new spell they had learned in Defense Against the Dark Arts that day, when Christopher leaned over to her and said solemnly, "I have a very important question to ask."
Lily fought the urge to giggle. "Yes?"
"Will you, Lily Evans, go with me to Hogsmeade this weekend?"
She had giggled then. "I'd love to, Christopher."
They had talked a bit more, this time more intimately, until Christopher reluctantly bade her goodbye and said he had to go to a little Ravenclaw Quidditch team meeting in his common room.
Lily sat at the table for a moment after he left, feeling ridiculously happy despite the fact that the Marauders traditionally pulled a huge prank on Halloween, and was about to get up when, lo and behold, James Potter plopped himself down opposite her.
"He's a cad," he said.
Lily stared at him, her blood heating already. She knew who he was talking about, of course, but wanted to hear him say it.
"Who?" she demanded icily.
"Your Ravenclaw chap," James said, jerking his head in the direction of the library doors. He was looking at her with a very peculiar expression on his face that made her feel more than slightly uncomfortable.
"I don't see why it's any of your business, Potter," Lily said haughtily, gathering her books up into a neat stack. The truth was, though, that she was a bit curious as to why Potter felt that way. She met his eyes again levelly; he was still staring at her with that guarded, odd expression.
"Why?" she asked, but cursed herself the minute the question popped out of her lips as James's expression transformed into cruel condescension.
"Think about it, Evans."
Lily rolled her eyes. Stupid bastard. She collected her books and exited the library, waving absentmindedly to her friend Lauren as she went. Even though she certainly didn't believe him, a traitorous part of her brain was wondering: what did Potter mean?
The next day, Saturday, dawned clear and lovely. It was surprisingly warm for October, so Lily opted not to wear her scarf as she had originally planned. After a beaming breakfast with her girlfriends, she went out into the entrance hall to search for Christopher.
Lily spun; there he was, sandy hair glinting in the sunlight that was streaming in from the open doors where the students were making their way down to the little town of Hogsmeade.
"Hi!" she said as he made his way through the crowd. He smiled.
"Ready to go?"
"Yep," she said, smiling back. He put his hand on her lower back and proceeded to push her towards the big doors. Lily was taken aback at first – she didn't like the idea of being steered very much – but then decided that it was probably just a reflex or something and she wouldn't say anything about it.
However, three hours later, it really began to irritate her.
She gritted her teeth as he steered her into the Three Broomsticks pub, steered her to a table, and ordered two Butterbeers – which was what she wanted, actually, but he hadn't even asked.
"Wait, please," she said to the young woman in very high, sparkly heels who had taken their order, "I'd actually like some iced pumpkin juice, if you please." The woman's eyebrows lifted in surprise, but she nodded; smiled, teeth gleaming; and quickly clacked away.
Christopher frowned at her. "I thought Butterbeer was your favorite?"
Bloody hell, when had she told him that?
"It is, but I'm in the mood for pumpkin juice," Lily said as placidly as she could. Christopher nodded and smiled, and took her cloak as she moved to hang in on the stand nearby. She very nearly hit him. She was beginning to feel like he very much liked being in control.
The door to the pub, which Lily was directly across from and Christopher had his back to, opened, and Gwen, Dorcas, and Mary Katherine entered. They scanned the pub and their eyes instantly came to rest on Lily. They grinned madly and Gwen waggled her eyebrows; Lily tried to send an S.O.S. as inconspicuously as she could with her eyes, but to no avail. Her three friends took a table in the back of the room, their heads barely visible through the crowd of bar patrons.
"Are you all right, Lily?" Christopher asked, startling her back into looking at him. He looked very sincere, and Lily suddenly felt bad for wanting to abandon him. She smiled as kindheartedly as she could and shook her head.
"I'm fine," she said. "I just spotted some of my friends."
"You're friends with Gwen Watson, aren't you?" he said casually, though his eyes told a different story. Lily was instantly on her guard.
"Yes," she said warily.
He noticed her apprehension and smiled benevolently. "Ah, well, it isn't fair to judge one by one's friends, I suppose."
Her feeling of wariness increased. "And what do you mean by that?" she asked politely.
"Isn't she friends with James Potter and that crowd?" he asked, watching her closely.
Lily nodded slowly. "Yes, she is."
"Does it not bother you," he asked curiously, "to have her friends with your enemy?"
Lily bristled. "James isn't my enemy," she said, frowning at him. Maybe he wasn't as smart as she thought. Couldn't he see he was treading on dangerous ground?
"Lily dear, I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the definition of 'enemy' is one who dislikes you and you dislike back."
"Well, yes, but–"
"Then why are we arguing?" he interrupted gently. "James is your enemy, you're his, everyone's happy. Smile for me, now."
"James is not my enemy," she repeated firmly.
"You hate him, you told me that yourself," Christopher pointed out.
"I did no such thing!" Lily burst out. She lowered her voice as people around them turned to stare curiously at them. "I didn't say that. James may get on my nerves, but I don't hate him."
"He's an immature fool," Christopher said intently, as though baiting her.
"You're a bloody immature fool!" she exclaimed. "Taking me in here and treating me as if I was your damn girlfriend! I'm not, and never will be!"
She stood and reached for her cloak, face on fire, partly with anger and partly with embarrassment – she had forgotten to lower her voice again – intent on making her exit, but Christopher stood and placed his hand on her arm.
"Come now, Lily, don't you think you're overreacting? I didn't mean to offend you," he said, still smiling in an annoying, pacifying way.
"No, of course you didn't," Lily said with such sincerity that he looked honestly confused for a moment at her emotions. "You didn't at all, dear Christopher, but I'm feeling a bit nauseous quite suddenly; I don't want to be sick over your beautiful robes, now do I?"
Before he could say anything, she was out the door and strode purposefully back to the castle, so angry she could hardly see straight. How dare he? He and his stupid male condescension! Wasn't there any boy out there that could see past his own bloody ego?
The following Monday morning Lily received a very odd owl at breakfast. It was simply a piece of folded parchment tied to a school owl, which took off as soon as she untied the note. She curiously opened it and read, in the slightly familiar, untidy handwriting,
Thanks for sticking up for me on Saturday.
P.S. Your friend Lauren's on the Quidditch team, by the way. Think about it, Evans.
Lily stared down the House table. James Potter was with his usual crowd at the far end, acting his usual, arrogant self….She looked back at the note. What in the name of Winston Churchill did he mean by saying her friend Lauren was on the Quidditch team? Of course she was on the Quidditch team – Lily certainly knew that! A superb Beater, Lauren was, along with stupid Christopher Miller….
And then it hit her.
"Lils? Are you okay?"
"Yeah, you look like you've just walked through a ghost."
Her friends were staring at her in concern. She shook her head and looked back down at the letter, feeling slightly numb. Christopher had said he was late to a Ravenclaw Quidditch meeting as he left her in the library on Friday afternoon, but Lauren and her friend Joshua Banks, who was a Chaser on the team, hadn't looked like they were going to any meeting as she had passed by them and waved….
They could have forgotten, Lily told herself, even though she didn't believe that for more than a second.
It doesn't mean he was cheating on you, Lily, she told herself very firmly. Stop jumping to conclusions.
No, it didn't mean he had been cheating on her, but it didn't stop her from cursing him violently in her mind.