The Sugar Quill
Author: eca celli  Story: Taking a Chance  Chapter: Default
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Top Ten Reasons Why James Potter Deserves a Date

“That could’ve been the best prank of the week.”  Sirius declared, falling into one of the common room armchairs and looking decidedly disappointed. Peter dropped into the chair across from him. James remained standing. This was probably because he figured his voice would carry better if he were standing. James thought of things like that. Especially when a group of pretty girls was seated across the room and that group of pretty girls contained one Lily Evans.

         “If only those fourth year Slytherins hadn’t gotten in the way.” Peter mumbled.

         “Did you see the look on the one boy’s face? Chasen, I think his name was. Good Lord, he didn’t know what hit him.” James really was needlessly loud. Not that Sirius was any better, but really, with the two of them in the room—it was impossible to concentrate.

         “Literally. I don’t think they learn that hex in sixth year, much less fourth.” Sirius smirked. “Serves him right though, lollygagging around the bathroom in the evening. I really wanted to see what that Fiber spell would do to our dear Snivellus.”

This prank had been Sirius’ own creation. They had discovered the Fiber Charm for Irregularity (very high potency, not recommended unless dire need) while looking up health antidotes for Remus, who was suffering various maladies from the previous full moon. They had carefully rigged the Slytherin bathroom with other, er, surprises. It looked to be a very entertaining night. But, alas, some young Slytherins were unfortunate enough to get in the way. James and Sirius were forced to hex them into the beyond. This hexing came immediately after they had used the toilets that exploded. It was quite an awful, inspiring sight.

The fact that they had just hexed a group of Slytherins for no real reason didn’t really concern them much. Slytherins, after all, were synonymous with evil. That’s just how James and Sirius’ minds worked.

Remus, however, tended to disagree. He was absent now, not due to health but because, well, he was rather angry.  With Prefect badge shining on his chest, Remus had been assigned guard duty but sometime after the hexing of innocents, he disappeared. James and Sirius hadn’t seen him since. They assumed he had gone up to the dormitory. He would have to be dealt with later.

There were females present. This fact dominated James’ thoughts. A certain red head was sitting across the room from him, locked in an intense conversation with one of her friends, probably an intelligent, interesting conversation full of substance and importance. James was painfully aware of her as he prattled on pointlessly. He was especially aware of the fact that she hadn’t sent a glance their way since they’d entered. Finally, when he realized no one was listening, he flung himself in the chair nearest Sirius and sighed. When he entered a room, the rest of the student body turned and watched him avidly (most of the time). And yet, no matter what the performance, he could never gain any more than a scornful look from her. It made him miserable—not that he’d ever admit this.

But he’d get over it. He always did. After all, she couldn’t ignore him forever, could she? Not if he was loud enough, bad enough or brilliant enough.

 “Think Remus’ll be all right?” Sirius mused in a halfhearted sort of way. 

“Yeah, sure. We’ll talk to him when we get up there. Bet he’s not too mad--probably wanted to get ahead on his Defense essay or something. He’s fine,” James answered absently, picking at the frayed upholstery.

 “I think making the first year bawl this afternoon was more entertaining than the Slytherins,” Peter giggled loudly, intruding on James’ world. “Remember her? The little blond?”

“What’ve you been up to now, Potter?” Dorcas called across the room. “Making girls cry again?” She laughed.

“No, Dorcas, we were just having a bit of fun with an ‘ickle firstie.”  James grinned in return.

“It was hilarious!” Peter declared. “See, he and Sirius charmed this spot on the floor to be icy-slippery, right? And we were just sitting back and watching all the idiots skid across it…” He laughed at the memory. James and Sirius beamed with pride.

“How did you charm the floor?” A fourth year piped up, evidently awe struck in the presence of such genius.

“Oh, it was simple,” James began, falling into his element again. He sat on the edge of his seat, his eyes bright with his own brilliance. “I transfigured the floor immediately in front of the Great Hall stairs into ice, right? A bit of advanced transfiguration, most people would probably have trouble with it, but it wasn’t a problem at all. The hard bit came in limiting the transfiguration, so we had Remus do some Arithmancy research and then Sirius here applied it to our specific circumstance.”

“Easy work, that,” Sirius said, smiling languidly from his chair, making several girls swoon. “But stop lecturing us, Professor Potter and tell the interesting bits.”

“It was hilarious!” Peter squealed again.

“It wasn’t that great,” James admitted modestly. “Just a bit of amusement. Most everyone’s seen it already and knew to watch for it. The first years were coming down from class and slipped a bit, they were really the only ones we caught. It was like watching the Muggle Olympics, at least the skating bit, anyway. There was this blond Hufflepuff, she flew across the floor and her books scattered.”  James gesticulated wildly. “She flipped upside down and…all was revealed.”

Sirius snickered, “Pink polka-dotted underwear.”

“She bawled like a baby.”

Dorcas gave them a reluctant smile, the sort that told them they were idiots, but very brilliant idiots at that and boys would be boys so she’d let them off one more time because, after all, they were funny and handsome in a roguish sort of way. “You didn’t get caught?”

“Peter was on guard.”

She snorted and started to walk away. “You’re hopeless, the lot of you.”

“We try.” James ran his fingers through his hair, ruffling it so it stood on end, his signature Just Got Off My Broom look, and turned back to Sirius, who was busy being handsomely bored.

         “It’s a pity how little there is to do around here,” Sirius muttered, twirling his wand.

         “What can I say? Brilliant minds bore easily,” James replied, bored too now that his audience had lost interest. He gazed across the room. Lily was still sitting there, looking absolutely gorgeous and perfectly unattainable. He wished someone would come up and ask him about the big match against Slytherin next week. He hated the moments of lull between pranks and performances, he felt so empty in them. Maybe they should do a kitchen raid tonight…

         “Regulus was one of the ones we hexed tonight.” Sirius was barely audible. “They were all Death Eater Juniors, every last one of them…”

         “You live with me now, Padfoot. Forget about them. Don’t worry about it,” James whispered. Really, they were quite the cheery pair.

         “James, do you understand the Transfiguration homework?” Peter asked tentatively.

         “Yeah, yeah. I’ll do it for you in the morning.” James waved Peter away. It’d only take him a minute or two at breakfast anyway. He didn’t want to think about assignments. He didn’t know what he wanted to think about, but that was beside the point.

         “Hey, is that Gideon talking to Lily?” Peter said casually.

         “WHAT?”

         “I’m going to bed, Potter. Have a good time wooing your one true love.” Sirius stretched himself up and out of his chair and to the dormitory, leaving James twisting around wildly in order to gape better at Gideon Prewett.

         There the dirty bastard was--standing there talking to her. Now, James did not think himself possessive or overbearing. Lily could talk to anyone she pleased. They could even be male. As long as they weren’t him. His golden locks were shining in the dimming light, his gray eyes sparkling as he conversed with her. His teeth flashed white. They were probably talking about something witty and smart and incredibly profound. They were probably laughing at him. God, James had never hated anyone more vehemently.

         “Oi! Prewett!” Peter slunk away as Gideon turned around and stared at James. “Isn’t it a bit past your bedtime? Your teddy bear’ll be missing you and you don’t want to leave that romance novel abandoned for too long. Reading that is probably the most action you’ll ever get.”

         Lily glared at James, an icy cold sort of loathing glare that made him feel briefly repentant. Gideon just looked at him as if he were insane. “What’re you on about, Potter?”

         James sneered. “Go polish your broom, Prewett.” He tried not to think of the sick, twisted metaphor he was developing. Lily was livid now, he could see it in her eyes, but he pressed on regardless. “Oh, you can’t do that though, can you? You don’t have a broom. I’m sorry, I forgot. You fly like an anvil.”

         Gideon shook his head disbelievingly as he backed away. “He’s finally cracked.” He looked over at Lily and smiled apologetically. James could’ve murdered him. “I’m sorry, Lily. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

         “Right. G’night, Gideon.”

She didn’t even address James. She turned around to gather her things. Most of her friends were gone already. The common room was nearly empty and dimming quickly. James felt like he was missing an important opportunity standing there, still disoriented and vaguely angry.

         “Lily!” He said. She paused just long enough for him to be certain she had heard him. As if it was possible not to hear him. “Care to go out with me?”

         He heard a couple of people mutter something about ‘There he goes again.’ as they too slunk out of the common room but he chose not to pay attention. If he asked her enough times, her defenses were bound to break down and she’d eventually say yes. It was as simple as that.

         He saw her back go rigid. She stopped gathering her books and looked up at him. She took one deep breath. Two deep breaths. James had no idea how stupid he was.

         “I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last person on the face of this earth.  Her words were measured.

         “Better me than Gideon!”

         She burst. “GIDEON IS A PERFECT GENTLEMAN! Who do you think you are, telling him off like that! You have absolutely NO authority! I can talk to whoever I want, whenever I want and I shouldn’t have to worry about your stupid, immature tirades. Don’t think I haven’t seen you sitting there, watching every move I make. I see things, I know what’s going on and it’s sickening, James. Just SICKENING. You have absolutely NO RIGHT…”

“It’s not my fault. It looked like you were about to hump right here in the middle of the common room. I didn’t want to see that and neither did anyone else.” James defended himself. “Gideon is a horrible, snobbish, wretched bloke…”

          “And what would that make you? An angel?” Lily snorted. The few people who remained in the common room now vacated in, not wanting to be present for the showdown. “I can’t STAND you, James. You come in here bragging about how you assaulted some INNOCENT fourth years and expect us all to WORSHIP you! Well, I just won’t do it. It’s WRONG. You’re nothing but a petty bully…”

         “THEY WERE SLYTHERINS!” James shouted. Slytherin and innocent were not words that belonged together.

         “YOU MADE A LITTLE FIRST YEAR BAWL!”

         “IT WAS A PRANK!”

         “SHE CRIED!” Lily took a few brave steps forward, still livid. “How can you not understand that? You hurt people! That’s not attractive! You’re nothing but a scrawny show off. You’re nothing but a bully. I wouldn’t go out with you on my life.”

         Lily was one of the few people who could make James feel like the dirt on the bottom of her shoe with just one look. And that’s how he felt right now.

         She was right. She was right just like Remus was right. And he did feel guilty. He hadn’t meant to make that little girl cry; it was just a joke. But their bullying pranks weren’t funny anymore and James was just beginning to see that.

         But, still.

“I’m going to bed.” She said briskly, looking at him with obvious disgust.

“I don’t understand.” James tried boldly. “How can you take mercy on the filthiest of scum? How can you look at all the Slytherins, all those Junior Death Eaters and be compassionate toward them, even defend them and yet I don’t get a snowball’s chance in Hell? I don’t understand that. You’d rather take Snape for a date than spend a minute with me.” He tried to sound confident and self-assured but he could barely manage it.

More than once, Lily had come to Snape's aid against James and more than once James had wondered why she would do such a thing. They were worthless. They were evil and cruel and…they were all the things she accused him of being and yet, she favored them. He didn’t understand why.

“If it helps, I would never go out with Snape either,” She sneered sarcastically.

“You know what I mean,” James spat.

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.” She gave a disbelieving laugh. “Fine. Fine then. Give me one reason why I should go out with you. One real, concrete reason and maybe I’ll consider your offer.”

It was James’ worst fear.

The thing was, despite all his strutting and bragging, James knew he had very little going for him. He was a Potter, sure, but even he knew that blood meant nothing. He had Quidditch talent, but where did that get him in the big scheme of things? She wouldn’t give a whit whether he could shoot a goal or not. He could crack a joke, of course, but that meant nothing except that he was a sarcastic smart ass who couldn’t take anything seriously. He briefly considered telling her that if she went out with him, then he would never ask again but even James knew that answer was stupid, pointless and immature. And it was terrible that it was the best and only reason he could think of. It said volumes about him, really.

He was worthless. James knew he didn’t deserve Lily. He could never deserve her.

He hated that he couldn’t think of something witty to say. He hated that she was seeing him vulnerable. He didn’t say anything for a long time.

“What, aren’t you going to tell of your great merits in Quidditch? You can fly faster than anyone on the team, you won the Quidditch Cup last year…No, not good enough? Going to tell me about your brilliant pranks, how hilarious you are, how absolutely brilliant? You’ve got all the teacher’s charmed and most of the students too, aren’t you going to brag about that? Come on, Potter. Silence is so ill fitting on you.” Lily hissed. “WELL?!”

“Nothing. You’re right. I don’t have a reason.” James admitted. He felt completely broken. Never before in his life had he felt this…this….there wasn’t a word for a feeling like this. It was emptiness. It was…a void. He didn’t want to be in her presence anymore. He turned away and started toward the Dormitory door. It probably showed on his face; he didn’t want her to see his face.

If James had felt that it was acceptable for a bloke to show emotion, he might’ve choked up or even cried. But, as it was, he just felt empty. Terribly, horribly, heart-wrenchingly empty.

“Oh, you pout now, James but I know you. Tomorrow you’ll just be chasing another skirt. It’s all an act with James Potter, he’s never attached to one girl for long. You can’t fool me.” She taunted.

James closed his eyes and turned around. “For being so observant Miss. Evans, so all-seeing, you’re incredibly blind. I haven’t even looked at any another girl for nearly two years now.”

The dormitory door slammed behind him.

And Lily Evans was left standing, bewildered and alone.

Had James Potter, egotistical, arrogant, bullying, smooth, cool James Potter looked about to…cry over her?

This changed everything.

*

The next day, James laughed. He laughed because it was what he was supposed to do and there was no alternative, really. He was normal, after all. It was just another normal day. So he laughed with Sirius and joked with Peter and Remus and made snide, inappropriate comments about the Divination teacher. And he was happy, generally speaking, in their company. There were even moments where he could almost convince himself that his whole reason for being hadn’t just rejected him and crushed his heart viciously into tiny, microscopic pieces, making it only a shadow of its previous, great glory.

James had a penchant for drama.

But he never once talked about his heartbreak. He never once indicated in any way that he was upset. He just kept laughing, because that’s what James did. But in certain unguarded moments, he could be caught staring off into space in a decidedly melancholy manner and in those moments he looked positively miserable, just as he felt. In those moments he looked positively un-James-like.

Professor Flitwick pranced about the room, prattling on about something—James had no idea what. He wasn’t listening. Sirius was slumped over asleep beside him, threatening to slobber on their desk every once in a while. James pushed him absently. Remus was taking precise, neat notes ahead of them, Peter fervently copying every word. And in the second row, third seat down, sat Lily. She was writing something, James couldn’t tell what. He loved the way she wrote. Her hair fell from behind her ear like a dark red curtain but she ignored it, continuing to write in her neat scrawl.

He’d get over her. It was just an infatuation, after all. James Potter was more resilient than this…

Who was he kidding? This wasn’t just a crush—a crush would’ve ended after two weeks. James had loved Lily for nearly two years now.

She was too good for him, anyway.

Sirius was slobbering on their desk again. “Padfoot!” James hissed, shoving Sirius violently. “Clean up your spittle, you dog.”

“Nergh.” Sirius brushed James away.

“You’re so pleasant when you wake up.”

“Remember, class!” Professor Flitwick squeaked. “Tomorrow your essay is due! Three feet, seven inches at least!”

The bell echoed through the castle and James picked up his rucksack, smacking Sirius encouragingly. “Come on you prat, we’ll be late.”

“You’re actually concerned about being late? James, I’m surprised.”

James spun around at the sound of a female voice to find Lily standing behind him, smiling sheepishly.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”

Sirius began to snicker. James kicked him non-too gently. “N…No, that’s fine. I mean, I wasn’t startled or anything. Wha…” James broke off. His eloquence was ever so amazing. At least he stopped himself before he said ‘What do you want?’ That would’ve been just great.

“I just wanted to give you this.” Lily hesitantly offered a neatly folded piece of parchment. “That’s all.”

“Oh. Thanks.”

She nodded and drifted away, blushing slightly as if she were embarrassed to face him after last night’s incident and didn’t quite know how to act. James stared after her and then looked at the note in his hand, awe struck.

“Read it, you wanker,” Sirius prodded.

“Right. Right.” Still in some kind of shock, James unfolded the parchment to see Lily’s neat script. He read:

 

Ten Reasons Why James Potter Deserves a Date

 

  1. He shows signs of being something resembling human.
  2. He is handsome in a I-Need-Grooming sort of way.
  3. I wouldn’t have to worry about making other girls jealous, as no one else will have him.
  4. He is brilliant in a stupid, misdirected way. If only he could learn to use his powers for good instead of evil.
  5. He’d make me feel intelligent because, of course, I am more intelligent.
  6. He worships me. Worship is good.
  7. When he believes in things, he believes in them passionately and wholeheartedly. Hopefully he still believes in me.
  8. He’d make me laugh.
  9. He challenges me.
  10. I want to give him a chance.

 

See, there are reasons to go out with you.

 

 

James,

     The fact that I have offered this olive branch does by no means mean that you are my one true soul mate nor does it mean that I am entitled to reciprocate any emotions you may have developed for me. I’m not vowing my eternal love for you.  I can’t help what I feel and you have been an enormous prick over the past seven years, you must admit. Considering your transgressions, I should be able to safely despise you forever.

That said; I’m sorry about last night. And don’t think this is some sudden turn of opinion for no reason at all. I have always prided myself on being fair and judicious, if nothing else and last night you showed me that I had grossly misjudged you, someone who I thought I had figured out. You showed me a side of you that I never knew existed, a vulnerability that I had thought you incapable of. It made me think. And I thought all night long and all today too. Is anyone evil? Does anyone deserve to be hated and despised? I don’t think so. As much as I hate to admit it, you were right.

You deserve at least as much of a chance as I give anyone else. And though I wouldn’t ever accept a date from a Slytherin, I’ll make an exception for you even though you’ve done as much bullying as the best of them because, after all, if you’re nothing else, you’re persistent and that counts for something, doesn’t it?

Really, James--let me get to know you. Show me you can be more than a petty bully, that you really can redeem yourself and change your ways. Everyone deserves mercy no matter who they are; I know that—you showed that to me. And please, James, I want you to be the one to give me a chance now because I have wronged you in that I underestimated you. Show me mercy and we’ll start out on equal footing. If you agree, I’d love to see you at the front doors at five for the Hogsmeade trip. Please, consider my offer and accept my deepest apologies.

 

Love,

Lily Evans

 

P.S: Obviously no one’s told you but I believe it’s important for you to know—Gideon Prewett is gay. See, there was nothing to worry about anyway. Oh and by the way, it would be polite if you would apologize to him for your rude comments.

 

 

James looked at the letter and laughed. He laughed because that’s what James did when he was hysterical with giddiness and glee. “Lily!” He shouted. “Lily!”

She turned around, smiling still at something one of her friends had said, no doubt. Her green eyes were shining with mirth as James trotted up to her. “You have an answer for me?”

“YES!”

She smiled. One of the most amazing smiles James had ever seen in his life. “That’s the answer then?”

“Yes.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.”

James fell into stride with her, too ecstatic to consider whether Sirius and the others would miss him. “So…what’s this about Gideon Prewett being gay?” He asked, grinning.

She rolled her eyes. “Honestly, you had to have been thick not to notice.”

“Is that supposed to be some kind of insult?” James asked.

“I don’t know, you decide.” She flashed that smile again, that dazzling, beautiful, captivating smile.

James laughed again. He couldn’t believe it. She had asked him out. His wildest dreams had come true. And she was so beautiful and so perfect. He couldn’t remember being happier.

“Can I kiss you?” He asked suddenly.

“No,” she said flatly.

“That was rather cold,” he teased.

She shook her head slyly. “We’ll work up to it.” Lily smirked.

They would have plenty of chances, yet.    

 

 

A/N: Does Lily love James now? No. It’ll take a while before she falls for our dear Potter’s charms and that’s the way it should be, really. She took a great risk in giving James a chance and James took a great risk in asking her what he did. Is anyone evil? Does anyone deserve to be despised? No, Lily doesn’t think so and I don’t either. James and Lily…it’s a beautiful, complicated thing.

 

FIN

//
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