A/N: Well, this story wouldn’t be if not for Jo Wickaninnish. That is all there is to it. My non-existent use of commas is enough to drive the normal beta over the edge. And yet, she soldiers on. Thank you, Jo. You are, truly, a joy. Truly. Also, I would like to dedicate this story to my daughter, Sadie. You may be little, but you are one of my biggest joys.
"Bloody Muggle Studies professor," James Potter muttered to himself. He was making his way through the corridor towards Gryffindor tower in search of his fellow Marauders.
"Hello, my dear. My, don’t we look most out of sorts today?"
"Felix Felicis," he mumbled to the Fat Lady Portrait.
"Humph!" The portrait swung open after the Lady’s exclamation.
The common room stood empty save the usual suspects. Lily Evans and her contemporaries were in the corner by the fireplace studying. Oh, there’s a surprise, he thought wryly to himself. Mussing up his hair in preparation of another verbal skirmish with Evans, his project jumped foremost into his mind again. Ascending the steps to the seventh year boys’ dormitory he stormed through the door to find an empty room.
"Blast, where the hell are they?"
Taking the steps two at a time, he flew through the common room, completely missing the look Lily Evans had given him out of the corner of her eye. Also, missing her friend Sadie’s knowing look at Lily.
He glanced out the window at the Quidditch pitch to find the skies empty. Truly only one place left to look. Madam Pince’s disapproving glare was dismissed quickly as he arrived at the library. Stalking through the stacks of books he found three boys deep within the bowels of the library at a small table. Remus Lupin, ever the studious one was currently engrossed in the literary stylings of ….oh, who the hell cares. He had found them at last.
"Oi, Moony, recognizance mission now!" He whispered loudly.
All three boys’ heads shot up at the declaration. James dropped his bag by the nearest chair and four heads were quickly huddled in the center of the table.
"What’s this about?" Sirius grinned eagerly.
"Nothing for you to be getting your tartan boxers in a twist about." He dismissed Sirius quickly. "And no Peter, we are not going to the kitchens now."
"Well let’s have it then," Remus stated, leaning back in his chair.
"I’ve got to read a bloody poem in Muggle Studies class."
"Does it have to be a certain period or style? A certain poet? Something along those lines, Prongs?"
"No, just poetry, something easy if you don’t mind. None of that Shakespeare chap that you always read. No forthwiths and wherefores or where art thou’s. I just can’t do that without looking like a complete tool."
"Wait a minute." He leaned forward again eyes narrowing at James. "Isn’t Lily in your Muggle Studies course?"
James felt his ears burn. Ah, of course Moony would be on to him. Of course.
"Yes." The answer was barely audible.
"Prongs, this will be great. Moony, whip out that Shakespeare. But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Liliet is the sun? Then Lily says Jameseo oh, Jameseo where for art thou Jameseo?" James rapped Sirius up on the side of the head while Remus and Peter sniggered.
"Are you going to help me or not, Moony?"
"Yes. I’m assuming we need something touching and poignant. Something that will… something Irish…" He shot out of his seat as if he had suddenly caught fire. James checked the seat just in case. You never could tell what Padfoot would do for attention.
Lily looked up just in time to see James storming back through the common room. The ever-familiar flutter in her stomach that accompanied the sight of James Potter never ceased to annoy her. She knew in her mind that she was attracted to the complete sod, and it just bothered her. He always said the completely wrong thing.
Except when he told you he was sorry about your parents, a little voice niggled in the back of her head.
Shut up, I will not like him.
But dearie you already do, the voice lilted.
No, I Do Not.
You can visit the river denial anytime, but honey, you not only like him, you enjoy him.
I Do Not. She continued to argue with herself.
You enjoy his wit - it is very sharp after all. You enjoy the fact he has done what he has done for Remus. He told you that secret for a reason Lily. He trusts you to keep it. Just as you trusted him with your feelings about your parents. He has grown up, he deserves to be Head Boy, deserves your respect.
I know, she thought faintly, conceding.
He is quite handsome, with all that messy hair and lean muscle. Oh and when he’s playing Quidditch and his cheeks are all red and he’s smiling and…
Oh just sod off, I get the point already, I like him. I know it.
"Lily, are you all right?" Lily looked to find Sadie looking at her with an odd expression on her face.
"Of course, just thinking about these cheering charms."
"You look as if you can use one yourself."
"I’ve got to go up to the dormitory, we’ve got a Prefect meeting tonight and I’ve got some notes to go over."
"Mmmmhmmm…" was all she heard as she headed towards the steps.
"I think this will be perfect, James. Read through it and let me know what you think." Moony dropped the book on his bed. William Butler Yeats. He stroked the leather bound volume and brought it to his nose, it smelled old and yet…touching the volume, it almost hummed. This man knew…he knew of love. Unrequited and fulfilled, he understood both sides of the coin, so to speak.
He opened the book where Moony had marked the page with a scrap of paper. Brown Penny, how apropos he mused. He took in the words staring at him from the page.
I whispered, "I am too young,"
And then, "I am old enough;"
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
In a word, it was perfect.
He waited outside Professor McGonagall’s office for the Prefects meeting to begin. He ran over the poem in his mind again, opening the volume he leaned against the wall and sat. He heard footsteps go by and knew he should go into the room, but he could not tear himself away. Maybe this was what Moony always got so excited about. Should’ve listened to his poetic rants more often, he thought. Just then someone stopped in front of him. Looking up he found…..her.
"James, the meeting is just about to start. What are you reading there?"
"Oi, just something for Muggle Studies." Trying to stuff the volume into his bag.
"C’mon what’s the big secret, Potter?" Lily grabbed at the book. Standing quickly, James held it behind his back as Lily made attempts to capture it. Holding it above his head, Lily put her hand on his shoulder and jumped trying to reach it.
"Lily", he warned. But he was too late.
Landing, their bodies brushed together. As she looked up, her cheeks flamed.
"Say something…" he whispered, searching her eyes. They had been at this moment too many times to count over the last few weeks. They had been right here. Just right here. She tilted her head up even farther. Merlin, he thought. He…
"Ms. Evans, Mr. Potter if you are through behaving like first years’ we are quite ready to start the meeting." Professor McGonagall’s voice interrupted. They sprung apart as if on fire. Lily cast her glance downward and disappeared into the office. James could only clutch his book and watch her go.
"Yeats. Excellent selection, Potter. Makes women swoon." She put a hand on James back and led him into the office, chuckling silently behind him.
You almost kissed him. He almost kissed you. Lily’s mind was racing a million miles an hour as she lay in her bed. She flopped over onto her back. She missed the noises that filled a dormitory. Normally there would be Sadie’s soft snoring, Jackie and Gwen’s whispering over their boyfriends, and the quiet purring of Holly’s cat. Flopping onto her stomach, she replayed the event again in her mind. Jumping onto him like that, she winced as if the memory were painful, too painful.
You were just playing with him, dearie. He does love a good game. After all, he is a Quidditch player, the annoying back of the head voice stated.
I was not playing with him. I am head girl. I do not play.
Yes you were. I think he enjoyed it though. He must have if he almost kissed you. Oh, how heavenly that would have felt if only Professor McGonagall had not stopped you.
Thank Merlin for her. He would have kissed me. Did I just sigh? I’m going off my nutter.
No, you’re in love with a wonderful young man who is in love with you.
Where the bloody hell are you getting your information? I am not in love with James Potter.
Yes, you are.
No, I’m not.
Lily, honey, you love the way he walks into a room and his eyes always seek you out first thing. You love the way he acts like a complete fool around you sometimes. You love the fact that you make him nervous. You love the fact he would do, and has done, anything for those three friends of his. You love the fact he became an Animagus for Remus. You love him for not being a judgmental pureblood. You love the fact he left a lily for you on your desk in Charms class on your birthday. He hadn’t left a card; he didn’t need to, did he? You knew whom it was from. Because he loves you. You know it.
Well that just proves…completely missed the point…
Throwing back the covers, she grabbed her dressing gown and went to the common room.
"How about this one, James. Oh Prongseo, Oh Prongseo, Ouch!!!" Sirius rubbed his arm where James had just hit him with a Quidditch pad.
"You are getting too much material out of one poem," Remus observed.
"Nervous, James?" Peter queried.
"A little…I’ve got it all memorised. As long as you lot leave me alone I should do alright."
"Please refrain from lumping me into a group with Sirius Black," Remus stated in an offended tone.
"Sorry, Moony, old man." He laughed.
Butterflies were fluttering around in his belly.
Stop it. You’re never this nervous before a Quidditch match. Even when we’re playing Slytherin. Come out of it old boy, you can do this.
"James Potter. I believe you have a poem ready. Come up here, son," Professor O’Connor stated. Looking at the old wizard he had a notion to hex that red hair right off his head.
He wasn’t anywhere near ready to read this. He was used to being in front of people playing Quidditch or in a Prefects meeting or…nothing this thespian. Nothing that put his feelings so out there. Oh what the hell. Clearing his throat he began.
By William Butler Yeats
I whispered, "I am too young,"
And then, "I am old enough";
Whereon I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair."
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows had eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.
By the end, he was visibly shaking and sweating. He had not looked up at all, eyes concentrating on the book in front of him. He heard feet shuffling and papers rustling as he walked back to his seat. He fell into it and laid his head upon the table.
"Well done, Mr. Potter. Ten extra points for Gryffindor for picking an Irish poet, although I expect it was to butter me up."
Great git, he thought.
All three of his cohorts were waiting for him outside the classroom, each wearing an expression of expectation.
"How did you fare, James?" Remus questioned.
"Moony, you arse, look at him. Can’t you tell how he ‘fared’?" Sirius noted whilst clasping James shoulder. "Does this look like a man that just made women swoon, for Merlin’s sake?"
"He does look a little peaked. Maybe you’d better go see Pomfrey for a pepper-up potion, Prongs," Peter suggested.
"Actually, he might not look to good, but I believe the fairer sex of his Muggle Studies course look quite enamored of our James." Remus motioned toward the girls exiting the classroom. It was true. They were all looking at him a bit differently. He even heard "…so romantic".
Turning to look back to Remus, he grinned.
"So Moony…Let’s talk some Shakespeare, huh?"
Lily watched the four boys’ backs as they retreated away from the classroom. She knew he had read that poem for her. As sure as she was a Muggle born, she knew it. He’d put his feelings out there on display for everyone, once again. Well, I guess the proverbial ball is my court, she thought.
James sat down at the table in the common room next to Remus. The Marauders were all grouped around their studies, for once. The winter holidays were at hand, and no one wanted to do homework during the holiday. Taking out his Potions homework, he began writing out a report on the uses of wolfsbane.
"Gods, Peter, was that your stomach?"
"You’re no better, Padfoot. I’ve been listen to yours whine for the last hour."
"Well, then," Sirius stated throwing his quill upon the parchment that lay in front of him. "I think a well timed kitchen raid is imminent. Prongs, going to borrow your cloak if you don’t mind."
James just nodded his assent. Sirius motioned for Remus to follow. Remus just shook his head. Many minutes had passed after the two had left when Remus sat an envelope on the Potions parchment. It just said "James" on the front. He knew that writing.
"Where?" his voice cracked. Clearing, he began again. "Where did you get this Moony?"
"Accient Runes. She asked if I would give it to you." Remus gave him a wry smile. "About time if you asked me."
James carefully opened the envelope as if afraid of what the contents would reveal. At the top was a perfect copper penny. The note read:
Ask me to Hogsmeade again. You might like my answer this time.
The bottom dropped out of his stomach. Twisting around, he surveyed the occupants of the common room. Bugger, she’s not here. Jumping up he exited through the portrait hole. He ran, no sprinted to the dining hall. No Lily. He was just about to leave when he spotted Sadie sitting at the end of the Gryffindor table.
"Sadie." He bellowed. She turned and grinned. "Have you seen Lily? I have to talk to her. It’s just about Head Girl and Boy stuff." He thought quickly. Yeah, that’ll fool her Potter, the inner-head voice stated.
"She’s in greenhouse three working on a project for Herbology."
He ran off towards the door, then, on impulse turned, bussed Sadie on the cheek, and ran for greenhouse three. Arriving at the door, his heart was racing. Just go on, the voice said.
Summoning his last bit of courage, he opened the door. Lily was bent over a pot with some sort of foliage sticking out and making notes to her left. She had a small smudge of dirt on her nose. Her hair was falling out of her ponytail, and slivers of sunlight were illuminating her hair from behind. She was perfectly imperfect. He cleared his throat.
Looking up, she found James standing at the door, cheeks aflame, looking as if he had run all the way from Gryffindor tower.
"James. What are you doing out here? Are you alright? You look flushed."
"I’m fine. I, uh, that is Remus gave me your note."
"Oh, yes that. James, I really wrote that in a moment of complete rashness. I don’t think I was being myself." She looked down and fretted with her hands.
Liar, the voice said.
"So, so you didn’t mean it."
Tell him, tell him how you really feel.
What if he laughs at me? She asked.
He won’t. He wouldn’t. He loves you Lily.
"James, don’t you think it would be silly for us to date? I mean, we used to fight all of the time. We couldn’t be in the same room together without killing each other."
"Ah Lily, that just means there are sparks between us. It’s a good thing," he said as he started walking towards her. She heard him stop in front of her, then felt a finger tilting her head up. Looking into his brown eyes, she thought, Just like a penny.
"I’m scared," she whispered.
"Scared of what, Lily?"
"You, me, us, together. I’ve never had anyone like you in my life."
"I’ve never had anyone like you either," he whispered as he placed his hands on the sides of her face. Thumbing her cheek, he started to lean towards her. Closing her eyes, she put her hands on his forearms.
"Lily, can I kiss you?" He whispered.
He felt his lips brush hers. Could she tell he was shaking? Everything inside felt as if it had come loose. His world had come undone. Nothing would be the same after this. Wrapping his arms around her, he breathed in her scent. Lilacs, dirt, and some sort of wonderful girl smell.
"Hmm.." He felt her voice vibrate through his chest.
"Go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?" He looked down at her. He wanted to see her eyes this time, wanted to see her as she said it. Her green eyes were clear as a summer day.
"Yes," she said.
About time, two inner voices agreed.