The Sugar Quill
Author: Gabriella Du Sult (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Acceptance  Chapter: Chapter 2: Avoidance
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Chapter Two: Avoidance

Chapter Two: Avoidance

 

(Disclaimer:  This story is based on the stories and characters created by J.K. Rowling and I am in no monetary way profiting from it.

 

A/N:  I practically re-wrote this chapter from the original version posted at Sugar Quill.  Thanks to some great concrit there, and my own continued writing in this version of the Potterverse that I’ve created, I think it’s a better product.   Thanks to Elanor Gamgee, my patient Sugar Quill beta, who continues to reintroduce me to the art of punctuation.  And to Bring and Fly, my PS beta.  Cara – you really came through on this one in the face of all your real life adversity.  Thanks so much!)

 

 

The next morning, after keeping the other Marauders up with his tossing and turning, James dragged them down early to breakfast where he sat at the edge of his seat and watched anxiously for Lily to arrive.

 

“Tomorrow’s Saturday.  I’ll ask her on a picnic,” he said determinedly.

 

So the Marauders waited for Lily to arrive.  They watched the nervous first years file in as a scared group, wolfing their food and accepting their schedules from the eager Fifth year Prefects.  Beatrice Bennet looked down the table at Remus and smiled shyly, blushing and turning back to the first years when he smiled back.

 

“Still considering asking her out?” Sirius asked.

 

“Maybe,” Remus replied noncommittally.

 

Lily ended up rushing into the Great Hall at the last minute, grabbing some toast and rushing out again before James could take a breath.  He looked helplessly after her, then back at his friends.  Even Sirius seemed to take pity on him enough to refrain from any mickey taking – though his grin suggested this respite would be short lived.

 

Remus took the high road and offered what support he could.  “Come on,” he said with a sigh.  “We’ll be late for Transfiguration.  You can try to catch her up after class.”

 

With all due respect to their esteemed Head of House, class was boring.  Most of the concepts and skills discussed in N.E.W.T. level Transfigurations class had to do with human transformation and three Animagi and the werewolf who helped them study to become so were already well familiar with that topic.  Remus did his best to at least play the part of good student.  Behind him he heard Peter snorting and didn’t even want to think about what Sirius was doing to provoke him.  Professor McGonagall put a stop to it merely by looking at them and saying, “Black!  Pettigrew!”

 

James kept looking over at Lily, who would not look back.  By the end of class there was a sort of desperation in James’s eyes that made him look as if he were about to attempt something – anything to attract Lily’s attention. Thankfully, McGonagall excused the class before he resorted to his old juvenile antics.  Unfortunately, Lily bolted out the door before James had even pushed back his chair.

 

“Next class,” Remus advised, taking his dejected looking friend’s arm and dragging him out into the passageway. 

 

But Charms was no better than Transfiguration and Potions was more of a nightmare than usual.  Lily either arrived late, left early or both, sometimes lingering to speak with professors – seeming to instinctively know which strategy would counter James’s efforts.  It wasn’t until Care of Magical Creatures, the last class of the day, when Remus caught an amused smile playing at Lily’s mouth when she asked to stay behind and help Professor Kettleburn clean up that he realized it was deliberate.  He chanced a look behind James’s back at Sirius, whose wicked grin indicated he, too, had caught Lily’s look.

 

“Coming, Prongs?” Sirius asked.

 

“Maybe I should wait for her…” James ventured in desperate tones.

 

“Who knows how long she’ll be – and you called that Quidditch meeting,” Sirius countered, taking James’s arm and dragging him back towards the castle.  “There’s dinner tonight and the Common Room later.”

 

Remus, who knew Lily from two years as Prefects together, had his doubts.  He wasn’t sure how long Lily could keep James at a distance – but he knew it was longer than a day.  Still, he did what a best mate did and offered his support.  “Yeah  – she’s just trying to make a good impression as Head Girl.  There’s always tomorrow, too.”

 

What solace Remus offered James was short lived as the weeks progressed and it seemed he would never speak privately to Lily Evans again.  Since they were classmates and housemates, they saw each other regularly enough.  Not to mention the contact they had as Head Boy and Girl, meeting with the prefects and heads of house on a regular basis.  The meetings were much more amiable than their previous years’ encounters, but hardly personal.  Lily managed to be all business and was surrounded by friends at any given time preempting any attempt by James to solidify or confirm their plans. 

 

“She did say yes, right, Moony?”  James asked Remus as they arrived early to a Prefects’ meeting in early October.

 

Remus did his best to assure his increasingly agitated friend before telling him to head on in while he waited for Beatrice.

 

James crossed the threshold to find the room empty except for Lily.  He looked over his shoulder at Moony, whose hands and eyes urged him forward.  When Beatrice showed up a minute later and said, “I have to ask you something,” he hushed her and gestured into the room.  She smiled and settled under his arm to watch.

 

“So, Evans – first Hogsmeade weekend is coming up,” he said, leaning against the table next to her in an attempt to appear cool and casual.

 

“I know,” she said distractedly, pulling her notebook out of her bag and settling into her usual spot at the table.  “I’m scheduled to escort the third years and then the girls and I have a big shopping expedition planned.”

 

“Oh, well, maybe I’ll see you at the Three Broomsticks then?” he ventured, the disappointment not quite masked in his voice.

 

She smiled enigmatically.  “Maybe.”

 

James looked confused for a minute, but just as he opened his mouth to ask another question, Remus and Beatrice filed in, followed by the rest of the prefects.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The Hogsmeade weekend proceeded more or less normally for the Marauders, although at first James wanted to sit in the Three Broomsticks the whole day.  Finally, the others convinced him to stop at Honeydukes and Zonko's first.  After exiting the former and turning towards the latter, James paused, causing the rest of them to do the same and follow his gaze down the street.  Next to Zonko’s, it looked as if every girl from Hogwarts was queued up outside Gladrags, the distinct red head of Lily Evans included. 

 

“What’s going on there?” James asked, half to himself.

 

“Oh, that,” Remus answered with a knowing chuckle.  “Beatrice told me – it’s a big dress robes shopping trip.  It seems some of the girls don’t think the robes they already have are good enough.”

 

Some of the girls?” Sirius asked sarcastically.  “Even I didn’t know there were that many girls at school.”

 

“And of course, you thought you knew them all,” Remus deadpanned.   

 

Sirius shrugged.  “Can I help it if they follow me around?”

 

“Speaking of which, here come your Hufflepuff friends.” Remus observed.

 

Sure enough, the group of Hufflepuff fourth years whom Sirius had chatted up the first day of term were approaching Honeydukes.  Their arms were laden with packages and bags from Gladrags.  Sirius backpedaled to the door and swept it open for them with a broad smile.

 

“Ladies, I hope you’re enjoying your day out?” he asked solicitously.

 

A chorus of giggles rewarded him.  One apple-cheeked, straw-blonde girl was bold enough to let her eyes sweep over the four of them, landing directly on Peter before she answered, “Yes, thank you.”  Her bravado resulted in a fresh peal of laughter from her friends who grabbed her and pulled her blushing into the store.

 

Sirius grinned at his friends and Remus knew it would be a waste to chastise him again for teasing the girls.  Instead he just rolled his eyes at his friend and asked, “Are you finished?”

 

“That Agatha Kent has cheek.  You reckon she should have been sorted Gryffindor?”  Sirius said.

 

“I reckon the Hat knew what it was doing,” Remus said with a long-suffering sigh.  “Let’s go.”

 

“Right-o, on to Zonko’s!” Sirius agreed, reaching over to shake James, who was still staring at the Gladrags queue.

 

Peter shifted his weight uncomfortably and hesitated to follow when they started down the street.  James, having been snapped out of his stupor turned to him.

 

“All right there, Wormtail?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, Prongs, I just remembered there was something else I wanted in Honeydukes,” Peter replied.

 

“Peter,” Sirius looked pointedly at his rather large shopping bag, “you already bought out the whole shop.”

 

“Well…” Peter floundered, “I forgot to look for erm…Marzipixies.  My Mum really likes them and her birthday’s coming up.”

 

“Marzipixies, right,” Sirius said with a nod and a grin.  He started to say something else, but James interrupted him.

 

“Let’s go.  It’s clouding up and I want to make sure we have a table at the Three Broomsticks.  Peter, if we’re not at Zonko’s catch us up there, right?”

 

Peter nodded gratefully and went back into Honeydukes.

 

The Zonko’s visit was blessedly short.  Sirius declared the products there ‘old’ and ‘unoriginal’ and James kept looking out the window alternately at the weather and the Gladrags door.  By the time the rain made good on its threat, they were settled at a table with a round of butterbeers.  Peter had joined them there smiling and flushed, an invitation for mickey taking.

 

“So, Wormtail, which one did you ask?” James queried, innocently enough.

 

Peter’s smile dropped a little and he admitted, “Agatha Kent.”

 

“So, you can get your own dates, huh?” Sirius ribbed.

 

“I can!” Peter defended himself, “I asked her myself didn’t I?  Besides, she’s got friendly eyes.”

 

“And a nice bum,” Sirius couldn’t help but add.  Peter’s blush proved he agreed, and they shared a laugh.

 

James’s laughter died a moment later when Lily and her friends entered and settled at a table at the opposite end of the bar from them.  The entire place had become inordinately crowded, and it seemed to thicken every time James stood with the apparent intent of working his way across to her.

 

“Did they let first and second years out this weekend too?” he finally burst out in frustration.

 

“’Don’t know what you’re talking about, Prongs,” grinned Sirius.  “Third and fourth years have already gone back to the castle.”

 

“Well I’m not imagining this crowd!” James exclaimed.

 

“Really, mate, you’re overreacting,” Remus said calmly.  “It’s just a little more crowded in here because of the weather.”

 

James pouted, barely mollified.

 

“She might have at least looked over here – waved or something,” he complained sullenly into his Butterbeer.

 

Remus chanced a glance towards Lily’s table across the room.  She was twirling her wand idly and laughing with her friends.  When she met his eyes, she offered him a sly smile.  He inclined his head towards James and raised his eyebrows questioningly.  She shook her head, gave her wand a final twirl, and turned back to her friends.  Remus chuckled, wondering what charm she was using on the crowd.

 

“Not to worry, Prongs,” he consoled, “I’m sure things will work out fine in the end.”

 

“Sure,” agreed Sirius, “just make sure not to miss your next opportunity to give her a good snog.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

The following week, Lily did finally offer some encouragement as the Prefects’ meeting was breaking up.  Standing behind a still seated James, she dropped something on the table in front of him that looked like one of the Autumn leaves that were changing and falling all around the grounds.  When he picked it up and held it to the light, it was obviously a square of shimmering material.  He shifted in his chair to look up at her.

 

“It’s a sample swatch of the color of the dress robes I got in Hogsmeade last weekend,” she explained.  “Should you want to get me flowers or something.”

 

“Flowers?” James asked stupidly.

 

“For the Ghoul’s Ball,” she stated as if they had been discussing it right along.

 

“Oh right, flowers, I’ll do that,” James agreed quickly.  Then something else seemed to occur to him and he grinned at her.  “You got new robes?”

 

Her cheeks pinkened slightly, quite becomingly on her creamy skin.  James smiled, obviously elated that he made her blush, even a little.

 

“Yes, well, we all did, you know,” she explained defensively.  “No one expected an event this season.  We all have robes for winter and spring – the weights and colors are all wrong for Autumn.”

 

“I only have one set of dress robes,” he commented with a puzzled frown.

 

“Yes, well that’s fine for a wizard,” she said, “witches are different.”

 

James swept his eyes over her in a way that said, ‘Viva la difference,’ before verbally adding, “That much, I know.”

 

She blushed again, more deeply this time, but her smile indicated he hadn’t gone too far.  He pushed back his chair and stood, looking like he might be considering Sirius’s advice and take the opportunity to snog her.

 

“Oi, Prongs, get a move on, would you?  McGonagall will have our arses in detention if we’re late!”  Sirius called from outside the door where he and Peter had joined Remus after the meeting to wait for James.  James cast them a look that said they could all hang.  He turned back to Lily, clearly hoping to extend their conversation.

 

Responsible to a fault, Lily had other plans, however.  “Yes, we shouldn’t be late,” she agreed.  “See you, James.”

 

She strode past the Marauders and was gone before James could even respond.  He glanced down at the swatch of material on the table in front of him and fingered it reverently before stuffing it in his pocket.  He turned defiantly on his friends.  Sirius was quivering with barely contained mirth, but James was prepared and cut him off just as he opened his mouth.

 

“Save it, Padfoot.  We’re running late as it is.”

 

He had to know that he was just delaying the inevitable ribbing, but he just jammed a hand into the pocket where he had put the material swatch, and walked past his friends without another glance.

 

Later, on their way to noon meal, Remus cast a sly, sidelong glance to Sirius and commented in an offhand manner, “Seems to me, Padfoot, that you’re the only one without a partner for the ball.  Sure you don’t want any tips?”

 

Sirius gaped at them for a moment, but recovered quickly and grinned.  “You don’t suppose the Windermere twins would be willing to share me?”

 

James snorted.  “I don’t suppose you want to spend the entire ball in the hospital wing?”

 

“Good point – so who does that leave?” Sirius pondered.

 

“…And just then a wave crashed over the bow of the ship, washing the helmsman out to sea.  And my great-grandda, the Muggle, Blackie Doyle grabbed the wheel and wrestled the mighty ship to his will…”

 

They looked over at the Ravenclaw table.  Irene Doyle was standing on the bench, one foot up on the table itself, putting on a show for the first years, complete with a put-on Irish brogue that she seldom used in normal conversation.  She tossed her long black hair dramatically and her aquamarine eyes flashed as she made lightening bolts come out of her wand for effect.  She was fond of referring to herself as Black Irish and weaving tales about her Muggle Great-grandfather.

 

Suddenly, Sirius called out, “If you’re so impressed with your Black Irish heritage, than you should attend the Ghoul’s Ball with a real Black.”

 

She looked him up and down appraisingly from her perch and responded casually, “You’ll do,” before turning back to the first years.

 

Sirius turned back to the other Marauders and grinned.  “Well, that’s taken care of.  Let’s eat.”

 

As Sirius led the way to the Gryffindor table followed by a suitably awed Peter, James hung back to exchange a look with Remus.

 

“That took stones.  Irene Doyle’s never gone out with anyone in our year before,” he observed.

 

Remus shrugged, “She hasn’t much choice, now, has she?”

 

“Still, it was a risk.  I wonder why he just asked her like that?”

 

“I think Sirius is a little bored with the girls at school,” Remus observed, “Irene’s definitely not the type to swoon over him and she’s probably just as glad not to be going with some bloke who’ll stammer at her all evening.  They make a good match.”

 

James narrowed his eyes at Remus shrewdly.  “You know, Remus, you’re awfully clever about all this.”

 

Remus shrugged.  “I’m an observer of human nature.  C’mon, I’m hungry.”

 

When James didn’t move, Remus turned to him with eyebrows raised questioningly.

 

“Moony…are you getting Beatrice flowers?” he asked hesitantly.

 

Remus smiled.  “No.  She didn’t ask, and it’s sort of a Muggle tradition.”

 

“Do you think Lily was serious?”

 

Remus shrugged.  “She is Muggle-born.”

 

James sighed, forlorn and stuck his hand in his robe pocket.  “I wish I had thought of it while we were in Hogsmeade.”

 

“Cheer up, would you,” Remus chided.  “She’s agreed to go with you and she’s shown you the colour of her dress – you’ve got the bloody material in your hand right now.”  Remus felt a surge of smug satisfaction when James jerked his hand out of his pocket guiltily.  “And besides,” he continued, “There’s always owl orders.”

 

James grimaced and allowed himself to be led to the table where Sirius was smugly going on about his newly acquired partner for the Ball.  “Yes, we’ll definitely be the best looking couple in the school.”

 

“Lily’s the best looking girl at school,” James said matter-of-factly as he loaded up his plate.  He was so intent on his plate -- and his conversation with Sirius, that he didn’t even notice a nearby redhead turn and smile fondly at him.

 

“Yeah, but you’re her partner, and you could use some smartening up, mate,” Sirius countered.

 

This was common banter between the two.  Remus knew such teasing didn’t bother James.  He’d readily admit Sirius had it over on him in the looks department.  It wasn’t as if he had ever lacked for female attention, except for Lily’s.

 

“At least I’m not a pretty little Nancy Boy like you,” he responded familiarly.  The light tone was belied by an anxious look in his eyes and his false grin was replaced all too soon by a very real frown.  The impending date with Lily obviously had him agitated in the extreme.

 

Remus never thought he would be thankful for a full moon, but the tension building for the Ball had him looking forward to the Wednesday preceding Halloween as much as his mates.  James returned from running out as a wild animal with a renewed sense of calm and confidence that seemed to help him face the remainder of the week with at least a façade of serenity.

 

 

(A/N:  Keridwen on the Sugar Quill Forums invented Marzipixies.  Thanks for the loan!

Well, I promised myself that after I got 5 reviews I would post the next chapter and I have six, so here it is.  Five may seem like a low threshold, but it is my first Harry Potter fic and I’m not greedy.  So, personal thanks to my first six reviewers {don’t expect this every time, but I’m giddy and very appreciative of the compliments}. 

1.  To Kit Black, my first reviewer, thank you for taking time out of your Christmas to read my little story.  I’m glad it brought you a smile.

2.  To Carlie Black.  Thank you for the compliment on characters, I try to get them right.

3.  To maryk802.  Sorry for the initial confusion – in future stories I will try to set the time better up front.  Glad you figured it out quickly.  Thank you for your comments about Peter and Remus.  I did try with Peter, but still thought I was short shrifting him, he is especially difficult.  Remus, of course, I am half in love with, so I would never make him uninteresting (the other half of my heart belongs to Sirius, so I guess my husband is out of luck).

4.  To Emily.  Always happy to know other people find the same things funny that I do – though I guess it’s not good form to laugh at your own jokes.

5.  To Tracey.  Yes, for all his success with the ladies, Sirius doesn’t really get it.  Still, Lily likes to have her fun as much as the Marauders as I hope this chapter shows.

6.  Finally, to prplhez8.  From the author of:  Brown Penny, that is high praise indeed.

 

On names and original characters:  No one asked, but since I loved choosing names for the girls and wanted to share my thoughts:  1) Beatrice Bennet is a combo of my favorite Shakespearean couple:  Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.  Bennet is a shortened form of Benedick and makes a better surname.  Sirius is right about her.  She’s no stunner, but certainly attractive.  Think LL Bean Catalog model versus Victoria Secret’s catalog.  Anyway, Remus is attracted to her because she’s attracted to him.

2) I knew Peter’s Hufflepuff would have the last name Kent before anything else.  Another Shakespeare get – The Earl of Kent is King Lear’s most loyal servant and Lear is my favorite of the tragedies.  My husband suggested Agatha as I have a British author homage thing going and Agatha Christie is a favorite of his.

3) OK, Irene Doyle is my favorite.  She is named for Irene Adler in the Sherlock Holmes short story, “A Scandal in Bohemia”  (By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).  Irene is the only woman to ever outsmart Sherlock Holmes, which I thought was a great name for a Ravenclaw.  I got ‘Blackie’ from Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance, he was one of my favorite characters in that book, and was played by Liam Neeson in the mini-series, so, well, you know…

4) In case anybody was wondering, Thomas Quinn, mentioned briefly in the last chapter, was named for St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of scholars – another apt name for a Ravenclaw.).

 

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