The Sugar Quill
Author: Delleve Miststone (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Progress  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

AN: I want to thank my lovely betas (Author By Night, Joanna, and Alyssa)

AN: I want to thank my lovely betas (Author By Night, Joanna, and Alyssa).  You all rock the Kasbah and have saved me from a painful death by wrongful comma placement. I bow down to you.

            Anywhoo, bonus points to whoever catches the Wayne’s World reference.  Review and party on, Wayne.

 

Progress

 

 

“Hey, Evans!”

Even though the very sound of that voice – his voice – told her to keep walking and not look back, she felt her body turn.  “What, Potter?”

“You don’t have to be so edgy, honestly.  I just wanted to show you something.”

Lily sighed as she hugged her Herbology books to her chest, hoping that they’d somehow turn into a shield to make James Potter just not bother her for once.  Well, bother wasn’t really the right word.  James didn’t annoy her quite as much as he used to, but his little chats were still not fully welcome.  Pester was the better term to describe James, really.  “What do you want to show me?”

James grinned in his normally cocky manner and whispered into her ear, his lips just barely brushing her amber hair.  Lily felt a shiver go down her back and she could sense her face redden.  “It’s a surprise.  It’d ruin the fun to tell you.”

Lily frowned at this response and whatever foreign tingly sensation she had felt just a moment ago disappeared as quickly as it had came.  “You do know that if it’s a severed head I’ll be very upset?”

“Absolutely.  Come on, then.”  James grasped Lily’s hand in his as he led her back behind Greenhouse 2.  Knowing fully well what students took to doing at this spot, she felt her entire body tense.  Snogging is what went on behind the greenhouses.  Snogging.  And here was James Potter, leading her behind the rarely unoccupied greenhouses.  The rarely unoccupied greenhouses where snogging went on at.

Oh, God.

“James, I don’t know what on Earth you’re getting at, but--”

Sshhh.” James pressed a finger to his lips and jerked his head in the direction of something honey-colored.  Hidden by the shrubs that surrounded the greenhouses, Lily knew she wouldn’t have seen it if James hadn’t pointed it out to her.  “You don’t want to wake them.”

Wake what? She thought worriedly, but she just nodded slowly and followed James as he carefully stepped towards what appeared to be a nest of some sort.  As they got closer it was clear that the not-so-perfect circle made up of twigs and other not-so-recognizable materials was in fact a nest.

 “It’s a bluebird nest,” Lily gasped, completely surprised by finding something so… normal at a place like Hogwarts.  Peering down at the nest Lily could see three small baby bluebirds all cozied up with one another, fast asleep.  It was completely precious and Lily could feel her heart start to melt.  Having expected to find one of the creatures described in her copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, discovering an animal that she had seen flying past her bedroom window in Surrey came as a shock.   Those three tiny little things reminded her distinctly of home.

“They’re funny looking, aren’t they?” James asked, grinning.

“No,” Lily replied, shaking her head in a dazed manner.  “They’re completely and utterly normal.”   

“D’you call hairless, bony little chicks normal?”

Honestly, James.  All bluebirds look like that when they’re just born.  They grow up to be beautiful.  You can be the biggest prat sometimes…”

“Only sometimes?  Well, it seems as if I’ve finally made a jump closer to your heart, Evans!  Considering the fact that I used to be a prat every single second of every single day, I think I can settle for only sometimes.”

A year ago Lily would have snapped back at him.  “You are the most pig-headed, self-absorbed person I have ever met!  I can’t even make an offhand comment without you having to act smart to me!” 

But James had… changed over the last year.  He didn’t jinx quite so many people for fun anymore and he wasn’t such a walking ball of ego.  The change in him had happened rather quickly -- almost overnight -- just a few months ago.  Lily had heard rumors of James having come across some kind of monster out on the school grounds during the full moon, but she didn’t know what to think about that gossip.  Most likely that piece of rubbish had been spread about by Sirius Black to make his best mate’s star go up a bit higher on the popularity scale. 

But Lily just didn’t know about James Potter now.  He was different.

 “…Evans?  Hello?  Are we on the same planet still?  Helloooooo?”  James waved his hand back and forth in front of Lily’s face until she finally got out of her reverie and smacked it away.

“Back to normal, then,” James said as he rubbed his hand with a slightly pained look on his face.  “That one stung quite a bit.  Ouch.”

“Sorry, but you were being annoying.”

“If only I had a Knut for every time I’ve heard that one.  I’d be a rich man.”

“I’m sure that you would be.”  Lily smiled and James gave her a puzzled look.  Realizing what she had just done -- showing a sign of affection towards James Potter of all people -- and considering the completely baffled expression she had received in return, she clamped a hand over her mouth.

“Hey – it’s okay to smile.”  James lowered her hand from her mouth.  “I really wish you wouldn’t do that.  Finding my charming self amusing isn’t some break of the law, I promise.  Well, maybe in Costa Rica it could count as a federal offence, but I think you’re okay here.  Completely scotch free.”

“Oh God, I’m sorry.  I just…”

“It’s okay.  I know that you loathe me with all your being.  You’ve made that clear on several painful occasions.”  James smiled at her playfully.  “I’ll just fancy you more.  Abhorrence only makes the heart grow fonder and all of that.”

“I don’t!”

James blinked as he finally let go of her hand.  Lily was surprised at herself to wish that he would grab back onto it.  “You don’t what?”

“I don’t hate you.  And it’s absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Not abhorrence.”

“…You don’t hate me?  Me, the person whom on so many occasions you’ve said that you detest.  Me, the man who gives you many a headache.  Me, the guy that you once called --  and I quote, “Merlin’s biggest mistake?”  We are talking about me here, right?”

 “I don’t hate you,” Lily repeated.  “I really… I really don’t.”

For the first time in her life, Lily saw that James was at a loss for words.  “So… let me get this straight… you don’t hate me?”

“No.”

“Hmm.  Well, this is a weird feeling.  Foreign.  Very foreign.  You really don’t hate me?”

“No, James whatever-your-middle-name-is Potter, I do not hate you.”

Silence.

“So will you go out with me now that the sight of me doesn’t, y’know, make you want to run away screaming?”

Lily rolled her eyes.  “I never said that seeing you doesn’t make me want to run away screaming.  I just said that I don’t hate you.”  Smiling in the same playful way that was so accustomed of James Potter, she walked away laughing silently to herself.

“Well, at least this is progress!” James called to her.

“Progress,” she agreed happily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

//
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