The Sugar Quill
Author: Izzy  Story: Discoveries  Chapter: Chapter One: The Dare
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

DISCLAIMER: This is the part where I say something clever about not owning any of these characters/places because I don’t want to be sued

DISCLAIMER:  This is the part where I say something clever about not owning any of these characters/places because I don’t want to be sued.  So…there it goes.  The world and (most) of the characters are not mine, the idea and (some) characters belong to me.

Many thanks to my beta reader Lone Astronomer for making me believe that my little fan fiction attempts may not have been a complete waste of time after all!

 

Chapter One: The Dare

The first few weeks of school had drifted by slowly for seventh year students at Hogwarts.  The lazy days of summer had given way to the steady drudgery of hard work in preparation for exams that were still months away.  The early hours of the evening found the library filled with a good portion of seventh years and a few scattered fifth and sixth years hard at work.  Late into the night, only the most committed remained. 

Lily Evans was one of the few committed who continued work on the weekends.  She was teased and tortured by her friends for taking her studies seriously so early on in the year, but she remained undeterred.  It had been made clear to her years ago that the other girls in her year had their ‘priorities’ on the weekends, and socializing was near the top.  Cold nights like this one made studying difficult, however, and after a few hours of steady work, Lily found herself drifting off. 

Before she had a chance to fall asleep, she felt a large hand grasp her shoulder.  Jolting unpleasantly out of her daze, she found herself gazing fuzzily at one of her least favorite people in the entire world:  James Potter. 

            “Good morning, fire head,” he said fondly, a sickly smile teasing his lips.  “Library’s closing for the night.  Madame Pince will do her nut if you don’t get out of here.” 

            Lily said nothing.  She rubbed her eyes and then looked at her watch.

            “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.  Your hands are covered in ink from your essay.”

            She stopped mid rub.  “Thank you,” she croaked, muttering a spell under her breath to dry the glistening ink on her parchment.  She couldn’t have slept for very long…yet it had felt like ages. 

            “You missed a spot,” he pointed to a place above her right eyebrow, but did not touch her.

            Lily glared at him.  Would he insist on torturing her all the way back to Gryffindor Tower?  Where was a diversion, or a last minute class or club to escape to when she needed one?  As it was, it was ten o’clock, (Madame Pince had allowed her to stay an extra two hours on the weekends in exchange for her help in mending damaged books), and well past any meeting time for a club she had any excuse to attend.  She rubbed at the spot on her forehead and hastily gathered up her books and crammed them into her bag. 

            James snatched the bag from Lily and started poking through it.  “Advanced Potions, Advanced Arithmancy, Advanced Defense…Charms…do you do anything but study?  How in the name of Merlin do you manage all those classes?”  

            “Practice, patience, concentration…” she grunted, taking the bag back from him.  She heaved it over her shoulder and started walking awkwardly towards the door.

            “Whatever happened to having fun?  I mean…you’re only young once right?”  James hurried after her.  “You should get out more.”

            “I don’t have time for fun,” she muttered. 

            “What do you need all these classes for anyways?” James asked.  He seemed determined to keep the conversation going.

            “Well…you know.  We have our N.E.W.T.s coming up.  Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick both suggested that I do a bit of extra reading.” Lily glanced over at James.  He was at least a foot taller than her.  His features weren’t exactly startling, but something about the keen look of interest in his eyes took her for a turn.  She hadn’t noticed it before.  “Being a Muggle-born doesn’t help much either.  It’s harder to get jobs now because of all the attacks.  I want to have all my bases covered so I can get a job.”

            “That’s rubbish!”  James said, his face going red.  “You show the Ministry your recommendations and you’ll be able to get any job you want.” 

            Lily sighed, exasperated, and stopped to face him.  “Read the papers, James.  There aren’t many in the Ministry that would hire me after all the attacks.  It doesn’t matter how smart I am or how good I am.  I’m too dangerous to have around.  I’ll be lucky to get a job as a groundskeeper.”  Lily turned a bit pink and continued down the hall and up a set of deserted stairs.

             James stood in shock for a few moments, and then started after her again.  “I’d bet my dad would hire you.”

            “I don’t want handouts.  I’ll figure something out,”  Lily said, rubbing her forehead.

            “Of course you will,” he replied with confidence. “You should find some time for fun though, Lily.  We’ve put in our fair share of bookwork over the years.  We both deserve a break.”

            “…And all of that bookwork of yours was strictly school related?”  Lily glanced at him suspiciously. 

            James’ eyes widened as he pretended to look highly affronted.  “What in the name of Merlin would make you think that I would do anything that wasn’t for my profit and learning?”

            “Don’t go twisting my words, Potter.  For your profit?  What would extra study in Defense do for a Gryffindor Quidditch hero…?”

            “You think I’m a Quidditch hero?”  James perked up instantly.

            “You’re changing the subject.”  Lily ignored his question.  “Fess up.  What did you do?  It’s bound to lead to some kind of mischief or mayhem that only gives me grief.”

            “I don’t give you grief!” His excitement deflated as he rose to his own defense.

            Lily raised an eyebrow at him in irritation.  “Two weeks ago you changed the text inside of my Arithmancy book so it read ‘Hey, Evans, get your nose out of the book and go out with me’.”

            “Bloody thing didn’t work though.  I spent hours charming…”

            “Last week you broke into the Head Girl’s bathroom and stole all of my towels. The painting in there told me you wouldn’t give them back until I decided to go to Hogsmeade with you over Halloween.  I had to conjure up my own towel.”

            “How could I forget how good you are at Transfiguration?  Damn.  It was supposed to be funny.”  He seemed rather pleased with himself.

            “Yesterday,” Lily continued loftily, her voice rose.  “You managed somehow to get into my bedroom and fill the whole thing with singing daffodils.  It took me three hours to get rid of them.  I don’t even want to know how you managed to thwart a rule that’s been in place for centuries and break in…”

            “But didn’t you hear what they were singing?” James cut her off.  “It took me about three weeks to charm all of them into it.  You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to convince a load of daffodils to sing in harmony.  Not to mention breaking a century old spell to get in to your room in the first place.  I like it.  It’s clean.”  James had been chasing after Lily for nearly three years, she wasn’t about to drag him down now.  Lily laughed slightly in spite of herself at his comments, impressed by his effort.

            “You worked on that for three weeks?”  She adjusted her bag awkwardly in order to give herself an excuse to look away.

            James flushed with excitement, a small glint of triumph entering his eyes at the look on her face.  “Well, I had a bit of help from Sirius in breaking in, but I’m glad you liked them.”

            “I didn’t say I liked them, Potter.  I don’t want your…”

            “Give it a rest, Lily.”  James rolled his eyes dramatically and stopped in his tracks in front of her, forcing her to look at him.  “You should have guessed by now that I’m not going to stop chasing after you until you get tired of running.  And believe me,” he leaned in closer to her, eyes intense.  “I’m a very good runner.”

            “You’re delusional,” Lily said pulling away from him.  “I’m not interested, James.  I never have been; I never will be.”     

            “Still intent on that kid from Ravenclaw, are you?”  James asked, trying valiantly to mask his jealousy. 

            “No.”  Lily said a slight edge to her voice.  “As a matter of fact, I’m not.  I’m not interested in dating at all.”  She sidestepped him and continued down the hall.

            “Whatever you say, Evans.”  James smiled lopsidedly, following her.

            “What’s that supposed to mean?”  Lily stopped in her tracks.

            “What it means, is that he’s a git.  A smarmy, two faced, nose in the books prat who wants to use you.”  James stepped in front of her again, a small glint in his eyes that Lily hadn’t noticed before.  It was protective and serious. 

She dropped her defensiveness and frowned.  “What?”

            “Gem just wants to use you to get to Isolde.  I heard him talking about it the other day after the Quidditch match.” 

Lily blinked a few times and then frowned, starting to walk away from him again.  Isolde was known around Hogwarts for always being up on the latest gossip.  Lily had never been very attached to her.  “That’s not true,” she said, somewhat panicked.

            James followed after her.  “Come on, Lily, you have to trust me.  I know you don’t want to.  Maybe you never will…but…just try it this once.”  He caught her arm with his hand.  “I don’t want you to get hurt by some twit like Gem.  You deserve better that that.”

            Lily paused in her steps to examine the flagstone floor and readjust the hold she had on her books.  “Why are you doing this, James?  What do you care about my job, or my social life?”

            She had used his name.  James looked like he was fighting back a smile.  He let go of her arm and stared down at her.  “Because I care about you and I care about what happens to you.  You’re the best witch I know.”

            It took Lily several moments to recover from this.  There was an element of sincerity to his face that she had rarely seen there before.  Whenever they had met with the Prefects, or discussed duties as Head Boy and Girl of Hogwarts thus far, he had always had a small gleam of mischief in his eyes, yet now they were genuine.  She stared back at him in silence before continuing down the hall, masking her surprise with irritation.  “If this is about that last meeting we had with the Prefects my answer to your motion about lowering curfew restrictions in the dormitories is still no.”

            “Merlin, Lily!  This has nothing to do with that!  I knew you’d say no to that, it was a joke!”  James ran his hand over his hair with a frown on his face. 

            “Then why do you care so much?”  Lily turned on him, thankful that the corridors were empty.  Some of the subjects in the portraits had taken interest in their conversation and were trekking from painting to painting, listening to the proceedings intently.

            “Does there need to be a reason?”  James stared down at her with irritation.  He sighed and ran his hands over his hair again in frustration.  “What do I have to do to get you to believe me?  I want to take you out because I like you.  What else can I say?”

            “What else can I say to get you to believe that I am simply not interested?”  Lily returned, raising an eye.  She turned and started down the hall again, but not before James had caught her arm.

            “One date.  That’s all I ask.  I take you to Hogsmeade for Halloween next weekend and if you like it, great.  If not, I’ll never bring up the subject again, I swear.  I’ll never even breathe when I’m around you again if that’s what you want.  I’ll give up my duties as Head Boy and go into hiding so you never have to see me.  Just give me a chance.”  There was something in the earnestness of his voice that prompted Lily to consider his proposal.  One date and he’d leave her alone? 

            “What’s in it for you?” she asked, suspicious of his motives.

            “Nothing more than an afternoon with you.”  James released her arm, sure that she wasn’t going to bolt on him now.  “That’s all I want.”

            Lily hesitated.  This would raise more than one question among her friends who found James’ pursuit of her highly entertaining.  “I don’t know…” 

            “Lily, if you take this offer, the Quaffle is in your possession.  You have total control.  If not…”  A small spark returned to his eyes and a shadow of a smile touched his lips.  “Then I continue to find ways to give you singing flowers and enchanted textbooks.”

            James’ smile was contagious, and Lily’s eyes gave a small spark of their own.  His proposition made sense, and the prospect of having him leave her alone after years of constant nagging for a date was a favorable one.  Two or three hours of time alone with James followed by an entire term of silence?  She would be able to study for her exams in peace.  “Alright, I accept.”

            James gave a small start.  “You do?”  His face burst into a grin.  “I’ll…uh…meet you in the common room next Saturday at 1:00 then?”

            “Fine.”  Lily nodded in agreement.  “I’ll be there.”

 

 

            Lily woke early the next morning to try and get a bit of studying done on her own.  She had considered going down to the common room where it was still quiet in the wee hours of the day, but decided against it.  Sooner or later, and it was bound to be sooner, Hogwarts school at large would find out about Lily accepting James’ invitation to Hogsmeade.  The attempts James had made over the past few years had not gone unnoticed by the gossip loving crowds of Hogwarts, and several students had been making bets on when Lily would give in to James’ teasing.  ‘Oh well’, she thought.  ‘It’s going to get out eventually.  Give them something to talk about.  After next week it will be old news, and I’ll be free.’ 

            This pleasant thought in mind, Lily opened her textbooks and began studying easily, her mind at rest.  The peace in the room was short lived, however.  Five minutes later a fully dressed Isolde bounded into the dorm without bothering to knock.

            “Where have you been?”  Lily asked, not looking up from her books.

            “I could ask you the same question.”  Isolde tossed her dark sheet of hair with a grin.  “I’ve been with Gem Rothemier, and the splendid fellow gave me a bit of information about you…”  She perched herself on Lily’s desk, and put a hand on top of one of the books, blocking Lily’s concentration.  “Since when have you and James Potter been together?”

            Lily looked up.  “What?  We’re not together!”  Her temper flared.

            “Aren’t you going to Hogsmeade with him next weekend?”  Isolde raised a critical eye at Lily.

            “Well,” Lily blushed, “Yes.  But how did you find that out?” 

            “You know the portraits of Hogwarts, Lily, come on.  Don’t be so thick…” Isolde leaned against the wall, highly amused.  “It’s all they were talking about this morning.  Apparently you two made quite a scene last night…”

            “Oh good grief…”  Lily rubbed her forehead in irritation.  “I only said yes because he promised to leave me alone if I agreed.  We’re not together together.  It’s just one afternoon.”  She slammed her book shut.

            “Whoa…calm down Lily.  I’m just warning you.  Not mentioning, of course, that I’ve been warning you for the past three years.  Everyone in Hogwarts knows that James worships the ground you walk on.  Everyone but you, apparently.”  Isolde stepped away from the table, somewhat wary of the number of large textbooks in Lily’s reach. 

            “Drop it, Isolde,” Lily said, not bothering to keep her voice down.  “It’s just an afternoon.”

            Isolde flopped down on her bed with a small smirk of satisfaction on her face.  “Whatever you say, Evans.”

            Lily grit her teeth together and stormed out of the room, intending to nick some breakfast and eat outside where she could be alone.  She wasn’t in the mood to be teased about James.  Her plans were cut short, however, when she saw a rather sick looking Remus Lupin studying in front of the fireplace.  She watched him for a moment, examined the scars lining his arms and face and the quiet, earnest concentration in his eyes.  “Good morning, Remus,” she said quietly, smiling.

            He looked up and returned the smile.  Lily looked around the empty common room for a moment before going to join him by the fireplace.  “It was full moon two nights ago, wasn’t it?”  Remus nodded.  Lily frowned slightly.  “Are you alright?”

            Being a prefect along with Remus their fifth and sixth years, Lily had, of course, known of his condition.  Rather than dispel her admiration of him, however, it only encouraged it.  She had always felt a unique kind of kinship for him, largely because they were both set apart from Hogwarts as a whole.  They shared a bond of friendship not unlike brother and sister.  “I will be after I finish taking my Arithmancy test today,” he said with a small smile, pushing one of his books out of the way so she could sit.  “Don’t worry, Lily.  I’m alright,” he said quietly.  “Really.  It just takes a few days.”

            “Do you want any help studying for the test?  I covered most of it last night.  I think I’ve got it all pretty well.” 

            “No, that’s alright.  I don’t think it’s helping any more.  If I don’t know it by now it won’t make a difference.  I’m keenly interested in getting something to eat, though.”  He smiled, starting to put his books away.

            Once again amazed at his positive attitude, Lily helped him with his books.  “I’ll join you.  I’m starving.” 

            “From what I understand…” Remus began tentatively, “you’ve made a certain messy-haired mate of mine rather happy in the last few hours…”

            Lily rolled her eyes but she wasn’t offended.  If there was one person in all of Hogwarts that she trusted, it was Remus.  “Yes, well…”  Lily sighed and pushed a bit of hair out of her face.  “If it will get him to stop bothering me, it’s worth it.” 

            “What don’t you like about him, Lily?”  Remus asked, voice gentle and unassuming.

            Lily hesitated for a moment.  She knew that James and Remus were good friends, of course.  And, now that she thought of it, she wasn’t quite sure she knew why she didn’t like James.  It was more a habit to dislike him than anything else.  In the past it had been because of his arrogance, his bullying, and his fan club.  “Because he knows how great he is,” Lily replied eventually, without any real conviction.

            “He’s a good guy, Lily.”  Remus said casually.  “He has his faults, but he’s a good guy.”  He paused, and then continued.  “You should give him a chance.”

 

 

 

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