The Sugar Quill
Author: Cybele Adam  Story: Change of Heart  Chapter: 2. Back to Hogwarts
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Change of Heart

 

Change of Heart

 

Disclaimer:

Nearly all of this belongs to Mrs J.K. Rowling. See before chapter 1 for details.
  

Thank yous:

To my beta readers Arwen and Beth,
my Italian friend Akari, my sister Nicky
and (last but not least) to you, my readers.
Here's the link to the Live Journal post on which I replied to your reviews.

This fanfiction is dedicated to Akari.  

* * *

Chapter 2 - Back to Hogwarts

Lily opened the door of the Prefect compartment, took one step in then stopped short.

Him!

Clearly, she was dreaming – or more exactly having a nightmare. Otherwise, how could James Potter stand there, talking to a girl who looked at him in the admiring way that exasperated Lily so deeply? He had nothing to do in this place.

Had he come to make sure he would see her? He was surely capable to do something like that, but he should have been clever enough to think it would be better to wait for her outside the compartment, so he would have a chance to talk to her without being surrounded by all the Prefects.

Maybe he only wanted to tell Remus Lupin where to join him at the end of the meeting. After all, they were friends, although Lily had always wondered why. Remus was so different from James! He never deliberately drew the attention to him. On the contrary, as he was rather shy, he did all he could to go unnoticed the better part of the time. Once he even confessed to Lily he sometimes wished he wasn't a Prefect, because he felt quite uncomfortable every time he had to reprimand somebody. And he merely answered with an awkward smile when she commented that by saying "I guess it's particularly embarrassing having friends who are known to consider rule breaking as a kind of art".

But Remus was nowhere to be seen and James didn't seem to realize he wasn't supposed to stay. He was simply talking. He hadn't seen Lily yet but two six year Prefects had, and at the very moment he heard them greeting her he moved away from the other girl, who cast a furious look in Lily's direction.

Lily saw him hesitating for about two seconds then, just as she was dreading, he crossed the compartment, smiled saying "hi!" and - more surprisingly – held out a hand she shook without thinking, just because she didn't know what else to do.

"Congratulations, Evans. I knew you'd be the one to get the Head Girl job. You'll be perfect, I'm sure."

Too surprised to find a better reply, Lily thanked him in a formal tone. Since he was acting as if the letter didn't exist, she was certainly not going to remind it to him. At least not as long as she wouldn't know exactly how to make him understand what she thought about it.

"Now you should leave, Potter," she said, still very calmly and politely. "And if you see Lupin please tell him we're waiting for him."

James smiled again, this time in a rather mocking way that Lily didn't like at all.

"Remus won't come," he said. "And I won't go."

Lily frowned. What was he playing at? She had no time to waste with his silly talks. She was about to tell it to him but he spoke again before she started to do so:

"I'm your new colleague, you see," he announced, pointing to a badge on his robes.

Head Boy...

 Lily stared at the words in astonishment. Then she shut her eyes and took a deep breath, hoping the nightmare would end. Because this couldn't possibly be real, could it? It must be a bad dream. It couldn't be anything else.

Unfortunately, nothing had changed when she reopened her eyes. James was still there, and neither the Head Boy badge had disappeared.

"Can you...explain?" she asked.

Talking kindly to James Potter felt like a disgrace to her, but she was unable to think clearly. She really needed an explanation, and he was the one who could give it to her.

James seemed to hesitate.

"OK, but not here," he said eventually.

Lily took a suspicious look at him. Was that an excuse to be alone with her? To talk about something...private?

James opened the door, apparently convinced that Lily would follow him outside the compartment. Then he turned round and saw she hadn't moved.

"Are you coming?" he insisted. "There isn't much time. We're supposed to start the meeting right after the departure of the train, and it's already..." (he checked his watch) "...3 to 11."

Lily sighed.

Better not to start arguing now, she told herself, joining James into the corridor.

At least the conversation wouldn't last for more than three minutes...

"Right... How is it you got this badge?" she asked as soon as she had shut the door.

"Well..." James began, looking quite ill at ease, which Lily would never have believed if she hadn't seen it. "I'd rather not to go into detail but it happens that Remus has...er...sort of resigned...so I took his place. That's all."

"But why you?" Lily cried out.

It didn't make sense. She could more or less understand why Remus didn't want to be Head Boy, but what about the Prefects of the three other Houses?

"I see you're very pleased to hear the news," James remarked with another smile.

"Delighted!"

It was an automatic reply, clearly ironic but not only. There was also a touch of amusement that felt out of place in a conversation with an enemy. So, Lily thought, it was high time for her to pull herself together. If this wasn't a nightmare, she had to act normally, despite the undeniable abnormality of the situation.

James was now clearly amused, and Lily suddenly wondered if he could be joking. Had he borrowed Remus's badge to make fun of her?

"OK, you nearly convinced me, I admit it. But now please stop."

Her voice was still calm, but she wasn't. She only tried to hide her irritation because this wasn't the right time to make a scene. The new Prefects would surely take her Head Girl speech much less seriously than they should if they first overheard her shouting at someone...

"Sorry to annoy you, Evans, but I swear this is not a joke, if that's what you think," James insisted. "Do you want to see the letter?"

The letter?!

Oh, his Hogwarts letter, of course... He had taken it out of his pocket while asking the question, and he showed it to her without waiting for the answer.

"It's here," he said, pointing at a particular sentence.

Lily stretched out a hand to take the parchment but, for some reason, James didn't let go of it.

"Can I have a look at it, then?" Lily snapped impatiently. "Or are you trying to hide something from me? The lack of official seal, for example..."

James shook his head, looking both annoyed and undecided, as if the situation was very awkward to him - which, of course, could only increase Lily's suspicions.

"It's not what you th-" he began.

But, before he finished talking, Lily had already snatched the letter from his hands, too convinced he was trying to trick her to care about the rudeness of the gesture.

She started reading while James was staring at her, amazement written all over his face.

Dear Mister Potter,

As you surely know, your classmate Mister Lupin has thought it was best for him to give up his Prefect duties, in case that the events of last year would come to the other students' knowledge. Consequently, we decided to offer you his position and, considering your courageous intervention in the above-mentioned events, as well as your excellent examinations marks, we’re pleased to inform you we also chose you as the new Head Boy.

It was signed by the Headmaster himself, and the Hogwarts seal wasn't missing.

Lily tentatively looked up at James. He clearly had been watching out for her reaction, and there was also some kind of determined look in his eyes that told her asking questions would be useless.

Blushing slightly at the thought she had accused him of lying when he really had nothing to reproach himself for, Lily gave the parchment back to the new Head Boy.

"Let's go back inside, now," she said simply.

He nodded, keeping quiet too, then reopened the door of the compartment, standing aside to let her pass first. She walked in slowly, her mind focused on the mystery that hid behind the words she had just read.

The events of last year...

There were been lots of gossiping at school, but since it was nearly the end of the year, everybody had left for the holidays before anyone succeeded in getting to the bottom of it. Now Lily was sure of one thing: James did show some kind of heroism in the matter. And she couldn't believe he didn't seem to brag at all about that...

But it was time to start the meeting, so she put her questions aside, promising herself to think of it later. Actually, the only question that really mattered now was this: how would she manage to survive being forced to deal with James Potter all year long? She had thought the worst thing that could happen would be the nomination of Severus Snape as Head Boy, but now she almost wished that fear had come true, because at least she could have been sure that the idea of writing a love letter to her would never cross the Slytherin's mind!

~ * ~

After her conversation with Sandra, Lily half expected Joanne to think the same. Yet, when the three of them went up to their dormitory – right after the welcoming feast, so they could talk privately while the two other Gryffindor 7th year girls were still in the common room – Joanne said something that Lily would never have imagined. And neither Sandra had, judging by her look.

"I mean it, you know," Joanne insisted. "You should go out with James. So you'd have the chance to tell him what you think...and maybe he would change."

"You're dreaming!" Lily and Sandra answered at the same time and in the same tone.

"He never will," Lily added.

Then she remembered what Sandra had said in Diagon Alley.

"Didn't you think he was sincere in the letter?" she asked, frowning.

"Actually...I do think he is, but that doesn't mean he's able to change. Honestly, Jo, can you imagine a James Potter who would play Quidditch without showing off or simply stop checking there are some girls watching and listening every time he does or says something? He wouldn't be James Potter anymore!"

Lily smiled involuntarily at those words, which didn't escape Sandra.

"It would be a pity, wouldn't it?"

"What do you mean?" Joanne questioned before Lily got over her surprise.

"I think she would miss hating him, don't you? She has spent years talking about how unbearably arrogant he was, how stupid his 'fans' were and so on... What would our poor Lily do if she lost her favourite subject of conversation?"

Lily kept silent, even when Joanne remarked, laughing, that Sandra made it all sound like their friend was obsessed with James.

Was she? Well, yes, in a way... It was true she talked about him too much. She hadn't realized it before but now it seemed evident that Sandra had barely exaggerated. She couldn't help commenting everything he did and everything he said, and she often recalled what she regarded as his worst acting and talks, without any reason but the rather idiotic need to insist on his faults. She suddenly wondered what the others thought of that...that obsession, yes, it was the right word. They hadn't said anything about it so far, but they might have talked when she wasn't with them...

"Have you been thinking I was kind of insane, for all this time, without daring to tell me?"

Both the other girls protested immediately: no, of course, they hadn't. What gave her that funny idea?

"Nothing...It's just...I shouldn't think too much, especially at the end of a day like this. I had such a shock when I saw that Head Boy badge!"

"And neither of us could believe it until we saw it, too" Sandra said. "What do you reckon he did to have it?"

"They say he saved Snape's life," Joanne answered. "But nobody seems to know how, why or even from what. And it's quite weird, isn't it? He should be telling the whole story for anyone to hear..."

That was exactly what Lily was thinking too. And she couldn't find any convincing explanation.

"Maybe he doesn't want us to know he doesn't hate Snape enough to let him die," Sandra hazarded.

 The others admitted it was possible, though Lily doubted it very much.

"I think he wouldn't let slip the opportunity to humiliate Snape a little more," she said. "Actually, I wouldn't even be surprised if he saved him only to make him feel in debt."

Joanne laughed.

"All things considered, you may be a little insane!"

"Or at least too set against Potter."

Joanne didn't mean what she said, but Sandra did, and Lily guessed she was right. Which was almost as irritating as hearing James's admirers enumerate the foolish reasons why they loved him.

"You want to prove us wrong? Go out with him!" Sandra threw out in a burst of laughter.

"This could be our chance to know exactly what happened last year," Joanne added. "You're curious too, aren't you?"

"Oh, you're both becoming as unbearable as he is!" Lily sighed, throwing her pillows at them.

Some minutes later, when Mary Ann Summers and Chloe Jones entered their dormitory, they found the Head Girl involved in a first year-like battle with her friends, and feathers flying all around the room.

~ * ~

Later that night, when all had turned quiet again and the feathers had found their way back to the pillows thanks to a simple spell, Lily tried to think as calmly as she could about the recent events.

After six years, she had been convinced she knew James Potter well enough to guess how he would act and the kind of things he would say in almost any situation. Which seemed to prove she was really obsessed with him, she had to admit it – though she would never do in front of anyone, especially in those terms that could be taken so wrong...

As for keeping her calm, she had already failed. The thought of someone imagining she could feel anything else but despise and irritation about Mister Arrogant made her so indignant that she considered for half a second to ask Sandra and Joanne whether that absurd suspicion had ever crossed their minds. But she knew in the next half second that it wasn't a good idea at all. She could picture Sandra's it's-all-like-I-thought sort of smile and hear Joanne’s exclamation ("I knew it wasn't normal you talked about him that much!").

She only wished it would be just to tease her, but she wasn't sure it would. There were so many things she wasn't sure anymore, lately... Not only she couldn’t understand James but even her own best friends had expressed opinions she would never had thought they could have. What was happening to everyone? Were they all conspiring to drive her crazy by the end of the month? No, of course they weren't. Joanne and Sandra wouldn't. And neither would Remus...

When she had told the others about the letter James had shown her to prove he really was the new Head Boy, she had intentionally omitted to mention what had confused her most.

"In case that the events of last year come to the other students' knowledge"...  Did Remus do something wrong? There didn't seem to be any other explanation, but Lily found it hard to believe: even though he was a friend of Potter's, she had always seen the former Gryffindor Prefect as the perfect example of someone who's just unable to even think of doing something wrong. If she hadn't read those words she would have been sure he had resigned either because he thought he was lacking of authority (which was rather true) or because of his health, that took him away from classes for at least one day every month. But the sentence said clearly that the real reason was connected to the mysterious events... That was probably why James avoided giving more details that he needed to about the matter. At least he cared about his friends...

Sure enough, Lily didn't like at all being forced to conclude her 'worst enemy' wasn't all bad. Sandra was definitely right... She wouldn't be pleased if he started to act reasonably. Not because she would miss hating him, though. It certainly would feel weird not having any more reason to dislike him, but the worse thing would be that, logically... No! She would never like him. Never, never, never. Jamais. Mai. Jamŕs.

And why should she bother thinking of him, in the first place? He could do whatever he wanted, it was none of her business. So she shouldn't care. And she didn't.

Except that he pretended he was in love with her...

This wasn't fair. Receiving a love letter was supposed to be a nice thing. Not a source of irritation, of indignation... Of humiliation, too. Because, if he thought she could fall into his trap...

Not that she cared about what he thought, of course. But, really, he should have known she wasn't so stupid. Or hadn't he even noticed she was the best student in the class after him and Sirius Black?

No, not after them. She had got as many O.W.L.s as they had, after all! But she hadn't been boasting around about it, so they probably didn't know. They were too proud of their marks to pay attention to others'. Which proved that James wasn't really interested to her. If he were, he would know she was clever too.

But that was not the point. The letter was an outrage and she had to answer it. Tomorrow. In the Great Hall. In front of everyone.

* * *

See you next week for chapter 3!

//
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