PG, 1300 words
Lily/James (pre-relationship), Sixth Year, co-starring one Remus Lupin
Summary: Despite his best efforts, James Potter has become tolerable, and Lily has no idea what to do about it
Note: Feel free to ship Remus/just about anyone here. I had someone specific in mind (not hard to guess) but it's all open to interpretation.
Lily stares at the ceiling, clenching her sheets in a fist. How on earth did she become such an idiot? The offending scene is playing itself over and over in her mind, and she squeezes her eyes shut, not that it helps anyway. She can’t remember what he said (or maybe she doesn’t want to, in case it happens again), but somehow it was funny, and she laughed. No, she didn’t laugh, she giggled. And then he looked at her and gave her the most ridiculous wink and she had to run off because she could feel herself blushing.
She was blushing. Because James Potter winked at her. She has to be ill, this cannot be right. James Potter is an arrogant berk who should be put down for the general good. And yet, somehow, he appears to have thwarted her once again by becoming… not such a berk. He still has his moments, undoubtedly, but he may have finally grown up, just a little bit. Despite all the odds, he appears to have become… tolerable. How bloody typical.
A little voice at the back of her head, the voice that likes glitter and fairytales and goes to gloop over babies, says that he might actually be more than tolerable, but Lily really, really doesn’t think she can handle that right now.
A few weeks later and Lily is decided – she is ill, this is some sort of disease, or allergy, or hex, or something. She almost didn’t go to the Quidditch final, seeing as the root cause of her madness would be terribly visible and tricky to avoid.
However, her House spirit wouldn’t let her miss this, and so she’s here in spite of herself. Thankfully, some debatable tactics from the Ravenclaw Beaters and an early fumble over the Snitch keep her distracted for a while, but then he scores. Magnificently. Three times in a row. And as he undertakes a heavily cheered victory lap, Lily feels her heart do a matching swoop. She briefly considers life as a nun, then he hovers right in front of her, and she grins sappily instead.
This is horrific.
And then the Gryffindor team have to go and win, and so she finds herself swept up in a wave of joy and piled back towards the common room, and a solid wall of people prevents her from making any sort of escape, and instead she watches the magnificent seven bask in all of their deserved glory.
And she can’t stop looking at James. This is beyond reason, all of the parts of Lily’s brain that work with logic and facts and plain common sense can’t seem to override this ridiculous… ridiculous… thing.
She wanders over to a more secluded corner and hunches herself over a drink, trying to think of something else, anything else. It’s not working, her head is turning cartwheels as the music pounds, and is it just her or is it too hot in here? The lights are far too bright, and the shouts of seventh years are buzzing around her brain.
‘Hi, Lily, are you alright?’
She nearly jumps out of her skin. Oh, it’s just Remus. She smiles, relieved.
‘Oh, yes, I’m fine. Bit noisy for me, that’s all.’
‘Mm,’ says Remus, in that enigmatic way of his, ‘I know what you mean.’
He looks at her thoughtfully for a moment, and she kicks herself inwardly. Remus is stupidly perceptive, especially for a boy. She thinks it’s to do with always seeming to be on the sidelines – he’s had a lot of practice in watching. But his thoughts seem to be somewhere other than her, as his gaze returns to the debauched masses. For the first time in what is probably too long, Lily is moved to wonder about someone else’s well being.
‘Remus?’ she starts tentatively.
‘Sorry, did you say something?’
‘Oh, no – but how are you? How is everything?’
‘Oh, well, you know. It goes. Nothing very interesting going on, to be honest, apart from the ever present fear of imminent expulsion,’ he nods over at James and Sirius, who are currently engaged in some sort of drunken wrestling match. Lily’s stomach squeezes slightly. ‘Although, I suppose that’s not actually so present any more. We seem to be getting into much less trouble, of late. Concentration on the Cup and everything, probably.’
‘Or maybe he’s finally grown up,’ says Lily, accidentally out loud.
Remus’ focus slowly drifts away from his friends and back to his companion.
‘James? I think he has, as a matter of fact.’
‘Damn,’ she whispers to herself, and she feels Remus slot two and two together, quietly, correctly, like he always does.
‘Ever think about saying yes? You know, it really wouldn’t be that bad, he’s a good bloke.’
‘That’s almost what I’m afraid of,’ Lily admits, finding it easier not to look straight at her adviser. ‘I mean, I don’t want to get all involved and then have him, oh I don’t know, break my heart or something stupid. And, he’s, he’s James Potter, how could I possibly actually go out with him after all this time?’
‘Because people change, things change. Because maybe he wouldn’t break your heart, did you ever think about that? He’s been in love with you this long, why would he stop?’
Lily breaks, and stutters. ‘What? In love with me? He’s not ‘in love’ with me, it’s just a, a, I don’t know. But not like that. Surely?’
Remus groans. ‘Girls. You never give us any credit for any depth of feeling, do you? Lily, for crying out loud! It’s been nearly three years, what else do you want to call it? Three years of constant rejection and it hasn’t changed a thing. Now how about doing something about it?’
‘What? Remus, it’s not as easy as that, that’s not how it works!’
‘Isn’t it? What are you waiting for? It’s just sitting there – he’s just there. The way things are going, he probably always will be.’
‘I’m sure you’re right. But I can’t just leap into something like this, not after so much hassle and aggravation. Surely you get that?’
‘Well, yes, I do, for you are Lily Evans, and so naturally you’d have to analyse any theoretical relationship half to death before embarking on it.’
‘Oh, and you wouldn’t?’
‘I have no idea, never had the chance to find that out.’
Suddenly, Lily picks up on the almost completely concealed current of bitterness that’s flowed beneath Remus’ words. Oh.
‘Who is she?’
‘Oh Remus, I can tell there’s someone – who is she?’
He turns directly to face her for the first time, looking almost angry. Except that Remus Lupin doesn’t get angry. She flinches a little.
‘Sorry, that was out of place, forget I said anything.’
‘Ah, it’s fine. Just… it seems so stupid not to take your chances, when they do come around. That’s all I’ll say.’
‘Alright. But I’m going to have to wait until after summer, term’s nearly over and if things are still the same when we come back, then, we’ll see.’
Inside, Lily feels as if she’s already committed herself. Talking to one of James’ best friends about the possibility of finally going out with him? Seemed reasonably final to her.
Somehow, she didn’t mind that much any more. She looks up and sees that the crowds have thinned slightly, leaving the way to the staircase clear. She makes her way over there, pausing at the bottom to glance back at Remus, whose eyes have turned back to the crowd, clouded and completely undecipherable.
Lily stares at the ceiling again that night, but the tension of earlier days seems to have evaporated, and when she finally drifts into unconsciousness, it’s with a slight smile hovering about her face.