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26 March 2007 @ 11:22 pm
Butterfly Seasons Chapter Six - The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same  
Title: Butterfly Seasons
Author: Laliath (aka dancinggoldfish/Irelynne/Anya)
Rating: T/M (language, thematic elements later on)
Timeframe: MWPP
Summary: Lily Evans is a prefect who happens to have a lot on her plate: her sister's getting married to a jerk, James Potter won't leave her alone, and there are way too many rumors going around. Just one of those would be bad enough, two would be hell, but three is unimaginable torture. Good thing she's capable of holding her own, and perhaps things will turn out to not be as bad as she thinks.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, objects, spells, places, etc. belong to JKR. I just happen to be playing in her sandbox.
Notes: Multi-chapter fic. I am no longer using a beta, in the interests of getting chapters up sooner. Thank you to those who volunteered to help.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6
Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12
Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | TBA

*~*~*~*


Only once the bonfire had started did Lily allow herself to relax. It was out of her hands – all the decorations were up, the tent where the food and drinks could be found was completed and currently full of all ages of students looking for something to quench their thirst, the logs around the fire had sticking charms judiciously applied so they wouldn’t roll, and all of the safety spells were in place.

She saw Potter walking past the tent with his friends, and she was in such a good mood that even the presence of the annoying Sirius Black wasn’t enough to damper her smile. “Potter!” she greeted, hurrying over. “Hey, guys! Spiked the pumpkin juice yet?”

Black eyed her, then asked, “When did the personality switch occur, Evans?”

“Even you can’t ruin my good mood, Black,” she retorted with a wide smile.

“Am I allowed to try?” he asked cheekily.

“I’d prefer if you didn’t,” she shot back, turning to look back over the increasing gathering around the bright bonfire. There was a protestation behind her, and when she turned back around, Black was rubbing his shoulder with a baleful glare directed at Potter. She hid her smile by rotating away, knowing Black especially wouldn’t appreciate it, but she couldn’t stop it.

An awkward silence descended, and she shifted from her right foot to her left, and then back again. “Well, I’ll let you get to the party. I see some of my friends. Have a good time,” she finally said, beginning to walk away.

Potter caught her arm. “Wait, why don’t you show us around?”

She raised an eyebrow. “You helped me put it up, Potter. It’s rather self-explanatory in any case, don’t you think? The bonfire’s the bright red glowing chunks of wood; the food and drink are under the white tent.”

“Lily! Why are you hiding over here on the very edge of the bonfire?” Meg demanded as she hurried over and swung an arm around her redheaded friend’s waist. “Ho, Alice! Over here!” she suddenly whooped, waving at a mass of people.

Alice, Marlene, and Dorcas separated themselves out, the last holding a cup of something and grinning giddily. “Awesome party, Lil,” she exclaimed loudly, although her friend was only a foot away.

“Thanks, Dorcas. Start the festivities a little early, did you?” Lily asked dryly as she raised her eyebrow.

“Why are you so simply det – det – set against me enjoying myself, my dearest wonderfulest friend?” Dorcas asked, swinging her arms out wide and embracing Lily. “I am simply enjoying myself.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Black chimed in before Lily could recover from the strong alcohol wafting along Dorcas’s hot breath. He half-bowed to her friend, then asked, “Why don’t we go see what more fun we could have?”

“Charmer, you,” Dorcas replied, leaning towards Black and easily looping her arm through his and waving to the others. “Bu-bye now!”

“Nothing had better happen to her, Black,” Lily warned, stepping forward so that she could threaten him in a low voice.

“She might have a bit of a hangover in the morning, but honestly, Evans, you worry too much,” Black retorted, doing nothing to assuage Lily’s concerns. They were gone before she could say anything else, and she watched the spot in the crowd where her friend had disappeared for several seconds.

Marlene nudged her. “Dorcas is a big girl, Lily. She is very capable of taking care of herself. It’s not like she hasn’t gotten drunk before.”

“Yeah, but she’s with Black,” Lily pointed out.

“I’ll try not to be too offended on the part of my friend,” Potter commented above her.

The redhead craned her head around to look up at the black-haired boy. “Black wouldn’t be offended,” she retorted succinctly. “He would take it as a compliment.”

Lupin laughed quietly, and offered, “That is true. What sort of drinks did you say were out?”

“I’m ashamed,” Lily teased. “You’re a fellow prefect! You should know these things with your persnickety attention to detail.”

Lupin gave a half-bow very reminiscent of Black’s. “I’m afraid that my persnickety attention to detail was focused elsewhere,” he commented enigmatically.

Meg leaned in to enter the conversation. “Sounds very mysterious to me? What – or who – grasped your persnickety attention to detail?”

This caused Lupin to blush, and Potter to declare loudly, “I am rather thirsty myself. Lily, what do we have to drink?”

The redhead rolled her eyes. “Why don’t I just show you, so that we have an even better way of changing the topic of conversation?”

“That would be lovely, my radiant flower,” he answered, grinning down at her.

“I do believe that I told you not to do that,” she retorted, elbowing him in the stomach. There was no give upon impact with the muscles, but she refused to allow herself to think about what that meant in terms of Potter’s anatomy.

There was pumpkin juice, cider, hot chocolate, and butterbeers, pastries and other sorts of sweet desserts spread out across the long table under the tent. There was even materials for making s’mores – the various Muggleborn prefects, including Lily, had insisted upon that much. Grinning to herself, she elbowed her way to in front of the table, and took a handful of marshmallows, a chocolate bar, and a couple of crackers. Perfect.

She espied Potter and everyone a moment later, and immediately made her way over to them. “Who wants to partake in a delicious, exotic treat?” she asked, knowing that a cheeky grin had spread across her face.

Potter didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance, but Pettigrew eyed her warily, speaking up for the first time. “What sort of ‘delicious, exotic treat’?” he asked warily.

“The very most delicious sort of exotic treat,” Lily retorted, depositing the chocolate bar and crackers into Marlene’s hands. “I’ll show you.” She led the way over to the blazing fire, seating them in front of a section that had died down to mostly ash and coals. “You put your marshmallows on your wand like this,” she so demonstrated, “and hold it over the hot coals. You cook it for a bit, then make a sandwich of it with chocolate and the crackers, and you have a delightfully scrumptious treat.”

Pettigrew, surprisingly enough, caught on quickly, toasting his marshmallows to a lovely golden brown that made even Lily envious. Lupin’s and Potter’s on the other hand, were often a miserable mess. They either held their wands over the coals for too long so that it got gooey and melted, or brushed it through the ash, or took it out too soon. Potter even managed to light his on fire – twice. Of course, he declared in his own defense, “There’s nothing better than a crispy marshmallow.”

“Right.” Lily didn’t believe him for a second. “No, Lupin, you have to take your marshmallow away from the coals before it starts falling off.”

“But I’m trying to get the even golden brown color you said was best,” he protested.

“Yeah, but if it keeps on falling into the ash, don’t you think that’s a sign that you’re doing something wrong?” she pointed out.

Potter nudged her on the side. “What am I doing wrong?” he demanded. “Mine keeps on catching on fire.”

“Maybe that’s because you keep on waving it through the flames,” Marlene suggested, leaning in on the other side of Lily.

“Whoops, watch your hair!” the redhead warned, pulling her friend back from where she was leaning dangerously over some flames. “Don’t want you to light up.”

“How do you know that?” Potter pouted, ignoring the near-crisis that occurred. “You’re just as pureblood as me.”

“But much more observant,” Marlene retorted.

She and Alice had enjoyed s’mores before with Lily and Meg, so while they weren’t quite experts at making the snack, they were fairly handy at it, leaving the Muggleborns to take care of Lupin and Potter. Unsurprisingly, the redhead found her attention being demanded by the black-haired boy. “Lily, I don’t know what I’m doing,” he whined.

“That’s obvious,” she muttered, reaching in to save his marshmallow from being engulfed in flames. “Good things wands don’t burn easily, otherwise all you’d be holding was a burnt stick. Have you managed to not burn a marshmallow yet?”

“Uh, no?”

She giggled at Potter’s disgruntled expression. “Here, have mine,” she told him, pulling the marshmallow off her own wand and handing it over to him. His expression as he dealt with the sudden mess of warm stickiness in his hand was even better, and she had to stuff her hand in her mouth to stop from laughing. “Cracker, chocolate, Potter?” she suggested once she’d gotten her giggles under control.

“Right,” he said determinedly. But, of course, he got the order mixed up, and seconds later, he had chocolate melting over his fingers from his body heat. “This isn’t right, I don’t think,” he said, turning to her.

She rolled her eyes and laughed before shoving his wand back into his hand. “Don’t burn this,” she ordered. “Now, watch, the cracker goes on the outside. It’s not that difficult. What on earth had you so distracted you couldn’t pay attention to something as simple as this?”

Potter flushed for some reason, leaving her rather confused, and then he mumbled, “Uh, you know. McEnroy’s arse.”

Lily snorted. “Right. Well, if you will drag your attention back from certain parts of girls’ anatomy, maybe you’ll be able to actually make a s’more without me holding your hand.”

“But I like holding your hand,” he replied with a wink.

She shoved his shoulder. “Stop flirting,” she ordered, “and toast marshmallows!”

He saluted playfully. “Yes, ma’am.”

“You, Potter, are a genuine arrogant arse.”

“But it’s such a lovely arse,” he leered.

“Potter, your marshmallow is burning,” she retorted calmly, refusing to comment on the veracity – or possible lack thereof – of such a statement.

*~*~*~*


“Want some pumpkin juice?” Lupin asked as he stood before her, holding out the cup towards her.

She eyed him warily; he wasn’t the consummate prankster that Black and Potter were, but she wouldn’t put it past him to have done something. It was always the quiet ones, after all. “What did you do to it?” she asked him suspiciously as she took it and sniffed it.

“Nothing!” he protested, flushing. “I may be friends with Sirius and James, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a replica of them.”

“Perhaps not,” she admitted. “So what do you want?”

“What says I want anything?” he asked, pulling an exaggeratedly affronted look across his face as he seated himself next to her. “What says that I can’t just want to say hi?”

“You brought me a drink that wasn’t spiked with anything and you expect me to believe that you don’t want anything? You aren’t that different from Potter and Black,” she protested.

“Sirius and James aren’t as terrible as you make them out to be,” Lupin retorted. “I thought you were friends with James, at least?”

Lily turned bright, bright red at the reminder, and whipped her face away. Why is it so hard to remember that Potter and I are friends now, not enemies? I’m so used to every other word coming out of my mouth being derogatory towards him, and I suppose that isn’t right anymore. “I’ve really been buggering this up, haven’t I?” she said, with a sigh.

“Everyone manages to do it every so often,” he reassured her, shifting so that he was facing her rather than simply sitting beside her. “What’s the matter?”

Perhaps it was the butterbeer that she’d imbibed earlier that loosened her tongue. Or the spiked cider. In either case, she found herself speaking more frankly than she had ever had with any member of that group of lads. “It’s bloody difficult. It’s been annoying, moronic, immature, Quidditch-playing Potter for years.”

His lips quirked. “You say Quidditch playing like it’s an insult.”

“Well, I could hardly find anything he did complimentary or cool, could I? So Quidditch-playing was an insult, after a strange, weird sort of a fashion,” she said, trying to explain herself and knowing that she was just stumbling over the words.

“Right.”

“Don’t ask me; it made sense at the time,” she grumbled.

“I believe you,” he said, spreading his hands and smiling. “Your logic often doesn’t make any sense, so it figures that it doesn’t in this case either.”

“I could take umbrage at that,” she pouted.

“But you won’t,” he replied confidently.

“I suppose not.” She tilted her head across his shoulder. “I’ve been thinking of him as hateful Potter for years, and sometimes it just feels easier to slip into that way of thought.”

“Why?”

“It’s harder to be nice?” she offered. “I don’t really know. Black’s probably right; I’m just a stonehearted bitch who likes messing with his best friend.”

“Sirius has got – issues,” Lupin answered, very carefully she noticed. Just vague enough that he confirmed the already known – after all, the bloke was a loose cannon who had a chip on his shoulder larger than the world could bear – yet without adding anything to what she already knew.

“No shit.”

“Maybe you could cut him a break too, like you did James,” Lupin pointed out.

“I may be crazy, but I’m not suicidal. Black and I don’t like each other,” Lily retorted, finishing her juice and crumpling the cup in one fist, tossing it into the fire the next second. She watched the plastic-coated paper curl up, brown over, and burn.

“I’ve never really understood why.”

“What’s there not to understood? You’ve ever heard of love of at first sight?” Lily answered. She laughed at his shocked expression and wary nod. “Well, for Black and I, it was hate at first sight. We hit all of each other’s wrong buttons and all we wanted to do was rip each other’s hair out by the roots.”

“You were a bloodthirsty first year.”

“Hey, don’t go dumping all the blame on me, big boy,” Lily protested, thumping her finger against his chest. “Black was just as much a part of it as I was. He hated me.”

“You tortured his best friend,” Lupin said quietly.

“Just as his best friend tortured me,” Lily answered, leaping to her feet. She couldn’t sit still anymore and she found herself pacing, treading the ground relentlessly between the fire and the log she’d been using as a seat. “Black and I – we’re like oil and water.”

“Maybe.”

It was clear from the tone in his voice that he didn’t agree. “You don’t believe me? Go on and ask him what he thinks!”

“I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Lupin replied, his voice soothing in the manner she recognized from when he was trying to talk Black and Potter out of doing something irrational and stupid. “Come on, sit down and stop pacing.” He caught hold of her hand and drew her back down to the log.

They didn’t say anything, just sat next to each other, their breathing brushing the sides of their arms up against one another. “Do you really think that Black doesn’t just hate me?” Lily finally asked, keeping her gaze firmly fixed on the fire.

“Sirius feels very beholden to James – and no, I can’t tell you why,” he said firmly when she turned her eyes on him, about to ask him that very question. “It isn’t often that he has an opportunity to return the favor, and I guess in you he sees that.”

“In me?” she interrupted, trying to make sense of it.

“You went out of your way to make James miserable,” Lupin said quietly. “Sirius saw this, and wanted to prevent it. He wasn’t necessarily successful, but he did feel satisfied with hurting you.”

“Did as in past tense? You’ll have to be more precise, Lupin. It’s not like he’s stopped since Potter and I became friends,” Lily pointed out.

“In his eyes, you abused his friend for five years. He’s not going to forget that easily,” he answered.

She rested her arms on top of her knees and buried her face in them. “Great,” she said, her voice muffled by the layers of cloth and skin, “I’m trying to be friends with a bloke whose best friend despises me. This will be real fun.”

She could feel his hand descend on her neck, and rub slowly; she stiffened, then moved away. She didn’t say anything; neither did he, and she knew from his silence that there was nothing to be said. She stood, smoothing her hands down her denims. “I should be going to see if any help is needed,” she said, trying to smile apologetically. “It was good talking to you, Lupin.”

“You too. We should do this more often,” he suggested, smiling up at her, a reflection of the firelight catching in his eyes.

She turned away. “Definitely,” she said over her shoulder. “Well, see you around.”

Lily could feel Potter scowling at her as she checked in with Frank, the skin on her back crawling. She spun to face him after the Head Boy had left. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

“So, you and Remus?” he asked, pinning her in place with the hard glare of his eyes. “You two?”

“What about me and Lupin?”

“You can’t even bother to refer to him by his first name?” he snarled.

“Potter, you’re confusing me,” she retorted, ignoring his fingers digging into her arm as he grabbed it.

“You two looked rather cozy, sitting together beside the fire,” he informed her.

“What about it?” she asked.

“You are unusually thick today, Lily,” he commented dryly, releasing her arm to drag his hand through his hair. It stood up on end, the black strands gaining the fluttering light from the fire.

“Both you and Lupin seem to find insulting me the easiest way to make me understand something you seem determined to confuse me with first,” she snapped, stepping towards him.

His hand dropped; he stared at her. “Now I think I’m the one confused.”

“You’re not the only one.”

“Are we at impasse then?”

“Hardly,” she retorted. “As the one who instigated this, you should be the one to take the first step to resolve it.”

He hesitated; since she was beginning to get a glimmer of what he’d been trying to say before, she could understand why, and she almost wished she hadn’t insisted that he explain himself first. “Are you and Remus – are you two a couple?” He forced the word out as if it was absolutely abhorrent to him.

“No,” she replied as quickly as she could get the word past her throat and out of her mouth.

They stood quietly for several moments, Lily fiddling with the cloth covering the table while Potter tugged on the edge of his sweater, his slender fingers unraveling the hem. “I think it’s your turn to explain yourself,” he said quietly.

She reached out and caught his hand. “Only if you stop ruining your sweater,” she answered softly, not looking up, but instead down at the dark blue wool that he had worried with his fingers.

“Lily?”

His voice reminded her of their deal, and she determinedly looked up. “Both you and Lupin insulted me in the process of trying to make something clear to me. Lupin was nicer about it though,” she said, adding the last a bit offhandedly.

“Nicer about insulting you,” Potter muttered, shaking his head. “Figures. What was he trying to make you understand?”

“You,” she said, blushing red.

“Me?” he couldn’t have sounded more disbelieving if he’d tried.

“Well, you and Black. Specifically, why Black hates me so much – or doesn’t, according to Lupin.”

“And why is that?” he asked. His confusion and disbelief were gone, replaced instead by his habitual cheeky grin. “I’m curious to hear this.”

“You’ll have to ask him,” she retorted archly. “I’m going to turn in.”

“No, you can’t,” he protested, grabbing a hold of her wrist. He wasn’t holding it tightly, and she felt no pain, just a small glimmer of warmth emitting from his hand and spreading along her skin.

“Why not?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Because I haven’t danced with you yet,” he stated triumphantly.

“Potter, I hardly promised you a dance,” she pointed out. “Besides, there’s no music playing.”

“Imagine some of our own. You’ve got a decent enough imagination to do so,” he told her.

“I’ll try not to be insulted,” she commented.

He blushed. “Things always come out wrong when I’m around you,” he muttered.

“And all the girls called you smooth,” she teased. “You know, they say practice makes perfect.”

“Are you encouraging me to run off my mouth whenever I’m with you?” he asked her, eyes dancing as they laughed at her.

She laughed right back. “Hardly that. I was just pointing out that perhaps I could be of some assistance with your – problem.”

“How’s this: how about a dance, Miss Evans?” he asked, grinning disarmingly at her as he held out a hand. She still hesitated, and his smile faded a bit. “You’re not embarrassed, are you? Of me?”

She didn’t rush to correct him; she knew enough that that wasn’t it, but she also knew that she didn’t know what it was, and she disliked that. Finally, she met his eyes squarely and pulled his hand up from where it had dropped, placing her own in it. “It’s more along the lines of being confused by you, Potter, but if you don’t mind being embarrassed by my terrible dancing, then I’m hardly one to deny you.”

Neither of them was a very good dancer; there was no music to guide their rhythm, and he stepped on her toes more than once as they swayed along to nothing. They didn’t look at each other; instead, Lily found herself looking around the bonfire.

Few students were left, mostly the older years who gathered around the fire and drank all sorts of illicit substances. Prefects who were supposed to enforce the order were relaxing, sharing in the general feeling of camaraderie. Black, of course, wasn’t among them, and neither was Dorcas, which the redhead found slightly worrisome but at the same time hopeful. Maybe her friend was back at the castle, sleeping her intoxication off.

Lily almost snorted aloud at that last thought. That was highly unlikely, given Dorcas’s character, but she had faith in Black to take care of her friend. She had to.

It felt odd, swaying along in time with absolutely nothing but the beating of their hearts, faint under layers of clothes. She wasn’t entirely sure that she liked it, the feeling of his body pressing gently against hers with each movement, his body heat mixing with hers, his warm breath brushing against her ear and hair.

It was too encouraging, she decided. She did not want Potter thinking they were a couple. She had a hard enough time dealing with him as just friends, and adding more complications was enough to make her dizzy. “I really should go,” she said, pushing back at his shoulders to put space between them. A yawn punctuated her words, something she hadn’t intended, but rather nicely made her point, she thought.

He laughed, and she smiled, relieved that he wasn’t offended. “I suppose I can’t be too upset seeing as how I did get at least a bit of that dance.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” she answered. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then,” she began, only to cut herself off as he fell into step beside her. “Are you going to sleep now too?”

“Might as well.”

“What does that mean?”

“The entertainment’s leaving; the night will be ruddy boring,” he pointed out.

“I’m the entertainment?” she asked, quirking her eyebrow. She wasn’t entirely sure she liked that thought.

“You’re entertaining?” he suggested. She knew he was trying to charm her with a smile, and she hid her own in the growing darkness as they walked away from the fire.

“How so?”

“Um – I don’t really know actually,” he said, sounding surprised at his own words.

She was just as surprised, and perhaps a little something else. She’d been expecting one of his flowery compliments, and being informed that there was little that was entertaining about her was hardly the praise she’d been anticipating. “Oh.”

They walked in silence for a bit, until they reached the edge of the hill that led up to Hogwarts Castle itself, and it was then that Potter spoke up, “Alright, how about this? It’s a challenge to make you laugh, especially when you’re trying not to, and getting that grin to come out of hiding is a boost to my ego?”

“That’s sounds more like a backhanded compliment for yourself than a way that I’m entertaining for you,” she teased.

“Well, of course it did. You thought it was all about you?” he retorted, reaching over to tickle her side. He missed in the darkness, and instead found himself trying to tickle her elbow.

“Potter!” she half-shrieked as she tried to pull away from him. His undeterred fingers had continued on to her side, successfully finding the spot that made her giggle. “Stop!”

He did, only to slide his arm around her waist. That wasn’t what I intended to have happen, was all she could think to herself as she tried not to react in any way. He’s pushing too fast – why doesn’t he just let us be friends?

She didn’t say anything as they made their way up the steps leading to the side door that had been left open that evening for the bonfire. It was when they were passing the library to go up the main staircase that he finally asked, “Lily? Is something wrong?”

The redhead was deep in thought, and it took her several seconds to shake free of the cobwebs that had been gathering. “Hmm? No, I think I’m just tired.” She didn’t want to say something until she could organize her thoughts better and figure out – well, everything.

Lily knew he wasn’t convinced; the glances he kept shooting her way were evidence enough of that, but he let the matter drop until they got to the Gryffindor Common Room and they were standing at the staircase that led up to the girls’ dorms. “Night, Lily.”

“Good night. I had a great time tonight,” she told him.

“I did too. Thanks for helping me make s’mores. And the dance.”

She blushed. “You’re welcome. Good night.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Lily.”

*~*~*~*


As luck would have it, it was Black Lily saw first the next day after she had snuck out of her dorm, not Potter. She’d managed to put off her friends’ questioning after getting back from the bonfire only with a promise to discuss it the next day, and she didn’t really have any intention of fulfilling that promise any time soon. The redhead hesitated for a second, then squared her shoulders. Was she a Gryffindor or wasn’t she? “Good morning, Black,” she forced herself to greet cheerily.

He eyed her with his characteristic – at least when it came to her – scowl over a plate of toast, then muttered something.

“Not very much of a morning person?” she inquired, just as brightly as her first question.

Her answer was another grunt. “That’s alright,” she continued. “I’m not much of a morning person myself, but sometimes, I find myself awake enough to enjoy them. Does that ever happen to you?” She was very aware of the fact that she was rambling on like a ninny; she was rather displeased that he didn’t speak up to put her out of her misery. “Afternoons really are best, after classes are out, and you can breathe, just a bit, before wondering what you have to do for the next day.”

“Are you nattering about for some reason, or did Remus put you up to this?” he finally asked, not even bothering to finish chewing his mouthful of scone.

“I’m just trying to be friendly,” she pouted. “I’ve become aware that perhaps we didn’t get started off on the best foot, and I’m trying to fix that.”

He shook his head. “You sound like Remus when you get all uppity like that,” he commented.

“Does that second full sentence mean that you’re willing to talk with me, or will you be returning to grunts and monosyllables?” she teased.

Black leaned across the table towards her. “Evans, a word of advice. I hate mornings.”

“Right. Well, I’ll just have to ambush you sometime in the afternoon,” she retorted, not at all put off. She was rather enjoying this challenge.

He eyed her for a second, then asked, quite succinctly, “Evans, are you flirting with me?”

Her cheeks went flaming red. “No! Merlin, is that what you th – why would I want to flirt with you? No offense, Black, but the brooding rebel image just makes you look immature, not cool.”

“So are we back to insults then?” he asked, looking amused.

That wouldn’t do; it wouldn’t do at all. “Well, you seem to be unable to remove yourself from the groove of trying to make me feel uncomfortable, so perhaps we are.” Oh, dear. That first bit hadn’t come out the way she wanted at all.

Black threw his head back and laughed. Lily didn’t like the feeling of being laughed at one bit, and very determinedly focused her attention on her plate, where she ripped up pieces of toast and scone and ate her breakfast in very small bites. He didn’t try to get her attention again; perhaps he sensed that she wasn’t happy with the way things had gone. He didn’t really look like he cared much what she felt, but she was relieved that he didn’t try to continue her inane attempt at conversation.

She was so focused on eating her breakfast in silence that she didn’t notice the emergence of her roommates until it was too late. “Lily Evans,” Marlene said sternly as she seated herself on her friend’s left and reached for the pumpkin juice.

“Just where did you think you were sneaking off to this morning?” Alice finished as she sat down on Lily’s right. Dorcas sat next to Black, and Meg joined her on the other side.

“Um, nowhere?” the redhead answered, trying to put up an appearance of innocence. “I was simply hungry, and you all were sleeping so peacefully, I thought it would be a shame to wake you.”

“Nice try,” Meg said, fixing her with a blue-eyed gaze.

Lily knew she’d been caught. “Damn,” she muttered, not bothering to keep it quiet, now that she’d been found out. “So what happens now? Shall I be drawn and quartered?”

“Don’t forget the hot irons,” Black quipped as he stood. He ignored Lily’s glare as he grinned cheekily and left.

The girls waited until he was out of the hall, then Megan leaned over and said darkly, “Spill.”

“What were you doing until three in the morning?” Marlene demanded.

“I was at the bonfire,” Lily said, shrugging. “Nothing special or particularly noteworthy.”

“No offense to all of your hard work, Lily, but the bonfire wasn’t that interesting to warrant staying until the wee hours of the morning,” Dorcas commented.

“There must have been something that attracted her attention at the bonfire,” Meg suggested.

“Or someone,” Alice added slyly.

Lily fought back a blush, and Meg cried out, “Aha! It is a someone! Who?”

“It’s not a someone,” the redhead protested.

“For some reason, I don’t believe you, Lily Evans,” Marlene teased.

“Is it Frank Longbottom?” Meg asked.

“It isn’t anybody,” Lily exclaimed vehemently as she ladled porridge into her bowl, just missing so that the steaming breakfast spilled across the table.

“That either means it is Frank or we’re getting close,” Marlene stage-whispered to Dorcas.

“It’s not Frank and it’s not anybody else,” Lily protested.

“Then why are you blushing?” Dorcas challenged.

“I’m not! I don’t know!” the redhead exclaimed as she leapt to her feet. Without waiting for a reply, she fled the Great Hall.

*~*~*~*


Lily was back at her tree, legs extended across the ground, as she stared out over the lake. The bark was rough, even through her skirt and blouse, and the quiet wind was cool against bared skin. She shifted, bending her legs at the knee and wrapping her arms around them.

“Lily?” Alice asked quietly as she approached slowly. She seated herself next to her friend, and stared out across the same view of the lake. “We were just teasing; we didn’t realize it was upsetting you,” she finally said.

There was another period of silence, then Lily softly admitted, “I just can’t figure it out. Everything is so confusing.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” the brunette offered.

“I’m afraid it wouldn't make much sense,” Lily confessed. “It’s all just a jumble of stuff in my mind, with no apparent beginning or finish.”

“Talking it out usually helps me,” Alice pointed out.

“Maybe later,” Lily replied, turning to face her friend with an apologetic smile. “I want to think it through a bit more.”

“Alright.” Alice stood, rested her hand on Lily’s shoulder, and squeezed gently. “I’m sorry about what happened at breakfast. We all are. We weren’t trying to make you uncomfortable. It’s just not very often that we see you losing your composure over a bloke.”

“I know.”

“I just wanted to make sure. I’ll see you later.”

“See you,” Lily said, smiling at her friend. She watched the brunette leave, then turned back to the lake. She stayed out there for a little more than n hour, just thinking. She felt like she was going around in circles, trying to figure out what she thought, but not getting any closer to an answer.

She and Potter were friends, had been for about a month, but she knew she was still uneasy with the idea. He wasn’t the devil incarnate, as she had thought the five years previous; that much, she’d learned over the course of the last month. Yet, she disliked how much he pushed. They had only just started along their new path; it was hardly the time to push along to a different path. She couldn’t deny that she appreciated his efforts in tutoring her in Transfiguration, but she was still adjusting her mental thinking. She’d have to make it clear, she decided, clear that we’re just friends and nothing more.

With that decided, she headed for the library. She had four feet of parchment due Tuesday for Slughorn on the uses and dangers of Everlasting Elixirs, with a thorough investigation into their ingredients, as well as a three foot essay on the Goblin Revolt of 1667 for Binns on Wednesday. Best to get cracking on them.

She’d barely gotten settled into a table in the back of the library, a large stack of books in front of her, when Severus Snape approached her. “Good morning,” he greeted, his facial expression blank, as he stopped in front of her table.

“Hello,” she replied cautiously. He hadn’t spoken to her since she’d begun her experiment in friendship with Potter. She was more than a bit relieved with his decision; she didn’t want to hear about why she was mistaken or all of Potter’s faults, and she knew enough about the enmity between the two that such occurrences would be a given.

“I need the same books you’re using,” he said, flicking a pale hand towards the tall stack. “If you don’t mind, I think it would be most beneficial to all of us if we shared.”

“Not at all,” she replied, shifting over to make space at the table. “Why don’t you bring your stuff over here? That way we don’t have to go running across half the library for a book the other has,” she suggested.

“Not just that, but Madam Pince would take off our heads,” he said, nodding. His black robes fluttered around him as he left for his own things. Like many Slytherins, he wore the full school uniform even on the weekends.

Snape sat himself down across the table from her. “How far into Slughorn’s essay are you?” he asked.

“Just barely started,” she confessed, laughing quietly as she gestured to her empty parchment and the stack of books.

“Putting off work until almost the last minute? I’m quite shocked,” he said, a small quirking at the corner of his mouth.

She easily retorted, “Or just the standard mad drudgery of Sixth Year.”

He inclined his head to acknowledge her point, then turned the conversation towards one of the ingredients in the Everlasting Elixir. They couldn’t agree, so finally he demanded, a bit impatiently, “Pass me the book.” She shoved the book over, then buried herself back into her research, ignoring his half-hearted attempt to draw her back into conversation.

*~*~*~*
 
 
Feeling: restlessrestless
Listening To: "Stand By Me" - The Temptations
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on March 27th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
I'm first!
Woo! Great story. Can you tell me what Remus mean by Sirius owing James a favour?
Anya: HP Hermione Grangerdancinggoldfish on March 31st, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm first!
Thank you!

Well, I am writing this story from Lily's perspective, so what Lily knows, the reader knows, and not much, if anything, else (besides the obvious ;p). But since you did ask, and it probably won't come up for a while, Sirius feels that he owes James because James has always been there for him when it came to dealing with the Black family, which is eventually going to culminate in Sirius running away from home and moving in with the Potters. My feeling, based on that bit of information (from the Lexicon), is that James has done a lot for Sirius, things that aren't so big but still quite magnanimous and important. So when Sirius has the opportunity to step in to help his friend, he does so.

Sorry for the long winded answer to your rather short question, but I hope that makes sense! :D
cerdinalzcerdinalz on March 29th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
yay you updated
i loveeee this fanfic
i hope you update soon :)
Anya: Shiny Book Storedancinggoldfish on March 31st, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I know that I've been really bad about updating regularly in the past, but I am aiming to post every week or every other week from now on. So look for a post soon :D
Nishobsidian_flame on April 8th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
Hello, I just found your fic from the lilyandjames community. I just wanted to tell you that I found it a rather refreshing read; your take on Lily's character is very different from most of the other L/J fics I've read. She's less of a goody-two-shoes here and a much more dynamic, interesting character. Can't wait to read more of it. :)
Anya: HP Neville Longbottomdancinggoldfish on April 10th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it so much! And I'm glad you like Lily too; I've had some trouble figuring out the character and making sure that she isn't all over the place, so it is nice to see someone like her and all her neurotic weirdness ;p

More will be coming soon, I hope. I am aiming to post tomorrow or Wednesday, or at the latest, this weekend, in between papers and exams. :D I'm looking forward to hearing more of what you thought. :)