A/N: Hullo there! Welcome to my story. Be warned, it's really, really, impossibly long, so if anybody reads, you've got my entire love. As a consequence, I won't be posting full-length chapters, so don't be fooled by the titles. Anyway, I don't want to bore you, so I'll stop there. Enjoy, everyone!
Disclaimer: All characters and rights belong to JKR. I own OCs and plot, but I make no money out of it.
Summary: It takes James six years, two months, and five days to make her believe him. It takes Lily ten days to make him believe her, only ten days, days darker than darkness. And it all begins… Well, it begins, as you can expect, with seven fickle words. “I think I’m in love with you.”
Chapter 1—“The Words”
If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question? (Lily Tomlin)
When Lily Evans woke up that particularly chilly October morning, she was quite sure her day would be nothing out of the ordinary; in fact, she was positive her day would be nothing short of perfect. As it happened, it was a Thursday, which meant the weekend was finally—finally!—in sight. Furthermore, the term’s first Hogsmeade visit was to take place that weekend. To make matters even better, the following Monday was Halloween, which was Lily’s second-favourite holiday (after Christmas, naturally).
When Lily Evans woke up on that particular October morning our story starts, she had no reason to believe her day would be anything out of the ordinary.
Yet alas, fate never works out quite as planned.
And so it was that tricky fate had completely different plans for Lily on the particular morning of October 27th, 1977.
It all began…
Well, it began as one might expect.
“I think I’m in love with you.”
As those words were uttered in a hushed tone, Lily Evans’s all too perfect to be real morning—and world—came crumbling down.
(The Night Before)
Dorcas Chester entered the Great Hall when dinner was almost finished on Wednesday evening. The expression on her face was somewhere between tired and annoyed—after what seemed like the worst Quidditch practice in living memory, she could hardly be blamed. The girl had been on the team for five—soon to be six—years, yet she had never seen it in such bad shape; they had practically no chance on the upcoming game with Ravenclaw.
The girl let out a heavy sigh as she entered the castle, brushing her hand through her wiry black hair. Although she was in her final year at Hogwarts, Dorcas Chester could have easily passed much younger than she actually was. She was fairly short, with a stout build, and a child-like face. Nature had graced her with a flawless dark skin, so Dorcas had no use to wear makeup—and being a habitually lazy person, she almost never did. Sometimes, like that particular evening, her laziness was rewarded—makeup does not go quite well with rainy weather, like the one in which Hogwarts was engulfed at the present.
Upon entering the Great Hall, she scanned the Gryffindor table in search of her friends, and found them almost immediately, thanks to Lily Evans’s hair, which stood out like a sore thumb. Dorcas took a seat across the redhead, and started to fill her plate with a large serving of mashed potatoes.
“How did practice go, Dory?” Lily inquired, smiling benevolently at the brunette. Her usual small dimples appeared in her freckled cheeks.
“On a scale of one to ten,” retorted the other, “we’re fucked.”
“Ouch. Language, Chessie,” intervened a girl on Lily’s right side.
Lucy Fawley was the image of perfection. Whenever she walked into a room, people stopped their activities just to gaze at her in pure awe—a tall girl of willowy build, with a perfectly curved silhouette, pale white skin, silvery blond curls, caramel coloured eyes, and a smile that could have easily given Veelas a run for their money, Lucy Fawley was without a doubt the single, prettiest girl at Hogwarts. She also happened to be amongst the first friends Lily had made at the school, and the two remained extremely close. They grew particularly close after their fifth year, though Lily firmly refused to speak of the matter, and Lucy was far too polite to force the subject.
Dorcas, however, did not share as close a relationship with Lucy as Lily did.
“I don’t remember giving you the slightest attention, Fawley,” the brunette spoke in an icy voice.
“Indeed you did not, but your foul language cannot be easily overlooked, dearest. Perhaps you should revise your vocabulary, or maybe you should stop spending so much time with Potter and his gang,” replied Lucy, before turning her back to the girl to continue a discussion with a fifth-year.
“Perhaps you should revise your personality, Fawley,” commented the brunette.
“Ooh, do you really want to open that door?”
“To my knowledge, I have less to fear than you do about opening that door.”
Lucy narrowed her eyes. “Forgive me, only I seem to remember about fourth year?”
“Pray tell, darling, how is a certain Miss Mackenzie Shafiq lately?”
The other had a comeback at the ready, but Lily stopped them both. “Enough. I’ve had it with you two fighting. Can’t you just be polite for one evening? That’s all I’m asking. One single evening. Is it too much?”
Both girls looked apologetically at the redhead before resuming their previous activities—Dorcas wolfed down her much-expected dinner, and Lucy went on to chat nonchalantly with Lily.
“So, as I was telling you,” Lucy spoke in her soft voice, not making any effort to conceal her words from Dorcas, “he asked me out this coming weekend. I tried to tell him there was no use to it, but he just wouldn’t listen—he said something about this being my final year, and not getting another chance at a date. I swear to Merlin, the way he pleaded almost made me want to accept. Only to shut everyone up, if nothing else—or rather, to see their faces. But then again, I already have plans for Saturday, and he’s absolutely horrid. Remember all those hexed first-years back in March? Turns out, it was him and his gang who did it.”
“It was he would be grammatically correct there,” Dorcas interrupted.
Lucy shut her eyes, obviously trying to ignore her.
“Anyway, he did it.”
Lily’s eyes widened with horror. “And he had the audacity to ask you out? Good Merlin, I would’ve hexed his every single hair, until nothing remained of him, if it were me.” She paused a moment to take a sip of tea, then turned back to her friend. “By the way, do you really have plans for Saturday?”
“Darn it,” exclaimed Lily. “And here I thought I could persuade you to head out with me to the postal office, then shopping. I need to change some money,” the redhead explained as she noticed Lucy’s inquiring glance. She then turned to Dorcas, who was trying her best not to look interested in the girls’ discussion. “Can you come with me, Dory? Pretty please?”
A poorly disguised expression of pride briefly shone upon the brunette’s face. “Can’t,” she retorted abruptly. “I’ve a date.”
Lily’s eyebrows shot up as she heard those words. Dorcas Chester was many things, but certainly not the kind to go on dates in Hogsmeade. For some reason, the entire image of her and some tall stranger felt completely wrong in Lily’s mind—but after a few brief seconds, she realised she might have been prejudiced. After all, when she had started dating back in fifth year, Dorcas had told her it did not fit her image. Perhaps the brunette deserved a chance.
“That’s… Unexpected,” Lily admitted. “Dare I ask who’s the bloke? Do we know him?”
Upon hearing the words, Miss Chester abandoned her almost finished supper, clearly proud to be in the centre of attention for once. “You dare. He graduated a couple of years ago, but I met him only this summer. I was at Florean Fortescue’s one evening, minding my own business and counting the minutes until my shift would finally end, when none other than Mr Perfection Head Boy Caradoc Dearborn comes up to me, and casually starts chatting. Caradoc Dearborn, for the love of Merlin! And of course, one thing led to another, and we kept talking and exchanging letters for the past few months. He casually mentioned he’s coming to Hogsmeade this weekend and asked me on a date. You can imagine I couldn’t very well refuse.” She started toying with her fork, her eyes fixed upon the mashed potatoes in front of her. Her attention was, however, turned to her friends’ reaction—which came after a couple of seconds of uttermost silence.
The one that spoke, however, was not Lily, much to Dorcas’s disappointment.
“… And I’m a Kelpie, if any of that is even remotely true,” spoke Lucy in a slightly patronising tone. “You know, Chester, if there were an actual contest for making up stories so fake that they sound like science-fiction, you’d certainly win the first prize. By a landslide. With—…”
But Lily shot her a warning glance, and she stopped mid-sentence.
Dorcas, on the other hand, had expected the attack. “Problem, Fawley?” retorted the brunette, a sheepish grin on her face.
“Not at all, Dory,” Lily tried to make up for her friend’s mistake.
“Now, now, Lily, let’s not play hide and seek,” intervened Lucy. “For your information, Chessie, I don’t have any problems about who you’re going out with—if you’re actually going out with someone, that is, or if I ever thought about you and the person you’re supposedly dating. None whatsoever. I just happen to know Caradoc fairly well, and, how to put this, he’s not exactly the kind of guy who would date a girl like you. Or any girl at all, for that matter. In fact, he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t really do dating, full stop. So you can see, from an objective point of view, how made up your story sounds. But then again, who am I to judge? He must be smitten, no doubt thanks to your charming personality.”
“Lu,” Lily warned her.
Dorcas may have been more innocent than her mates, in more than one way, but by no means was she a fool. And above all else, Dorcas Chester was an incredibly proud girl, and she could not exactly hold her temper when provoked. In the blink of an eye, Dorcas took out her wand from the inside of her robes, stood up, and pointed it right between Lucy Fawley’s caramel coloured eyes. The latter’s sardonic smile faltered at length, and Lily tried to push Dorcas’s extended arm back, before she would attract anymore unwanted attention (from the staff table, Professor McGonagall was already eyeing the girls suspiciously). The one that put an end to the fight was, however, an unexpected (and, by Lily’s standards, unwelcome) companion.
In the world, there were beautiful people, who did not care much for their appearance (or tended to ignore it, as Lily knew all too well, being one of these people); these people could either stand out in a crowd or be lost in one, should they desire it. There were some other beautiful people who were simply that—beautiful. Lucy Fawley fell into this latter category, and so did the newcomer.
He was a tall and lanky boy of about seventeen. The boy looked very charming, with perfectly angled features: high cheekbones, a jaw both prominent and delicate, and a very straight nose. His black hair contrasted with his very pale complexion, but nonetheless, it elegantly framed his face, and he could have passed for an older man if not for the playful look in his metallic grey eyes. That evening, he was sporting the Hogwarts uniform sans the black robes: white shirt, grey pullover, and black trousers. His red and gold necktie hung loose around his neck.
“Chessie, darling, put that thing back before you take someone’s eyes out,” spoke the one and only Sirius Black, in a relaxed tone. His laid back attitude and his nonchalant smile quickly dissipated the tension, and the Gryffindor was seated beside the brunette. “Oh, and you might consider polishing your wand a bit. It’s quite unladylike.”
Dorcas took a deep breath, and was seated back. “Do everybody a favour and shut your sodding trap.”
“Ah, her words are music to my ears, her voice is softer than a nightingale's…” remarked Sirius, dramatically placing the back of his hand against his large forehead.
“I don’t remember asking you to join us, Black,” said Lily.
“That you did not, Pumpkin,” retorted Sirius, smiling in the redhead’s direction, “but I’m afraid that is only because you are too shy to do so. I, however, being such a great colleague—and generally awesome person, frankly—have decided to grace you with my presence nonetheless.”
“Marvellous. Precisely what I had in mind for a perfect evening.” Then, assuming a dead serious tone, Lily added, “Don’t you have anybody else to annoy?”
“To answer your question, Pumpkin, I’m afraid not. My friends have all deserted me—Remus is… err, sick, Peter is busy doing homework, God bless his little heart, and James as it happens, is locked in a broom cupboard, hiding in shame that he is a failure and that he will never win the Quidditch Cup with the team he has put together this year, with the exception of Chester and, perhaps, Flynn. Thus I am left in your company, lovely ladies.” He paused for a few seconds and poured himself a goblet of pumpkin juice, before resuming.
“However, I have also come to discuss business with you—but I’ll get there in a moment. Now tell me, Chester, is it true what I’ve been hearing?”
“What have you been hearing?”
“Well, rumour has it Quidditch practice was particularly bad tonight, just like it’s been the past hundred or so times before.”
Dorcas puffed. “And worse.”
“Well, Chessie, darling, you’re a cynic if there ever was one, so I’ll take your word for it. But really, that bad?” he said, incredulous.
“You know how the Chudley Canons managed to go for one whole season without scoring any points at all?”
“Well, we’re not far from that. But why d’you keep asking, weren’t you there?”
Before Sirius had time to react, however, Lucy said, “Is Lupin alright?”
Slightly taken aback by the question, the Marauder replied at length, “Yes. Why d’you ask? I thought you weren’t interested at all in him—he’s not exactly your type, after all…”
“I’m not,” retorted the blonde, her tone icy. “It’s just that he has missed class today, and I haven’t seen him around at all, so I was just wondering… Well, not that it’s anything new; he’s been doing that for a long time now. There are a lot of rumours going on at this school, as you may be aware, and one can only wonder what is true and what is not. And why do you instantly assume he’s not exactly my type? What about him wouldn’t be my type?”
Sirius chuckled. “Well, you just said it, Fawley—there’s a lot of rumour spreading around these days, and it’s my duty to know all of it… and spread some myself. Speaking of, have you heard about Kate Greene and Tim Law?” The teenager had a cocky grin on his face, awaiting the girls’ reply, but none of them showed any sort of response. Sirius made no effort to disguise his disappointment. “Fine, fine, not that kind of talk. Moony is quite alright, thank you very much, Fawley. He’s just got a nasty flu. But, as I was saying, I came here with business.” He turned to Lily, and shot her a charming glance. “Say, Pumpkin, are you free this Saturday?”
Past experiences with Sirius Black and his other three friends had taught Lily to be extremely careful whenever they engaged in a discussion with her. The fact that he had started to speak in French was not soothing at all for the redheaded witch, in spite previous occurrences. She eyed him carefully, but could not read anything behind his cocky, lopsided, and objectively handsome smile.
“You sound sexy in French, Black,” remarked Dorcas through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
Lily squinted. “For once, I can hardly argue the point,” she agreed. Lucy also gave a slight nod.
“Mais bien sûr. Comment pensez-toi que je pourrais avoir faire toutes ces filles dorment avec moi?” Black retorted, cocking an eyebrow.
The redhead was not impressed. She furrowed her brows slightly, not entirely sure whether she understood correctly—she had never had much fondness for French. “Are you flirting with me, Black?” she wondered.
“Peut-être. Say, my dearest Pumpkin, are you free this Saturday or not?”
“Betraying your best mate?” Lucy intervened. “My word, I would have never expected this from you, Sirius. Imagine the rumours, the scandal, the aftermath—friend clashing upon friend during these dark times. The world may be coming to an end.”
“She has a point,” Dorcas begrudgingly agreed.
“Honestly, I would’ve expected that from Potter, not you,” Lily added.
Sirius shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t be so quick to judge; I am simply conveying a message. However, Pumpkin, arrangements can be made if you’d rather have me than my absolutely charming, extremely well-behaved, generally amazing, and, strictly between you and me, a fantastic lover of a friend. Or was it then? I never seem to grasp the difference.” He winked. “And you haven’t answered my question.”
“Oh, I would, but sadly, my French is rather rusty. Lucy, be a darling and tell him to sod off.”
The blonde obliged, with a slight sigh. “Foutre le camp, cher chiot.”
“Conveying a message, wasn’t it?”
After a brief pause, Sirius seemed to decide the remark was best left as it was. Once again, he turned to Lily, who, in the meantime, had started to read The Evening Prophet, looking a little too concentrated. “Anyway, Pumpkin, I take it you turn down my offer to hang out on Saturday?”
“Define ‘hang out,’” she replied, without looking up from the paper—yet having stopped moving her eyes.
“Well,” Sirius started in an unusually careful tone, “a couple of mates go for a Butterbeer in Hogsmeade, do some shopping, knit some friendship bracelets and whatnot, then we come back, you, being the absolutely fantastic person I know you to be, help my perpetually infatuated mate and me with some Potions homework, said mate helps you in return with that essay for Bones—which I happen to know you have yet to start; alas, by the end of the day, world peace is finally in sight, and we’re all running across fields of green, holding hands in merriment and joy.” He had an obnoxiously large and happy smile on his face as he finished talking.
Lily chewed on her lip. On the one hand, much as she disliked it, Black had struck a soft spot: the redhead happened to have trouble with a certain essay from Defence against the Dark Arts—more on that later, but bottom line was, Lily happened to be failing the subject, whereas her declared arch-nemesis, James Potter, was by far the best in year; this essay was her only hope to pass. On the other hand, she did not like one bit the fact that both Sirius Black and James Potter were involved; she had been subject of their pranks more than once in the past.
After a few moments of pondering silence, the girl decided to work her way around Black’s statement. “Tempting as that sounds, I have to ask, why do I hypothetically help both of you with your Potions, but only Potter helps me in return?”
“Evans, Evans, Evans, I told you, I’m only conveying a message for a friend in low spirits. He wants to spend some quality time with you…” Lily scoffed. “… and he was just too shy to ask you in person. Plus he paid me ten Galleons to stay out of it—for the love of Merlin, don’t judge. Living by oneself is more expensive than you think. Anyway, I really, desperately need help with Potions. Slughorn always had a grudge on me for not being in Slytherin,” he scoffed, “and ever since I played that prank on him after the O.W.L.s, he’s been looking for an opportunity to take revenge on me. It was only a matter of time before he found out I was rubbish at Potions, and as such, I’m currently failing the class, but since gossip travels at the speed of thought in this school, I assume you already knew the fact. Thus, I turn to you, o, fair maiden, as you are by far the best in our year—well, you and Snivellus, but Snivelly and I have not been exactly on friendly terms since, well, forever.” He smiled benevolently.
“And what’s in for me?”
“You need help with DADA.”
“Do not,” she instinctively retorted.
“Lil, he’s right,” Dorcas spoke in a painful tone, and Lucy nodded. Lily made a grimace and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Come on, Evans,” Sirius pleaded once more, “Bones can be quite avenging, you know. He gave detention to a second-year because he had been trading chocolate frog cards during his class—and from what I hear, that poor kid is in as bad a condition as I am with Slughorn. Speaking of, Slughorn can be quite avenging, too. Merlin, I really need to pass.”
“I thought you wanted to become an Auror. You sort of need Potions for that,” Lucy remarked.
“Nah, I don’t really. Too much blasted work, and it’s not worth it. Being an Auror is overrated,” he replied. “Putting your life on the line sounds really romantic and all that crap—would I like it? Sure. But I’d much rather do that in my own free time than be paid for it. Money takes the romance out of everything, doesn’t it? Either way, curse breaker at Gringotts is the job for me.”
“One, isn’t that extremely hypocritical of you?” wondered Lucy.
“Two,” the blonde on, “don’t you need Potions for that too?”
“If you’ve gotten good enough grades for everything else, surprisingly enough, they can slightly bend the rules. But I still have to pass.” He smiled benevolently towards Lily once more, but the girl pretended not to notice.
“But you need Arithmancy,” Dorcas spoke.
“Do you take Arithmancy, Black?”
“Chessur, you’ve got the attention span of a Flobberworm. We’ve been in the same class for four years and counting, and you can’t remember it? Good Lord, woman, however are you even passing your classes?”
“I have this habit of constantly ignoring things that I can’t stand.”
Sirius took a knife from the table and theatrically pretended to stab himself in the heart with it. Dorcas did not pay heed, nor did the other girls, so shortly afterwards, the adolescent turned one more to Lily. “Evans, help me. I am in desperate need of your help. Don’t be a heartless bitch like this one here,” he pointed towards Dorcas, who shoved him an elbow between his ribs. Tears of pain appeared in the corners of his eyes. “Evans.”
Lily sighed deeply, and closed her eyes. “I’ve probably gone out of my mind…”
“But…?” Sirius spoke, hopefully.
The boy hit his forehead against the table. “I thought you were different, Pumpkin. I thought what we had was special!” He mimicked wiping away a tear before standing up and slowly departing the table.
“We had nothing,” Lily pointed out.
“Now, you see, Pumpkin, that’s where you’re wrong,” he retorted, giving her a cocky smile. He mimicked taking off his hat in front of her, took a bow, and then he turned on his heels and left.
“So much for becoming the future Mrs Black,” Dorcas teased.
“A lifelong dream turned to ashes before our very eyes,” Lucy added.
“Amen,” echoed Lily, taking another sip of tea.
A/N: Aaaaand we're out.
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