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Fic: Through the Years

Title: Through the Years
Rating: PG
Characters: Lily/James, MWPP era.
Spoilers: Read up to OOTP? Yeah, you're good.

Summary: Despite all her efforts to the contrary, Lily Evans never seemed to be able to avoid encounters with James Potter.

Author's Note: Well, this fic is six months in the making! I'm finishing off my writing folder for 2007, completing anything that was only half done, and I really couldn't abandon this fic. I started it pre-DH, and then thanks to a certain amazing chapter, I got slightly Jossed and lost the drive to finish it. But now I have, and I'm pretty darn happy with it, especially for a first MWPP-era venture! It was originally a birthday present for the ever-lovely to_overload, but... I suppose it's more of a Christmas present now? Either way, thank you for all your help, James, with writing, with fandom and with life.



Through the Years


First Year

“What mark did McGonagall give you, Lilly?” James Potter asked, sneaking up behind her as she stumbled out of class.

“Why do you care?” she said, shoving the parchment into her bag and out of sight.

“Just curious.” He walked casually beside her as she tried to hurry past. “McGonagall said mine was outstanding work, and I barely put in any effort at all, so I’m dying to see what she said about a hard worker like you.”

Lily couldn’t help it. Her blood raced to her cheeks, and Potter’s face split into a grin.

“That bad, huh?” he said. “Oh well. Better luck next time.”


Second Year

“So then McGonagall told me I was the youngest Chaser Hogwarts has had in ages, absolutely ages...”

Lily frowned and attempted to focus on her book, but she simply could not drown out Potter’s boasting. She had thought that he was bigheaded before, but his recent appointment as the youngest Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team had only increased his arrogance.

“... probably the youngest in a thousand years ...”

“Well, that would be a bit of a challenge,” Lily snapped, still staring determinedly at her book, “considering Quidditch has only been around since the late eleventh century.”

The room went quiet. After a few moments of agonising silence, Lily couldn’t help peering over the top of her pages. James was staring at her, mouth hanging slightly open at her outburst, but his expression changed to one of complete dismissal when his eyes met hers.

“Yeah?” he said. “And what do you know about Quidditch, Evans?”

“I know plenty about Quidditch,” she said coolly. “I do know how to read, Potter.”

“Read?” He laughed, and his little gang of cronies laughed with him. “You don’t read about Quidditch!” He paused, turning his head as if in deep consideration. “Well, not unless you really are as boring as people say you are, Evans.”

“Not everyone says that, Potter,” she said, closing her book with a snap. “Just you.”

Potter laughed again. “Really?” he said.

“Well,” she said slowly, “it’s possible that Black shares the sentiment, but, despite your delusions, the rest of the world doesn’t always agree with the two of you. Shame you’re too arrogant to see it.”

“Are you sure I’m the one with delusions?” He paused, seemingly for dramatic emphasis, and then continued with mocking sharpness. “The truth hurts, Lils, and I’ll tell you what everyone thinks about you. Lily, the bookworm. Lily, the swot. I can’t think of anyone who likes you outside of your little group of losers, and I certainly can’t think of anyone who cares even slightly what you have to say, so maybe you should think next time before you start attacking me.”

“Better a swot than an arrogant, self-centred, pathetic excuse for a human being!” she said, getting to her feet.

Potter followed suit. “What did you call me?”

“You heard me,” she said. “You think that just because you’re a pure-blooded Quidditch player, you can treat everyone else like dirt, but you can’t!”

He suddenly looked very affronted. “It’s got nothing to do with blood!”

“Oh, please,” she said. “I know your type.” Her hands were balled into fists, and she found her breath tight in her chest. “Thinking Muggleborns can’t do anything, that we’re inferior to you just because we don’t have hundreds of years worth of wizarding blood, just because we aren’t pure – you make me sick!”

She snatched up her book and stormed towards the girls’ staircase, too angry to notice the shocked expression now fixed on Potter’s face.


Third Year

Five die in overnight attacks: Ministry blame You-Know-You.

Lily put down her newspaper with a sigh, suddenly put off her breakfast. Every day brought the same now: more attacks, more deaths, more whispers of this wizard, You-Know-Who.

Her eyes moved up and down the table, searching for a friendly face, someone who would understand. It hadn’t been stated, not specifically, but she had done her research, and all those who had died, every single one, had been people like her. Half-bloods. Muggleborns. Squibs.

“You better watch yourself, Evans.” She glanced up to see that disgusting Sixth year Slytherin, Lucius Malfoy, sneering at her, Narcissa Black hanging on his arm.

“Excuse me?” she asked, trying to keep her voice level. Under the table, she gripped her wand.

“I saw you reading the paper,” he said, gesturing towards the headline beside her. “I’d be careful if I were you. It doesn’t seem safe.” He smiled. “Not for Mudbloods, anyway.”

Lily gasped and started to pull out her wand, but somebody else was faster. The whole table shook as someone to the left of her jumped to their feet, and a cool voice said, “Take that back, Malfoy.”

“Defending your girlfriend, Potter?” Malfoy said.

“I’m not his girlfriend!” Lily snapped, not quite sure why this, of all things, invoked a retort.

Lucius, however, ignored her.

“You would defend her, wouldn’t you, Potter?” he said. “It’s a whole family full of Muggle lovers,” he added to Narcissa, “although he’d be the first actual blood traitor. Now there’s something his parent can be proud of.” His eyes flickered to Lily, and he smiled. “You’d better hope Potter’s here to protect you when the Dark Lord comes, Evans. Somehow, though, I doubt even that will be able to save you.”

He swept away, Narcissa twittering with laughter beside him.

“Slimy bastard,” Potter said, his fists white against the table. “Who the hell does he think he is?”

“Who the hell do you think you are?” Lily said, her tension finally snapping. “What were you doing?”

He stared at her. “I was trying to help.”

“I don’t need your help, Potter!” she said, and she was disturbed to find that her voice sounded rather hysterical. “So why don’t you mind your own business?”

His expression hardened. “Fine, I will,” he said. “See how well you do on your own next time, Evans.” He gave her a disgusted look, then sat down and continued with his toast as though nothing had happened.

Lily gave the table another glance – every single person now seemed to be staring at her – and then fled. She eventually settled in a stairwell, her whole body shaking, and wondered how exactly things could get worse.


Fourth Year

“Potter!” Lily raced down the corridor towards her potions classroom, where James Potter was holding Severus Snape high against the wall with his wand.

“Hey, Evans,” Potter said casually, as she approached.

“What are you doing, Potter? Leave him alone!”

He gave her a sideways glance, complete with its own smirk. “Snivellus here seemed to think that my flying wasn’t up to much on Saturday. I was proving him wrong.”

“Let him down!” she said, refusing to acknowledge his ridiculous words. He laughed, his smirk turning into an exaggerated leer.

“Well, anything for a pretty girl,” he said, earning himself a laugh and a whoop from the crowd that had gathered. He raised his wand, and Severus fell to the ground with a thud.

“What are you doing?” she said again, rushing towards Severus, but he scrambled away, his face red. “You could have hurt him!”

“You said to let him down,” Potter said with a shrug. “You can’t have it both ways.” The crowd around him laughed again, and Lily felt ready to slap him.

“James Potter!” she said instead. “You are the most vile, arrogant bully I have ever met!”

His smile grew, and his hand moved almost compulsively to ruffle his hair. “Now that’s a bit of a harsh sentiment, don’t you think?” he said. “Casting aspersions on my character like that.”

“Well, it’s true,” she snapped, as she tried to move past him into the classroom.

“Go out with me then.”

She stopped in her tracks. “What?”

“Go out with me,” he said again, his face earnest. “Go out with me, and I’ll prove I’m not like that.”

Lily’s eyes narrowed. “Is this a joke?” The people around them were certainly reacting like it was.

“No!” Potter said. “Just think you shouldn’t judge me without getting to know me properly. Intimately. One on one, as it were.”

Sirius Black began to howl with laughter, and Lily swept past him without a word, her shoulders bristling with indignation.

“What do you say, Evans?” Potter shouted after her.

“I’d rather go out with the Giant Squid!” she snapped.

“That could be arranged.”

She stormed into the classroom after Severus, wondering, not for the first time, what had got into James Potter.


Fifth Year

“I’m sorry.”

Lily spun around in shock to see James Potter standing behind her.

“What was that?” she said.

“I said I’m sorry,” he repeated, moving closer to her. She took a step backwards, but not quite enough to recover the space.

“I’m trying to do prefect rounds, Potter,” she said. “I don’t have time for your games.”

“It’s not a game,” he said. “I mean it.” Lily had to admit that he looked sincere, an impression that could only be heightened by the lack of Black and his other followers grinning behind him.

“What are you sorry for?” she said at length, rather taken aback.

“For earlier,” he said, his words coming out very fast. “For attacking Snivellus. For goading him into insulting you. For thinking that you need defending when you don’t.”

He still looked completely sincere, so she nodded despite herself. The movement caused her hair to fall in front of her eyes, and Potter’s hand twitched as she brushed it away. “Thank you,” she said eventually, still wary. “But don’t you think you should be telling Severus this?”

Potter laughed. “I don’t need to apologise to that slimy weasel,” he said. “He deserved what he got. I’m only concerned about you.”

The words shot through her like an electric current. “Is this really just a game to you?” she asked, barely containing her anger. “Do you think that if you’re nice to me, I’ll forget what a bully you are and fall into bed with you? Do you really think I’m that stupid?”

“No,” he said, his hand moving upwards once again to ruffle his hair.

“Because that’s your end game, isn’t it, Potter? Just another way to show up stupid, stuck up Lily Evans.”

“Lily, no - ”

“Don’t call me Lily!” she snapped, and she was shocked to find that there were tears in her eyes. She brushed them away impatiently, ignoring the look of shock on his face. “Please, Potter. Leave me alone.” She stared him down, and, with a rather hurt expression on his face, he nodded and walked away.


Sixth Year

“Potter, where are you going?” Lily shouted as the boy rushed past her, several hours after curfew. “Potter, I’m talking to you!”

“Not now, Evans,” Potter said. He continued to run down the corridor, his heavy footsteps echoing in his wake.

“Yes, now!” She ran after him. “Don’t you ignore me! It’s hours after curfew, and - ”

“I don’t have time for this,” Potter snapped. “Look, give me as many detentions as you want, take points, tell McGonagall, whatever. But leave me alone!”

Lily’s curiosity now piqued beyond belief, she scrambled after him, her prefecting post forgotten. “Potter! Where are you going?”

He didn’t answer. It wasn’t until he rounded onto the marble staircase that Lily realised that he was headed outside.

“Potter, what - ”

“Lily, please,” he said, not stopping for a second. “Go back upstairs. It’s not safe.”

Her blood froze. “What is it?” she gasped, as he skidded towards the door. “Is it – You-Know-Who?”

Potter laughed. “I wish it was that simple,” he said. “So please, Lily, stay where you are.”

“But Potter - ”

They both hurried out of the main doors and into the grounds, and as Potter’s feet hit the grass, he shot Lily a final, desperate glance. Resignation seemed to sink in.

“Wait here,” he said. Then he turned away and, in the space of a footstep, transformed into a magnificent stag that galloped away across the grounds.

Lily almost fell over her own feet in shock. Potter was an Animagus!

In the time it took her to process this information, he was clean across the grounds and standing in front of the Whomping Willow. Lily watched for a moment, mesmerised, as the stag – Potter – dodged the branches and leapt forward to strike a knot on the trunk. The tree froze, and he leapt through a hole and out of sight.

It only took her a moment to regain her senses, and then she set off after him. Before she had taken two steps, however, an arm had wrapped itself around her and was holding her back.

“Stay where you are, Evans,” Black said.

“Let go of me!” she said, gasping for air as he almost hauled her off her feet.

“Not until you promise to stay put,” Black growled. “Noble git is mad enough at me as it is. Doubt he’d ever forgive me if you got hurt as well.”

Lily snorted. ‘Noble’ was not a word she’d ever have used in association with James Potter. But Black seemed to have some insight that she didn’t, so instead she said, “What is going on?”

“Idiot went after him, didn’t he?” Black muttered. “It’s not like Snivellus doesn’t deserve it after what he did – Dark Arts loving little rat - ”

“He’s gone after Snape?” Lilly asked, desperately trying to piece things together. Black, seeming to sense that she was no longer fighting to follow Potter into the Willow, loosened his grip on her, and she stumbled in surprise.

“I should go too,” Black said, not looking too happy about the idea. “Stay here.” With a warning glance at her, he set off too, but he only got two paces before there was movement in the tree. A moment later, a very cut and bruised Potter appeared, dragging a shaking Snape in his wake.

Black’s words forgotten, she ran towards the pair.

“Potter, what happened?” she said, just as Black yelled, “Prongs, you all right, mate?”

Potter stood and gasped at them, seemingly lost for words, but Snape recovered himself, and regarded them with a sneer.

“So Black and Evans are in on the joke too, are they?” he asked. “Black I expected, but the Mudblood...”

Lily saw what was coming a fraction of a second before it happened. “Potter, don’t!” she said, as his bleeding fist connected with Snape’s face. Snape dropped to the ground, but the assault only seemed to encourage him.

“Then again,” he spluttered, “what can you expect from a filthy Mudblood whore like her?”

Potter’s fist connected with Snape’s skull, again and again, as Lily and Black raced forwards. “Potter,” she yelled, and then, “James!”

He stopped dead.

“What happened?” Black asked, as he attempted to drag his friend to his feet.

“I stopped him,” James said, in a desperate, rasping voice. “I had to fight him off, make sure Snape didn’t see me transformed - ”

“Did he bite you?” Black said, looking more serious than Lily would ever have thought possible.

“No,” James said. “No. But he saw him, Padfoot. Snape saw him.”

Whatever this meant, it was clearly terrible news, as both boys stared down at the now-unconscious Snape with pure horror on their faces. Lily, fed up with feeling useless, began to consider James’s wound. They were multiple, streaming, and some of them looked deep.

“We should get you to Madam Pomfrey,” she said, in her best no-nonsense voice.

“I can’t,” he said, swaying slightly on his feet as he continued to stare at Snape. “I guess - ” he said at length, “I guess we better tell Dumbledore.”

James,” she said again. “You’re wounded. You need to see Madam Pomfrey.”

Now he did turn to look at her. “You called me James,” he said.

“Yes, well, it is an emergency,” she said, unsure herself why she had done such a thing. “They could get infected – I’m sure she could fetch Dumbledore - ”

He smiled at her, an exhausted, terrified smile. “Yes,” he said finally. “You’re right.”

As they made the slow, uncertain journey back up to the castle, Lily pushed the what and the why out of her mind. He could always ask for details later. From what Black had said, she felt certain of one thing: James Potter had just saved Severus Snape’s life.


Seventh Year

“Why did you keep asking me out?”

James almost walked into a suit of armour in surprise. “What was that, Lily?” he said, stumbling past the echoing suit and trying to look as dignified as possible.

“You know what I said.”

He paused to think for a moment, bringing their rounds to a halt. “I guess – it was a way to get a reaction from you.” She waited for more of an explanation, but it didn’t come.

“Why?” she said, feeling her old agitation rise again. “Did you ever really think I’d say yes?”

“I hoped you would.”

“But why?” she said. “You hated me!”

“I don’t hate you - ”

“You did,” she said, cutting him off. “That’s why you hounded me for three years, and that’s why you stopped, am I right? You wanted to humiliate me, to make me give in so that you could turn me down, or reel me in, use me, add Lily Evans to your list of Biggest Conquests. And that’s why you kept asking, year after year. The lure was just too great.”

James grabbed Lily by the arm, forcing her to halt again. “That wasn’t the reason at all,” he said.

“Then why, James? What did you want from me?”

“You,” he said. “I just wanted you.”

Lily’s breath caught in her throat, and her eyes dropped to his hand, still resting at her elbow. “Then why,” she said again, unable to meet his gaze, “did you stop?”

“You didn’t want me,” he said, and at that, she had to look at him. His eyes were open, honest, and now she couldn’t look away. “You didn’t want me, and I knew I could be closer to you as a friend than as the idiot who insulted you by asking you out day after day.” She stared at him. “And I’m sorry,” he said, misinterpreting her gaze. “I’m sorry for taking so long to realise that.”

The silence seemed to stretch on forever.

“Ask me again,” she said.

“What?”

“Ask me again.”

His eyes wide, that confident smile starting on spread on his lips, he said, “Will you go out with me, Lily?”

She smiled. “I’ll think about it,” she said.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
to_overload
Dec. 27th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
You mean 'never lovely liljames to_overload'.. anyway. Sorry. Reading.

Also eeee Lily/James!

Okay, now I will start.
to_overload
Dec. 27th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
I love it. It is fantastic, and you are amazing. :D
ballsandbullets
May. 16th, 2011 08:13 am (UTC)
It's so hard to find decent Lily/James, but this was just fantastic.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )