"Potter wait up."
James knew that voice very well and he'd give anything to turn around and listen had he not been feeling so claustrophobic in the Great Hall with everyone congratulating Dorcas on her new captaincy. He didn't stop walking, thinking Lily would never be bothered enough to come after him. He turned around the corner and took the long way to the Gryffindor tower thinking about just how much the decision of McGonagall had affected him. Although no one at the table had known that he too had been considered for the position, he felt as if everyone after congratulating Dorcas was looking at him with pity. He was obviously being delusional. But he felt suffocated sitting there with Sirius and Remus talking about the upcoming match against Slytherin and faint sounds of congratulations coming from Dorcas' end of the table. He had barely touched his food and had excused himself to go to bed. Now he was just wandering around aimlessly, not wanting to go back to the tower knowing that even looking at his house colours would remind him that he's not captain. He'd been hoping to be captain for so long, had come up with so many plays, had helped in tryouts every year and had trained every new member apart from his normal practice. He remembered Lily, only an hour before she had smiled at him and told him it'll be alright. Merlin, why am I being so sappy about this?! James thought as he ran into someone.
"Seriously Potter, I planned on running into you, but stop taking things literally, will you?" said Lily, as she rubbed her head where James' shoulder had hit her.
"I'm sorry, are you okay?" asked James, and then it hit him, "what do you mean you'd been planning on running into me?"
"I mean just that. To run into you, so we could talk." she explained.
"How did you even get here so fast?" James asked, trying to stall the conversation, but also curious.
"You really don't think only you and your band of monkeys know about the shortcuts of the castle?" she asked, eyeing him curiously.
"I did actually, though I stand corrected." he said.
"I came to talk to you."
"About how your crush on Dumbledore is becoming more and more evident with every passing day and how you need to address this situation before it gets out of hand." replied Lily, face as straight as ever.
James made a face at her and asked, "Why are you being so nice to me?". He narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her. He was now enjoying her exasperation with him. And while he still didn't want to talk about the quidditch situation, Lily's presence put his mind at ease.
"I need some help with the transfiguration homework." Lily replied, causing James to guffaw at her.
"It's as if everyone I know is turning so selfish." exclaimed James, his eyes wide.
Lily smacked James right on his arm and said, "You really should talk about it Potter. If you don't want to talk about it with me, talk to your friends. But don't just keep it rotting inside." Lily said and made to move. James had half a mind to let her go because he really didn't want Lily to know that he was a sappy cry baby, but the other half called out her name, because he'd be damned if he let an opportunity to be listened to by the famous Lily Evans, whose kindness nearly everyone had personally experienced, save for James.
"Evans, wait," he called, and Lily turned around, "I guess talking can't be too bad, eh?" he said, smiling sheepishly.
"No, it can't." Lily said, kindly. James patted himself on the back mentally, for once taking the right decision. No matter how stressed he was, he could never turn that smile down. He'd grown up seeing Lily, smiling kindly at the kids who'd have lost their way to class and guiding them to the right directions. James had once pretended to have lost his way to the hospital wing and had asked Lily for the direction. She hadn't been too enthusiastic about showing him the way, but had led him to the hospital wing nonetheless.
James and Lily walked over to a huge window, wordlessly, and sat down facing each other.
"If it's worth anything, I think you'd have made an excellent captain." Lily said.
"It's worth everything." said James, his hand shooting up to mess his hair. An awkward silence engulfed them.
"So.." started Lily.
"So?" James looked down at her.
"Why the long face about all this?"
"I don't have a long face about anything."
"Oh please Potter, at least respect the fact that we've already established there is a problem about Dorcas being the captain and not you."
"Okay, first, there isn't a 'problem' about Dorcas." James defended.
"So what is it?"
"What is it? If it's not a problem, then what is it?"
"Er.. i don't know. It's nothing I guess."
"Well it's something. I haven't seen you moping around like this since that time McGonagall refused to let you be in the same detention as Black. And that was in our third year."
"Let me tell you, nothing tops that. The thought of Sirius alone in Filch's office just.." James let his words hang in the air. He watched Lily out of the corner of his eyes, trying his best to put on a sordid expression.
"Because Filch might have overworked Sirius?" asked Lily, her voice thick with uncertainty.
"What? No! Because of all the fun I missed out on by not being in Filch's office." exclaimed James as he looked at Lily's gobsmacked face.
"I haven't even been talking to you for a full five minutes and I already feel like an idiot."
"Oh come on, don't feel like an idiot. Not on my account." laughed James and to his surprise, so did Lily.
"I feel so much better now." chuckled James as they calmed down a bit.
"The secret ingredient is to make Lily Evans feel like an idiot." said Lily as she put her hands on her cheeks, "and why weren't you feeling better before?"
"You're not letting it go are you?"
"Feeling like an idiot is one thing, feeling like an idiot just to be sidetracked from what I was originally after, is another. So why weren't you feeling better before?"
"It's nothing, it'll pass."
"If it'll pass, why not share it?"
"I thought I had seen all the crazy you carried in that mind of yours."
"I like to hand out free samples before I let people see the real deal."
"You sure handed out a lot of free samples to me. Were you pursuing me as a potential client or something?" smirked James.
"I was just sizing up my competition." quipped Lily. James threw back his head and laughed. He was almost worried that he had crossed a line with Lily, but she lived to surprise him. He calmed down and looked at Lily. Her fingers were neatly pleating the hem of her skirt. Her nervous habit. James wondered how Lily could be the one nervous here. Was he making her nervous?
"I just wanted the captaincy." James blurted out, as he realised Lily's pleating was getting a bit vigorous and kept pushing the hem of her skirt above her knees the more she pleated them. She let go her skirt and James let out a sigh of relief.
"And McGonagall thought Dorcas was better?"
"She thought we were both equally deserving."
"So who made the final call?"
"I told her to consider Dorcas as she had more experience and as I still had a year to go for the captaincy but for her it's the last chance."
"Very Byronic of you." commented Lily.
"What does that mean?"
"Oh nothing. So you're upset that you stepped down as Dorcas' opposition or that McGonagall actually took you for your word the one time she shouldn't have?"
"Neither. I'm just .. upset."
"Because you lost the captaincy?"
"Yes and yes I know it's selfish."
"How is it selfish?"
"I don't know, I gave it up and now I'm just roaming around, moping, having you listen to just how upset I am, when I willingly gave it up. It makes Dorcas look bad in front of you."
"Okay your logic is so off. One, it doesn't make Dorcas sound bad. She deserves this captaincy. Two, it doesn't make you sound selfish. Just because you let someone have the last piece of a cake because you thought they deserved it, doesn't make the other person bad for accepting it and just because you gave up that piece of cake willingly doesn't mean you aren't allowed to mope for it. I mean, yes I'd be happy to give my cake to someone who wanted it more than me, but I'll sit up all night thinking about that cake. It's okay to mope around and be sad for what you wanted. There's nothing wrong with that." finished Lily, longing etched on her face.
"Do you want a cake, Evans?" asked James as he studied Lily's expression which was quickly turning into a dreamy one.
"Don't blame me, all that cake talk made me hungry."
"You do realise you just compared quidditch captaincy with cake."
"Okay nothing comes closer to being compared with your captaincy than cake." defended Lily.
"I agree. Also it's not my captaincy."
"It will be next year." said Lily, with her eyebrows raised and a wide expectant smile on her face.
"Hey don't jinx it by saying it."
"You really are doing good in your muggle studies aren't you?" asked Lily, an odd expression of surprise on her face.
"I still don't understand the logic behind superstitions."
"That's why they are superstitions and not traditions that actually have some reason to back them."
"Oi prongs. Where have you been-" James broke his gaze away from Lily to look at Sirius with Remus and Peter heading towards where James and Lily sat.
"-oh" said Sirius as he looked at Lily sitting next to James.
"Um, that's okay, I was leaving anyway." mumbled Lily as she got up and adjusted her skirt.
"Good night, Potter." said Lily without looking towards James, but he couldn't care less. He sat with his legs sprawled out in front of him and looked ahead. His previous desire to mope around was dying away as he watched Lily taking her firm and determined steps towards the Gryffindor tower, her head high and the light bouncing off her hair as she moved.
A/N: that was one long hiatus, and i can't say I'll be updating regularly but i'll try. I'm very sorry for the abrupt break, but all the uncertainty surrounding this covid situation has my mind rotting. I'm so very sorry for this delay (i don't think 'delay' qualifies as an appropriate word for the long break that I took). Anyway thanks for reading guys. Love ya. stay safe please.