Grapefruit by ficexchange
A gift for TelwynDubois
James Potter winced as he gingerly touched the red, raw skin on his cheek. Despite years of being on the receiving end of Lily Evans’ angry blows, he was always surprised at just how hard the girl could hit.
Remus Lupin sighed from his seat next to James. “It’s your own fault, you know,” he muttered, not even bothering to look up from his book. James turned to his friend and shot him a glare.
“You could at least pretend to be supportive.”
Remus closed his book and looked up at James with another sigh. “You’re going about this all wrong. You just continue to annoy and harrass her, and then you wonder why she hits you!”
James opened his mouth and closed it, not knowing what to say. Finally a moment later he let out a huff. “Fine then! Since you’re so smart and...and booky!” (Remus raised his eyebrows at this) “Let’s hear what you would do, eh? Let’s have some of old Moony’s wisdom!” He crossed his arms and glared down at Remus, who was trying very hard not to laugh at the ridiculous expression on his friend’s face.
“James, I think you need to just lay off Lily for a bit. If you really like her as much as you claim, maybe you’ll listen to her complaints. She thinks you’re arrogant and annoying- so why not work on yourself? You need to leave her alone and grow up a bit, and then she will see that without you shoving it in her face all the time.” He ended his little speech by giving James a knowing look.
James stared blankly back at him. “Huh?”
Remus let out yet another sigh. Sometimes he felt James and Sirius were aging him beyound his years. He often felt more like their father than their seventeen year old friend.
“Let me try this again. You need to learn to be patient. If you leave Lily alone for a bit and stop bothering her, maybe she’ll actually start to like you. It’s like a grapefruit,” he said, grasping at straws. “They’re sour and squishy but if you mind the seeds and add a little sugar, it can be quite tasty.”
“Grapefruits? What are you on about?”
Remus put a hand on his head in exasperation. Of course James would only hear the word ‘grapefruit’ out of all that.
“ ‘Life... is like a grapefruit. It’s orange and squishy, and has a few pips in it, and some folks have half a one for breakfast’*,” he quoted. “It’s a metaphor,” he added with a pointed look.
Not wanting to admit that he had no idea what his friend was saying, James nodded along. “Right, yes, metaphor. Er, thanks, Moony.”
He gave his friend a small wave and left the Gryffindor Common Room. He walked aimlessly through the castle corridors, muttering to himself. “Grapefruits? Does Lily like grapefruit or something? And what is a metaphor?”
“Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, you know,” said a sarcastic voice behind him. James whirled around to see Sirius Black, lounging casually against a wall he had just walked past.
“I would know,” he added as he pushed himself off the wall and joined his raven-haired friend. “I grew up in a whole house of it.”
Sirius’ crooked grin faltered slightly at the sight of James’ puzzled face. “What’s wrong with you?”
James turned his head slightly, so that Sirius could see his red cheek. Sirius chuckled.
“Wow, she got you good this time! What’d you do?”
“I talked to Moony.”
Sirius’ face scrunched up in confusion. “You talked to Moony so Evans hit you? That’s not on. Does she fancy him now?”
“What? No! I mean I talked to Moony after she hit me. He said it was my fault she kept hitting me so I told him, if he was so smart, what did he think I should do.”
“He is quite bookish, that one,” Sirius replied fondly. “Ah, our Moony. Well at least one of us is smart, or else we’d all fail! So what’d he say?”
“I’m not quite sure,” James admitted. “Kept going on about grapefruits. Said it was a metaphor.” He glanced up at Sirius. “What’s a metaphor?”
Sirius stroked his chin in mock-concentration. “Hmm...metaphor. Maybe he meant meta-fort?”
“Why, what’s that?”
“No idea, but it’s got fort in it! Ooh, are we going to build a fort?” Sirius jumped up and down excitedly, looking more like his Animagus self at the moment than ever.
“I don’t know, is that even a real word?” James asked skeptically. “He kept talking about grapefruits being squishy and how they were a metaphor.”
Sirius shrugged. “Maybe he meant that if you ate a grapefruit, Evans would stop beating you up?”
“What, like it’s going to give me some kind of magical protection?” James asked uncertainly.
“Sure, I bet that’s it. Moony is aces at Herbology- he knows all about those plants and stuff.”
James let out a grunt in reply and then joined his friend as they walked towards the Great Hall for dinner. He was pleased to see that Lily was already seated at the Gryffindor table, meaning he could test this “grapefruit” theory right away.
“Evans,” he said with a nod as he took his seat across from her.
She didn’t bother to look up from her plate of roast chicken and potatoes. “What is it, Potter?” she asked with an exasperated sigh.
“Wow, Lils, calm down,” said Sirius with a sneer. “He was just saying hello.”
Lily looked up and glared at the grey-eyed boy staring down at her.
“Shut up, Padfoot,” grumbled James.
Lily raised an eyebrow at James, silently relishing in the bright red mark adorning his face.
James grabbed the nearest bowl of food and noisily piled some of it on his plate. “Could you pass me the grapefruits, Evans?” he asked as nonchalantly as possible.
She merely snickered in response. “Grapefruits?”
James looked at her, confused. “Yes, grapefruits. I would like to eat one.”
She stared back at him blankly. “You know people eat those for breakfast, right? Honestly, Potter, your stupidity never ceases to amaze me.” She quickly finished her food and stood up from the table, rolling her eyes as she left.
“Remind me again why I like her so much?”
“Like I understand that. I just assumed one of us had hit you a bit hard during our Marauders dueling practice,” replied Sirius, his mouth full of bread.
“Well this had better work,” he grumbled. “Tomorrow morning, I’m all over these grapefruits.”
The next morning, James woke early and hurried down to breakfast. Ignoring the fact that he was never early for anything, he sat at his usual place at the Gryffindor table and began to pile eggs on his plate.
“M-morning James,” came a sleepy voice behind him. James turned to see Remus stifling a yawn behind one of his scarred hands. “Why are you up so early? There’s not some prank going on during breakfast is there?” He immediately looked suspicious, glancing around the hall for anything out of order.
“No, no prank. Just wanted breakfast, and I was awake already.”
“Ok then,” Remus replied, not sounding entirely convinced.
“Pass me the grapefruits, would you Moony?”
Remus stared at his friend a moment longer, before handing over one of the large orange fruits. James attacked it with his knife, managing to spray grapefruit juice over most of the table.
After a few moments, he finally cut the fruit open and scooped out some of the fleshy inside with a spoon.
“Here goes nothing,” he mumbled to himself as he shoved the spoon in his mouth.
“Bleh!” he shouted, the sour taste taking him by surprise. “These are horrible!”
Beside him, Remus tried not to laugh. “They are a bit sour, yes. You could try putting some sugar on it.”
James was too busy wiping his tongue with a napkin to reply.
“What has he done now?”
The boys looked up to see an exasperated Lily Evans standing over them, followed by Sirius and Peter Pettigrew.
“James decided to try a grapefruit, but he apparently did not realize it would be so sour,” explained Remus.
James nodded. “I ate the grapefruit, Lily,” he said proudly.
She continued to stare at him, utterly bewildered, though really, when was she not completely confused by this boy?
Sirius leaned towards her, patting her shoulder. “It’s a metaphor,” he said, as if he were speaking to a toddler.
“Ok, I don’t get it,” grumbled an irate James Potter later that afternoon. “I ate the grapefruit!” he cried out, throwing his hands up in frustration.
“Look at it this way- at least your face matches now!”
James turned to Sirius and shot him a glare. His face did indeed match, as Lily had given him another shiny red mark on the other side of his face. He had no idea why she hit him though. All he had done was ask her out again. And, what had he been saying before that? ...Oh yea, just making fun of Snivelly, which was pretty much like breathing. Not like she could take offense at that. No one liked that slimy git...
“Maybe we had it wrong,” suggested Sirius. “Maybe you weren’t supposed to eat it. Maybe Lily is the grapefruit!”
James stopped his pacing to stare at his friend. “Right, so you think I should tell her she’s like a grapefruit?”
“Tell her she’s round, and orange, and really sour?”
“Yea-- ok maybe not. Why don’t you just ask Moony?”
“Ask Moony what?” Remus walked into the common room, not surprised to find two of his best friends scheming on the couches in front of the fire.
“Ask you about the grapefruit.”
“Grapefruit? James I told you it was going to be sour. Why didn’t you just put sugar on it? Then it would be sweet and you’d probably like it better,” he replied, joining them on the couch.
“That’s it!” James yelled, jumping to his feet. Without another word he ran out the door, leaving speechless friends behind.
“What was that all about?” asked Remus.
Receiving no response, he turned to look at Sirius, who was staring dazedly at him. “Moony, what would you say if I told you that you were a grapefruit?”
“I...think I’m going to go back to the library and study,” he said, gathering his books and leaving the room. It seemed as though Sirius was having one of his crazy days.
When James arrived in the great hall for dinner the next evening, he looked worse than anyone could remembering seeing him, even worse than the first time the Marauders had tried to get past the Whomping Willow to spend the full moon with Remus.
His lower lip was puffy and split down the middle, his glasses were hanging crookedly off his face, and it looked like his nose might have been broken. He sat silently at the table, refusing to meet anyone’s eyes as he began to eat.
Remus was leaning towards Sirius to ask what he thought of that when the doors slammed open. Lily stomped into the room, all but throwing her bag and herself onto the wooden bench at the Gryffindor table.
She was angry, there was no doubt about that. Her face was as red as her hair, and Remus thought he could almost see the smoke pouring from her ears. But what really caught his eye was the dusting of white powder all over her face and hair.
“Is that...sugar?” he asked quietly, hoping not to anger her further.
James nodded morosely over his dinner, wincing with each bite as the food touched his swollen lip.
Remus sat back and stared thoughtfully at his food. He hoped his advice wasn’t causing James to get beat up more frequently than usual, though he doubted anyone could be blamed for his dumping sugar on Lily’s head.
By the following week, James was ready to give up. He had tried everything he could think of involving Lily and grapefruit. He had put sugar on her to make her sweeter, which got him beat up twice (once for the sugar, the other time for explaining why he did it). He tried to Transfigure her into a grapefruit, and nearly succeeded (which he thought was brilliant wand work...). He had even written her a love poem about fruit, which he was not quite sure made sense. He and Sirius had picked a lot of words out of the thesaurus, without checking what their meanings were.
All that he had to show for his efforts was a broken nose, a black eye, and a limp when he walked. He had made her more angry than he had ever seen her, and one at point he was convinced she was actually going to kill him.
He sat gingerly down at the table for breakfast, ignoring the blatant stares coming from the other tables. Maybe they were all right. Perhaps it was time for him to throw in the towel, and find a girl who didn’t hate him so passionately.
When she joined the table a few minutes later, he was determined to just be civil and avoid talking to her as much as possible. If he were truly going to give up on her, he should probably not say anything.
With a few minutes left before their first classes would begin, he decided to have just one more piece of fruit. He reached out to grab it (thankfully it was an apple, and not another grapefruit) at the same time as Lily.
She sighed. “Fine, you have it. Don’t want to have to listen to you whine about it all day.”
“No, you can have it,” he said, pushing the plate towards her. Honestly, he was not hungry enough to subject himself to being hit in the face again. “I know apples are your favorite anyways,” he added as he stood up and walked off towards Potions.
Lily stared after him, bewildered. Was it possible to have an interaction with James Potter where he was polite, and didn’t hit on her?
“And that, my friend, is what I meant about the grapefruit,” Remus muttered. He smiled to himself. It wasn’t always so bad being the one who had to give advice.
*Quote by Douglas Adams