All Because of the Quidditch Final by ficexchange
A gift for MarauderNumber5;
All Because of the Quidditch Final
It was all because of the Quidditch final.
That James Potter was busy scrambling around his room like a madman in search of the perfect birthday gift for Lily Evans was of direct consequence of yesterday's harrowing Quidditch final against Ravenclaw.
James had meant to purchase something thoughtful in advance, but with the increase in Quidditch practices and late night strategy sessions, Lily's birthday—the day after—had been pushed to the backburner and forgotten. James let out a frustrated sigh as he opened his trunk and rifled through the contents once more.
Now, it wasn't the first time that James has attempted to get Lily a present. He had spent a great deal of his youth bestowing both flowers and taunts to the hot-tempered beauty—with most of the gifts resulting in a nasty hex towards the gifter. However, now, nearing the end of their sixth year, the situation between the once mortal enemies had dramatically changed.
It had appeared that after their heated confrontation by the lake last year, both Lily and James had experienced a sea change. Lily had shed the uptight standoffishness that oftentimes walled her away from her fellow classmates, and once James learned that respect was earned and not gained by hexing Slytherins, he became a much nicer person.
On a foggy September morning before the start of the next term, both agreed upon the radical decision to let the past remain as it were, and become tentative mates. No one really knows what caused this mature change in events. And while this took some time to get used to—in addition to the stares they were receiving from the other Hogwarts students—James and Lily quickly found themselves in an easy friendship. With all their newfound time spent not insulting one another, they realized they had actually more in common than they thought. In fact, James discovered he enjoyed Lily's company most when they weren't really doing anything at all.
During breaks between classes, James could not help but laugh at Lily's seemingly unending collection of dirty jokes. He, in turn, regaled her with stories of his childhood antics on walks to the Owlery. As Herbology partners one day, Lily admitted her strained relationship with her sister and James confided in her his fears about his father's ailing health. Days turned to weeks, which then became months of sharing stories and long conversations. While those instances did not compare to James' previous, adolescent fantasies about sweeping Lily onto his broom for a midnight ride or snogging passionately in empty classrooms, he decided that what they had now was even better than his dreams. For those natural, fleeting moments that they shared were actually real, and were something special between only them.
So when James woke up the morning after his victorious Quidditch match without any sort of gift, he immediately panicked. He was determined to get her something thoughtful, something sweet. A present that, after months of truly getting to know the real Lily, would convey everything that she means to him now.
Unfortunately for James, he had no bloody idea what that would be.
In the midst of his queries, Sirius Black walked through the door. "Still looking for that damned present, Prongs?"
James slammed his trunk shut. "Yes, still looking."
Sirius walked over to his dresser and opened the third drawer. "Here, how about this perfume I've saved?" He tossed a long purple bottle across the room, which James caught deftly in mid-air.
"I am not giving Lily a gift for your next snogging buddy, Padfoot."
Sirius shrugged and sat down at his desk. "Hey, it's just a thought. Let's see; you two have been mates for some time now. Maybe she'll like a nice new set of quills?"
"That's what you give mates you don't know. Or don't like. Too practical."
James threw Sirius a Look. "I don't know her that well, Padfoot."
Sirius grinned, "Oh, but you wish you did."
James flushed a deep crimson. "Arse. Think of something else."
"As if I could find one Lily hasn't read yet." James flopped down upon his bed. "I need to find a gift that could express to Lily how I feel about her. Maybe I should just take her on a walk by the lake," he suggested. He began tapping his foot in nervousness.
Sirius cocked an eyebrow and crossed his arms. "What are you going to do there? Sing a duet with the giant squid? Take it from me, Prongs, birds don't like it when you show up empty-handed."
James immediately sat up on his bed and got to his feet. "That's it."
With a confused look, Sirius replied, "What's it?"
James grabbed a sheet of parchment from his desk and pulled out his wand from his trouser pocket. Working quickly, he transfigured the blank parchment it into a small box with a red bow. "I'm going to give my gift to Lily. Wish me luck, Padfoot." James threw Sirius an earnest grin as he pulled on his jacket.
Sirius shook his head and leaned back against his desk chair. "You're an idiot when it comes to Evans, mate."
James sprinted down the boys' staircase and out the Portrait Hole, nearly colliding into some unsuspecting second years returning from supper. As he entered the Great Hall, the Quidditch Captain stopped abruptly upon seeing his intended target.
The pretty redhead looked up from her bowl of soup, and smiled in the direction of the distinctive voice. "Hi, James." Lily then noticed his confused expression and dropped her grin. She gestured at her clothing. "My roommates thought it would be oh-so-charming to make me wear this birthday shirt today. I didn't have the heart to say no. Do I look as stupid as I feel?"
James waved off the question with a swoop of his hand. Lily did look a bit ridiculous in her red sequined blouse, bedazzled with an image of a birthday cake, but in his eyes, she was as beautiful as ever. "You look perfect. I just really need to show you something right now. Do you have a moment?"
Lily put her spoon down and glanced at her watch, "Well, my patrol with Frank doesn't start for another thirty minutes. What is it, James?"
James flashed her a winning smiled and ushered Lily out of the Great Hall. Grabbing her small hand in his, James lead Lily out of the castle entrance towards the hills near Hagrid's hut.
"Merlin, James, if I'd known you were going to take me on a hike, you could've at least told me to put on my trainers," Lily muttered, navigating the rocky terrain before following James into a patch of trees.
In the center of the grove, James turned around and faced Lily. "I wanted to bring you somewhere special where I can properly give you your birthday present."
Lily rolled her eyes. "You're batty, James. You needn't have to take me anywhere—or get me anything!"
"Yes, of course, Lily, but this is important. A witch only gets to celebrate her sixteenth birthday once." James smiled ruefully. "I know our history hasn't exactly been picture perfect these past couple—well, several—years, but I just wanted you to know that being your mate this past year has meant the world to me. All of our conversations, our time spent together laughing and lazing about-they have truly been a gift." James pulled the dainty box from within his uniform trousers. "Here you go. It's not much, but I want you to know it's from the heart."
Lily smiled shyly and carefully took the small package from James' calloused hands. She looked up at him and said, "This is very sweet, James. I'm really glad that we're mates now, too. You've become very dear to me." She undid the red ribbon and pulled off the lid.
"It's empty." Lily looked up from the box at James quizzically. "There's-nothing."
"Yes", he replied, tucking a wayward strand of auburn hair back behind her ear. "Nothing-but you and me. It's when I believe I am my best self, because I am with you." Then, with all the bravery and gumption that only a Quidditch Captain could muster, James leaned down and kissed Lily gently on the cheek. "Happy Birthday, Lily."
Emerald eyes stared blankly into hazel.
James stepped back and swallowed nervously. 'Now I've gone and done it', he thought to himself. 'I've crossed the line and she probably hates me again.' James closed his eyes and took a deep breath. After what seemed like years, he could hear his companion take a step forward towards his tall frame, with her face coming ever so closely to his own. Feeling her warm breath against his parted lips, Lily murmured, "Thank you, James", and closed the spaced between them.