One Month to Change Your Life by lilyandjames2790
A/N. Yeah. I suck. I realize it has been approximately a million years since this has been updated, but fear not! We have not abandoned this fic! We never will; it just may take us until we are into our forties to finish it! So I deeply apologize for the long wait if anyone is even still following, and I won't bore you with excuses. So…after (way too) much ado, enjoy Chapter 7!
Disclaimer- If I was JKR, I could have written the entire seventh Harry Potter book in the time it took me to update with one chapter. Therefore, I clearly am not her.
Chapter 7- In Which Girl Talk Ensues
I strode into the Gryffindor Common room mulling over the events at breakfast. I had not been flirting with Potter. I would never stoop that low. I was Lily Evans and she doesn't do things like flirt with toerags like Potter. Being nice? Sure, I do that. That's all it was. Being nice.
After all, I couldn't very well be flirting with one bloke while my future husband could have been (but wasn't as I conveniently noticed) just a few tables over. I made a face at that thought. How embarrassing would that have been? Thinking of Preston reminded me of the talent competition that I should have been starting to stress over. After all, the competition was only a few weeks away. Preston and…oh…that's not a good habit. I can't keep thinking of my partner as Preston. I would rather be pleasantly surprised if it was him than horribly disappointed if it wasn't.
Still, it was nice to dream about what it would be like to win the competition only to find out that our victory was due to the incredible teamwork between Preston and I. Even Anna would realize how perfect we were together, and would hopefully stop insinuating that I had feelings for Potter. Which I don't. Obviously. I sighed blissfully at the thought of winning the competition with Preston, but quickly shook myself back into reality and sat down on my favorite couch in front of the fire.
The clock on the wall said it was still early, so I didn't have to rush. I had almost forgotten that it was a Hogsmeade day, but seeing as I didn't have a date, the only thing on my to-do list was Christmas shopping with Anna and she wasn't even back from breakfast yet.
I stretched languidly before grabbing the notebook from the depths of my bag. I twirled my quill around my fingers deliberating over what I wanted to say. I obviously could start with the whole "Hello, How are you?" deal, but what then? We seriously needed to actually start thinking of an act. As far as I was aware it was decided that we would sing a duet…but what song? When would we practice? I paused in my twirling. On that note, how were we supposed to practice? Dumbledore said the Room of Requirement was available and luckily I had found the room in question early in my first year when looking for a way to my Transfiguration class, but I still didn't understand how even that room could be of use when practicing a duet.
Surely if I heard my partner's voice I would know who it was? Then again, this was Dumbledore, and I'm sure he would have thought of that. I shook my head again. I was doing far too much worrying for a holiday break. One problem at a time. Once we decided on a song we could practice individually and figure the rest out.
I finally put my quill to the page and wrote.
I waited for a few moments and received no response. Hmm. Maybe he wasn't awake yet?
Preston wasn't at breakfast…
No. I can't think like that.
Though, maybe whoever it was didn't answer because he was at breakfast, which left a host of undesirable partners.
I decided not to wait around for a reply. I didn't want to seem to my partner as though I had so little of a life that I would just wait around for him… especially just in case it was Preston. It didn't occur to me that when he replied I would feel the warmth and reply somewhat instantly whether or not I had been waiting for his response.
I yawned before standing up, gathering my belongings, and heading up to my dormitory. I opened the door slowly before remembering that dear Alisa hadn't come back from breakfast, so I had no reason to be nervous entering my own dormitory.
Resisting the urge to flop down on my bed and nap until Anna came back, I turned instead towards my closet to find an appropriate outfit for Christmas shopping in snowy Hogsmeade. I finally decided on a sweater that my mother had given me that was conveniently a perfect shade of Gryffindor maroon, yet didn't clash too horribly with my hair. It worked nicely with a plain pair of blue jeans under my casual-but-warm black robes.
I had just donned the robes in question when Anna came into the room.
"I have to say Lil, that potential boy of yours and his friends are completely off their rockers."
Rolling my eyes, I decided to ignore the jab. "And this news is supposed to shock me because…?"
"Yes, fair point, but I mean even more than previously expected," she said, looking as though she was about to burst. I chuckled at my best friend's behavior and sat down on my bed, patting the place next to me. I knew I was supposed to be annoyed with her over the whole flirting-with-Potter ordeal, but decided it ultimately wasn't worth it. After all, if my best friend couldn't rag on me for a stupid thing like this, then who in Merlin's name could?
Not to mention that as far as she was aware I didn't have feelings for anyone else, so why not fancy Potter? Well, I'm sure I could come up with plenty of reasons for her if she wanted them, but I didn't think that was incredibly necessary…at the moment.
"Ok, out with it," I said once she had taken residence on the edge of my bed.
She grinned excitedly. "Well, he was positively glowing about whatever happened up in Dumbledore's office…and he said something about how he has delicious lemon drops…but I don't think that really had anything to do with anything," she rambled on until I stopped her.
"Anna, he was probably just happy he didn't get into a huge amount of trouble. Anyone in his shoes would be; you saw how peeved McGonagall looked." I didn't really see why Anna was so intrigued by this. The situation was pretty cut and dry as far as I was concerned.
" No, I don't think that was it," she shook her head, and continued as though she were Sherlock Holmes laying out all of the clues right in front of me. "You don't understand, Lil. His friends were ecstatic that he got sent specifically to the headmaster's office. And you didn't see their faces when he came back in such a good mood. It was like they were all in on a big secret... I think all of his pranks were just a way to get to the headmaster's office. They were up to something."
Oh sure, now she thinks they're up to something.
"If anyone is up to something, it's Potter and his bloody fake niceness." I continued, ignoring Anna's pointed eyeroll. "But Anna, I really think you're looking into this too much. His friends were probably just proud that the pranks got James enough recognition to get sent to the headmaster's office without actually getting into any real trouble."
I stood up from my bed to finish gathering my things for Hogsmeade, as she continued to sit, lost in her own thoughts. I almost didn't hear her next comment.
"By the way, I told him you had been worried about him."
I turned around so fast that my neck cracked and I dropped my bag. "You- I- You said- But I wasn't-…WHAT?"
She shrugged as I continued stammering like an idiot. It was obvious that she felt bad, and she began to apologize very quickly. "Well, it seemed like you did. I didn't mean to say anything, but it sort of came out when he was wondering why you bolted, and I figured I would tell you lest you heard it from him or something. And-"
I interrupted her tirade the only way I could think of.
I threw a pillow at her face.
"What did you do that for?"
"I'm not sure," I said, giggling. "You get so worried and you ramble, so I figured I had to shush you up somehow, and the pillow was closest. Be grateful it wasn't my Transfiguration textbook," I said pointing a stern finger in her direction. She looked down at her hands in her lap, seeming to think I was still actually upset with her. I suppose maybe I should have been annoyed with her, at least slightly, but I couldn't bring myself to feel it. Even if she had told Potter I was worried about him - which I so clearly wasn't - being mad wasn't going to change that.
All it would do was waste precious Hogsmeade time.
And that is just plain stupid.
"So what shops do we have to make sure to hit?" I asked, breaking the silence. Anna's relief was evident on her face, and she strode to her own closet to start pulling out an appropriate outfit. She tossed aside only a few options before ultimately deciding on a pale blue cardigan with black slacks.
She looked thoughtful as she clasped her own black robe and began to rattle off who she still needed to buy for.
"Well I already have a gift for my parents and I obviously can't buy your present while you're right there," she said with a smirk knowing that a comment like that would cause a sharp spike in my curiosity even if I didn't say anything about it. "The person I'm having the most trouble buying for is Preston. Would you mind helping me pick something out for him?"
Despite my best efforts at being nonchalant, I couldn't stop my head from the sharp turn it took to look at her when she said Preston's name. Help her buy him a present? Well…this could certainly be an interesting endeavor. I swallowed the lump that had begun to grow in my throat and managed to reply that I would certainly do my best to help. Anna raised an eyebrow at my slightly odd behavior, but eventually shrugged it off.
She turned to look in the mirror as she added a white scarf to her ensemble. She was brushing her hair into a quick ponytail when she suddenly turned as though a thought had just come to her.
"Are we supposed to buy something for our partners?" she asked nervously as she finished tying up her hair.
I would be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind. I had debated the issue ever since I started talking with my partner. From the few chats we had had he seemed like a nice bloke, but I obviously didn't know him well enough to know what he would like as a Christmas present.
I looked in my own mirror and decided that my own hair actually looked decently wavy today so I might as well leave it down. I stood up and held the door to the common room open for Anna before finally replying.
"I'm not sure. I know my partner likes quidditch, but I don't even know what team he supports or anything. I suppose I could get him something small at the quidditch supply store. Maybe you could get something for Preston there too?" I added, thinking that maybe this could work to my advantage. I knew my partner liked quidditch even if he wasn't Preston. But if he was, at least I would know what he would like as well as what his sister was already getting him.
Anna nodded in agreement, but I could tell her mind was now elsewhere. Always the nervous one, I could tell she was now preoccupied about what to get her partner.
"Anna, I'm sure your partner won't be upset if you don't get him anything." I said, trying to be reassuring.
"But… what if I get him something and he hates it?" she asked, her voice rising in pitch slightly as her nervousness started to grow. I followed her out of the portrait hole, trying to decide on a way to relieve her worries.
"Well let me ask you this. If he gave you a gift, anything at all, maybe even something you hated, what would you think?"
She answered without hesitation. "I'd be grateful that he even thought of me. But—"
I stopped walking and clamped my hand over her mouth causing her to stop as well, much to her surprise. "You've been getting along with him, right?" She nodded underneath my hand. "And you said you have a lot in common, right?" She nodded again and I could see her shoulders relax as she seemed to understand where I was going with this. "So, is it appropriate to say that if you got him anything at all, even something he hated, he would be grateful that you even thought of him?" I asked, releasing my hand from its placement over her mouth. I waited for her to respond before moving forward.
She smiled a shy smile. "I know, I know. Of course, you're right," she acquiesced. I, of course, already knew I was right, so she really didn't need to tell me. But I appreciated that she had realized it too, and we started again on our merry way towards the entrance hall where the thestral-drawn carriages were waiting to bring us to Hogsmeade.
"So, when we're there, we'll just browse a couple of stores and see if anything jumps into your hands." I paused, deciding that some rephrasing might be in order. "Ok, so not just anything that jumps into your hands. I forget that is actually quite a common occurrence in the wizarding world. But anything that calls to you… Ok, anything that makes you think of him." I finished lamely, realizing that muggle sayings had whole new meanings when it was incredibly possible for inanimate objects to do things like calling or jumping.
Anna let out a loud chuckle at my wording mishaps. She was used to them by now, but it didn't mean they amused her any less.
We spent the rest of the walk down to the carriages discussing the shops that we wanted to browse. We decided against our better judgment that it might be a good idea to visit Zonko's if no other store had anything promising for her partner. We obviously had to make a stop at the quidditch store, and we, as always, agreed to stop into The Three Broomsticks and Honeydukes. Other than that, our plans were pretty up in the air, so it appeared at the time as though we would be enjoying a very relaxed day in the village.
I then saw the Marauders entering the carriage in front of ours. I watched them climb noisily into their carriage as I fervently wished that they wouldn't do anything to ruin our day.
That hope was dashed pretty quickly when I noticed that Potter had seen me watching and sent me a wink before entering the carriage.
"Anna, I'm not sure if I want to go anymore." I said quickly. Unfortunately, she had already entered the carriage, and there was no way she was going to get out until we had reached Hogsmeade. Besides, she knew as well as I did that I didn't actually want to stay at the castle. I was just nervous because I was still convinced that James Potter had something awful up his sleeve. This was not the first time he had winked at me and I was not a fan of his new favorite form of greeting.
"Oh come on up you goof, I'll protect you from the big, bad Marauders," she said cheekily, extending her hand to help me into the carriage. I looked around and saw a group of students waiting for the carriage behind ours. I noticed, much to my dismay, that Preston was one of them and he was watching the exchange in amusement. Just in case I already wasn't planning to quietly take Anna's hand and get into the carriage, now I most definitely didn't want to make a scene. I clasped her hand, pulled myself into the carriage, and we were off to Hogsmeade before I even had a chance to get comfortable.
We had hardly moved for more than a few seconds when I felt my bag grow warm.
I paused briefly, my hand already partially reaching toward my bag to retrieve the notebook, as I was struck by a sudden thought.
Starting a conversation would certainly be easy if one had just gotten into a carriage. For example, a carriage to Hogsmeade. For example, the carriage right behind ours.
For example, like Preston had.
I didn't want to kid myself, but there were so many reasons that it could be Preston! I refused to acknowledge that plenty of other possible partners had also just entered their respective carriages. With this happy thought in mind, I excitedly rummaged in my bag for my notebook and quill.
"You ok over there, Lil?" Anna asked with another smirk. I guess she had seen my pause and the subsequent rush for my notebook. I gave her a smile and a shrug as I opened my notebook, and stopped short when I read the words on the page.
Good morning right back at ya. If you don't mind me saying, you're looking lovely today.
I grinned to myself. My partner tried to be such a charmer. That line was worthy of Sirius Black. Did he really think I wouldn't see through that in a heartbeat? It would be a nice compliment if it weren't for the obvious point that he couldn't possibly know who I was. I shook my head in amusement as I put my quill to the notebook to reply.
Does that work on all of the ladies? Complimenting them even though you have no clue who they are or what they look like?
Who says I don't know who you are?
The short line came quickly and thoroughly confused me. We had been talking pretty steadily over the course of the past week, but I still had no idea who he could be. I mean we all know who I was hoping it was…except Anna of course… thank Merlin. But that still didn't explain how he had managed to figure out who I was… or guess at any rate I reminded myself.
Liar. There is no way you know who I am. How could you? I haven't the foggiest idea who you could be!
Well, maybe I'm just a bit more observant than you are.
I smirked at the impish reply. More observant? Oh sure, because I've been dropping oh so many hints over the past few days. I had been so careful to not divulge anything that might give my identity away. The last thing I needed was for Dumbledore to think I was trying to cheat his brilliant system.
Sure, I still don't believe you, but thanks for your comment anyway. Heading to Hogsmeade?
Believe what you wish, my Flower.
And of course I am heading to Hogsmeade! Wouldn't miss it for anything.
My head spun. 'My Flower?' That was obviously meant to prove his point without breaking any of Dumbledore's rules. Merlin's beard, he really did know who I was. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know how to react. Do I ask how he figured it out so I can try to use his same tactics to figure out who he was? Do I ignore it and go on with the competition as though nothing has changed? Do I…oh no…am I supposed to tell Dumbledore? What if he disqualifies us? What if he thinks I was trying to cheat? I must have paused too long because before I knew it, my partner had written back.
Hey, don't stress about it. I'm fairly certain Dumbledore knows I know. Mad old man that he is, I don't think he even minds. So don't freak out.
Well, in case I didn't believe him at first, there was my proof. Calling me out on stressing about telling Dumbledore meant he either knew who I was, or had made a damn good guess.
Okay, okay you caught me. So what are your plans for the day?
I smiled to myself at my suave change of subject and looked out the window at the swiftly approaching village. If he told me where he was going today, I might be able to determine his identity!
Nice try, but you're not going to figure out who I am that easily.
Damn your cleverness.
Clever, eh? A Ravenclaw, perhaps? I shook my head. I was really getting ridiculous with my Preston thoughts. There are plenty of clever individuals in other houses. Anna was a perfect example! She could read me like a book.
Well, fine. Ulterior motive aside, I'm just making conversation now. Any plans you CAN share?
Smooth recovery. I'm just hanging with some friends, and probably picking up the latest Quidditch Quarterly. I heard they are running a feature on the Falmouth Falcons.
Boys and their quidditch. I smiled again, briefly wondering if that was Preston's favorite team, but not dwelling on it since our carriage had just slowed to a standstill. I briefly scribbled a quick message to my partner telling him I would talk to him later and replaced the notebook and quill into my bag.
I looked up, shaking my hair out of my eyes to see that Anna was grinning at me. "You haven't stopped smiling since you opened that thing, He must be a good partner," she commented knowingly as she gracefully stepped down from the carriage. I stepped down next to her, stumbling slightly as my robe caught in the door to the carriage. I straightened quickly, my cheeks reddening as I noticed that as luck would have it, both Potter and Preston had noticed my clumsiness.
I linked my arm in Anna's and decided to ignore the boys grinning cheekily in our direction as we began to walk into the village.
"You know Anna, he just might be."
A/N I know nothing too terribly exciting happens in this chapter, but that's because this is technically half of what was supposed to be Chapter 7. The rest of it decided it wanted to be much longer than anticipated, and we figured we would make the wait shorter and cut the chapter in half, so at least there is something to read!