He always had natural charm. He would stare at me with those smoldering hazel eyes and I was just hypnotized. I know I sound incredibly clich, but everything about James Potter screamed fairy tale and knight in shining armor. He made me love him. How could I not? He was there to scoop me into his arms when I was in tears over my failed Transfiguration tests, he was there to hold my hand when Sirius dig a splinter out of my finger, he was just there. Always. No questions asked. He was my best friend, my confidante.
I used to hate him, you know. We fought, oh my goodness, did we fight. They were screaming fights- the worst kind. Our battles were infamous. One time we got into an, ahem, argument outside the Potions classroom, and the whole school gathered to watch. Dumbledore himself had to disperse the students. James-Lily fights were, by popular opinion, the best. I think James enjoyed the attention, the crowds that flocked to see us. At the end of our disputes, he would always have a smirk on his face, would always be calm and cool. I, on the other hand, would be flushed, red-faced, and sweaty from screaming. That was one of the things that made me so angry that he could be so collected while I was falling apart.
Afterwards, though, James would apologize. And, typical James, he didn't do anything halfway. He'd usually do it in the middle of dinner, standing up on the Gryffindor table and announcing to the whole school that he was most heartily sorry for offending Miss Lily Evans. He'd make showers of confetti fall on my head and hand me bouquets of white lilies (how original).
Lily Evans, He'd say. Will you forgive me?
Of course, I wouldn't. Usually, I would throw the flowers in his face and call him a git, a prat, or something worse. I liked to publicly humiliate him. It made me feel good to know that for once, James Potter was embarrassed. For once, James Potter didn't know what to do. (Later, he would say that he never knew what to do when he was around me. And later, I would, of course, take that as a compliment, I'd blush and giggle and whisper sweet nothings in his ear. It took us a long time to get to that point, though.) When we were first, second, and third years, I knew what to do to make him mad. I could always say something that had to do with James being in love with Snape, and he would die of mortification. Fourth year, he started laughing off the insults. Fourth year was also when he started asking me out in earnest. Every day, it seemed like, he thought of a new way to ask me to date him. The most memorable time, I think, was when James enchanted my mashed potatoes to fly out of my bowl and up to the ceiling and spell out LE GO OUT WITH JP. I hexed him, of course, though I wasn't as mad as I let on. I hated him, yes, but there was always a little part of me that wanted to laugh at him and hug him as hard as I possibly could. He was just so lovable, despite his unfortunate tendency to hex anything that moved. He was the crazy prankster, the leader of the famous marauders, the unattainable, elusive, incredibly good-looking James Potter. He seemed to be entirely two-dimensional on the surface, appearing to love only four things: Quidditch, his three best friends, pranking, and of course, me.
Only- he wasn't as simple as he seemed. There was something about him. I don't think anyone knew quite what. Yes, he was immature and never serious. But, there were times in class when James would bend over a particularly difficult Transfiguration problem and bite his lip in concentration, for once subdued. Then, ages before anyone else even came close to figuring out how to cast the spell, James's face would light up, he'd swish his wand and whatever he wanted to happen, it happened. He was brilliant that way. That's probably why I was so drawn to him, despite how I acted to everyone else. I always knew that there was more to James Potter than met the eye. He was truly an enigma.
I never understood why he liked me. (Later, he would say, But, Lily, there are a million reasons! Then he'd proceed to, erm, show me, in a physical manner, just how much he liked me.) He was a god; every girl in the school fell at his perfect feet. When James walked through the halls, it was enough to make you stop mid-sentence and stare after him. He generated a kind of unexplainable charisma that was partly good looks, partly intelligence, and partly everything else that was a piece of the mystery that was James. I was just an ordinary redhead that was, by common consent, too studious for her own good. Popular? I suppose I could be considered that, I had a famous temper that made itself known on many occasions, and I had my fair share of boys who followed me with lovesick gazes. On James Potter's level? Never.
But I digress.
James was arrogant and stubborn in every sense, he was always so confident, overly so, in fact, and cockiness was never a quality I valued. But all the same, there was just an aura of a boy about him. (That doesn't make much sense, but then- I never did make much sense when it came to James Potter. Let me explain myself.) Obviously, he was of the male persuasion, but sometimes he was just so childlike. There was something just so innocent, so pure about him. He would get excited over things that, to the rest of us, seemed like normal, everyday occurrences. I'd caught him on many occasions entering the great hall on blustery winter mornings, taking a look at the enchanted ceiling, stopping dead in his tracks, pointing, and screaming gleefully, SNOW! He would then shovel down his breakfast faster than seemed humanly possible, and run outside to make snowmen and forts, disregarding such things as cloaks, gloves, and scarves not for James Potter, oh no. Why would he need a sweater or mittens in 20-degree weather? He regarded such trivial things in contempt; nothing could slow him down on those memorable days when the precipitation was white and fluffy. He had to be outside to have a snowball fight with Sirius as soon as he could. James, with his infectious delight, was known to coerce many into joining him in his snow wars. Ashamedly, I admit, I participated in a few myself. I just couldn't resist. He'd say, ever so sweetly,
C'mon, Evans, have some fun for a change, you know you want to.
I'd respond primly, Certainly not, Potter, I have much more important things to do than go traipsing around in the snow. It's much too wet and cold and-
But eventually, I'd fall victim to his relentless wheedling and agree to play in the snow with him. Never let it be said that Lily Evans doesn't know how to have fun. (At this point, James would snort and say, Ha! I say it all the time!)
Also, he loved the rain. When it rained, like clockwork, he would go outside and stand. Just stand, being silent and feeling the rain fall and cover him. I watched him, you know. I would never admit it, even now, but I would stare out my window to the Quidditch pitch at the tall form of James Potter. He would be there with his arms outstretched, the rain beating down upon him, with a small smile on his face. He looked so content when he was alone in the rain. It was a beautiful sight, and when I watched him those times, I, for once, could find no fault with him. And that was how my ongoing feud with James ended, that was when my feelings really started changing-- with the rain.
I was watching him like that one day, watching him outside in the rain. I gazed at him for a long while, and about the time when he opened his mouth and let the rain fall into it, I was seized by a moment of madness. I don't know what else to call it. I was just suddenly overcome by a hitherto unheard of urge to go talk to James Potter. I know, crazy, but it has been said before that once I get an idea in my head, I stop at nothing until I make said idea into a reality. I don't know what it was, maybe it was the look of pure joy on James's face, maybe it was how handsome he looked out there, despite being soaking wet. Although I didn't realize it then, my feelings for James had been evolving slowly for some time. Whatever the reason was, I had made up my mind. I ran as fast as I could down the stairs, burst out of the common room, and ran out to the entrance hall. (I knocked down a fair few people in my haste.) I stood in front of those tall double doors, took a deep breath, and pushed them open.
I walked as quietly as I could to where James stood.
Potter, I acknowledged him.
He gave a start. Evans! What are you doing out in the rain?
I might ask you the same question.
James stared at me, then laughed. I like the rain, he said simply. Don't you?
I stared back. Yes, Potter. Yes, I like the rain.
I blame what happened next on his eyes. His eyes were dizzy, they were melting, they were dissolving me where I stood. I fell into them, and I didn't think I could ever climb out and at that moment, I did not particularly want to. Those large and lovely hazel eyes were confusion and romance and Everything I Ever Wanted.
(James Potter's eyes always did distract me so much I didn't know my own name.)
So, whether it was because of his eyes, or because of the sudden realization that I honestly couldn't remember why I hated him, I said:
Potter. I think we should start over.
James' face lit up with so much hope it made my heart ache, although at the time I blamed the sudden rush of emotion on the chilly air.
Start over, Evans? You mean, stop fighting? Because- I haven't hexed one person all year, and I really think we can be friends-
Yes, that's it- friends, okay? Just friends.
A tiny grin blossomed on James' lips. Friends. All right. I can deal with that for now.
I let that one slide, just because he looked so happy, and maybe because of the sudden, lighthearted feeling that was spreading throughout my entire body.
I looked at him, he looked at me. We smiled at each other, raised our heads skyward, and caught the rain on our tongues.