Disclaimer; I don't own the wizarding world of Harry Potter or any of the characters in it. I wish I did. But I don't.
Here's chapter Fifty-Two!
Hope you enjoy it!
The Hogsmeade weekend came quickly and at eleven o'clock that morning Hestia and Lily were waiting to be signed out by Filch and lead down to the village by Professor Sprout. The crowd they were waiting in was huge as it seemed that everyone had wanted to make the first excursion out of Hogwarts and into the village. Because of this, signing everybody out was taking an awful long time. Hestia was becoming very impatient. She was bobbing around on her feet a little bit like a pigeon or somebody who was in desperate need of the toilet. Lily didn't particularly mind. As soon as they had decided to make the early trip out to the village, Lily knew that it was inevitable that they would be waiting around for a while. She had resigned herself to it and had taken to people watching whilst she waited.
The majority of the older population of Hogwarts was there. Most of them were fifth year and up but there were a couple of small groups of third and fourth years too. To the right of where Lily and Hestia stood, Hestia still jumping around impatiently and Lily stood still with her arms folded, were a group of fourth year boys having a wildly over the top conversation about what Zonko's products they were going to buy. Then, behind them was another group of boys, sixth year this time, wondering aloud which one of them could get a girl into the shrieking shack with them first to 'shack up'. All of them seemed to be very over confident which led Lily to believe that none of them had to ability to talk a girl into that. Unless, of course, she was a complete air-head. To Lily's left, towards the front of the group that was waiting to go to Hogsmeade, were more girl based groups. There was a small crowd of third years looking rather timid and unsure of what to do, a group of fifth years who seemed to be bouncing with exuberance and then a large cluster of seventh years who all looked the same, as did their boyfriends. If Lily didn't know any better, she would have thought she was looking at seven versions of the same couple.
Opposite Lily, staring at her, was James. He was leant in his usual position against the wall, arms folded, legs crossed, and just gazing out at her with the hints of a small smile on his face. Stood next to him with his hands in his pockets was Remus Lupin and next to him, talking to the pair of them (even though it was clear they weren't listening), was Peter Pettigrew. Finally, the last member of the group of boys was Sirius Black. He was stood with his arm draped around a tall slim girl with sleek brown hair which fell in an unflattering bob. She looked ecstatic to be there. Sirius however, looked as if he only had his arm around her because it was something to do. He was paying no attention to her and was instead looking up to the ceiling where Peeves had scribbled a lot of profanity the night before.
Lily returned James gaze briefly before being dragged off out of the door by Hestia. The herd had begun to move. Lead by Professor Sprout, the extensive crowd of Hogwarts students made their way through the grounds and down to the large front gate. It was opened by Professor Sprout and the group filed out in an un-orderly fashion. When it was closed again, they all made their decent down the declining slope and into Hogsmeade. Some were running as fast as they could, others were strolling casually and, a little ways in front of Hestia and Lily, Sirius and James were hopping.
When they reached Hogsmeade, Hestia wasted no time and immediately set out to buy the village. She forced Lily into every shop and almost always bought something. She loved shopping and, from the relief of gaining back her happy-go-lucky friend, Lily started to enjoy it too even though Hestia kept informing her that she was shopping wrong. She made no objections at being dragged into shops which she didn't particularly like spending time in and she stayed with Hestia in them for at least five or more minutes apiece.
They spent the first hour of their trip like this. Hestia had bought all she could find, her mother having sent her pocket money down to her that morning, and Lily bought some more writing supplements of which she was running out of. Then, after ten minutes encouragement from Hestia, Lily was persuaded to buy something frivolous. It was a big step for Lily as she never usually bought things unless she needed them or desperately wanted them. But Hestia had convinced her and Lily bought herself a new book, a new jumper and a pair of goblin made earrings. When they had bumped into Alice and Frank, Alice had actually congratulated Hestia on managing to get Lily to do this. They spoke to them for ten minutes before continuing with their shopping.
Lily was having a lovely day with Hestia. In some ways she wished she hadn't arranged to leave in an hour or so because she had really missed just hanging out with an enthusiastic Hestia by herself. Alice was always with them now. Lily liked Alice but it was nice to have some time with her best friend on her own. But Lily had arranged to leave in just over an hour so she could go and meet James. At twelve o'clock, Lily wished Hestia had known this because at twelve o'clock, their lovely day was ruined. And it was all Hestia's fault.
'Let's go to the three broomsticks.' Hestia announced to Lily, looking at the time by glancing at the watch on her wrist.
'It's only twelve.' Lily replied, looking at her own watch to make sure she had the time right, 'You can't be hungry yet.'
'But I haven't eaten today!' Hestia whined, folding her hands over her stomach to make it look as though she was about to die from starvation.
'Can you not wait another half an hour?' Lily asked her, 'I'm not hungry.'
'Well you don't have to order anything yet just get a drink.' Hestia said, taking Lily by the elbow and leading her through the crowded street, an excited smile on her face. She led her up to the door of their favourite wizarding pub and dragged her inside. Once they were in she looked around for a couple of seconds, her eyes landing on a large booth in the far corner. Her smile grew.
Lily followed her eye line and, when she found out what she was looking at, her face dropped. She suddenly became rather mad at her best friend.
'Hestia! No!' Lily hissed at Hestia, making to turn around and walk back out of the pub into the busy street outside. Hestia didn't let her though. She took Lily's elbow once again and pulled Lily further into the pub.
'Come on Lily!' she whined in a whisper to her now extremely irritated best friend, 'Joshua really likes you!'
'If he likes me so much then why did he try to bore me to death with his one-sided conversation about the bank?' Lily whispered back to Hestia angrily. She was not happy about this at all.
'Give him a chance Lily!' Hestia continued, urging Lily to allow Joshua Hunt to make another first impression, 'You hardly spent any time with him before because you had to leave. If you'd have given him more time I'm sure he would have talked about more than the bank!'
The two girls were now halfway across the crowded pub getting nearer and nearer to where Joshua Hunt and Sean McEvoy were sat waiting for Lily and Hestia respectively. Lily didn't have much time to escape and she had a feeling that if she didn't give a legitimate reason why she didn't want to go on a second date with Joshua then she would be forced to sit through it. She didn't want to tell Hestia like this but she felt she had no choice.
'Hestia I have to tell you something.' she said, attempting to stop Hestia in her tracks but failing to do so. Still, she powered through. 'I can't go out with Joshua-'
'Look he bought you flowers!' Hestia cooed, interrupting Lily mid flow and ignoring what she was trying to tell her.
'He did?' Lily asked, suddenly being side-tracked by this statement. No one had ever bought her flowers before.
This distraction was long enough to allow Hestia to drag Lily the final few feet over to the two boys. When they got there, Joshua and Sean stood up to greet them. Lily was trapped now. She didn't particularly want to tell Hestia in front of the two Ravenclaw boys. If she did then Hestia would be embarrassed, Sean would be uncomfortable and Joshua would be upset. She didn't want to do that to them. Any of them. The nicest thing she could do now was sit through this hour until the fake note arrived asking her to go and see Dumbledore. Then she would be able to leave and spend the rest of the day with James, probably ranting to him about Hestia when she did.
'Hello Lily.' Joshua said stiffly standing up and handing her the bunch of flowers he had bought for her, 'These are for you.'
'Lilies.' Lily said, taking them and looking down at the neatly wrapped bunch of flowers, 'How original.'
Hestia stamped on Lily's foot to remind her to play nice and give Joshua another chance. When she did this, Lily looked at her through narrowed eyes and the two girls had a silent argument. It ended with Lily turning to Joshua and thanking him politely for the flowers. Then, the four Hogwarts students clambered into the overlarge booth which looked as though it could seat twelve, and sat down. When they were all seated, Hestia and Sean went off into their own little world, holding their own private conversation and leaving Lily and Joshua alone to talk.
Lily tried to be polite. 'So how was your week?' she asked him.
'Not bad.' Joshua began, 'My father sent me a letter about how things are going at his bank and it seems that…'
Lily closed her mind to him, not wanting to listen to him talk about his father and the ruddy bank again. All she could think about was how she was going to kill Hestia later. She had gone from having a lovely day with her best friend and wishing it could be extended, to being roped into a second date with someone who she was sure could quite literally bore her to tears given the chance. Now she couldn't wait for her time with Hestia to be over. She'd much rather be with James at this precise moment and, with Lily's luck, she didn't have to wait long for that wish to come true.
Sirius had practically abandoned his date in Zonko's joke shop in favour of trying out the latest products with James. They were stood near the counter squirting some third years with a new magic gel that had come out which, when it made contact with skin, caused someone to break out in giant red hives. They unleashed this itchy gel on four third years before the owner of Zonko's joke shop informed them that they would have to buy some as they had used up half of his display. They bought six tubes.
If they had their way, James and Sirius would have probably spent all day in Zonko's joke shop but, as it was, Remus convinced them to go to The Three Broomsticks, not that Sirius needed a lot of convincing after Remus mentioned that they should get something to eat. So Sirius, after half an hour on completely ignoring his date in support of his best friend, grabbed her hand and practically dragged her out of Zonko's to go to The Three Broomsticks. James, Remus and Peter followed.
'She's so fake.' Remus muttered to James as they strolled down Hogsmeade main street on their way to the wizarding pub.
'Perfectly suited for Padfoot then.' James muttered back receiving a chuckle from Remus.
'What?' Peter asked the two of them, eager to be in on the joke. He stood in-between the pair of them looking back and forth to see who would tell him what was so funny first. Neither of them did. They just shook their heads and told him not to worry about it.
The three boys followed Sirius and his date into the three broomsticks and stood in the entrance way. The five Hogwarts students looked around the pub with deflated expressions. The pub was packed. It was literally full to full capacity and it seemed that they would have to find somewhere else to eat like the Hogs Head. But Peter spotted something and gave them an idea.
'Can we sit with other people we know?' he asked Remus and James.
'Well yeah but who do we know in here?' Remus asked him, gesturing around to the crowded pub. There were other Hogwarts students in the bar but none who the marauders would willingly sit with, not that they wouldn't be invited.
'Evans and Jones.' Peter whispered timidly as if he was afraid he might get told of for suggesting it.
James, Remus, Sirius and his date, (for they had started to listen in to the conversation at this point), looked around the pub for Lily and Hestia. They spotted them sat at the back of the pub in an overly large booth with the two Ravenclaw boys they had gone out with a few weeks ago; Sean McEvoy and Joshua Hunt. James face dropped.
Remus watched James' face as he saw Lily on a date with someone else. He looked hurt and, for reasons Remus couldn't explain, severely pissed off. There were no other words to describe it. Sirius was also looking at James' face but, unlike Remus who was feeling compassion for James in this situation, (even though they didn't know the full extent of it), Sirius was mad. He had spoken to Lily earlier that week on this topic. He had tried to convince her to give James a go and she had told him that she wasn't dating Joshua Hunt. Obviously she wasn't receptive to his suggestion and she was a liar. Sirius didn't like liars. So he decided he was going to ruin her date and maybe in the process, he could convince her to give James a chance.
'Yes.' Sirius said, dragging his date with him as he started to make his way across the pub, 'Let's sit with them.'
Peter followed straight away whilst James waited by the door and Remus waited with him. He seemed to be unable to move.
'You alright mate?' Remus asked James.
James looked at Remus and forced a smile onto his face. 'Perfectly.' he said, 'We're all friends. Just gonna have some dinner with some friends. And I already said I don't care if she dates anyone. I'm focusing on my N.E.W.T's. Yep…N.E.W.T's.' He took a deep breath and steeled himself for what he was sure was to be an awkward encounter. After all, Lily hadn't warned him she had had to go on another fake date and he wanted an explanation. His mind couldn't help but jump to conclusions, conclusions which he really hoped were wrong. The only way he would find out though was if he asked her and he didn't want to wait another minute to do that. So James, followed by Remus who was shaking his head at James' obvious denial, walked through the crowded bar after Peter, Sirius and his date.
They reached Hestia, Lily and their dates in a matter of minutes and, without an invitation or a courtesy, 'can we sit with you?' Sirius sat down in the booth, dragging his date along with him.
'Budge up Jones!' he said to Hestia, sliding along into the booth next to her. His date and Peter followed suit.
Hestia's face was a picture. In fact, everybody's face at that particular booth was a sight to see. Hestia looked outraged, staring at Sirius with daggers in her eyes at his rude interruption. 'What are you doing?' she hissed at him quietly, trying to make it so that her date, Sean, who was looking extremely surprised at the rude interruption, wouldn't hear her. 'We're on a date!'
'What a coincidence!' Sirius said sarcastically, 'So are we!'
James and Remus reached the booth where Sirius had just plonked himself down in just as he had finished his sarcastic remark. If the faces on the occupants of the booth were already a sight to see, imagine how they were magnified when James Potter arrived.
'This seat taken?' he asked Lily in a closed question. He was going to sit there anyway whether she wanted him to or not because he needed to talk to her. He needed her to clarify what was going on here.
'No.' Lily replied, knowing with one look that James was definitely not ok with the situation they were in. She hadn't expected him to be but, then again, she hadn't expected him to be here either.
As James sat down in the booth next to Lily, Remus sliding in on his left, he knew the looks he was receiving. He knew that his friends, Sirius, Remus and Peter were looking at him as if he was a ticking time bomb. He knew that Hestia was looking at him in infuriation, irritated at his appearance. He knew that Joshua Hunt was glaring at him as if he was ready to kill him, extremely annoyed that he had once again interrupted his date with Lily. He knew that Sean McEvoy was glancing between him and Joshua with an anxious look as if he was anticipating a brawl to break out any minute. And lastly, he knew Lily was looking at him, half apologetic, half anxious at what his reaction might be. That was the only look he was focusing on at the minute. To talk to her though, he would have to distract his friends into a conversation which he didn't need to contribute to.
He started Remus and Peter off onto a discussion about their shared subject Care of Magical Creatures. Then, as predicted by James, Sirius took no interest in the topic and instead started to snog his date for something to do. At the same time, almost as if she was on the same wavelength, Lily turned back to Joshua and got him started on his dads bank again, a topic she knew he wouldn't shut up about. By doing this, Hestia and Sean assumed that she was trying to ignore James and the marauders and went back to their own conversation. If she was to have a chance to talk to James, now, whilst everybody was distracted, would be the perfect opportunity. They spoke in low, hushed whispers.
'What are you doing here?' Lily asked James, careful to keep her voice to a volume which meant only he could hear her.
'Not my idea and I think the more pertinent question is what are you doing here?' James replied, matching her volume and breathing deeply to keep calm.
'Pertinent? Big word for you.' Lily said, hoping to try and make a joke so that he wouldn't focus too entirely on the situation at hand. It was looking very complicated and if he wasn't in the right mood, Lily was sure he wouldn't be too receptive to her explanations. He wasn't in the right mood.
'Don't change the subject Lily.' James cut in. He definitely wasn't in the mood for jokes. He just wanted to know what was going on.
'Look,' Lily began, taking on a tone which showed complete honesty in what she was saying and if this wasn't enough, she took his hand under the table as if the contact between the two of them would convince him. 'This wasn't planned. Hestia just kind of sprang it on me. It doesn't mean anything. There's no need to be jealous.'
James snatched a breath. 'I'm not jealous.' he defended. He believed what she had told him. There was no reason not to and, from her body language, she certainly looked as though she didn't want to be there. When James had first seen her she had been slumped on the table blowing over the top of her butterbeer bottle in boredom.
'There was nothing I could do.' Lily continued, circling her thumb on his hand.
'You could have told her the truth?' James suggested, knowing the answer he would receive as soon as he said it.
'That's not fair James.' Lily whispered shaking her head and looking down at their hands. She didn't even think of the attention this tiny move might get from the group. 'I couldn't tell her about us when she'd already organised this. She'd be embarrassed. I did try.'
'I still don't like it.' James whispered back.
'Because you're jealous?' Lily teased, for the first time receiving a small smile from James.
'I'm not jealous.' he denied
Lily leaned a little bit closer to him, looking into his eyes, completely disregarding the public venue they were in and whispered to him daringly, 'Admit you're jealous and I'll tell everyone about us right here right now.' She knew he wouldn't do it.
By this point, Joshua Hunt had become aware that Lily was no longer listening to him and looked over to Hestia for some help. The sudden stop to Joshua's continuous, monotonous monologue, (which had almost been like a drone in the background), slowly alerted the whole group to Lily and James' private conversation. Sirius had even stopped snogging his date.
James was able to get one more sentence in, staring straight back into Lily's emerald green eyes with a smirk as she stared into his. 'Neither of us is going to win here are we?' he stated in a hushed voice to which Lily smiled at.
At this point, Hestia decided to interrupt. 'What are you two whispering about?' she asked them, suspicion and irritation clearly coming out in her voice.
James and Lily looked at each other nervously for the tiniest split second before James, without missing a beat, said, 'Evans here was just telling off again.'
'Again?' Remus asked James quietly with a frown. He couldn't actually remember the last time Lily Evans had truly told James Potter off. It was a long time ago now.
'Why are you telling him off?' Sean asked Lily, his charming Irish accent flowing out effortlessly.
Lily looked at James for help which he attempted to give her straight away. His lie wasn't as smooth as before though. 'Err…' he started, unsurely, 'She doesn't think I'm a very good head boy.'
'I don't this any of us do.' Joshua put in quickly with a stiff tone as if he was trying to put one over on James. He didn't succeed.
'Thank you Joseph.' James said to him straight away. He was smiling but it was forced and his words sounded harsh.
Joshua tried to correct him, a bitter tone in his voice. 'My name is Joshua-' he began but Sirius, who really didn't like him because of the situation he believed he had caused, cut across him in a very rude interruption. He was good at those today.
'So why is Evans telling you off then?' Sirius asked James as he sprawled himself out in the limited amount of space he had meaning Hestia was pushed further towards Sean. Not that she minded but this had a knock on effect. She was pushed closer to Sean who moved over to give her a bit more space meaning Joshua had to shuffle closer to Lily who immediately moved closer to James who didn't move at all. They were soon almost joined at the side.
'Well,' James started, quickly thinking of a story from one of the patrols he had done but he couldn't think of any truthful ones from when he and Lily had taken that duty. Invariably, when they were on patrol, he managed to convince her to disappear with him for a couple of hours instead of walking around the empty castle in search of rule breakers. He did have one story and, if he'd have thought it through, he probably wouldn't have used it because it didn't involve Lily. It did involve Remus. 'When we were on patrol the other night there was this Hufflepuff lad trying to break into Professor Linkedin's office and instead of telling him off and taking points away I helped him and gave him points for imagination.'
Remus frowned. He recognised that story. He didn't say anything though because he assumed James had a reason for telling it. He just didn't know what that reason was. He would do soon.
After James had told his story to explain why he had said that Lily was mad at him, Joshua couldn't help but try to put one over on James again in a failed bid to impress Lily. The problem was, whatever he said, James was never particularly abashed. Still, it didn't stop him trying. 'So you're not a very good head boy.' he said pompously.
'Yes I think that's already been pointed out thank you Joel.' James said with another forced smile in Joshua's direction.
Joshua gritted his teeth. 'Again, my name is Joshua-'
'No one cares Hunt dude!' Sirius snapped at him.
'Shall we order something to eat?' Sean suggested, his Irish accent quelling the uncomfortable conversation.
Everyone leaned forwards to grab the menus from the centre of the table. Remus leant back quickly and opened his menu. There was some sort of grease on it and, momentarily, it slipped out of his hands. It never fell to the floor though as he caught it before it did. Something did catch his eye though when he was looking down to catch his menu. At first he took no notice but then it occurred to him what he had actually just seen. You see, James had never taken his hand out of Lily's. But, just as when he had recognised the story James had told earlier, Remus didn't say anything. James hadn't told them anything and that could only mean one thing; he didn't want them to know anything. Remus wasn't like Sirius. If it had been Sirius to spot this, James wouldn't have heard the end of it for Sirius would have bugged him about it until he gave up the ghost. Remus wasn't like this though. He respected what James obviously wanted to keep private.
The whole booth was quiet as they all perused the menu. It was an awkward silence between them all but, for Sirius, things obviously weren't awkward enough.
'Don't you just love the three broomsticks?' he questioned the table as a whole.
Nobody answered him.
He directed his next question at Lily. 'Hey Evans, remember last time we were all here together?'
Remus, sensing what subject Sirius was going to bring up, attempted to cap it. 'Shut up Padfoot.' he instructed Sirius.
Sirius took no notice and continued prodding at the memory. 'You gotta remember Evans.' he said, 'It was last year and you had specifically asked to come to Hogsmeade with us and Prongs because, if I remember rightly, Jones had a date.'
'I remember.' Lily said cautiously, wondering what he was getting at. James knew.
'Good.' Sirius continued, 'We came here remember?'
'She already said she remembered Sirius so drop it.' James countered, shooting him a warning look.
'How about this.' Hestia butted in, believing she had found a solution to the awkward situation that had been forced upon them all. 'You act like we're not here and we'll act like you're not there. That way we can get on with our dates and Black can get on with defiling this poor unfortunate soul.' she finished, motioning to Sirius' date, the only one who hadn't felt uncomfortable at the situation.
'Arabella.' Sirius' date said.
'What happened to Courtney Jenkins?' Lily asked, her curiosity once again getting the better of her. Sirius had only said on Wednesday that that was who his girlfriend was. What had happened to her? But Lily never got an answer.
'Does it really matter Lily?' Hestia said wishing her best friend would just comply with the separation idea and focus on her date, 'We'll ignore then and they'll ignore us. Just because we're sat in the same booth doesn't mean we have to eat as a group. Ok?'
No one answered. Hestia assumed they had all taken notice and was about to exhale in relaxation, the idea of her double date with Sean, Joshua and Lily starting to come through at last, but she wasn't that lucky. No one is that lucky when Sirius Black is at the same table as you. If he doesn't steal your food, he'll think of something to make you wish you were somewhere else.
'And,' he carried on, still talking to Lily and pursuing the subject which James and Remus had already tried to deter him from, 'when we came here, I had a specific chant which I dedicated to you and my Jimmy-boy here. Remember?' he asked, preparing to chant, 'It went like this, 'Ki-'
'Alright Sirius that's enough now!' Remus said, telling Sirius off once and for all. He sent him a look which he had used on him and James many times before. It was the look he gave them when they used to bully anyone and everyone in sight, specifically Severus Snape. It had always made them feel ashamed. It still worked. Sirius shut up.
James sighed and announced to his friends, 'I'm gonna go order dinner.' feeling as if he couldn't stand this awkward situation much longer. He just needed to stretch his legs for a few seconds. As Remus made way for him to get out of the booth though, he heard something which set his jaw tight and made him roll his eyes.
'About dinner Lily.' Joshua began, 'As you ran out on our last date and I was forced to pay, I thought you could pay this time. It's only fair.'
'Ok.' Lily said after a moment's hesitation. There was an underlying note of worry in her voice which not many would have heard. James heard it though. Still, instead of saying something that would make the situation even more uncomfortable for her, something he really didn't want to do because it could upset her, he took his friends dinner orders.
'What do you want Wormy?' James asked Peter.
'Usual.' Peter replied meekly as if he was afraid James might turn around and say, 'no you can't have that. Pick something else.' He didn't.
James turned to Remus, Sirius and Arabella in turn, who all asked for the same thing, said, 'I'll be back in a second.' and left to go to the bar to wait to be served.
The bar was crowded. There was a long row of customers who were there before him, still waiting to be served. It looked as though he was going to be more than a second. He leant on the counter to settle himself into the wait when a sudden thud on the counter next to him made him turn around.
It was Lily. She looked slightly panicked and flustered and it wasn't until she pulled her purse out of her bag and shook all the change she had out onto the counter that James realised why.
'Do you have enough?' he asked her, looking at the change she had emptied out of her purse and quickly adding it up. There were around six Sickles and thirteen Knuts. Lily didn't give up though. She rooted around her bag to see if she could find some more change, spilling out into a rant at the same time.
'I don't know.' she said in answer to him first. Then she went into her angry outburst, her anger originating from panic. 'God I could kill Hestia! First she forces me to buy something frivolous because she thinks that I 'shop wrong'. Then she drags me here to go out with Mr 'my dad manages a bank and because I think I'm better than you I'm going to bore you to death with all the menial details about his job that you never actually asked to know'. Then after all that boasting he asks me to pay for a date that's not actually a date that I didn't know about which wouldn't have usually been a problem only, oh yeah! Hestia convinced me to spend all of my money on some new crap that I really didn't need! Do you think they start bar tabs?'
James listed to her rant, smiling at her obvious attempts to once again point out that she didn't want to be on her fake date. He answered her question. 'Yeah they do but don't worry about it. I'll get it for you.'
Lily stopped digging through her bag and looked at James properly for the first time since she reached the counter. She looked into his eyes for a couple of seconds before shaking her head. 'I can't ask you to do that.' she stated, 'Especially not after this mess which I am sorry about James. I honestly didn't know.'
It was then James' turn to shake his head. 'Don't worry about it. And you're not asking me to do anything. I offered. It's a perk you get when dating me.'
Lily still looked extremely unwilling to accept his help. She didn't want to leave him out of pocket but, looking back to her sorry change, she felt she had no choice. She reluctantly agreed to let him pay, promising that she'd pay him back later, a promise which he waved away. 'I'm still going to kill Hestia.' she said afterwards.
'No you're not.' James sighed. He wanted to kill Hestia too but he knew neither of them would. He looked back over to where Hestia was sitting. She was in what looked like a deep conversation with Sean. After looking at her for a couple of seconds, it was then Joshua who caught his attention. Unable to resist and knowing the intensified look that Joshua would be giving him soon, he leant over to Lily smirking, his head so close to hers they were almost cheek to cheek, and whispered in her ear. 'Though I think that you should go back to your fake date, because it looks as though he's gonna kill me before much longer.'
Lily breathed in James' scent of beech wood before glancing out of the corner of her eyes to Joshua who was glaring daggers at James. 'God he does doesn't he?' she whispered back with a laughing smile growing on her face.
James smiled too, pleased she hadn't pulled away from his obvious attempt to annoy Joshua further. They stayed where they were, cheeks almost touching, breathing each other in for a good twenty seconds, before James pulled back from her with a mischievous smirk.
He leant on the counter, still looking at Lily with that smirk before he felt the need to once again glance at Joshua to see if he had started sharpening a knife yet or gripping his wand ready to attack. He hadn't. He had gripped something else though. His smirk dropped to a neutral expression.
'He bought you flowers.' James stated upon seeing Joshua's hand clamped around the bunch of flowers he had brought out onto the table.
'Lilies.' Lily said dismissively with a roll of her eyes, 'Very original.' she went on to say sarcastically.
'He likes you.' James announced with a hard swallow.
Again, Lily was dismissive of this fact. 'If he really liked me he'd stop trying to bore me to death with talk of his dad's bank. Maybe if he stopped going on about himself for two seconds he'd realise that I don't like him back.'
'I should hope not.' James said, now flashing a cheeky smile her way, 'That is a privilege reserved for me. Along with any other privileges you see fit to give me.'
Lily shook her head at his obvious insinuation. 'How is it you can go from jealous to calm about this in less than five minutes?' she asked him.
'Less than that because I'm not jealous.' James replied quickly, brushing this comment off as Madam Rosmerta had arrived now ready to take their order.
James put in his order for himself, Remus, Peter Sirius and Arabella and then told Madam Rosmerta to put whatever Lily ordered on his bill too to which Lily thanked him for once more. Everything would have been fine from then on. They would have gone back to the booth, pretended that Lily was on a date with Joshua for another half an hour at which point their previously arranged plan to leave together without arousing suspicion from their friends would have been put into action. Everything would have been fine if Hestia hadn't come up to the counter at that moment to ruin it all.
'Joshua's waiting for you Lily.' she announced upon her arrival.
Lily sighed. 'Ok.' she said, every bit of her tone of voice saying, 'if I have too'. Before she left to return to the table and what was sure to be another soliloquy on the bank of Joshua's father, she turned to James and mouthed 'help me' to him to which he chuckled fondly at.
When she was gone, Hestia rounded on James. 'What do you think you're doing?' she asked him angrily.
'Waiting to pay for my food?' James said just as Madam Rosmerta returned from placing his order in with the kitchen to collect his money off of him.
'Don't.' Hestia said, stopping his arm before he handed over the money he owed for his meal.
James stopped and took a deep breath before turning to Madam Rosmerta and asking her politely to give them a minute which she graciously agreed to. He then turned back to Hestia and asked her what she wanted from him.
'I want you to leave.' Hestia said with no restrictions.
'What?' James asked, confused.
'Look,' Hestia began, going into a speech which she had obviously been thinking about giving for a while. At least the past ten minutes anyway. 'You need to leave. Lily's on a date with someone who's not you. Who she's well suited for and has things in common with. Get over it. It's not as if you two were ever together anyway. You messed about too much and you took too long and now she's with someone else. And by you being here you're standing in the way of her future happiness and, even if you don't like the fact that she said yes to someone who wasn't you, I'd have thought you'd at least want her to be happy. If you ever actually liked her, if it wasn't just the thrill of the chase, then you'll leave now and let her get on with her date.'
She then stalked away leaving James at the bar. He hesitated for a few minutes. Then Madam Rosmerta returned and he had to make a decision. It was complicated. A complicated situation to sift through because everyone thought different things and believed different things to be the truth even though they weren't. It made his head hurt so, in the end, he resorted to going back to his and Lily's original arrangement to meet up privately through a previously organised distraction. He told Madam Rosmerta to cancel five of the seven meals he had ordered knowing that as soon as he walked out of The Three Broomsticks his friends and Sirius' date would follow. He paid for Lily and Joshua's meals then turned towards the door and, without looking back, strolled out of the pub. Just as he predicted, Remus, Peter and Sirius, (shadowed by Sirius' date) followed suit leaving Lily, Hestia, Sean and Joshua in the booth alone as they had been before their double date was interrupted.
Lily watched the boys leave the pub, wondering what Hestia had said to James to make him go. She didn't ask her though because she was sure Hestia wouldn't tell her anyway, at least not in front of Joshua and Sean. So she reluctantly sat at the booth for another half an hour during which time their meals arrived and Joshua had continued to bore her with the specifics about how his father created the workers schedule and signed pay checks. She was extremely pleased when hers and James' plan to extract her from Hestia's company, (now Sean's and Joshua's company too), was put into action. It came in the form of a note.
A small brown rufus legged owl, flew into the bar through the open door and zoomed straight over to Lily to give her a message. She landed on the table in front of her and held out her leg for Lily to untie the note from. When Lily had untied it, the tiny owl flew away but not before it nipped her affectionately. She had been doing that recently when Lily had been taken to see her. Sox was a very loving owl anyway and James, in Lily's opinion, was lucky to have her.
Lily unfolded the message, announced to the group that Dumbledore needed to see her in his office, (something to do with head duties), and got up to leave. She was so excited to finally be able to leave the monotony of Joshua Hunt that she forgot her shopping bags. Luckily, she had a very good best friend who would give them to her.
So Lily left the pub and, as soon as she was outside, breathed in the lovely fresh air. She hadn't realised how stuffy it had been in The Three Broomsticks till now. Still, not wanting to waste anytime stood around sniffing the air like an idiot, Lily made her way down the bustling main street of Hogsmeade unaware that she had left her shopping bags in the bar. They weren't the first things on her mind. She continued down the street, walking easily through the crowds. It was a nice walk. At least it was a nice walk until she was very suddenly and rather aggressively pulled into a side alley. Something she wasn't expecting…
Thanks for reading
I will update as soon as I possibly can, the latest being the 8-5-2013