Gift of the Animagi

Chapter 3

For the rest of the week, James spent a lot of time thinking about what exactly he was going to get for Lily. He'd planned to devote most of his Saturday in Hogsmeade to finding her the perfect present. The boys just told him to meet up with them at five at the Three Broomsticks, but he had no clue where to begin his search. Remus had suggested jewelry, and that was an option, but it didn't seem personal enough. He started liking Lily for her beautiful green eyes, and how intelligent she is, but now he was learning so much about her on a personal level. They even started to have tutoring sessions, where she'd help him fine tune his Potions work, and he'd help her with practical Defense spells. One day that week, Friday, they spent in an empty classroom while James tried to teach her the fine points of the Patronus.

"You should show me," she started with, when she first walked in. "I want to see yours."

"Alright," he replied with half a smirk, fairly eager to show off for her. He paused and brought up the first time he mastered transforming into his Animagus form, the first time the four Marauders ran together in animal form. "Expecto Patronum!" A stag came galloping out of the tip of his wand and made it's way around the room, circling the two of them. James turned to Lily.

"Your turn."

"I dunno," Lily nearly stammered. "Mine's not that good."

"I can't help you if you don't show me," he reminded her. She sighed, paused for a moment, and tried. Only a smoky looking wisp came out. James adjusted the position of her arm, up a little higher. He placed his hand on her left shoulder.

"Relax here," he told her, and he felt her attempt to relax the muscle. He leaned closer to her, close to her ear. He could see the blush forming on her face. "Try it now." He backed away, and she tried again; this time a doe erupted out of her wand.

"I did it!" Her eyes lit up, and she nearly jumped up and down in excitement. She turned towards James and hugged him. His eyes, however, stayed on the doe that Lily had conjured. It ran alongside his, around the room. He wondered what exactly it meant. When she finally realized what he was looking at, she went beet red.

"I should go," she said, grabbing her bag.

"Wait, Lily," James started to call out, but she was already out the door. Her doe faded and disappeared. He dismissed his, and softly swore to nobody.

The next morning, he was even more determined than before to find the perfect gift. He tried to finish breakfast quickly so he could get down to the village, but when Lily sat next to him, he suddenly didn't want to get up.

"So what are you doing in the village today?" she asked him.

"I'm, uh," shifting uncomfortable, he didn't know how to finish that. He couldn't lie to her, but he wasn't sure he should tell her.

"Oh, right, Sirius told me you were going to shop for my present," she offered. "I was just wondering..." she tried to force the words come out of her mouth, but they wouldn't come out.

It didn't help that James was looking at her expectantly. She wasn't sure of anything anymore. Thankfully she was saved by Sirius' loud mouth.

"Morning all!" he said, taking a seat on the other side of James. "Hey Lily, tell Mary I'd love to have her meet us at the Three Broomsticks at five."

"Us?" she questioned.

"Yeah. Me, Remus, Peter and James. I'd love to see her there," he said. "I supposed you and Elizabeth can come too." Lily was quiet for a moment, those were the words she couldn't get out, wanting to meet James in Hogsmeade.

"You don't have to though," James said. "If you really don't want to."

"Like I'd leave my friend alone with that monster," Lily joked, eyes on Sirius.

"Hey! I'm not a monster!" he countered. "I'm a sweet little puppy dog." Remus started to laugh, nearly choking on his cereal. James, however, just looked at Sirius like he was crazy. This didn't miss Lily's notice, but she decided not to comment on it.

"I need to go meet the girls," Lily told them while she stood up. "I should get going."

"Wait, Lily," James said quickly, as she turned away. She turned back.

"Yes, James?" For the first time, Lily saw a blush creep up James' face.

"I'd really like it if, um, if you'd come to the Three Broomsticks this afternoon," he finally got out.

"I'll be there," Lily said, unable to contain a smile. James' heart nearly melted from joy. She turned and started heading towards the entrance hall, where she said she'd meet her friends.

When James finally made it down to Hogsmeade, he still had no clue where to start. He went into Honeydukes first. Girls like candy...right? He started to reach for a box of chocolates, but was stopped by a voice behind him.

"She's allergic to chocolate." He turned to see Elizabeth.

"Who says these are for her?" he responded. "They could be for my mum." She rolled her eyes.

"Right. Listen, I don't like you. I don't like any of your friends, but Lily seems to have started to like you. I just want to make sure you don't hurt her."

"Sweet of you," James said sarcastically.

"And I don't want you poisoning her with something she's allergic to." Elizabeth pointed to a box of watermelon candies. "Those are her favorite."

"Thanks," he told her. He picked up the watermelon candy and the chocolate.

"Hey! I told you she was allergic!" Elizabeth snapped.

"These are for my mum," he said, holding out the chocolates. Elizabeth scowled at him.

"Just so you know, I know you and your little friends are hiding something. I don't care what it is, but you better not hide anything from her."

"Thanks for the warning," James replied coolly. He paid for his sweets and left, pausing momentarily outside of Honeydukes. He was so lost in thought, he didn't even notice Lily and Mary walk right by him, and into the Quidditch shop across from Honeydukes. Lily was also distracted by her thoughts, ideas swirled through her head as to what James might like. Through her days of talking to him, she had even less of a fixed idea of what he might like.

"Maybe new gloves?" Mary suggested as they entered the shop. "Monica Dane, you know, the fifth year who plays Keeper on Gryffindor? She told me his gloves were worn out." Lily thought about it, but it didn't seem personal enough. She started to say something to her friend, but before any words could come out, she promptly ran into someone.

"I'm so sorry!" she said, before she actually looked and saw that it was Sirius Black.

"Watch where you're going, Evans," he said. "You don't want to get hurt a week before Christmas."

"Sorry, really," she said. "I'm just a little distracted."

"Figuring out what to get James?" he asked.

"Yeah," she answered. "I'm a little lost."

"I'm sure you know exactly what would make him the happiest," he responded. He expected Lily to bite his head off over the comment, but she just turned a slight shade of pink.

"I'm not sure what you're talking about, Black."

"Sure you do. Either way, I'm going to be nice and help you," he said.

"And what would you be getting out of it?" she asked pointedly.

"A happy best mate," Sirius replied. "I'm not always selfish, Evans." Lily continued to give him a pointed look. Sirius threw his hands up, "Okay,maybe I was going to flirt with Mary." Mary giggled as Sirius flashed her a winning smile. "But it was mostly about James."

Lily rolled her eyes, "Right."

"So what were you thinking?" he asked, taking on a more serious tone.

"Well, I'm lost. Mary suggested Quidditch gloves, but I was-" she started.

"Sorry, Lily," Sirius said, holding up his bag. "I just got him a pair."

"That's okay, I wasn't thinking that was quite right," Lily told him. For the next hour Lily fretted over how personal or not things would be as a present for James. Sirius put something in every so often, with one of James' preferences, but otherwise, quietly whispered things into Mary's ear. She spent the entire hour blushing beet red. Eventually, Lily was ready to give up.

"I'm sorry for wasting your time, Sirius," she said to him as they were leaving the shop.

"It wasn't a waste of time," he said, grinning slyly at Mary, who giggled again.

"Seriously, though, I'm so lost at this," she said.

"You know what would make him the happiest, Evans," he said.

"What are you talking about?" she asked again, repeated her earlier words.

"You'll figure it out. I'll see you two at five," he said before turning and leaving.

"I need a trip to a book shop," Lily said. "I need something that doesn't make me feel crazy."

"Let's go, then." The snow wasn't so deep in the village, having been walked on so much, but they still found they had trouble moving quickly. "I think I like Sirius," Mary told Lily.

"No kidding," Lily replied. "Just warning you, Sirius Black is a Gryffinwhore." Mary laughed, her real fairly hearty laugh.

"I know that," she said. "I just get really jittery around him, and I think I like the way it feels." Lily didn't say anything for a moment.

"I think," she started, but paused, trying to make herself say the words, "I think I like James." Mary raised her eyebrows.

"I thought you hated Potter," Mary commented.

"I know, I know. I thought I did too," she said. "But he's been so nice to me lately. When he's not constantly asking me out, I actually got a chance to get to know him."

"And you like him?" Mary said, so she wouldn't get too lost in thought.

"Maybe," she replied, biting her bottom lip.

"He's definitely much more grown up than he used to be," Mary said. "You could just go on a date with him, for his present. He'd be over the moon about that."

Lily stopped in her tracks, eyes suddenly wide. She couldn't believe how stupid she was. That was what Black was talking about, the thing that would make James the happiest. She hugged Mary.

"That's it!" she cried. "Thanks Mare!" A very surprised Mary patted Lily's back.

"No problem, Lils," Mary said. "So you're actually going to go on a date with him?"

"Yes," Lily replied with a smile, "I'm going to go on a date with James Potter."

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