Gift of the Animagi

Chapter 4

The second James walked into The Silver Spoon exactly what he was getting for Lily. It was almost too easy, he figured, as he picked up, between his fingers.

"Can I help you, Sir?" a green haired witch asked him.

"I think I've already found what I want, thanks," James replied, barely looking at her.

"Already? You've only barely walked in!" she said, laughing. "What do you have there?"

James showed her the pendent he'd zeroed in on.

"That's definitely an odd piece," she said, making conversation she added. "Is it for a special lady?"

"Yes, a very special lady," James replied.

"Would you like it gift wrapped?" she asked, as he paid for it.

All in all, he'd spent less than ten minutes in the shop. Pleased with himself, he went to find his friends. He found Peter and Remus in Zonko's, the first place he tried. He really seemed to be on a roll today.

"Seen Sirius?" he asked his friends.

"Last I saw, he went off to the Quidditch shop," Peter supplied. "'Bout an hour ago." The three spent their time around town, and decided to stop into Three Broomsticks a little early, around 4:30. When they got in, Sirius was already sitting at a table with a Butterbeer.

"Hey, mate, you owe me," Sirius told James while Remus was up getting drinks for the other three of them.

"Why's that?" he said, taking the bait.

"I helped Lily pick out your present," he bragged. James smiled at this.

"Excellent. What'd she get me?" he asked.

"Can't tell you that," Sirius replied.

"Come on, man, be a mate, what'd she get?"

"Sorry, I can't tell you." James dropped it, but Sirius could tell he was dying to know. Sirius also decided to omit the fact he really had no clue what Lily would end up giving James.

"Did you find a present for her?" Peter asked him, as Remus came back, setting the drinks on the table.

"Yeah, it's really great," James said. "I ended up getting her jewelry."

"Pretty typical," Remus put in.

"I guess," James said. "I think Lily'll like it, anyways."

"Think I'll like what, Potter?" came voice behind him. Of course Lily would overhear this. He turned to see Lily, Mary and Elizabeth approaching them.

"Your present," James replied. Mary made her way over to Sirius, sitting next to him, and Lily took a seat next to James. Elizabeth sat down on the other side of Lily, and took out a book from one of her bags. Sirius and Mary seemed very wrapped up in each other, and started kissing very shortly after.

"Are you sure you don't want to come sit by Peter, Lizzy?" Sirius asked her.

"Don't call me that," she snapped at him. "And I'd rather eat dirt."

"Come on, Elizabeth," James said, "There's no need to be rude."

"Whatever," she said. "I'm heading back to the castle. I need to finish my Charms homework." She got up and left in a huff.

After a couple Butterbeers, Lily looked very tired, and it was long after dark.

"Would you like me to walk you back to the castle?" James asked Lily. She nodded. "Alright, boys, Mary, it looks like we're heading out."

The walk up to the school was mostly quiet. At first, it felt peaceful, but James started to worry the silence was awkward.

"Are you cold?" he asked.

"A little," Lily responded softly. James took off his coat and put it around Lily's shoulders. "But won't you be cold?" James shook his head.

"I'll be fine," he replied. "I'm used to the cold because of Quidditch."

"James," she started, and paused, unsure of how to form the words.

"Yes?" he said. There was the expectant look again. Lily could swear her heart would almost burst from how cute he looked.

"Willyougoonadatewithme?" she blurted out really fast.

"What was that?" James asked, very confused.

"Will you," she forced herself to slow down, "go on a date with me? On Christmas?"

James' eyes lit up. "I think you know the answer to that, Lily Evans," he said, not even trying to contain his smile.

"I'll meet you in the common room on Christmas at seven," she told him. He beamed happily. Nervously, he reached over and took her hand. Lily smiled, and felt a slight blush creep up her cheeks. She intertwined her fingers with his, and enjoyed the rest of the walk up to the castle. Without meaning to, it seemed like they'd taken the long way around the castle to Gryffindor Tower. By the time they actually got into the Common room, Sirius, Remus and Peter were all sitting by the fire. Mary and Elizabeth were sitting on a couch closer to the window.

Elizabeth made a "humpf" noise, and shut her book loudly at the sight of James holding Lily's hand. She stormed up the girl's dormitory stairs, and Mary quickly ran after her. Lily sighed, as she and James joined his friends by the fire.

"What is her problem, anyways?" Remus inquired. "She's so hostile towards us."

"She keeps insisting you guys are hiding something," Lily told them. "But that's ridiculous, right?" She saw James and Sirius exchange a look, and Lily's mouth dropped open. "You are hiding something." James put his hand on her chin, bringing her eyes to meet his.

"Yes, we are hiding something from everyone, but I don't want to hide anything from you," he told her. He looked around to see who else was in the common room. The common room was empty, with most people still in various places around the castle.

"I'm an unregistered animagus," he told her.

Lily gasped. "That's supposed to be really hard to do," she supplied. She turned to look at his friends. "Are you all...?" she drifted off, almost afraid to ask.

"I'm an animagus too," Sirius said. "I'm literally a dog." This made Lily laugh.

"I am too," Peter piped up. "I can turn into a rat." She started to turn to Remus to ask, and James knew Remus was internally panicking over the coming question, even if he kept his cool outwardly.

"I can turn into a stag," James told her before she could ask Remus. "Want to see?"

"Yes!" Lily said. "Oh, like your patronus!"

"Exactly," he said. "Only I learned my patronus after I learned how to do this," he told her. "Watch this." Before her eyes, he shifted into his animal form, and paused there for a moment.

"Go ahead," Sirius said, "pet him. I'm sure he wants you to." Lily lifted her hand and petted James' head, she felt very silly, and couldn't contain her laughter. She was didn't even notice when James first changed back, until she felt a change in the texture and length of his hair. When she finally noticed, she pulled her hand away and blushed.

"Just what are you laughing at, Evans?" James said in mock anger. "Are you laughing at me?"

"No, no, not at you," she said, still giggling a little. "I was laughing at me. I felt very silly." James really wanted to kiss her in that moment.

"How long have you guys been able to do it?" she asked.

"Sirius was the first to do it right, in our fifth year," Remus told her.

"The rest of us soon followed," James said.

"That's really neat," she admitted.

"But you can't tell anyone," Sirius warned her. "If it gets out, we'll know exactly where it started from. You're the only one outside of the four of us who know."

"I won't tell anyone," she promised. "But you guys should get registered after we graduate."

"We will, eventually," James said.

"I think I'm going to go finish my Charms essay," Remus told them. "So I'll talk to you guys later."

"I should probably go check and see if Elizabeth is okay," Lily said. "I'll see you guys tomorrow." She got up and started up towards to girl's dormitory stairs.

To James and Lily, the next week and a half felt like someone had slowed down time over the whole castle. Even though she still sat with him at meals, both of them were feeling pretty eager for their date. It seemed like everyone was talking about their plans for Christmas. Quite a few Gryffindors were going home for the holidays; almost all of Lily's friends were going home, except, it seemed, herself, James and Sirius. When she asked him about it, Sirius shrugged noncommittally and changed the subject. Later, James explained to her the basics of why Sirius wouldn't be going home for the holidays.

"So why aren't you going home?" Lily asked. "You have a nice, loving family."

"I do," he replied. "Maybe too loving."

Lily looked puzzled. "Too loving?" Lily repeated.

"My dad's really on me about preparing for the Auror's Academy. I know he just wants me to do well, but it feels like he thinks I'm not good enough," James explained. "So probably until I get into the Academy, and maybe even until I graduate from it, things might be kind of strained with my dad."

"So they just let you stay at the castle during the holiday?"she asked.

"I wrote them and said I wanted the quiet time at the castle to study for NEWTS," he said. "Now what aren't you going home, Miss 20 Questions?"

"My parents are on holiday in France," she said. "So I told them I would stay here, instead of going to visit my sister."

"I didn't know you had a sister," James said. "Tell me about her."

"I'd rather not," she told him. James saw the hurt in her eyes, and decided not to push it. He pulled her in for a tight, comforting hug.

"Talk about it when you're ready," he said. "Why don't you tell me about your parents then?"

"Well, my dad is a doctor," she began.

"Is that why you want to be a Healer?" he asked, curiously.

"Yes, that's what inspired it," Lily said. "Mum works in some office building as a secretary. They're both muggles, as you know."

James nodded. He'd always been part of the wizarding world, and the muggle world. Despite being pure blood, his parents didn't buy into the ideals most other pure blood families do. He was sent to a muggle primary school, and his best friends had been all muggles, up until he went to Hogwarts.

"Anyways, they both are really interested in the wizarding world," she told him. "They started getting the Daily Prophet every day, and everything."

"It's really cool that they're so accepting," James told her.

The days crept by, and finally, Christmas day came. Lily found herself sitting in the common room in her pajamas with James and Sirius, who were also in pajamas. James and Sirius were chatting over something Mrs. Potter had written in Sirius' Christmas card, and Lily was looking over presents.

"James," she said. "I didn't get your present. I hope it's not lost some where." James chuckled.

"I still have it, Lily," he told her. "You're not getting it until tonight." She put on a fake angry face. "You're so cute when you make that face," he said, meaning every word. He wished so badly to kiss her right at that moment.

"You're just saying that, James Potter," she said.

"I'm really not. You're cute all the time," he said. "I think I'm going to go get dressed. I'll be done in a few." James went up the boy's dormitory stairs.

"I got you a present, Evans," Sirius told her.

"Sirius, you didn't," she started, but was cut off.

"It's not much," he said, producing a plain white box, with a red bow on it. Lily took it hesitantly.

"This isn't going to explode, is it?" she asked, very unsure.

"No, no, nothing like that," he told her. She considered it a moment, and then opened the box. What she saw before her eyes left her speechless. She held up the thin, almost see through material, and her mouth hung open.

"I thought you might like something to wear on your date," he started, but didn't finish as Lily brought her hand to his cheek and slapped him hard. She was bright red, and very embarrassed. She stormed upstairs as James was coming down his. He looked puzzled in the direction he'd seen Lily leave.

"What'd you do, mate?" he asked. "I could hear the slap from upstairs." Sirius rubbed at the bright red mark quickly appearing on his face.

"I just gave her a Christmas gift," he said. James gave him an incredulous look.

"You better not have messed up my date for tonight," James told him.

"She's fine," he said. "Just embarrassed."

Lily realized as she reached her room, the only present she'd brought up in her rush to get away was the white box Sirius had given her. She decided to shower and get dressed. By the time she was ready to go back downstairs, she was calmed down and felt thoroughly less embarrassed. She reached the common room and found the two boys still sitting on a couch, both of them fully dressed.

"Hey there, beautiful," James said, standing up. Lily felt a light blush fill her cheeks at his manners, and the compliment.

"Why didn't you two go down to breakfast already?" she asked. "You didn't need to wait for me."

"Well James wouldn't," Sirius said. "And breakfast is no fun alone. So come on, I'm hungry." He also stood up and made his way to the portrait hole. Breakfast, and most of the day, was fairly uneventful.

At around four, Lily retreated up to her room to start getting ready.

"What do you need all that time for?" James asked. "You're amazingly gorgeous just the way you are."

"Because I want to have fun, and dress up," she said. "Remember I'm missing a party to go on this date."

"Alright," he said. "Have fun doing whatever it is that girls do to get ready."

"You know that means she wants you to dress up too, right?" Sirius told him. James rolled his eyes at his friend.

"Yes, I'm aware," he said. "I have muggle semi formal wear."

"Why not dress robes?" Sirius asked. "You have those."

"I think she'd appreciate the muggle clothes, though," he said. "Might remind her of home."

"Whatever, mate."

Even though she'd gone up to start getting ready at four, James was still left waiting in the common room ten minutes after seven.

"Oh, sorry!" he heard called down the steps of the girl's dormitory. "I had trouble finding my bag." She came down the stairs, and James couldn't believe how good she looked. The purple dress she was wearing hugged her curves like it was made just for her. His mouth hung open. James also noticed she was carrying a tiny, thin bag. What that could possibly hold, he had no clue.

"You look fantastic," he told her. She smiled and adjusted the wrap that covered her shoulders like the spaghetti strap dress didn't.

"You don't look so bad yourself," she responded. She took in his muggle suit, a little surprised he had one.

"So where are we going on this date?" he asked.

"I thought you were going to plan it," she said seriously. James panicked inside.

"I, uh, I didn't, um," he stammered out, until Lily started laughing. James went very, very red.

"I'm joking," she said. "I planned everything. I was the one to ask you out, after all."

"Oh, um," James was still bright red. She got very close, and got up on her tip toes, and got very close to his ear.

"Follow me," she said, taking his hand and leading him out of the common room, and towards the seventh floor. James thought she might be lost as she paced back and forth in a certain corridor, when suddenly, a door appeared. After his years at Hogwarts, few things truly surprised him in the castle, but Lily managed to show him something that did.

She led him in by the hand, and there was a lone table set for two. The room itself was decorated not unlike a fancy French restaurant his parents had once taken him to.

"This is amazing," James said. "How'd you do this?"

"I didn't do it, the castle did," Lily said. "I found it in my fourth year, or rather, I was told about it."

"And you never told anyone?"

"Not really, the house elf who told me told me to keep it a secret, and it was a nice place to study," Lily said. "When I needed time to myself."

"So what exactly does the room do?"

"It takes the shape or form of whatever it is that the user needs," Lily told him. "And right now, I needed a place to take James Potter on a date. Now, let's sit."

Magically, food appeared on the plates in front of them. James, while not surprised by this, after years of seeing feasts appear before his eyes, did wonder where the food had come from.

"You can't make food out of nothing," James said. "I know that much, so where did it come from?"

"The kitchens," she answered slowly, "Where else? I asked a house elf to help me with this tonight." James looked at her, and in the soft glow of the candle light, she looked almost angelic. She couldn't escape noticing his staring, and she blushed, and looked at her fork.

"What are you looking at?" she asked, eyes still on her silverware.

"You," he answered back. "Who else?"

"James," Lily started at the same time James was speaking her name. They looked at each other, a little embarrassed.

"You go," he offered.

"Oh, no, you go," Lily insisted, wanting to put off what she was going to say, out of nerves.

"Ladies first," he said. He looked at her like he could play this game forever. Lily sighed.

"Okay, James, I didn't buy you a gift," she said. James looked a little shocked. "Hold on," she continued quickly. "Because what I want to give you is something I couldn't buy." She paused for a long while. James wasn't sure if she was holding him in suspense, and decided not to push her to continue.

"James," she finally said, "I want to give you the 'yes' you've always wanted." James eyes lit up, as he was left speechless. He almost wanted to pinch himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. "I want to be your girlfriend," she added. James reached over the table and took her hand, beaming widely.

"I could never say no to that request from you," he told her. She blushed again.

"You had something you wanted to say too?" she reminded him.

"Oh yeah," he said. "I was momentarily distracted." He winked at her. "But you have to close your eyes." Lily did so, and she heard a rustle of paper. She was sorely tempted to open her eyes just as James told her to.

Sitting in front of her was a gold colored gift bag. Opening it revealed a medium sized jewelry box. Too big to be a ring box, and just big enough to be just about anything. She flipped it open, unable to contain her curiosity anymore. It brought tears to her eyes at how beautiful it was. Nestled in the box was a pendent of a stag on a delicate silver chain.

"Oh, James," she said. "It's wonderful. Help me put it on?" James got up, and stood behind her as he fixed the clasp around her neck.

"I thought it would be perfect," he said. "Because of your patronus."

"It's perfect because it's you," she said. She stood up, facing him, and kissed him, full on the lips.

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