The Great Bet of Hogwarts
But there is one side of the story that not many have heard; the story of the Great Bet. Because the way that Lily and James felt about each other was as obvious as Sirius Black's flirting to anyone watching from the outside, and they all knew it was going to happen. That was a given fact. The only question was when…
This is their story through the eyes of their friends.
~~~2nd of September~~~
Lily Evans was not happy, a fact that was noticed by the entire school. Yes, even the Slytherins. Everyone else found her predicament hilarious, but it wasn't so funny for her. You see, Dumbledore had made James Potter Head Boy. And she was Head Girl.
He really was off his rocker. Officially.
Bertha Jorkins had been telling anyone that listened that this was obviously going to be the thing that finally got them to realise their feelings. They would have to work together all year after all.
But, as Alice Prewett so intelligently thought to mention, the screams that had resounded throughout the entire train and burst the eardrums of all the poor, innocent Prefects that were in the same compartment seemed to suggest otherwise.
Remus Lupin, who was both a prefect and had enhanced hearing due to his condition, agreed.
But the general consensus remained the same: Lily and James were going to get together.
Now, a little word about Hestia Jones. While she might not be the most academically smart person in the world (though certainly not the dumbest either), she was very cunning, and could almost be mistaken for a Slytherin if she hadn't actually been a good person. Also, being the girlfriend of Sirius Black did certain things to your mindset.
She was going to help the entire castle have some awesome fun, maybe make the waiting a little less painstakingly irritating and perhaps even earn a little profit on the side.
And that's how she found herself walking into breakfast with a notebook, a calendar and a small blue satin bag.
"Want to make a bet?"
"They'll be together by Christmas, definitely."
"I dibs New Years!"
"Sorry, that's taken."
"What! There but there are so more than three hundred and sixty five people in this school."
"Fine, you'll just get lower odds."
"Are you kidding me? It'll take them longer than that… can I say after they've graduated?"
"You'll get great odds on that one."
The whole thing was completely undercover of course. But luckily, it wasn't too hard to keep it quiet. James was still sulking about the chewing out he'd gotten on the train and Lily was complaining to anyone who'd listen about her problem. Luckily, she didn't notice her best friend's absence.
"What are you doing?"
"Oh, hey Remus."
"And you Peter. Do any of you strapping lads want to make a bet?" asked Hestia, smirking at them.
"On what?" asked Sirius, frowning.
"What do you think?"
"If you say Lily and James…" said Remus in a hard voice.
"Aw, come on, Rem."
"But if they find out about this-"
"She can't chew out the entire school! Besides, they aren't going to. What date do you want?"
"How do we know it isn't a scam?" asked Sirius.
"Man, I've gotten that from a lot of people, but you Sirius? Do you really think so little of me? I'm hurt."
"Isn't gambling against the rules?" asked Remus. Hestia looked at him in disbelief.
"I thought you were a Marauder?"
"Well, yes, but we normally only break the rules from the shadows-"
"Oh, just answer his question, Hestia," said Peter, rolling his eyes. "He'll never shut up otherwise."
"Moony's just in denial," said Sirius, shaking his head.
"Oh, about more than one thing, Padfoot," sighed Remus, looking dreamily at Sirius who quickly scurried away from him, causing Hestia, Peter and Remus to burst out laughing.
"Anyway," said Hestia, "To answer your question then, Remus, Dumbledore's got Halloween. And if it helps, Slughorn's got Valentines Day and McGonagall's got April Fools. Also, Sirius, Dumbledore's looking after the money." She held up her bag. "Just pop it in here and it disappears to a safe in his room. Then at the end of the bet – whether that be when they get together or at platform 9 ¾ at the end of the year, I just say your name and your money will pop out – or not, depending."
"What are the odds?" asked Sirius excitedly.
"Just come up with anything and you'll get them," said Hestia. "Marlene, Mary and I went to Professor Flitwick and managed to get him to make this up for us. Watch."
Hestia grabbed the notebook and turned to the first page, which had the title Odds. Then she grabbed a quill and wrote:
Get together on the 3rd September. James presents Lily with giant green kangaroo bearing a wreath of petunias and a letter asking if she will marry him. Lily agrees.
The words slowly sunk into the page, and then a second later some numbers appeared.
"Whoa, that's cool," said Sirius. "But how does that work? I mean, what if I were to only put in one galleon and I won, then I would be owed 70,000 galleons, right? But what if you didn't have that many in the pool?"
"We'd do it on percentages," said Hestia. "The odds are just numbers, but when it comes down to it anyone and everyone who bet correctly gets a prize, but those who were more correct get a larger prize. The little book will work out the proportions."
"Clever," said Remus, nodding. "But I'm not going to take that one, even if the odds are amazing."
"It does sound like something James would do…" said Peter, "But I just don't think Lily would agree."
"Really?" deadpanned Hestia.
"What are the odds that they'll be together on the… 7th of April… that they will kiss before one asks the other out and it will be Lily that does the asking?" asked Sirius.
"Wow, specific much?" asked Hestia. "But let's see…"
"No, wait, make it the 2nd of April," said Sirius. "No, the 7th… no, definitely the 2nd. Yep, the 2nd. And I'm not changing my mind again. Even if I do don't let me."
"I can give you seventy five to one for either of those dates," said Hestia. "How much? There's a minimum of 1 knut and a maximum of 5 galleons… we don't want anyone going broke."
"I'll go five galleons then," said Sirius. "Uncle Alphie just died, and he left me a shit load of money, not to mention the motorbike-"
"Okay, Sirius, bung your money in there."
Sirius did so, and it immediately disappeared.
Remus looked deep in thought. He thought for a little bit, then said:
"I'll take the same as Sirius, but I'm definitely going on the 7th."
"Dude, so uncool," said Sirius, shaking his head. "You don't have enough originality to do a different day?"
"Why don't you even just pick something completely different?" asked Hestia, baffled. "Why only pick a different date? I mean the chances of-"
"We're just too smart for you to understand, dearie," said Sirius. Hestia's eyes narrowed. "I mean, um, we have certain Marauder secrets that cannot be divulged."
"I think you're only making it worse, Pads," said Remus, watching Hestia slowly turner redder.
"Moony, help!" yelped Sirius.
"Hey, Hest, can I please place my bet?" asked Peter, quickly cutting in. Sirius looked at him gratefully.
"Sure," said Hestia, happier now. "What would you like?"
"Well, I'm not as daring as these idiots – everyone knows that. So, I think I'll just put in for them being together by Christmas."
"You can have twenty to one for that."
"Sure. I'll put in ten sickles."
"Prongs won't be as angry with me if I didn't bet so much."
"Whatever, Wormtail. You know you won't win with-"
"You never know, Padfoot. She might be wrong."
The four of them reacted instinctively. Hestia shoved the quill, notebook and bag into her robes, while Peter, Sirius, and Remus went into full Marauder mode. Against one of their own.
Hestia was impressed at that.
"Oh, hey Prongs," said Sirius, grinning. "I was just telling Hest about that party we were planning."
"You know the one," said Remus. "The welcome back party."
"Yeah," added Peter. "We were going to prank those Slytherins-"
"-and then celebrate our success with a good ol' party in the common room with butterbeer and food!" finished Sirius.
Luckily, James bought it, and the four of them wandered off. Hestia thought she might be able to get the attention of a few more people before breakfast was over, but she didn't have the chance before Lily finally spotted her.
"What're you doing all the way over here?"
"What, no 'morning Hest,' or 'nice to see you, Hest,' or 'you look nice today,' or even just a good old 'hello'-"
"Sorry. Good morning Hestia. Now, what the hell are you doing over here with them?"
"I was just talking to Sirius, Lils. You know, he really is a great-"
"-person when you get the chance to know him. Besides, you've told me multiple times that Remus is your friend."
"Yeah, and nothing more."
"I know, I know."
"So are you going to answer my question or not?"
"So now I'm not allowed to spend time with my boyfriend?"
"Okay, fair enough. So, how's your morning been so far?"
"Great, Lils. Just great."
~~~9th of September~~~
A week had passed, and by now the entire school (yes, the entire school, including every teacher but not every Slytherin, although a couple of them joined in) had placed at least one bet, with some others placing more than one to up their chances. Everyone was watching Lily and James on the sly, and they were all so paranoid about the bet being called off that they were all incredibly sneaky and neither of them noticed. Everyone was still in the running, except for one very hopeful Hufflepuff first year – named Tyler – who didn't really get how much Lily currently hated James, and had been intrigued by the high odds for the 4th of September. Remus had heard a couple of second years chatting about how poor Tyler had been distraught, but wasn't too put out as he had only bet two sickles, and Hestia let him put in another one.
But bets were closed at the end of the week. All anyone could do now was watch.
~~~1st of October~~~
The end of the month, and a couple more students were out of the running. Most of them were first years who, like Tyler, did not quite realise the deep set hatred Lily held for dear old James. However, there were a couple of romantics who had bet early and got caught out. Many were becoming hopeful due to the fact that James seemed to have matured over the summer and wasn't asking Lily out every five seconds, but had turned to once a week.
Plus, he was being more tactful.
Tensions were high. Friends were being pitted against friends as the argued over who they thought was going to win. Lily and James were being watched every second of the day.
They still hadn't noticed.
All was well.
For now, anyway.
~~~31st of October~~~
Halloween was a bloody nightmare by anyone's standards.
The first thing to understand is that, when picking a date, very few students had gone for a random, run of the mill day. They all seemed to think that something big would have to happen on a special occasion… and the special occasion with the highest odds, due to it being near the beginning of the year, was Halloween.
Therefore, it had attracted a lot of bets.
During the day, Lily and James were watched like hawks, and much more obviously than before. James didn't find this particularly unusual – after all, he was a Marauder, and the annual Marauder Halloween prank was equal parts famous and infamous throughout the school. Lily, on the other hand, was slightly creeped out.
"I'm worried," she whispered to Hestia as they headed down to the feast. "I mean… do you think that the Marauders are perhaps targeting me? Is that why they're all watching me?"
"I doubt it," said Hestia. Over the past two months she had discovered she was a fairly decent actress, and that she seemed to have the amazing ability to keep a straight face. She could now even hold a blank expression as Sirius told some of his best jokes. "It's more likely that James is going to ask you out or something… and they can't wait for you to throw it in his face as spectacularly as you always do."
"It's just weird though… do they all have to stare at me like that?"
"We've been through this, Lily! Hormone driven teenagers with their minds completely destroyed by the stress of school… we're the only sane people in this place, honestly."
"Come on, Lils, I want to actually enjoy this feast. Just cause it's NEWT year doesn't mean you have to be as wound up as Professor McGonagall's hair. I mean, come on, it's still October for Merlin's sake! Live a little!"
"You act like I do nothing but study all day."
Hestia shot her a disbelieving look.
"Oh, shut up."
"I didn't say anything!"
During dinner, Mary kept commenting on Potter's hair. Lily didn't see anything even slightly different about it than usual (but really, how could he think that messing it up like that made it look better? He must be addled in the brain, honestly) but Mary was adamant that he looked hotter than usual.
"A right bit of arm candy, he is. Wouldn't you tap that, Lily?"
Oh, the nerve.
Hestia had an amused glint in her eyes, although Lily was very confused as to what she found so funny.
"And the way that his glasses accentuate the colour of his eyes… sigh… if he weren't practically taken I think I would-"
"Well why don't you just go and ask him out? Hmm?" asked Lily, finally snapping. "I mean, if you think he's so bloody gorgeous. But don't come crying to me when you figure out that he's actually a right git that would sooner shag another girl behind your back than buy you flowers!"
She immediately regretted saying it – she was Lily Evans, for Merlin's sake, she was actually nice to people unlike some other arrogant toerag she had the misfortune of knowing – but Mary didn't seem hurt at all. She just looked mildly disappointed. Well, okay, there was no mildly about it; Mary looked like she'd just received a T in every single on of her NEWTs. But Lily had absolutely no idea why.
Hestia, of course, knew that Mary was about to loose three galleons and was desperately trying to get Lily to at least talk to James, but she wasn't about to mention that.
Luckily for everyone involved, the cutlery seemed to choose that moment to rise off the table and join the candles and Jack-o'-lanterns in the air. Then the ceiling turned purple and all the food became various shades of green while Severus Snape lurched out of his chair and began professing his undying love for Filch and a large black dog appeared out of nowhere and practically chased Mrs Norris up the wall.
Needless to say Lily became severely annoyed with the Marauders after that and there were several disappointed a students left with lighter pockets.
Dumbledore was also spotted with a very disappointed look on his face.
~~~5th of November~~~
The next special occasion… celebrated, as always, with a large fireworks display in the Great hall at breakfast and spontaneously combusting suits of armour, courtesy of the Marauders.
The student body and staff were treated to a spectacular show down involving Lily Evans, James Potter and a rather annoyed lime green frog in the Entrance Hall at lunchtime.
Those who still had several months smirked at each other in glee, while those who's dates were nearing closer and closer groaned in dread.
It didn't look like they'd be getting together any time soon.
~~~17th of November~~~
The day that Peeves had bet they would get together on. He had only bet a walking stick and a pack of chewing gum, but what he was really after was the bragging rights, so he was understandably a little upset.
Five first years. A waste paper basket. A suit of armour. A flooded corridor, a set of severely pissed off house-elves and several nose-biting telescopes in the astronomy tower…
~~~1st of December~~~
Christmas is coming; the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat…
Festive cheer was on the way, and everyone was getting excited. Surely, surely this would be it?
The Heads of House were amazed by the sheer quantity of students who were signing up to stay at Hogwarts over Christmas. They knew why – hell, several of them were staying for the exact same reason – but they were still surprised. Some of the older teachers, such as Slughorn and Kettleburn hadn't quite realised just how much stock the students were placing onto this bet.
Then again, Hogwarts was, first and foremost, a school. And in every school don't the students latch on to the tiniest piece of entertainment they can grab?
Bertha Jorkins had started her own little book. She had a large bet on Christmas Day and was offering shares to any other student… for a small sum, of course. She had quite a lot of business from those who had already lost and were looking for a chance to stay in the game.
Hestia had a feeling that it would end badly.
Lily was noticing the staring again.
~~~21st of December~~~
Christmas was only a couple of days away and tensions had never been higher. Many students were hinting to Lily that perhaps she was being a little harsh on James, while many others took the initiative and started giving James dating advice.
"What I don't understand," he said to Sirius at lunch, "is why everyone is all of a sudden on my side here. I mean, usually they all get a good laugh out of Lily shooting me down."
"I dunno, mate," said Sirius, "Perhaps they've all fallen for your little puppy dog pout and now they feel sorry for you."
"Oi!" he exclaimed, flicking some peas as his alleged 'best mate'. "If anyone has a 'puppy dog pout' it's you."
"And the ladies love it," sighed Sirius, flicking his hair.
"Unbelievable," groaned Remus.
"I am, aren't I?"
Remus groaned again.
"Really though, James, you should be a little more mature about this," said Peter. "You want Evans, right?"
"Yeah…" James looked at Peter with a bemused expression. This wasn't typical Wormtail behaviour.
"Well then, maybe you should think about it a little more seriously. Most girls don't appreciate a massive joke along with fireworks and an exploding water-squirting bouquet of flowers when they get asked out. They want simple and romantic."
James sat there gaping, while Sirius and Remus, knowing exactly what Peter was doing, simply rolled their eyes and dug into their potatoes.
They still had several months left, after all.
"You need to make it special, but not overly so. You should wait a few days, so she knows you're not trying to make into some grand joke and then ask her out away from other people so she knows you aren't trying to embarrass her."
"That's actually a pretty good idea, Wormtail," said James, nodding. "Yeah, I should wait a while so she knows I'm not overly persistent. Then maybe she'll think I've lost interest, and then maybe that will make me more interesting!"
"Dude, you're starting to sound like a girl," commented Sirius.
James ignored him.
"I think maybe I should wait and perhaps ask her out during the New Years party… I mean, that is over a week away. Or is that too soon? What do you think?"
"No!" exclaimed Peter, while the other two started to laugh. "I mean, no. Why don't you ask her out on Christmas Eve? It's one of the more romantic times of the year after all."
"But that's only three-"
"It's the best way, James," said Peter, nodding sincerely. "The very best way. Trust me on this."
James still looked skeptical.
There was a strangely large amount of mistletoe hanging around the place… most people suspected an unfair manipulation of odds.
~~~24th of December~~~
They still weren't together. The multitudes of people who had bet on it happening before Christmas were resorting to drastic measures.
Peter was so frantic he was actually twitching. James sent him to Madame Pomfrey for a calming draught, after which Peter started acting like he was stoned and tried to convince 'Prongsie-poo' that the best way to get Lily to date him would be to simply kiss her under the mistletoe and dance to slow music in the moonlight.
He gained a whack over the head for that.
Lily was pretty stressed, as she had yet to send Petunia a birthday present. Petunia was always really hard to shop for, as she would be irritable if you got her something she didn't like, but if you got her something she did she would fairly often be insulted and find some way to twist the gift so that it seemed like Lily was trying to be snarky to her. The only idea she'd had so far was a voucher, but then she knew Petunia would just think she was being lazy if she did that.
Needless to say she was not in a very good mood, especially with all the students overstepping their boundaries into her private life so when Alice Prewett came up to her and asked to borrow a quill she snapped.
"I am not going to say yes to Potter, not now, not ever so just bloody bugger off!"
"Wow Lils, you're bit strung out."
"Come on, Lily, I just need to borrow a quill. That bloody Marauder snapped mine during lunch."
"Black, but I have a funny feeling it was Potter's idea."
"WHAT? Oh, I will kill that arrogant toerag, how anyone could even possibly consider spending one minute in his presence is beyond me!"
Needless to say Alice received quite a few glares, but she had placed her bets on May the 2nd. She was only covering all her bases.
~~~25th of December~~~
When breakfast came around with Lily sending a bat bogey hex at James, there were many groans throughout the Great Hall. Several people that had bet they would be together on Christmas were still in the running and still hopeful.
Peter was not amused.
Remus suggested that Peter should drop a bowl of chocolate mousse on James' head to vent out his frustrations. Peter thought this was a fantastic idea.
Unfortunately, Peter took it a little too seriously and dropped the entire thing on his head – including the heavy ceramic bowl – when he was a flight of stairs above him.
James spent Christmas in the hospital wing with a serious concussion.
Peter also spent Christmas in the hospital wing, although he was in there for a completely different reason – when people figured out what he did and realised that Lily wouldn't be crying at James' bedside as she realised her feelings for him, they all wanted revenge.
Peter was a very odd colour and ended up with a couple of extra body parts.
The real, still bloody sheep's heart that Sirius left on the end of Lily's bed as a 'Christmas gift' in James' name did not help matters.
~~~26th of December~~~
A very quiet day if you do not count Helena Ravenclaw's horror at actually being wrong about something.
However, James did get released from the hospital wing and beat his record by annoying Lily the moment he walked into the room.
Luckily, Remus knew the cure for the boil hex she sent at James so he did not have to return to Madam Pomfrey.
Peter was still sulking.
Sirius and Hestia found the whole situation hilarious and celebrated with a large bout of butterbeer and a couple of house elves.
House elves are hilarious when drunk.
The students who had taken Bertha Jorkins up on her offer were very annoyed. Bertha herself was also frustrated that she hadn't won the bet, but she was glad that she had made a profit out of it.
Lily Evans was spotted ripping down mistletoe and burning it with a manic smile on her face.
And this, my friends, is what we call progress.
~~~31st of December~~~
Rita Skeeter, a Slytherin third year, was telling anyone who would listen that she'd overheard James Potter telling his friends a week before Christmas that he was going to make his move at the New Years party in the Gryffindor Common room.
Most people knew that Rita's facts were always exaggerated, but they also knew that she did her research before spreading rumours. What she had said must have had some basis in fact.
This was met with a mixed reaction.
A large proportion of the school was extremely excited and was now sure they were in the running for that bet.
The large majority were worried and were frantically trying to come up with a plan for sabotage.
The rest, who had already lost, just sat back and laughed.
Lily and James' close friends found the whole thing hilarious, as always, and couldn't wait for Lily to throw James to the dogs again.
Except for Peter. He was still sore about Christmas.
There had been much debate amongst the students of Hogwarts, but with a little mediation from Professors Flitwick and McGonagall it was decided that 'New Years' would include both the 31st of December and the 1st of January. This lowered the odds a little but increased chances.
To many it felt like the whole thing was just getting started.
Marlene McKinnon, one of Lily's friends but not completely close to her, took it upon herself to dress up all the girls in her dorm for the party. She told Lily it was because she had the best fashion sense out of all of them bar Hestia who was simply too lazy, but they all (bar Lily) knew the real reason. Marlene had a bet on tonight.
Dorcas Meadowes, a sixth year, tried to argue, as she had bet on Valentines Day. But Lily thought she might as well let Marlene have her fun.
Multiple eyewitnesses reported that James Potter's eyes almost fell out of his head when Lily came down the stairs, and that he stood their gaping 'comically'.
Unfortunately, Lily found his advances very –quote- 'misogynistic' –unquote- and threw her glass of water in his face. Water that felt like it was a thousand degrees cooler than it should have been and somehow magically contained a couple of tadpoles.
Hestia's idea of calling the RSPCA was met with an eye roll.
As the countdown began, James Potter was left to sit dejectedly in the corner.
And another day over… with many more to come.
~~~1st of January~~~
In Lily's point of view, fireworks were overrated. Way overrated.
She had had enough of them to last a lifetime, and if she saw one more sparkler telling her she should go out with the absolute git…
Many students were of the belief that James couldn't possibly have conjured up that many sparklers.
Once again, foul play was suspected.
The stakes had just gone up.
It was now all or nothing.
~~~19th of January~~~
Lily swore Professor Flitwick glared at her during Charms. Why would he do that? She was his star student!
Was the entire school going mad?
Not to mention Amos Diggory was complimenting Potter today. She thought Amos had a crush on her! What the hell was going on?
Luckily, the person Lily decided to turn to was her very own best friend, Hestia Jones. Hestia told Lily that James had pranked Amos in order to eliminate the competition. It was believable, but had the unfortunate side effect of making Lily angry at James AGAIN.
After that, Hestia, Remus, Sirius and Peter put out the word for people to be more cautious.
They couldn't afford to allow Lily and James to figure out what was going on.
~~~10th of February~~~
It was coming.
The big one.
The most popular day for bets.
The, supposedly, most romantic day of the year.
Preparations were being made.
Cards were being written. Flowers being bought. Cupids were being mail ordered, and love potions were being made.
Thankfully, though, Hestia had the forethought to tell anyone that if Lily or James were issued with a love potion, all bets were off. She had the backing of Dumbledore.
No one was willing to risk the whole thing ending. For most of them, this year so far had been the highlight of their Hogwarts experience.
And let's be honest, how many people could say that they were a part of the student body during the biggest secret ever successfully kept in Hogwarts History?
The first years, especially the Muggle-borns, were amazed. They didn't quite realise that this wasn't normal.
James had expressly ordered a Marauder shut down on Valentines pranks.
Sirius was of the impression that his best mate had gone mad.
Peter was amazed that James was actually taking his advice, but annoyed that it had happened when he was already out of the running.
Remus was too excited to notice. Valentines day was one of his favourite times of the year. Sirius and James never ate their chocolate for fear of love potions, but Remus had a detective spell.
He didn't tell them that, though.
He was a big fan of chocolate.
~~~14th of February~~~
Valentines Day, finally.
Slughorn was excited, anyone could see that. He was sure he was in the running, especially due to all the students asking him if they could borrow certain potions ingredients for their 'study'.
He wasn't stupid. He could recognise the ingredients for a love potion a mile away.
Yes, so Dumbledore had long since banned the things but that didn't mean he couldn't have a little fun… he'd be ready with the antidote, of course, but he'd only administer it after his win.
Although, if he was being honest with himself, he knew Lily wasn't stupid enough to be tricked into taking one. Especially not around this time of year.
Dumbledore also put an all round ban on the singing Cupids, thank Merlin. Hestia could only imagine what it would have been like otherwise… well, in short, Lily would have blown a little more than a gasket.
The students of Hogwarts were largely disappointed. There were no Marauder scale pranks. James did not ask Lily out. In fact, apart from the large number of dropped hints the day went by smoothly.
This confused Lily almost more than the staring.
The entire year Lily had been noticing the stares. At first she had figured it was because she was now Head Girl, and that she was therefore something of a celebrity. That unsettled her a little, but she let it pass, especially as time went on she seemed to gain less stares.
But then she noticed that the staring increased on special occasions, such as Halloween, Christmas, New Years and now Valentines. She also noticed that the students watched her interactions with Potter like a hawk.
Maybe they thought it was entertaining. Hestia had told her multiple times that she found it amusing when James got chewed out.
But the stares were not as disconcerting as the fact that Potter had not asked her out since New Years.
This should have made her happy. She should be glad. It was a good thing that Potter wasn't irritating her anymore.
She wasn't so sure.
For starters, their Head meetings were now pretty awkward. They discussed what they needed to and nothing else. Potter no longer teased her. He no longer made jokes. No longer tried to impress her.
And that was worrying.
She wasn't worried that he was planning something. She wasn't worried that he was trying to gain her interest or sympathy.
She was worried about him, because for all intents and purposes he was acting like a lost puppy that had been kicked one time too many.
If she was being honest with herself, she missed their arguments. She missed having someone she could have a somewhat witty argument with. Someone she wasn't afraid to insult and someone who wasn't afraid to insult her back, someone she could pull out all the stops with and not have to worry that he wouldn't come back for more. Because he always did.
Hestia said she was clearly starting to like him because she now talked about him all the time.
Remus and Sirius were often caught exchanging gleeful looks.
Many people believed the game was coming to an end… because Lily was actually starting to care.
But that did not stop Slughorn from giving the Gryffindor seventh years the biggest pile of homework they had ever seen the next day, and none of them could even complain because Lily and James were in the same room.
McGonagall was reported to have been rubbing her hands together with one of those 'evil genius' smiles on her face. Those who bet for March were also observed displaying similar behaviour.
Dorcas Meadowes was seen eating a large vanilla cake in an empty classroom on the fourth floor. Many were worried, but none dared approach.
~~~1st of March~~~
Gwenog Jones was handing out chocolate-chip Welsh cakes. Remus Lupin couldn't resist.
That was what started the entire mess.
See, today was another of those pesky 'special occasions', and the Welsh members of the student body were all seen wearing daffodils on their chests and a special order of Welsh cakes was placed with the house elves.
Remus had to admit that Gwenog was an absolute genius. Chocolate, after all, made everything better.
Unfortunately it also gave Remus a sugar high.
According to Sirius Black, Remus did not get quite the haul he was expecting on Valentines Day, as the amount of love portion in the castle seemed to have increased exponentially. Add on to that with the fact that Hogsmeade visits had been cancelled due to Death Eater sightings near the village and he was suffering from a serious case of withdrawal.
So when he saw those Welsh cakes…
Needless to say Gwenog ran out much faster than she had been expecting and Remus was basically bouncing off the walls. He was so out of it that he let it slip that they were taking part in a massive bet.
James was mildly annoyed.
He cornered Sirius and Hestia (which really wasn't that hard, seeing as they were in a broom cupboard at the time but James did find himself feeling a sudden need to bleach his eyes) and then demanded that they tell him the truth.
Luckily for everyone, Sirius and Hestia were fast thinkers and fed James some story about the upcoming Quidditch cup, and how the whole school was betting (apart from Lily, who they all knew was holding a protest about Quidditch – not because she didn't like the sport, as she claimed, but because she didn't want to admit that she liked the fact that James was so toned. They all knew the truth. She was in denial.) on the outcome and that they didn't want to involve him because they all knew how cut up he was about they fact that England was knocked out of the finals on a technicality and that they didn't want to bring back traumatic memories for him.
He thought it sounded a little fishy, but then again this was Sirius Black. So he let it go.
Gwenog was upset that her plan of putting elixir of Euphoria in the Welsh cakes and feeding them to Lily so she would feel happy when she saw James did not work.
Remus was later found in the kitchen, being fed large amounts of chocolate pudding spiked with calming draught by a very distraught house elf and a stressed Professor Horace Slughorn.
~~~17th of March~~~
A Marauder prank of epic proportions.
The entire castle was green. Walls, doors, floors, ceilings, suits of armour, everything.
The house elves were drunk.
At first people suspected the Slytherins. After all, green is their colour. Then the first reports of a pack of leprechauns came through and they all realised the truth.
Although, how the Marauders managed to convince the leprechauns to visit was a mystery in itself.
But that wasn't important. What was important was that Lily Evans was sighted – yes, sighted! By an actual eyewitness, and a reliable one at that – conversing civilly with one James Potter. They seemed to be discussing the value of leprechaun gold when playing pranks on older sisters.
The population of Hogwarts was amazed.
Professor McGonagall was seen looking very smug as she chatted to Professor Flitwick in the corridors.
Mrs Norris was spotted running through the hallways wearing a large green hat and a large green shamrock, closely followed by a couple of leprechauns who were 'trigger happy' – in other words, they were happily launching large gold coins at the poor traumatised cat.
When cornered, the leprechauns claimed they were coerced by four teenaged boys.
Argus Filch was not amused.
~~~31st of March~~~
By now, the majority of the betters were out of the running. Most of those who were left were those who had vaguely bet on the end of the year, or that they wouldn't get together at all.
Sirius was beginning to watch James like a stalker. James was beginning to become weirded out.
But they had some work to do.
"So I know we said we would just wing today…" muttered Sirius, "But I think we need a semblance of a plan."
"Do you even know what the word 'semblance' means, Padfoot?" asked Remus.
"Shut up, Moony."
"I'm not sure that I want to, guys," muttered James.
"Why not, Prongs?" asked Peter. "This is April Fools we're talking about – pretty much the biggest day of the year for us. And this is our last one in Hogwarts."
"Well, he's not wrong," said Sirius. "Although it is odd to think of it like that, isn't it? It feels like we've been here forever, and to think we're nearly done…"
"Look, I've just started to be able to talk to Lily without her yelling my head off, okay? I'd like to keep it that way."
"Prongs, I am surprised at you!" exclaimed Sirius. "You want to keep it that way? I'd have thought you'd want a little more."
"I'd rather be friends than nothing," he sighed. Then he stood up and headed for the dorms.
"Man," sighed Sirius, shaking his head. "He really is taking this hard."
"Well," said Remus, "He's pined after Lily Evans for almost seven years now and he's finally accepting that she doesn't want him. Of course he's taking it hard."
The trio heard a shuffle behind them, and then a few seconds later they turned to see Lily running up to her own dorm.
"I think that went well," said Peter.
"Of course it did," said Sirius, "It was my idea."
"Yeah, you must be getting a little desperate," said Remus, smirking. "You only have two days left."
"I'm not worried," insisted Sirius, completely missing Peter's eye roll. "Minnie hasn't been wrong yet."
"I thought you were counting on her being wrong," said Peter, confused.
"Minnie has good instincts," said Sirius, grinning, "But she doesn't know quite how stubborn little Miss Evans can be."
Peter still looked a little confused, and was even more so after Remus winked at him behind Sirius' back.
Hestia thought they were not playing fair.
Alice was hoping to Merlin that they were wrong, as she needed a little extra cash to be able to afford that thing she wanted to buy Frank for his birthday.
And in her room, Professor Minerva McGonagall was starting to get a little nervous. Not that she'd admit to anyone of course – she was a mature, grown woman. She didn't get involved in silly games like this.
~~~1st of April~~~
Everyone went down to breakfast that day with high expectations, and they were not disappointed.
First of all, Peeves was on a ramage with paint filled water balloons. That does not need any more explaining.
Secondly, many of the girls toilet doors had notices on them… notices from the Ministry of Magic's Department of Health and Safety claiming that the bathrooms were home to a colony of rats or an infestation of cockroaches or something similar, causing a large amount of panic and distress throughout the female population of the school.
Thirdly, Professor Alby, the divination teacher, woke up with a right scare. Some one had gotten into her room and pasted a very lifelike picture of the Grim on the ceiling above her bed.
Fourthly, some one had transfigured all the cutlery into very flexible rubber. It was even impossible to scoop up some beans with a spoon – it just bent under the pressure.
Students were forced to eat with their hands. Most were trying to figure out whether to be amused or disgusted.
Fifthly, every single goblet seemed to be spiked with something different, whether that be a hair colour changing potion, a jinx that forced you to speak in rhyming couplets, a curse that turned you into half a donkey, a mild love potion, an overdone cheering charm so you couldn't stop laughing or a spell that made you see in only black and white… whatever you can possibly think of, it was done in some form or another.
Then there were the staircases that were charmed to turn into slides at random moments. That one barely even deserves mentioning, it was so chaotic.
But then it happened. The event that ruined McGonagall's almost perfect year.
"What did I do now?"
"Not just you, it was you and your bloody friends!"
"Hey, you can't hold me responsible for-"
"Okay, so I didn't mind the fact that my eyes look like fire. In fact, the effect is quite dramatic and it did stop people from badgering me this morning."
"Then what are you complaining-"
"My books, Potter! Look at my books!"
"Uh, Lily? Those aren't books, those are-"
"I know bloody well what they are, don't I? And don't you dare call me Lily-"
"But you said-"
"I know what I said! But you so lost that right when you went and did this!"
"It wasn't me!"
"Then who the bloody well was it?"
"I don't know? Sirius, perhaps?"
"And you don't go anywhere without him, so that means-"
"Then maybe it was Remus!"
"Do you really think Remus would be capable of doing something like this to a stack of poor, innocent books? Do you?"
"And if you even mention Peter's name-"
"Merlin, and I used to respect the loyalty you and your friends had for each other! I used to think that was your only redeemable feature! Now, however-"
"You don't think it is my only redeemable feature because you find the whole of me so attractive?"
"Okay, so that was the wrong thing to say."
"I can't stand you, Potter! You're like a whole massive pile of… of… of frogspawn!"
"You don't seem to mind that pile of frogspawn that you're clutching so tightly."
"I told you, these are my books!"
The whole confrontation ended with James' broom also resembling a pile of frogspawn, Lily looking completely red in the face and very upset and Sirius, somehow, managed to gain a bright red nose resembling Rudolph's to match the antlers he'd received from his pumpkin juice that morning.
"You look like Prongs," said Remus, smirking as he poked one of the antlers.
"Oh, shut up."
"Hey Padfoot, why did you confess?" asked Peter. "I thought that was like, Marauder Rule number twelve, or something."
"I couldn't let Prongs take the fall," groaned Sirius, "He has to kiss Lily tomorrow or I loose the bet!"
"I thought you were trusting Minnie," said Remus, still smirking.
"Seriously, stop," groaned Sirius, "You're killing me here."
McGonagall was no longer spotted looking smug.
Sirius Black was becoming desperate.
Lily was not seen for the rest of the day.
~~~2nd of April~~~
Sirius had already given up by breakfast.
Not a very Sirius Black type move, I know, but what else could he do?
Lily wouldn't even look at James.
James wouldn't even look at Lily – that was an all new low.
For Lily, it was the fact that she finally felt like she was getting somewhere. Like James had finally stopped being that arrogant toerag and had become real, genuine person that she could talk to and get to know. But then he turned around and did something like this.
If she were being honest with herself (which everyone knows she's really bad at,) she would have realised that the reason she was pulling away was because she had begun to feel something for James, and she was afraid of getting hurt. But she wasn't being honest with herself, and she kept to the mantra of 'James Potter is an arrogant git… James Potter is an arrogant git… James Potter is an arrogant git…'
For James, it was the fact that Lily had falsely accused him of something he hadn't done. Sure, before she had accused him of pranks set off by his friends, but usually he'd had at least a little to do with them. He'd never minded the insults, because at least it meant that she was taking to him. But this…
She was accusing him of playing a prank on her, when he'd done everything in his power to stop his mates from even poking her with a feather.
Well, this time round, anyway.
But that was it. James Potter had finally reached his breaking point. He'd had enough.
She clearly didn't want him, and so he was going to give her what she did want.
It was the least he could do.
Sirius had known James for a while now, and they'd gotten pretty close. As such, Sirius prided himself on the ability to be able to read James like a book.
Better than a book, even, since books were so boring.
Anyway, this meant that Sirius could see all of this brewing in his best mate's mind, and he knew that pushing him would make it worse.
Because if Sirius wasn't a good friend, then what was he?
So, despite the damn bet, Sirius spent the day shooting glares at anyone who even seemed to be thinking about pestering James about Lily.
There were some things in the world that were more important than a dumb bet, after all.
~~~4th of April~~~
Lily and James still weren't talking.
It was beginning to look like a lost cause, and even the people who had bet they wouldn't get together at all weren't too happy about that.
The Slytherins found the whole situation hilarious. They also found that voicing this thought resulted in them taking a visit to the hospital wing.
Remus, for some reason, still looked pretty confident. Cut up about the way his friend was feeling sure – hell, he even gave James a his last slab of Honeydukes chocolate, why else would he make such a sacrifice? – but he still looked confident.
Why, no one knew, although Sirius was considering mental instability.
Hestia reported that Lily was also eating large amounts of chocolate.
Alice claimed she had been hit with a leg-locking jinx and a bat-bogey hex when she asked why Lily was getting cut up about an arrogant toerag.
Mary added that Alice had also mentioned the fact that Lily might have a little bit of crush on James, and that was why Lily had hexed her.
Hestia thought that was much more likely.
Peter was feeling incredibly guilty for transfiguring Lily's books.
He'd only done it as a joke, after all. He only wanted to fit in with his mates.
~~~7th of April~~~
Okay, so Sirius figured Remus would be at least a little bit nervous by now. Dinner had been and gone, and nothing had changed between the two hopefully-soon-to-be-lovebirds. They still refused to look at each other. Still didn't talk to each other.
They weren't even yelling any more.
That was all time new low.
"Why are you smiling?" hissed Sirius.
"Prongs is about to blow up," answered Remus.
Sirius glanced over to his best mate and realised that Remus was right.
"And tell me, how exactly is that a good thing?"
"Lily's about to blow up as well."
"Let me reiterate."
"Since when did you know such words?"
"All in good time, Padfoot. All in good time."
It didn't take much. Alice, having finished her potions essay, stood up and began to walk towards the dorms. As she did so she brushed past James and caused a piece of his parchment to float to the ground.
Nothing major. No problem at all. It was a blank parchment. She bent down, picked it up and handed it to James.
"Sorry," she said. James gave her a tight smile.
"Just watch where you're walking next time," he said quietly.
Alice nodded, then went on her way. But before she had taken a step, James' head snapped back up as he noticed Lily sneering at him.
"What's your problem?" he hissed.
"Nothing," she muttered, looking back to her own work. But then she whispered under her breath, "Bloody unbelievable."
Well, she thought it was under her breath.
But James heard.
"Excuse me?" he demanded.
"I said you're bloody unbelievable," she growled back, louder this time. "All Alice did was accidentally knock off your parchment – a blank sheet at that – and then you have to go and be a right jerk to her!"
"How exactly was I being a jerk?"
"You acting all contemptuous, so high and mighty!"
"So that's it is it? You don't like me because I act all 'high and mighty'? Why don't you take a look in the mirror? 'Oh hello, my name's Lily Evans, Head Girl of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I would talk to you, but I am just so much better than you I don't have the time. Bye!'"
"Why you little-"
"What? Can't take the truth?"
"How dare you?"
"You know what? I am tired of you pushing me around, Evans. In case you haven't noticed, every single argument we have is started by you. You say I am arrogant and that I am irritating, but who is it that threw the first insult all those years ago? Who was the first to raise their voice? Who threw the first jinx? Think about it, Evans, and you'll realise the real reason why I irritate you."
"You are such a-"
"Oh, I know. You think I am such an arrogant toerag, such a disgusting creature that you would consider the giant squid over me. But hey, none of that matters because I am clearly the one that has done something wrong. Clearly I am the one that is the rude, pompous prick."
Everyone in the common room was silent. Everyone was watching the confrontation with wide eyes.
And everyone saw the moment when James took one step too far.
"And you know what, Lily Evans? I reckon the only reason you spend so much time insulting me is to make yourself feel better. Because you have such a horrible life with no real friends and a family who probably can't even stand the sight of you that you feel the need to vent out your frustrations on another person. So you continually put me down and make it seem like I am nothing but a scrap of slime so you can make yourself believe that you really aren't the lowest person in the world. But you know what? I am done. You have my word that I will never ask you out again because if this is the way you are going to see me, I don't know why I even bothered in the first place."
James stood there, not even remembering when he stood up, his chest heaving.
It took him a couple of seconds to realise that he really had gone too far this time.
Lily was also standing. Her face was bright red and her hands were fisted tightly at her sides. But that wasn't what was most startling.
Her face was streaked with tears and completely screwed up with pain.
The silence lasted for a few more seconds, and then Lily sprinted out of the portrait hole.
"Lily wait!" cried James. Then in a flash he was gone too.
"Well damn," muttered Sirius, shaking his head. "That didn't go well."
"You're telling me," said Hestia, sinking down next to him. "I kind of want to go after her, but I'm not sure that's such a good idea since James ran off-"
"Well, don't look at me," said Peter, "I have no idea."
The three of them turned to Remus, who was packing away his work.
"I'm off to bed," he said.
"What?" asked Sirius dumbly.
"Look," said Remus, "We can't do anything about it now. They won't kill each other and they won't do anything stupid, we know that. They will most likely be more annoyed with us if we follow them, so the best thing to do would be to leave them alone and talk to them in the morning, okay?"
"That makes sense," sighed Hestia.
"I hate it when you act so smart," groaned Sirius.
Remus rolled his eyes.
Sirius was very disappointed when he found that it seemed James had taken the map with him. Despite Remus' words he wanted to spy.
Sirius was not very good when it came to patience.
Remus agreed with that sentiment.
~~~8th of April~~~
As with every other piece of gossip, word of Lily and James' massive showdown spread through the school like wildfire.
Everyone was down at breakfast in record time, waiting to find out what was going to happen.
All eyes were on the Marauders and Hestia. But they didn't know anything either.
Hestia was worried. Lily had never come back during the night, something she had never done before. She was beginning to think that perhaps this bet wasn't the best of ideas…
What kind of a friend was she? She had practically pushed Lily into insanity.
Sirius was also worried. James hadn't come back during the night either.
But then all chatter in the hall seemed to cease, and everyone had turned to look at the entrance to the hall.
So Hestia and Sirius turned to look, too.
And there, standing in the doorway, was Lily Evans.
And James Potter.
Lily and James might have otherwise been completely creeped out by the staring they were receiving and they might have noticed something was going on but to be honest, they were kind of expecting it.
They walked down between the tables and sat down by their friends.
Then the hall erupted into chaos.
"Dude," exclaimed Sirius, "What the hell happened?"
Remus was looking smug.
"Don't look like that," hissed Peter, "You bet on yesterday, not today!"
Remus shot Hestia a look. Hestia knew what he meant.
"Lily," she whispered, gesturing for her friend to join her. When she had, Hestia whispered; "Tell me everything."
So she did. Lily told Hestia about how after the fight she had just run through the corridors. James' words had hit a little too close to home in terms of her relationship with Petunia.
James had arrived, and they'd exchanged a couple of choice hexes.
But then they'd gotten into another heated argument and they were right in each other's faces and then before she knew it they were kissing and Lily didn't want to stop. But then she'd realised what she was doing, shoved him away and then they'd started arguing again.
Then the arguing turned to talking and then they'd kissed some more and then, because James apparently didn't want to break his promise even if he did make it in anger Lily asked him out.
"And… what time did all this happen?" asked Hestia, slowly.
"Oh, it must have been about half past eleven last night," sighed Lily. "We lost track of time and fell asleep in that empty classroom."
Every student within a ten-meter radius turned to Remus with wide eyes, not even bothering to hide the fact that they had been eavesdropping.
Bloody hell, mouthed Alice.
"How the hell did you know that?" asked Frank.
"It was kind of obvious," said Sirius, groaning. "You only had to know the way these two idiots work. But bloody hell, I can't believe I chose the wrong date!"
Remus was a little bit too smug for anyone else's liking.
Lily didn't see Hestia for the rest of the day. At first she thought it was because Hestia was annoyed that she'd given in to James.
Later, Hestia told her it was because she was swamped with people wanting to know details and she was trying to keep them away from Lily.
Little was Lily to know that she was actually handing out prize money to anyone entitled to it.
For the rest of the year, Remus Lupin seemed to have an overabundance of Honeydukes chocolate.
~~~13th of June~~~
Platform 9 ¾ was, as always, a very hectic place.
Owls screeched, parents yelled, children celebrated.
The new graduates were very sad that this would be their last time leaving the place as students. It was all over. They were no longer students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
But they all knew that this wasn't the end of anything, not by a long shot.
A group of six teenagers, all ex-Gryffindors, were watching with glee as James Potter introduced his girlfriend to his parents for the first time.
"They're so cute," sighed Alice. "I'm so glad they were okay in the end."
"Don't look so happy," sighed Frank, "You still have to meet my mother. Seriously. Be afraid."
"Frank," said Sirius, shaking his head. "You don't say that to your girlfriend, you'll scare her off."
"Yeah," sniggered Peter, "You would know."
Sirius shot him a mock glare.
"Oh, they'll be fine," said Hestia, waving a hand absently. Then she started to smirk. "Although… I bet they'll have a kid by this time next year. What do you guys think?"
Alice groaned. The palm of Frank's hand met with his forehead.
"No way," said Sirius, "It'll take Prongsie longer than that. I give them two years, and they'll be married first!"
"Seriously you lot," sighed Remus, shaking his head. "When will you ever learn? But I would bet on Lily being pregnant before the start of 1980, and they'll get married after they find out, but before the kid's born."
"Specific much?" asked Peter with a wink, quoting Hestia from months before.
"So," said Hestia, rubbing her hands together and exchanging a smirk with the three Marauders. "What are the stakes?"