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the day you left was just my beginning [userpic]
Fic: One For Every Year You've Known Her
by the day you left was just my beginning (patchfire)
at January 31st, 2006 (11:23 pm)

Author: patchfire
Challenge: 22. James’ parents don’t approve of Lily as a wife for their son.
Title: One For Every Year You've Known Her
Summary: The Potters let James know why they don't think Miss Lily Evans is an appropriate wife for their son.
Warnings: Extensive use of flashbacks.
Word Count: 3,986
Rating: PG
Notes: My darling primroseburrows did a wonderful late-night beta job. Any mistakes in verb tense are solely mine and not hers; keeping them straight was not something I succeeded at whilst writing.

Dear James,

We received your request for the traditional Potter engagement ring. We cannot, however, forward this item to you as long as its intended recipient is Miss Evans. Anticipating your request for our reasoning, we have included our reasons in the body of this letter - one reason for every year you have known Lily Evans.

James rocked back in his chair, then let the chair legs come crashing down with a thud. He was in the library, hiding from his girlfriend. The library, he had decided, was the last place she'd look for him.

He couldn't say he was surprised at this turn of events. His mother and father, while good people, were not as open-minded as he might have hoped. A long list of things had come between them over James's years at Hogwarts, including things he felt forced to keep from them, and this was merely the latest. It was a big one, though, he had to admit - refusal of the family ring could mean any number of things about his and Lily's wedding and marriage, not the least of which was that he would have to find a different engagement ring now.

He signed and returned his eyes to the letter, ready to see what reasons his mother and father had given.

1. She's not of proper background for your station.

No, James thought, he supposed she wasn't, if one paid attention to those sorts of things. Lily Evans was Muggleborn, and he was pureblood, with a capital P, if people wanted to get pedantic about it.

Her background had been made quite clear during their second Potions lesson, first year. It was the first time that James really remembered noticing her. He was sure that he must've seen her at the Sorting, and in classes before that Thursday afternoon, but he couldn't remember to say for sure. He remembered that lesson, though.

"Now, I assume you've all reviewed your notes from last lesson," Slughorn boomed out over the chattering Gryffindor and Slytherin first years. "We're going to have your first practical lesson today." The man was beaming at one of the Slytherin first years, who was sitting in the very front and watching the professor intently. James sneered and poked his seatmate Sirius, nodding towards the boy? girl? James wasn't sure. "Check it out." Sirius stifled a laugh, managing a straight face only when the professor's gaze landed on him.

"You will be making a simple potion that provides a cure for boils. There are only four ingredients, which you will be able to provide out of your own stores. I will collect a sample of each potion at the end of today's work session. Begin." The classroom was quickly filled with the sound of cauldrons being placed over flame, textbooks being pulled out of schoolbags, and glass jars clanking against each other as ingredients were carefully measured. James worked easily; potions wasn't his favourite subject, but he considered himself competent. Sirius beside him was equally competent, though they exchanged grins as one of their dormitory mates, Peter, managed to knock his snake fangs in too early.

As the class came to an end, James bottled a sample of his potion, certain it was the correct colour and consistency. Professor Slughorn began making his way through the room, dismissing a few people before he came to the table where James and Sirius sat. "Mr. Potter, is it?" James nodded as the professor picked up his sample and studied. "Yes, yes... this looks fine. You may dispose of the remainder of your potion." He repeated the same examination and instructions with Sirius before moving to the next row, and James was just putting his text away when he heard the conversation behind him.

"Miss... ?"

"Evans, sir," said a clear voice, though James could hear a slight tremble in it.

"Miss Evans. This potion should be green, not yellow. Did you or did you not add the quills?"

"Yes, sir."

"Let me see your cauldron." James heard the professor stirring what was left in the cauldron. "Miss Evans, what is the meaning of this?" Beside him, Sirius turned his head, and started choking on his laughter.

"It... it's the two quills, sir."

"Thought you'd have a nice joke, did you?"

"No, sir!" The voice had more than a little bit of a tremble in it, then, and James turned. The girl had brilliant, deep red hair, and the look on her face was one of desperation.

"Then why did you add these instead of quills?"

"Those are quills, sir," she protested faintly, one lip trembling.

"Writing quills." By now, most of the classroom was paying attention, and several Slytherins snickered. Slughorn reached onto the desk behind hers and plucked up a jar of porcupine quills. "
These are quills for potions. Porcupine quills." He stopped and examined the girl for a moment. "Didn't your parents teach you basic potions, Miss Evans?"

"My parents... they're Muggles. Sir."

"Muggles! Muggleborn. Well." Professor Slughorn pocketed the vial. "Stay and speak with me after class, Miss Evans."

She nodded miserably, fishing her quills out of the cauldron, trying to blot them on her robes. James finished cleaning up his area and walked out with Sirius at his side.

Sirius nudged him. "A real live Muggleborn, huh? I've never met one before. Halfbloods, sure, but Muggleborns? Wow!"

James shook his head to clear it of the memory. Sirius had practically spent winter holidays this past December at Lily's house, eager to learn as much about Muggle London as he could. He'd even bought a motorbike, of all things, even though he couldn't yet drive it.

He sighed and let his eyes drift to the next line of his parents' letter.

2. Ignoring her background, she's still not of the proper class.

James sighed. Lily's family lived in a small, two-bedroom flat in Whitechapel. Her father ran a newsstand, her mother helped out, and her sister had married considerably above herself, as his mother would say, with her new home in Surrey and white-collar husband. Money was tight for Lily, but she never seemed to let it bother her. He supposed it was merely the way she had been raised.

Just after the beginning of 1973, second year. Everyone had returned from winter holidays in high spirits, and on the first Saturday after the resumption of classes, Mother Nature had favoured the Hogwarts ground with a large load of snow. It didn't take much to persuade the lower years to engage in a snowball fight - first and second years against third and fourth years. Excited, they had run, almost as one big mass, to the Tower to don cloaks, scarves, and mittens.

The second years were working on their fort while the firsties stockpile snowballs, and Sirius was between James and Lily. "Hey," he said after a moment of silence, "there's something wrong with the fabric there." He pointed to Lily's sleeve. "You ought to get the shop to fix it."

Lily stopped and peered down over her shoulder. "Oh, that. No, it ripped last March. Nothing to worry about." She smiled a bit and continued building up the fort.

"Last March? You mean you're wearing the same cloak as last year?"

Lily raised her eyebrow. "You mean you get a new cloak every year?"

"Well, yeah," Sirius said, confused. "Two, usually. You know, a school cloak and then one for fancy dress parties."

"You rip holes in your clothes so much that they can't be repaired?" Lily questioned, amusement colouring her voice.

"Why would I repair them when I could just buy more?"

"Well." Lily pressed her lips together. "You would do well to remember that not everyone is born with a silver spoon in hand, Sirius Black." She started humming after a moment, a tune that was completely unfamiliar to James.

James took that moment to look his yearmate over. Her cloak wasn't quite as long as the other girls' cloaks, and her boots clearly showed signs of wear. Sirius just gaped at her for a moment before replying. "Oh, I get it." His voice sounded faintly superior, with a touch of sympathy. "You're poor."

Lily's face flushed bright red, and she turned, moving to another part of the wall. Remus spoke up from the other side of James. "Sirius, for a millionaire's son, you don't have very good manners." He picked up the tune that Lily had been humming, then, and went back to work.

As soon as Lily had been able, she had gotten a job during the summer, for spending change, and certainly no one would ever comment that she looked shabby or, as Sirius had so tactlessly put it, poor. There was no chance of her family paying anything so expensive (and, James admitted, outdated) as a dowry. He had overheard her, the year before, telling her friend Alice that it was a good thing she'd always wanted a small wedding, because that's exactly what she and her family could afford. Both of those facts were strikes against her in his parents' eyes, James was sure.

3. Witches who work aren't wives, and they certainly don't become mothers and produce heirs.

James barely contained a laugh when he read the third reason. Lily was clear about her ambitions, a fact that had not been lost on his mother when she and Lily had had tea on Boxing Day. James could have told his parents that years ago, though.

When electives began during third year, the boys attending Arithmancy had been in for a shock. In the middle of the classroom had sat a girl.

Girls weren't prohibited from taking Arithmancy, but it was understood, generally, that girls took Divination or Ancient Runes or Muggle Studies or even Care of Magical Creatures, but not Arithmancy. There hadn't been, Sebastian Boot excitedly informed them, a girl in Arithmancy class for more than one term in over twenty years.

Lily Evans sat in the middle of the first row each time that the class met. She took careful notes, she occasionally asked an (admittedly intelligent) question, and she smiled small, pleased smiles whenever tests or assignments were returned. She seemed not to register the commotion that surrounded her place in the class.

It was Remus that finally asked her about it, one day in the common room. The pair of them were the only Gryffindors in Ancient Runes, and as they worked on a translation, he brought it up. "Say, Lily. Why are you in Arithmancy, after all?"

Lily had looked up and half-smiled. "You sure you don't want to cast
sonorus on me before I answer?" Remus had chuckled for a moment but shook his head, gesturing for her continue. "Well, it's simple, really. I need the class."

"Need the elective? You could take something else."

"No, no. I need Arithmancy. At the very least an O.W.L. in it, and I'd like to take it through N.E.W.T. level." At Remus's continued confused look, she elaborated. "For Healer training. The competition's quite swift, as I understand it, but for the last three years, every person with Arithmancy was accepted." She smiled.

"Healer training?" Sirius had piped up from where he'd been listening in.

"Yes," Lily had said, a trace of impatience in her voice.

"Isn't that a bit of a waste on a bird? No offence, Evans, really, but all that effort, just to patch up your kid's bloody nose?"

"I'd like to think that a Healer at St. Mungo's would do more than patch up a bloody nose."

"You're going to
work?" James himself had blurted out, taken by surprise. He gaped at her.

"Yes, Potter," she ground out between her teeth. "Why?" She looked at the boys' faces. "Alice said that not many witches work, but..."

"Yeah, old hags are the only ones," Sirius commented. "Ones that couldn't get a wizard, you know." He looked at the expression on her face and winced. "Er, not that you'd be one of those. Um. Not that there's anything wrong with not marrying?"

James let the corners of his lips twitch upwards. Nothing would deter Lily from becoming a Healer; she had made that quite clear. He understood, though. No matter how much he wanted a family, it wouldn't stop him from working either.

He sighed, shaking his head, and returned to the letter.

4. The Potter family does not associate with those who attempt to influence government though loud gatherings and so-called 'demonstrations.'

Now James wanted to laugh. Lily had been to just one such demonstration, if he understood correctly, but the experience had made her all the more interested in politics, both in the Muggle world and the wizarding one.

By fourth year, James was completely taken by Lily. It was late January of fourth year when she came running into the common room one Saturday afternoon, waving an envelope. "Alice! The pictures I told you about!" As the girls settled onto a sofa, James moved so that he could hear the conversation easily, even if he couldn't see the photographs.

"There, that's Elliott, and that's his friend Richard." Lily put a stress on the word friend, though James couldn't figure out why. "That's before everything got started. We were about to get on the Tube."

"And that's you and Elliott, obviously," Alice said as Lily went through the stack of photographs.

"Obviously." There was a pause. "Okay, this is at the protest. There's the stage," she flipped to another, "there's some of the other protesters... these people came all the way from Manchester!"

The girls continued chatteriing as Lily explained what each of the photographs contained. Then she put the envelope away. "It was amazing, Alice. Even if I never go to another event like it, I'll always remember the feeling of power. Like we could really make a difference, you know?"

It wasn't long after that evening that Lily's letters started appearing in the Letters to the Editor of the Daily Prophet on occasion. From the conversations that James overheard, he was fairly certain she was writing to Muggle publications about Muggle politics, as well. In the last two years, however, her name was nearly a weekly fixture in the Daily Prophet. His parents hadn't connected the articulate, outspoken writer L. C. Evans with "James's Lily" until the previous summer. Their opinion of the writer had gone down almost immediately, upon realising she was both female and "still a child."

5. The two of you fight. You bicker and argue and snipe at each other, yet you want to marry her?

James screwed his face up in a grimace at reading those words. Yes, he supposed that to his parents, they did bicker and argue quite a bit, but compared to how things had been just two years before, it was nothing. It was, he reflected, based on respect and regard now; before, it had been based in misunderstanding, at best. Mutual dislike and loathing at worst.

"Hey, Evans!" James twirled his wand, shooting out sparks like the muggle sparklers they were reading about in Muggle Studies. "Want to see something funny?" Without waiting for a reply, Snape's robes were flashing pink and purple. Lily scowled and brushed by him without a word.

That night in the common room, James approached the newly appointed prefect with a scowl. "Evans, you didn't have to get points taken from us!"

"Yes. I did." She finished a sentence before looking up. "Potter. Kindly remove yourself from my light."

James frowned and didn't move. "You made Gryffindor lose points!"

"No," Lily shot back. "You did, with your little stunt. You're lucky a professor didn't spot it. As it is, it's only five points."

"Only five points?" James gesticulated wildly. "It's still unGryffindor!"

"UnGryffindor? You're a fine one to talk about
that," Lily responsed, her voice growing louder. "You call hexing someone just because he walks by a very Gryffindor action?"

The fight escalated from there, and at the end of it, James was filled with rage, even as he still wished he could shut her up by kissing her.

It was a pattern that had repeated throughout their fifth year, up until the day by the lake where she had announced that she'd rather date that giant squid. Yes, their squabbles now were very different. James suspected that if you asked Sirius or Remus, or Alice, or Peter, they wouldn't even register them as fighting at all.

6. She hated you for six years. How could someone's opinion possibly change overnight?

Part of James had wondered the same thing; part of James still wondered. While his parents seemed to imply that there was no way such a change could be genuine, James knew it was. Still, he wondered...

It was two weeks before Halloween, and James was running late to Charms. He was trying to hurry without running, but as he came around the corner, he ran headlong into someone. He caught himself on the wall, holding out an arm to steady whomever he'd run into. He straightened "Sorry about that..." He froze when he realised it was Lily whom he'd run into.

"I should have been looking where I was going," she replied easily, a slight smile on her face. "You ought to hurry, by the way. Flitwick's already started class."

He looked at her, puzzled. "Why aren't you...?"

"Special project. I'm headed to the library to do some research." She smiled more broadly. "See you, James."

"Yeah, see you," he'd echoed as he headed on towards the Charms classroom, still surprised that she had been so pleasant to him of all people. He was stepping through the door when the last word she had said registered in his brain.

"James," he repeated out loud as he sat down.

"Yep, still your name," Sirius said brightly.

"No. She called me James."

Sirius waves his hand in front of James's face. "Yoo-hoo. Prongs. I know you're in there," he whispered.

James didn't respond, however, until the professor called his name - three times. "Yes?" he finally responded, startled.

"You're to go to the library and work with Miss Evans."

James nodded somewhat mechanically and headed out the door, down the same corridor he'd recently trod. He found his way into the library and sat down at the same table as Lily. He cleared his throat after a moment. "Looks like you're stuck with me, Evans."

She looked up, a bit startled, then grinned. "I know."

"You know?" he repeated blankly.

Lily's grin grew even wider. "Of course. You didn't think that Professor Flitwick told me who I'd be working with on the project?"

"But... but..." James stuttered. "You could've told me!"

"Mmm," Lily agreed. "But this way is much more fun." He would have sworn he saw a mischievous glint in her eye before she ended the sentence. "James."

That was the day that he started hoping again.

7. She'll bring you into a war that isn't yours to fight.

Yes, there was definitely a war going on, but he was already involved. It wasn't a case of future actions taking place; they had already happened.

There was no doubt about it - things were far scarier than they had ever been. Alice Quirke had announced the week before that she was going to be an Auror, instead of a Healer; there were two spots at the Hufflepuff table that weren't ever going to be filled again; everyone was either solemn or gleeful whenever the morning news was read. Lines were being drawn.

James hadn't thought much about the growing unrest over his years at Hogwarts. It was outside his immediate concern, after all. Until, that is, Lily came storming into the Great Hall at breakfast one morning in October.

"Have you heard?" she demanded breathlessly as she sat down and grabbed some toast in one swift motion.

"Heard what?"

"The Ministry's approved the use of the Unforgivables by Aurors."

what?" James exclaimed. "Are you sure?"

Lily nodded. "They feel like it's the only way to combat the 'growing menace.' "

"How... is it in the paper?"

"Of course not." She shook her head emphatically. "They don't want it getting out, not yet."

"Then how do you know?"

Lily looked at him closely for a few moments, then wrapped a sausage in a piece of toast and stood, tugging him towards the door. "I'm supposed to talk to you, anyway."

Supposed to? What...?"

She pulled him into a nearby classroom, locked the door and cast a quick privacy charm. "There's a group that the Headmaster's put together, to fight these so-called Death Eaters and whomever is in charge of them. We're not too large yet, but we're growing, and your name's come up to be a member. That's why I know about the Ministry, though; Professor Dumbledore told us."

"What..." James fell silent for a moment. "What is the group doing?"

"Those of us in school still? Not very much but listening for information and trying to see patterns of attack, that sort of thing. The people who've already left school try to sabotage what they can. But we're
not using Unforgivables." The disgust she felt was evident on her face.

"And... this group, they want me to join?"

"Yes. I know you've tried not to get involved, but I know what you've said to me, and to others. I know that you've never cared about blood purity and all that nonsense. It would be lovely to sit back and wait for the Ministry to sort this all out for us, but we can't do that, James. We can't. This is too important; too many lives are at stake, too many futures."

And James heard the unspoken addition to that, even if she hadn't consciously worded her sentence that way. Her future. And, in James's mind, that meant his future as well. Their future.

Beyond that, though, he knew that it was the right thing to do, Lily or no Lily. He nodded. "All right. What do I need to do?"

Lily beamed and started talking.

James's face creased into a smile at the memory. No, his parents had his best interests at heart, he supposed, but their seven reasons not to marry Lily were seven reasons to love her, for him. Seven reasons to marry her. Seven reasons to...

"Hogsmeade tomorrow night?"

James jumped at the intrusion, then grinned up at his best friend. "Padfoot, tomorrow's Thursday. It's not a Hogsmeade weekend."

"Right, right, Bighead Boy. So?"

James stood, folding up the letter from his parents and tucking it inside his robes, and nodded. "Of course. But I'll warn you." He grinned. "I've got some shopping to do."


Posted by: cariad2 (cariad2)
Posted at: February 1st, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)

Wonderful job!!!! I really enjoyed it.

Posted by: Shina (sleepingfingers)
Posted at: February 1st, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)

It's very, very lovely. I really enjoyed reading it. =)

Posted by: SLynn (slynn6776)
Posted at: February 1st, 2006 05:32 am (UTC)

Awesome! I loved it. Half way through, as I read Alice for the third time it clicked that it was Neville's mum. :)

Really great, first Lily/James fic I've read...must go look for more.

Posted by: James Potter for President! (foreveroptimist)
Posted at: February 1st, 2006 06:29 am (UTC)
James loves stripping Snape - Potterpuff

I love what you've done with this. The fact that the reasons come in a letter from James' parents and that you use flashbacks to emphasize the point makes it that much more effective. Great job!

Posted by: Rex :) (rex_bandit)
Posted at: February 1st, 2006 08:51 am (UTC)
Lily x James

i LOOOOVE this fic! the flashbacks were excellently placed and really made the story that much more interesting and real. :) very, very good job. keep up the great work! :D

Posted by: Crime Scene Investigating Champion of Justice (astronomylover)
Posted at: February 1st, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)

That was really nice - I really enjoyed reading it. I can definately see James going behind his parents' backs to buy Lily a ring. Great job!

Posted by: Stephanie (xprincessbloomx)
Posted at: February 2nd, 2006 01:03 am (UTC)

That was really sweet. I really enjoyed reading the flashbacks and the fact that James decided to go behind his parents wishes. Good work!

Posted by: Catherine (kate_litouch)
Posted at: February 2nd, 2006 05:17 am (UTC)
everything good

Extremely enjoyable! And the issues contained within this short fic made it all the more better! Not a lot of authors write about the problems that go on in .. was it the 70s? or 80s? Either way, you hit it right on the dot and I'm totally amazed at how it was incorporated into this. Excellent job!

Posted by: Just Thalia (tta)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
I love you just the way you are

Oh, this is great! I really liked the way this piece gave the feeling of the time and made Lily a much more fleshed out, original and interesting character than the way she's usually portrayed. Wonderful.

James was so lovely too, and Sirius was as funny as ever. I liked the fact you made Sirius a little ignorant and tactless when it came to issues of money, etc.

Posted by: Emily (pokie4389)
Posted at: July 1st, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)

Loved it!

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