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My fisrt Harry Potter fic, written after I read book 5. A "How Lily stopped hating James" story.


Title: Change of Heart
Author: Cybèle Adam
Beta: Arwen then Beth for The Sugar Quill
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Lily/James
Rating: K+ (PG)
Status: All written and beta'd (except for some sentences I rewrote later). Also translated into French.

Disclaimer: The wizarding world belongs to J.K. Rowling, as do the main characters and some others. Just borrowing for entertainment purpose, no money made.



Chapter 1 – The Letter

It was in August, about twenty days before the end of the summer holiday. When her mother told her there was an owl waiting in the living room with a parchment envelope that it refused to give to anyone else, Lily thought it was her school book list – the last one, as she was going to start her seventh year at Hogwarts. She already felt quite melancholy about that. She found it hard to believe six years had passed since her first journey on the Hogwarts Express and guessed that June would come too soon once again. More than ever, actually. This was going to be an entire year of last times - last reunion with her friends on platform Nine and Three Quarters, last Sorting Ceremony, last Halloween feast, last Christmas decorations, last Hogsmeade visits...but before all of that, last shopping afternoon in Diagon Alley.

She was already thinking of asking Iona Stonewall and Sandra Griffin to meet there in a few days so they could shop together when she took the letter the owl had brought and saw it wasn't from Hogwarts.

Blue ink... Lily had been so sure she was going to see the familiar emerald green words traced by Professor McGonagall's enchanted quill that she stared at the envelope for many long seconds, wondering who could write to her with blue ink as if it was the strangest colour one could imagine to use.

Iona always wrote in purple – and this didn't look like her handwriting, anyway. It was much more legible. Iona's hadn't changed much in six years. It was still so childishly wavering that even Lily, who was used to it, had trouble deciphering it sometimes.

"Is there something wrong, sweetie?"

Only by hearing the tone of her mother’s concerned voice did Lily realise she had been frowning, eyes still fixed on the blue letters.

"No, Mum, it's nothing. I'm just surprised. I've never received any Owl that wasn't from Iona or from Hogwarts. And I can't guess who sent me this."

"Well, you'll see if you just read the letter!"

Mrs Evans was smiling now. But Lily wondered if her mother was right to think there was nothing to worry about, after all. She answered with an slightly absent-minded nod then, frowning again, she turned back to her bedroom and sat down on her bed, thinking.

That handwriting reminded her of something...but what? It definitely wasn't Iona's, and Sandra never wrote letters; being Muggle-born too, she rather used a phone than a quill. It wasn't her handwriting either, anyway.

So who? Mrs Evans was right, of course; Lily could have her questions answered by simply opening the envelope. But the conviction that she should have been able to guess stopped her from following that logical suggestion. It would have felt a bit like cheating in a quiz game. No way. It was a challenge to her memory and she had to find the answer by herself.

She started drawing up a mental list of all the people she had ever seen writing at school. At least, since the letter had arrived by owl, it couldn't possibly be from someone she would have met elsewhere. This would make the guess easier.

She was about to admit that the little game was looking more and more like a waste of time when a new name suddenly came into her mind - a name she would never have thought of if she had carry on searching for the author of the letter among the people most likely to have something to tell her. It could be...

But no, it couldn't be him. He had no reason to... He wouldn't dare, would he?

She opened the envelope at last, tearing it up in her haste to check the signature. But she didn't even need to. She knew for sure when she saw the first line:

Dear Evans - Lily,

Only James Potter could call her that.

Not that there weren't lots of other boys who used the last names of everyone except their closest friends, but he was the only one she could imagine adding "Lily" right after, as to say "I've decided it's time to give up the distant terms". And this handwriting did look like his, as far as she remembered it.

He had never written to her before, of course, but once she had seen an essay he had forgotten on a table in the Gryffindor common room – and it was surprisingly legible. Before that day, she had always thought that no boy could have a neat handwriting, as they usually didn't care about how their work looked. But James's was really nice. Since it had amazed her, she remembered quite well. After all, it was the only thing she had ever liked about that nuisance of a boy.

How did he dare send her a letter? He knew she hated him! Or if he hadn't understood yet, he was incredibly stupid, top of the class or not.

Dear Evans - Lily,

Honestly! She felt like ripping the letter apart and throwing it away without reading more but curiosity won over anger. As irritated as she was, she still wanted to know what he wrote. Just to find some new reasons to hate him - or so she told herself.

You're probably thinking I shouldn't call you Lily, but I just can't call you Evans in a letter like this one. I can't use a name so impersonal in a letter that's going to be so personal. (Was he going to tell her his life story? That promised to be exciting!) I say 'Evans' in front of the others because it's what they expect me to do, but on my mind you're always Lily. And you've been on my mind all summer... (Really? How convincing!) No, actually you've been on my mind for more than a year now but I first wrote "all summer" because I have been thinking about you every single minute of every single day since I last saw you, ages ago – or so it feels – at King's Cross. (That was even better... And she was supposed to believe it?) I still can picture that irritated look you gave me as your only answer to my goodbye words. And I can't stand it anymore.

Lily nearly choked with indignation. That was some cheek! Reproaching her for something when he was the most unbearable person she ever met!

But she still didn't rip the letter apart. She had to know what came next – just to see whether the second paragraph was as ridiculous as the first, of course.

I think we should talk – really talk, I mean – not fight as we always do. Because it can't go on like that forever, can it? ("It doesn't bother me, Potter!" Lily hissed, wishing he was in front of her so she could send him packing properly.) I know you don't like me, ("This is the euphemism of the year !") and I guess it's all my fault.

Lily had to read the sentence a second time, then a third, to convince herself she wasn't dreaming. James Potter admitting he's been wrong? Impossible!

But there was no mistake. He had really written those incredible words – and even more:

The way I act when you're around is quite foolish, I know it. I didn't realise it at first but now… Well, I must have looked like a horrible show-off, haven't I? ("Oh yes, you have!" Lily said out loud with a little laugh of amusement that surprised her.) You don't have to answer that. I can hear what you're thinking: "Oh yes, you have!", isn't that true? (Lily really laughed this time. She didn't feel angry anymore.) And you're right. I am terribly show-off sometimes. ("Sometimes?") I like being admired, I confess. Especially by girls. But the problem is it has never worked on you. I should have known. You're not like the others. I did all those stupid things to impress you and as a result.. you despise me, don't you? ("Oh, what gave you that impression?") You don't have to answer that either. I know you do. You told me already. Lots of times. And it hurts. I hate saying that but I promised myself I'd be honest, so I've got to tell you. It does hurt. Because I like you. ("Oh, great!") I mean I really like you - fancy you - probably love you, actually.

"What?!"

This was a real shock. Lily didn't even know whether she should laugh again or scream in indignation. The only thing she was sure of was that James Potter had plenty of nerve. That certainly wasn't news, but this time he had gone too far.

Did he seriously believe she was stupid enough not to suspect anything? After all, she had seen him with at least half a dozen girls during the previous school year. Now he was probably tired of those little idiots who giggled as he passed and watched him with a sort of devotion just because he had almost never lost a Quidditch match. He could date any of them whenever he wanted – and he surely did. So he wasn't interested in them anymore and he challenged himself to try and pick up another kind of girl, for a change. Or maybe it was a bet with his friends. In any case, that letter was totally absurd.

Lily read the last few lines mechanically, still wondering how James could have thought she might believe he meant all that.

I don't know if it makes sense saying you love someone who hates you, but I can't get you out of my mind and I've never felt this way before... It's quite weird. And sad, too, because you don't even want to talk to me. ("Oh, poor baby!") I wish I could talk to you. I wish we could make things right so I won't have to endure another year of furious looks and hurtful words. ("Here we go again! You'd think the fault is mine!") Please give me a chance. Let me show you I'm not only the bloody git you think I am. ("Oh, and what else are you, then?") And go out with me, will you? (Sigh. Wouldn't he ever stop?)

See you on the Hogwarts Express. ("Alas!") Love. (No comment.)

James

Well. Now she had to find an answer that would make him understand how shocked and angry she was. Or maybe she should just not write back at all, because he didn't deserve the slightest word.

She couldn't decide. It seemed to her that a dignified silence would have more impact than anything she would write, but her quick temper made her feel like sending him another one of those biting replies of hers. Just like when he first asked her out and she said no, never, not even if she had to choose between him and the Giant Squid.

Her friends were doubled up with laughter at hearing that, but they didn't really understand. And Iona's younger sister did go out with James a few months later. Lily hadn't talked to her much ever since. She didn't stay with him for more than three or four weeks, but that was not the point. Leda Stonewall had simply fallen in Lily's esteem the moment she had become James Potter's girlfriend, and this couldn't change just because she wasn't anymore. After all, if it had been all up to her, she would probably still be. And she hadn't even enough good sense to blame him for playing with her heart, probably because her heart hadn't had much to do with that. She had only been proud to be seen with him, the Quidditch star...

"Well, the Quidditch star's going to learn he can't always win!" Lily promised herself. "It's high time that someone put his feet back on the ground."

~ * ~

Those words, when she repeated them to Iona and Sandra while they were having ice creams at Florean Fortescue's, triggered their first giggles of the year.

Lily didn't really feel like laughing, but staying serious when her friends weren't was simply impossible.

It started like it nearly always did: some words that Lily said without meaning to be funny, Sandra's usual amused smile, Iona asking why Sandra was smiling, then Iona's inimitable pearls of laughter when she understood - which happened most often before one of the others had time to explain.

Only Sandra could catch (or rather imagine) Lily's involuntary humour, and only Iona could make them all cry with laughter for something that insignificant.

Everyone was looking at them now, probably wondering who those crazy girls were who made so much noise. Or perhaps they all knew and weren't even surprised. Especially the Gryffindors that had been awoken with a start so many times in six years when the same happened during the long conversations that the Three Mad Laughers had until late at night in their dormitory.

"So...appropriate...for someone...who's always...showing off...on a broomstick!" Iona hiccupped between her roars of laughter. "I...I imagine…Lily...charging into him…like a bull...to make him fall of his broom!"

"I don't think his feet would be first to hit the ground, then!" Sandra managed to point out in a faint voice.

She could hardly breathe, and Lily was in the same state. They tried to be more discreet than Iona, and it always ended with stitches in their sides.

"Please, calm down!" Lily implored as Iona's loud laughter echoed worse than ever.

"Yes, Io, please stop, you're killing us!" Sandra added.

But this wasn't what Lily had meant.

There was a group of Hufflepuff Fourth years at the table next to theirs and the two girls were part of the "James Potter Fan Club", although they were both related to Phoebus Garland, their House's Seeker.

Lily was sure they would tell everyone if they heard her making fun of their idol. And she didn't want him to know before she had the opportunity to throw in his face the most cutting words she could find. In front of his friends. And of as many people as possible. That would be much better than writing, and even better than ignoring him all year long. He might even understand what it feels like when someone humiliates you publicly, and finally stop tormenting Severus Snape. Not that she still called the Slytherin a friend now - she really didn't like the people he hung out with and even more importantly he had hurt her feelings too much by calling her a Mudblood when she had just defended him - but James Potter's behaviour was unworthy of a Gryffindor and she would not let him taint the honour of their House on the pretext that the Slytherins were all potential Dark Wizards.

And now there was also that letter. She took it as an insult, because James obviously thought she was an idiot or he wouldn't believe his manoeuvre could work. The more she thought about it the more she felt like punctuating her future speech with a good slap.

At least now she was perfectly serious again. She must even look very angry because Iona's laughter faded instantaneously when their eyes met.

"Oh! What's the matter, Lily?" she asked, and Sandra stared at them both with a questioning look.

"It's about..." Lily began.

She glanced at the two Hufflepuff girls, who seemed to have taken up their own conversation, and continued in a lower voice:

"You know, it's about him... I was going to tell you. I've got a good reason – I mean a new one – to think it's time to...well..."

"To get him off his broom?" Sandra suggested with another of her famous smiles.

Iona let out a giggle.

"No! Please not again! It's really important. He..."

Lily never finished the last sentence. The others followed the direction of her gaze and saw that Leda was coming towards them with her friend Cybela Malkin, a Ravenclaw Sixth year just like Leda herself.

"Hey! You should have waited for us," Leda said in a falsely reproachful tone.

She and Cybela took seats to join the three Gryffindors, sure they wouldn't mind.

How were they supposed to know? In spite of what Lily thought of Leda since she first accepted a date with James Potter, the five girls still spent as much time together as they always did. As Iona and Leda were sisters, Lily didn't want to separate them just because she disagreed with the youngest of them about a boy. And then she had nothing against Cybela. So she merely avoided to comment when Leda mentioned her former boyfriend.

But this time, she was very annoyed. Especially when Cybela asked why there were laughing so much.

"We heard you from the Apothecary!" Leda swore.

"How couldn't you?" Sandra commented. "I bet all Diagon Alley knows Iona's here now!"

"My dear sister is horribly noisy," Leda approved. "And she has no manners, or she wouldn't have started eating without me!"

Then she grabbed Iona's dish of half-melted ice cream.

"And she dares to say I have no manners!" Iona exclaimed while giving a little slap on her sister's hand to make her let go of the spoon.

They all laughed.

"Behave, girls! The new Head Girl's watching you!" Cybela reminded the sisters.

Lily smiled, answering she'd rather not intervene in family quarrels, at least as long as it was only about ice creams.

She had received her badge three days before with the Hogwarts letter. Her parents were so proud – and of course she was, too. The other Prefects were all Pure Blood witches, so it was a double honour for her to have been chosen as the Head Girl. She only wished she didn't look too proud. Petunia pretended she did, because she had pinned the badge on her top to show it to their parents and hadn't taken it off all day. But Petunia's snidey remarks didn't matter much. She was so obviously jealous of the special attention their parents had paid to Lily in the past six years that she had developed a real hatred towards all that was connected to magic, even that Head Girl title Lily could have gotten in a "normal" school as well.

However Lily hadn't put the badge on that afternoon, even though it would have been quite logical to do it, as she was wearing her Hogwarts robes. She wanted to avoid at all costs making people think she was showing off as James Potter was always doing. She didn't even dare imagining him with a Head Boy badge... Fortunately it wouldn't happen, since he wasn't a Prefect. It would have been ridiculous if he was, anyway. According to Professor McGonagall, he and Sirius Black were the worse troublemakers that Hogwarts had ever known. But the Transfiguration teacher liked them all the same, which Lily couldn't understand. A woman so strict and so serious should never bare two students that disturbed her class so often. But as they were also brilliant... In addition, the Professor was known to be highly interested in Quidditch. If she hadn't been so annoyed by James Potter's show, Lily would still find very entertaining watching the Gryffindor matches to see Minerva McGonagall protesting with vehemence at each treachery of the opponent team.

"Oh, that look's going to terrify the First years!" Sandra exclaimed.

As she was thinking of James, Lily had put on a scowling expression that was highly comical to her friends.

"I wish it worked on someone else, if you know what I mean," she said to Sandra in a whisper.

Leda and Cybela were trying to decide what kind of ice cream they would order, and Iona was looking at the menu too, obviously considering having a second dish.

A moment later, just as Lily was expecting, she asked whether she and Sandra wanted one too.

"I haven't finished this one yet!" Sandra answered laughing (surely she had expected Iona's question, too). "And I think I couldn't eat more now."

"Neither could I," Lily said. "So, if you don't mind, I'm going to shop again. Would you come with me, Sandy? When you've finished eating, of course. I must find a birthday present for my father and I need advise."

Actually, Lily knew very well what she would buy for her father. But she did need advice. About James's letter.

~ * ~

"I can't believe it!" Sandra exclaimed.

"You're not alone," Lily sighed.

They were sitting on a bench near Ollivander's. It wasn't the ideal place to have a private conversation but it was the best they could find without going out of Diagon Alley. At least it was far enough from Florean Fortescue's; the others wouldn't see they weren't in a shop.

"What are you going to do?" Sandra asked, handing the letter back to her friend.

Lily kept silent for some seconds. If she had already come to a decision, she wouldn't have let Sandra read that collection of rubbish that was supposed to be a kind of love letter.

"Do you think a Head Girl is allowed to hit someone in the face if they showed her a serious lack of respect?" she asked eventually.

She was about to add "You don't have to answer that – I already know", but she didn't, because it would have sounded too much like she was quoting James.

Sandra didn't really answer, anyway. She stared at her in puzzlement and asked another question:

"You mean...you don't believe him?"

"What?"

Sandra's surprise was nothing compared to Lily's. The red-haired girl looked as astonished as if she had just seen Sirius Black shaking hand with Severus Snape. Or heard James Potter admitting he wasn't the only good Quidditch player in the school.

She had never thought that Sandra – or Iona, or anyone else – might not to share her opinion. She didn't even see it as an opinion, anyway. It seemed to her it was evidence. But it was obviously not to Sandra.

"You can't think he means all that, can you?"

"Well, I thought your problem was that you didn't know what to tell him," Sandra explained. "I suppose you still don't want to go out with him, but you can't say it in the same way as you've always done because you wouldn't want to hurt anyone in purpose, would you?"

Lily raised her eyes heavenward.

"So you weren’t even listening to me when I said I had a new reason to dislike him?"

Sandra looked surprised again.

"Actually...I was, but I forgot that when I read his letter. It's so...touching!"

She had said the last word in a faltering voice, as if she was expecting Lily to scream – and she probably was.

But there were people around and Lily knew she mustn’t draw their attention.

"Touching?" she repeated, managing to put in that single, nearly whispered word a bit of the incredulity, indignation and contempt she felt at the very thought of what James had dared write to her. "Oh, he did a quite good job, that's true, but it's nothing but lies. A boy like him doesn't even know what 'love' means."

"He doesn't pretend to know," Sandra pointed out.

"Doesn't he?"

Lily thought for a moment. What did he write, exactly? 'I don't know if it makes sense saying you love someone who hates you'...Then 'It's quite weird'.

"Right, he doesn't," she admitted. "But he's trying to trap me with fine words and I hate him for that more than for anything he did or said before. I'm going to let him know, you can be sure of that!"

- - -


October 2009

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