James Potter blinked his hazel eyes behind his glasses in utter and absolute shock. The cold wind swirling through the air swept over his face, carrying the faint smell of the Black Lake with it, and James was speechless for a second. Thankfully he recovered quickly and his nonchalant, charming, rugged smirk slid back onto his lips.
“I don’t think I heard you right, Evans,” he cocked his head to the side, “So I’m going to ask again. Will you come with me to the New Year’s ball?”
Lily Evans, caught somewhere between annoyance and amusement, crossed her arms over her chest and looked at James with her beautiful green eyes, unwavering, “I said no, Potter. Do you need me to spell it out?”
“Alright, Evans. I see how it is,” James’ smirk widened as he caged Lily in against one of the willows framing the lake, placing his hand on the rough bark above her fiery hair, “You’re playing hard to get?”
They were in seventh year, and at this point it was pretty clear that the two of them were an item. James had asked Lily out multiple times only to be loudly and publicly turned down. It didn’t faze him though because he knew the girl fancied him – the stolen kisses in the crevices of Hogwarts or after they got drunk in the Hufflepuff common room told him as much. So to him this was just another thing he’d have to work for with Lily.
“No, Potter,” Lily lightly pushed away at James’ chest, “I’m serious. I’m not going with you to the Christmas ball,” there was something in her voice that made it clear she wasn’t messing about.
“Why not?” James asked, annoyed now, stepping back. Lily sighed.
“Listen, James,” she said softly, sweetly, and the fact that she used his first name made James smile and melt a little, “I would go to the ball with you, it’s could be our last one together at school,” she looked at the ground and a light blush dusted her cheeks, “But I’m not going to, because although you’ve definitely changed over the last few years, you still treat Sev like garbage.”
James felt straight anger hit him at the mention of the other boy’s name and he turned around in a frustrated circle, groaning, “Why did you have to go and make up with that Slimy git?” he complained.
“Potter,” Lily snapped, “He’s my friend.”
“He called you a mudblood,” James retaliated, “he deserves to rot in the ground like the worm he is.”
“See! This is what I mean!” Lily exclaimed, “He’s my best friend and I forgave him and it’s not your place to judge him,” before James could argue with her flawed logic she held up her hand, “Point of the matter is that I can’t stand the way you treat him, and things between me and you will never change, never grow, if you continue that way.”
“Fine,” James gritted, “I’ll be civil. Just come to the New Year’s Ball with me.”
“I will,” Lily said calmly, and continued before James could get excited, “but you have to do one thing for me,” she smiled when she saw James’ puzzled look, “There are over two months until the New Year’s ball. In those two months I want you to be more than civil with Severus. I want you to befriend him-“
“Oh no-“ James started, but Lily’s glare made him shut up.
“I want you to befriend him – take him to Hogsmeade with you and the boys, hang out, copy each other’s homework, do what normal friends do.”
“But...why?” James asked, pouting like a puppy. Lily sighed again. She sighed around James a lot lately.
“Because he’s going to be in my life, in our lives if what you say you feel for me is real,” the girl exclaimed, “He’s a crucial part to me, he’s important, and I can’t be with you if you hate him.” James didn’t say anything, because he didn’t know what to say. He hated that prick. Lily stepped forward and took his hands, smiling sweetly, “Just give him a chance. He’s a good guy, James. A chance is all I ask.”
The boy exhaled, but Lily’s smile was too beautiful to resist, “Alright,” he said dejectedly, “I’ll try.”
Lily’s smile blossomed, “Perfect. You also have to take him home for Christmas.”
“I love Lily, I really do,” Sirius said, sitting cross-legged on Remus’ bed and looking sombre, something that rarely happened, “But no girl is worth that sacrifice. Not even her.”
“Shut up, Padfoot,” James said, stretched out on his Quidditch blankets and looking at the canopy of his bed miserably, “This isn’t funny.”
“I kind of agree with Prongs,” Remus admitted from his place by the fireplace, where he was flicking through a heavy tome about medical potions. He had shot up during the summer and now seemed confused about what to do with his new lanky form. He didn’t look up from the paper as he spoke, “We’ve pestered the boy for years now. It’s getting kind of old, isn’t it?”
Sirius snorted humourlessly, “What do you mean? It’s my only joy in life.”
“I’m with James and Remus on this one,” Peter said anxiously. He was also sitting on the floor, picking at a loose thread of the carpet with his chubby fingers, “I don’t want to bully Snape anymore.”
“Well that’s just brilliant,” Sirius said sarcastically, “Cheers, Wormtail.”
“We don’t have to pick on him, I don’t care,” James whined, “But friends? With that wanker?”
“Peter you’re ruining the carpet,” Remus said absently and Peter quickly stopped pulling at the thread, squeaking out a sorry.
“I reckon now is the time you really realise if you love Lily then, isn’t it,” Sirius sighed dramatically, giving up the fight, “if you’re ready to be best buds with Snivellus over her then it’s fucking true love, mate.”
“Of course it’s true love,” James smirked, “Have you seen the girl? She looks like a goddess.”
“Mhmm, yeah,” Sirius nodded, mimicking his best friend’s smirk. Remus rolled his eyes and stood up.
“You guys are so gross sometimes,” he shook his head and headed for his bed.
“Shut up Moony,” Sirius said good-heartedly.
“Alright, but what should I do?” James asked impatiently, “How do I even go about befriending the git?”
Sirius stared at him with wide eyes for a second, as did Peter. The latter spoke after a few seconds, “Wow. You’re really going to do this aren’t you?”
“I don’t have a choice. Lily made it clear that we will never be more that what we are now if I hate her best friend,” James said bitterly. Sirius sat up and reached over to pat his friend on the shoulder.
“We’re doing that Halloween thing. Why don’t you invite him to that?”
James puffed out his cheeks in thought, “It’s a start.”
Severus was sitting in the library, about two dozen stuffy old books opened in front of him on the table. He was scribbling down an essay for Professor Slughorn out of his own free will. He knew the teacher didn’t like him and wouldn’t care about the essay anyway, but honestly Severus had nothing better to do. It was kind of depressing. The seventeen year old mournfully looked out of the gothic window next to the table, but all he could see outside was darkness and rain streaking the glass. There was a cobweb in the corner.
It was a Saturday night, and most of the Seventh years were either sneaking into each other’s dormrooms to fuck or have grimy little drink ups, or they crept out of the castle and made their way to Hogsmeade, to one of the many pubs and clubs. Not Severus, his nights looked the same no matter what day of the week it was. He had no friends after all, nowhere to be.
Except that wasn’t true. Lily was his friend. Ever since she had forgiven him Severus was ecstatic and his life changed for the better, if only slightly. He didn’t think he loved the girl, not anymore, but she was dear to his heart and he would do anything for her. Her sudden love and affection that Severus lacked in his life even made the boy pause and consider his slow but steady involvement with the Deatheaters and The One Who Shall Not Be Named. Severus was almost one of them, and he was meant to take the Dark Mark in the summer. But that would mean losing Lily again, and Sev didn’t know if he was ready for that when he had just gotten her back.
He was lost in thought, his work completely forgotten, and he stared out of the window. His moment of peace was interrupted when a person suddenly slid into the free chair opposite him. Severus was surprised, because nobody ever sat with him except Lily, and when he actually looked at the person he was nothing short of shocked.
“Potter,” he hissed, immediately closing in on himself and pulling up his protective walls. The sight of the boy opposite him, so perfectly handsome and perfectly devilish, made Severus sick. He hated the boy, hated him, hated him, hated him. His body physically hurt at the sight of him, stomach burning with fury, skin tingling at the memory of the bruises that the Gryffindor had inflicted on him through the years.
“Hello Sniv-,” James paused, clenched his jaw, and smirked again, “Hello Snape.”
“What do you want?” the Slytherin barked, calculating in his head how long it would take him to collect his things and go. Too long. It was smarter to hold down his fort for now.
“I want to talk is that so bad?” Potter asked with an eye-roll.
“Yes. I don’t know what you and your dickhead friends are planning-“
“Relax,” Potter said coldly, “We’re not planning anything. In fact, I’m here alone.”
“So was I before you decided to ruin my night,” Severus snapped, anxiously looking between the surrounding bookshelves for any sign of the other three.
“Oh please, your night was already ruined,” Potter looked around the dim library with distaste, “What a miserable Saturday night.”
“Can you fucking get on with it?” Sev demanded, feeling his skin prickle with anger. He wanted to throw himself across the table and choke the goddamn Gryffindor to death, but then he would probably return and haunt Severus for the rest of his days.
“Look,” Potter looked at him tiredly, “We both care about Lily. I want us to put our differences aside for her.”
Severus’ eyes narrowed and doubt entered his heart, “A truce? From you? What kind of shit joke is this?”
“I’m serious,” Potter wasn’t smirking that infatuating smile anymore, “I don’t want to fight with you anymore.”
“Superb. Bloody fantastic,” Sev just wanted him to go. Nobody made him feel quite as nervous as Potter, and the Slytherin had been surrounded by Deatheaters before, “We’re not fighting anymore, can you go now?”
Potter exhaled, “No. I actually came here to ask you to come to the Halloween drink up we’re having in the Ravenclaw common room next week.”
“What?” Severus blinked, completely caught off guard, some of his anger disappearing to be replaced by confusion.
“Do you need me to spell it out?” James rolled his eyes behind his glasses, “I’m inviting you to come to a party.”
“So you can make fun of me?” Severus snorted, “Sure. What is it going to be this time? The pant pulling thing’s old by now, so it’s going to have to be something more humiliating. Whatever it is I’m not going for it.”
“Listen you prick-,” James started angrily, something unusual for him because he never got heated with Severus, “Listen,” he repeated, more calm now, “There’s no hidden agenda. I genuinely want to put the past in the past and get on with Lily. You’re her best friend so I want to get on with you too,” he stood up and looked at Severus, and something about the tiredness in his eyes made the Slytherin question if this was a prank after all, “Anyway, you’re invited. Starts at eight. The password’s orange juice. Come or don’t.”
Then he got up and walked between the bookshelves, but before he disappeared he paused and looked at the still-stunned Severus. A cruel, mocking smirk appeared on his face, something much more normal for him, “Oh, and don’t worry. You don’t need a costume. You’re a freak anyway.”