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“James? James?”

It took James Potter a while to work out that this new sound was directed at him. Nobody called him James. He was Potter, or Prongs, or even (these days) ‘the Seeker’. Never James. He tried to open his eyes, but it made him feel sick and dizzy, so he shut them again.

“James? Can you hear me?”

Memory started to come back to James Potter. He opened his eyes again, and this time got a confused impression of moonlight and red glitter.

“Don’t try to sit up,” said the voice.

It was a nice voice. Low and calm and serious. A woman’s voice. He thought of the red glitter and suddenly, comprehension dawned. He tried to sit up but was gently pushed back down again.

For the third time, he tried to open his eyes, and this time the world swam into focus. Lily Evans was sitting beside him, leaning over him.

“I’ve stopped the bleeding with a freezing charm,” she said. “But I don’t think I can heal the wound. I wouldn’t like to try, anyway, Sealing Charms can go badly wrong. I’ve sent a Patronus up to the castle to get Madam Pomfrey.”

“Why doesn’t it hurt?” James mumbled, remembering vividly the searing heat of the arrow.

“Anaesthesia spell,” she explained simply.

“How do you do that?” asked James, interested in spite of his surreal and perilous situation.

“The incantation is Somnambulus,” she said. “But that’s not enough. Healing magic is like the Unforgivable Curses, you have to mean it. You have to care that your patient recovers. You have to find something to like about them.”

“I’m surprised you could think of anything,” said James ruefully.

“You know what I focussed on?” Lily’s voice was conversational but still rather cold. “Hagrid. You always stick up for Hagrid.” She saw his enquiring glance and explained. “He’s a very dear friend of mine.”

“How come?”

“Try not to talk.”

“Talk to me, then.” he said irritably.

“Alright,” she murmured, a shade reproachfully. James saw that she was looking around rather apprehensively, over the hedges that bordered the lane, to the fields on either side. They were completely exposed out here, and if the Death Eaters came back, James was uncomfortably aware that he wouldn’t be much help to her. She could have gone up to the castle herself to get Madam Pomfrey, but she hadn’t. She had stayed with him. James suddenly felt a burning in his chest that he didn’t think had anything to do with the arrow wound.

Lily settled on her elbows to talk to him, still unsmiling.

“In my first year at Hogwarts, pretty much everything anyone said to me made me feel stupid. I didn’t know about the Ministry of Magic, or Quidditch, or Floo Powder, or Apparition. Hagrid would ask me round for tea, and he’d explain things to me, without making out that I was stupid for not knowing. He always made me feel like I belonged here.”

“You do,” James insisted.

Lily didn’t reply. He suddenly noticed that she was shivering. He wondered dimly where her cloak could be, and then realised, with a rush of shame and gratitude, that she had folded it and placed it under his head like a pillow.

Awkwardly, he tried to sit up. His entire torso felt numb. “Here - Evans… take this,” he mumbled, trying to push the cloak over to her.

“Don’t be stupid,” she said, and pushed him back down on top of it. “I was going to conjure a fire, but then I thought…. those Death Eaters…” She trailed off, and then said, rather accusingly. “What were you doing out here?”

“What were you doing out here?” he shot back at her. He was feeling very embarrassed about being a useless invalid, while she was freezing to death.

Lily opened her mouth to say something, then closed it again. She looked exasperated but amused. “Never mind,” she said. “You’d laugh at me.”

“I wouldn’t.”

Again, she didn’t respond. James began to reflect on the hopelessness of his own situation. He was going to be expelled, for sure. Not just out of bed at night, but halfway to Hogsmeade. And it wasn’t as though he hadn’t been warned. Without really meaning to say it out loud, he muttered. “I’m going to be in so much trouble.”

Lily hesitated, then, keeping her voice as dignified as possible, she said. “I was picking Dittany pods. They’re best gathered by moonlight. I’ve got a note from Professor Slughorn.”        

Even in his present situation, James had to fight hard to suppress a grin. He could see why she thought he’d laugh at her. The effort she put into her homework was ridiculous.

She cleared her throat and said, rather grudgingly. “I could say you insisted on coming with me, if you like. Too chivalrous to let a young woman go out alone at night. It sounds like you.”

James struggled onto his elbows clumsily. “Why… why would you do that for me?”

Lily shrugged. “You’ve had an arrow through your chest. You don’t need more trouble.”

James was still trying to raise himself. He felt hot and stupid. “I’ll make this up to you somehow, Evans.”

“Why don’t you just sign my school bag?” she suggested sarcastically.

James lay back down again, hurt.

They were silent for a while, and then he said. “I don’t think it would be worth much. The way the rest of the school feels about me at the moment, you’d be lucky not to get dung bombs thrown into your school bag.”

Lily smiled at him. She had never done this before. James began to feel slightly light-headed.

“I think they’re coming,” said Lily, staring down the lane that lead up to the castle. A bright light had appeared over the tops of the hedges. Seconds later, the light rounded the bend and James saw the familiar doe Patronus, its movements agile, its form slender. Its light was illuminating the worried faces of Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey.

When James awoke again, it was to find himself surrounded on all sides by flowers, cards, and sweets. The tables on either side of his bed had been piled high with them. As soon as Madam Pomfrey had assured him that he was alright, and that Miss Evans hadn’t come down with Hypothermia, she grudgingly agreed to let his visitors in. Most of Gryffindor had turned up. They all looked rather sheepish, because of their previous unkindness, but James was feeling far too cheerful to hold it against them. He greeted them amiably, though rather distractedly, because he was scanning the crowd for Lily. Lupin and Sirius ruffled his hair affectionately. Pettigrew hung back, until James met his eyes and said:

“Come on, Wormtail. I don’t care, honestly. Fat lot of good you’d have been even if you had stood up for me.”

Pettigrew laughed nervously.

“Evans not here?” James asked, in what he hoped was a casual voice.   

“She won us two hundred points for saving you,” Peter explained breathlessly, still avoiding James’ eyes. “From Dumbledore himself.”

“Dunno why she did it, though.” Meg Valance muttered. “I mean, she’s always so law-abiding. I’m surprised she didn’t just leave you there and tell you it was your own fault for breaking the rules!” Meg imitated Lily’s serious voice. “I’m sorry Potter, I have to leave you there to bleed to death; it’s the only way you’ll learn.”

Everybody laughed, except James who kept thinking about how Lily had given him her cloak as a pillow.  

“Madam Pomfrey says you’ll be fit for the match against Slytherin on Saturday,” Sirius told him. “Well, what she actually said was: ‘Yes, he’ll be fit for his match, you vultures, if that’s all that matters to you. You wouldn’t care if he’d had an arm amputated as long as he could still catch the Snitch with his other one!’”

James grinned. He was starting to like Madam Pomfrey.

They spent the rest of their designated fifteen minutes discussing the upcoming match on Saturday. When Madam Pomfrey came to shoo them all out of the ward, he distinctly heard her mutter “Quidditch!” in tones of utmost exasperation.     

James called Lupin back as the rest of his visitors departed. “Moony?” he said. “You partner Lily Evans in Charms, don’t you?”  

Lupin nodded.

“What does she like?” James asked. “I mean, what would make her happy?”

A slight frown creased Lupin’s face. “You know, she has a boyfriend.”

James shook his head frantically. “I just want to do something for her, OK? She doesn‘t even have to know it was me who did it. I just…” he faltered, trying to articulate something that he found both wonderful and incomprehensible. “She didn’t just save my life, Moony. She saved my neck. I would have been expelled. And she doesn’t think I’m a Quidditch hero or the smartest guy in school. She hates me,” James grinned and shook his head. “She thinks I’m an idiot. But she still saved me. That’s…. I just…” he trailed off hopelessly.

Lupin was laughing softly, watching his friend struggle.  “I’ll try and think of something,” he said reassuringly. “She collects chocolate frog cards?”

James shook his head. “This has to be bigger.”

Lupin smiled. “Well, I’ll give it some thought.”
This is my first attempt at making James Potter into a sympathetic character, and I'm not sure it has worked. Apart from Umbridge and Bellatrix, I think he's the cruellest character in the Harry Potter books! And don't get me started on Ron Weasley (or Wrong Weasley, as I have re-named him)...
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Negracamada Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2011
The twins are just as awful, at least in the first six books.

Oh, and nicely done on the story!
ls269 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2011
Thank you! :hug: Yes, the twins were awful too, weren't they? I guess I tend to let them off more because, as a Sev fan-girl, the Marauders are my natural enemies! ;) But I often find it hard to like the popular characters in J.K. Rowling's novels. Somehow, my favourite people are always the ones who don't quite fit in, like Luna and Severus.
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
Hagrid would ask me round for tea, and he’d explain things to me, without making out that I was stupid for not knowing. He always made me feel like I belonged here.
Hagrid's not the most tactful guy around, but he seemed to be comforting to Harry and Hermione on this issue, so I have to hand it to him. :)

I think a lot about the 'we were only kids' excuse in the series ("psh, everyone's an idiot at 15, gosh Harry"), and how Harry never really accepts it, no matter who says it about whom. Making James a sympathetic character is difficult, especially when the bulk of your audience seems to be Snape-fans. His head deflating doesn't seem like enough to excuse that kind of cruelty, and win over kind-hearted Lily Evans, but I think the only believable way to do that is to show why his head started deflating in the first place. So, I like that James sees himself as something of a jerk in this chapter, and indebted to another person (possibly a first in his mind). I'd love to see this progression... at least, I would if I weren't hoping for a non-canon ending in your main plot.
(That being said, if Severus and Lily don't end up together, the only way I'll be satisfied is if I can see James as something better than a self-absorbed jerk. ;) )
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2010
I agree, it's hard to make James Potter into a sympathetic character. The 'we were only young' excuse SO doesn't cut it! And we see so little of his redeeming features - if he has any of them - in the books. I suppose he dies for Lily and Harry. That's something. And he saves Snape's life in the Shrieking Shack (but I always thought that was more to stop Lupin and Sirius from suffering any guilt).

I often think I want to write more about him, but it only depresses me, because everything goes right for him (except in the Boggart-Lily's future! I'm very drawn to the idea of the paunchy, embittered, Quidditch-obsessed James Potter! ;)).
CreativeLittle1 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
I really enjoyed this! You did a good job,considering how tough it is to make James sympathetic.

He was never redeemed in my eyes from the bully he was; that's really all we ever saw of him.

Lily was great in this. I can picture this as sort of the beginning to their...eventual romance. *pulls face*
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
Thank you! This is one of the first chapters I wrote; I've been writing this story for two years now and, if anything, my dislike for James Potter has increased! :giggle: I suppose it's impossible for a Snape fan-girl to like James (though I've met a few who do). And, you're right, we only ever see him as an arrogant bully. It's a shame there wasn't more in the books to explain why Lily wanted to marry him.
MelissaLianne Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2008
I love this, a heck of alot. Aw, James is adorable with his feelings for Lily xD

Write more? *hopeful*
ls269 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2008
Thanks! Yeah, I'll come back to it. Hopefully, one day, all these stories will be in order and make sense! I have a really boring job so writing is crucial for keeping me sane!
MelissaLianne Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2008
You're welcome ... and glad to hear you're coming back to it ^^
Writing's kinda my stress-free zone too xD
YourMom1 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2007
aww come on, i like james. i think he was better for her than snape anyway...not a big chance of james calling lily (or anybody else) a "filthy mudblood".

great work, by the way! very well written!!
ls269 Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2007
Thanks very much! Yeah, I guess James not calling her a mudblood is a big redeeming feature! And Snape has some pretty cruel moments (i.e. saying 'I see no difference' when Hermione's teeth get lengthened - that's cold!) Will try and write some more about James Potter, he's an interesting character.
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