It was the summer of 1978, a summer later known as the hottest of the decade, with the sun beating down on the residents of London during the daylight, and the dry air invading every nook and cranny of every room, car and park when night dawned, never ceasing to stop. For Lily Evans and James Potter, it would be one of the most life changing summers they would experience; families coming together, threats from dark forces coming every day and decisions that would ultimately change the wizarding world forever. But like every story, it has to have a beginning, and this beginning occurs days after Hogwarts’ class of ’78 graduated from the school they’ve come to know as a second home, that very same hot summer.
Like any self-respecting group of mischief causing Gryffindors, the Marauders held one of the grandest parties that they had hosted over their years of marauding to celebrate their release, as one Sirius Black had put it, into the real world. It went down on the first night after they had graduated, so of course, the next day was spent nursing hangovers and giving small attempts to clean up the colossal mess they had made. So when the third night of their summer came along, Lily had hoped to be granted a night out with her boyfriend James, their first date night as a couple whilst not sneaking into Hogsmead, the village located only a few miles from Hogwarts. But as Lily’s two closest mates, Marlene Mackinnon and Mary Macdonald, would have it, it was a perfect time for a girl’s night out. Come the fourth night, the ex-Head students were determined to have their date night come Hell or high water, and that they did.
It wasn’t only their first date outside of Hogsmead or a deserted classroom in the middle of the night, but it was going to be their first date in a muggle environment. You see, Lily and James had decided on a small flat that was convenient in distance to the Ministry and the Order meetings. But much to James’ dismay, it was in a muggle neighbourhood. Mind you, there were plenty of other warding families in the area, but muggle community nonetheless.
So unlike the typical date where the male choses the destination, pays for the bill, drives her around and other mundane tasks, it was Lily who guided James’ restaurant choice, paid the bill, fearing James would try and hand over a fistful of Galleons, and drove them about town for the night because she was keen on avoiding car accidents, but if one ever knew James, they would know that he’s very self-assured, should I say. Don’t get me wrong, he stopped being big headed and cocky around sixth year, but he never stopped thinking he could do something as well as anyone else. I think competitive could describe him quite nicely. As his personality played into the situation, things got… Well, a little messy; because if Lily could drive, James could drive. But more on that later.
Everything started out fine, the young couple apparated to Lily’s parents’ place to pick up the car. They drove to a small restaurant that the Evans family often visited due to the spectacular food that no one would suspect from such a small and rundown establishment.
The eatery, named The Rabbit and the Hare, was a family run business who’s ownership was passed down to the first born of the generation. It was currently on their seventh owner the night Lily and James strolled through the door that fateful summer’s eve.
The dinner in itself went well; James had gotten ready to pay with Galleons but Lily had anticipated it and brought out her own muggle money before he could do anything.
“But Lily,” James whined when the waitress collected Lily’s money. “I’m the bloke, I should be paying!”
“You know, as a strong woman of the late 70s, I take objection to that and say either gender can pay for a date.” Lily countered, instead of stating the obvious, that he would have mucked up if he had even tried to pay. James huffed at her.
“I say you’re emasculating me. I am a man!” James cried once they exited the building, walking down the empty sidewalk towards the car. “I have to fulfill the desire of protecting and caring for my lady! It is my job, nay, obligation to provide for my lady and save her in times of trouble! I will sweep you off your feet, my love! And save you from the evil villains of the world!” By the end of his dramatic speech, James had jumped up onto a bench and had been serenading Lily.
“Always with the dramatics! C’mon Clark Kent, get down.” Lily took his hand and tugged him down from the park bench, carrying down the sidewalk with his hand in hers.
“Who’s Clark Kent?” A confused James asked her.
“My hero.” Lily replied in a fake swooning voice as she stopped in front of car and pulled James toward her, giving him a quick peck on his mouth and smiling up at him.
“Well in that case.” James smiled his crooked smile and winked down at his girlfriend emitting a giggle from the small redhead.
She reached up on her tiptoes to kiss him once more before pulling away and heading around to get in the driver’s side of the car. “Get in,” she called as unlocking the car. “I want to take you somewhere.” But James stood on the sidewalk. She looked at him expectantly with her door open, one foot already in the car. She raised an eyebrow at him as he looked over and met her eyes. The moment they looked eyes, she knew she was in trouble; he had a spark in his eye, a spark that sometimes led to a laugh but more often than not, disasters that got a copious amount of people in trouble. You see, James had the look in his eyes that he only got when planning a grand prank, or gets an idea that end up leading to a bucket full of mischief with a poltergeist on top.
A smile broke out on his face the same time Lily started shaking her head and repeating “No, no, no”.
“Whatever it is you’re thinking its no!” Lily exclaimed just as James had opened his mouth to speak.
“But you don’t even know what it is, Lily!” James exclaimed to her, resembling very much of a seven year old. “It’s going to be fine, I promise! It’s not dangerous at all.”
“Oh really.” She said dryly. “Just like the time you told me that no one would be in the spare potion’s room, and it would be a better place to snog than a broom cupboard?”
James winced as he remembered the time he convince Lily to move their snogging session to the extra Potion’s room that no one had used in ten years. Unfortunately for them, Slughorn had scheduled his remedial fifth year potion’s class to said room after there was quite the messy explosion in the regular classroom that afternoon. James had been in the middle of ripping off Lily’s blouse, his own shirt already been thrown off, belt undone, Lily’s skirt riding up and hair a mess when Professor Slughorn himself walked in with a smattering of fifth years.
“Bad example.” He said. She gave him a look.
“What is it then?” She asked, crossing her arm and leaning against the car.
“I’m going to drive the car.” He announced with a bright smile spreading across his face.
“You what?” Lily was completely shocked. She had brainstormed quickly on what he could suggest. They ranged from snogging some place ridiculous, to stealing something to blowing something up, because let’s face it, this was James we’re talking about and I don’t even think James knows what to expect from him.
“I’m going to drive the car,” He repeated. “I figure if you can do it, and millions of muggles can do it, it should be easy enough and therefore I can do it!”
“Hold up, are you suggesting that just because I can do it’s easy?” She said in a joking tone, but James knew her and he knew that she had an undertone of seriousness and competitiveness. This only made him smirk and challenge her further.
“Sure. You can’t ride a broom but you can drive a car, and riding a broom is easy so I can drive a car. It’s logic, Lily. Aren’t you supposed to be good at that kind of stuff?” He loved challenging her and pushing her buttons. Sirius used to say ‘Don’t mess with the bull or you’ll get the horns’ back in fifth year when all she did was scream at him. But he liked the bull, and he didn’t even mind the horns, in fact, he thought they were theoretically decorative.
“Just because I don’t like flying doesn’t mean…!” She burst out but stopped suddenly, closing her eyes and sighing quickly. She proceeded to look James defiantly in the eye and continued, “If you think you can drive then fine. Show me that you can drive.” You see, Lily Evans had her own mischievous side, too. Perhaps not as boisterous and active as James’, but it was there.
James’ smile spread wider, “I knew you would cave in Evans,” he moved around the front of the car and stood in front of Lily. “Now c’mon, hand over the keys.” He held out his hand to her, palm up, expecting her to be compliant and hand them over.
“Oh no Potter, you’re not driving on the roads.” She said instead. He frowned.
“How can I drive if not on the roads?” Clearly, he was confused. He didn’t remember reading about flying cars in Muggle Studies, granted he didn’t remember reading much at all during Muggle Studies.
“I’ll drive you to an empty parking lot, and then you can go crazy.”
James huffed before saying, “Why, scared I’m going to be a better driver and don’t want to be too embarrassed?”
“No, because you don’t have a proper licence and you can get both of us in jail and that’s preferably not where I’d like to end my night.” She explained to him. In the end, James reluctantly got into the passenger side of the car and spent the ride toward the lot sitting on the edge of his seat, fidgeting with excitement.
As soon as Lily put the car into park once they had entered the deserted lot she looked over at James who was over flowing with joy. It was around this time that she felt the first pang of nervousness; he was going to crash the car, she was sure of it.
“Second guessing your decision to let me drive? Nervous I’m going to show you up?” James teased. He knew her well and could read her body language, but apparently not all that well.
“You wish, Potter.” Lily countered as she opened her door and got out. They switched seats and once they were all settled in, Lily observed how odd it was to see James in such a muggle position. If she was being honest, she liked it; it gave her a kick in some odd sort of way.
But it would be impossible not to notice how awkward he looked; James wasn’t sure about where to put his hands and feet. Since when were there these pedals in his foot space? He thought you just willed the car to go and willed it to stop.
“So you need to know the basics,” Lily started. “The pedal to the right is the gas, it makes you go forward or backward. The one to the left is the brake. It makes you stop basically. You’re only supposed to use your right foot whilst driving, the left one can just go off to the side.” As she was explaining the pedals, James was looking down at the foot space, frowning at the pedals slightly; disappointed the car wasn’t more magical.
“There are gears too; Park, which we’re in now. Drive, which will make you go forward when you push down on the gas pedal, and reverse, which will make you go backward whilst pushing the gas pedal. There are others but you don’t need to worry about those.” Lily continued. “Put your foot down on the brake and you can shift to drive.”
James looked at felt pretty confident. I mean, push down two different pedals and move a stick to go forward or backward? Easy as pie. And if he could steer a broomstick by only shifting his weight, it would be pretty easy for him to spin a wheel around with his hands.
He pushed his foot down on the correct pedal and shifted the gear stick from park to drive, giving Lily a quick smirk and a wink before turning his attention back to the front and placing his hand on the wheel.
“Now all you want to do is take your foot off the brake and slowly push on the gas-“ Lily started to say before she was thrown back in her seat after James slammed his foot down on the gas, sending them shooting through the lot, narrowly missing a lamp post. “Slowly, slowly!” Lily cried out, pressed against the back of her chair, clutching the arm rest, eyes wide with fear. “Press on the gas slowly!”
At that moment, it seemed everything Lily had taught James flew out of his head as he hurtled around the parking lot, jerking the steering wheel around trying to avoid curbs and lamp posts. He started to scream “Stop! Stop! Why won’t this bloody thing stop! I said stop dammit!” forgetting that muggle cars do not stop at the wish of the driver.
Somehow through all the screaming, limbs and hair flying everywhere and general commotion, James finally screeched to a halt.
They sat there for two minutes; neither of them looking at each other, both breathing hard. James had his hands clenched round the steering wheel, arms straight and stiff. A week later he would look back and remark that it was actually a good laugh, of course Lily would smack him upside the head, but at that moment he felt if he had needed to use the restroom, he would have gone right there in his pants.
Lily was there in the passenger seat, hair awry, strands falling over her face. One arm was plastered against the window and the other was gripping James’ left leg in a death grip.
After a prolonged silence that felt like forever, James sneaked a glance at Lily, and she met his gaze. He was sure that she was going to be angry, and he was bracing himself for it, already preparing to sleep on the couch tonight.
“Not as easy as you think huh.” She said a little breathlessly.
“No.” Was all he said in reply.
“You’re never going to drive again.”
“Never.” Really, he was okay with that.
“I think my life flashed before my eyes,” He braced himself. This was it, he thought, she was going to start shouting at him. But instead, he heard a sound opposite to the one he was expecting. A sound he had grown very fond of over his years at Hogwarts; a laugh, or rather, a giggle. One that sounded like something that should be related to fairies, one that belonged to Lily Evans.
Slowly, he turned to look back at her, sure that his ears were deceiving him, but sure enough, there was the Lily Evans he had grown to love laughing up a storm. And by this point, it wasn’t just the cute giggling or even having a good laugh; it was the embarrassing kind of laughter where the noises your making don’t even sound human and people seem to make fun of you for it for the next three days.
So he just stared at her as if she had grown a second head. It wasn’t until she calmed down a bit and looked over at him and met his gaze when she started going at it again. Just laughing like someone had put a strong cheering charm on her. That’s when her infectious laughter got to him, slowly but surely, James started to laugh along with her. He wasn’t exactly sure why, perhaps it was because they almost died or perhaps it was because James was a horrendous driver.
When they were clutching their stomachs, tears rolling down their faces and cheeks cramping because of the non-stop smiling, they simmered down, leaning against each other for support.
“I never thought I’d see the day.” Lily said, chuckling slightly.
“What do you mean?” James asked her, sitting up slightly.
“I mean I never thought I would see the day where I would find something the infamous James Potter can’t do,” James gaped at her, causing her to giggle a little. “At first I thought it would be that you couldn’t be an actual charming bloke, but then of course you got to me eventually.”
“You… Wait, is that what you were laughing at? The fact that I can’t drive a stupid muggle car?” He asked her, it finally dawning on him that he hadn’t been laughing for the same reasons she had been.
“Well yeah! It’s not every day you see James Potter suck at something so catastrophically.” James made a face at her.
“You hurt me, Lily. Some date you are; take a bloke out only to allow him to almost kill himself and you and then insult his pride.” He sighed dramatically.
“You love me regardless.” She cooed, snuggling closer to him, nudging her nose against his.
“Debateable.” Though he still leaned into kiss her deep and slow. Though he did pull away a few moments later and murmured in her ear, “You know, my ego was hurt pretty badly. I don’t know if I should have some self-respect and stop snogging the girl who bruised me so terribly.” Lily had tried to press her lips back to his but he resisted, making her emit a small frustrated sound.
“Oh you’re loads brilliant. Especially at snogging, but I’m such a flighty bird, I’ve forgotten what snogging you is like, so you better snog me soon or I could forget forever and that would be such a shame.” James smiled and complied, kissing her again.
“You’re such a kiss ass, Evans.” He said in between kisses. She smiled at him and simply said, “Just shut up and kiss me, fool.” before deepening their kiss and pulling herself closer to him than ever before.
They never ended up going to the small ledge that looked over the city to watch the meteor shower that Lily had planned to show to James. But they didn’t need it; they had stars of their own, stars in their eyes, stars in their kiss, stars in their souls.
This is for Jules, her URL is julvett c: