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Second Chances

James Potter was having a horrible horrible night. He hated these stuffy Pure Blood parties. He hated the patronizing way the older wizards spoke to him, as if being a professional Quidditch player were just a passing hobby - a rebellious phase, if you will - and that any day now he’d come to his sense and go into the ministry just as his father had done. Never mind that he was one of the top Chasers in the league, or that he was on record time and time again saying that No, he was not going to be an auror so please stop asking. 

As if dealing with his parents’ deaths hadn’t been enough, it stoked the fire more. If one more distant aunt came up to him and told him that it was time to stop all this nonsense now that he had inherited the Potter fortune he was going to scream.

Downing his third glass of champagne he skirted the edges of the party, looking for a way out. Sirius - his one lifeline at functions like this - had abandoned him to go snog the coat check women, so he had to brave the crowds on his own. He wouldn’t have even come to the stupid event if it hadn’t been for the team’s sponsors. 

It was as he was nearing the doors to the garden that someone snagged him by the sleeve reeling him back in. Plastering a fake smile on his face, he turned around. A petite witch stood before him, looking up gleefully, her dark hair just brushing the shoulders of her lavender dress robes. “James Potter?” She asked, eyes sliding over him. “That’s you, right? Chaser for the Montrose Magpies?”

“Yeah, that’s me.” The witch was pretty, he had to hand her that. Her face was round, and her eyes were green. Not strikingly green - not the way they would’ve been if she was, say, ginger - but pretty all the same. 

She held out a hand for him to shake. “I’m Vanessa Litfield, part time reporter for The Daily Prophet.”

He shook her hand, but said “I’m not doing interviews tonight, sorry.”

“A bit conceited, are we?” She laughed, shaking her head. “I didn't approach you for an interview, Mr. Potter. You just seemed lonely and in need of quality conversation.”

“And you figured you could provide me with that conversation?”

“Well, I am known for being good with my words.” she winked. 

“We’ll see then.” He nabbed two champagne flutes off a passing tray, handing one to her. “Show me what you’ve got.”

Vanessa, it turned out, took that to heart and babbled on for a good hour. James didn’t mind it, though, because it kept other potential conversation partners at bay. He could endure a pretty girl's incessant chatting no problem. In fact, he was coming to find that he quite liked talking with her. She didn’t seem to take anything too seriously, which he found refreshing. 

“Can I see you again, Mr. Potter?” she asked as the party dwindled down. 

He shrugged, pretending to think on it. 

“Are you going to leave a girl hanging?” she laughed, nudging his shoulder. “I need a response quick, my roommate is making her way over to fetch me.”

He decided that he wouldn’t mind spending more time with her. Maybe he’d enjoy it. He’d been in a bit of a dry spell recently, anyway. “I suppose so,” He joked. “Well, alright. Owl me and we’ll set something up.”

“That’s romantic,” she rolled her eyes. “I can see why you’re swarmed with women.”

He opened his mouth to reply - with what, he wasn’t sure, not after he caught sight of the women approaching them. No, it couldn't be, he thought. But it was. 

The willowy red-head reached out, tapping Vanessa on her shoulder. James, too busy taking in the sight of her, missed their exchange. She stood just as she had five years previously at Hogwarts - just as sure, just as beautiful, her hair just as red. Her eyes just as green. Her freckles had faded out for the most part, and her face more angular. She wore a set of deep purple robes, just the right color to offset her pale skin. 

“Are you ready?” she asked Vanessa, her voice just as musical as it had been the last time they spoke. Vanessa looked from the girl beside her, to James, and finally the red-head did as well. Her expression mirrored his, he was almost certain. The surprise, the confusion. It was all there, scrawled across her beautiful features. He was always able to read her so easily, five years didn’t erase that.

He wanted to speak, to greet her, to at least say something. But instead, he just gawked. How could he not?

“Do you two know each other?” Vanessa asked, looking between the two. 

It was her who recovered first, naturally. She shook her head, laughing it off. “Nah, he just looks familiar, is all.”

“Well, he’s a famous chaser. You’ve probably seen him in the Prophet.”

“A famous chaser, huh?” She looked him over in that knowing way that made his insides twist up in knots. “Seems fitting.”

Recovering at last, James extended his hand. “James Potter,” he said. As if she didn’t already know that. As if he didn’t feel kicked in the gut the moment she feigned ignorance. 

"Nice to meet you,” she took his hand, and he saw the slight color stain her cheeks. He felt the heat of her skin radiating through him. “I’m Lily Evans.”

“She works at the Prophet with me.” Vanessa explained. “She’s one of our best columnists.” But James already knew that. He read everything she wrote. 

Lily tugged on her friend’s arm, pulling her towards the door. “We really need to be going, Nessa.”

“All right, don’t get your knickers in a twist.” She let Lily pull her away, only pausing to call over her shoulder. “I’ll owl you for that date, Mr. Potter!”

James only nodded in reply, as he watched Lily Evans walk away from him for the second time.

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