Lily woke up a bit before noon, sunlight streaming into the bedroom. It took her a few moments to remember where she was, but when she did, she jumped up to get changed into some more borrowed clothes. Lily valued manners and couldn't help thinking how rude it was to wake up this late in some else's home.
She had just started to make the bed when Ally knocked on the door and walked in.
"Good morning, dear, well I suppose it's afternoon now. You missed breakfast, we decided not to wake you, I mean really though! The hour you came in last night! But lunch should be ready now, so help yourself and don't worry about cleaning up, dear, Inky will take care of it."
"Our house-elf, dear, best I've ever come across. Now down to lunch, you must be starving! When was the last time you ate?"
"Um, I'm not sure, five or six yesterday, I think."
"Oh, well go eat, dear, go on now."
"Ok, thank you," Lily said and went down the hallway, trying to find her way back to the kitchen in the maze of corridors surrounding the staircase.
"Excuse me, miss," a squeaky voice behind Lily said, causing her to jump from the sudden break of silence.
"Er, hello. Who are you?"
"I am Inky, miss, Inky is the Potter's house-elf. Inky knows who you are miss, Lily Evans, young master James likes you very much, he does!"
'What? Does everyone in this place know about me?' Lily thought, not sure whether she was furious or amused.
"Um, Inky," she addressed the elf, "could you please tell me where the kitchen is?"
"Oh, no, miss, no. You is wanting to eat lunch, not cook it. Inky will miss to the dining room." Inky bowed to Lily and started to lead her down the corridors.
"Here miss is, miss may help herself. Inky, Blinky, and Twinky have made a lot of food thinking you were one of young master's other friends."
Inky bowed Lily into the room.
"Oh, ah, thank you," she called back to the elf as it closed the door behind her. She turned to the table where James and Jeff sitting, eating and talking about Quidditch. Surprisingly, it wasn't James, but Jeff stilled dressed in nightclothes, a bathrobe, and slippers.
"Good afternoon, Lily! Hope you slept well!" Jeff greeted her.
"Very well, thank you."
"Well good, good. Now have a seat and help yourself to anything you want."
"Thank you," Lily said. She sat down, but still felt like she was intruding on the Potters, especially since Jeff hadn't even changed yet.
"Now, son, what were you saying about the Wronski Feint?"
"Oh, yeah!" James said, returning to his previous conversation. "It may be a good strategical move, but what good is putting the game in time out to search for the snitch if you can't move to catch it, unless it stays within your reach. Plus, as soon as the other seeker sees what's going on he'll be on your tail, and he can't be too badly injured to not keep up otherwise he won't even be able to play."
"Well, James, it only takes the mediwizards a few seconds, maybe minutes, to be certain that the, uh, crashee, is able to play, and if the seeker locates the snitch in that time, they're pretty much set because the mark of a good seeker is not to lose the snitch in a short amount of time."
James never got to finish his 'but' because just then his mother came into the room.
"Oh, Jeff," she said. "Why aren't you dressed yet? We have company, and you need to take Lily home when she's finished eating."
"It's ok, hon, James said he'd go with her and he has his wand, so they'll be fine."
James nodded and Ally scoffed.
"Ok, Lily, dear, you take your time finishing up, and James, you take her home and come straight back. No sneaking off to Remus's or Sirius's for a few hours, understand?"
"Yes, Mum," James said. "You ready?" he asked Lily.
Lily nodded after finishing the last bit of her sandwich.
"Good, let's go, you got your stuff?"
"Here it is," Ally said, handing a bag of clothes to James, "and you can carry it for her." She hugged and kissed James good-bye. "I love you."
"Love you, too, Mum."
Ally moved to hug Lily next. "And Lily, you be careful and come back soon."
"Ok, thank you for everything, Ally."
"Oh, don't mention it, dear."
The minute Lily and James were out of sight of the house, Lily grabbed the bag from James. "I don't need you to baby me, Potter," she told him in an annoyed and angry tone.
James looked shocked and hurt. "Back to 'Potter' now?" he asked dully. "I'll just go back if you don't want me around. Sorry for trying to do what my parents asked me to."
Lily realized she made a mistake in her choice of words, and tone of voice, too. "No, James, I'm..."
"What?" he asked softly.
"I'm sorry, ok?"
James smiled. "Ok. Want me to carry that for you?"
"Sure," Lily said, holding the bag out to him. "Thanks."
James took it with one hand and cautiously extended his other.
Lily looked at it, then up at James and smiled too. She took it and was surprised and almost, almost but not quite, disappointed when he didn't try to link their fingers, something she wouldn't be trying any time soon.
After walking home, which was much more exhausting for Lily than the walk to the James's, she invited him in for a breather.
"Um, Lily," James asked with a hint of nervousness growing in his voice, "please don't bite my head off when I ask this, but-"
'Oh, why not?' Lily thought. 'He's hasn't been acting like the annoying jerk-off he usually is.' "Yes."
"Well I know you're going to ask what you usually do, and I'm saying, 'Yes, James, I will give you a chance.' But just one, if you blow it, that's it."
James was grinning ear to ear like a madman.
"Really? You will? Really?" he asked excitedly.
"I just said I would, didn't I?" Lily said, amused that her answer would get him so piped up.
"Well that's not a bad answer seeing as how I was going to ask you why you came to my house at all last night, and you didn't want to answer when I first asked you."
Lily turned redder than her hair. "O-oh, well, um, er, last night, uh, something, uh, well, I think your parents called them , um, dementors? attacked me."
James expression changed so fast that Lily stared.
"Are you ok? What happened?" he asked in a panic.
"Yes, I'm fine, your dad held them back with a silver mist spell, then he took me over to your place, it was closer than mine, anyways, I just got this weird feeling, like... like-"
"Like you'd never be happy again?"
Lily looked thoughtful for a moment. "Yes."
"Well most of the dementors are now guarding Azkaban, the wizard prison. Those must have been some of the last rouge ones."
"That must be horrible," Lily said, "having to live around those things."
"Yeah, it makes Muggle prison seem pretty ok."
She looked over at him.
"Does- does your answer still stand? I mean, uh, are you still agreeing to go out with me? If you are I can come get you tomorrow at eight."
Lily nodded, starting to smile. "Ok, eight, but this stays secret, you can't tell anyone, not even Black , or I'll stand you up."