Six months later, on the Marauder’s last day at Hogwarts, James and Sirius were sitting by the lake feeding pumpkin bread to the giant squid. James no longer mussed his hair as often as he did two years ago when he was always trying to impress Lily. He no longer showed off with the Snitch as much, he’d stopped hexing first-years and Slytherins, and he occasionally even refrained from tormenting Severus Snape.
Sirius Black wasn’t as easy to rein in, of course—but he wasn’t in love with Lily Evans.
James was. Remus agreed that he had changed for the better because of Lily. He was more mature, and more confident—but not overconfident. Lily knew how to keep him on his toes.
“So,” said Sirius lightly, chucking a lump of bread to the squid. A tentacle lashed up and snatched it from the air. “What about that godson named Harry?”
James punched his best friend lightly in the arm. “Shut up.”
“No, really,” laughed Sirius. “I was really serious about that!”
His best friend scowled.
“No pun intended,” added Sirius hastily. “But, Prongs, my boy…” He launched another chunk of bread into the water. “Aren’t you gonna pop the question?”
James gripped a handful of his hair. “Jeez, Padfoot. No pressure, eh?”
Sirius chuckled. “Lily loves you, mate. Her letter said that she always kind of liked you—when you weren’t being a royal pain in the—”
James stood up suddenly, tossing away the last of the pumpkin bread. He began to walk around the lake. Sirius blinked in surprise, then scrambled to his feet and followed.
“Prongs, buddy,” he said quickly. “What’s the matter? You still wanna marry Lily, don’t you?”
James whirled around angrily. “Of course I do!” he hissed. “But, Padfoot—I can’t—”
“Aw, Prongs, don’t tell me you’re scared,” sighed Sirius, clapping a hand to his forehead. “You want this more than anything, right?”
“Right,” muttered James.
Sirius cocked an eyebrow at him. “That ain’t very convincing, mate. Do you love the girl or not?”
James gulped. “Well—”
“JAMES POTTER!” yelped Sirius. “I want a godson named Harry, and for me to even be a godfather, you gotta get married! Now, do you love Lily Evans, or don’t you?”
“I do.” James sighed and sank back to the ground dejectedly. He looked a bit green.
“Then ask her to marry you, once and for all!” proclaimed Sirius.
“What if she says no?” whispered James, staring blankly at the lake where the squid was doing laps.
Sirius leapt up and down exasperatedly. “Then you ask her again! You gotta win her heart—if you haven’t already,” he added hastily. “Which, you know, I think you have….”
“What does Moony say about all this?” asked James.
“Oh, he’s all for it,” insisted Sirius. “He loves Lily like a sister-in-law already.”
“Sister-in-law? Oh, it’s hopeless…” moaned James.
Sirius sat himself down beside his best friend and thumped him on the back. “Buck up, there, mate,” he said sternly. “And go get the girl.”
James flopped back on the grass and stared at the sky. “I can’t….”
“For damned heaven’s sake!” cried Sirius. “It took you seven, long, agonizing years to date Lily Evans! Do you really think she’s gonna wait forever?” He paused, then added as an afterthought, “Do you really think that Moony, Wormtail, and I are gonna listen to this forever? You’re out of your blasted mind if you think so!”
James rolled his eyes. “Well…Peter might.”
Sirius snickered. “Oh, no. Not even Peter has the stomach to listen to you moon around after Lily for the rest of his life, mate. He may even give up his cheese fetish before he did that.”
James was silent for a long time. He stared broodingly at the sky. At last he said quietly, “Alright. I’ll do it. I’ll ask her.”
Sirius brightened. “Really?”
James nodded slowly. “I will. Right away.” He sat up. “I need a ring.”
Sirius laughed. “Not a problem, mate! I’ve already got one for you. Well, for her, I mean…you know. For you to give to her.”
James blinked and gaped at his best friend. “You already have one…for my potential fiancée? What the hell!”
Sirius winked. “ I told you I want that godson, didn’t I?”
* * *
That evening, Sirius and Peter brought James to the Shrieking Shack. Sirius and Peter were dressed in white button-down shirts and black slacks. They had forced James into a gray tux with a dark green tie.
Like its occupants, the Shrieking Shack was quite transformed from its usual state. Instead of broken furniture and moldy, gray walls, the Shack now resembled a fine-dining suite. A tiny table for two with a red and gold tablecloth stood in the center of the Shack, with a white rose and pink candle perched atop. Two empty dinner plates waited on either side of the table. Tiny white and gold lights twinkled around the every corner of the room and in the rafters, charmed into place by Sirius.
Sirius pushed James gently into one of the seats at the little table and slipped a black velvet box into his pocket. He winked and withdrew to the side of the room. Peter popped the cork of a bottle of sparkling cider.
“You guys…” muttered James. “What if this is just a big—”
“Shut up,” said Sirius cheerfully. “Let us have our fun. Calm down. Deep breaths. Good lad. Keep that mouth shut, now.”
James scowled and settled into his seat, then bolted up when a soft knock came from the door downstairs.
Sirius signaled Peter, who set down the bottle and scurried off. Soon footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs. James gulped and got to his feet, hands folded, eyes intent and anxious on the stairs. Sirius was positively wriggling with excitement.
First came Remus. Behind him was Lily, blindfolded and led by the hand up the stairs. Peter brought up the rear.
“If this wasn’t you, Remus, I’d scream and cause a big fuss,” Lily was muttering. “I’d jinx you halfway into next week.”
James blinked guiltily and glanced at Sirius, who nodded encouragingly, still grinning.
“Sorry, Lily,” said Remus, not at all apologetic. Peter scurried back to Sirius’s side and took up the cider bottle again.
“What for?” complained Lily. “What’s going on?”
“See for yourself,” Remus said lightly, and removed the blindfold.
Lily gasped, staring around. “J-James?” she said uncertainly. “What…”
“Hi, Lily,” he whispered. “You look…beautiful.”
He motioned to her seat and reached for her hand. She took it and allowed him to lead her to the seat, which he held out for her. He helped her in, then took his own seat across the table. Peter came forward and poured sparkling cider for them in long champagne glasses. Sirius stepped up to the table, too.
“May I take your orders this evening, lady and gentleman?” he asked solemnly, holding his wand aloft. “Perhaps a bit of bread to start with?” He waved the wand and a small basket of savory breads appeared, complete with a heart-shaped butter dish.
“Thanks,” muttered James. “Um…”
Lily looked up at her boyfriend’s best friend. “What’s on the menu tonight, sir?” she asked, playing along. She gave him a winning smile.
Sirius smiled back, nudged James, and listed several dinners, including lemon chicken with leeks and rice, marinated steak with roasted potatoes, and salmon with a vegetable medley. James chose the salmon, Lily the steak.
“Would you like a soup or salad to start?” asked Sirius.
“Yes, please,” said Lily. “I’ll have salad.”
“Coming right up!” Sirius waved his wand and bowl of salad appeared before the red-headed witch. “And you, sir?” he asked James.
“Um…” James blinked at Lily, who giggled.
“The tomato and carrot soup is quite good,” suggested Sirius.
“Thanks,” said James weakly. A bowl of soup appeared before him.
“Enjoy. I’ll bring your dinners soon.” Sirius turned and retreated to where Remus and Peter stood, and then the three of them trooped downstairs.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. James stared at his girlfriend, thinking of how wonderful she looked in a light green spring dress trimmed with pink flowers. It brought out the green of her eyes.
He blurted, “You look really, really nice.” Then he paused. “I already said that,” he muttered. “Sorry.”
Lily dazzled him with a smile. “Technically, but not really,” she mused. “You said before that I look beautiful, but now you say that I look nice—it’s technically not the same thing.” She took a bite of salad. When she’d finished it, she said, “So don’t be sorry.”
James stared at his soup, sampled some, and nodded slowly.
“This is really nice, though,” Lily went on, waving her salad fork around to take in the splendor of the room. She met James’s hazel eyes and her smile grew. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he said quietly. “I can’t take all the credit, though…Sirius and Remus and Peter helped a lot.” He cleared his throat and tried a bit more soup. “They mostly did all of this, actually,” he admitted.
Lily shrugged. “Well, I’ll have to thank them, too.” She set down her fork and reached for his hand across the table. “But I enjoy this. Being here with you, like this, I mean.”
“Me, too,” said James, squeezing her hand. His collar felt a bit close, though, and he wondered if he had ever felt more awkward around a girl.
Footsteps sounded from the stairs and the pair fell silent again. Sirius came to the top of the stairs. He waved his wand and a silver tea cart appeared, bearing two steaming platters of food.
“Your dinners,” he announced, bowing. He served them and departed.
Peter came in and refilled their glasses with more cider.
“Thanks,” the couple murmured.
For a few moments, they applied themselves quite heartily to their meals, not speaking. Finally they began to remark on how good the dinners were, and they sampled each other’s dishes.
“So,” said Lily carefully, sipping her cider. “I guess…this is kind of it.”
James glanced up, startled, poised with a forkful of salmon halfway to his mouth. “Huh?” he said intelligently.
“It’s our last night at Hogwarts,” she clarified.
“Oh,” said James. He took a deep breath. “Yeah.” He set down his fork and stared at the plate as if he’d forgotten how to eat.
“I’m going to miss it,” Lily whispered. “It’s like home to me.”
James looked up. “It’s like home to me, too,” he said slowly. “I’ve always loved it here. I’ve always…” He looked away. Lily waited. He glanced back at her. “Always loved you.”
Lily blushed and smiled. “I know that now, James. I didn’t really understand you at first. I hope…” she paused, then nodded, “I hope you didn’t think I hated you.”
He sighed. “I did think that,” he admitted.
“I’m sorry,” she said earnestly. She reached for his hand again. “I love you, too, James.”
His eyes brightened. “I…I know.”
She laughed. “Good! Because, you know, you’ve been awfully nervous tonight—you’re making me nervous, too, and…well, I just wanted you to know that,” she said more seriously.
“Lily,” he said suddenly, releasing her hand.
“Yes?” she said uncertainly, drawing back in her seat.
He ruffled his hair distractedly. “You…I…don’t…” He pushed back his seat and stood quickly. She looked up at him, startled. He hesitated, then drew his chair closer to hers and sat down. He stared at her, and she stared back, unblinking. “Lily…” He shook his head, pushed the chair away again, and knelt at her side.
She stared at him, breathless and speechless.
“Lily,” he began again. He took the velvet box from his pocket and opened it. “Will you marry me?”
Tears formed in her bright green eyes as she took the ring from the box. She stared at him, brushed his face gently with her hand, and slipped the ring on her finger. “Yes,” she whispered. “I would love to.” She leaned forward and kissed him.
He reached up to put his hand in her long red hair, kissing her back, as his heart drummed happily in his chest.
Cheers, whoops, and laughter sounded from outside, but Lily and James weren’t paying any attention. If they had been, they would have heard Sirius’s gleeful voice: “Atta boy, Prongs! I’m gonna be a godfather! And Lily, you lovely lady…I want a godson named Harry!”
A/N: There you go.... Hope you liked it! If you took the time to read, please leave a review! =) It's much appreciated! Just a few more chapters to go...
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