James Potter grinned, and taking a risk, he leaned down and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before he headed up to his dorm for the night.
Surprisingly, she didn’t hex him. Instead, she smiled.
“Sleep well, Potter.”
All in all, not a bad night’s patrol, really. Granted, they still hadn’t managed to advance to the first name basis yet, but that hardly seemed to matter when he was allowed to kiss Lily’s cheek, James thought. Had he turned around, he would have seen the petite redhead press gentle fingers to the aforementioned cheek.
Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all, Lily Evans mused as she listened to the footsteps retreating up the boy’s staircase. Lily was increasingly beginning to suspect that Potter was not in fact arrogant, but rather so supremely terrified of her that he had a penchant for making a fool of himself whenever she was around. It was sweet, Lily thought, in a completely geeky way. But Potter was beginning to gain confidence with her. They had just completed their patrol for the night, just him and her, and Potter had single-handedly deducted 25 points from various wrongdoers in the process, without stuttering or being stupid once. Lily was impressed, to say the least.
Maybe Emmeline had been right, perhaps Remus had been serious: had Potter really changed for the better? Lily chewed her lip thoughtfully. No, not Potter. James.
Anyone watching would have seen a slight smile ghost across her features, and anyone who was listening would have heard a slight chuckle. Had Lily herself been listening, she may have heard the light tread of a person sneaking down the boys’ staircase. But that was ridiculous. There was no one to be seen. The fire was low in the grate and the common room was empty of everyone but her. Or was it?
Lily felt her stomach growl, and checked her watch. 11pm… Just time for a quick trip to the kitchens before bed.
Lily slipped out of the portrait hole, and waited a few seconds before she heard the Fat Lady click back into place. Good. She didn’t want any stray nighttime wanderers to be able to cruise into the common room with ease. Her footsteps echoed on the stone corridors, but who was awake to hear, besides Filch – and Lily could get round Filch.
It felt bold and wonderful to stroll the school, and she negotiated the corridors with ease until she had reached the Entrance Hall and found herself in front of the passage leading to the kitchens. The door opened with a quiet click and she entered cautiously. It was dark down here, and she ran the risk of stray Slytherins out of bed.
Before Lily could even mutter Lumos, light sprung into the corridor – from someone else’s’ wand. This light illuminated a rather familiar scene: or rather, an exceptionally familiar person.
“Ah,” said Snape, evidently surprised. "Lily!"
“Good evening, Sev,” Lily said coolly, desperately hoping he wouldn’t notice that a) it was after patrol hours and b) she was alone. Ever since their last chat, over a year ago now, Lily had gone to great pains to avoid being alone with Severus Snape. “I’m afraid I’ll have to dock 10 points from Slytherin for you being out of bed so late.”
It was so quiet that Lily heard the emeralds fly back up into the top of the Slytherin hourglass.
Snape rolled his eyes. “I really don't understand you, Lily Evans." His voice was soft in the darkness, even gentle, as if it was she that had been lead astray, not him. “Where is your blood-traitor boyfriend Potter, anyway?”
There was a flash of light, and Severus Snape found himself hanging upside down. Lily gritted her teeth.
“Potter is not my boyfriend,” she hissed.
Tauntingly, she jerked her wand downward, just a hint and Snape found himself hanging closer to the unforgiving stone floor. Much closer. His eyes widened.
“Well, well, well,” said a pleasant, horribly familiar voice from behind Lily. “Evening, Evans, Snivellus. Fancy seeing you two down here.”
Lily spun, her concentration gone, and stared horrified up into James Potter’s twinkling eyes. Behind her came the somewhat sickening crunch of Snape’s nose meeting the ground. Ignoring the interruption, James raised an eyebrow.
“Evans, I didn’t know you had it in you,” he grinned.
Lily’s mouth opened and closed, without any sound coming out. This looked bad. Very bad indeed. So Lily, obeying the time-honoured adage of the muggle Charles Darwin, fled.
Lily opened her eyes gingerly and lay, staring up at the canopy of her four-poster bed. It was another morning, and all she had to look forward to was another day of avoiding James Potter.
She had outdone herself yesterday, by a long way. Initially she had attempted to burrow into the murky depths of the library, but that plan had failed as soon as Potter had entered and began studying with Remus.
Honestly, Lily thought. Since when did Potter study?
Since when does Potter do anything except inconvenience you? Was the depressing answer.
With the common room packed to the rafters with bored teenagers who had nothing better to do on their weekend, Lily had retreated back to her own Head Girl dorm at the top of the girls’ staircase. Just in case, she had used a powerful locking spell to block the door that led into the Head’s study room – through which Potter, being Head Boy, could theoretically break into her room. Actually, there was no theoretic to it. Potter had broken in before, for all he thought she hadn’t noticed.
But today was Hogsmeade Sunday, and from a quick glance out the window, Lily also saw that it was a sunny, cloud-free day. Good. That meant that the common room would most probably be deserted, and she could get some work done.
Although Lily could have used the Head’s study room instead, the place served as a constant reminder to Potter, and she really was not in the mood for that today.
Dressed and her unruly curls falling across her back, Lily made her way down the stairs, carrying the pile of textbooks she planned to re-read today. As she had thought, the common room was indeed empty. Lily supposed she wouldn’t have minded a few first years, so long as Potter hadn’t told everyone what had happened. Which undoubtedly he had anyway, being such a big-mouthed loser, so all this conjecture was irrelevant, Lily concluded. With some resignation, Lily made her way over to her favourite armchair, dumping her pile of books down on the side table with a slight thump.
Something grunted behind her, and Lily glanced around, freezing when she noticed what she had woken up. Or rather, who.
James Potter was sprawled across the lounge beside Lily’s favourite chair, glasses askew, blinking sleepily.
“Lilevans,” he slurred, blinking. Then, straightening his glasses, James Potter sat up. His eyes widened as they fell on her frozen before him, deep red waves of her hair falling across her face.
“Good afternoon?” he asked.
She didn’t respond.
He tried again. “I’ve been-“
But before James had time to explain that he had forfeit his Hogsmeade weekend to wait for her, Lily turned heel and vanished back up the girl’s staircase. Sighing, James stood up and collected her forgotten textbooks before resolutely making his way up the boys’ staircase.
Lily ignored the soft knocking that came from the door leading to the study room. Instead, she rolled over and hid her face in her pillow. Seeing James had brought back her shame of the Friday Incident intensely. She was really just a dirty hypocrite, especially after the show she had put on in fifth year over James and Sirius bullying Snape. Had she not done precisely the same thing? That, Lily concluded miserably, made her no better than him. Not to mention that Snape - Sev Snape - had been her friend. He was the person who had taught her everything she needed to know about Hogwarts, who had reassured her that she wasn't a freak. He had gone out of his way, so many years ago, to be kind to a poor, ignorant little Muggle-born, and after years of friendship, even soured friendship... that she had done such a thing was utterly unforgiveable. Even Potter wouldn't do that to his friends. So there it was. While Potter appeared to have grown out of his pig-headed, egotistical behaviour, Lily appeared to have developed a taste for it herself.
James gave up his polite knocking and drew his wand. Muttering the counter-locking charm under his breath, he opened the door.
Lily sat up in surprise. Since when had James Potter become so good at charms? She grimaced. Who had she annoyed enough to deserve her falling victim to one of the-brightest-wizards-in-the-school’s attentions?
He made his way into the dorm, lips pursed. Gently, he set his load down by the door before making his way over to the bed. Sitting beside her, his nervous habit took over and Lily watched as he ran his fingers through his already ruffled hair. She frowned, suddenly wondering why, for the first time, the action hadn’t bothered her
“I want you to know that I don’t think any less of you,” he told her gently, looking at her searchingly.
Startled out of her thoughts by this small revelation, Lily met his eyes. That was a mistake. He was smiling, rather handsomely too. There was such a tender expression on his face that she found she could not look away. Lily could not recall ever being this close to James before. No, not James. Potter.
Anyway, she could see the tiny golden flecks around his irises. Those golden flecks were very distracting.
“Truthfully,” James plowed on, not at all disconcerted at her lack of response,” I don’t think I could have been more proud of you, Lily.” He grinned. “I should make you an honorary Marauder – but I’d have to ask the others first.”
He raised his eyebrows at her blank expression, and bit back a smirk. Somehow, he thought he knew how to get a response. Plucking up his courage, he added,
“In fact, that’s probably the sexiest thing you’ve ever done, I think.”
James wasn’t really thinking straight anymore. Not if he could take blinking as encouragement, anyway. So, unthinkingly, James Potter began to babble like the true tragic he was.
“Actually, maybe it isn’t the most sexiest thing. I mean, the way you bite your lip while you’re reading, and the way you roll your eyes when I’m talking to you-“
Lily rolled her eyes.
“- That’s… They’re pretty damn hot too,” he finished softly, his hazel eyes widening as he realised what he had just admitted. A stealthy pink blush spread across his cheeks.
“Oh,” she murmured mildly. “Thank you?”
Lily found she couldn’t look away. For once in her life, she was taking James Potter seriously – and Lily discovered that this was quite an enjoyable experience. She smiled at him, which only made his blush deeper. Yes, he had changed. For the better, she thought. Much better.
Lily’s smile seemed to wake him up, and James broke away from staring at her. His mouth twitched as he was suddenly struck with an idea, and his eyes sparkled as he looked up again to meet her eyes, deciding the risk was worth it.
“You know, Lily, the only part I find I have a problem with – from Friday night, I mean – was the way you told Snape ‘Potter is not my boyfriend.’”
It was Lily’s turn to blush as he imitated her hiss. A hand tentatively touched her cheek, and seeing that Lily did not flinch, James took this as encouragement… although he did remove his hand. He didn’t want to push his luck too much.
“You know, Lily, I would really love to change that. I’ve always wanted to… to love you. If you’ll let me.”
Lily frowned, and James instantly knew he’d gone too far. He waited for the inevitable slap… but it didn’t come.
Lily’s ears were ringing. What had Potter just said to her? To give herself time to process this, more than anything else, she asked:
She watched as his eyebrows were once again raised. Obviously this was not the response he’d expected.
“Snape?" James knew exactly who 'Sev' was - there was, after all, only one. He marvelled at the fact that even after everything that Snape had said and done (well, everything that the rumours suggested he'd said and done, anyway) Lily still cared enough to ask after him. It had always surprised James, the friendship between Snape and Lily - but then, Lily was full of surprises. That was just one of the things that attracted James to her.
"Oh, Snape's all right I suppose. He was knocked out, I think. Either way, I obliviated him. He won’t remember a thing. Then I stupefied him, just to be sure.”
Lily bit her lip, waiting for the smirk that would inevitably follow such a statement. It didn’t come. Instead, for the billionth time that afternoon, James Potter surprised her. He picked up her hand gently, and began to trace gentle circles around his palm.
“You have a strong love line,” he remarked, oddly, before jerking his eyes up to meet hers again. “Look, Lily. I’m sorry. I know that you don’t want to talk to me. I know I’ve probably ruined your day, and any chance with you ever again, and all that… But… Could you – would you…?”
Lily’s frown deepened. This boy was confusing her no end. On one hand, she found she didn’t really mind her hand in his or his gentle voice. On the other, Lily was so startled at her personal revelation that her first impulse was to run away again. But where to run? And, truth be told, James seemed to be quite serious about what he was saying. She really didn’t feel like breaking his heart again today. It seemed too messy, somehow.
“Will I what, Potter?” she asked, finally, realising he’d stopped talking.
Damn him and his confusing ways! She threw in a glare for good measure.
The glare made James almost laugh in relief. It seemed Lily had returned. Instead, he responded without missing a beat.
“Would you deny me a kiss to mend my poor broken heart?”
Oh dear. She hadn’t really meant it to sound like that, had she? Damn that Potter again, for outsmarting her. Very clever. She opened her mouth to correct herself.
It was all James could do not to laugh. She had practically said Yes, James, kiss me silly…well, almost. Not that she’d meant it. They both knew that. Nevertheless, James was not going to let her escape that easily. It really was too much of a good opportunity to miss.
As she opened her mouth to correct herself, Lily instead found she came mouth to mouth with James. He was kissing her, Lily’s mind registered blankly. How odd.
James felt he was getting a little too carried away. Then again, he probably was not going to live much longer after this kiss anyway, so he may as well put some effort in, and enjoy it while it lasted. James deepened the kiss, his lips caressing hers both gently and passionately until, to his absolute surprise, Lily began to respond. In truth, it felt like he was pouring all his feelings for her into this one kiss. Maybe this would vindicate him at last? But no. She had responded, and all thoughts of vindication dissipated.
James pulled away, panting, face flushed. “Sorry Lily-“ he managed to gasp, voice raw. “So – sorry for – for tricking you, I-“
Lily slowly opened her eyes. It was, James felt, rather like a flower unfurling to reveal a wonderful emerald bloom.
The boy sitting on her bed dropped her hand suddenly, and Lily opened her eyes, confused. Why had he stopped? Now he was standing, straightening his glasses and refusing to meet her eyes.
“I think I should just go,” he rasped, before turning around and moving toward the door.
Unfortunately, he managed to stumble over an inconsiderably placed pile of textbooks.
James scrambled to his feet, feeling supremely undignified. It was bad enough she wouldn’t speak to him. Could she not even laugh at him, he was so despicable? He stole one last glance at her, hand poised on the door handle. She was sitting there still, tracing her palm and chewing her lip, deep in thought. James distantly registered the fact that he had just snogged this very same gorgeous girl. Kissed her, and it appeared he would live to tell the-
It seemed to Lily that seven years of suppressed attraction had poured through his mouth and into her head. Calmly, she traced the love line on her palm and thought about everything. Things were adding up, and suddenly the arithmancy made sense. Perhaps he really did care for her after all.
His thoughts stalled as she called his name. James blinked, shocked, as he saw her stand up and gracefully step over the mess of pages that had formerly been a stack of books. When she reached him, it seemed that she rose on her toes and kissed his lips. This might have just been his imagination though. It seemed to be malfunctioning today. Regardless, James was positive he felt her slip a small hand into his own. He could feel their fingers entwining around each other.
“Lily?” he asked, coming to his senses. Yes, there was definitely a hand in his.
“Fancy a trip to the kitchens?” Lily asked, trying to sound as if she didn’t really care.
What a liar. A dirty, bullying hypocrite of a liar. Just terrible, really. If Lily had more sense, she would have gone up to the astronomy tower and attempted to throw herself off of it.
Luckily for them both, Lily’s senses seemed to be on temporary on leave. James responded with a deep, gentle laugh that made her smile.
“My, my, my, aren’t you just the most beautiful little hypocrite I’ve ever seen,” the boy at her side murmured affectionately, wrapping his arms around her waist.
And, after a further session of snogging, Lily Evans and James Potter made their way through the almost empty school to the kitchens hand in hand, where they sat and celebrated their newfound revelation with some cake.
“You know what?” James said thoughtfully. He grinned at the girl beside him, who in his opinion had never looked more attractive, and gently stroked her hair.
“What?” she asked, returning his smile with one of her own, and if it was possible, snuggled closer to him.
Lily Evans and James Potter were sharing an armchair in the Gryffindor common room, a fact that had shocked at least three first years, two second years and several bored third years. Strangely enough, all had chosen to vacate the common room.
“I think we both owe Snivelly an apology,” he murmured, adding in an off-handed manner, “Maybe, even a thank you.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Lily replied offhandedly. “We wouldn’t want to encourage him.”
James raised his eyebrows, and Lily laughed. And James, never able to resist Lily for very long, rested his head on hers’, drew his arms tightly around her waist and began to laugh too.
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