A/N: EDIT ALL THE TIME EVERY TIME WHENEVER TIME :-)
Ambrose's 'favor' spread rapidly throughout Hogwarts the next day. It began with Ambrose telling Georgiana; from that the gossip blossomed in Ravenclaw. As Ravenclaw was notorious for being particularly gossipy, every hour that passed brought another group of friends to the information, and by lunchtime there was not a person in Hogwarts that was oblivious to the fact that Lily Evans had told somebody that she fancied James Potter.
The information reached Lily Evans as she was walking to dinner. So far, the day had been particularly good; it was the last day of classes before a three-day weekend, brought on for reasons Lily wasn't sure of herself but appreciated very much anyway. All of her homework was done, and it was done neatly. Any projects or essays she had completed were perfect and merely waiting for a teacher to tell her the same. The day was beautiful, also, as the sun gleamed to defy November's weather.
It all changed as soon as Takiyah approached Lily.
She did not look as lively as she should have, especially considering the long weekend; though her appearance at first glance wouldn't have given anything away, the subtleties on her face were enough to make Lily give her a look of concern. Her lips were turned slightly downward, and the particular sparkle in her eye encouraged Lily to ask, "Takiyah, is everything okay?"
Takiyah looked at Lily for a short second, her eyes wide and slightly deranged, and nodded quickly. "Yeah, everything's fine," Takiyah muttered, though Lily could not help but notice that Takiyah was staring at a spot right above her eyes and the inflection she had used made the sentence sound as if it was being said by a mediocre actor.
"What aren't you telling me?"
"I'm affronted, Lily, I am," Takiyah said, though it was said very quickly, and Takiyah kept looking behind her shoulder as if she was being watched. "Hey, I feel beat. Do you want to catch a dinner in the dorms, I could get something from the kitchens for us--"
"What is going on?"
"Nothing!" Takiyah nearly yelled. "Nothing, there is absolutely nothing I'm not telling you! Quite frankly I'm a little shocked that you'd think I was lying to you! Why would I lie to you? I'm one of your best friends! I'm loyal! I'm bloody Gryffindor! Can we go to the dorms now?"
"Is it bad?"
"Is what bad?" Takiyah said sharply, avoiding Lily's eye and instead looking towards where Marie was quietly approaching. "There's nothing to be bad, you see, because there's nothing, nothing that I didn't tell you already--"
Marie's approach, as well as her contradictory words, brought both Takiyah and Lily's eyes towards her. "It's really bad," she repeated. "We should probably get up to the dorms if we want to avoid it."
"Haven't you heard?" Marie asked, turning to take a look at Takiyah, who was shaking her head enough for Lily to notice. At the gesture, Marie abruptly halted in what she was about to say, taking a long look at Lily before saying, "Never mind. It's nothing. Do you want to go up to the dorms?"
"What is it with you two and the dorms?" Lily questioned irritably, taking a step and looking Marie square in the eye. "Marie, just tell me. I won't get angry, I promise."
Silently, Marie shook her head. "C'mon, Marie," Lily urged. "Tell me."
Again, Marie refused to.
"Marie, seriously, I don't want to have to nag you--"
"I don't want you to hurt him!" Marie yelled, interrupting Lily, though Lily did not attempt to continue where she left off. Instead, her eyebrows furrowed, and she remained silent, though the silence unfortunately lasted only a few seconds.
"This is about Potter?" Lily asked, and although on the surface it sounded calm it did not take much work to find the underlying anger slowly boiling. "What happened? What did he do?"
Takiyah and Marie shared a resigned glance, though it did not last long. As both of their eyes turned to Lily, slightly worried and completely expectant for a stream of profanity, she chose not to acknowledge them, instead staring intently at a place on the floor.
"Well... Lily," Takiyah said soothingly, but it did nothing for Lily. "Lily, you've got to understand that it wasn't James. Well, we're not sure who it was. But... it's just about you and James... it's, um... it's just a stupid rumor... you shouldn't worry about it."
Lily gave her a flat look, and, slightly frightened, Marie chirped out, "People are going around saying that you fancy James."
The silence lasted one beat too long as Lily processed the information. Takiyah and Marie were looking at Lily anxiously, both of them praying to the gods that she would disregard the rumor, but they knew better. Ignorance, especially ignorance that shielded a chance for confrontation, wasn't Lily's strong suit.
Lily was a person that loved confrontation. She loved having a good argument, and she loved bickering with someone so endlessly that, even though she was riled, she was absolutely content. She had done it with James in her fifth and sixth year, but now that he ignored her so dutifully she found herself missing the red faces and the heated debates. She found herself missing him.
But, now, with anger masterfully stifling whatever she may have felt for James, the only thing out of Lily's mouth was, "I'm going to kill him."
The dinner at the Great Hall was strangely soothing for James Potter.
Of course, part of the reason for this peace was that there was a three-day weekend, but James knew what the actual cause was. Without Lily Evans in the Great Hall, without her ears to hear the things that the other students were saying, there was absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
James was not a person that particularly fancied confrontation. Yes, there was some sort of sick pleasure to it, but on the whole he preferred serenity. As he was, after all, rather popular, he never had to worry about unexpected confrontation. Any confrontation that he had ever been in was his fault; whether it was Lily or Snape, James was always the one that instigated.
This was, without a doubt, not the first time a rumor had been spread around regarding James, but it was the first time that a rumor had been spread around regarding James and Lily. The fact that it was there, at first, did nothing for James; however, after he had contemplated it, and remembered that there was truth in every rumor, he had begun to think differently.
Which wasn't good. He was supposed to be ignoring her, for Merlin's sake, not wondering endlessly about her.
But, as the dinner at the Great Hall continued, James realized that that was all he had been doing. The whole time he was ignoring her, he was constantly asking himself if it had made any effect on her. He constantly wanted to know about her, and he was sure that every conversation he had with the Marauders involved Lily in some shape.
So, what was the point of ignoring her, really, when he knew he couldn't?
He could feel the confrontation moving closer and closer to where he was, and, trying to distract himself from it, he turned to Sirius and asked, "So, who do you fancy?"
Sirius blinked; it was the first thing James had said since they had arrived. "Whoever said I fancied someone?"
"It's obvious," James said bluntly. "It's not obvious who you like, but it's obvious that you do. Same with Remus. I still don't get why you won't tell me."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I don't think you should be talking about being obvious," he retaliated. "And what I want to know is... well, what's the point?"
"What's the point to what?"
"Well, what's the point of this--" Sirius gestured in an attempt to elaborate-- "this conversation? Don't tell me you're worried for when Evans bites your head off."
James laughed, but the strange peace that the dinner had suddenly evaporated, replaced with a knot in his stomach. "Of course not," he said confidently, though he had no idea what he would say to her. "I don't think I could be afraid of Evans if I tried."
"Yeah, right," Sirius said, shaking his head. "C'mon, James. You might as well brace yourself. She'll hear about the rumor soon enough and then you two can fight your arses off. And Moony and I... well, Moony and I will be enjoying the show."
"Please," James said under his breath. "You'll be busy fancying someone."
Sirius snorted. "Maybe Moony. But if you're so sure about me, then who is it?"
"Well, let's think logically--" James started, but was interrupted by a pair of chuckles from both Sirius and Remus.
"Logically, that's rich," said Remus, and Sirius patted him on the back approvingly.
Glaring at them, James said, "You would have told me if it was someone from Gryffindor. You would never fancy Evans. You would have told me if it was somebody from Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, too. And, you would have told me if it was Ambrose, because everyone likes Ambrose. Which really only leaves the two Black sisters, Devous, and Nott."
"Georgiana isn't Slytherin," Remus pointed out hastily.
"Yeah, big difference. She's the same crowd. So, if I had to make a guess, Padfoot, I'm pretty sure you don't fancy your cousins, so I'd say Nott. And Moony, I'm pretty sure you don't fancy Sirius's cousins either, so I'd say Devous."
Remus and Sirius exchanged a surprised glance; while both of them knew James was wrong, they had also gained insight as to who the other would fancy. After all, Remus thought, who else could Sirius fancy besides Scarlett? And, Sirius thought, who else could Remus fancy besides Georgiana?
Before they could reply to James, though, a blur of fiery red suddenly appeared behind James, her eyes narrowed and gleaming in a way that foreshadowed a fight. Sirius, seemingly oblivious to her death glare, raised a hand in amused welcome. "Evans," he greeted, and James turned around abruptly, his eyes widening behind his glasses at the sight of the hell-bent female.
"Lil--" James started, but Lily put a finger to her lips that automatically silenced him. "I can explain--" he began again, but he stopped of his own accord, taking a deep breath. "Lily--"
"No," she hissed, shaking her head. "No. Come with me."
"Lily, can't we just--"
"No!" she yelled, and, furious, she grabbed his arm and nearly tugged him out of his seat. James hardly registered it, though; he was more transfixed on the fact that her hand was touching him. Scowling, Lily led him out of the Great Hall, her hand never loosening on his arm but more importantly never leaving it.
Sirius grinned, shaking off James's accusations as he turned to Remus. "Oh, this is going to be good."
"How could you?!"
The question pierced into the otherwise peaceful evening. The corridors in Hogwarts were empty; the majority of students were busy enjoying their dinner. However, for the couple standing in the hall, James with the air of utmost determination and Lily with fury lining her face, they would not be able to have that luxury.
James shook his head, bracing himself for Lily's banter which he knew so well and had missed so much. "Lily, I don't know what you're talking about--"
"Why the hell would you do that?!" she interrupted mercilessly, and he stared at her, slightly annoyed. "Why would you go around school and talk about things you have no idea about, huh?! Why would you do that to me, James? Huh? Do you think it's funny? Do you think it'd be a good laugh, something you could joke with your mates about?! Did you think that maybe if you spread it around it'd be true?!"
"Lily," James said calmly. "Let me explain."
"NO!" Lily yelled. "You don't get to explain! You don't get to explain, because you have nothing to explain, all right?! All you get to do is listen to me try to get one fact into your head: I don't fancy you! And spreading rumors about me doesn't make it any better! I will always loathe you, do you bloody well understand?!"
"Lily," James said again, though now his tone had a slight edge to it.
Lily shook her head. "I don't care what you have to say, James! I will never care about what you have to say, because I will never care about you!"
"Why not?" James said bluntly. "Why not, Evans?"
"Why do you care so much, Potter?!" Lily questioned back mutinously.
The question opened the floodgate.
"Look, Evans," James said darkly. "I have tried every possible way to get you out of my head. I've gotten girlfriends I don't fancy in the slightest. I've tried to start fights with you so I can try to get myself to hate you. I've tried to ignore you, I've tried to stay away from you. And, you know what? You know what, Evans?"
Without waiting for her response, James continued, his voice rising slightly after every syllable. "It doesn't bloody work! It never works! No matter how many times I try to tell myself I hate you, I don't! And I've asked myself that stupid question time after time after bloody time again, and you know what?! I don't know! I don't! The only thing I do know is that even though I've made mistakes, even though I've been stupid, I have never done anything to deliberately hurt you! And, you know what?! I never will! Is that what you wanted to hear?!"
The silence hit for a beat, but then James started to speak again, apparently on a rampage. "And even though you say you don't fancy me, that's not going to stop me! Nothing is! I don't care if you keep hurting me, I don't care if we keep fighting, I'm not going to let go! I can't!"
"What are you trying to say?" Lily asked, but it sounded weird coming out of her lips. She could not feel the ire that she had felt before. All she could feel was then, all she could feel was that feeling she got lately when she was close to James, all she could feel was what he had said.
"I love you!"
The statement was spoken without thought, and when the words hit James's and Lily's ears they found themselves in a momentary state of shock. However, their surprise was interrupted, not by Lily's voice, not by James's, but the fact that Lily's lips collided with James's and he wrapped his arms around her tightly and they were alone, all alone, but they were together and that was all they wanted.
All they wanted was then, that moment, and they never wanted it to end. They wanted the moment to last forever, they wanted to be kissing for forever, because forever was all they had. Forever was all they wanted. And forever could only be described in the person they were kissing.