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Flames by SpottedZebra
Chapter 22 : Chapter Twenty Two
 
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A/N: First thing -- sorry about the horrible updates. Graduating is timely. Second thing -- this chapter contains enough fluff to stuff a pillow. Third thing -- sorry about the short chapter, but it seemed an appropriate point to end it. .
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The news flowing into Hogwarts over the next few days was stressful, to say the least. Students mulled about confusion and misinformation, and a sea of rumors popped up left and right.

By Monday, almost the entire school had at least one parent drop in to visit. Classes had resumed without a hiccup. It was the extra activities -- Quidditch, chess club, evening strolls -- that found the opposition. The teachers had put an entire ban, without exception, on anything that happened after six o’clock. The curfew, infrequent in Hogwart’s history, was greeted as warmly as one might a cave troll in the kitchen.

For the Marauders, the aftermath of the Hogsmeade Attack was both concerning and frustrating. It cut back on their roaming time, their marauding time, and most importantly, their Quidditch time. And even they became victim to calling Voldemort by his pseudo name, You-Know-Who, when the statistics of causalities and injuries came in with the Daily Prophet.

“Forty-three dead,” Lily read out loud at the breakfast table, nursing a cup of coffee, “And one-hundred ninety-four injured. Twenty-seven people are missing. Oh no!” She exclaimed sadly. “Old Mr. Hitchens from the Three Broomsticks is one of them…He used to give me free butterbeer.” Lily perused the rest of the article in silence, while James chewed his food sullenly.

They were a wrinkled, frumpled mess; the look of two people who had not showered, nor worn anything not on the floor, the look of two people who had been sleeping on the couches and managing a load far larger than anything previously expected of them.

The last few days had been nothing but an endless pain. The security Aurors given to Hogwarts had been immediately withdrawn to protect the provisional Prime Minister. Lily and James had been juggling the deluge of parents, patrols, safety concerns, and the volunteer efforts into Hogsmeade.

“Sweet?”

“Yes, James?”

“What’d you say we nap until lunch? Then we’ll hop back into the papers?”

With a grimace, Lily glanced over to their large, stately desks. Both were currently buried under litters of parchment, the odd homework assignment, and letters from Dumbledore. A quill lay on the floor.

“Ahem.”

Lily and James groaned, and in unison, rotated the opposite direction. Piper was grinning populously from behind the conveniently teapot.

“Good morning my dear Heads. Aren’t you pleasantly surprised that I let you off the hook for two days?” He paused, pursed his long lips, then added, “Only at Dumbledore’s request, obviously.”

“Piper,” James said with a huff, “We’re still working!”

“Ah, but not nearly as hard.”

“Piper!” Lily whined. “We still have so much to do. We really don’t have time…”

“Today’s question is: what is your deepest secret?”

James blanched, Lily snorted.

“Like I’ll say outloud,” she laughed. “What’s the other option?”

“A passionate kiss given to another person of the opposite sex in the room.”

She stopped laughing.

“Excuse me?” James said, gagging on the milk he had just swallowed. “I- No! Not either one! Piper, do you have any idea how stressful the last few days have been? Do you have any idea how hard it is to work until you collapse from exhaustion? Do you understand the importance of the situation here?!?”

James had stood and was yelling desperately.

“Mr. Potter, I’m merely making up for the last two days.”

“Well you know what, you piece of-?”

“Option one or two, Mr. Potter?” Piper responded coolly.

James shook his head.

It was Lily who smiled first. “James, it’s possible both could get you sent to Azkaban.” She laughed lightly, but with a forced smile.
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Lily growled as she snuck through the house, ferocious at Petunia. Grief -- three years of sadness, like a hole in her heart -- had erupted into the most vicious revenge she had ever felt. Not even Potter could rile her so.

The summer day was hot “as I’ll-be-darned”, according to her neighbor. Ernie, the Evans’ dog, was lying in a puddle beneath the porch, where the hose water had gathered from the morning sprinklers.

Petunia was basking in the UV radiation, her pale skin pinking with the passing minutes. She was trying to tan for her date that evening. Her pale hair fell across the back of the lounge like a L’Oreal advertisement in one of her many magazines. Her bikini -- the bane of their father’s existence -- was loosely tied about her body.

Watching carefully through the window, Lily picked up the telephone and dialed the number written with large flourishes on a Post-It. She heard it ring twice before a voice picked up on the other end.

“Hello?” She said.

Lily changed her pitch, hoping to sound like Pet. “Hello Courtney, this is Petunia.”

“Hey babe!” She shrieked. “Ready for your blind date tonight? I can’t for you to meet him. He sounds so…
wild on the phone.” 

Lily bit her lip in repulsion but crooned some more, “Well, Court…I’m calling to cancel. I‘ve actually been invited on another date.”

“Ohmygosh! Really?? That‘s just so swell!-”

“Yes, thanks Court. I’m so excited. His name’s Vernon, okay?” Lily swallowed deeply, thankful that Petunia was oblivious in the sun.

“Okay, fabulous! I‘ll call tomorrow.”

“Mhmm. I‘ll have tons of details. Hopefully it‘s a good night; I never want to hear about blind dates ever again.”

Courtney giggled. “Okay, but you were the one who wanted me to set you up!”

“Please don’t ever mention it again!” Lily added a squeal for added effect. “Okay, gotta go tan again!”

“See you, sugar!”

Lily hung up, her revenge still raging. But, still holding the telephone, she dialed Deal-o’s Movie Rentals, where she worked over the summers. Another voice answered, far more deep.

“Hello? Deal-o’s Movie Rentals, Vernon speaking. How may I be of assistance?”

Lily grimaced at the familiar voice. “Hey Vernon, it’s Lily Evans.”

“Oh. Lily.”

“I need you to be a blind date for my sister.”

“What?”

Swallowing once more, Lily rattled off the details that Petunia had been reciting for days.

“Is she gorgeous?”

“Pretty much, Vernon,” Lily lied.

Hanging up, she turned towards the sliding door just in time to see Petunia entering the kitchen.

“Who called, Freak?”

Lily blushed with her lie. “You’re blind date. He was just confirming the details.”

Petunia rolled her eyes. “Next time, let me do the talking. I don’t want your freak-ness on that phone.” 
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Lily felt flooded with guilt, even thinking about her vengeful crime. They both gulped and looked at each other. “I’m picking option two, James.”

James stared into her beautiful green orbs, each reflecting the mountains outside their window. He concentrated hard, wondering which option would alarm her more.
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You want to kiss her!

I don’t want to scare her off!

You can’t tell her about being an animagus.

She wouldn’t tell.

She might. She doesn’t love you.

Yet.

You can’t risk it. Not for Remus.

Remus wouldn’t want me to kiss her!

Sirius would!

Sirius would kiss anything with boobs and lips.

Just do it.

I can’t.

You have to. 
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He swallowed. “So am I, Sweet.”

Lily winced when she felt the tell-tale tug behind her stomach. James was emotionless, thinking the wince was for his choice.

Lily stood, placing a hand on the table to steady herself. This was the moment the school had been betting on for ages. She wondered if any magical bets had been placed on this. If so, it would certainly get back to her.

James watched from behind a blank face. He couldn’t let her see the emotions filling him, absorbing every pore in his body. This was the kind of moment he had been waiting for since he first saw her angelic face all those years ago -- although, back then, it had been a bit more innocent and surreal.

“This isn’t fair, James,” Lily said with a spat of injustice towards Piper. “Don’t worry -- we’re in the same boat.” Smiling once more at him, she took a deep breath and went on with the act.

Lily placed her pale hands on his broad shoulders; his skin was warm through the wrinkled button-up he had worn for three days. His breath was hot on her cheek. He hadn’t shaved, and his face was rough to the touch. Rising up on her tippy-toes, Lily pressed her lips against his.

The kiss may have lasted only a second, but it left Lily in such a blush that she felt as though she was on fire. Her fingers burned against his shirt, and she felt a strong desire to rip it off of him. That left her red-headed complexion as bright as her hair.

Odd, she told herself. Simply kissing a boy again, that’s all.
Behind her, she heard Piper laughing gently.

“Happy?” She asked with an arched brow, although the tugging had left her stomach at the same time the butterflies had filled it.

“Oh yes, m’dear. That was a lovely kiss on your part. But now, of course, it is Mr. Potter’s turn.”

“Two kisses?!” Lily yelled, exasperated. Her heart skipped a beat at the thought. A sudden flashback to the first day of school filled her mind, and she beat it down frantically. 

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And the next thing Lily knew, she found herself fighting Potter. Yes, shoving and kicking and whacking and smacking James Jerk-Head Potter. It wasn't until after he almost pulled her out her ponytail while he tried to fend her off, did she fall to the floor, collapsed in a heap of laughter.

And, to her shock, he, too, fell to the floor laughing. A real smile, the type she never saw, was on his face. His forehead was pink from her fist, and his hair was ruffled up like he just stepped off a broom. But this time, she had ruffled it up, not him. And her heart skipped a beat.

“Sweet?” 
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“Sweet?” James repeated, looking at her glazed eyes with reserved expression. He could have felt nothing from the kiss, for all she knew. She steeled herself, slightly angered that she could give in to emotions when he was simply protecting his deepest secrets.

“Oh, sorry; I’m tired, that’s all, James. Let’s get this done with so we can take a nap.”

“W-w-we?” James choked out, his eyes bulging.

Laughing, Lily patted his arms. She smiled when he gulped audibly. “Not together, James.” She rolled her eyes, pleased with his discomfort. “You are such a boy, sometimes.”

Piper interrupted. “Ahem. Waiting, Mr. Potter.”

The tug was back.

“Shut it, Piper,” James growled in response.

His eyes fell back to Lily like a magnet, locked behind a wall again. After seven years of waiting, he could show nothing? Lily felt like sacking him and tossing him out the window.

She settled for a pouting “huff” instead.

Goosebumps covered both of them when he placed his warm hands on her waist, pulling her closer. His face drew near slowly, watching her eyes with a steeled expression.

Lily could not stand being around him like this. She felt like she was about to kiss a wall. Glaring hotly at him, she closed the gap with force, smashing her lips against his, willing to get the kiss over.

She pulled away quickly this time, smiling up at him, and patted his cheek. “Happy, Piper? Because I want a nap.”

This time Piper made no reserve about his laugher. “Oh, Ms. Evans. I’m sorry m’dear, but you’ve dug yourself a hole.”

Lily whimpered; the tug was still there behind her stomach.

“Mr. Potter, if you would please do the kissing this time. Oh, I do wish I had a camera.”

If it was possible for Lily to out-redden her hair, she did it then.

“Sorry, James,” she mumbled. Lily avoided his eyes this time, not wanting to see his expressionless gaze. It was really starting to bother her. She almost preferred his constant annoyances, because at least she knew he was infatuated then.

His fingers entrapped her chin and tugged her face up towards his. This kiss was almost immediate, with his face falling against hers without hesitation. It was like a long lost caress; his lips engulfed hers with a passion that had been hidden in his eyes.

Lily knew this kiss had lasted significantly longer than the previous two. Two? Her brain screamed. You’ve kissed him TWICE?? No, she corrected herself. Three times. Oh. My. Gosh. Someone save me by knocking me unconscious

She pulled away first, disentangling her fingers from his shirt, a grasp she hadn’t realized she had taken.

He was staring at her ear, as though uncertain of where to look.

“Thanks, James,” Lily muttered for a reason she didn’t understand. She forcibly met his eye with a wry smile that matched the one on his face. “I’m going to go take a nap now, okay?”

He stared into her emerald orbs, and nodded faintly.

Lily tucked herself into bed, but one thing was sure: she didn’t fall asleep.

James went straight to his pensieve. 
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A/N: Okay! Please review and let me know what you think. I wasn't sure if this chapter was "ready" yet, but you've all ready twenty two chapters without much action. So, I hope this floats. :S
Let me know what you think please! 


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