I will make no excuses, just an apology. I'm sorry it's taken me so long. Enjoy and please review. Any thoughts, comments, critiques will only help to improve the story.
"Good morning, Miss Evans," James said as he sat down next to her.
"Hello James," Lily replied, laughing slightly. He had been keeping his distance the two previous days, but apparently decided he could no longer. Lily smiled a little, surprised by how flattered she was.
For a moment, James just stared at her. Lily coughed uncomfortably, purposefully looking back at her eggs. When she glanced back at James, he was slightly pink and looking down at the table.
"Did you come to create an awkward silence or do you have a question?" Lily asked, laughing gently. She smiled at him, hoping she came across as more friendly than previous years.
"Oh, yes," James said suddenly, straightening up and extending a hand to his unruly hair.
"I think we should call truce," he said, nodding once or twice for emphasis. Lily stared blankly at him, trying to understand where this had come from. "Because we're going to be working together all year. I thought it would make sense."
Lily smiled at him, amused but certain this was unnecessary. Instead of crushing his hopes, she raised an encouraging eyebrow, causing James to chuckle slightly. A small gurgle of emotion bubbled at the bottom of her stomach, but she didn't have time to identify it before it was gone. She looked back into James' hazel eyes, waiting for him to continue.
"Well, all right. If you won't say anything, I'll just have to have the entire conversation myself."
"By all means," Lily said, laughing in delight. It would be fun to watch James good-naturedly make a fool of himself.
James cleared his throat and patted the top of his hair once, as though ridding it of dust. Lily put down her fork in order to watch. It was still early, and hardly anyone was in the Great Hall. Lily would get to witness James being himself on her own this time, and for some reason unbeknownst to her, the thought warmed Lily through her soul.
"I think we should have a truce," James said in a voice slightly deeper than his own. He even tucked his chin down and put his hands on his hips, mocking himself.
"Why, I agree," James said in a ridiculously high falsetto, batting his eyelashes and pretending to playfully slap someone. "Oh, James, you're just so clever."
"Why, thank you, Lily," he said in the deep voice. "I was thinking that it would make our year of working together easier. Now, how was your summer?"
"My summer was fantastic," James-Lily sighed, fanning himself with his hand and giggling.
"Really? What did you do?" Baritone-James asked, leaning forward a bit. Lily laughed out loud, but James only acknowledged it for a second, smiling fleetingly at her.
"Well, I read a few books, but mostly I sat around and dreamed of you," Lily-James giggled, looking up from under his eyelashes.
Lily stopped him in between huge guffaws of laughter. "I can't bear the fourth year voice you gave me!" she insisted between her chuckling.
"What d'you mean?" James asked, his voice leaking some of the Baritone-James, sending Lily into an even worse fit. He grinned as she held onto the table, unable to stop laughing. He waited patiently as she came to grips with reality again, and nodded as she finally managed to speak.
"You make me sound like I'm fourteen," Lily said, clutching her side and taking deep breaths.
"Sorry, my falsetto is sorta bad," James said sheepishly.
"I'll say," Lily said, still smiling, her voice husky and breathless. She coughed once, shaking her head to bring herself back to who she was. They could get along, certainly, but James Potter should not cause her to lose control at the breakfast table. Even if no one else was around.
She giggled once more as James said, "Oh, of course," in his Lily voice.
"You turned me into a daft bimbo," Lily said, after she finished laughing about the fourth-year voice James had given her.
"Which, I know for one hundred percent certain, you are not. You're far cleverer than I am," he said, shrugging.
"You're just using that as an excuse because you want to sleep with me," Lily said, rolling her eyes. James' mouth dropped open, but Lily didn't take it back. In fact, she felt no emotion about what she said, because she knew it to be true. The shock on James' face, taking over every feature, caused her to say something else.
"What?" she demanded, crossing her arms. "Are you now going to try to convince me you don't want to sleep with me?"
James spluttered, his face the color of raspberries. He couldn't meet her eyes, but Lily wasn't surprised by that. She had never called him out, but she had never doubted he had sexual thoughts about her. It still creeped her out, but how she felt didn't change the reality.
"So, what's the problem?" Lily stared insistently at him.
"I just… uh…"
"Oh, Merlin, James," Lily sighed, rolling her eyes. "I'm not blind, and I'm not dumb. I've known for years. Now buck up and be a man."
Her words seemed to strike a chord in James, who narrowed his eyes and said, "Fine then."
"Now, before this, you were imitating a conversation between us about a truce. And I say we should shake on it."
He stared uncomfortably at her outstretched hand, his eyes shifting from her hand to the floor to the table and back again.
"James," Lily said impatiently, all her laughter gone. "It's a hand. It won't bite you."
"You never know in this world," he muttered, a mischievous smirk spreading across his face.
"Well, I know with my own hands. Shake on the truce, James, or lose it," Lily said, her hand not losing height even as she swooshed her hair out of her eyes with a head toss.
"Oh, well, all right," James said, inching his own hand to meet hers. His grip was firm and his hand warm; his handshake gave the impression of friendliness. Lily's father would describe him as "the sort of guy you'd buy a drink and then listen to him sell you the universe". It fit James, or at least the James she'd come to know in her years at Hogwarts.
But, she was learning, there was more to James Potter than met the eye. Especially her eyes, it seemed.
She had always thought him an arrogant prat, insufferable to a completely intolerable level. She'd had no qualms with telling him to behave or with accentuating a few "No!"s with a glare. She'd never hated him, but she had wished he would leave her alone. With this seemingly different person in front of her, however, it seemed that maybe she wished he would be her friend.
"You know," she said after a moment, hardly noticing he hadn't let go yet, "I thought we already had a truce, what with the first names and all."
Lily realized her hand was still in his, and she gently, gracefully pulled hers away. James' ears flushed as she did so, but other than that, he made no show of even recognizing her hand was gone.
"Well, I thought I'd make it official," he said suavely, becoming James Potter, Extraordinaire at Everything as his friends strode into the Great Hall.
She nodded and James slid off the bench beside her, falling into step with Sirius Black. They made a good pair; good-looking, clever, funny, loyal almost to a fault. Lily wished she had that sort of bond with someone.
"Morning, Lily," Mary said as she sat down across from Lily.
"Sleep well?" Lily tired of polite conversation, but she deplored being rude to Mary. Mary was her only real friend, or as close to a real friend as Lily would get, and Mary never responded well to being snapped at. She even refused to listen to Lily rant about James Potter in fifth year, when his sizable ego had exceeded even Mary's considerable and compassionate standards.
"Who can sleep badly in a Hogwarts bed?" Lily countered, smiling.
Mary ate a bite of eggs before saying, "There's something off with you this morning."
"Really?" Lily asked, suddenly hyperaware of how James was sending glances her way and how her heart expanded slightly every time he did. "How so?"
"You seem light and, I dunno, refreshed. Did you have a great dream or something?" Mary inquired, leaning forward on her elbows.
"I talked to James this morning," Lily replied, shrugging in what she hoped was a nonchalant way. It would be terrible if suddenly everyone assumed she and James were together, just because they were talking. "He wanted a truce."
"You're calling him James," Mary said, raising an eyebrow. "I think that constitutes as a truce of epic proportions."
"Apparently not to him," Lily shrugged. She popped her final grape into her mouth as Marlene McKinnon sat down next to her. "Good morning," Lily said through her grape. She flushed and swallowed. "Sorry about that. See you later. Off to the library."
"You and that library," Marlene teased. She and Lily got along fairly well, working together throughout the years in Potions and Transfiguration.
"I wonder when it'll propose," Lily said, making a wistful noise.
"Whenever you like," James said, nudging her with his elbow. She rolled her eyes and against her will, the corners of her mouth turned up a bit.
"See you in our first Potions class," Lily said cheerfully and trotted off between the tables. She smiled at a few Ravenclaws who greeted her, but she was hardly thinking about anyone. In her head, she saw the book she had been meaning to read since last June. She'd had the opportunity to take it with her over the summer, the librarian had even offered, but it seemed inappropriate to do so to her family. Now, she would get her chance to delve into its pages and understand its secrets.
"May I join you?" a voice came from behind. Lily turned and was surprised to see Sirius Black.
"I thought you were allergic to the library," Lily said warily, narrowing her eyes as she contemplated exactly what Sirius could be doing.
"Madam Pomfrey gave me my shot," he countered, laughing at both Lily's wit and his own.
"In which case," Lily said quietly, "you're welcome to come with me. No sneezing on my books, though. All right?"
"Is that your condition?" Sirius asked, smiling widely and raising an eyebrow. He somehow managed to look bemused and charming.
"I suppose," Lily said dramatically, feigning a sigh.
"Then I agree to it. My lady." He dropped into a bow and then offered her his arm. She laughed at his audacity and then managed a small curtsey before accepting his arm.
"I thought you weren't supposed to do this sort of thing with your best friend's love interest," Lily said after a moment, not looking at him.
"Ah, but when you come in the interest of your best friend, all's well."
"Oh," Lily said knowingly, finally content to comprehend his intentions.
"Speaking of my dear James Potter," Sirius began. He stopped there, however, and quite literally. He froze in his tracks, pulling Lily along for the ride. He turned her to face him, and Lily couldn't help but smile. Sirius was fond of a show, even if the audience had taken its refreshment break.
"Speaking of my dear James Potter," he said again, and paused once more. He seemed to be thinking of what else to say, and Lily allowed him.
She had always had a grudging respect for Sirius, even if she disapproved of his treatment of other students at times. He was a kind person at heart, she knew that. He wasn't afraid to stop First Years from fighting with each other or to admit that he knew what was going on in class. In fact, against the odds of his personality, he did his homework frequently. Lily had only seen him in the library a handful of occasions, but somehow he managed to turn in original compositions instead of recreations of Remus' handiwork.
Sirius had always had the rugged good-looks, the natural wit, and the compelling charm. He had been abrasive and rude in the early years, but that had simmered a bit. Lily had always assumed he would turn out to be a conniving womanizer, but by far he'd only dated one girl, lasting over seven months. She had ended it before she graduated last spring, and Sirius had understood.
Maybe that's why Lily had respected him, even through her dislike. He understood. He could pretend to be silly and clueless all he wanted, but he understood more than he let on. He was loyal and trustworthy and caring, overprotective and understanding.
Yes, Lily concluded, it was the understanding that had done her in when it came to Sirius Black.
"Speaking of my dear James Potter," Sirius said a third time, and continued with, "I do believe it's time I finally had a chat with you."
"Oh, dear," Lily said. "Should I sit down for the news?"
"What news?" Sirius asked, perplexed for only a moment.
"Why, that James is pregnant of course! Why else would I be concerned? It's a big change in any man's life, you see. I was worried you would be upset when he told you, but I can see you aren't. I'm glad. Although I should be concerned he told you first, seeing as the child is also mine." Lily was silently proud of herself for that remark, and twice as much so when Sirius laughed, head thrown back and shoulders heaving.
"That was very good, Evans," Sirius said, wiping tears from the bottom of his eyes. "I'll have to tell Prongs that one."
"Prongs?" Lily questioned. She'd heard the nicknames the four used a few times for each other, but she was never sure who was who. James was Prongs she deduced now.
"Just a nickname," Sirius said smoothly. "But seriously for a moment. Please Evans."
Lily resisted the urge to make a Sirius/serious joke. They had ceased to be funny on consensus in Fifth Year, but Lily could hardly pass up an opportunity like this. After stifling it in her mind, she said, "Please, call me Lily."
"But why?" Sirius blurted. "That's just it! I don't understand where all of these changes are coming from! One day, you hate him. The next, you're insisting James call you Lily and he's half over the moon."
"Because times are changing," she said quietly, looking down. "And it's time to put the past firmly where it belongs and accept that maturity is the only solution right now. So I'm Lily, and he's James. I don't think I'll let anyone but professors and those awful Slytherins call me by my surname this year."
"I'm surprised you know so much," Sirius admitted quietly.
"A lot is happening, and I am the main target," she said as softly, raising her eyes to his. "I'm also a bright target."
Sirius laughed again, surprised by how funny Miss Perfect really was.
"Well, call me Sirius then."
"If only you were, then I could," Lily blurted before she could stop herself.
Sirius blinked for a moment, and then laughed along with her. "I thought those weren't funny anymore, eloquently said one night at dinner by a certain bright target."
Lily smiled knavishly. "Now that you've had your chat, may I continue to my books?" Lily asked, feeling silly for asking permission and yet knowing it would count more to Sirius than most people.
"I'm still following you. I need to conquer my fear."
"By all means. I'll show you something your small reading level can handle."
Lily found herself in awe to be getting along with Sirius Black, when they had only spoken on a few occasions, most of which were when James was asking her out in a newly embarrassing way. Once, when Lily had been overly harsh, Sirius had sought her out and reprimanded her. The only other time she'd spoken to him one-on-one was when McGonagall had paired them in Fourth Year Transfiguration.
Maybe she could get along with James and befriend Sirius. It would certainly mark the change she was trying to make in her life and her personality. It would be odd, definitely, and it would be very difficult to accustom herself to. But gaily chatting with Sirius as they strolled to the library, Lily found she could enjoy this change.