It was nearing one o’ clock when Lily finally reached Gryffindor tower.
“Well!” the Fat Lady scolded her as she approached. “And here’s another one. What are you doing out of bed at this hour, Miss. Evans? I expect this from those boys, but not from you. You are a prefect!”
“Yes, I know, I’m sorry.” Lily apologized wearily. “Camomile tea.”
At the mention of the password, the portrait swung open.
“Yes, well, I may need a drop of that to get me back to sleep.” said the Fat Lady, shaking her head. “One in the morning, I ask you…”
Lily climbed through the portrait hole to be greeted by the rest of her dorm-mates, who ran towards her with some relief.
“Hey, you made it!” Mary laughed, pulling her into a bear- hug.
“Only just escaped with my life.”
“And all your food.” Mary noted.
“I couldn’t let you down, could I?”
Looking around the room, Lily noticed that the others had changed into their pyjamas, and in their absence Rachel and Alice had laid out a blanket and cushions by the (still blazing) fire. Now the five of them slumped down onto the blanket, and began helping themselves to food and Butterbeer. Lily leaned against an armchair and began plaiting her hair.
“So,” she said. “That was fun.”
“Don’t rub it in.” Rachel grumbled. “We were here, remember?”
“Don’t worry Rach.” Mary said. “It wasn’t fun, Lily’s being sarcastic. It was a big pain, and all I can say is that Slytherins are idiots. I think it must be the main quality that the hat looks for when it sorts them.”
“It was a bit fun.” Said Elizabeth.
“Okay, a bit.”
Lily laughed, and took a swig of her Butterbeer.
“So, what took you so long Lily?” Alice asked. “The others were back a lot sooner.”
Lily debated telling them about Regulus, but decided that he still deserved her discretion. Even if he was a Voldemort supporter, he was still only a kid.
“I went the long way round.” She told Alice. “Some of them were cutting me off, so I had to take a detour.”
This explanation seemed to satisfy all present, and the conversation turned to safer subjects – general school gossip and how everyone’s holidays would be spent. After a while, Lily thought she’d better go and get changed into her pyjamas, and so she headed up to her dormitory. She had bought a new pair of silky, shorts pyjamas last time she had visited Hogsmeade, and as they were the closest to hand, and their party consisted of only girls, she had no scruples about wearing them. She grabbed a couple more cushions from the bed, and rushed back downstairs.
“Whoo-whoo!” Mary teased, when Lily re-appeared. In response, Lily gave an affected little twirl designed to show off her outfit, before throwing down the cushions and sitting back down.
“Oh, are they the ones you bought last week?” Rachel asked.
“Yeah, they were in the sale at…” a sudden noise cut Lily off mid-sentence.
“What was that?”
“The portrait hole! Someone’s coming.”
Five pairs of eyes turned towards the source of the creaking sound, as the Fat Lady’s portrait swung wide open. There was no-one there.
“Who’s there?” Mary asked, her voice only slightly betraying her alarm. The others jumped to their feet.
“I don’t think anyone is there.” Said Alice, bemusedly. “Weird.”
“It wouldn’t open on it’s own.”
“It did though, didn’t it?”
They looked at each other. Alice raised one eyebrow, and widened her eyes spookily.
“It must be a ghost.” She said – then promptly ruined the effect by giggling. Elizabeth shoved her.
“Shut up.” She said, rolling her eyes.
“It could be a ghost,” said Rachel, reasonably. “The school is full of them.”
A sudden bang drew the girls’ attention back to the portrait, which had slammed shut. They all jumped.
“I think there is someone there.” Lily decided. “Just invisible.”
“Well then, they’re not getting past us.” Mary answered, pulling out her wand. The others followed suit. “I’m not going to bed knowing there’s something invisible creeping around.”
Lily trained her wand towards the portrait hole, while the others pointed theirs to various places around the room. Lily’s hand shook.
“We know you’re there, so you might as well show yourselves.” She shouted into thin air. She was beginning to feel stupid – maybe they were over-reacting. “After three, we’re going to fire.”
“And not disarming spells either. We aim to kill.” Mary told the air, only half-joking. Somebody snorted.
“Ahha, gottcha!” Lily yelled out, firing a jet of red light towards the source of the noise. It ricocheted off something invisible, and hit Elizabeth, who fell to the floor, stunned.
“Wait – stop that thing first! she’s only stunned.” At Mary’s advice, Lily and Rachel shot more spells in the direction of the invisible someone, whilst Alice ran to revive her best friend. A rainbow of sparks bounced off the intended target and rebounded around the room, smashing ornaments and snuffing out candles.
“Wait, wait!” called a male voice, out of thin air. “We surrender!”
“Yeah, stop!” another protested. “Before you bring the whole castle running – crazy lunatics.”
With a flourish, the speaker flicked back what appeared to be a layer of the air, unveiling James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.
“Wow.” Said Rachel. “An invisibility cloak.”
“Cool, isn’t it?” said James with a grin. “Hello girls. You can stop trying to kill us now.”
His eyes took in Lily’s white silk pyjamas and plaited hair, in clear admiration – but he smiled at her, rather than make some remark, as he would have done at an earlier date.
“How’s your friend?” Lupin asked.
“I’m fine.” Elizabeth groaned from the floor, having only just opened her eyes. During this exchange, Sirius’s eyes had been trained on Lily, clearly looking for a sign that she had forgiven him. They hadn’t spoken since their fight, on the day of the last Quidditch match. Lily (who had not nursed her angry feelings towards him) gave him a smile, and he took this to mean that he was forgiven.
“Right,” he said, with his usual confidence restored. “What have you ladies been up to?” He spoke in a level voice, as if nothing exciting was, or had been happening, but the smirk on his face revealed his sense of mischief.
“Yes, this looks fun.” agreed James, grinning and gesturing to the food and blankets.
“It’s a party for Lily.” Mary explained. James looked puzzled.
“But your birthday’s not until September.” He said. Lily smiled inwardly – he knew when her birthday was.
“It’s not at all weird that you know that Prongs.” Sirius said with a grin. James just shrugged, not caring who knew how he felt about Lily. How he used to feel, Lily reminded herself, it’s not like that now.
“What is the party for then?” Peter Pettigrew squeaked. Peter’s hair – too long to suit him as it framed a plump, un-attractive face - was messy and windswept, Lily noted. This drew her attention to the other marauders, who were in a similar state (although James’s hair always looked like that, and Sirius’s ruffled black locks made him look like a rockstar.) She wondered what they had been up to.
“It’s an end of term party.” Lily told Peter, making sure to address him, rather than his friends (as some tended to do.) “Where have you lot been anyway.”
“Nowhere special.” Lupin said quickly.
“Reeeeeally?” questioned Mary, drawing out the word. “At…” she looked at her watch, “half two in the morning?”
“Yep.” Said James. “But how come this is Lily’s little party anyway?”
“Aw, coz she’s sad she has to stay here alone over the holidays.” Mary said, putting an arm around Lily and shaking her familiarly. Sirius’s eyes widened, and James said:
“Oh, well you won’t be on your own. Sirius has to stay for his work, don’t you mate? I’d stay too, but it’d kill my parents if I didn’t see them once in a while.”
Sirius’s nod confirmed James’s words. So Sirius was staying over Easter? Lily’s heart fluttered. A week alone with Sirius, no James, no friends to have to explain themselves to… but no, nothing could happen. She shouldn’t think of it like that. Sirius caught her eyes, and his seemed to smoulder. ‘Don’t think about it.’ She told herself.
“So, are you going to ask us to join you for the rest of this little get- together, or what?” Sirius asked.
“What do you think girls?” Mary said, turning to the others. It was obvious to Lily that Elizabeth and Alice didn’t really want the boys to stay, as despite Alice’s cheerfulness, and Beth’s cynisism, they were both pretty shy. However, they could hardly tell the Marauders to get lost.
“Yeah,” said Rachel. “You might as well stay. Have a Butterbeer.” She added flippantly, as Elizabeth and Alice and nodded their agreement.
“Whoo! Pyjama party!” James whooped in an American accent, and threw himself down on the cushions. Sirius joined him.
“Make yourself comfortable.” Elizabeth muttered, and Lupin (who stood near her) laughed softly.
“Shuffle up.” said Mary, as she sat back down on the rug. “And pass us a chocolate frog.”
The other girls, Lupin and Pettigrew, seated themselves beside the other three. Sirius and James moved along to make space, even if they did take up the most room – both had their legs stretched out obnoxiously, while the others knelt or crossed their legs.
“So,” said Pettigrew. “What do we do now?”
Alice giggled, although she wasn’t quite sure why it was funny.
“Well I don’t know, Wormy!” said Sirius, in a slightly mocking tone, that Peter missed. “We could play a game?”
Lily, on impulse, thumped Sirius (who she had found herself next to) on the arm. She felt sorry for Peter, who she often felt might do better with a different set of friends.
“Ow!” said Sirius, half laughing. “What!”
Lily gave him a meaningful look and then reached over to get another Butterbeer. As she did so she manoeuvred herself so she was instead sitting between Mary and Alice – she was still too attracted to Sirius to sit in such close proximity to him without feeling awkward.
“Actually, we could play a game.” said Rachel. “- Like truth or dare or something.”
“Yeah, let’s play that!” enthused Mary, suddenly excited. “And we have boys, so we can play the version with kissing.”
Lily pulled a face.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“It’s only a game.” replied Sirius, meeting her eyes.
“Right, who’s up for it?” began Mary, kneeling up and taking control. “Hands up for yes.”
Lily kept her hand firmly down, as did Elizabeth. Lupin said -
“I don’t mind either way.”
Everyone else was all for it – even Alice. James, who had been lounging back, resting on his forearms, pulled himself into a sitting position.
“I’m only up for it if the girls all feel comfortable.” He said, gallantly, and his gaze rested on Lily for a second longer than the others.
“C’mon,” Alice pushed her. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
In the end, everyone agreed to playing, although Lily had some serious doubts. What if she had to kiss Sirius? What if she got James? She would just have to pick truth or dare instead – but what if they got her and….. Well there was no use mulling it over. She should just play and try to enjoy herself.
“Right,” said Sirius, draining a Butterbeer bottle and placing it on the floor between them all. “We’ve got kiss, truth or dare – and that’s it because they’re the only ones I can remember. Who’s first?”
“Rachel.” said Elizabeth, shooting her friend an irritated glance. “Because it was her idea.”
Rachel laughed and apologized.
“Okay,” she said. “Although really we should spin the bottle.”
The game got started. Rachel chose truth, admitting to the group that, yes, she had once had a crush on someone younger than her – a boy named Gilderoy two years below them. In the course of the next ten minutes it was also revealed that Alice had once sniffed glue, to see what would happen (nothing had, she was lucky) Elizabeth had stolen a pot of colour change ink from diagon alley (which she still used to this day) and Sirius refused to tell them whether there was anything between himself and Madame Rosmerta (causing Lily a twinge of jealousy). He instead accepted the dare of eating a spider, which James conjured out of thin air. Once the spider was safely inside Sirius’s stomach, the bottle was once again spun, this time landing on James.
“What’ll it be Prongs?” Sirius anticipated, a little too enthusiastically. James thought for a moment.
“Kiss.” he said, and whirled the empty bottle round, with his thumb and first finger. Lily knew where it was going to stop, even before it began to slow. She could feel it, and her heart raced. The nozzle of the bottle came to a halt right in front of her. There could be no dispute over it’s position.
“It’s me.” Lily said, un-necessarily. Mary laughed.
“Wha-hey!” she whooped – she was in high spirits, and somehow her usual tact had gone astray. “Lily and James - the first kiss.”
“A historic moment.” agreed Sirius, again with the same false enthusiasm. Lily blushed – she couldn’t help it.
“Get on with it then!” prompted Elizabeth.
Lily looked at James, who was not blushing, yet his face was full of emotion. She shuffled towards him. She knew it was un-dignified, but she didn’t want this to be romantic. ‘It’s just a game.’ She told herself, yet her heart continued to beat out a frantic rhythm. She reached James and sat beside him, her knees tucked to the side of her, while he knelt, looking down into her face. He didn’t smile, but his warm, hazel eyes stared simply into her green ones. The others started to beat out a drum –roll on the carpet, crying “woooh…” as they did, their voices gaining in volume. Lily turned her head, grinning foolishly, towards Mary, but her Attention was re-gained as James put a hand on her waist. She looked up at him, just as he lowered his face to hers. She closed her eyes.
Their lips met for the briefest moment, and James’s mouth was soft on hers, just brushing against her lower lip and then drawing back, leaving her wanting more. Short but sweet, she thought. Unconsciously she raised her fingers to where James had left his mark, the feeling of his lips on hers. They tingled. Realising what she was doing, she blushed and smiled embarrassedly at James. The others were applauding.
“Shut up!” James told them, with laughter in his voice, and Lily laughed too, shuffling back into the circle. She felt strangely elated. Her mood was brought down however, when she caught sight of Sirius’s face, just feet from hers. It was overcast, as if storm-clouds had settled there, and his grey eyes flashed, with more than their usual menace. If looks could kill….