‘So what exactly is going on with you and Lils?’ Marlene asked.
‘I don’t know,’ James sighed. ‘She doesn’t hate me anymore, that’s got to count for something, right?’
Sirius emerged from a shower-stall with a towel around his waist. Marlene glanced at him, smiled and then looked away. ‘Like what you see, Marly?’ She rolled her eyes. ‘And yes, Prongs, it does count for something. She turned McKew down.’
‘Good looking Ravenclaw. Your year,’ Marlene said. ‘Quidditch player.’ James gave her a blank look. ‘No? Boys.’ She shrugged. ‘He’s in Lily’s Care of Magical Creatures class.’
‘And he asked her out?’ James asked.
‘Yep,’ Sirius sang. ‘And she said no.’
‘Hang on. Not McKew? Not the bloke she fancied all of last year?’
‘That’s what she told me,’ Sirius said, pulling a shirt on.
‘Lily told you?’ Marlene and James asked in bemused unison.
‘Yes, hence me knowing and you not,’ Sirius said.
‘Did she say why?’ James asked.
‘No. Just that she didn’t fancy him anymore.’ Marlene and James both turned around while Sirius put on pants and then the three of them shouldered their broomsticks and set off toward the castle. James was practically floating.
* * *
‘So do you still hate patrols?’ James asked warily. It was eleven at night and they were patrolling the seventh floor corridor. James’ Golden Snitch floated ahead of them, lighting the corridor.
‘They’re not as bad as I thought,’ Lily admitted. She didn’t look at him as she said it, but she knew he was smiling. James grinned and ruffled his hair which was still damp from Quidditch practice.
‘Padfoot told me about what happened in the library,’ he said casually.
‘What did he tell you?’ Lily asked cautiously.
‘You turned down McKew.’
‘Oh, that,’ Lily said flushing.
‘Yes, that.’ James stopped walking to look at her. ‘Why? I thought you fancied him.’
Lily shrugged. ‘Last year, sure.’ She pulled on a lock of her fiery hair, not sure why she was telling him these things.
She shook her head. ‘Will’s nice and all but I don’t see him that way... He doesn’t seem to cut up about it. I heard he’s with Amelia Bones.’
James looked stunned. ‘But he only asked you out this afternoon!’
Lily shrugged. ‘I said no.’ She looked at him accusingly. ‘Most people would move on.’
‘Most,’ he said cheekily. He caught her hand and they kept walking. ‘But not all. Some can’t.’
‘McKew clearly isn’t one of the “some”,’ she said.
‘Clearly,’ James said. She could feel his warm breath on her face and watched his lips move as he spoke.
‘I know,’ he said looking a little apologetic. Clearly he had misinterpreted her tone. ‘Sorry. Hope,’ he told the Fat Lady.
They didn’t speak as they walked through the portrait hole, but as Lily headed up her to her dormitory, she called back to him. ‘James.’
‘Yeah?’ he said curiously.
‘Don’t be sorry,’ she said. She disappeared into her room before he could comprehend what she had said. Her face was so red it felt like it was on fire and she had butterflies dancing in her stomach.
Her room-mates were already snoring soundly so Lily changed, and climbed into bed, though she was too awake to sleep.
She had been there for fifteen minutes and was no closer to sleep when her dormitory door opened and closed, seemingly on its own. She reached for her wand.
‘Who’s there?’ she whispered, wondering if she should wake the others. She felt pressure on the mattress next to her, and then James appeared, pulling off his Invisibility Cloak.
‘What are you doing?!’ she demanded, lowering her wand.
‘Visiting you,’ he said cheekily.
‘You just saw me,’ she said pointedly. She was perfectly aware of how loudly her heart was pounding and hoped he couldn’t hear it too.
‘Did you mean what you said?’ he asked, sounding anxious. Lily blushed, glad it was dark. ‘Lils?’
‘Please tell me you haven’t been sitting the common room for the last twenty minutes trying to figure it out?’ she asked a slight smile on her lips.
‘I- Did you mean what you said?’ he asked.
‘I- maybe.’ She heard him huff and then mutter something. Seconds later, his Snitch had lit up and his eyes were scanning her now visible face.
‘I said maybe,’ she mumbled, refusing to look at him. He didn’t say anything. She bit her lip, worried she might have somehow upset him. She realised it was very hypocritical of her to start to like him after giving him six solid years of heartache.
She saw his smile flash in the light of the Snitch and then he lay down, making himself comfortable in her bed. ‘James?’ His hand reached out to pull her down next to him. ‘What are you doing?’ she asked a little nervously.
‘Shh,’ he whispered. ‘Some of us are trying to sleep.’ She stared at him in disbelief. ‘What? I’m really quite comfortable.’ She didn’t know whether to laugh, or be annoyed; hadn’t she just basically admitted to fancying him? Shouldn’t he have said something by now? She picked up one of his warm calloused hands and began to play with it, tracing shapes on his fingernails and knuckles.
‘Say something!’ she said after a long moment.
He rolled onto his side, propped up on one elbow so he could look her in the eye. ‘Like what?’ he murmured.
Lily found she couldn’t talk, perhaps because his face was so close to her own, or perhaps because his gaze was so intense; hope, love, anxiety and happiness were all swirling in the hazel depths of his eyes.
Without thinking, she leaned in, closing the distance between them.
James was still for a second, obviously surprised. Then he began to kiss her back, bringing his other hand up to cup her chin. She could feel him smiling against her mouth as he pulled away.
She saw triumph in his eyes, and he grinned as he studied the smile on her face. Hesitantly, he brushed a strand of her fiery hair away from her face. His grin widened as he sat upright.
Lily pouted which seemed to please him more. ‘Love you too, Lils,’ he said, smugly.
‘I can’t honestly say that yet, James,’ she said a little apologetically.
He shrugged. ‘So long as you don’t hate me-’
‘I don’t,’ she assured him. ‘I just kissed you didn’t I?’
‘Did you?’ he teased. ‘My memory’s a little bit hazy...’
‘Git,’ she said, laughing quietly. She kissed him again. ‘Does that remind you?’
‘Seems vaguely familiar...’ James said as he struggled to keep a straight face. ‘Perhaps one more would-’ Laughing, Lily shushed him before he could wake any of her dorm mates; Katelyn was rolling around quite a bit, and looked ready to wake at any moment. James noticed this too. ‘I should probably get back to my own dorm.’
‘So what, you’ve had your fun and now you’re leaving?’ Lily demanded playfully, crossing her arms over her chest.
James looked amused. ‘I certainly enjoyed myself,’ he admitted, colour rising in his cheeks, ‘but I’m more worried about Sirius wondering where I am and levelling the castle in a misguided scheme to find me.’
Lily laughed. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’
‘It shouldn’t,’ James said dryly, ‘You were attached to him long enough to know what he’s like...’ With a mischievous smile he leaned in to give her a quick kiss on the lips. ‘Goodnight, Lils.’
‘Goodnight,’ she said, grinning as he disappeared under his cloak. The light of the Snitch disappeared too, leaving her in the dark. Smiling to herself, she settled under her blankets and adjusted her pillow. A loud crash sounded from downstairs. Frowning, Lily grabbed her wand and slipped out of bed and onto the stairwell outside.
With a laugh, she realised the last half of the stairs had flattened and that James was in a disgruntled heap at the bottom.
‘Are you all right?’ she asked, laughing.
‘Forgot to change,’ he muttered darkly, ‘and the bloody stairs- yes, I’m fine.’
Lily turned back toward her room. ‘Lils!’
James smiled nervously. ‘Will you go to Hogsmeade with me?’
‘Potter...’ she said, pretending to sound exasperated. James looked worried. ‘I’d love to,’ she finished with a smile.
James let out a sigh of relief and then, picked himself up off the floor and headed up the boy’s staircase. Smiling, she slipped back into her dormitory.