“Er, Master James sir?” came a meek voice from somewhere around his mid thigh.
James groaned and pulled away from Lily reluctantly. She look flushed and slightly panicked by the interruption.
“It’s okay,” James told her, a note of amusement in his voice. “This is Milly, one of the many fine house elves here at Hogwarts.”
“Oh! Oh, hello Milly,” Lily said a little too enthusiastically. She’d never met a house elf before. “I’m Lily Evans.”
“Nice to meet you Miss,” the house elf curtsied. “Is master wanting anything to eat or drink?”
“No, we’ve already eaten, thanks,” James explained, not really paying attention. He desperately wanted to reach out and press his mouth to Lily’s again, feel her fingertips tap-tap-tapping against his skin.
“Already eaten?!” Milly cried with such gusto that they were both startled from themselves, noticing that other house elves had now appeared.
“Oh master James! You is not supposed to do things by yourself! You should have woken Milly up! She would have helped you!”
“Ah…erm, sorry Milly, I wasn’t thinking.” Not untrue really—his mind had turned to mush about the time Lily had approached him in the Hospital Wing.
“Sorry!? Sorry, sir? Do not be sorry! We should have heard you or waited for master and his young miss.” Lily blushed. “We is knowing you has had a hard day!” Milly squeaked and the other elves agreed emphatically.
“No, no, it’s okay—“ he stopped. “Hang on, what do you know?”
Milly looked uncomfortable and a little scared. “We is hearing some talk while we clean the rooms,” she explained nervously. “We is hearing that master fought Dark wizards!”
The other house elves were surrounding them, looking up at James with a mixture of awe and fear.
“Is…is it true, master James?”
James sighed, staring down at the sea of expectant faces. “I guess so.”
Lily goggled. When it was something as trivial as Quidditch he was so quick to claim glory, but when it was something like combating 6 Death Eaters he would become as self-effacing as, well, as a house elf! But she was beginning to understand that James Potter was not all that he appeared.
A sound of exasperation must have escaped her lips because James turned to face her and she felt a blush rise in her cheeks as his eyes met hers and she felt a pang of longing which overcame her initial hesitation of wanting to lunge at him.
She compromised and sidled up next to him, taking his hand in her own, he complied with the gesture with a slightly dazed expression.
A thought emerged from the cloudy haze and he narrowed his eyes.
”Milly, where did you hear the students talking about this?”
She hesitated momentarily. “They is talking about everywhere master James, but Milly is hearing from the Slytherin Dungeons.”
He frowned. “What did they say?”
Milly wrung her bat like ears fearfully. “Milly cannot say, sir, she is not allowed to spread secrets, we is bound as house hlves…”
James looked as if he might interrogate her further his mouth was half open, ready to ask her more, but his eyes caught the hands on the clock.
“Bugger,” he hissed under his breath. “We’ve really got to get back.” He ducked down to retrieve the Cloak and with one deft movement had thrown it over the both of them, grabbed Lily’s wrist and pulled her out of the kitchen, calling his goodbyes and thanks to the house elves.
The dash back was taxing for Lily not that she was unfit, just that James’ legs were considerably longer than hers and every bounding step he took was three of her own.
The sun was just beginning to rise as they reached the door of the Infirmary; they let themselves in, both panting heavily.
“Next time…” Lily gasped, “you can carry me.”
"Next time?” James replied in mock innocence, his own breathing returning to normal. “Planning for more midnight snacks then?”
She smiled. “Not if you don’t shut up.”
He laughed quietly so as not to disturb the rest of the sleeping ward. He captured her waist in his hands, dragging her towards him, still half expecting her to fight back and hex him. Instead she exhaled a light, free laugh and mirrored his actions, wrapping her arms around him. He marveled at how easy it was just to touch her, to hold her like this.
He wondered idly if it was all just a spectacular dream; if maybe he’d been knocked down by the Death Eaters and was currently drifting away in delirium.
If so, he didn’t want to wake up.
Lily Evans had been an unattainable object for the better part of 4 years. He’d been deflected, rejected and met with icy silence by her, but here she was: in his arms, wanting him.
“We should probably get into bed,” he sighed. She cocked an eyebrow at him in good-natured incredulity. “So it won’t look suspicious.” He added quickly. “Also, they’re going to be awake soon,” he said, inclining his head towards the rows of sleeping students.
She groaned. “I don’t think sleep is going to be an option for me.”
He smirked. “No, not for me either, but if Poppy finds out we’ve been enjoying, er, ourselves, she might think the activity’s a bit strenuous and we’ll never get out of here.”
She nestled against him and he tightened his arms, completely reluctant to let her go. His mouth was saying one thing, but the situation called for another.
“James?” she murmured.
She bit her lip. “D’you think we could make this a regular thing?”
“Lily, are you suggesting more night time maraudering? Surely not.”
She punched him playfully. “You know what I mean.”
“I don’t suppose it would be terribly becoming if I giggled like a schoolgirl.”
“I resent that.”
“Sorry,” he muttered into her hair. “This has been a very strange day. Days,” he corrected seeing the sun stream in through the window. “I’m still in a state of shock, you see. How about I take you out properly instead of making you skulk about the dungeons.”
“I rather enjoyed skulking about the dungeons.”
“I’ve been a bad influence.”
“I’d like to go out on a date—though I suppose Hogsmeade is off limits for awhile.”
He sighed and tensed a little. “Yeah.”
“This is bad isn’t it?—Understatement of the century, sorry.”
“No, you’re right, it is bad and I’ve a feeling it going to get worse.”
She was about to reply when the sound of faint footsteps echoed from outside the room.
“Quick, get into bed!” James ordered.
“You sound like my mother,” she teased over her shoulder as she scampered into bed, shrugging off her robe.
He slid into bed and looked over at her. “I hope your mother doesn’t perform demonstrations smiliar to tonight.”
“Anymore smart arse comments like that and you won’t be either.”
“I’ll shut up.”
She made a derisive noise and the door creaked open. James and Lily grinned at one another and fell down silent.
Madam Pomfrey bustled in through the doors. James rolled and stretched, yawning dramatically.
“Good Morning Madam Pomfrey,” he said brightly, sitting up and adjusting his glasses.
She stopped and narrowed her gaze. “You’re up early Mr. Potter. In all my time of knowing you you’ve never been up before 11 whilst in my charge,” she said suspiciously.
“Well, after yesterday I was pretty exhausted, fell right asleep.” He explained this guardedly, careful not to make himself sound pitiable. “Good night’s sleep makes me feel a lot better.”
She made a clucking noise and returned to her rounds. A few of the younger students were waking up. James looked over at Lily, who was still curled up in bed, giving every indication of sleep. Some how the lingering effect of last nights dalliance were more important than Voldemort or Death Eaters.
Lily stirred from her feigned sleep, she lifted her head from the pillow, just slightly so her titian tresses shivered across the austere white surface. She gave him a wink the corners of his mouth twitched indicating his pleasure.
“Good morning Miss Evans,” Madam Pomfrey said, startling James and Lily both.
“Good morning Madam Pomfrey,” Lily said warily
Madam Pomfrey gave her a benign smile and carried on.
Lily looked like she was fighting the urge to laugh nervously, run from the room screaming and throw up all at once while also trying to hide it all with a quasi-hysterical rictus of what she supposed was a serene smile. James fought down a laugh and started to get up.
Pomfrey noticed the movement, seeing as, of course, she has a third sense and possibly another set of eyes trained to follow the movements of trouble makers. “Let’s see how those scars are healing up.”
He obliged (having learnt his lesson in the second year when he refused to be co-operative and was thus hit with a full body binding curse and left for 4 hours) and showed her his ‘battle wounds’. She made a few disapproving “hm” sounds and judged it to be healing nicely, though she almost seemed disgruntled at his fast recovery.
“Listen Madam Pomfrey,” said James casually as he tugged his shirt back down, “I was thinking it might be a good idea for Lily and I to be released.” Pomfrey glared but James plundered on, bravely and (Lily thought) stupidly. “I mean, we’re both physically fine and you know, seeing as we’re Head Boy and Girl it would be good for, er, school morale.”
She seemed to consider his words with the air of a woman who might implode if prodded any further, but she could, grudgingly, see some logic to his argument. “All right Mr. Potter,” she said tersely. “But I don’t want you to attend classes tomorrow.”
He tried to look just a little perturbed that he wouldn’t have sit through Double Potions and Charms tomorrow. “Can we go now?” he blurted before recovering. “I just think it’s important to get back, for the sake of school morale.”
“Yes Mr. Potter” Madam Pomfrey said with a sigh and a tight, tolerant smile. “I’ve no doubt I’ll be seeing you again before long.”
He flashed her a sunny smile and turned to Lily who had already got out of bed and heaved her bag onto her back hastily.
Madam Pomfrey gave an offended gasp. “I’m not that bad am I?”
A/N: Sorry about the lack of updates, I've written all the way up to chapter 20, but I haven't typed them up yet, I'm currently trying to finish my major works so I hope this can tide you over for a wee bit. Thanks for all the reviews et al and I shall return!