James Potter was leaning insolently against the back of the sofa where Lily Evans sat revising, one hand messing up the back of his already unruly hair.
Lily took a deep breath. And counted… to three… then four… then five. This was the third time he had asked her that same question in as many hours, and her blood was at a slow boil. Turning on the sofa, she pinned him with a fierce, green gaze.
“Potter, when are you going to get it through that thick skull of yours that I wouldn’t go to Hogsmeade with you if you were the last boy left in all of Hogwarts?” She knew she sounded like an old shrew, but blimey, she was exasperated.
James just grinned at her, that slightly lecherous, slightly wicked, slightly adoring grin, and leaned down close until he was eye-to-eye with Lily. “One of these days, Evans, you’re going to realise just how much you want me.”
Before Lily could form a smart reply, he tossed her a wink and spun ‘round, stalking over towards the other side of the room with that unmistakable swagger that was just so… so… so James, flopping down into a squashy armchair across from his sidekick and partner in crime, Sirius Black.
Lily glanced at the two of them surreptitiously from beneath a thick fringe of lashes, trying to make out what they were saying without making it look like she was watching them. Merlin, she thought to herself, that’s the last thing Potter needs, more fuel to fan his ego. But, she did have to admit, in the silence of her mind where no one else could hear, that the two of them did make one hell of a handsome pair. Sirius just had those casual good looks that made nearly every girl in the school go weak in the knees… too bad he went through them faster than a Snitch through the Quidditch pitch. And James… well… James, he was just so bloody sexy.
And Lily would rather sleep with the Giant Squid than admit that out loud.
There were times when Lily could nearly imagine herself giving in and saying yes to James just to see what it would be like to stroll along with him through Hogsmeade… to give him that chance to prove that he’s changed as much as he claimed. But then all the times he’d hexed a random Slytherin, got detention for skiving off in class, and teased and tortured Severus Snape for no apparent reason would work their way into her mind and she’d remember why she’d stood her ground for as long as she had. She’s Head Girl, for Merlin’s sake! She had a reputation to uphold, even if James Potter doesn’t reckon that he should be doing the same with that Head Boy badge pinned to his robes.
Ok, so maybe he’d cut down on the random hexing… and maybe he had ended up in detention a little less frequently… but still. What about all that running around he did with his friends? Disappearing for hours on end… did he really think that she didn’t notice? He might be able to hide it from the rest of the Gryffindors, but not from Lily; she had his number all right.
And if that fact revealed that she was watching James Potter a little more closely than she would like to admit… well… she’d just keep that to herself.
A sharp bark of laughter from across the room snapped Lily out of her reverie. Sirius and James were laughing uproariously over something, earning more than one dark stare from the revising students scattered around the common room. Snapping her book shut, she stuffed it into her bag and grabbed her wand as she moved to stand.
“Let’s go, Potter. We’ve got rounds. Unless, of course, you’d like to stay here chuckling with your little friend. I’d be more than happy to tell McGonagall that you were too busy to go on rounds tonight.” Lily gave James and Sirius one of her sweetest grins, dripping in sarcasm, tilting her head to the side so that a fall of auburn slipped over one shoulder of her robes.
“Damn, Prongs. She’s not even yours yet and she’s already got you wrapped around her finger.” Sirius smirked; he tossed his hair back to reveal fathomless gray eyes, looking up at Lily with undisguised humour, and, was that a touch of appreciation in his gaze?
“Shut it, Padfoot,” James retorted, standing up, his hand automatically going into his hair to rub through the back of it, the black mass sticking up in all directions. “Really, Evans, you reckon I’d miss an opportunity to be alone with you?” His grin was absolutely devilish.
Lily narrowed her deep green gaze before spinning on her heel and heading towards the portrait hole, leaving James standing in her wake.
“Oi! Aces, Prongs. Pure aces. She’s totally in love with you, mate.”
“Sod off, Black.”
As Lily stormed through the portrait hole, she could hear Sirius’ laughter ringing through the common room even as James set off to follow her.
James caught up with Lily a ways down the corridor, and it annoyed her no end to notice that a quick sprint down the portrait-lined hallway didn’t even cause him to break a sweat; Quidditch kept him in damn fine shape, not that she would notice that or anything. He fell into step beside her, playfully knocking his shoulder into hers; he had to bend a bit to do so, which only earned him a deadly glare.
“Oh, come on, Evans, I’m not all that bad, am I?”
Lily stopped walking and just stood there, looking up at him, caught between sheer anger and something like amazement. Did he really just call himself “not all that bad?”
“Potter, are you mad?” Lily asked incredulously. “Did you ever take a step back and look at yourself? Maybe then you’d see what I see, and you’d understand why I don’t give you the sodding time of day.” With a frustrated sound, she turned away from him again, red hair spinning out behind her in an intoxicating sway, and prepared to stalk down the corridor towards the stairs before they decided they were too fickle to stay where they were.
But she didn’t get very far. James reached out and grabbed her arm, gently, halting her motion. When she turned, prepared to blast him with the force of her redheaded temper, she found herself looking up at a very different person. He almost looked… lost.
“Do you really reckon I’m a horrid person, Lily?”
His voice was low, quiet, holding a note of… insecurity. But it wasn’t the tone of his voice that kept Lily from wrenching her arm free of his gentle grasp and storming off. No, not that. It was the use of her first name after years of being called “Evans” that kept her rooted to her spot.
“I… I don’t think you’re horrid, James, but you have to admit, your behaviour does leave a lot to be desired.” At least she had the grace to look somewhat uncomfortable as she said it.
He let go of her arm, the hand, now free, went up into his hair, mussing the unruly dark locks all the more. Lily had always thought that he did it for aesthetic purposes, to make himself look more appealing and cool… but she was beginning to realise that it might be a nervous habit.
“Lily… I… it’s… bloody hell.” He turned away, pacing back and forth like a caged animal, pausing to flick a portrait of an old wizard, drunk on Firewhisky, who had made a very rude comment about students being out of bounds. “Old codger,” he muttered, taking a deep breath and turning to face Lily once more.
“Look, Lily,” he began. “I know that Sirius, Remus, Peter and I get in loads of trouble, and I know that you don’t approve of that, but that’s just who we are; who I am. And I know that you don’t approve of some of the crazy shite I’ve done over the years. Why do you reckon I’ve been trying to change? Have you even noticed that? Hell, I haven’t even hexed Snivellus once this year; I think I’ve exercised amazing restraint.” He grinned that lopsided little grin, and Lily felt a tug in the vicinity of her heart.
“So you’re telling me…” Lily started slowly, “…that you’ve been trying to change… because of me?”
“Evans, everything I do is because of you.”
Lily squirmed at that admission from him, her head falling a touch, her hair hiding the features of her face. Fifteen minutes ago, she was fuming because of his cocky arrogance, and now, here she stood, humbled by his admission, and not certain what to think.
“Lily,” he spoke, stepping closer to her, his voice infinitely soft as he reached out a finger to tip her chin upwards so that he could see her face. Something in that soft voice had her lifting her gaze at his gentle insistence, looking up at him with wide, green eyes. Whatever had happened in the past, whatever nonsense James had subjected her to throughout the years, she could tell that he was being deadly serious with her in this moment.
“Lily, I’ve loved you for almost two years,” James said quietly. “I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve made a bloody nuisance of myself to try and get you to notice me. I daresay you’ve noticed, but for all the wrong bloody reasons.” He paused, a slow grin and chuckle taking his lips. “When I got this Head Boy badge over the summer, I figured Dumbledore must have seen something good in me… and I thought that maybe you’d see something good in me too, not just the sodding arsehole who enjoyed jinxing Snivellus for fun.
“I’ve been trying, Lily; I really have. And, I think I’ve changed. I see life in a different way now. Yeah, I’ll always look out for a good time,” he said, with that arrogant smirk that she was slowly coming to treasure. “And Sirius, Remus, Peter and I will always pull pranks of some sort, but I’m coming to see what’s important… and what isn’t. Fighting this war, that’s important. Finding something good in life, that’s important. Life and love, that’s bloody important, Lily. You’re bloody important.”
He paused for a moment, his eyes seeming to fall into hers until he spoke again, his voice dropping. “And I love you, Lily. I always have. From the moment I first saw you on the train, I knew you were the girl for me. And if I have to spend the rest of this year trying to find a way to prove it to you, I will. Because I’m not giving up on you. I won’t give up on a chance for us.”
She had been holding her breath through his speech, only remembering to breathe again when the finger beneath her chin slid up over her jawline in a tender caress. Her breath shuddered out, a tiny tremor working over her being. Where had all that come from? Where was the James Potter she knew? The pranking, rude, arrogant, obnoxious, barmy bugger that she had gone to school with for the last seven years? He was gone, down the drain like Moaning Myrtle on a bender, and here she was, faced with the mature version of the one they called Prongs.
She didn’t know what to do or say… it was like her tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth with a Permanent Sticking Charm. Her heart was pounding; she felt like she’d just gone round and round the Quidditch pitch on James’ Nimbus 1000. Could she? Should she? What if…
“Lily? Say something, please,” James interrupted her thoughts, his eyes looking like his heart had jumped right into their hazel depths and were begging for some sort of hope.
She looked at him… really looked at him… for the very first time. He was handsome, there was no doubt about that, and blimey, he was sexy. He had eyes a girl could just drown in, and those glasses, Merlin, they just made him so completely edible. But beyond that, she saw something else, something she hadn’t seen in him before: heart. Heart and soul and an honesty that was, quite honestly, refreshing. And if she looked inside herself, was as straightforward with herself as James had been with her, she knew that in some small part of her heart… she loved him too. A part of her always had; it was more than just a simple fancy. It had to have been, or else she never would have cared enough to put up with his constant nagging and endless annoyances for all these years.
Smiling into those deep hazel eyes of his, she stepped a touch closer, tucking her wand into the pocket of her robes and reaching for his hand with one of hers. She uttered one simple word.
He looked so confused that Lily had to fight not to laugh. Reaching up, she cupped his cheek in her hand and stepped that much closer, her voice dropping low as she spoke. “Yes, I’ll go to Hogsmeade with you.”
James’ face split into the widest grin she’d ever seen as his head tipped back and he let loose with a whooping yell of glee and triumph. He wrapped his arms around Lily’s slender waist and lifted her, spinning her ‘round and ‘round in his overjoyed laughter while Lily hissed, “Would you hush! You’re going to attract Peeves, or worse, Mr Pringle!” Even though she was laughing with him, she knew that where one was, the other wasn’t far behind, and their Head Boy and Girl badges weren’t always enough to keep them out of trouble.
He set her down, keeping her close to his body with his arms around her waist, her own hands resting on his chest as she looked up at him, her face alive with emotion and yes… happiness.
“I love you, Lily Evans.”
Lily’s heart swelled as she looked up into James’ eyes, biting down on her bottom lip before she whispered, “I think I may love you, too, James Potter.”
And with that, James lowered his head, brushing his lips across hers in a slow, sipping kiss, the kiss soft and warm and gentle, everything a first kiss should be. By the time he lifted his head, Lily’s mind was spinning as her breath mingled with his… her mind spinning, her heart soaring.
“Come on; let’s go back to the common room,” James said with a cocky grin. “I have a Galleon to collect from a certain mate of mine. Told Padfoot that I’d get under your skin before Christmas.”
Narrowing her gaze at him, Lily smacked James in the stomach with the back of her hand, earning an oomph from James and she laughed as they walked, hand in hand, back to the Gryffindor common room, rounds forgotten…but a life together begun.
A/N: Wotcher! This is my first ever piece of fanfic, so I hope that it pleases! James and Lily are fast becoming one of my favourite ships, so keep your eyes open for some more MWPP era fic coming your way in the future! I want to give a great big thanks to my beta, OHGinnyfan. This fic is ten times better than what it was because of her (POV, anyone?). Enjoy, and please review!
Disclaimer: As always, most of this is JKR's creation, I just play in her sandbox from time to time. Thank you!