There she was, just sitting there, her bottom lip caught between her teeth like she was wont to do. Didn’t she realise what that did to his bloody senses? It drove him absolutely mad, it did. It was a wonder he didn’t fall to his knees before her and declare his undying love right there in front of the whole common room.
Oh, wait. He did that already… sixth year. Can’t be repeating ourselves, now can we?
So instead, James Potter stood in the nook near the stairs, half-hidden in the shadows, and watched the source of all his dreams and desires as she revised. If Sirius caught sight of him standing there, this quiet observation of his obsession would be replaced with one hell of a bloody outburst. Merlin, he’d never hear the end of it. Sodding Padfoot, sometimes he just didn’t know when to leave things be.
Of course, could it be that Sirius was a bit put-out because James had become the responsible one this year? Even Moony was impressed… all because of that Head Boy badge pinned to his robes. Sure, he still pulled pranks; he would always be a Marauder after all, but all of the over-the-line stuff? James steered clear of it this year. It just didn’t hold the same… appeal that it used to.
Maybe Sirius was right. Maybe the badge had addled his brains. Or maybe it was Wormtail who was right… maybe it was Lily who was responsible for Prongs’ great turnaround. But responsible or not, James only knew one thing: He only had one year left to make Lily Evans fall in love with him before the chance was gone for good.
With one of his patented arrogant smirks, he gave a shove off the wall and left his little spot, heading over towards Lily. He ruffled a hand up through his hair as he propped a hip against the back of the sofa she sat upon, grinning down at her with what he hoped was a charming grin.
“Hey, Evans, want to go to Hogsmeade with me?”
He could all but see Lily start to bristle as she sat there, her spine stiffening right there beneath his gaze. She put down her quill and turned on the sofa, fixing him with a hot stare. Oi, how he loved her.
“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?”
Shot down. Again. Blimey, he really should be used to this by now. But damn if he’ll let her see the disappointment flooding through him at her icy tone. Instead, he leaned down until he was eye-to-eye with her, close enough to see the flecks of gold in her green eyes. Merlin, those eyes were gorgeous. “One of these days, Evans, you’re going to realise just how much you want me.”
Without even giving her enough time to formulate a retort, he smirked at her and turned, making his way across the common room to where Sirius sat, watching him and shaking his head. Ignoring his best friend, he fell into the squashy armchair next to him, shoving his hand through his thick black hair.
“You know, Prongs, that was almost as entertaining as the other hundred-and-two times you’ve tried. Brilliant, mate, just brilliant.”
James gave Sirius a quiet glare, a muscle in his cheek working silently, fighting the urge to stick two fingers up at his friend. “Padfoot, you’re an arse, you know that?”
“Course I do, Prongs,” Sirius replied, flipping his wand up in the air and catching it expertly, as if it were an entirely safe thing to do. “That’s why you love me so much.”
James shook his head and just grinned. One thing about Sirius Black… you couldn’t stay mad at the git for very long. His eyes strayed across the common room to where Lily sat, seeming to be lost in her own thoughts, his fingers tapping on the arm of the chair.
“Padfoot, what in the sodding hell am I doing wrong? I’ve tried the direct adoration route; that obviously got me nowhere fast. I tried the ignore-her-while-flaunting-other-birds-in-her-face route; she didn’t even bat an eye. The responsible-James route doesn’t seem to be working either. What else is left?”
James knew he sounded downtrodden and yet that git of a friend of his couldn’t help but laugh at him. “Maybe you should just prostrate yourself starkers whilst singing that Muggle tune they sing to the Queen. What’s it called? Something like, ‘God Help the Queen,’ ‘God Smite the Queen,’ or ‘God Save the Queen’ – that’s it! ‘God Save the Queen’,” Sirius said proudly. “And do it with a rose in your teeth. Hell, I’d go to Hogsmeade with you if you did that, mate.”
The mental image that provided was just too much. James joined in Sirius’ barking laughter, and before long, they were earning themselves some very dark stares from the revising students scattered around the common room. A loud snap caught James’ attention, and he looked up just in time to see Lily snap her book shut and push off the sofa to thump her way over to them. Oi, this is going to be good.
“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.” Her grin was just dripping with sugary sweetness – the kind that spoke of evil intentions – but all James could see was the way her hair fell in that enchanting fall of red waves over her shoulder. His fingers itched to reach out and touch it.
“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? It best not be that he was actually interested in Lily, too. James just might have to beat the git to a bloody pulp if that’s the case. If Lily’s going to hook up with a Marauder, it had best be him – Sirius be damned!
“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?” He knew the grin he was flashing her was absolutely devilish.
Lily narrowed her deep green gaze before she spun on her heel and stormed towards the portrait hole without saying a word, leaving James standing in her wake.
“Oi! Aces, Prongs. Pure aces. She’s totally in love with you, mate.”
“Sod off, Black.”
James took off after Lily, vaguely hearing Sirius’ laughter trailing behind him. Bloody wanker. It was no wonder he could never keep a steady bird.
James caught up with Lily a ways down the corridor, a quick sprint down the portrait-lined hallway not even causing him to break a sweat; Quidditch kept him in damn fine shape, and he knew it. Falling into step beside a bristling Lily, he playfully knocked his shoulder into hers, bending a bit to do so, which only earned him a deadly glare from the object of his affection.
“Oh come on, Evans, I’m not all that bad, am I?”
Lily stopped walking when he asked, pausing to look up at him with something akin to either anger or astonishment passing over her features; James couldn’t decide which he’d rather it was.
“Potter, are you mad?” she 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 started to stalk towards the stairs.
But she didn’t get very far. James reached out and grabbed her arm, gently, halting her motion. She turned, looking like she was ready to blast him with that famous redheaded temper of hers, but she didn’t. She sort of stopped mid-flow, which, silently, James was glad for. At this particular moment, he wasn’t certain he could handle much more berating.
“Do you really reckon I’m a horrid person, Lily?”
His voice was low, quiet, holding a note of… insecurity… and he knew it, but he couldn’t help it. This was the girl he’d loved since Day One. He had to know what she truly thought of him, once and for all. He looked down at her, half-expecting her to shove off again, but she didn’t. She seemed rooted to the spot. James was just a wee bit surprised when she actually answered him.
“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 now-freed hand went up into his hair, mussing the unruly dark locks all the more. He knew that Lily probably hated the gesture, but he couldn’t help himself; it was a nervous habit. Well, most of the time, anyway, he thought with an inner smirk.
“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 a lopsided little grin, feeling his insides twist and turn as he spoke.
“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.”
He watched Lily squirm at that admission from him, her head falling a touch, her hair hiding the features of her face. She shifted from foot to foot as if uncomfortable, making James want to just reach out and hold her; to still her worries and fears and whatever else was going on in her mind once and for all.
“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. He knew it was now or never, everything that his friends ever told him be damned, every bit of advice from Moony and Padfoot and even Wormtail flying out of his mind. What did they know anyway – Moony and Wormtail never had a steady girl, and Sirius went through them like water down a drainpipe. All he saw, all he felt, all he breathed was this girl standing in front of him, looking up into his face with what appeared to be hope in her green, green eyes. Could it really be hope? Could he have really finally won her over?
“Lily, I’ve loved you forever,” 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 he knew was his trademark. “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.”
When he finished speaking, he felt like the weight of a hundred thousand Galleons had been lifted off his shoulders. He had finally got it all off his chest; he’d finally told her everything he’d been holding inside for all these years. And, Merlin, it felt good and… she hadn’t run. She was still standing there in front of him, his fingertip still resting beneath her chin only to make a foray up across her jawline in a hypnotic sweep. I’m bloody touching Lily Evans! The first year inside of him was dancing and swinging from the chandelier in the common room, even while the seventh year in the present was silently holding his ground, staring into the confused and lost eyes of the girl he loved more than his own life.
She was so quiet. Too quiet. It was making James nervous, the longer she just stood there, her body trembling now and again. Merlin… was she gearing up to scream at him? Is that why she was trembling? Oh, bloody hell, he couldn’t take it anymore. His felt his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed thickly, forcing himself to speak.
“Lily? Say something, please.” He knew that his heart had just made the jump from his chest into his eyes for the entire world to see should they want to sodding look… but right now, James didn’t care about the world. He only cared about one beautiful, stunning, send-you-into-apoplectic-fits redheaded, green-eyed girl standing there in front of him. He didn’t bloody care if the entire Hogwarts staff and student body walked by them right now – he was standing here with Lily Evans, laying his feelings all out for her to either take or trample on. What the hell was he thinking?
Just when he was ready to let his hand fall away from her face, rejection already racing through his veins for the umpteenth time and feeling worse than ever before, the girl before him smiled. She smiled so gently, so beautifully, that it damn near stopped his heart. He knew it stole his breath. And what happened next almost caused him to go into shock.
Lily Evans reached out and took his hand before she uttered one single word.
A look of confusion must have passed over James’ face, because he certainly felt confused and unsure in his head. Did she just say what I think she said? Does this mean that she’ll go to… He couldn’t think straight, and Lily was struggling not to laugh at him. Oh sure, fine, laugh at the guy struck dumb in the middle of the corridor. He was just about to make such a comment when she reached up, 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.”
Merlin’s. Bloody. Beard. Was she really touching him? On her bloody own? And did he just hear her right? Did she just say that she’d go to Hogsmeade with him? Lily soddingEvans will go to Hogsmeade with James sodding Potter after all these years? After all the trying? After all the pestering? If this didn’t take the biscuit, he didn’t know what did.
He could feel his face split into the widest grin ever, and he tipped his head back to let loose 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!” But James didn’t care. He didn’t care if Peeves or Pringle or even Dumbledore himself came running down the corridor at this very moment. He had Lily Evans in his arms, and he wasn’t ever letting her go. Not now, not ever. He knew he had her now – he knew for a fact that he’d one day marry this girl in his arms. He knew it, he knew it, he knew it! Just like he knew the sun would rise tomorrow.
He set her down, keeping her close to his body, his arms around her waist, her small, soft hands resting on his chest as she looked up at him, her face alive with emotion and what he hoped was happiness. It certainly looked like happiness to him.
“I love you, Lily Evans.”
Lily looked up into James’ eyes, biting down on her bottom lip before she whispered, “I think I may love you, too, James Potter.”
James’ entire world came crashing to a halt with those nine words. His entire being was reduced to a single pinpoint of light and feeling… right there, right now… existing between himself and Lily. Silently, slowly, James lowered his head, brushing his lips over Lily’s in a slow, sipping kiss. It was soft and warm and gentle, everything a first kiss should be. He hoped Lily felt the same way. By the time he lifted his head, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest even as something flashed through his mind: a quicksilver moment of bright green eyes and messy black hair, coupled with such a feeling of love that James could barely stand it. As swiftly as it came, it passed, leaving James with more than happiness in its wake – he knew he was finally home.
“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.”
She narrowed her gaze at him and smacked him in the stomach with the back of her hand. He gave a soft oomph from her mighty attempt, 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! When my beta, OHGinnyfan, suggested that I write a companion piece to my fic, “Yes,” in James’ point of view, I jumped on the idea. J/L is quickly becoming my favoured ship to write, and this was just entirely too much fun for me. I’m even toying with the idea of writing up their first trip to Hogsmeade together as another fic in the saga, so keep your eyes peeled! I need to give a great big thank you to OHGinnyfan, as without her, I doubt this fic ever would have come to pass. She is just all that, and a bag of Droobles. You rock, beta-mum. Enjoy, and please review!
Disclaimer: Title is part of a lyric from “Yes!” by Chad Brock and is used without permission and not for profit. As always, most of this is JKR's creation, I just play in her sandbox from time to time. Thank you!