Lily sighed as she levitated a bauble high into the depths of one of the Hogwarts Christmas trees. She inhaled deeply, smiling as the woodsy scent of the fir entered her nostrils. She loved this time of year, the atmosphere always made her smile. She turned to pick up another bauble.
“Need some help?” Lily groaned inwardly and turned, bauble still in hand, towards the voice.
“What do you want now Potter?”
“Do you want any help? You know, with the decorations?” He was leaning casually on a nearby wall, grinning from ear to ear, twirling his wand between his fingers.
“No thank you.” Lily turned back to the job at hand, flicked her wrist, and pulled her wand through the air, “Wingardium Leviosa!” The decoration flew up gently and placed itself in a back corner of the tree.
“I always wondered,” James said thoughtfully, “why people ever bother to decorate the back of the tree. Nobody ever sees it so what’s the point?”
“The point,” Lily said through gritted teeth, without turning to look at him, “is that …” Lily paused, desperately trying to come up with a good enough reason to justify it. “Well, it’s as much as I can expect from you, a guy who always takes the easy way out.”
Satisfied she extracted the last bauble and charmed it to also hang in the back. Then with a little smirk at James she picked up her wand and closed her eyes, she would need all her concentration for this.
“Obtestari!” She said, before swishing her wand powerfully. Nothing happened. She growled in frustration.
“What,” said James, “was that?” His voice held a maddening air of superiority and was tinged with amusement.
Lily ignored him, and brought her concentration back to the task at hand. Transfiguration had always been more difficult to her than her other subjects.
She lifted her wand, but was stopped when James reached forward and grabbed her arm.
“What are you trying to conjure?”
“Will you just go away, Potter?” She hissed, pulling her hands away from his, and placing them determinedly on her hips. She looked up at him, and he winked at her.
“Arrgh! Just leave me alone to finish this job so that I can go back to the common room.”
“You’re doing the spell wrong,” James said mockingly, smiling at her through his glasses. “You’re going to blow something up…” He trailed away, before ruffling his hair.
Lily clenched her fists. She hated being told she was wrong, especially by James Potter, and especially when she knew she was wrong as well.
“I will not blow something up. I got an E for my Transfiguration O.W.L.” She turned to him once more, to find he was standing right behind her. He was so much taller than her that she had to crane her neck to look at his face.
“Well,” said James smiling through a shrug, his eyes sparkling. “That is a very good mark, but it doesn’t change the fact you’re going to blow something up. Now what would that do for your record, Little Miss Head Girl?”
Lily scowled at him. “I’ll never understand why Dumbledore made you Head Boy.”
“Well, because I am so wonderful and good-looking, Lily-kins.” He bent down so that they were nearer the same level and she snorted. “It could also be that I got Outstanding in every O.W.L.”
“No you didn’t!” Lily exclaimed in outrage.
“I assure you, I did. Now please will you let me help you?”
Lily debated whether or not to accept his help. Firstly, he was awfully good at Transfiguration and would certainly be able to help her. Secondly, if she let him help her, he would be smug about it for weeks to come.”
“I need a ladder,” She mumbled reluctantly, scowling at him.
“What? That Muggle contraption?”
“What the hell for? Why don’t you levitate whatever you need?”
“If you’re not going to help…” she turned to leave but James placed a hand on her shoulder; she shivered at the contact, before twisting around to look at him.
“OK, OK.” She crossed her arms to show him she was waiting for it.
He closed his eyes, screwing them up, obviously trying to get a mental picture of a ladder. Which, she reminded herself, would be difficult if he had only ever vaguely seen one in a Muggle Studies textbook. She smiled at his expression despite herself, but when she realised what she was doing, she immediately swivelled her head to see if anyone had seen her. However in a couple of seconds, the expression had disappeared and she saw there, resting on the wall was a wooden ladder.
“Thanks Potter,” she said begrudgingly, before picking up a large silver star, and placing it under her arm. She reached for the ladder and straightened it out, panting slightly. The wood was heavy. She braced herself; heights had always been a pet peeve for her. One by one she moved steadily up the rungs until she was very nearly at the top.
“I still don’t understand why you didn’t just levitate it,” James said lightly in a carefree tone.
“Just because, Potter.” She was nearly there but as she got to the top she realised with a jolt that she would have to reach pretty far to place the star on the very tip. She took a deep breath as she pulled the star out, and she reached forwards and placed it lightly on the top. Sighing, she pulled back and wiped her brow.
“Careful, Evans!” She rolled her eyes and began moving back down the ladder, hands gripped tightly on the steps.
She didn’t know exactly how she fell off, but she reckoned it had something to do with getting a splinter in her finger. Nevertheless, with a small yelp she went flying backwards to land in a heap on the ground, right on top of James.
“Sorry,” she whispered breathlessly before pulling herself to her feet and pulling the splinter out.
“I always knew you’d fall for me Evans,” James said, standing up and placing an arm around her shoulders.
“Grow up, Potter!” Wriggling out of his grip, she dusted herself off before completing the spell to get rid of the ladder. “At least I can do that,” she mumbled to herself.
Satisfied with the tree, she turned and started heading back to the common room.
“Hey! Evans, wait up!” James yelled before following her. She rolled her eyes, stopping in the courtyard.
“You waited?” James smiled at her.
“What do you want?” She said exasperatedly as he caught up with her.
“Nothing, just to walk with you.”
“For goodness sakes Potter.” She moved forward but with a sudden jolt she found herself restrained. She turned to look at James but found he wasn’t holding her.
“What?” She pushed her hands forward and found that she couldn’t move past just over a metre radius of the courtyard entrance.
James too looked puzzled for a moment before suddenly breaking into a large grin.
“What?” Lily looked at him, crossing her arms expectantly.
He gestured above them, pointing to something hanging at the top. His hazel eyes were twinkling and he ruffled his hair, waiting for her to put the pieces together.
She looked up, and her eyes widened in horror. There, hanging over the door, was a piece of enchanted mistletoe.
“NO!” she breathed as she backed away from him, but found she couldn’t get very far, due to the invisible wall. “No way!” She shook her head viciously. “No, and that’s final.”
James smirked. “We can’t leave until you do and that’s not me, it’s the enchantment.” He looked extremely pleased with himself and was smiling at her in a very cocky manner.
“Did you plan this?” Disbelief etched into her features.
“No!” James replied indignantly. “It must just be fate,” he said airily, looking down on her haughty expression.
She snorted, “Fate my foot! Tell me how to get out of this!”
“Sorry, flower, only one way.” He puckered his lips in a way that would make any other girl dizzy, but Lily just raised her eyebrows.
“In your dreams, Potter.”
“That’s not all that happens in my dreams,” he winked, at her and then ruffled his hair again.
“Gross, Potter!” Lily opened her mouth in annoyance and hit his shoulder.
“Ow!” James rubbed him shoulder gently. “Whoa, you have one strong arm there, Evans! Ever thought about trying out for Beater?”
Lily shot him a withering look, before extracting her wand and looking thoughtfully at the mistletoe. “Delere!” She chanted with no effect.
“There is no spell to reverse it Evans…”
“Contrarius!” She jabbed her wand at the plant. It merely twitched.
James sniggered, and Lily turned to him, her wand raised and her sparkling green eyes flashing dangerously.
“Watch it, Potter. I’m definitely not in the mood for your games!”
James cleared his throat and stopped laughing, leaving instead an annoying smirk across his features.
“Go right ahead, Evans, but you do know…” he trailed tantalisingly, “that every time you say a spell the space between us gets smaller.”
Lily gasped and felt for the barrier, and indeed it seemed to have enclosed around them a little.
“I am not going to kiss you Potter!”
“Oh come on Evans, you know you want to…” He took a step closer to her, so that her back was against the wall. They were inches apart.
“James?” she said seductively.
“Yes?” He bent forward, so close that she could have counted every small freckle on his nose.
“If you don’t back off, right now, I’m going to knee you where it hurts!” She kept her voice calm and soft, but he sprung backwards.
She pressed a finger hard into his chest. “Don’t you dare try anything! Or I’ll hex you so bad, you won’t be able to walk!”
James backed away, but he was still smiling.
“You’re really beautiful when you’re angry, you know.”
Lily screamed in frustration, before sliding down to take a seat on the floor.
“OK then. We’ll play it your way for now.” With that, he too, slid to the floor, but it was difficult. With such small space they were trapped together, very close.
Lily pursed her lips, knowing full well she couldn’t tell him off for touching her, when the space was so small.
“Can’t you stand?”
James looked offended. “Why should I?”
“Because you’re too tall!”
“No way Evans! It’s your fault we’re stuck here!” With this said, he deliberately pushed out his legs, as far as they would fit, and rested his arms behind his neck.
Lily pulled a face, and tried to inch away from his feet, without much success.
“How is it my fault?” She screeched, looking at him.
“You could easily get us out of this, but no…”
“You’re so childish, Potter! I wouldn’t kiss you even if you were the last guy on Earth,” she paused trying to think of something that would annoy him as much as he was annoying her. She smiled. “I’d rather kiss Snape!”
James looked horrified and he gasped. “Take that back!” His face beheld an expression between great disgust and shock.
Lily tried desperately hard to keep a straight face. “I won’t! Him over a pig like you any day!”
James raised a hand to his mouth, shaking is head, hazel eyes widened.
“That’s disgusting, Evans! I’d be better looking than him even if I’d been attacked by flobberworms!”
“Errgh, you’re so full of it!” Lily exclaimed, sighing in incredulity. “How many times does this have to be made clear to you? It’s not always looks that matter!”
“But Snivellus? Come on, I have better personality than him! Surely you don’t like him?” His face was contorted, still in an expression of complete repulsion.
Even Lily couldn’t hold a straight face to that. “No!” Her voice sounded incredibly high pitched. “I don’t like him!” She shuddered. “What I’m trying to get through to you is that just because you look good, doesn’t mean you’re any better than anyone else!”
“But I am!” James said; having calmed down a little, in the clearing that Lily did not in fact like Severus Snape.
Lily groaned. “Just because you’re good at Quidditch, and have high grades, and look good, doesn’t mean you should abuse it!”
“You think I look good then, Evans?” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“This is what I mean!” Lily exclaimed, raising her hands above her in frustration. “Your ego is so overblown, that I’m surprised you can even see! You go around hexing those weaker than you, and treating people like dirt and it’s not right!”
“It’s all in fun Evans, anyway, I never hex Gryffindors, maybe prank them but…”
“Bullies are said to be cowards,” Lily cocked an eyebrow at him.
“I’m not a bully!” James exclaimed indignantly, but as he said it, his mind involuntarily wandered towards him and Sirius in particular. Him and Sirius hexing the younger students, him and Sirius taunting others and flashing their wands boastfully and laughing at the expense of others.
“I’m not proud of it, Evans,” he said quietly. “But I’m not a coward,” This was said firmly. “And I haven’t hexed anyone once this year,” he added again looking sideways at Lily.
“Not even Snape?”
“We have a grudge Lily, there’s no changing that. It’s not as if he is completely innocent!” James dodged the question.
Lily sighed. It was true, despite James’ humongous ego and confidence; Lily hadn’t seen him hex anyone this year. She didn’t know what to say to that, so she turned away and closed her eyes.
“So Evans, what are you planning on doing these holidays?” James said cheerfully breaking the silence.
“Staying at school,” Lily replied monotonously, her eyes still closed.
“Really? Me too!” Lily didn’t answer, but she shivered as a gust of winter breeze flew past them.
“Hey, are you cold?” James questioned her. “You can borrow my jumper if you like.” He shot her a cheesy grin.
“No, I’m fine,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Really, because you can if you want? Borrow my jumper that is.”
“It’s fine, I’m not that cold!”
“Suit yourself then.”
Lily took in a deep breath of annoyance.
“I’m bored,” James said suddenly, looking up. It was dark already, and extremely quiet. Everyone seemed to have gone to bed. “Can’t you just-”
“Fine then.”James leant his head back on the invisible wall and began singing in a very out- of- tune, chirpy tone.
“Silent Night! Holy Night!
Have to kiss me tonight!
But she’s being really stubborn…
Nah nah naaah, na na-”
“Potter will you just shut it?” Lily hissed. “It doesn’t even rhyme!”
“Whatever you wish, dearest Lily-flower.” After which he promptly shut his mouth and began humming it instead.
Lily groaned and covered her face with her hands. This was going to be a very long night.
“You know, I’ll stop being annoying if you’d just talk to me!”
She looked at him, and plastered a smile on her face. “Fine! What would you like to talk about?” Lily said, in a very false sweet voice.
“You know that Harper guy you dated?” Lily slumped lower down in the space.
“I don’t want to talk about my love life, thank you!”
“OK, just one thing, please?” James said reaching forward to brush some of her auburn hair away from her face. She scowled at him.
“What is it about him, that’s different about me? I mean, you said yes to a date at least with him!”
Lily rolled her eyes, and debated what to tell him. “He asked me nicely,” she said softly.
“I always ask you nicely!” James said loudly sitting up straighter. Lily sat up, too.
“Hey, Evans. Me. You. Hogsmeade this weekend, how about it?” Lily imitated, lowering her voice slightly.
“I did that once!”
“Hey Evans! Go out with me? Go out with me and I’ll never lay a hand on Snivelly here, again!” She mocked once more, crossing her arms.
“From which you replied, that you’d rather go out with the giant squid -- or something to that extent. Not exactly polite yourself are you?”
Lily rolled her eyes.
“He was hanging upside down, undergarments showing to everyone! Talk about humiliating!”
“Are you sure you don’t like Snape?” James narrowed his eyes at her, accusingly.
“Yes!” Lily squealed, pulling a face of disgust. Satisfied, James continued.
“So are you saying that if I were to ask you nicely, you’d say yes?” James’ eyes were hopeful, and his tone quiet and soft. She on the other hand was beginning to get a headache.
“When you grow up,” she replied smoothly, “and when you deflate that ego of yours a bit, then only maybe.”
“I have grown up. I haven’t asked you once this year, and I tried to stop hitting on you too!”
“Like in the hall, just today?”
“Come on, that ‘fall for me one’ is a classic, I just had to say it!” He flashed her a smile. “Plus, I get all weird when I’m near you…” Lily’s face turned pink at this statement, but she overlooked it, ignoring the uncomfortable feeling she was getting from James’ words.
“Well, you haven’t stopped pranking people!”
“Well, I’m a Marauder,” he said shrugging, as if that were an adequate answer.
“You turned Bellatrix’s hair red and yellow just this morning! And she was roaring like a lion, for two hours!”
“Red and Gold, actually. Plus she doesn’t count.”
“And why would that be?”
“Bellatrix Black.” James said simply, emphasizing her last name.
“What’s that got to do with-” she stopped and her eyes widened “No? She’s not related to Sirius is she?” Lily sat up, leaning forward slightly with the realisation.
“Yeah, they’re cousins, and last week she said something rude to Sirius. So you see, she deserved it completely,” James said offhandedly.
“You really care about your friends don’t you?”
“Of course,” James replied looking directly at her. It was the most serious he had acted this whole evening. “You’ve got to stick by your friends.”
“This is a really nice side to you, Potter,” Lily smiled genuinely at him. He shrugged.
“There’s nothing more important than friends or family.”
“Is it true that Black lives with you?”
James frowned, apparently thinking of something distasteful.
“Yes, good thing too, his family are horrible.”
“He lives with us because he left home. His parents are obsessed with purity of blood, and other such rubbish. Sirius doesn’t believe in it. So he lives with me. My parents love him.” He stated simply. “Though secretly, I reckon my mum prefers him to me!”
“So what are your family like?”
Lily looked at him closely. “They’re great. My parents that is. They are both only children, so really they’re all I have. Then there’s my sister, Petunia. She hates me.”
“She hates you?”
“She doesn’t agree with the fact that I’m a witch. So she hates me.”
James was speechless.
“It’s fine really, quite funny actually, winding her up. I turned seventeen in May, so I was legally allowed to do magic at home this summer,” Lily said laughing lightly, with a glint in her eyes.
“Why Miss Evans, it seems that you have a prankster gene in you after all!” James smirked. Lily blushed faintly.
“Nothing terrible, like the ones you do.” She grinned, looking slightly pleased with herself, “Just the odd charm here and there. I hope it won’t be this way forever though. I love my sister.”
“I’m an only child, so I can’t really relate, but I’m sure she’ll come around, some time.”
Lily smiled at this.
“But I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the odd harmless prank, here and there,” Lily smiled, her eyes sparkling with a cheeky shimmer.
“Do tell, Miss Evans,” James said curiously, happy to discover a new side to Lily.
“Well, one time I enchanted her vanity mirror-” Lily stopped at the confused expression on James’ face. “It’s basically this large mirror, on a dresser, it’s a girl thing,” Lily smiled, patting James on the shoulder.
“OK,” James gulped. Lily was unaware of the effect her touch was having on James, and barely noticed as he ruffled his hair again.
“Anyway, I charmed it to make rude comments at her whenever she looked in it.” James bit his lip, smiling. “And she thought she was hearing a critical voice in her head!” James couldn’t help it at that. He snorted.
Lily grinned and shrugged.
“Got any more?”
“Well this particular one was when I first met Vernon…”
Lily grimaced. “He’s this guy my sister was going out with, they’re engaged now, actually.”
“So what is he like?” James asked curiously. He loved learning more about Lily and was very shocked that they were having an actual conversation without arguing.
“He’s a total loser.”
James laughed at this before she continued.
“He’s extremely large, and always wearing this hideous leather jacket, that looks about two sizes too small. He has this incredibly round face, and I think he’s trying to grow a moustache, so his face looks kind of whiskery…”
James pulled a face. “Why did you prank him then?”
“Well, before he found out I was a witch, which comes later, he was always leering at me,” Lily shuddered. “It was totally gross and offensive. Well one time, at dinner, he decided to put his hand on my leg under the table, while at the same time he would be telling my mother how lovely Petunia is.”
“That dirty b-” James said, clenching his fists.
“James!” Lily looked at him, shaking her head.
“Well he got what was coming, and I don’t think he’ll ever grope around again.”
“To anyone other than your sister that is.” James smirked.
“Yuck!” Lily put her hands to her mouth and shut her eyes. “Don’t say that again, OK?
“OK.” James grinned, raising his hands up in defeat. “So what did you do to the guy?”
“Just a little shrinking spell…” Lily looked up at him, she had never told this to a guy before and wondered how he would rect.
James looked shocked. “You didn’t!” His voice was low and scared, as he changed his seating position. Lily, grinning, shrugged.
“Merlin, Evans! Remind me never to annoy you that much!”
“I try, Potter, I try.”
“Did you change it back?” The horror was evident in James’ voice.
“Eventually,” Lily said, her voice ringing, and she laughed.
“OK, sorry!” he lifted his hands up, in defeat. “I have to tell you Evans, I am afraid to hear more of your pranks,” James said, still a shocked expression on his features.
“There was this other one, but not to Petunia or Vernon…” Lily trailed away, and James looked up at her.
“Well, this guy, a Muggle, who lives near me, is always bugging me, I mean seriously, he is worse than you-”
“What do you mean bugging you?” James interjected, his eyes flashing.
Lily rolled her eyes. “I can take care of myself, Potter, even without a wand, but this guy had it coming to him…”
“What did you do? I dread to think after what you did to Vernon!” James shuddered.
“Well, seeing as this guy never groped, I was less harsh.”
James looked afraid of her.
“All I did was affect his ability to hit on me, and other defenceless girls.”
James cringed. “What?”
“Well, it’s a simple curse really. Every time he tried to hit on anyone he would just… burp incessantly.”
James burst out laughing.
“Ones that really smelt too,” Lily pulled a face. “Nobody went near him, for around a week!”
James was still laughing, wiping tears from his eyes.
“Excellent! You have to show that to me!”
Lily pulled out her wand, but James scrambled up. “Not on me!”
Lily smiling, put the wand away, and James sat down again, eyeing her warily.
“Now it’s my turn to ask a question.”
“Sure,” James replied, leaning back. “Ask away.”
“What is with the nicknames?”
“What nicknames?” James replied hesitantly.
“Oh, you know, the Prongs, Padfoot, Moony, and um,” she paused thinking, “Wormtail! Yes, those ones?” She crossed her arms, waiting.
“Now that would be telling,” James said, crossing his arms, too, in imitation.
“Come on, Potter!” Lily pleaded.
“Marauder secret. I never break my word. Sorry.”
“Fine,” Lily sighed, exasperated. “But I get two extra questions.”
James smiled. “Deal”
Lily’s eyes wandered, while she thought of a suitable question.
“What was the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you?”
“You have to tell me!”
“You have to swear not to breathe a word to anybody!”
“Cross my heart,” Lily said, drawing a finger over her heart. She grinned.
“Well, once when we were on holiday, in Greece,” he stopped, looking with pleading eyes to Lily.
“Go on,” she smiled wickedly.
“We were roughing it a bit, because my mum loves to do things the Muggle way. She even confiscated our wands.”
Lily was smiling, “And…?”
“Well, I needed the bathroom, and we were in the middle of a museum tour. But not one of those new ones, one of those old buildings.”
“You know what a museum is?”
“Yes, I do Muggle Studies remember, and I got an Outstanding.”
“OK, OK back to the embarrassing event!”
James groaned. “Fine, well it was just my luck that the men’s toilets had been vandalised and was closed, and the temporary toilet was in use. And believe me, that guy was not coming out any time soon; so there was no other place for me to go, well except…”
Lily opened her mouth wide, smiling at the same time in a very shocked grin “No…”
“Yes!” James covered his face with his hands.
Lily clapped her hands together, laughing. “There’s more, right?”
“Well my dad wanted me to wait, you know male pride and all, but my mum told me to go, if I was so desperate. Which I hate to say that I was, because I had just drunk possibly around three bottles of water.”
“What! Why?” Lily spluttered.
“Well, it’s hot in Greece, and I couldn’t quite handle it, so…”
“Ha!” Lily was in her element.
“So I snuck in when my dad wasn’t watching, Sirius gave me such a hard time, before I went in, some nonsense like I would come out gay…”
Lily laughed harder. But suddenly she stopped.
“Sirius? What was he doing there?”
“Oh, sh-” Lily gave him a look. “Oh crap.” James said sarcastically, glaring at her.
“What year was this in, Potter?”
James mumbled something, to which Lily encouraged him to repeat louder, so that she could actually hear it…
“Christmas holidays in sixth year, OK!”
Lily collapsed into a heap of giggles, her shoulders shaking with laughter.
“Last year?” She breathed through her fit.
James sulked, shooting her a glare.
“Is there more?”
“Haven’t you heard enough?”
“No way!” At this James frowned at her, and desperately tried to avoid eye contact.
“Well, when I went in, and can I just add that women’s toilets are so much more nicely decorated than mens’,” from which caused Lily to snort, “and I relieved myself just fine. Then this old women comes in and starts yelling bloody murder about me being a pervert! Then she grabs me by the ear, and pulls me out of the room and takes me to the security desk. My parents had to come and get me. Sirius was laughing for weeks. Still does actually.” James finished, his usually composed expression disgusted and his skin flushed a telling rouge colour.
Lily couldn’t stop laughing. She was laughing so hard that she had a stitch in her stomach.
“Are you finished yet?”
Lily bit her lip, and after letting out a few more giggles, she nodded.
“One more question.”
“A quick one, because this one was so unfair!”
“All right. What do you want to do with your life? I mean after Hogwarts?”
James sighed. “OK, this one I can answer.”
Lily smiled, and nodded at him to continue.
“Well, I want to be an Auror, obviously but I have a feeling that my training may be delayed.”
“Why is that?”
“Voldemort,” he stated simply. Lily gasped.
“You said the name!”
“There’s no point being afraid to say his name. I’m not trying to act unafraid at all. In fact I’m petrified about it, but doesn’t mean I won’t fight for what’s right. Like I said I’m not a coward, and I’m not afraid to die. Obviously I don’t want to die but sometimes these things happen,” he shrugged.
Lily looked at him curiously. She knew of course by now, that James wasn’t all he seemed to be. He had, in fact, even been keeping up to par with his Head Boy duties but she never thought it possible for him to been this mature about anything.
“But hopefully, I won’t die, and then I can start a family, you know,” he blushed ever so slightly at this, when he looked into her eyes. “What about you?”
“Well, I still haven’t decided, really,” she flushed, “but I’m going to help with the fighting.” She placed a hand up to stop James protesting. “But other than that, I don’t really know, there’s too much I like to do.”
“You’re good at everything, so you’ll be fine in finding any type of job.”
Lily blushed and shrugged.
“What’s your favourite colour?”
Lily looked up. “Why?”
“I just want to get to know things about you.”
“Purple. It’s so typical, but I can’t help it! What’s yours?”
“Green,” James said softly, looking at her. She couldn’t help but notice her heart beat just a fraction or so faster.
“Tell me,” she said, breaking the awkwardness she felt. “If you were stranded on a desert island without magic at all and you could take one belonging of yours there, what would you take?”
James took a second to answer. “At first, I would have said my broom, but you said no magic, so…” he paused again. “I would take a chessboard,” he said finally.
“A chessboard?” She looked at him sceptically. “You do know there would be no one to play with!” She shook her head with astonishment.
“OK, let me explain.” She sat back, intrigued, listening. “Well, chess is all about strategy. Every move counts, and there are hundreds of combinations of moves, which all in all effect whatever happens in the game. Therefore, I figure it’s just like life.”
She tilted her head at his explanation. “I never thought of it in that way before.”
James shrugged and then continued. “So if I was going to be stuck, then I could figure out all the strategies and ways of thinking, it would really help with life. Plus,” he added with a grin, “That way I could get good enough to beat Sirius. He is just too damn good at it!”
Lily laughed. “I’ll have to play both of you sometime, I like some competition.”
“What about you? What would you take?”
“A book,” Lily replied simply. “Yeah, I know it’s not deep as yours but, I love reading, it would pass the time away.”
“Fair enough,” James said laughing. “Lily?”
“Please, wear my jumper, you’re shivering.”
“No, you’re not! And you had a cold last week, so you should so that you don’t catch it back.”
“How did you know that?” she wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or flattered that he took notice of her that closely.
“You were sniffling, and sneezing all day! I tried to offer you some of my grandmothers special soup recipe but you didn’t want it remember?”
Lily snorted. “I thought it was a prank!”
“Well, that’s all very well, but if we’re going to stay out in the freezing cold, I insist that you wear my jumper!”
“You never give up, do you?”
“Nope, I’m stubborn too.” And then he grinned.
“All right, just give it to me then,” Lily said lightly, rubbing her arms, which by now were covered in goose bumps.
Lily watched as he lifted his jumper up over his head, pulling his glasses askew. She tried very hard also, not to look at his body, but she couldn’t stop herself from blushing.
“Here,” he said passing it to her and correcting his glasses. It was a Quidditch jumper of some kind and extremely big for her. She smiled as she pulled it over her head.
“Better?” James smiled at her, and she shrugged.
“Won’t you be cold?”
“Nah, I’m tough, I’ll be fine.” She rolled her eyes once again at this comment but smiled all the same.
“No problem, Red.”
“Did you just call me Red?” she blinked.
“Yeah?” James shrugged. “It’s a cute nickname, and it’s meaningful too.” She narrowed her eyes at him.
“How is it meaningful?”
“You do have the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen.”
“Oh, please! That is such a line!”
“Well, with you, I mean it!” He said trying to twirl a strand of it around his finger, but stopped at the look she was giving him. He grinned again and ruffled his hair.
“Why do you do that?”
“That thing with your hair!” she paused, exasperated. “It’s so annoying!”
“Nervous habit,” he beamed at her, and she ran a hand through her long tresses, thinking. “But now, Red, you need to tell me your most embarrassing secret. It’s only fair!”
“Nothing embarrassing ever happened to me!” Lily said looking away.
“Yeah right, Evans! Don’t be a baby!”
Lily looked very affronted but gave in. “You tell my secret, I’ll tell yours…”
“Whatever we say stays secret,” James said, and pretended to zip his lips.
“Even from the other guys?”
“OK! I never break a promise, remember?”
“Fine. Well it was just after I’d gotten home for the summer holidays-”
“Hold on, what year?”
Lily glared at him. He smirked. “Come on…”
“It was last summer, OK?”
James smiled, gesturing for her to continue.
She took a deep breath. “Well I went out for a run in the park, when I saw Mark in the distance-” She paused seeing the confused look on James face. “-He’s an old boyfriend, a Muggle. Lets just say it didn’t end well between us.”
James’ lip curled at the mention of an old boyfriend but he said nothing.
“Well, he had his arm around this other girl, and it didn’t really bother me, but I looked a complete wreck, you know?”
“Yeah right!” He looked at her disbelief.
“It’s true! I hadn’t brushed my hair, and I was wearing this brown, very run down jumpsuit, which incidentally was sweaty, because I was going for a run.” She pulled a face at the memory and scowled at James’ smile. “So I didn’t want him to see me, obviously, so I hid behind this tree.”
“Because that’s normal!” James’ said raising his eyebrows at her.
“Shut up! Well here comes the embarrassing part. Remember you swore. Not a word!”
“Yeah yeah, get on with it,” he exclaimed impatiently.
“Well this stupid dog decided he wanted that tree, too.”
James snorted. Lily glared.
“So when I didn’t move, he decided to just relieve himself anyway…” She groaned, shuddering. “And when a dog does that you can hardly help yelling out right?”
She shot him a look, but James was bending over in silent hysteria.
“Well right. So then Mark hears and walks over to me with his blonde bimbo. And says to me ‘I guess Eddie here likes you a lot, Lils’ before walking away, laughing his head off. I swear I have never been more embarrassed.” She shut her eyes in a pained expression.
“I don’t think you’d ever have smelt that bad either!” James said, taking his glasses off to wipe his eyes. Lily grunted, leaning back to endure his taunts. She had, after all, done the same to him, so she could hardly complain.
“Hey, I have another question to ask you,” James said cheerily, after he had finished laughing.
Lily rolled her eyes, but threw a small grin. “Fine, go ahead.” She would take any conversation topic to pull away from that memory.
“Why did you have to put the star on the Christmas tree by hand?” James asked curiously.
Lily chuckled to herself, looking out to the stars in the sky. “It’s just a family tradition, really. I didn’t think it was right to do that last bit by magic. Some things are just special, you know?”
“Yeah,” he replied looking at her wistfully, “definitely.”
She looked at him, trying to shift his admiring gaze from her. It made her uncomfortable.
“James? Is it really true the only way to get out of here is to,” pausing, she flushed, “kiss?”
“I wasn’t lying, it’s completely true.”
“Just because I found you’ve changed a little, doesn’t mean I’m going to kiss you.” She pouted, crossing her arms. She ignored the part of her that was by now, intensely attracted to him.
“I’m not asking for a snog, Red, a kiss on the cheek, I’ll do it if you want.”
Lily hesitated slightly at the use of the nickname, but chose to ignore it. She stood abruptly, the jumper hung from her, and reached mid-thigh. James stood too, and he towered over her. He ruffled his hair.
“Nervous habit.” She heard his voice in her head and smiled despite herself. Then, taking a deep breath she reached up, onto her tiptoes and put her hands in his hair, and then pulled him down slightly to her level. He was breathing very heavily. Without wasting any time, she placed a soft kiss, on the corner of his mouth, lingering slightly. Her heart fluttered, and she stepped back, eyes still closed. Reaching around her, she found the barrier to have disappeared. Blushing she looked down at her feet.
“You know James, there may be hope for you yet.” And with that she turned and walked to the other end of the courtyard, and disappeared into the main building.
James stood still, still under the mistletoe, grinning from ear to ear.
He punched the air in triumph.
A/N So what do you think? Please tell me!
Apologies because I didn’t know when Lily’s birthday was, but I wanted her to seventeen by the summer so…
Also- much thanks to my sister (Pink Lizard) for the song Lyrics, and Katie for the beta-ing… *grins*