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About Last Night

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 Lily glanced down at the watch on her wrist, rolled her eyes and chuckled quietly to herself. Typical! He was 15 minutes late and had dared mock her for being late last night? She would give him hell when he finally arrived.

They’d planned to meet in the Park by Spinners End at nine, Lily had picked it knowing it would be completely deserted, even in the most blissful of summer days families tended to avoid this place.  The rumours surrounding the types of people that lived around there were prolific and mostly true, but honestly Lily didn’t mind it. The park itself wasn't bad, it reminded her of being a kid and it would be nice to make new memories in the place so tainted by the company she used to keep.

It was shocking how quickly the weather had changed. The blazing, aching heat from the last few weeks had dissipated as the new day rose, the clouds up above giving way to the significantly cooler air, a breeze of clarity. It was getting dark, looking as if it were likely to rain at any moment, it made Lily nervous and she just hoped it would hold off until she was safely back at home.  

The child’s swing she had perched on was creaking under her weight, groaning as she repeatedly shifted her weight back and forth from the heels of her feet to the tips of her toes, rocking in a slow rhythm in synchrony with her breathing.

Lily thought, for the hundredth time that day, about the events of the night before and considered every possible scenario for how this conversation could go. 

It was going to be fine, of course it was! It hadn’t been that bad. In actuality it had been great, amazing even. The memories of them together and laughing and teasing and … It was good. It was so good.  So then why was he avoiding her?

The anxiety she had been pushing to her peripheral all day was culminating, the wait killing her. Where the fuck was he?

Her swinging sped up.

She would give him ten more minutes and if he wasn’t there by then she would go home and he would seriously regret standing her up.

Ten more minutes. That was all. 

Simply to pass the time she reached into the pocket of the too big, borrowed jacket and pulled out the crumpled cardboard box that had been stowed away in the lining. It was a nasty habit, a terrible one. She knew that. She absolutely was not a smoker - not really, not normally, only when she was drunk and only around those terrible influences. If she relented she would have to run straight to change and brush her teeth as soon as she got home so her dad didn’t smell it on her.

But she had one more night of freedom. One more night of weakness.

She doubted James would even notice if one was missing.

It would be worth it.

Ultimately giving in to the yearning in her throat and the rising anxiety in her chest felt better than she ever could have imagined. Plucking out a cigarette, lighting it with her wand and bringing it to her lips brought her more relief than she cared to admit.

She relished in the feeling of the smoke filling her lungs and burning the roof of her mouth. It was so good she closed her eyes against it and she held her breath, holding onto the taste longer than she normally would.

It tasted like the night before. It tasted like giddiness and freedom and only half funny jokes. Like a few too many drinks and teenage recklessness.

Like the summer. Like him.

As she exhaled, freeing the smoke from her lungs, she found her nervousness escaped her too. 

It would be good. It had to be good. 

“Those things’ll kill you, you know?” A gruff voice said from the shadows.

She hadn’t heard James approach, too wrapped up in her own memories, and so jumped slightly at the interruption. 

Lily started laughing a second later, trying her hardest to catch his eyes as he approached. “They absolutely won't.”

James didn’t raise his eyes to meet hers in the way she’d expected. In fact he didn’t raise his eyes at all. He just walked, hands in jean pockets and head ducked to the floor, towards the swing beside her.

She’d expected him to make a comment about the jacket and she’d wanted to taunt him for being so late but found all words trapped in her throat.

He looked tired, weary, she could see the tightness in his forehead. Hangover? Or something worse.

He took a seat on the swing beside her, instantly shifting her weight in the same way as Lily. Heel to toe, back and forth until he was rocking at pace just out of time with her.

Lily had beamed when she’d seen him, but her smile dropped even quicker than it had come.

The silence between them was piercing, and she could feel the tension radiating from his hunched shoulders. 

Lily swallowed back the panic that was rising in her chest - she had to cough against it to clear her throat.

Maybe this wouldn’t be as straightforward as she thought.

“So.. erm… about last night…”


 

England had never known a summer like it, not in her lifetime at least.

The entire season had been uncharacteristically warm but August in particular had been exceptionally so. Not only had it played host to the hottest summer day on record but had consistently welcomed temperatures exceeding twenty-five degrees, a feat rarely seen on account of the traditionally temperamental British summer time. The air was constantly thick and sticky, the once luscious grass of suburban gardens and parks were now dry and dead, severely yellowed due to lack of rainfall; and yet Lily Evans had never enjoyed a summer more.

The last two months had been full of laughter and growth and friendship and all of the joys that came with coming of age. she could drink now (legally) and she’d learnt to drive (badly) and she had said yes to every opportunity for fun she could in an attempt to make the most of her last summer of freedom. It was hard to believe that this time next year she would no longer be a Hogwarts student but an adult, a real one, with a real job and real responsibilities and probably a house and erg, the thought made her feel a bit sick… although that could very possibly have been her near constant hangover too.

As tended to be the case with all good things though, the summer was quickly coming to an end. All she’d seemed to do was blink and suddenly there were just two days left until the start of her seventh year and Lily was facing her last moments of liberty.

All that being said though she was excited to go back, just not prepared to give up the suntan she’d become so accustomed to.

Despite her pasty complexion typically disallowing any prolonged exposure to the sun, a potion she’d bought in Diagon Alley was doing just the trick. Instead of the painful, pink sunburn that typically graced her skin after a second in the sun, Lily found herself sporting the first tan of her life, as well as innumerable new freckles adorning her shoulders and face and tops of her thighs.

It suited her, if she did say so herself.

In an attempt to enjoy her final full day in the sun and prolong the bronzed tone her skin had taken on, Lily had made a makeshift bed in the garden using blankets and pillows so she could bask in comfort. She had also carefully set up wards to hide her from the view of her nosy neighbours, allowing her to freely wear nothing but her favourite two-piece swimming costume and use magic to hold her book in front of her face.

The warm air was a thick blanket around her and buzzing insects and neighbourhood chatter mingled together into nature's lullaby – really, it was remarkable Lily managed to keep her eyes open as long as she did. Before she’d even finished the second chapter, she was snoozing amongst the grass, the afternoon waning, using her new History of Magic textbook as a pillow (a much better use for it, if you asked her).

“LILY!!!”

She jolted awake a while later. Gasping against sleep as it was ripped away from her by the shrill yelling of her sister

“LILY!” Petunia screamed again; she was standing at the back door with her arms folded across her chest.

“What?”

“PHONE!”

Lily groaned as she jumped up. Still groggy from sleep, the action was a little too quick, causing a headrush so severe she staggered in her rush to get inside.

She could feel her sisters judging eyes on her, sizing her up, disapproving of her less than modest attire but as was her nature, Lily paid no mind and instead rolled her own eyes and rushed past her to the hall.

“I wish you didn’t give your freaky little friends our phone number,” Petunia spat under her breath, though not quiet enough to pretend it wasn’t supposed to be heard.

“Yeah well, I wish you hadn’t given your boyfriend the address.”

Petunia huffed loudly at that and muttered something under her breath. Lily smirked to herself. She was well past accepting her sisters bitter comments without retaliation.

“Hello?” Lily greeted as soon as she’d reached the telephone table and lifted the receiver of the family rotary phone to her ear.

“Evans!” A familiar male voice replied, “I really think your sister is starting to warm to me.”

“Yeah, is that so?” Lily mused happily, she was smiling widely in response to his greeting.   

From her seat attached to the telephone table she could see Petunia busying herself in the kitchen, she was making herself a cup of tea both slowly and purposefully - she was very clearly listening.

“Uh, yeah! She only scoffed once. Once Lily!”

“Wow really? That is an improvement.”

“I know! I’ll marry her yet!”

Lily laughed loudly and absentmindedly began twisting and untwisting the coiled telephone wire around her finger. She thought about it for a second, the pairing so odd that even her imagination couldn’t fathom it. “Oh yeah, she’ll be Mrs Potter before we know it.”

James began laughing then too, the signature loud and contagious laugh that could belong only to him. Even down the patchy receiver the noise made Lily’s stomach flutter. 

“What do you want then, Potter? I was having a lovely nap before you rudely interrupted.” 

“A nap? It’s almost five o’clock in the afternoon, woman!”

“Is it? Shit!”

Catching sight of the nearest clock proved him right. Quarter to five already? She’d slept for far longer than she’d meant to. She’d have to start getting ready soon if she wanted an uninterrupted shower. She really wasn’t in the mood to fight Vernon for the hot water.

 “Going back to school is going to kill you, Evans. You’ll have to nap in your frees.”

“As if I didn’t do that before.”

James was chuckling down the phone again. “Well, anyway. I was just ringing to ask what your plan was for tonight. Me and the boys are probably going to go down in the next hour or so, but considering you’ve been lazing the day away, I assume you won’t be ready by then.”

“Hmm well, I spoke to Mary earlier and I think the plan is for me to pop over to hers at about six thirty and the pop over to the Leaky together by 7.”

“You’re apparating?” James asked, well versed in Lily’s ‘muggle speak’ by now. “How are you going to apparate? Mary didn’t pass her test.”

“Side along.” Lily replied, as if it were obvious. 

“Bloody hell, Lils, you’re brave. If you miss tonight because you splinched your best mate I will never let you live it down.”

Lily tutted loudly down the phone. “You have so little faith in me Potter. I’ll see you in a couple of hours. All limbs attached.”

“I hope so. Tell Mrs Potter I miss her already.”

She looked over at her sister, she was swinging on the back two legs of her chair in an attempt to better see Lily talking. She wasn’t even trying to be subtle anymore, clearly craning her neck to nose into the conversation.

“I will.” 

Lily was laughing to herself as she carefully placed the telephone back in its holder, something she always seemed to be doing when talking to James. He brought out a hysteria within her that very few people could, the rest of the boys were funny, sure, especially when they were all together, and Mary often had her laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe, but there was something different about the effect James Potter had on her. 

“Having fun there, Tune?”

Petunia tutted and let the front two chair legs crash back down onto the herringbone laminate. She didn’t acknowledge the eavesdropping and looked for a moment as if she was going to stay silent as Lily passed. Lily really hoped she would. 

“I hope you plan on putting some more clothes on before Vernon gets home. No one needs to see that much of you.”

Urg. Lily had managed to cross the entire room, and even had one foot just outside the door before her sister spoke. She had planned to collect her things and run into the shower before anyone else got home, her father would be back in 15 minutes and Vernon five minutes after that, she didn’t have time for this, not really…

"Why?” She asked despite herself. “Are you afraid he’ll see how great my tits are and leave you?”

  Petunia’s teeth bared, her cheeks and eyes flashed red. “He would never leave me for a freak like you,”  

Lily smirked. She was always so quick to bite, could never take as well as she gave. It was hilarious really. 

“So you’re not disputing the great tits part? Good to know you agree” 

“You are such a child!” 

“And yet you’re the one spying on people while they’re on the phone.”

This seemed to stop Petunia in her tracks. Whatever she was about to say next seemed to halt in her throat but before sensibility could overrule curiosity she “I thought your sort didn’t have telephones anyway, why do they keep calling the house?” 

“You mean wizards and witches, Tuney?” Lily said and quietly revelled in the way her sister flinched at the words. “They’re not dirty words, you know that don’t you?”

The two stood glaring at each other for a moment then, Lily waiting for more snarky comments and Petunia snarling but otherwise staying silent. She clearly couldn’t be baited any further, and Lily had to be honest with herself, she was disappointed.

“You’re getting soft in your old age. Well, wizards don’t use phones normally. You know Mary is like me, from a muggle – erg okay fine – a normal family and James is just…” One of a kind, an exception to every rule, learned to use the phone purely to annoy me. “Well, his parents are really progressive, so they wanted him to learn our technology.”

“Humph. Freaks”

She took that as the end of their conversation and went about gathering her belongings outside.  

Lily was a nice girl, honestly she was! She was nice to everyone, she would smile in corridors and say her pleases and thank yous and make sure everyone around her was as happy as they could be.She never used to bite back at her sister, never used to bite back at anyone. A nice girl who was kind to everyone and just smiled against the harsh glares and audible snarls and comments of “freak” and “mudblood.” A nice girl who wasn’t rude to adults and apologised even if she wasn't in the wrong.

Nice people get niceness back, that's what her mother always said. 

Yet, where had that got her? Her sister still hated her. Her oldest friend still chose the wrong side. Her life was still in danger every time she stepped out her fucking door. She was still despised for her blood status and still forced to fight in order to prove herself. 

None of that would change just because she was nice to someone. The last 6 years of her life had taught her that. 

And so she’d stopped being nice to people who didn’t deserve it in fifth year, stopped sitting back and letting people walk all over her and wouldn’t stand when people like her were hurt or cursed or bullied into silence. She’d stopped excusing shitty people and their shitty behaviours just because they were friends or relatives.

And anyway, it was way more fun like this. 

It was already after half past five by the time she’d showered and so Lily was thankful for her extra helping hands to cut some corners while getting ready.

She used her wand to dry her hair and used liberal amounts of Sleekeazys instead of attempting to straighten her mane another way. Lily smiled to herself as she slathered the potion over her roots. She’d found herself almost overrun with bottles of the stuff this summer, after a house party at the Potter’s.

James had been groaning on and on about how much he hated the potion, rolling his eyes at her attempts to defend it.

“Honestly Lils,” he’d said. “It’s more hassle than it’s worth. Plus I heard the guy who invented it is a proper arsehole.” 

Lily wasn’t having it, even going as far as saying she owed the inventor far more than just her galleons for inventing such “life changing magic”. 

James and Sirius had then proceeded to laugh for a solid 25 minutes at the colour her face turned upon discovering she had inadvertently offered a blowjob to James’ father. He’d overheard and Lily seriously wondered if it was possible to die from embarrassment. 

Mr Potter gave her about 50 bottles to soothe her humiliation and assured her it was fine. Regardless, she would never set foot in that house ever again.

She managed to do her makeup pretty quickly, and the impulse fringe she’d cut herself at the start of summer was finally starting to behave. It was all going relatively smoothly until she actually had to get dressed.

Rifling through her wardrobe she found she had absolutely nothing she liked. She dressed and undressed and redressed countless times over. At one point she was this close to calling Mary to tell her she wasn’t going. Why did she never have anything to wear?

But finally, after shimmying what very well could have been her eleventh outfit of the evening and narrowly avoiding a breakdown, she was happy, comfortable and ready for drink.

She rushed around the house like a madwoman for ten minutes in an attempt to collect herself everything she owned. 

She hopped around on one foot with little to no grace in an attempt to get her boots on and had to search every room in the house for her purse. 

“You look like a slut.” Petunia snarled as she passed Lily, plus purse, in the hall.

“Oh thank you!” Lily gasped. She flashed a bright white smile at her sister, and clutched her chest in mocking sincerity. “That’s so nice of you to say.”

She shouted to her dad that she loved him and told him not to worry when asked if she wanted the door leaving on the latch, afterall she had her ‘ special key ’ for that.

“Seriously, I'm off now! See you all tomorrow!” Lily yelled as she slammed the door. She slipped quickly into the alley adjacent to her house, checking for signs of life before getting ready to apparate. 

She was only fifteen minutes late, that was pretty good. 

She arrived at Mary’s house relatively optimistic that they’d make it almost on time.

Her mother answered the door, greeting her and promising that her daughter was almost ready.

But Mary was not almost ready. 

As it turned out Mary was having the very same struggles as Lily had had half an hour earlier but hadn’t really avoided the breakdown. Her room resembled that of a battle site, tops and shoes and dresses and skirts slew around the floor with no regard.

“What about this?”  Lily suggested, pulling a red skirt from the pile of castaways she was using as a seat.

“Erg, no. It's disgusting.” Mary scoffed, though she hardly paid a glance to it

“It’s yours and you wore it last week.”

“Well then I can’t wear it again! 

Lily rolled her eyes, narrowly avoiding a shoe to the head as Mary continued throwing her wardrobe over her shoulders.

“I hate everything I ownnnnn,” 

“You’re so dramatic.”

By the time the pair of them were actually fully dressed and were walking through the cobbled street leading up to The Leaky they were really, really late. 

“Erg,” Lily groaned, “why does the apparition point have to be so far away from the pub.”

“Seriously Lily? It’s like a 2 minute walk. You’ve spent the last god knows how long shouting at me for making us late and now you’re walking a snail's pace.” Mary complained, pushing her black curls over her shoulder to look back at Lily condescendingly.

“I'm wearing heels! They’re hurting my feet.”

“Transfigure them then.”

“I can't. They’re part of the look.”

Mary huffed loudly, and although Lily was almost one hundred percent sure she was joking, she sped up away. 

They heard the boys before they saw them.

Sirius’s bark-like laughter and James’ loud jokes could have pulled them out of any crowd alone, but they were both so tall, a head and shoulders above most of the crowded bar and they looked, dare she say it, groovy in their matching dragonhide jackets and boots. 

They were standing at the small bar in the centre of the room, laughing loudly, joking with the barmaid and sipping the pints of mead in their hands.

Lily found her face splitting into a smile and excitement flutter in her chest - she’d missed them.

James spotted the girls first, catching their eyes as he threw his head back in laughter at something the pretty blonde was saying. His face lit up as he watched them approach, his smile taking up almost his entire face.

He nudged Sirius quickly who reacted in almost the exact same way. 

“Ah! Look who finally decided to show up!” Sirius exclaimed. 

The girls reached the bar quickly and as soon they were close enough, James reached his arms out, scooping Lily into a hug so strong she was momentarily lifted from the ground. She reciprocated quickly, wrapping her arms around his neck and giggling in his ear. His embrace was sweet and warm, he smelt like leather and some potion she’d encountered in Slughorn’s classroom many moons ago.

“We were starting to think you really had splinched yourself.” James joked, putting her back on the ground quickly. “Over an hour late Evans, you’ll never be a good Head Girl with those time management skills.”

James dodged the punch she aimed at his shoulder with irritating ease. Damn quidditch players.

“Not my fault! Blame Mary for taking about six years to put on a pair of jeans.” And though her words were defensive, her smile was kind-hearted.

“No. My teeny tiny little friend would never.” Sirius joked.

Mary just stuck her tongue out in response, but was cut off before she had the chance to retort. At the mention of her name, James shot her a knowing look before reaching forward and grabbing her by the middle, picking her up and spinning her around in a full circle.

Mary was much shorter than Lily, barely breaking 5 feet and despised how short she was - especially compared to the boys. This was something she had made the terrible mistake of telling James the last time they’d seen each other and so now he was taking great pleasure in placing an arm on the top of her head and pretending to use her as a leaning post.

“How you doing, short arse?” Asked James, already laughing.

But Lily didn't hear the rest of the conversation. Sirius had reached her, slinging an arm over her shoulder and planting loud, sloppy, exaggerated kiss on her forehead.

“You’re in a good mood!” She noted, linking her arm around his waist. 

“Well of course I am, Lilster, today’s a great day!”

“Yeah? Why’s that?”

“My Uncle died!”

It was a good thing Lily hadn’t had a drink in her hand yet, because she somehow managed to choke on her own shocked laughter so hard she had to gasp for breath. 

“Ex- excuse me what?”

"My Uncle’s dead.” He repeated, as if that has been the problem.

Lily looked to James for help who just winked and laughed and gave no further explanation. 

“And that's.. Good?”

“Yeah it’s class! Hardly knew the guy. He was blasted off the tapestry years ago. But, for some unknown reason he named me and one of my cousins in his will and so we got the lot. There’s a house, a shit tonne of gold and I don't even have to pretend to be sad because I haven't seen the bloke in ten years!”

“Oh, that is good.” Lily said bemused. “Tonight’s on you then.” 

“Only for you my little flower.” 

“Ahem!”

“And you Mare-Bear.”

Despite the business of the bar, it didn’t take long for the group to get served. 

“Rosie my love,” Sirius began, leaning ostensibly across the bar. “Can I please order these lovely girls some drinks.”

“Of course, what can I get ya?”

“The ginger wants a double redcurrent rum and soda and the little one - ow! - she wants a Dragonscale. And I would like another bottle of Firewhiskey and a snog?”

The girl called Rosie rolled her eyes and laughed. “Dream on honey. Any particular flavour Dragonscale love?” She asked, directing her gaze to Mary.

“Shortsnout if you have it?” 

James led the way back to the table once they’d all gotten their drinks. Lily wasn’t far behind, following his lead while also listening with amusement at Sirius and Mary bickering in tow.

“Come on Mare, let me have a sip.” 

“Absolutely not.”

“I paid for it.”

“Don’t care.”

Lily smiled and rolled her eyes. She quickened her pace to catch up with James and nudged his arm with her spare hand. 

“Your children are fighting.”

“Our children Evans, I’m not being lumped with them.”

They’d almost reached the table, Lily could see Remus and Peter tucked away in a booth. They were laughing, eyes watering from the hysteria. Peter was practically doubled over and Remus snorted in his attempt to catch his breath. This only made them laugh more. 

“At least those two are playing nice.”

The table was cluttered with innumerable empty glasses, all stacked precariously on top of each other. There was also a bottle of Firewhiskey already on the table, half finished, amber and glistening, the liquid swirled around the bottle of its own accord. Danger wrapped in gold.

“You girls look nice!” Peter said, still fighting back against his laughter. 

“Thanks Pete, you too!” Lily had noticed that predictably, the pair were also in their dragonhide uniform and although they didn’t quite pull it off in the same way James and Sirius did, they still looked cool. “What’s funny? You two drunk already?”

“Nah, i’m fine. Can’t say the same for Lightweight Lupin over here though.”

“‘Cuse me, ‘m not even drunk!” He might have been convincing if he hadn't slurred every word. 

“Mmhmm, sure youre not.”

They started with a round of shots, cheersing to the summer and the year ahead.  Between the 6 of them this easily finished the first bottle of whiskey and made a small dent in the other one. Mary pulled a face of disgust as she drank and Remus gagged against it, Peter had to chase his down immediately with his pint of mead and Sirius’s eyes were watering despite trying his hardest to pretend that he liked it. It was only James and Lily who swallowed down the liquid gold with no problems. 

The whiskey burned, sure, but in the most pleasant way and within seconds Lily felt as though she was glowing from the inside out. The top of her head to the tips of her toes tingling with warmth. 

She locked eyes with James as the others choked around them, he smiled and winked and gently kicked her under the table. 

In the dim light of the bar she could see what other girls saw in James. He was effortlessly attractive, with his unruly hair, and nice lips and bright eyes under his glasses. His skin wasn’t perfect but it somehow suited him and he had a smile that made him  always look like he was up to something, which, to be fair, he usually was. 

He’d gotten tall in their fifth year, sprouting up like a vine in the space of a couple of months, but since getting that quidditch captaincy last year, he’d really filled into himself. He wasn’t lanky, skinny and ninety percent limb anymore, but broad and toned and fit in his stature.

Even as he sat, leaning back in the booth they shared Lily could see the buttons of his skirt straining slightly over his chest and the way he gripped his glass exposed his veins.

The warmth inside her intensified. 

Yep, she could see why other people would find him attractive, nice to look at, sexy even -.

“Lily! You in?”

She agreed blindly. She didn’t know who suggested it but before she could even blink Lily found herself in an intense and increasingly personal game of Never Have I Ever.

It started with easy ones, like “never have I ever had sex” and “never have I ever had a wet dream” in which everyone drank. 

“E’ryone, ask Pete who his was ‘bout.” Remus yelled at a volume far too loud for their proximity.

“Go on then wormy, don’t be shy.” 

If looks could kill, Remus would have been dead on the floor. The table waited with baited breath and when Peter said nothing, Remus told them anyway. 

“S-seriously Peter? You had a sex dream about McGonagall?” Lily shrieked, so loudly Peter launched himself over her, throwing a hand over her mouth to shut her up. This only had the group laughing louder. 

“Fine, my turn.” Peter said, still scowling deeply. “Never have I ever thrown up on someone while I was snogging them.”

This shut Remus up quickly enough.

James went next, smirking as he said “never have I ever said the wrong girls name during sex.”

Sirius drank, winking to the table as he did so.

“Sirius you are such a dog!” Mary exclaimed through her laughter. 

“Oh honey, you have no idea. My go. Never have I ever offered someone sexual favours in exchange for a win at gobstones.” Sirius said, staring straight at Lily and handing her the bottle of Firewhiskey before he’d even finished the sentence.

“Oh Lily!” James gasped as if he hadn’t witnessed it. “My poor dad is going to be heartbroken.”

Lily aimed a kick under the table but drank her punishment anyway. Everyone laughed around her, and although she was trying her hardest to stay stern and sulky, it was only seconds later that she was laughing along with them. 

“That really is your go to, isn’t it Lil.” Mary said, “I don't know if I should be grateful or disappointed you haven’t offered me head for something yet.”

“Disappointed… obviously.”

The night began to blur from then on, laughter and jokes mingling together until suddenly Lily looked at her watch and it was almost midnight. 

The whole bar was reverberating with noise as everyone around her forgot how to speak at a regular volume. Certain voices carried louder than others like Sirius complaining about ‘some dickhead’ at the bar or Remus declaring adamantly chat he was not drunk. Everyone was suddenly funnier and clumsier, their speech was slurred and their steps stumbled.

Lily wasn’t much better herself, the edges of her vision had become fuzzy and her cheeks were aching from the constant laughter. Her ears were ringing and the tingling she’d felt earlier was stronger than ever.  She was standing at the bar, watching the madness unfold in front of her. Happily observing her friends 

Remus sat alone in the booth, head slumped and eyes shut in what had to be a very uncomfortable slumber while Sirius, Peter and Mary were dancing wildly, madly, terribly. Spinning around and jumping on the spot like children at a disco. 

It shouldn't really have been a surprise that Mary found the only wet patch of floor in the place and slipped and fell- she wasn’t exactly the most stable at the best of times. Peter always said that her center of gravity must be off with her being so short but her arse so big. 

Lily wasn't sure what was funnier, watching her Mary collapse to the ground or the boys attempts to get her back up. They were equally unsteady on their feet and had been for hours, but watching them both try their hardest to stand while also leaning madly on each other… like the blind leading the blind leading a drunk toddler. 

And Lily just watched the whole scene in hysteria. She had to grip onto the bar to stop her from falling to the floor herself. She found herself looking around for James, expecting him to be near, but as she thought about it, she hadn’t seen him in a while. 

She decided she would go find him, knowing instinctively where he was. 

The bar had become uncomfortably hot with all the dancing strangers pressed up against each other, warmer even than the searing sun that afternoon. It was therefore a great relief when she stepped outside and a cold burst of air hit her face; the sun had finally set and the heat from the day had dissipated with it.

There was a coolness to the air now, nipping at her exposed skin, mingling with the sweat on her arms and face and legs and scalp in a way that made her cold to the touch almost instantly. 

It wasn’t pleasant and while the alcohol in her system had made her more resilient to the new extreme in temperature, it was still awful. Her hair had begun to cling to the back of her neck, she had to roughly push stray strands away from her eyes and fan her hand in front of her face in a half-arsed attempt to preserve the makeup she was mostly convinced had been sweated off entirely.

Lily spotted him as she did this.

He was alone,  sitting the wrong way on a bench in the far corner of the small courtyard, back against the table and eyes closed in a serenity she’d hardly seen of him. He was spread out across almost the whole bench, his legs anchoring him and arms resting on the table behind him. He looked so effortless, like he belonged there, like he was the only person in the world. Like the world revolved around him.

This seemed to take Lily by surprise, she didn’t think she’d ever seen him like this. He was always on the go, running as if powered by a motor, buzzing around, emanating energy from his very core. Yet seeing him there sat completely alone, quiet and still? Well this had Lily smiling to herself for reasons she could not explain. Just another number on the list of things she couldn’t explain to herself when it came to James Potter.

She approached the table quietly, not wanting to disturb his moment of peace. As she walked, she watched as James raised a newly lit cigarette to his lips, took a long, measured drag and held the smoke without opening his eyes. She watched his shoulders relax as the smoke escaped from his lips.

“Those things’ll kill you, you know,” Lily said lightly when she was close enough.

James chuckled lightly, “they absolutely won't.”

He hadn’t flinched at her approach, nor seemed shocked that she was there. Maybe she hadn’t been as stealthy as she’d thought.

“Oh really? The great James Potter is too invincible for lung cancer?”

He opened his bright eyes and turned them to look at her, he flashed his signature cocky grin in her direction. He nodded his head in invitation and watched intently as Lily sank down, claiming the little space left on the wood as her own.

James hadn’t moved an inch except for the slight head tilt and so Lily was forced to perch right next to him, thigh against thigh, arm against arm. She could feel the heat coming off him, despite the dropping temperatures he was acting as a human radiator, doing nothing but drawing her nearer to him.

“Of course I’m not going to die of lung cancer, Evans, that’s so boring.”

This made Lily laugh loudly. He always had a way of coming out with the last thing she expected.

“Alright smartarse, how are you going to die then?” Lily countered. She reached across James’ body, smirking as she claimed the cigarette as her own.

“Well, Evans,” he began, stretching his hands out in front of him, “I’m obviously going to die saving the Wizarding World.”

Lily had just inhaled a large amount of smoke into her lungs, rendering her mute but her eyes must have portrayed her scepticism adequately, because James laughed and continued.

“I’m serious! That prick is gaining momentum and I’m not about to sit back and let him. I’m going to fight! The boys too, I think.” He’d sat up straighter as he’d spoken, clearly emboldened by his plan. He reached and stole the dwindling cigarette back and Lily was interested to note that his expression was no different to his normal. Happy, gentle, calm, and utterly inappropriate for the topic. “So yeah, I’ll put up a good fight and I’ll go in a blaze of glory I reckon.”

  Lily scoffed, laughing in disbelief at his relaxed take on the subject and the readiness to which he had his answer. He’d clearly thought about this before.

  “How can you talk so casually about death?” She asked, swinging a leg over the bench so she was straddling it, able to see James’ profile much better this way.

  “I’m here for a good time, not a long time, Evans. Plus, as Dumbledore always says, to the well organised mind, death is but the next adventure. Or some shit like that.”

  They laughed together for a moment, passing their light between them and letting it burn into their entire bodies. After a happy moment of quiet James said, “your turn Lil,” and changed his sitting position to mirror hers.

  It was an extremely unrefined moment, his gangly limbs almost causing him to topple the whole table over and, in his haste, he accidentally kicked her thigh, but as he settled and let his eyes fall on hers the inconvenience hardly seemed to matter.

  “You! You're going to be the death of me!”

  “Come on, real answer!” James said between cackles of laughter.

  “Oh, I don’t know,” Lily groaned, “old age?”

  “Boring!”

  “Boring?”

  “Yes! Boring!” James exclaimed, still laughing softly. Lily was starting to think the alcohol was making him giddy, but swiftly remembered too many instances of a giggly, sober James laughing down the phone with her this summer. She liked that this was his natural state

  “Go again.” He probed, nudging her knee with his. 

  Lily sat and thought for a second before answering, considering several, extremely unlikely answers including a convoluted dragon taming accident to being kidnapped by the Giant Squid (it definitely had a thing for her), but ultimately she decided to answer truthfully, because it seemed that James had.

“Car crash,” she said, and enjoyed the look of shock that momentarily crossed James’ face. “I may have massively exaggerated my driving ability, but if you tell anyone I will kill you.”

“I knew you lied about being a good driver.”

“Some say lie, others say slightly exaggerated truths. I’m inclined towards the latter.” 

The corners of James’ mouth turned up again, his eyebrows raising as he hummed in amused skepticism. “Slightly exaggerated in the same way you insist you don't smoke you mean?”

“I have no idea what you're talking about,” Lily said with a smirk, bringing the burning bud to her lips. She took a drag and spoke as she exhaled the fumes. “I don't smoke.”

James let out a breath of amusement, his smile widening to flash his teeth. “Oh, I’m so sorry, my mistake. The cigarette in your hand must have thrown me off.”

Lily opened her mouth to retort but suddenly found her brain devoid of any quick comebacks. James had begun laughing, properly laughing and she couldn’t help but laugh along too. In fact, her heart soared as she watched him, sitting there in his most natural state, eyes bright and cheeks dimpled and glasses slightly slipping down his nose. His hair was a mess - as it always was - and yet his hand stayed firmly at his side, he hadn’t run his fingers through it or ruffled the roots, it simply lay where it fell, covering his forehead and curling at the back; it was nice that way, wild and free. All of this allowed for an air of confidence and ease and a touch of cockyness to radiate off of him like sunbeams and Lily couldn't understand how she had ever seen it as a bad thing. He was James, just James, and there wasn’t a thing about him she wished would change. 

“Ha, some Head Boy and Girl we're going to make” James mumbled after he’d calmed himself down. “We’re probably going to have to stop getting drunk in the middle of the week and smoking every chance we get.”

“No, we just need to stop getting caught.”

“I knew there was a reason I liked you.”

Her next sentence was cut off by a sudden blast of wind that caught Lily off guard. It was really starting to get cold and with the absence of amber liquid and a dwindling flame in her hands she found the effects harder to ignore. Even though she tried to suppress it, she shivered violently. 

James offered her his jacket with chivalry befitting of a Gryfindor. Lily had tried to decline, adamant she wasn’t cold but had to admit defeat as another gust of wind hit her. 

She’d never worn dragonhide before, but instantly understood why the boys loved it so much. Despite the jacket being far too big for her, it seemed to contract and mould to her body, like someone was wrapping her in silk. It also smelt amazing, like fresh leather but muskier and warmer - though she was half convinced that was just the smell of James. 

“I have got to get myself one of these,” Lily exclaimed excitedly, running her hand against the soft, supple scales. 

“I’m sure if you ask Sirius nicely he’ll get you one.”

She thought about this for a second, imagining it before gasping excitedly. “Ooo, does this mean I can be an official Marauder? Do I get a nickname?”

“Oh no. My sweet naive little Lily, it’s not just about having a nickname and funky jacket. Being a Marauder is a state of mind.”

Lily spent the next few minutes trying to convince him she was Marauder material, but James wouldn’t budge. As the conversation began to end, the pair sat in their identical poses, quietly enjoying each other's company without the need for fillers.

James pulled out another cigarette, lit it with his wand and took a drag. He passed it to Lily before he’d even exhaled and she gladly accepted. They stayed like that for a while, stealing glances and smiling among smoke. Their knees kept bumping against each other. They continued passing the burning ember between them.

At one point, James - emboldened by drinks and smoke and simply his nature - grabbed Lily’s hand and started playing with her fingers. He stroked from the tip of her middle finger, past her palm to her wrist. He would stroke his thumb against the back of her hand before turning it over to resume his tracing, fingertip, palm, wrist and back again. 

The motions simultaneously tickled her skin and sent flames burning through it. 

It felt natural, nice. It felt natural, nice. It felt easy, because it was. 

She didn’t know why she spoke when she did; the silence was nice and she was enjoying being mesmerised by the repetition of James’s hand on hers, but for some reason she suddenly felt like she had to say it. In that moment she needed him to know that she trusted him. That she was proud of him. That despite all they do to tease and taunt she was glad they were friends. Really glad they were friends. 

“I think you’ll be a good Head Boy, as much as it pains me to admit.”

“Careful, Evans, that almost sounded like a compliment.”

“Well then you'd better listen carefully then because it’ll never happen again. You, James - whatever your middle name is- Potter, will be a fantastic Head Boy because you're actually an alright person, okay okay - you are a really great person, and a fucking incredible friend. I have never met anyone who does as much for their friends as you do. You took Sirius in like he is your literal flesh and blood. You write the most comprehensive class notes I've ever seen just in case Remus ever needs them and you tutored Peter every night for six weeks so he could get that Outstanding in Potions and you never ask for a drop of credit. We are so lucky to have you.”

It had all tumbled out of her mouth quickly, like if she said it faster and louder it would make more of an impact - and it clearly did. 

James had gripped her hand tighter, doing everything in his power to avoid Lily’s gaze. From the illuminations of the streetlight and spattering of stars above she could see that he was blushing. Was he embarrassed? Bashful?

“Hmm, thanks.”

“Your turn.”

"What?” James asked in confusion, spluttering slightly as he finally raised his eyes to hers again. They were still the same, lovely and big and as captivating as ever, but the rose in his cheeks seemed to deepen the colour, they seemed to be getting darker with every passing second.

“It’s your turn! Say something nice about me!” Lily joked, nudging him hard and waggling her eyebrows at him. It was difficult to keep her tone light and airy when she was finding herself increasingly breathless. 

“Oh do I have to? It's so hard to think of anything.” James groaned sarcastically, he beamed as he spoke and so did she. He really did bring giddiness out of her.

“You're an arsehole.”

“Yeah I know. Okay fine, let me think. You, Lily - whatever your middle name is - Evans, are one of my favourite people in the world and the most genuine person I have ever met.”

His dark eyes were boring into hers. The sincerity in his face would have made it impossible to dispute what he was saying, even if she hadn’t known he meant it. 

She thought he was done but he wasn't.

“When you say thank you, you really mean it, you are genuinely thankful for everything everyone does for you.”

She could feel herself leaning in closer to him, she could see the imperfections on his face now. She’d never noticed the dragon pox scars on his nose before, Or the freckle on his lip. 

James’s voice had lowered, both in volume and in tone. Did she imagine it, or did she just catch him staring down her top?

“I think you’re really funny, and so stupidly kind you're brave and strong and passionate. You say I look out for my friends, and I do, but you look out for everyone.”

The things he was saying were that of which she’d never heard before. He was talking about things she didn’t think people noticed or often worried that they might not even be  true. She felt like, for the first in her life, she was being seen for the person she tried so hard to be. Not Lily Evans the Mudblood, or Lily Evans the Freak. Just herself, no conditions. 

“You’re obviously incredibly beautiful, and only you could cut yourself a fringe and suit it.”

She was getting warmer. Was it the jacket? Was that the heat radiating from James’s torso heating her up? Or was it the heat from her own cheeks burning at his words. 

“I know you’re going to be the best Head Girl in the history of Hogwarts because you fucking rock and everyone loves you.”

Her heart was racing and she felt like she couldn’t catch her breath again. She hadn’t moved, yet she felt like she’d been running for miles.

James looked flushed too, his breathing had swallowed significantly too and his hands over hers were shaking slightly - likely from the cold. He licked his lips. His eyes wandered again.

“Ohh and I almost forgot the most important thing.”

“Yeah?” Lily whispered. Heat had risen from her very core through her entire body, she was blushing, she was sure of it, she could feel her pulse beating in her cheeks and hear it in her ears. “And what would that be?”

“You have the best tits ive ever seen.”

It happened so quickly then. The sentence had barely left his lips before she had thrown herself at him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck and slamming her lips onto his. She didn’t think about it, she couldn’t think of anything except the fact that she wanted - no, needed - this to happen. 

She grabbed his face, feeling James’ stubble underneath her palms, her fingers finding themselves already tangled in the hair at the nape of his neck. 

James reacted almost immediately, grasping the collar of his own jacket to pull her closer. 

His breathing hitched.

They were rough and desperate; all tongues and wandering hands and pulling hair and breathy gasps. All firewhiskey and smoke.

After a minute James all but dragged her into his lap. As she sank down, straddling his hips they both made simultaneous whines of relief. Lily could feel his erection against her and the friction of his jeans against her core had her eyes almost rolling back into her head. 

Her fingers moved to his untamable, mad hair that somehow always looked like he’d just gotten off a broomstick. It was so much softer than she had expected it to be.

She could feel James’s glasses against her face, and yet the way James had knotted his left hand in her hair, tugging lightly and angling her face towards his made it impossible to care.

His other hand didn’t seem to know what to do with itself, flitting between grasping her arse and climbing her back and dipping under her top to stroke the skin underneath. 

Lily pulled away for a second, breathing heavy and heart racing but had no time to catch her breath. James’s lips had moved from her mouth to her jaw, to her ear, to her neck, sucking and nipping at her skin. 

She whispered his name. 

Her hips moved on their own. 

“Fuck Lily.”

Maybe he really was going to be the death of her.

The noises James had made and the way his hands had tightened their grip on her was delectable. She didn’t care that they could be seen, she didn’t care that it was indecent, she just rolled her hips so he would do it again.

It was amazing. He was amazing. 

She could have stayed like that for days, weeks, months even, and maybe she would have if they hadn’t been forced to stop. 

“JAMES! Are you out here!” Peter shouted. “Thank fuck, there you - Oh. Shit, sorry!”

They pulled apart reluctantly at the first call of his name but they didn't move far. Lily pulled back just far enough to catch a look at James, flushed red, lips swollen and chest heaving, in that moment she would have done anything to ensure she never stopped being the one to reduce him to this.

“What?” James replied bitterly. 

Peter looked between the pair of them, eyes wide and mouth hanging open before shaking himself, he at least had the decency to look apologetic before blundering on regardless. “Remus is being sick everywhere, I’m pretty sure Sirius is about to glass someone and Mary is crying hysterically. I need your help. “

“Shit, okay we’re coming.”

It felt like she’d been doused in cold water as they seperated, her legs felt like they could collapse under her at any minute and James didn’t look much better. 

Peter led the way back inside, filling them in on what they’d missed but Lily wasn’t listening; James had just grabbed her hand one more time and squeezed it tightly, as if to check she was real. 

She’d just kissed James, and he’d kissed her and all she could think about in that moment was that she wanted to do it again.

She was wrapped up in her own head,  barely registering how the whole atmosphere in the bar had changed. They must have missed last orders because the lights were on again, bringing everything into the light. It was no longer jubilant and the tension in the air was palpable. 

Mary was hunched over in a seat by the door and Lily instantly pulled her into a tight hug and allowed the brunette to cry hysterically on her shoulder.

“What happened?” Lily mouthed to Peter, who simply shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

They heard Sirius then, shouting, mocking, laughing in the face of the ‘dickhead’ from earlier. They were chest to chest and yet Sirius was looking as cocky as ever, despite having a wand at his jaw.

“Wormtail, go deal with Remus,” James called over his shoulder, already striding towards Sirius.

Mary was still weeping and Lily held on tighter as she watched transfixed as James stepped between the two men. The older wizard was shouting obscenities and attempting to pull James into the argument but was firmly. Instead he pushed Sirius back forcefully and grabbed his friend by the collar of his jacket and dragged him towards the courtyard he’d only just vacated.

Lily heard him growl “what the fuck is wrong with you” to Sirius as he passed them.

"Right Mary, what’s wrong? What happened? Why are you crying.” Lily asked now able to fully focus on her friend now that the threat of someone being cursed had reduced. 

“I don’t k-know. I just want to - to go h-home.” She got like this when she was drunk, weepy and inconsolable. 

“Okay, we can go home. Let’s just find the boys and we can get the Knight Bus.”

“NO!” Mary wailed, “I don't want to get the bus, I just want to go home, we can floo, p-please.”

Despite knowing that spinning through the Floo with the amount of alcohol in their system was a bad idea, she couldn’t sit and listen to her friend weeping and wailing any longer. She’d call him in the morning and explain why she left.

“Okay then, lets go.”


She woke to her dad pounding on her bedroom door with unnecessary force. She groaned loudly which he took as a sign to come in. 

“You alive?” He asked jovially.

“No,” Lily groaned into her pillow, unwilling to lift her head and open her eyes.

Her father laughed kindheartedly at her pathetic state. “I brought you a cuppa.” 

If anything were to rouse her it would be that. She sat up, taking the mug of tea in her hands, took a sip and watched as her dad perched down on the end of her bed.

“Did you have a nice night, Pumpkin?”

“Yeah,” Lily said with a smile. She could see James’s discarded jacket on the chair in the corner of her room, though the rest of her clothes had been dumped unceremoniously onto the floor around it. She felt herself blush as she remembered how she’d come to acquire it. “I had so much fun.”

“Good, you deserve it. How did you get home?”

“Fire,” she said simply, lifting the tea to her lips again. She was still thinking about James, how he laughed, how he moved, how his lips felt on her neck. She hoped the heat from the mug could convincingly explain away the pink in her cheeks. 

Her father laughed. “Ah, I see. Did you fall into the coffee table again? Your sister mentioned she heard you clattering about.”

“That thing is a hazard I’ve been telling you for years.”

“Yes dear.” He said getting up to leave. “I let you sleep in but your leaving meal is in an hour and a half, you’ll have to start getting ready soon, we can’t be late for your grandparents.”

“Me? Late? Never!”

As she pulled herself together in an attempt to get ready, she found herself almost constantly distracted. After jumping in the shower she had tried to call James but the phone rang out. No answer. He must have still been asleep. 

She’d then called Mary and had to endure an embarrassingly long time convincing her friend she wasn’t lying.

“You kissed him?”

“Yes.”

“James?”

“Yes.”

“Our James? James Potter.”

“Oh my god, yes!”

“Wow.”

The conversation continued in much the same pattern until she caught sight of the living room clock and panicked.

“Shit, Mare, I’m going to be late. Speak to you later.”

So, yeah. She was late. 

Her leaving lunch was about as fun as she had thought it would be. She sat beside her father and her sister and faked a smile as Vernon droned on and on about some boring job and boring golf matches and whatever the hell a ‘birdie’ was. 

Yet Lily didn’t mind. Honestly, she wasn’t listening, but instead was remembering how nice James had been, he’d called her beautiful, he’d told her she was funny and strong. He’d held her hand, stroked her palm and played with her fingers.

Her fake smile turned a little more genuine. 

She passed the rest of the meal reliving the way James’s hand had moved around her back or intertwined with her hair. She thought about getting home and calling him and hearing his voice on the other end of the phone. She was giddy, warm, fuzzy. She was happy.

So happy, she didn’t even interact when Vernon changed his aim to snarkily talk about her.

“You know Jack,” He started, speaking directly to her father. “You really shouldn’t encourage her drinking underage. Not only is terrible and illegal, but think of the pubs she’s frequenting, they could be shut down if they got caught serving her underage.”

“You are absolutely right, darling.” Petunia piped in. “She is being so selfish.”

Lily had to bite her lip to stop herself from telling Vernon and her grandparents about the time Petunia ended up in hospital after getting alcohol poisoning when she was 15. Plus, her father and the age line at the door knew that ‘underage’ was bullshit. 

When they finally got home two hours later, Lily was desperate to pick up the phone and call James again. She needed to talk to him, to see him. They needed to have an adult conversation about this before they met on the train tomorrow. 

She huffed loudly as the phone once again rang out.

“Who are you trying to ring, Pumpkin?” her dad asked as she threw herself huffily into the armchair by the fire.

“James, I need to talk to him about, er, tomorrow. He was supposed to do the prefect schedule and I don’t think he has.” She hoped her father didn’t remember that it was in fact her job to update the prefect schedule and she had whined about it all week. She needed to get better at lying. 

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Have you finished packing?”

Lily was secretly glad that the answer was no, she was starting to panic that maybe he was ignoring her. She had spent the last few hours reliving the night in her head over and over, remembering how good it is, how happy they had been. 

Mary had convinced her on the phone that James would be thrilled to know that she’d finally realised she liked him, really liked him, as more than friends. 

She hadn’t considered he wasn’t currently feeling the same way.

She needed to see him, they needed to talk, but she’d called him twice and had no response. She couldn’t write to him, her owl, Oli, had been out hunting for days (as he usually did when the holidays came to an end) and she doubted she would see him until she was back at Hogwarts. He was ignoring her phone calls. 

She only really had one more choice. 

She summed all the happy thoughts she could, focusing on the usual memory of the moment she stepped onto platform 9 and 3/4 for the first time. Eleven years old and so incredibly excited. Pure unadulterated hope and happiness. 

It felt like a blow to the stomach when she whispered the incantation and only an instinct wisp came out. 

Oh, well that was new. 

She tried again, thinking instead of this summer, laughing hysterically until she was crying, clutching her side and breathless.

This time, there was a definite improvement but not enough to do as she needed.

In the back of her mind, she knew what she had to think of, the memory above all else that made her madly happy in that moment. If this didn’t work, she didn’t know if anything ever would. 

She closed her eyes and took a breath and focused so hard on it all. 

Her hips had moved on their own. 

“Fuck Lily.” he had cried

She thought he was going to be the death of her. 

The noises James had made and the way his hands had tightened their grip on her was delectable. She didn’t care that they could be seen, she didn’t care that it was indecent, she had just rolled her hips so he would do it again.

“Expecto patronum” she said for the third time, and this time, her strong, opaque silver Doe stood before her. 

“I have a message for James Potter,” she told it, quietly rejoicing that it had worked. “Spinner’s Park, 9pm, need to talk.”

The doe galloped away and Lily watched it with hope. There was no way he could avoid it now, he would have to respond. 

And he did.

It took over twenty minutes for a response to come through and Lily, too engrossed in her haphazard packing and internal turmoil nearly missed it. She looked up as she heard the voice she’d been waiting all day to hear, in just enough time to see the large 4 legged something disappearing into the air. 

All he had said was “okay.” But that was something at least.


“Those things’ll kill you, you know?” A gruff voice said from the shadows.

She hadn’t heard James approach, too wrapped up in her recount of the night before, and so jumped slightly at the interruption.

Lily laughed regardless. trying to catch his eyes as he approached. “They absolutely won't.”

James didn’t raise his eyes to meet hers in the way she’d expected. In fact he didn’t raise his eyes at all. He just walked, hands in jean pockets and head ducked to the floor, towards the swing beside her.

She’d expected him to make a comment about the jacket and she’d wanted to taunt him for being so late but found the words got trapped in her throat.

He looked tired, weary she could see the tightness in his forehead. Hangover? Or something worse.

He took a seat on the swing beside her, instantly shifting her weight in the same way as Lily. Heel to toe, back and forth until he was rocking at pace just out of time with her.

Lily had beamed when she’d seen him, but her smile dropped even quicker than it had come.

The silence between them was piercing, and she could feel the tension radiating from his hunched shoulders. 

Lily swallowed back the panic that was rising in her chest - she had to cough against it to clear her throat.

Maybe this wouldn’t be as straightforward as she thought.

“So.. erm… about last night… It was...um.” insane? Amazing? Better than she ever could have imagined? “Something.”

Lily chanced a glance over at James, he was silently swinging with his eyes watching the floor.   He must have sensed her gaze because without looking up he reached out his hand Indicating for her to pass the cigarette to him. She did and watched him intently as he raised it to his lips. 

She’d half expected him to jump into the conversation the second he arrived, bringing his usual flare and confidence. Of all of the ways this situation had gone down in her head (and there were many ways) seeing James Potter sat in silence, avoiding her gaze and reduced to awkwardness was not one of them. 

“Are you okay?” 

“Honestly, my head's pounding and I have so much packing to do can we just get on with this?”

“Oh, yeah, sure, course erm.”

Fuck. She had run through how this would go down, but never thought too deeply into what would actually be said in the conversation. She thought it would be like every other one of their conversations over the last year, easy, fun, light and breezy, not awkward and tense.

“You know what? I’ll just do it shall I?” James said, planting his feet firmly on the ground so his swinging stopped entirely.  His tone was that of someone trying hard to be casual but gave the exact opposite effect. His voice was clipped and monotonous and the exact opposite of what she was used to.  “Let’s just forget it, pretend it never happened. We were drunk, it was silly. It’s all good. That’s what you were going to say, right?”

Was it what she was going to say? She really didn’t think it was. She’d spent the day in a haze of happiness and mindless giddiness just at the memory of them. She’d relived the night over and over and over again and all she wanted in that moment was to be able to live it again. 

Well, almost all she wanted. Above anything, above wanting his hands in her hair and his mouth on her neck, she wanted him to look at her, and for them to be like they had been all summer. 

Had she been naive to think that they could have both? That going from friends to more than that could be that easy?

Maybe he was right, maybe forgetting it was the best option. 

“Yeah, that’s probably for the best,” Lily said after swallowing down her disappointment, the pace of her swinging increasing once again. She hoped she sounded more convincing in his ears than in her own. “We’ve such good friends now, wouldn’t want to mess it up because of a daft kiss right?”

James let out a humourless laugh and aggressively stamped out the bud of his cigarette on the ground before speaking. 

“Yeah, friends. Brilliant,” he scoffed, and there was an edge to his tone Lily couldn’t quite place, but if she didn’t know any better she would say it was almost disgust. 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lily asked, instantly defensive. It had been years since she had fought with him and it was a feat how quickly she regressed to her shrill voice and crossed arms. 

“Leave it, Lily,” James snarled, jumping up from his swing and taking a step as if he were about to up and leave. 

“No! I wont leave it, why did you just scoff at that?”

There was a beat and then everything fell apart.

“BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND LILY.” James yelled as the world around them fell silent. 

The second the words had finished falling from his mouth he knew he’d made a mistake, his jaw  slackened and his hands began to shake and his eyes widened in panic. Yet, Lily didn’t notice she saw nothing but red. 

It actually took her a moment to fully process what he had just said, because he couldn’t possibly have just said what she thought he did, surely not? She felt sick from anger and betrayal. Her heart felt like it had been ripped out and stamped on. 

“Excuse me?” It was her turn to shout. “EXCUSE ME? You don’t want to be my friend?”

She jumped up herself, unable to stay seated any longer. She stood closer to James than she had all night and let her nostrils flare with rage. He looked at her for the first time since he’d arrived, eyes tired and red and apologetic, he kept opening and closing his mouth but ultimately said nothing of value.

“I-I shit, I-.”

“Go on then Potter, spit it out! Tell me more about how you don’t want to be my friend. Because it didn’t seem like that yesterday, did it? Or all this summer? It wasn’t that last night when you were telling me all of those things and it definitely wasn’t that when you stuck your tongue in my mouth!”

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“THEN HOW DID YOU MEAN IT! Fucking hell James, what’s wrong with you? It was just a kiss.”

“How do you still not get it?” James replied, his voice raised and his apologetic look gone as soon as it had come. “Maybe it was just a kiss for you, but it wasn’t for me, alright? I have been wanting that to happen for like five fucking years, I can’t just instantly get over it.”

“What? You’re the one who said to forget it, ignore it, pretend it didn’t happen. That was you! Why would you do that if you had been ‘wanting it for five years’?” 

“You’re a smart girl Lily, I'm sure you can figure it out.” 

During the duration of their argument they’d got closer and closer together, to the point that they were shouting right in each other's faces. Their chests were heaving from shouting and internalised anger and utter devastation at how badly this had turned out.

Lily didn’t answer him, he wasn’t making sense, talking to her like she was in on a big secret when she definitely wasn’t. She was too angry, too hurt, too exhausted by it all to think straight; so she just looked up at him, shaking her head slightly and trying to ignore the fact it felt like she was staring at a stranger.

“I only said that because I couldn’t bear to hear you say it.” He said eventually, training his eyes to the ground again. He didn’t shout this and Lily almost wished he would. For the second night in a row, James stood before her, blushing and bashful, though this time it was much less satisfying. 

“I didn’t want to come because I didn’t want to hear you say how much of a mistake it was or that you regretted it, because i’ve been in love with you since we were 12 years old and you kicked Mulciber in the shins for talking shit about Sarah Ginley, even though she wasn’t your friend and he was two years older than you. It’s been so hard this year, trying to grow up and get over it but it was worth it because I love being your friend Lily, I do and i’m so sorry for saying I didn’t. What I actually meant to say was that I didn’t want to just be your friend.” 

The world felt like it had stopped spinning and yet everything had sped up. She had held her breath as he started talking, she was dizzy and disorientated and .. Did he just say that he was in love with her?

Did that mean to say that all those times he’d obnoxiously flirted and harassed her for a date were real? And not just acts designed to draw out annoyance? 

He’d felt like that, all this time?

She’d been realising how she felt through miniscule moments and miss-labeled feelings all summer and it hadn’t fully hit her until that morning, that her excitement as the phone rang and her eagerness to be with him came from a place slightly south of platonic. That when she had kissed him last night it hadn’t been on a momentary whim but a want she’d been suppressing for months. All those things she’d hated as a kid were suddenly just what made James, James, and there wasn't a single thing she wanted to change because she.. 

“I’ll get over it.” James said sincerely. It looked for a second as if he was going to raise his hand to grab hers as he did before but instead he raised his hand to his eyes and rubbed under his glasses. “I did it before, mostly. I’ll get over it and we can get back to friends. I promise.”

“What if I don’t want you to?”

“What if you don’t want me to, what?”

“You never asked me what I wanted.’

“But you said-”

“James, will you shut it,” Lily said with a smile, the first genuine smile of the night, because by the look on his face he knew exactly what she meant, he just didn't dare believe it. “I didn’t say I wanted to forget it and I didn’t tell you to get over it because… well because I don't want to. I realised last night that I’d actually wanted to do that for a really long time and honestly I’d quite like to keep doing it. If that’s okay with you?”

She held her breath as she waited for his answer, keeping as still as possible as if that would soften any blow that was to come. 

“If you're joking Evans, that’s really mean.”

“I’m not joking.”

“You're not?”

Lily shook her head. 

and this time, James made the first move. 

Holding her face between his hands, he slowly leaned in until he’d captured her lips in his. Gentle and slow and soft and hesitant. They moved together in perfect sync, not a second out of pace.

It felt natural, nice. It felt easy, because it was. 

They only pulled apart as the heavens opened and rain began to pour. They ran, hand in hand and laughing madly until they reached the sheltered alleyway by Lily’s house - and though they both knew their night was over, neither seemed too distraught.

“You can keep the jacket by the way.” James said, his amusement echoing off the graffided alley walls. 

“Good, because I was going to keep it anyway. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Lily whispered, leaning up for one more kiss. 

“See you tomorrow, Evans.”


The next morning, Lily hugged her father goodbye at the house, holding him tighter than she had in years and promising she would write tomorrow. 

It wasn’t even ten o’clock yet but she wanted to get there early. She’d never gone to the station alone before but it made sense, she had head girl duties to be getting on with and she didn’t want her father standing alone waiting for her to leave.

She’d transfigured her Hogwarts robes to resemble that of a regular school uniform, as to not arouse suspicion as she walked through Kings Cross Station. She treated herself to take away coffee from a booth tucked away in the wide, open foyer. The drink itself was expensive and not particularly pleasant but it did the trick. 

Coffee in one hand and trunk in the other, head girl badge pinned firmly to her chest, Lily Evans walked through the barrier of platforms 9 and 10 for the very last time - as a student herself at least.

The platform was quiet as she had expected it to be, just a couple of nervous looking - what she quickly learned to be - first years and their parents, yet the Hogwarts Express was already there, ready to take her home. 

She spoke to the new students for a while, congratulating them on their letters and reminiscing about her first year. The parents asked her some questions which she gladly answered. 

By the time she had heaved her trunk onto the train and stowed it away, the platform was packed with people.

She spotted the boys instantly, leaning casually against a wall and chatting animatedly. James looked surprisingly smart, there were a few too many buttons undone on his shirt, exposing his chest, but his Head Boy badge was pinned securely to the silk. Sirius, never to be outdone by anyone, stood next to him - even from several meters away Lily could see the ‘Head Shagger’ badge on his jacket. She laughed loudly, secretly admiring the transfiguration skills needed to make it as convincing as it was. She’d scold him for it later. 

James caught her eye, winking over the heads of passing students and greeted her causally as she passed within earshot. “Morning Evans, good summer?”

“It was alright” She replied simply, smirking. “And yours?”

“Eh, uneventful.”

Despite wanting to, she didn’t stop and chat with them properly. There would be plenty of time for them to talk, hours and days and maybe even years. In a couple of hours they would be at Hogwarts, where they would sit together at the magnificent feast and be able to laugh and joke and reminisce on a summer well spent. Under the table James would slip a hand onto her knee and Lily would look up and smile. 

But for now, she walked on, directing her smile at first years and friends. Surprisingly ready for her final first day because if this summer was anything to go by, she was in for the best year of her life.