Lily was going to kill Sirius Black. Truly, his murder would be the only rational response to the situation that she found herself in. The owlery was freezing and the only way out was now blocked. She could hear Sirius laughing from the other side of the door, delighted that his locking charm was working perfectly. Her only chance of escape was to jump from a window, though she’d rather not launch herself from the tower’s highest spire.
She huffed and looked to her right, making eye contact with a very sheepish James Potter. His hands were shoved into his pockets and his head was ducked. He’d barely meet her gaze and she couldn’t tell whether his blush was from the cold or from embarrassment. All Lily had wanted to do was to send a package to Petunia, hoping to somewhat make peace with her before she came home for the winter holidays.
But after she gave the package to her owl, the door was slammed shut and she found herself face to face with James.
“I had nothing to do with this, I swear,” James said before making his way to the door. He banged twice and jiggled the handle to no avail. Lily was inclined to believe that he had no part in their predicament, she had gotten to know him better during their head boy and head girl duties, and she did know that Sirius fancied himself a matchmaker. She also knew that James had distanced himself from her quite a bit since the end of their fifth year.
After the blowout fight with Snape after their exams in fifth year, he seemed to steer clear from her. He only came to her for school-related purposes and only talked to her in group settings. This change had perturbed her at first. She was apparently far more used to his incessant flirting and attempts to gain her attention than she realized. And though she wouldn’t admit it, she slightly missed his presence.
At the beginning of seventh year, they had been assigned their positions as head boy and girl and he had started to open back up slightly. But she could still tell that he was stilted and reserved, nothing close to how he used to be.
But after months of barely talking, she doubted he even liked her like that anymore. She assumed that her insults had finally gotten to him and he had stopped trying. So it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he truly had nothing to do with this prank. But she was annoyed and she needed someone to blame.
“I really don’t believe that for a second, Potter,” she spat, pulling her jumper tighter around her. She could see puffs of her own breath forming, a stark reminder of the freezing temperature. She had assumed this would be a quick trip to the owlery so she hadn’t dressed for the full brunt of the elements. Her sweater and thin coat were no match for the Scottish winter. James huffed and pulled his hat down farther.
“It’s just Sirius being stupid,” he assured her, “Trust me I don’t want to be here either.” Lily sniffed and pretended the comment didn’t sting a little.
“Well do you have any idea how to get us out of here?” She questioned sharply. James shrugged and shook his head.
“Sorry, Evans,” he replied. Lily internally groaned. The cold air was biting at her neck and James was refusing to look at her and was calling her by her last name. The situation could not be any worse.
“Well, could you figure something out?” Lily asked, “It’s bloody freezing.” James shot her a sympathetic smile and stepped forward, shedding his coat.
“Here,” he said softly, handing it to her. Lily scrunched her nose and looked away.
“Keep your coat, James,” she said. James groaned.
“Come on Evans, just take it. I know you’re cold,” he said, his arm still outstretched. Instead of answering, Lily marched across the room to the door and pulled on the handle.
“Sirius let us out,” she cried, “I know that you’re out there.” She gave the door a final bang before groaning.
“Merlin what did I do to deserve this,” she groaned. She sat down on the floor, her back sliding against the wall as she dropped down. James flopped down against the wall across from her, playing with the hem of his jacket.
“Wow Evans,” he said quietly, “Didn’t realize I was that insufferable.” He said it with a teasing tone though his face lacked any trace of a laugh. His mouth was pressed into a thin line and his eyes were downcast.
Lily furrowed her eyebrows in response. She didn’t understand why he was taking offense to this. His behavior over the last several months had only indicated that he didn’t want to be in her presence either.
“Oh please, it’s not like you enjoy being trapped in here with me,” Lily grumbled, not looking at him either. Lily was cold and cranky, but she didn’t object to being in his presence. She often found herself missing him slightly, a feeling that would have affronted her younger self. She thought her anger at this situation was justified as she was beginning to lose feeling in her toes. James was bundled up completely and looking frustratingly warm, the only reason he wouldn’t want to be there was that he didn’t want to be there with her.
James just clenched his jaw and steadfastly refused to meet her gaze. In the dim lighting of the owlery, Lily had to admit that James looked quite handsome. His mess of curls sat wildly under his hat, the ends curling at the nape of his neck. His limbs were long, a result of his fifth-year growth spurt, and they sprawled against the stone floor. His glasses were crooked and smudged and his nose was slightly pink.
It wasn’t as if Lily had never noted his attractiveness before, in fact, it was a trait she detested for years. She hated the fact that someone so handsome could be such a prat. But during his absence over the last several months, it was a fact she had begun to notice more regularly. She’d find herself gazing at him during class and during meals, noting his broad shoulders and his beautiful, lopsided grin. It was as if she had grown fonder of him during their time apart.
A cold rush of wind knocked her from her thoughts, causing her to hiss and wrap her arms around herself. James’ gaze shot up and he looked at her with concerned eyes.
“Evans,” he said gently, “It’s too cold, come here.” James lifted up his coat and waited for Lily to scoot closer. Lily sighed and obliged, letting James drape his jacket over her shoulders. The coat was far too big for her, but it enveloped her in a comforting warmth nonetheless. As she took her first breath in his jacket, an array of scents hit her nose that all smelt actually of James. For some reason, that made her blush. As they sat in awkward silence, Lily couldn’t help but notice that their thighs were touching. The contact sent a thrill up her spine.
“You know, I don’t actually hate you,” Lily nearly whispered, “I feel like you think that I do.” James furrowed his eyebrows.
“I didn’t think that you hate me necessarily, but I was under the impression that you really didn’t like me,” he replied. Lily nodded and looked away, trying to conjure a response.
“I think I may have not liked you before,” she said slowly, “But I think you’re alright now.” The corners of James’ mouth quirked up slightly.
“Really, Evans?” James asked, his eyebrows raised. Lily rolled her eyes.
“Yes, James. Even if you do ignore me,” she said. It was meant to be a joke but when she looked at James, his face had fallen.
“I’m not ignoring you,” he said softly, confusion evident in his brow. Lily scoffed.
“Of course you are! You never talk to me anymore, before I had to physically hide from you to get you to stop talking,” she said.
“I’m just trying not to bother you anymore,” James insisted. Lily’s face softened at his words.
“Oh,” she replied. Lily thought back on the time that she had known James. She had always thought he was annoying and immature. But as the years had gone on, she found herself not minding him as much. When he had begun to distance himself she found that she missed their banter and small squabbles. And since the incident in their fifth year, he seemed to have matured considerably.
“Well,” she said slowly, “I wouldn’t completely mind if you started to bother me again.” She felt James freeze beside her, the nervous jittering of his leg subsiding.
“You wouldn’t?” he questioned quietly. Lily shrugged and shyly met his gaze.
“I think I’d like it actually,” she replied with the hint of a smile ghosting her lips. James grinned and shook his head.
“Are you sure you really want that Lily?” he joked, his use of her first name causing roses to bloom across Lily’s cheeks.
Lily squinted her eyes and stroked her chin as if she was giving it serious thought.
“Yes you idiot,” she said with a laugh, “I do want that.” And when James sent her a goofy smile and nervously rubbed the back of his neck, she realized that not only did she want it, she needed it.