Actions

Work Header

BMWW 2: Revenge of the Nicknames

Work Text:

Waking up with the knowledge that there was a strange man sleeping on her couch swaddled in her pink High School Musical blanket probably should have alarmed Lily more than it actually did.

Then again, she’d had weirder weekends.

She’d been dead asleep last night when she first heard someone banging on outside her window, all swear words and clangs of trainers against metal. It woke her up out of a dream; for a moment, Lily was sure the sound had been the medieval prince she’d been imagining, come to negotiate her dowry or whatever it was people in medieval times did.

(It had been a very logistically vague dream.)

After a moment of quiet freak-out, she had prepared herself to whip out the very large and very high-voltage taser her mother had given her for such situations and send whoever this was careening to the ground as she phoned 999. She was not going out without a fight—that was for damn sure. She hadn’t fought her way into an elite university just to get taken out by some random stranger a few months before graduation. No, sir. Lily Evans was a capable, rational, independent young woman who would not be above digging a stiletto heel into a man’s groin should the need arise—or, in this case, tasing them until they saw the fourth dimension.

However, before she could locate her weapon, the man spoke loudly again.

“Well, just fuck me, I guess,” he groaned. Lily froze.

Hang on a second, she thought. I definitely know that voice…there’s no way...

In pursuit of finding out whether there was, in fact, a way, Lily had inched quietly toward her still-shut window to get a better view of her would-be burglar. The sight that greeted her was a head of woefully messy black hair and slightly familiar (broad, broad) shoulders. She strangled the shriek that tried to shoot its way up her throat.

Good fucking hell.

James Potter—as in, James Potter from Remus’s flat and fit James Potter from the cafeis on my balcony right now.

…James Potter looks like he’s about to fall off of my balcony right now.

After this determination, piecing together what was happening was relatively simple, based on the scene in front of her (man clinging helplessly to balcony) and what she knew of his character based on Remus’s limited description (“he’s somehow the smartest person I know yet simultaneously a fucking idiot”).

Plus, Remus lived in the flat above her—this she had already known. It wasn’t really rocket science to deduce what the bloke had been trying to accomplish here.

Poor sod, she had thought, he’s really stuck his foot in it.

(It would later become apparent that he had quite literally stuck his foot in it, with the it in question being the small space between her railing and the surface of her balcony.)

Lily felt bad for him—really, she did—when she saw what a predicament he was in, all twisted around and visibly uncomfortable. He really seemed to have drawn the proverbial short straw on how his weekend was going.

“Is somebody out there?” she asked, more out of a desire to just say something than genuine curiosity. It had been pretty obvious that there was indeed someone out there from the moment she heard, well, just fuck me, I guess muttered from a few feet away from her bed, but this seemed like the correct perfunctory question to ask in this type of scenario.

All motion outside ceased at once. Clearly, James had not been expecting company.

“Hi, there,” he said.

Hi, there? Did he just say HI, THERE?

Shaking her head at this failed attempt at unconcern, Lily had rummaged around for a moment before she found her phone, at which point she checked the time and inquired as to what he thought he was doing hanging around—no pun intended—an unwitting woman’s bedroom window at ten-to-three in the morning.

It occurred to her mid-question: “Are you trying to rob me?”

The righteous indignation to follow on his part had been amusing to say the least. But that was neither here nor there.

In order to briefly summarize the rest of this interaction, it should be known to all that Lily Evans, like her mother before her and very much unlike her sister, prided herself on her genuine desire to help others; it had been a trait intrinsic to her person for as long as she could remember. Because of this, pretty much the second she had recognized James as the man dangling backward off her balcony, she knew she had to give him a proverbial (and possibly physical) hand.

Didn’t mean she couldn’t have a bit of fun with him in the meantime, though.

Really—who climbs up four stories in the middle of the night instead of just calling a locksmith?

So began a good twenty minutes of relentless teasing, bantering back-and-forth, and finally, the hauling of a grown man through her bedroom window and onto her wood floor.

She called him Balcony Man.

He called her Window Woman.

After a few quiet seconds of mutual staring (ahem), Lily had brought him to her front room and introduced him to her large, overly-priced sofa. James tailed a respectful few feet behind her. In the duration, she thought about how readily he’d quipped back at her before, even in the midst of what was assuredly a terrifying experience.

He was funny—there was no denying that. He continued to prove as such as the minutes passed in her living room.

He was clever and witty and, right as she had been preparing a makeshift bed for him on her couch, he turned and asked her, how steadfast are we holding to this ‘no chatting you up’ rule from before, so she had absolutely no problem delaying her slumber even further to indulge herself with a small bit of good-natured talking.

The problem, as it were, lied in the fact that a small bit of talking turned very quickly into an hour of talking, and then two hours of talking, and then all of a sudden the sun was rising and she’d been up since three a.m. talking about things like the evolution of Schmidt’s character on New Girl with this veritable stranger, and oh god he’s so sweet and funny and why is he so fit when he clearly hasn’t slept at all.

It was just about seven a.m. by the time they each had retired for a few hours’ shut-eye, he on her couch and she in her warm, very-much-neglected bed.

Which brought her to now, approximately half-eleven in the morning, blinking slowly into consciousness before realizing—like the jolt of falling in a dream—that there was a man on her couch.

Lily Evans, the logic part of her brain scolded her, for fuck’s sake. What are you DOING?

It was well past time for her to get up and start her day. She had already resigned herself to abandoning the productive study day she’d had planned, and although she was sure there were things she was supposed to do, it felt reasonable to say that sudden-three-in-the-morning-intruder would be a worthy excuse for diminished work capacity. But she needed to get moving regardless.

It was just that…well, she really didn’t want to go out and see him out there. Not after everything that happened…

Well. There was a bit of context required here.

Images from last night (this morning, really, only about six hours ago) swirled into Lily’s mind like a drifting fog, each one melting into the next. The more they had talked, the more his presence felt like a dream; or maybe a scene in one of those old college romance films she’d watched.

Even in the moment, talking with James had felt like a fond memory already forming in her head, something that she would describe to a friend as one of those hazy university nights that didn’t quite feel real. As the odd hours of the morning passed, the only remnant of reality that had tethered her to the rest of her life was the soft red glow that crept up her furniture through her window, evidence of the still-rising sun.

She closed her eyes and ran through the scrapbook of moments in her head, each one demarcated only by the fact that she’d thrown a passing glance at her lock screen to check the time.

At three thirty-five a.m., she remembered, Lily said goodnight to James and made to walk to her room, when he called out to stop her. She turned at his address, raising her eyebrows in prompt, but it seemed like he hadn’t thought any farther than simply getting her attention once more.

In what felt at the time like a hasty decision, she trotted back over to the couch and sat down gingerly a few feet away from him, eyebrows now drawn together in question. He looked at her for a long moment as if deciding what he could say that would be worthy of keeping her. After a brief pause, he opened his mouth and blurted: “Have you ever seen The Princess Bride?”

“Oh, my god,” she replied,”has anyone not seen The Princess Bride?! Tell me their names—I need to have a chat with them.”

Decision now all but made, Lily tucked her legs under her as she began her long-practiced tirade about how Buttercup was vastly misunderstood for the first third of the film. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw James relax slightly into the couch, smiling as he nodded along in enthusiastic agreement with her assessment. His face was a little softer. He looked almost relieved.

At four twenty-three a.m., James paused in his vivid retelling of the Monty Python “Spanish Inquisition” sketch to stare her in the face as she laughed. When she noticed after a moment in absence of his monologue, she asked if there was something in her teeth, but he just coughed and shook his head before launching back into the scene.

At five-seventeen a.m., Lily went to grab them both a glass of water from the Brita, and when she came back, he was stood up with his eyes closed , stretching his arms above his head. Lily very nearly dropped both glasses at the way his shirt rode up on his stomach.

Get it together, Evans,” she muttered.

At six-oh-five a.m., James declared that they should spend some time properly getting to know each other instead of just talking about television shows , to which Lily agreed. A brief silence followed.

You’re very pretty,” he stated suddenly, and fire ignited across her face.

“Sorry—that’s what you consider ‘getting to know each other’?”

“I’d say so.”

The fire burned on, from one cheekbone across her nose and possibly down her neck.

“Well,” Lily said slowly, “I’m not really sure that helps me get to know you at all.”

“You know that I think you’re pretty.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at the earnestness in his voice. “God, you’re really getting an early start on this chatting-me-up business, aren’t you?”

“Oh, no,” he said, and something in his tone made her look at him closely, like the phrase held meaning that she might lose in the roadmap of his expression. “That wasn’t chatting you up. I was just telling you the truth.”

That would have sounded like a line from anyone else—but from him, without knowing why, she believed it completely.

The fire burned everywhere now. It threatened to swallow her whole.

“Oh,” Lily replied simply.

At six fifty-seven a.m., Lily really, really thought they might kiss.

She tried to view this through a guise of objectivity, like she was an outside observer. They might kiss. It could happen. It could also not happen. That was how life worked.

But there was something in the way his breath caught when she scooted a little closer to him on the couch, something in the way his eyes were a little darker even as sunlight filtered into the room. His muscles looked like they were straining—though whether in effort to move or to stay still, she couldn’t be entirely sure.

At six fifty-eight a.m., she REALLY thought they might kiss. He’d reached his hand out, facing up, into the couch space between them, and she’d taken to tracing the lines of his palm like a fortune teller, an idle bit of physical touch that occupied far too much of her awareness.

At six fifty-nine a.m, she was pretty much absolutely sure they were going to kiss. Not, like, because she wanted them to (alright, not just because of that), but also because they were leaning toward each other now, and her eyes were slipping closed, and good god why did he smell good when he’d spend half the night trying to climb up a student housing complex—

At seven a.m., her morning alarm went off, and the two sprung apart like they’d been electrocuted. Lily stared at James; James stared at Lily.

Lily bid him a hasty goodbye and all but fled to her room.

At eleven thirty-two a.m., after conjuring this last memory in her mind and replaying it a minimum of seven times, Lily pulled her pillow over her face and screamed. She hoped the sound was muffled enough not to make it outside her door.

No point in delaying the inevitable, she thought after depositing the pillow back on her sheets. You have to talk to him at some point, near-kiss notwithstanding.

After a brief and unsatisfactory internal debate about the merits of living the rest of her life within the confines of this bedroom, Lily threw off her covers with a sigh and made her way to her door. She stopped on her way in order to grab an old sweatshirt from her closet to throw on over her PJ’s, a grey old thing with her secondary school’s logo plastered across the chest.

One deep breath in through the nose, one deep breath out through the mouth.

Seriously, Evans. Get a bleeding grip.

“Morning,” she called as she—finally—opened the door.

The sight that greeted her upon entry was enough to make a grown woman cry (though, blessedly, she didn’t). James was standing at her kitchen island, having folded the spare blankets and placed them neatly atop each other on her sofa. Two mugs of coffee sat in front of him on the island.

He looked up at her and smiled brightly when she entered the room. Any worries of awkwardness or discomfort fled her body like steam curling up from from hot water. He looked natural and relaxed in her kitchen, a temporary installation to commemorate the previous night.

“Hey,” he called, and some unidentified feeling passed through her whole body with a whoosh, like she was stitched together from loose cloth. One of his hands raised to ruffle his bedhead. “Hope this—” he gestured to the two cups of coffee, “—is alright.”

Oh, she was in trouble. “Yeah, absolutely,” she said, “completely fine.” More than fine. So, so much more than fine.

James beamed back at her before he took a small sip from one of the mugs. In his eyes, gleaming, glittering mischief pooled like liquid gold. “Care to storm the castle together?”

Good god. Good god in heaven. It should be illegal to throw a Westley reference at a woman before she’s had time to prepare herself.

“Whatever you say, Dread Pirate Roberts.”

 


 

Arriving at James’s flat made Lily’s stomach turn with nerves.

It took her a moment to place the feeling; it wasn’t as though this was incredibly high-stakes, nor was it at all dangerous to her person. It was a bloody apartment in her same complex. There was nothing to be nervous about.

But, all the same, knots and bows seemed to be twisting themselves into her organs.

The realization hit her like a torch beam across the eyes, blinding and sudden: to enter James’s home, to see him interact with other people, was to pop the bubble of his presence in Lily’s flat.

A few hours ago, he was Balcony Man, and all the space he took up in the world was visible only to her eye. Her flat was a pocket of the universe which—if they had chosen so—they could have kept secret forever.

Now was the time for the curtain to lift.

Lily peered over at James as they stood side-by-side in front of his front door. He was looking at it with mild apprehension, and briefly, she wondered if he was thinking the same thing she was.

“If only we had Fezzik,” she lamented.

He chuckled warmly and bumped her with his shoulder. The sleeve of her sweatshirt felt warm where the contact lingered.

“Or Inigo,” he sighed, and then frowned, looking thoughtful. “But I suppose if I’d had a gate key last night, none of this would have happened.”

This. Me. You.

Lily shrugged with manufactured nonchalance. “Gate keys are overrated.”

James grinned at her, all white teeth and dimples. “Couldn’t agree more. Oh, also—I apologize in advance for everything that’s about to occur.”

“What—”

And then he raised his hand to knock, which caused three things to happen in very quick succession.

First, he rapped his knuckles on his flat’s door. Second, a male voice called from inside, “is that you, dear?” with such a level of fiendish glee that Lily raised her eyebrows and shot James a dubious look, which he returned with such an expression of abject defeat that she almost let out a laugh. Third, the door opened, and Lily barely had enough time to glimpse the man who opened it before James rugby-tackled him onto the floor.

“OOF!”

“Okay,” Lily said to the zero people listening as she gingerly stepped inside to shut the door behind them. It closed with a gentle click. “Good to know we’re taking the even-tempered approach to things.”

The two flatmates began a very undignified grappling match those few feet in front of her. From between them, a series of battle cries arose into the previously serene Sunday morning.

“YOU LOCKED ME OUT FOR NO REASON, YOU TWAT!”

“YOU CHEATED AT FIFA!”

“I NEARLY DIED BECAUSE YOU’RE A SHIT GOALKEEPER!”

I’m attracted to one of these men, Lily thought to herself with no small amount of horror. The two men grappled on.

“Hang on, hang on! Timeout!” The long-haired model-looking fellow hollered after a short while, and to Lily’s surprise, James acquiesced. Once the two were slightly less tangled, the man pointed to Lily as though he’d just noticed her presence.

Which, to be fair, he probably only just had. What with the wrestling match and the accusations of dishonorable FIFA conduct.

He looked at James, arm still extended toward Lily. “Who’s that?”

“Oh! Right!” James hopped up and strode toward Lily. Once he reached her side, he raised his arm as though to put it over her shoulders, but then paused sheepishly and let it drop.

Stupid fucking alarm, she thought bitterly.

“Lily,” he addressed her as though she was the one who had made the inquiry, and not the man currently standing up to dust off his clothes. “This is Sirius. He’s the arsehole that locked me out. That was probably obvious from how I absolutely just physically dominated him right then, but in case it wasn’t—that’s the bloke.”

Alright. Lots to take in.

“Hi,” she greeted the man with a small wave.

A beat of complete silence followed. A look was cast from James to Lily and back to James, and then briefly to the bits of space where their adjacent arms touched at the elbow and wrist. This look was then returned, unilaterally and incredulously, to James.

“I know you have a thing for picking up strays, but really—this is getting ridiculous.”

James rolled his eyes and turned his head back to Lily. “Ignore him. He’s actually the stray in question—we haven’t house-trained him yet.”

“Already ignored,” she assured him. He winked back at her.

Oh, so winking is actually incredibly attractive. That’s good to know.

“I cannot believe this!” The man in front of her—Sirius, as they’d just been introduced—cried, and judging from how little James reacted, this was apparently a normal level of dramatics for him. “I banish you to atone for your FIFA crimes, and you come back the next day with a girlfriend?!”

“Not a girlfriend!” Lily chirped brightly, though it was accompanied by a conspiratorial sort of sideways look at James, who grinned back in a way that set something aflutter in her stomach. Yet, she added silently.

“—you come back the next day with a…concubine?!”

Excuse me—”

James chose this moment to take a grand step forward, placing himself between Lily and Sirius. She calmed herself down from his roommate’s egregious verbal slight by staring at the contours of his back; his tee shirt was just tight enough that she could see the way his muscles shifted as he moved.

Nice.

“Sirius,” he said calmly, “this is Lily. She lives in 3F. She’s friends with Remus, and out of the two of you, she isn’t the one who’s recently barred me from entering my own home—so I’d be careful with what you say, because I have no problem letting her loose on you.”

Sirius looked her up and down in a way that was not at all salacious, but rather how she’d imagine an interrogator would examine a detainee accused of pulling off a complicated heist. “Charmed, I’m sure.”

“Ditto,” Lily snorted.

A brief bit of quiet followed, during which Lily wondered if this past twelve hours were indicative of how first meetings usually went in this household. Then, remembering what Remus had told her about his friends, she decided not to follow that train of thought to its gruesome end.

“So,” began Sirius casually into the silence, “anyone want to explain how you two came to meet?”

And thus began the first retelling of the previous night’s events, peppered with dramatic flare (from James) and slightly derisive chuckling paired with detailed accounts of Lily’s many witticisms (from Lily).

Sirius took it all with a surprising amount of geniality. Or, at least, surprising to her.

“To be quite frank,” he grinned after James finished regaling his very-heroic-climb-gone-slightly-wrong (his words). “I think this entire thing is really quite a good laugh.”

“To be quite frank, I’m thinking that your organs might contribute more to society if we donated them to science.”

Rude, Prongs!”

“Who’s ‘Prongs’?” asked Lily.

“He is.” Sirius pointed at James. “We call him that because he only learned how to use a fork about two months ago.”

“Don’t go telling her your lies, you liar!”

“He’s absolutely right. That was terribly discourteous of me. It was at least three months.”

“Padfoot

“Alright, what’s a Padfoot?”

“It’s a nickname for a dog,” a new, tired voice sighed from further inside the flat. Lily turned to see Remus Lupin shuffling forward into the living room in flannel pajama bottoms and a fluffy robe tied firmly at the waist. “We call him that because he’s bitchy.”

“Remus!” She exclaimed happily.

“Oh, let’s not throw stones in glass houses, there, Moo—wait.” Sirius paused for a moment and then turned toward Lily. “You know Moony?”

“No,” replied Lily, “I know Remus.”

“Remus is Moony.”

Lily turned to James. “Why is Remus Moony?”

“I’m not entirely sure why any of us are anything at this point.”

Sirius walked toward Remus—who was now filling a very large mug with coffee, presumably in preparation for dealing with the occupants of the living room—and gestured vaguely toward where James and Lily stood. “Can you believe this?” He demanded. “Prongs meets one random bird in the midst of a near-death experience and all of a sudden he’s lost faith in nicknames.”

What?”

“That’s not true,” Lily interjected, and then jerked a thumb toward James next to her. “He’s Balcony Man.”

This didn’t seem to help Sirius’s mood. “That’s worse!” He cried.

Affronted, Lily put her hands on her hips. This long-haired man who spoke like a parliamentarian certainly had some gall. “How is that worse?”

“There’s no creativity in that—no mystery! We all know exactly where that comes from!”

“Er.” Remus raised his un-coffee-laden hand as he shuffled over to the couch. “I don’t actually know where that comes from.”

And thus began the second retelling of the previous night’s events, this time with a slightly different reaction from the audience.

“YOU LOCKED HIM OUT OF THE FLAT BECAUSE OF FIFA?!”

“In all fairness,” Sirius submitted weakly, “it was more of a commentary on his raging ethical bankruptcy. FIFA merely served as the vehicle. The utensil to serve up moral justice, if you will.”

“You locked him out because of utensils?!”

“Well, now you’ve just gone and twisted my words.”

“Oh, my God.” Remus sat back on the couch, blinking slowly as he gazed at the room in front of him. “I think I have an ulcer. I’m twenty-one years old, and I think I’m developing stress ulcers.”

“Let’s not be dramatic, Moony.”

“I’m not going to live past twenty-two…”

“Alright, alright!” James clapped his hands together and stepped forward once again, which was great, because it had been at least five minutes since Lily was able to shamelessly ogle him.

Nice.

“Being as we’ve established how much of a fucking dickhead Sirius is—”

“Debatable, but carry on.”

“—I think it best that we just all move on and get some food. I’m bloody starving.” James turned to Lily, expression hopeful. “Want to join us, Lily?”

From his relegated place on a faraway chair, Sirius groaned. “Does she have to come, too?”

“That sounds like the title of your sex tape,” Lily shot back without thinking, and then immediately blanched. Might have been a bit much.

A collective pause.

“Ha!” Sirius barked out a loud, delighted laugh. “Never mind.” He grinned widely at her before returning his gaze to James and lifting his right hand to perform the Sign of the Cross. “You have my blessing. I approve of her entirely.”

God, this day could not get any weirder.

And so the universe replied: are you sure?

At this very moment, a door banged open from down the hallway, and a short, stout man stumbled blearily into view, clothed head-to-toe in rat-themed (????) pajamas. He took one look at the scene before him, raised his hand as if to wave hello, and then promptly vomited on the floor.

All four occupants of the living room stared at him for a good, long while.

“Well, Prongs, I think we just found out what happened to all your sweets.” Sirius remarked dryly. “Oh—and Lily, meet Peter. Peter, Lily.”

Well, this feels like a good time for me to go .

There was only so much one person could reasonably take in twenty-four hours, after all.

Lily opened her mouth to make her parting announcement (“goodbye, this has been fun, I hope all of you end up in extensive therapy one day, see you there,”) when James, as though predicting her line of thought, interrupted.

“You’re not leaving, are you?” He said, a little desperately. Her heart lurched a little bit at his expression, and she felt like reminding it that they had only properly met about nine hours ago.

“Er...yeah,” Lily admitted, “I have some studying to get done today, but I appreciate the brunch offer.” She looked around at the three boys (Peter had fled, most likely to the bathroom) and sent them all a small smile. “Nice meeting you all, though—well, not you, Remus.”

Remus looked quite understanding. In fact, as he waved, his expression gave off the slightest impression that he might like to trade places with her.

“See you in lecture!” He said.

“My word,” deadpanned Sirius as she turned to begin her exit, “do you mean to tell me you’re turned off by the random projectile vomiting? How unexpected. I’m floored. Someone call M. Night Shyamalan; I think I’ve got something to pitch him.”

Lily turned back around and blinked at him. “Do you ever stop quipping to—I don’t know—breathe?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“Fair enough.”

“I’ll walk you out!” James blurted suddenly. Three heads turned to face him, and then, slowly, turned toward the door, which was no more than four feet away from where Lily was currently standing.

She looked back at him in confusion, eyebrows drawing together.

“You’ll…walk me…out?”

“Well—er, I mean—what I meant to say—”

“Dear god, this is painful,” Sirius moaned, and then lolled his head to the direction of Remus: “Come on, Moony. I can’t stand to look at him when he’s got no dignity like this. It’s like seeing a turtle without a shell.”

The two departed for their respective rooms shortly thereafter.

For his part, James seemed adamant about this whole walking her out thing. He ushered her out the door (only after double-checking the deadbolt and his keys in his pocket) and followed, hands stuffed sheepishly in his pockets.

She stopped him when they finally made it to the stairs, a giggle bubbling up in her throat before she could stop it. Might have been the past 12 hours catching up with her in one clear-sighted moment of ridiculousness.  

This man clambered through my window at three in the morning and now he’s trying to walk me back to my door.

There was probably some sort of irony in that, but she was too tired to see it.

“James,” she laughed, “my flat is exactly one floor down from here. I’ll be fine.”

He smiled back at her, though it was a little crooked, like he couldn’t muster the energy for the whole thing. “You never know—this complex might be full of weirdos.”

“Oh, trust me, I think it’s safe to say that’s been confirmed.”

He let out a small laugh at this; however, as though following the cue from his smile, it was lacking in multiple essential James Potter Laugh qualities with which she had apparently become inexplicably familiar since meeting him—and really, this bore mentioning again—nine hours ago.

“James,” she said softly, “are you…are you alright?”

His response tumbled from his mouth seemingly before he could stop it, all mismatched words and halted clauses: “It’s just that—well, I never do this, but—I just think you’re…well, you know I think you’re—anyway, we got so interrupted (does that make sense? Are there degrees to which people can get interrupted? Because I feel like there aren’t) last night—well, this morning—and you have to know I didn’t plan any of this—”

There was something distinctly adorable about the fact that this man who'd been so effortlessly suave at five in the morning now, in the light of day, had to stutter his way through a request.  It was a testament to how well he had endeared himself to her from the hours of three to seven in the morning that she knew exactly what he was trying to communicate.

So she kissed him.

Boy, did she kiss him.

James had to stumble a bit before his back hit the wall with the force of her leap toward him (oops), but he recovered beautifully: one arm wrapped around her middle while the other brought his hand to caress the side of her face, brushing stray red hair out of the way of their mouths. He sighed into the kiss and tilted his head to better meet their lips.

This was the first time Lily had ever felt any truth to the age-old tale of seeing stars behind your eyelids when you kissed someone—fireworks and bursts of light erupted in front of her closed eyes, shimmering from one color to the next.

Then again, that also could have been the sleep deprivation.

The two pulled back after a short while, each breathing heavily, each smiling softly at the other. James leaned forward to press his forehead onto hers.

“So I’ll see you around, Window Woman?” He asked, tone a little wonderstruck, pretty much how she felt.

“You know where to find me, Balcony Man.” She replied.