6 months prior
“Lily lives for the crush phase.”
“The what?” Sirius laughs.
“The crush phase. She doesn’t do relationships, she gets bored or turned off as soon as she gets to know them” Marlene tuts, her cheeks rosy from the red wine in her hand.
James furrows his brow. He doesn’t know Lily Evans very well, hardly in fact, but he can’t help but screw his nose up at this idea. Surely she won’t chase this crush phase forever, surely she doesn’t think every bloke is boring.
“That's bollocks” James speaks up, making everyone around the table look up at him.
Sirius cocks an eyebrow at his mate.
“James here, is a romantic” He preens, making James blush and shove off his friend.
“It's true, watch her right now. This one won’t last long at all” Remus nods towards Lily.
James doesn’t have to search for her in the crowded pub. He’s been watching her since he got there. Her bright red hair full and wavy cascades down her back, a tight black sweater shows off her pale skin and her short plaid skirt shows off her long legs. She’s probably the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but hearing her stance on relationships makes his chest ache a little.
Lily stands at the bar, her elbows resting on the sticky edge, her small hand clutching a pint of cider. She’s talking to a tall bloke, curly dark hair and narrow shoulders. He’s wearing a business suit, probably having come to the pub straight from work. She’s chatting animatedly, her head nodding, laughing every now and then. James can’t make out the colour of her eyes where he sits but he just knows they are probably now his favourite colour. She’s got a sense of grace mixed with energy that not many girls can pull off.
James pulls his gaze away and towards Remus, his best mate's new boyfriend.
“She’s flirting?” James prompts, looking at Remus for an explanation as to why he was watching a pretty girl flirt with another man.
“Watch” Remus whispers, his eyes twinkling.
James pulls his gaze back towards Lily. She’s inched closer to the man now, her head tipped up as he speaks to her. She nods, laughs once more until she says something back, her hands wave about and she waits until the bloke answers. He says something and laughs, smirking arrogantly before ordering another drink. He tilts his head back towards Lily but Lily’s gone.
Remus and Marlene chuckle.
“What just happened?” Sirius asks.
“She got bored,” Remus shrugs.
James feels bewitched by the fiery redhead sitting opposite him. He can’t keep his eyes off her. He’s trying to play it smooth but James has always been a very obvious and honest person. Sirius pinched his leg half way through the night, catching on to James moon-eyes and James tried to reign it in, for Sirius’ sake.
She was chatting and humming along with Remus, the two of them childhood friends with obvious ease that made James a tad jealous. She had a sarcastic dry sense of humour, making James laugh into his beer countless times throughout the night and her witty comments highlighted how smart and in touch she was. She was ethereal and all-consuming and James knew he was in over his head.
“You heard Remus, she doesn’t do relationships so stop looking at her like she's the only person in the room” Sirius hissed from his side.
James glared at his best mate.
“You can’t go there mate. I like Remus, a lot and I want us to all get along - without complications”
James furrowed his eyebrows but looked at Sirius and nodded. It wasn’t often that Sirius declared his feelings out loud, so he knew that whatever feelings James had for this enigmatic girl, he had to shove under the rug.
“She would destroy you anyway. Any girl that has standards as high as bloody Mount Everest doesn’t care about what anyone else feels” Sirius muttered.
James wasn’t sure about her ‘destroying’ people but he got the sense that he would probably just be another measly man in her never ending quest to flirt. He just witnessed how flippant Lily was in regards to men. He knew that the bloke she had flirted with at the bar had probably said something distasteful but with the way her friends reacted, he knew she did this often.
He didn’t want to be another one of Lily Evan’s discarded men. She would never give him the chance to prove her theory wrong anyway.
So he moved on. At least he tried to.
The group had gelled quickly, Remus bringing along Lily and Marlene to Sirius, James and Peter’s little clique. They often found themselves at the pub, or at James and Sirius’s shared apartment. Remus lived with the two girls, which meant Remus was often towing the two girls along with him when they decided to have a movie night, or play video games.
At first James resented Sirius for inviting the girls over, he didn’t want to get in deeper with Lily but when Lily came bounding in- red hair tousled and wavy, giggling and joking - James couldn’t resent his best friend. He loved being around Lily. It was an addiction. The way she ruffled his hair when he joked with her, the way she offered everyone drinks before getting one herself even if it wasn’t her own apartment, even just the way she should friendly affection - with arm touches and side hugs. She was everything James had dreamt of.
“I would rather be her friend than ignore her,” James muttered when Sirius gave his mate a glaring look after Lily had hugged him a bit too long.
James had friend-zoned her rather quickly, making sure to involve her in his disastrous dating life by keeping her up to date with the terrible, and lack-lustre dates he was forcing himself on. He made sure to keep their touches friendly, jokingly, like a shove on the shoulder or a ruffle of hair. It was working well. At least, that's what James thought.
It was a Friday night, the girls plus Remus were at the boys apartment...again, and they had decided to have a little horror movie marathon. Surprise, surprise, it was Sirius’ idea to pick the genre, claiming that he ‘liked’ horror movies (which James knew wasn’t true) and that it ‘wasn’t’ so he could cuddle Remus and hide beneath the blankets.
As Peter searched for the first movie on Netflix and Marlene shuffled around in the kitchen, organising snacks, James found himself nestled next to Lily on the floor, both of their backs leaning against the sofa.
“So how did your date go with the carpenter?” James asked her.
Lily hummed absentmindedly.
James chuckled, watching as Lily tapped away on her phone.
“What?” She asked, picking up her head and smiling at him.
“I don’t think I should even ask anymore, you always say boring” he teased.
Lily laughed softly.
“Yeah well I’m not going to romanticize a carpenter from South London, that stared at my tits the whole time am I?” she stuck her tongue out at him, causing James to chuckle and shuffle nervously.
“What happened to Eddie? He was quite funny” James prompted, talking about the bloke that hit on her at the pub a few weeks ago. He was nice enough, smart looking and actually quite normal from Lily’s usual dating prospects.
“His name was Edward not Eddie, and he was nice but I don't know…” Lily stared at the TV, the movie paused waiting for everyone to sit down.
“You got bored? Something he did turned you off? You got the ick because he used a napkin and left it bunched up in his hand the entire night?” James teased, knowing by now what turned Lily off.
Lily rolled her eyes.
“Marlene said you’ve been crushing on him from afar for months now, what happened?”
It had physically crushed James when he heard this, knowing that Lily did indeed have crushes. He thought this ‘crush phase’ that her friends had mentioned was made up, but it seemed like Lily did have a pattern. Voicing her fancy towards a bloke from afar but once getting to know them, stepping away and grimacing like a two year old.
“I don't know. I guess having a crush is always based on what you think the person is like, what you wish they were like. I guess not many people live up to my expectations” she shrugged. Her cheeks had gone a rosy red, covering her freckles that he liked so much.
“Crush phase,” James muttered.
Lily turned around at this and frowned at him.
“Oh nothing, just something Marlene said. You like the crush phase.” James muttered again. He didn’t want to look at her, he knew he probably shouldn’t have said that.
But Lily surprised him, like she always did.
“Crush phase, hah. That’s clever.”
James forced a smile and turned back to the TV \ just in time for Marlene to saunter from the kitchen and pass around the popcorn.
As they watched the beginning of the crappy horror movie, Lily shuffled closer to James on the pretence of grabbing more popcorn out of the bowl he had on his lap. He tried not to visibly tense under her movement but he knew she had seen him flinch.
She smiled coyly.
“I like flirting with them, I like joking around, I even enjoy the dates but when they start talking, properly talking, opening up, I don’t know but I just don’t feel anything” Lily muttered, carrying on the conversation as if they weren’t in the middle of a movie surrounded by their friends.
James frowned and tilted his head towards her, she was watching the movie, her fingers still in the bowl in his laptop.
“Right,” James muttered, distracted by the way her hand popped another handful of popcorn in her mouth.
She caught him watching her and winked, making James shiver and blink in shock.
Was she flirting with him?
“Do you know what I mean though? Flirting’s fun, it's light hearted and easy” she whispered, her voice turning sultry and smooth and making James feel like liquid gold.
James blinked again and awkwardly shoved his glasses up his nose.
“Well yeah, but maybe getting to know someone more will make the flirting more meaningful, more intense” James said back.
Lily hummed quietly.
“Maybe”' she shrugged her shoulders and went back to watching the movie.
“Evans!” James cheers as Lily enters their apartment.
Lily beams brightly and James isn’t sure if it's the gallons of alcohol he had already ingested that night or just her that makes his heart thump heavily.
The apartment is loud and heaving with various types of people, students from their university classes, childhood friends and neighbours. But all he can hear is her bright laugh, and all he can see is her pretty face.
She giggles as she takes off her coat and spins around to pick up a bottle of wine from the wine rack to her left. He doesn’t hear her when she asks how he is, he’s too busy taking in her appearance. She’s wearing a silky black dress that makes her legs look impossibly long and his vodka-induced brain tells him to wrap them around his waist.
“Potter?” She says, looking up from her glass after pouring herself some wine. He hadn’t even realised he had followed her to the kitchen.
He shakes his head and gives her a cheesy grin.
“James Fleamont Potter, are you completely wasted?” she chides teasingly.
“Lils, me? Never.” He winks.
If Lily was any other girl, he would have said in the last couple of months they’ve both been flirting non-stop with each other, but he knows Lily and he knows she wouldn’t actually flirt with him. So he puts it down to them just going up a level in their friendship. You could easily say they were best friends now.
She walks over and drapes an arm around his waist easily, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Missed you” she whispers, making James shiver slightly.
“It's only been a couple of weeks, Evans” he replies, ruffling her hair.
“Yeah but work has been the worst, I’ve had to work late every night this week at the Chemist” she groans, the vibrations making his stomach clench.
“I was going to come visit you the other night…” James starts to say and then realises how many boundaries he’s probably crossed already and decides to keep his loose lips shut.
“Yeah? How come you didn't?” she presses, lifting her head from his shoulder and stepping around to face him.
Before James could fumble for a normal response to why he wanted to visit Lily, Marlene comes tumbling over, her blonde hair a mess and her eyes bloodshot.
“Jeeze, did everyone get plastered already? It's not even 10:30” Lily smirked, looking her friend up and down.
“Lily-pad you’re here! How long have you been here? Why didn’t you come see me?” Marlene mumbled. She was a drunk talker, and often asked thousands of questions, not waiting for an answer before she was off galloping after someone else.
“I was saying hi to James” Lily smiled, amused at Marlene’s behaviour, “Where’s Remus?”
“Up to no good in Sirius' room, what do you think? Oh, I saw you chatting up my Allie, Jamesy, she’s cute right?” Marlene winked at James, making James throw up a little in his mouth.
Dear god, he didn’t want to relive that nightmare.
Lily turned around and looked at James. There was something odd about her expression, but he was too drunk to decipher it.
“Yeah, right. Um, we didn’t exactly hit it off” James mumbled.
Marlene scrunched up her face.
“What happened?” Lily pressed.
“Nothing. Hey look there’s Remus!” James said, grateful for the distraction.
Remus strolls over, face flushed and eyes sparkling.
“Where were you?” Lily asks, abandoning James' side to hug Remus.
“Giving Sirius his birthday present” he mumbles, a small smile on his lips.
James cocks an eyebrow in question.
“Did you do the thing I said?” Lily asks, a smirk present on her face and eyes gleaming with mischief.
“Sure did,” Remus smirks.
James looks at Marlene for an answer, clearly understanding that he missed something. Marlene shrugs her shoulders in response.
“What thing?” James asks innocently.
Lily and Remus give each other one brief look before bursting into laughter. James narrows his eyes at the pair of them. She doesn't reply to James but instead looks at Marlene and with one eyebrow raised says, “Remember that thing Danny taught me” she waits for Marlene to remember, after Marlene’s eyes widen Lily nods her head enthusiastically.
“You told Remus? Oh my god, did you try it on Black?” Marlene giggles.
“Mhm,” Remus grins, his cheeks now bright red.
“What the fuck are you girls talking about?” James asks, exasperated.
Lily giggles and if James wasn’t so drunk and tired of the conversation he obviously wasn’t a part of, he would probably be blushing himself because Lily’s giggles just do that to him.
Marlene grips Remus’ shoulder with an excitable energy only akin to Marlene Mckinnon.
“Lily hooked up with the guy Danny not long ago and he taught her to do this thing with her tongue -” Lily shoves Marlene away from their little circle before her friend can complete the story.
James frowns, he doesn't want to think of Lily’s tongue anywhere near anyone else.
Lily’s cheeks are now pretty pink and she eyes James warily.
“Nothing, and it was ages ago” Lily mumbles, shooting her friend a look.
“Danny? I don’t remember you dating Danny?” James asks.
“I didn’t date him, I just slept with him” Lily shuts James down before looking around the room. .
James hates this part of their friendship, hearing about Lily’s escapades and her blasé attitude to relationships. He may be a straight man, but he could never sleep with someone on the first date, it was embarrassing but he truly was a romantic. He liked to blame his happy parents for that.
“Anyway, what happened to that girl you were supposedly talking to?” Lily grins. He notices her green eyes look a little dull.
“Fuck, thought I avoided that conversation” he mumbles out loud. The vodka in his system was now not working in his favour.
Lily cocks an eyebrow humorously.
“C’mon Potter, you can share with me. We're best friends aren't we?” Lily smiles sweetly.
He hates that too. How easy it is for her to say they were best friends.
The friend zone.
He’s going to kill whoever made up that concept.
“Of course, she was interested” Lily crosses her arms, drawing his attention to the curves of her breasts in her low cut dress.
He quickly averts his eyes, although he’s not sure how quickly he does this in real time, because again, he is pretty sloshed.
“You haven’t even met her yet!” James argues.
“Oh c’mon James, who wouldn’t be interested in you!” She smiles and his heart cracks a little.
Before his drunk lips can say “you”, Lily says something about needing another drink and wanders off to the kitchen and what does James do? He follows her like a stray kitten.
The rest of the night plays out like so:
James tries to handle his drink a little more, pacing himself with cups of water in between beers.
Lily drinks more wine, which soon turns to vodka.
Marlene continues to drink enough Moscato for the entire party.
Remus and Sirius get busted multiple times hooking up in either the bathroom or kitchen.
The rest of the party goers (about 20 or so of Sirius and James' friends), mingle in their living room and on their small balcony. The music is loud and probably should be turned down slightly soon but everyone is too drunk to care.
It’s nearing 1am and Lily and James are giggling as Marlene tries to re-enact the explicit scene she had just walked in between Sirius and Remus. Wiggling her tongue and moaning their sweet nothings, the small group laugh so hard their stomachs ache.
“I’m going to go find someone to flirt with” Marlene says out of nowhere, causing Lily to chuckle and James to shake his head. She winks at Lily, and James focuses on the way Lily shakes her head at her friend, her cheeks now bright red matching the exact shade of her loose hair.
Marlene leaves the pair of them in the narrow hallway. They had congregated there, since the living room was getting too rowdy to speak.
“You should go find someone to flirt with too” James slurs.
“Fuck off, I don’t always want to just meaninglessly flirt with randoms, Potter” Lily snaps.
James frowns, “You’re a mean drunk”.
“Nope!” Lily’s tone abruptly changes.
James smirks into his beer bottle.
“What kind of drunk are you then Potter? Lets see, you get really touchy with your friends when you drink, so maybe an affectionate drunk” Lily taps her lip with her finger as she pretends to ponder, James can’t help but stare at her lips.
“Probably” He shrugs. He’s actually quite an affectionate person when he’s sober, but he supposes he kept that part to himself when he’s around Lily.
“You know what’s really good when you’re drunk” Lily says idly, she’s not looking at James so James takes the opportunity to drink her in. Freckles, pale skin which is healthily blushed from the heat in the apartment and probably the alcohol, her red hair is now fluffier than before. He thinks he prefers it that way.
“You’re a horny drunk Lils,” he says between chuckles.
“I haven’t had sex in like five months” Lily pouts, this time turning to James before looking down into her cup.
James can’t help but give Lily a confused look.
“But you went out with that guy just the other week, Marlene told me you hooked up with him”
“Fuck no, didn’t go near him”
“Crush phase again?” James questions.
Lily knits her brows, and James thinks it makes her look cuter.
“No” Lily snaps.
James shuts his mouth.
“Sorry Lils, I didn’t mean it like that”
Lily turns and looks James straight in the eyes.
“I don’t just go chasing this crush phase you’ve all made up. Just because I don’t have serious relationships doesn't mean I don’t want one.”
James gulps, “I know”.
“You don’t think so, all you do is have serious relationships. I mean you even went out with that blonde bimbo for three dates before calling it quits, even though you said from the first date you didn't like her!”
“Well yeah I wanted to give her a chance”
“Yeah well I think that's a waste of time” Lily argues.
James has no idea where this conversation is going and he’s one more minute away from running away and trying to find Sirius.
“Why don’t you give people a chance, Lils?”
He’s been wanting to ask her this question since he first met her six months ago.
Lily averts her gaze and ponders the question.
“I’ve had shit times in relationships. My last relationship lasted a whole year, and the whole time I was waiting for the moment that we just clicked”
“You know that stupid spark you romantics talk about”
James laughs, but then Lily shoots him a glaring look and he bites his lip.
“So I came to the conclusion that there's no such thing. The only time I ever felt something was when I saw them from a far or we just playfully flirted. But as soon as that moment was over, nothing. I’ve never felt anything other than the fleeting enjoyment of either flirting or having a fucking orgasm - which doesn't always fucking happen anyway so...” Lily shrugs her shoulders and sighs loudly.
“That's a lot to unpack” James starts.
Lily glares at him again.
“So you don’t feel anything even when you hook up with them?”
Lily narrows her eyes at James.
“Don’t make me sound like a heartless slut, James”
“No!” fuck, he didn’t think this through, “no, that’s not what I meant at all! I was just asking if you’ve ever had chemistry with someone?”
“Well yeah” Lily answers quietly.
“Who?” He can’t help it, he has to know.
“I don't know, you, I guess” Lily says, her eyes fluttering to him before going back to her cup.
James takes a moment to fully digest her words.
“What?” he manages to squeak.
“I have chemistry with you, we have fun don’t we? And it's been what? six months and I still have fun with you”
She means they have chemistry as friends .
James thinks his heart is going to break cleanly in two.
“Right, fun” he scoffs.
Lily steps forward.
“I don’t just mean in a friendship way” she whispers shyly.
“Stop, Lily,” James says harshly. Her closeness doesn’t help but he can’t do this with Lily. He can’t have her come on to him and then the next day pretend nothing happened, or even realise something about him that she does like and they’ve ruined their friendship forever.
“I can’t do this with you. I’m not someone you can flirt with and then decide you don’t like the next day”
“James, we've been flirting for months?”
“No we haven't?”
“Yes we have” she laughs and it's light and makes his bones tingle.
“But you haven’t gotten bored of me yet?” his eyes widened - “or have you?”
His heart is pumping so harshly that he’s sure she can hear it from where she's standing.
“No, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of you” she smiles sweetly and his heart flips.
Man, his heart is going to be sore in the morning.
“Wait no- Lily, you don’t do relationships and if you’re really coming on to me right now, that's what we would be doing, we would be in a relationship, not fucking around”
Lily narrows his eyes again and steps closer to him.
He can smell the sweet aroma of some kind of flower and his head feels dizzy.
“Fucking hell James - I love you”
“Who are you and what have you done with Lily Evans?”
She laughs at him and he just stands there gobsmacked.
“You don’t love me” he mumbles, shocked, making him stand there opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish.
“James, you’re my best friend and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve been flirting with you constantly the last few months. I mean, I cuddle you every chance I get! I always want to be near you and don’t get me started on that time you came out of the bathroom wearing just a towel. I don’t think my heart has fully recovered from that still”
“Should I be telling you this when we’re sober?” Lily smiles tightly.
“No, fuck no. You should have told me sooner! But can you tell me again in the morning? Every morning would be nice”
He can’t stop himself now, he grabs Lily’s waist and pulls her flush towards him. She gasps slightly but he can’t keep his eyes off the wide smile she’s giving him.
“You’re not messing me around are you?” She shakes her head, “Have you really been flirting with me this entire time? I thought that was just you know us ”
“Well it is just us isn’t it? I don’t think we were ever just friends James. I was just waiting for you to say something, but then Marlene told me that you told that Allie girl, you liked someone else and well I nearly threw up” she takes a breath, “- until Sirius came to the rescue and blabbed it was me you liked.”
James couldn’t help but laugh. She was rambling and flustered and James wanted to hug her to his chest and never let go.
“Fuck Lily, I’ve been crushing on you since I fist saw you” he breathed heavily.
“Just a crush?” she pulled slightly away and James quickly gripped her waist harder and pulled her back towards him.
“You know I don’t do crushes, Lil. I love you too”
Lily’s face lights up at the words and she laughs shyly. The sound makes James stomach flip and his nerves tingle.
He thinks about everything briefly as she laughs, the way she looks at him, her touches, her hugs, how she always called him when something funny happened at work. His mind even quickly took him to a memory just a couple of months prior.
James had come down with a messy cold and was holed up in his room all weekend. Lily had come bounding in, plaid pyjamas on and a large block of chocolate in her hand. He didn’t even question her, when she slipped in between his sheets and cuddled next to him. It was just what they did. It was them .
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I first saw you” He mumbles before dipping down and catching her lips with his.
It's not a slow kiss, it's deep and passionate and all consuming. Tongues and teeth clash together but the sparks that emit from the two of them make James pull Lily closer and groan.
Lily pulls away slowly but her hands stay looped in his hair.
“Fuck” she breathes hotly.
“Sparks?” he asks, between sweet soft kisses.
“Fucking Fireworks”. She answers breathily before raising up on her tiptoes and pressing her lips against his again.