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I.

“You forgot your quill,” she muttered, not looking up from her Arithmancy work as he settled down next to her, reaching for the toast that rests on her other side. Lily held the tawny feather out to him absentmindedly.

“Thanks,” James smiled, taking the quill and holding up a roll of parchment to the side of her head, which was still focused down on the book in front of her. “Yours,” he dropped unceremoniously near her goblet.

“My Charms homework! Where did-?”

“Tucked behind the cushion.”

“Ah,” she said, smiling now at James because she liked to see him smile back. “That bastard cushion is out to ruin me.”

“Everyone knows that cushion is cursed, Evans,” he shrugged easily, not paying attention to the jam that slid off his toast onto his robes. She didn’t notice, either. “You picked the wrong chair to work at.”

“Picked?” She widened her eyes in offense. “If I remember correctly, I was forced into that cursed cushion by your mate Remus, who wouldn’t give me back the armchair!”

“Well, yeah,” James nodded, “but why would he switch with you once you were sitting on the cursed cushion?”

Lily blinked at him. “That’s faulty logic and you know it, Potter. You’re off your game this morning.”

“Late night,” came the retort. She patted his arm in faux sympathy.

“There, there. I’m sure whatever late night havoc you caused will all be worth it when Flitwick gives you detention.”

“Why do you think we messed with the Charms corridor?”

“I passed by Filch this morning,” Lily told him. “He was muttering on about it and listing off the usual sorts of fantasies, but with more enthusiasm than usual. You really riled him up this time.”

“You have no evidence,” James mumbled, piling his plate with eggs. “And Filch can’t prove who may or may not have been involved.”

“Does he really need proof? James, the portrait of medieval monks are all wearing Muggle bellbottoms. Was that Sirius?”

“Peter,” he grinned. “Sometimes you have to earn the painting’s trust before you can alter it. Wormtail’s the only one with the patience to talk to those old loons.”

“You’re unbelievable,” she muttered, but the amusement on her lips negated any disapproval that a Head Girl should show at the Head Boy’s continued propensity for rule breaking.

“But here’s why I’ve got you, Evans, my faithful other half!” James tapped her lightly on the nose with enthusiasm. “You get to tell Flitwick just how late we were up making the rounds schedule and how I never left your sight during all the point calculations that occupied the two of us all night, and there was no possible way James Potter was up in the Charms corridor figuring out a way to get the singing armor to Vanish and be Summoned in different spots of the hallway in a continuous loop.” 

Lily rose her eyebrows in surprise.

“That’s some impressive bits of magic,” she complemented with sincerity. He gave her a hopeful, pleading expression.

“Impressive enough for an alibi?”

“No,” she shook her head with a smile, “No, I’m afraid you’ll be forced to solve your own problems here.”

“Lily, impressive bits of magic deserve–” A boy who had been sitting across the table from Lily’s left cut into their conversation.

“Are you two dating?” The fifth year asked, staring openly at Lily’s hand that was still resting gently James’ arm. She removed it a bit self-consciously as James smirked back at the boy with obvious amusement.

“Merlin, no,” he laughed. “This one here doesn’t have the common decency to lie for me.” James shook his head in disapproval. “I can do better than that.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “I refuse one time and it’s the end of the world.”

“The disloyalty!” James slammed his fist on the table dramatically. “The betrayal!”

“I’m not even going to dignify those claims–” Lily started, but the boy gave a cough for attention.  After eyeing James for a moment more, he turned to Lily with a grin.

“Well, Evans, if you’re free you can come to Slughorn’s function with me on Friday. He told me there’s going to be a Wizengamot wizard there–”

“Looks like you’re all covered,” James muttered, and Lily realized with some horror that he was standing to leave, abandoning her to deal with the fifth year who was apparently asking her out.

“– and old Sluggy just realized that my mother is the Ursala Bonebright–”

“Don’t you dare, James Potter, you stay put–” but he was up now and looking at her with the mischievous gleam he gets whenever he knows he’s won something. The fifth year was still talking, unconcerned that James was there, bent down so he was right at Lily’s level.

”– and well you know how many galleons my family has given to Mungo’s research ward and Slughorn was saying that–“

“I’d love to help,” James whispered, “but I’m afraid you’ll be forced to solve your own problems here.”

He laughed as he walked away, hands tucked into to pockets and the image of Lily’s appalled expression burned into his mind.

James pays for his folly later when they’re partnered together for minor hexes in Defense and Lily momentarily forgets the strength of her own wand. He’s so impressed by her work that he doesn’t mind that he’s sitting in the Hospital Wing that evening with Sirius at the foot of his bed, mocking him about slow reaction times and failed Quidditch careers in the near future. That doesn’t matter much to James, though, because Lily is seated right by his side, repeating frantic and unnecessary apologies. She’s holding his hand and he can hardly fathom why he would be upset in the first place.


 

II.

"Are you two dating?”

“That doesn’t concern you.”

“Yes, it does.”

“No, it doesn’t. Nothing that I do concerns you. Nothing that you do concerns me, or else I could tell Dumbledore that I know for a fact that you’re wandering the grounds with Regulus Black every other night.”

“That doesn’t concern you,” he parroted. She almost smiled but didn’t. He repeated himself, asking again, “Are you two dating?”

Lily didn’t stop her search through the Transfiguration section for the text she’d been locating when Snape caught up to her. If she hadn’t been stuck for the damned book on theory for so long, she wouldn’t have been distracted enough to allow him to sneak up on her. It’d been over a year since they last spoke and Lily had been hoping that record wouldn’t break so early. But she knew how to to deal with him after years of conflict avoidance, and didn’t respond. The less Severus knew about her the better. That didn’t seem to be his plan, however.

“Answer me, Lily,” he hissed and the venom in his voice startled her into looking at him. He had grown taller since they’d last stood this close together.

Lily narrowed her eyes with equal disdain. He had the audacity to be this near her, to be this angry with her over nothing while she suspected that his left arm sported a new tattoo.

“You’re unbelievable,” Lily shook her head, turning away from him, but he grabbed her wrist with a tight clench and pulled her arm up, stopping her. She tried to pull away, indignation seeping through her voice as she whisper fiercely, “Let go of me!”

“Are you or are you not fucking James Potter?”

“No!” She finally yelled, breaking the quiet of the library but she didn’t care. They stood there for a second, just long enough for Lily to see his face break into what looked like relief and something else she couldn’t place before Snape’s gaze focused on something past her shoulder. Another hand gripped her, but this one was warm and familiar and she didn’t have to turn around to know who had just wandered into this scene.

Snape’s hand dropped her wrist with a look of pure loathing, but Lily couldn’t tell which one of them he was directing his sneer. She leaned back into James, and though she could finally relax her stance, his was tense and he spoke with a hardness that she had never heard.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” James started, voice rumbling in his chest so unlike the way his laughter vibrates through him, “but I suggest you get the hell out of here. Now.”

“I was just leaving,” came the retort. “Need to wash my hands, anyway, they’re filthy now.”

“You absolute ba–” James went to lunge for Snape, trying to get out from behind Lily, but she blocked him with her elbow.

“He’s not worth it.” She told him, not looking at Snape but up at James, who seemed to be upset that she just prevented a confrontation from breaking out in the Transfiguration section. “James, really, he’s not worth it.”

But that didn’t seem to matter, because neither Lily nor James noticed that Snape had slunk away and was already gone. Lily breathed a sigh of relief at the empty space in front of her before James grabbed her by her shoulders and brought his face level to her own, distress written all across his features.

“What did he do? Lily, what happened, what did-”

“Nothing,” she quieted him, because she hated thinking about Severus and she hated him for everything he became and every good memory of friendship he had tainted. “Nothing happened,“ Lily lied, "it’s fine.”

"Really?” James rose his eyebrows so far up they disappeared into his hair. “Is ‘nothing’ why you’re crying?”

Lily touched a hand to her cheek.

“Oh,” she muttered. “I didn’t realize.”

His tone softened. “Are you okay?”

She wanted to nod yes, but didn’t. She lifted her shoulders in a small shrug instead, because she really didn’t want to be crying but she was anyway. Her vision blurred with wetness and then blurred from fabric as James pulled her into his chest and stood with his arms round her shoulders and rocked ever so slightly from side to side as if he had always known the best way to hug Lily Evans. She took shaky breaths, holding back any real tears from spilling over, but she waited to speak until she knew her eyes were dry and her voice would be steady.

“He asked if we were dating,” Lily mumbled.

“That would explain the crying, then.”

She looked up at him and smiled, the redness of her eyes only emphasizing their green.

“It was a natural reaction,” she sniffled, playing casual. “The very thought is enough to send anyone into hysterics.”

“You flatter me so,” he replied dryly. Lily could tell that he didn’t want to drop the subject, so she did what she could to divert him again.

“Have you seen Arling’s Theories on Matter? I can’t find it, and I swear if that prick Pinkby still has it checked out, I’m going straight to Madame Pince.”

Without speaking, James reached directly above her head, pulling down a book with a deep blue leather cover and gold detail. Lily gaped down at the text, up at the shelf where she so obviously should have found it, and then at James, who was sporting an incredibly amused smirk.

“It was not there,” she swore, “I have checked this shelf twelve times and that book was not there!”

“Which one of us has glasses again?” He asked, laughing, “Honestly, Evans, how short are you that you can’t see the bookshelf?”

“It wasn’t there,” came the response as James draped his arm around her shoulders and led her out of the corner of the library, holding the book his his other hand and waving it about enthusiastically. They walked out of the Transfiguration section in this manner, ignoring the stares of other students and the glare Madame Pince was now sending their way, because Lily was laughing and James was babbling on about how she must be going blind in her old age as she went on about how the book appeared out of thin air, just for him.

“I’ll let you in on a little secret,” James told her, handing her the accursed book, “I’m magic. Just don’t tell anyone.“

He earned a light punch in the arm for that one.

James walks with a bit of a limp the next day and he brushes off her questioning with the usual “Quidditch kills, Evans,” excuse, and she doesn’t notice that Sirius and Peter sit in the back trying to find a way to cure the pustules that keep regenerating on Remus’ arm, or that it was possible that Snape sported a poorly healed bruise on his eye. She doesn’t notice because James is sitting next to her and they’re trying to see which one of them can gain more elbow room on the table and they’re playing hangman and a game of fate Lily remembers from her primary school. She doesn’t even think about what happened yesterday except for the fact that James Potter hugs with more heart than anyone she knows.


 

III.

She found him lounging on the couch, his legs draped over the edge and his book propped against his knees. He wasn’t studying, she knew, because his quill moved back and forth absentmindedly as it did when he doodled. The only announcement she made of her presence is the question that had rattled her brain all day.

"Do you want to meet my sister?”

James looked up at her, confused.

“The answer,” Lily continued as she plopped down on the cushion right next to his head, “is no.”

“You don’t have a sister,” he closed the book but didn’t sit up, looking at her from above his glasses.

“I have too got a sister and she’s engaged. Mum wants us to have dinner with her and her fiancé Vernon during holiday.”

“Us?”

She shrugged. “I talk about you in my letters a lot.”

“Oh.” 

James sat up. Lily wasn’t paying him much attention, focused instead on the paper she held crumpled in her hands. It looked like she had folded it and refolded it many times over. He wasn’t accustomed to her silence, which is what concerned him. Lily had a tendency to talk even when nothing needed to be said and she liked to think out loud, but now she wasn’t speaking and she was distant. James didn’t intrude on her thoughts. Instead he leaned back against the cushions and watched the flames stir rhythmically with her, until suddenly she stood, ripping the letter into tiny shreds that she dumped rather aggressively into the fire. Lily fell back onto the couch next to him, her body resting against his with a heavy sigh. She could practically hear his eyebrows raise in question at her, as they tended to do.

“Talk about blaming the messenger,” he quipped.

“It deserved it,“ she said with conviction. "It was an accomplice and complacent in the crimes that have been committed against my peace of mind.”

“It’s not the paper’s fault someone offended you so.”

“Yeah, well, can’t really set my family on fire now, can I?” That earned a laugh from James.

“No,” he chuckled and she felt it move through his body, “no, I don’t think you should do that. And I don’t really understand why you want to do that, either.”

“She’s clueless, my mother,” Lily started. “Absolutely clueless. I mean, how could she possibly think–? As if she’d even agree to this! Probably hasn’t even told her yet, let alone that horrible man… I haven’t spoken more than six words to her in as many years, Merlin, the delusion required to even suggest this. Absolutely ludicrous.” James kept nodding as she went on in this fashion, not able to follow exactly what she was saying. She looked at him now, though. “Sorry. This is just… unexpected.”

“Well, holidays are weeks away,” he pointed out. “You don’t have to think about it now if you don’t want to.”

Lily grimaced back at him. “I know. But I was hoping you already had wild plans that you, most unfortunately, could not cancel. And I, not wanting to third wheel, would not have to dine with the happy couple at all.”

He gave her an apologetic smile. “Fleamont and Euphemia prefer the comforts of home these days.”

“Fleamont? Euphemia?” Lily gave a laugh that sounded more like a snort. “Pureblood culture is so strange.”

“With all due offense, what the hell is a Vernon?”

“Touché.”

They sat in that silence for a little more, watching the activity of the Common Room around them. It almost escaped his notice that Lily was drumming her fingers softly along his thigh and she was leaning against his chest because he had his arm around her and his fingers moved in slow circles along her shoulder. It was nice, he realized, sitting like this. Lily’s presence had grown to be a familiar one over the past two years, and her body had a familiar feel to it too. But he was curious and had the suspicion that she wanted to talk about it.

“What’s her name?” James asked quietly, because her head was tucked underneath his chin and he didn’t need to speak any more above a whisper.

“Petunia.”

“Do you have any brothers I should know about? Any Black Eye Susan’s or Hawthorne’s or Oak’s?”

“No,” she said, and he could hear the smile in her voice. “It’s just me and Tuney and Mum now.“

"You’ve never mentioned your sister.”

“I’m sure she speaks of me even less,” Lily confessed. “She’s never exactly approved of my education.”

“What, Hogwarts?” he asked. “But Dumbledore’s the best–”

“Exactly.”

He still didn’t quite understand her, because Lily seemed to be saying that her sister didn’t approve of magic and didn’t approve of her, but who could know Lily and not be utterly smitten? James didn’t know what else to say but a small, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Lily sighed and sat up so she could face him. The firelight danced across his features, reflecting shadows in his glasses and she realized how close their faces were. Closer than they should be, considering friends don’t normally sit as intimately as they’d been sitting. And friends don’t usually have to endure Petunia and her fiancé in what will be a disastrous affair from the start. And they aren’t dating, she knew that, but she knew that James would go with her and it wouldn’t be so bad, and they’d laugh about it together and enjoy themselves even if they couldn’t enjoy Petunia and Vernon. She knew James would do this for her because it was important. She knew James would be there for her.

“So?” she asked, “Will you come with me?”

He pretended to mull it over, but really, James had known his answer since she first strolled in here.

“Yeah,” he breathed out. “Anything for you.”

And they aren’t dating, he knew that, but she had never looked at him like that and he’s never glanced at her lips like he just did and he couldn’t think of another friend that he would be sitting here with agreeing to what sounded like a double date from hell. The air around them was heavy with something that wasn’t wholly awkward but wasn’t comfortable, either. It was Lily who broke through it.

"You’re a stand up bloke, James Potter,” she whispered, then gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, because that was a friendly gesture. She stood now, adjusting her skirt for something to do before looking back at him because even though it was dim, she found it difficult to stare into his face– it was glowing with warmth. She smiled at him now, though. “I owe you a butterbeer and a trip to the cinema. There’s a movie coming out soon that I think you’d love.”

“It’s a deal, Evans.” He wanted to say date, but didn’t. She started to walk away and he found that he didn’t want her to leave just yet, so he grabbed her arm with a playful grin tugging at his lips. “Mum's just got me new dress robes. The constellation detail on ‘em move in real time– you think they’d be fancy enough? Need to one-up Vernon, see.”

“Something tells me you won’t have to try that hard,” Lily laughed, a tinkling sound that traveled through him and made him want to pull her back down onto the sofa with him, on him, under him, or something. He wasn’t picky. But she gently pulled her arm from him with quiet goodnight and her own sort of glow on her cheeks when she waved a final goodbye to him before trekking up to the dormitory.

James sits awake on the couch, thinking. Lily Evans lies awake too, thinking some of those same thoughts.


 

IV.

Late one night, he asks her. Or she asks him. Whatever it was, whoever it was, it happened.

He’s never particularly enjoyed potions, but Lily adores them. He likes the technical theory of Transfiguration while she likes to see the process transform in front of her. She loves the start to end of a potion, the measuring and chopping and stirring and waiting. He likes all those things, too, when he watches her do them.

It’s become habit to be with Lily while she brews. He finishes evening Quidditch practice and grabs two meals from the Kitchens to join her in the dungeon. She likes his company and pretends that the proximity of the Slytherin Common Room isn’t a factor in that decision.

Tonight’s menu is particularly full. There’s warmed roast and rice with vegetables, buttered bread and pumpkin juice but also hot chocolate for dessert. He grabbed extra peppermints because he knows they’re her favorite.

Lily’s back is turned from the door when he enters and she doesn’t lift her head from her cauldron. She’s not surprised when she feels his free hand at the small of her back and feels him lean into her for a better look at her cauldron. Sometimes he gives her tips that he remembers from his father’s brewing days and sometimes he offers to slice her next beetle but many times he settles for a quick kiss on the cheek, as friends do. Tonight he is curious.

“Is this personal, Sulghorn, or Pomfrey?”

“Madame Pomfrey,” Lily confirms, mixing the dark sludgy mix in front of her clockwise, counter clockwise, clockwise, counter clockwise until suddenly it is a bright red runny liquid. She nods, satisfied with what’s happened, and dumps a clear liquid into the pot. “She’s running low on some basic healing potions and a whole group of First Years decided to stay out in the rain, so they’ve taken her whole stock of cold supplies.”

“Ah,” James sets the picnic basket down on a clean table, “to be a Firstie again. Not a N.E.W.T. in the world to care about. To be so young, so innocent.”

Lily narrows her eyes at him with skepticism “Didn’t you set fire to your bed curtains the first night?”

“That does not negate my comparable innocence to now.”

“Oh, of course not,” she smiles.

“Don’t act so high and mighty, Evans,” James mocks warningly. “I’m not the one who threw toadstool at the Slytherins during the first potions class.”

“That was never proven to be me,” came the dignified response.

“Because I took the fall for it! I got detention for you!”

“No,” she shakes her head, still bent over her cauldron, “you and Sirius got detention for throwing toadstool at Slughorn, inspired by the unknown vigilante’s action, though in my opinion he did not deserve such an assault.”

James rubs the back of his neck in thought.  "Huh. It’s hard to keep track.“

He reflects for a moment longer before standing and disappearing from her sight, though she’s concentrating on her incantation and his absence barely registered. James meanders back with his hands in his pockets and his own focus on Lily, who prods the flames beneath her potion with a sort of gentle caress until they’ve changed from a warm orange to a harsh blue. She gives another nod and a grin before grabbing the plant root at her work station.

There’s a song stuck in her head. He knows that because she’s tilting it left and right to the beat of whatever her mind is playing, a habit of her’s that he noticed during Sixth Year and never mentioned. She slices the roots with careful precision despite the fact that she isn’t using a measurement, until her knife slows its motion and her eyes travel up to meet James’, the song in her head pausing. There’s a puzzled look on her face when she asks, "What’re you smiling like that for?”

“Like what?”

“Like… I don’t know.” Her cheeks are pink and he can’t tell if it’s the reflection of her potion or if it’s something else. James shrugs at her but doesn’t drop his grin.

“This is nice,“ is all he says and walks back over to Lily, who eyes him like she’s still trying to figure him out. They’re standing very close, fronts almost touching, and he’s still wearing that grin and she’s not confused, exactly, but curious. He puts his hand around the one she’s using to hold the knife and he takes it from her in what feels like slow motion.

"I’m using that,” she manages to chide softly, though she knows he won’t give it back. James shakes his head at her.

“You can take a break.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do know that. Pepper Up needs to brew for an hour after the color change and you’re just chopping plants for fun now.”

"But my roots–”

“Will stay right there waiting for you,” he says and she knows she’s lost this battle because he’s already directing her over to the usual makeshift dinner table but there’s no food placed on it. Instead she sees that there’s blankets spread on the floor and several cauldrons being warmed up alongside it for heat. The whole setting could be rather romantic, if they were dating.

“Thought we could switch things up a bit tonight,” James explains and there is a shyness in the way he looks at her for approval, but she’s nodding in apparent excitement until her eyes glance back at her workstation again.

“Wait,” Lily turns and feels a tug at her hand and realized that James’ hand is wrapped around her’s. “I just want to make sure it’s the right shade of–”

“Lily,” he sighs dramatically. “The house elves will kill me if I let this meal go to waste. The potion is perfect, you’re perfect, and I’m hungry.”

“Alright, alright,” she laughs lightly and sits down obligingly on the blanket, “Merlin forbid you meet such an undignified ending.”

“I don’t think Sirius would recover from the shame,” he tells her with a somber expression and joins her on the floor, but from then on it is laughs and jibes and talk of homework and the other boys and how holidays are only two more weeks away. The dungeons are usually chillier than the rest of the castle, but tonight they are warm and things are good. James doesn’t mention that he has abandoned hopes of going professional for Quidditch and Lily doesn’t mention that she’s not applying for any Ministry position, but things are good. He laughs at her wit and she smiles when he runs that godforsaken hand through his hair and they’re happy.

This is what it’s like to be with James Potter. She’s always been mates with him and the boys, but never like this. Not like how she has cried with Peter after The Prophet reported a massacre at a Muggle orphanage, how she and Remus have successfully dumped a container of Sleakeazy’s onto James’ hair then ran helter-skelter away from the scene of the crime, and how she has sat with Sirius late at night in the Astronomy Tower, opting to smoke rather than talk.

James is a different sort of variety. Being close with James is staying up late together to make rounds schedules for Prefects and patrol the corridors. It’s talking about wizard and muggle music and politics. It’s brushing arms and future dinners with sisters and kisses on cheeks. Being close with James is the feeling she gets when she looks at him or when he calls her “Evans” affectionately, so different from the spiteful way they would spit surnames at each other in their worst moments.

Being close with James is this moment right now, where they are sitting alone eating dinner as they have been for weeks. It’s the way he knows her quirks and the way she knows his, it’s how they know that neither one of them will be able to pursue the career of their dreams because they’ll be fighting in the war, even though they are young and he is Pureblood and she could flee the country and it is a death sentence to be anything but enthusiastic about the reign of terror outside the castle.

Being close with James is the way she notices that he’s packed extra peppermints just for her. It’s the way he watches her stand and walk away so that she can vial the potion and it’s the look in his eye when she sits back down right next to him at the make-shift picnic, hips touching and legs extended out while they drink the rest of their hot chocolate in the strange warmth of the dungeon. Being close with James Potter is the reason why Lily Evans asks this question and it’s the reason why she knows the answer. He’s prattling on about how the team looked on the Pitch tonight when she finally takes the leap she’s wanted to for weeks now.

“I’m almost positive that Mertin is purposefully testing my threat to have the team do twice-a-day practices next week–”

“James,” she starts but he’s preoccupied.

“The poor sap couldn’t send a damn Bludger anywhere near Tompkins–”

James,” she repeats, and this time she shakes a hand on his leg to get his attention.

“–because apparently Tompkins told Rayburn that if Mertin–” Lily’s hand on his upper thigh managed to capture his focus. He stops his rambling and glances down at her hand, then up to her eyes, which he found to be very close to his. James smiles the smile he saves just for her. “Yes?”

“I was just wondering,” Lily nudges her shoulder closer into his, “How long have we been dating?”

It says something about the pair of them that James’ only reaction was to take a sip of his drink and ponder for a moment before he answers.

"You know,” he confesses, “I’ve been meaning to ask you the same thing.”

“You have?” She asks him with eyebrows raised though she is not surprised. Her stomach is in flutters but for once she embraces the feeling because she’s fallen hard for James Potter and she knows he’s got it bad, too. He answers her question with a nod.

“Lily, this-” he gestures to the empty basket and blankets, the soft glow of the flames around them in that could only be seen as romantic, “-is definitely not the most platonic dinner I’ve ever had.”

“You mean you don’t do this with all your friends?”

“Oh, you caught me,” he drawls. “Pete gets incredibly jealous when I’m late to our cauldron lit evening. I’ve really got to go, love.” He even moves to stand up but Lily catches his hand in hers and keeps it there, fingers interlocked, and he’s so happy to finally and shamelessly hold onto her that he grabs the other one and they sit there smiling like they’d been hit with a faulty Cheering Charm.

“How’d this happen?“ James asks and it’s a question that Lily’s been trying answer for a while herself.

"I have no idea,” she confesses. “It just did, like it was always going to in the end.”

“Like Transfiguration,” he nods. “One moment it’s something and the next it’s not. It’s something new and different that still maintains key properties of what it once was.”

Lily shakes her head in disagreement, because arguing fine points with James is a favorite pastime of her’s. “It’s Potions. A slow boil with different changes and stages, each step crucial to the final outcome.”

“You know what?” James smiles at her, a big lopsided sort of grin, the kind he gives when he’s a little drunk, “I think I don’t really care how it happened so long as it actually is happening.”

Lily eyes him appraisingly for a moment before responding, the mischief in her gaze just enough to match his.

“It really helps that you’re wearing your Quidditch robes right now,” she tells him and that’s all she manages to get out before his lips are on hers and she’s too distracted to say anything else for a good while. When they do pull away, James sports a look similar to the time a Bludger hit him square in the head and Lily can’t remember the last time she’d felt this content. His hands cup her cheeks and play with her hair but she’s still got one thought on her mind.

“No, seriously,” Lily presses, “do you know how fit you look Quidditch robes?”

James’ smile is the only answer she needs. That, and the way he kisses her again and gives her a promise.

“Now that we are dating” he says, “you can see just how fit I am without the Quidditch robes.”