“What are you so excited about?” Petunia asked from just outside the open bathroom door.
Lily spun around, inadvertently catching some of her hair on the brush that was still in her hand. “Damn!” She glanced back at the mirror and sighed. Now it was messy again. She looked back at Petunia as she began to work the brush through her hair again. “Didn’t I tell you?”
Petunia shook her head, her lips slightly pursed. “No.”
“Oh!” Lily put the brush back on the sink and reexamined herself in the mirror. Her thick, dark red hair spilled down across her shoulders perfectly, and she smiled. “James is coming by,” she said, looking back at her sister.
“Your boyfriend?” Petunia asked warily, crossing her arms over her sensible brown jumper.
Lily nodded, barely able to contain her excitement. She looked back in the mirror one more time, and was suddenly hit with the realization that she rather resembled a Christmas tree. She rushed out of the bathroom and down the hall to her room.
Petunia followed her at a much more leisurely pace, arriving just as Lily was peeling off her green cardigan in favor of a red one. “Does this look okay?” she said, looking anxiously over at Petunia as she straightened it out.
After a moment, her sister shook her head. “I don’t like it with the green skirt,” she said. “You’ve just traded in looking like a Christmas tree for looking like Christmas itself.”
Lily groaned and began rummaging in her closet. “How’s this?” she asked, holding up a cord tan skirt.
“That’s fine.” Petunia sat gingerly on the edge of Lily’s bed, glancing suspiciously at the sphinx wandering along the bottom of the cover of The Riddle of the Sphinx. She hesitated, and then asked, “He’s not like that other one, is he?”
Lily glanced over at Petunia. “Who, Severus?” Petunia nodded, and Lily snorted in amusement. “Definitely not. James hates Severus.”
Petunia seemed to brighten a little at that. “Is he going to be here all day?”
Lily shook her head. “No, first we’re going to go up to West St. He’s never really properly been in the muggle world, can you believe that?” She slipped out of the green skirt and into the tan one.
“Is he staying for dinner?” Petunia asked, choosing not to comment on Lily’s use of the words “muggle world.”
Lily nodded and sank into her desk chair. “Oh, Tuney, I know you’ll like him. He’s really great.”
Petunia smoothed a hand over her immaculate bun a bit awkwardly and said, “Maybe you both could have dinner with me and Vernon in a few days.”
“I’d like that,” Lily said, feeling a smile spread across her face. From what she’d seen of Vernon – which admittedly wasn’t very much – she didn’t especially like him, but the fact that Petunia was showing any interest in James at all was more than enough reason to make the effort.
Maybe he would surprise her.
They heard the doorbell, and Lily leapt up. She opened her mouth, and her sister said, in a rather bored voice, “You look fine.”
“Thanks.” Lily smiled at her before running out of her room and down the stairs.
“Hello, Mrs. Evans,” she heard James say politely.
Her mother must have gotten to the door first. “You must be James,” she said. “Come in.”
Lily skipped the last several steps in her haste and literally fell into her boyfriend’s arms. “Hi,” she said breathlessly.
He smiled at her, and she felt her heart speed up. This was absolutely ridiculous. She’d just seen him a few days ago.
It didn’t matter.
“Hi,” he said, wrapping his arms around her in a rather crushing hug that she quite enjoyed.
Lily’s mother cleared her throat, and James pulled back from the hug quickly.
“We’ve heard a great deal about you,” Lily’s mother said, and a smile spread across James’s face. “Can I take your coat?” her mother asked.
James glanced at Lily, and she quickly said, “No, Mum, we were going to go up to West St. for a couple hours. We’ll be back before dinner, promise.”
It was a mark of how exhausting this Christmas had been for her mother that she didn’t argue the point. Instead, she gave Lily a hug and exchanged brief pleasantries with James while Lily got her coat, hat, and gloves.
“Bye, Mum,” Lily said as they stepped out into the biting December air.
When the door had closed behind them, James reached out to grab her hand. She took it, and at the end of the walk, she stopped him to give him a quick kiss.
“I missed you,” he said softly, his breath forming mist in the air.
“You just saw me three days ago,” Lily pointed out as they started walking again, and he threw back his head and laughed.
“Says the girl who found me so irresistible she literally threw herself at me not five minutes ago.”
James had certainly mellowed considerably since their fifth year, but he was still definitely the same old James.
Lily was glad for that.
“So what are we doing?” he asked.
A smile spread across her face, despite the cold that was already beginning to bite at her nose. “You, my dear, irresistible boyfriend, are going to experience the wonder of muggle bakeries.”
“Wizarding bakeries are way better,” James said dismissively, and she elbowed him. “What? We have all kinds of charms that keep things fresh and warm for months. Could you take months to finish a box of your favourite biscuits?”
“No,” Lily said, “nor would I want to. What kind of person leaves perfectly good biscuits sitting around for months?” Her breath formed little puffs in the air, and she shoved her hands further into her pockets for warmth.
James just shook his head. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
They’d reached the shop, and Lily reached out to pull the door open. “No, you don’t know what you’re missing,” she said. “But you’re about to.”
“Hey, Mum, we’re back!” Lily called as she pulled off her boots. The strong scent of garlic and olive oil was wafting out of the kitchen, and she took a deep breath. “That smells amazing.”
Her mother stuck her head out of the kitchen. “It’ll probably be another forty minutes. Your aunt called, and I spent longer talking to her than I meant to.”
“That’s fine,” Lily said brightly, taking James’s hand. “Do you need any help?”
Her mother shook her head and disappeared, and Lily led James into the living room, where they both collapsed onto the couch.
“Well?” she asked, looking up at her boyfriend’s flushed face.
A grin spread across his face. “I think that maybe you have a point.”
Lily cupped a hand to her ear. “Sorry, what was that?”
He leaned down to brush his lips against hers. “I said, you’re right, as usual.”
She smiled at him and reached up to brush his hair back from his forehead. Before she could say anything, however, she heard a quiet cough from the doorway. She looked over to see Petunia come into the room and perch herself on one of the chairs. James got up immediately and held out his hand. “You must be Petunia,” he said. “I’m James.”
She looked slightly anxious for a moment, but she took it. “Nice to meet you.”
James settled back onto the couch next to Lily, and they sat in silence for a minute.
Just as the silence was becoming uncomfortable, Petunia piped up again. “Is it true that you hate that awful Snape boy?”
Lily clapped a hand to her face. Only her sister would jump to that as an icebreaker for someone she had just met.
“Yes,” she heard James say heartily, and she looked up at him. His eyes were shining with unveiled dislike. “He’s horrible. Slimy little git.”
James was still smarting from the incident in the Potions dungeon. Lily couldn’t really blame him; she hadn’t even called him on the several jinxes he and Sirius had hit Severus with before the Christmas holiday.
A small smile was spreading across Petunia’s face. “I don’t think he ever washes his hair. I still see him sometimes, you know, when I’m down that way in the summer. I don’t think he recognizes me.”
“He knew you?” James asked curiously.
Petunia’s expression turned sour. “No, not really, but that didn’t stop him from dropping a branch on me or going through my personal things.” Lily winced a little at that. She’d never stopped regretting letting Severus talk her into that. “He told me I didn’t matter because I’m not a witch.”
Lily was not surprised when James stiffened, and he said, “What a—” Lily elbowed him, and he cleared his throat before saying, “He’s a git. I hate him.”
Petunia smiled tightly. “I like this one much better,” she told Lily.
“Good,” Lily said. “I do, too.”
James gave a soft chuckle under his breath and wrapped his arm around her. Petunia looked at them for a moment, and then got up. “I’m going to help Mum with dinner,” she said.
When Petunia had left the room, James leaned down to whisper in Lily’s ear, “I showed you my room. Do you want to show me yours?”
A smile spread across her face. “All right.” She got to her feet and led him by the hand out of the living room and into the hallway. She peeked toward the kitchen, but her mother appeared to be talking to Petunia, and they rushed past the doorway quickly. Lily saw Petunia’s mouth twitch a little when she saw them, and heard her sister say, “Mum, can you get out the carrots when I chop the onions?”
At the bottom of the steps, Lily stopped James and said in an undertone, “Stay on the carpet.” He looked a little taken aback, but followed her lead as she stepped softly up the stairs.
At the top, however, he asked with some bemusement, “What, are you not allowed to have me up here?”
Lily shrugged as he stopped to examine a picture hanging on the wall of her and Petunia from before Lily had started at Hogwarts. “They never told me I wasn’t, but it Mum saw me bringing you up here, she’d probably suddenly decide that she needed my help, after all.”
“Weird,” James said. She wasn’t sure if he was referring to the photograph with the stationary figures in it, or Lily’s mother’s sentiments. He followed her down the hallway to her bedroom, and when they entered it, he looked around with interest. “So this is where Lily Evans lives when she’s not at Hogwarts.” He made his way over to her bed and flopped onto it. “Oh, this is comfortable,” he said, looking rather surprised. “I didn’t expect a Muggle bed to be so comfortable.” He stretched out, and his hand hit something that she’d wedged in between her mattress and the wall. “What’s this?”
“Nothing,” Lily said quickly.
Too quickly. He pulled the book out and scrutinized it. “Is this your diary?” An enormous grin was spreading across his face.
Lily could feel her face getting hot. “James, put it back.”
He ignored her and flipped open to a random page. “You know, James Potter has really grown on me,” he read aloud, and glanced over at her in interest. “Lily, dear, your face is red.”
“James, put it back,” she repeated.
He ignored her. “I mean, I knew he’d grown on me, but I had a dream about him the other night, and I was so disappointed when I woke up.”
She reached over to snatch the diary out of his hands, and he moved it to just out of her reach.
“I used to really find him obnoxious, but now I just can’t stop thinking about him. I daydream about his amazing hair, and what it would be like to be with him, I’ve never been with anyone before, and I bet James Potter is just absolutely amazing in—”
Lily finally managed to yank the diary out of his hands. “I did not write that last part,” she said, her face still red.
“No, I made that part up,” he agreed, grinning. “But it’s true.”
She fell onto the bed next to him and stuffed her diary back down the side of the bed. “You’re an arse sometimes, you know that?” she said.
He wrapped an arm around her, and she snuggled into him. “I know,” he said cheerfully. “Why are you going out with me, again?”
“Your looks,” Lily said blithely. “You’re my trophy boyfriend.” He snorted, and she moved her head up to rest on his chest. The soft cloth of his jumper rubbed against her cheek, and she closed her eyes. “I love you,” she said softly.
James began to run his fingers through her hair, and she let out a contented sigh. “I love you, too,” he whispered. He continued to run his hand down her back, and she let out a gasp as he reached the bottom of her jumper and slipped his hand underneath it. When she picked her head up, she could see a broad grin on his face.
Lily used her elbow as leverage to push herself up the few centimetres to kiss the small part of his chest that was left exposed, and he stiffened.
She moved over to the side of his neck and bit down softly, and underneath the hand that still lay on his chest, she could feel his heart speeding up.
“I love you,” he breathed as she swung one of her legs over his and pushed herself up to press her lips against his. She trailed her hand down his right side, where she knew that he was especially sensitive, and he groaned into her mouth. As they continued to kiss, he ran his free hand down her leg. When he reached the bottom of her skirt, he began to push it up, and she broke away to bury her face in his neck to let out a whimper.
Footsteps thudded on the stairs and they immediately disentangled, during which Lily accidentally hit James in the face as he elbowed her in the stomach.
“Ow,” they said at the same time as she pushed herself into a sitting position and nervously tugged at her skirt and jumper.
A knock sounded on the door, and Petunia’s loud whisper sounded from just outside it. “Are you decent?”
“Yes,” Lily said quickly, and her sister’s head appeared in the doorway.
“Mum just realized that you weren’t downstairs. I told her that James wanted to borrow a book for an assignment, but you’d better come down now.”
Lily felt a smile spread across her face, and she had a sudden flash of intense affection for her sister. “Thanks, Tuney.”
Petunia let out a genuine smile before disappearing again, and after a moment, they heard her footsteps on the stairs again.
Lily looked at James regretfully. His hair was still tousled, and she could tell from the look in his eyes that he was tempted to risk her parents’ wrath.
She could relate.
“We’d better go,” she said unhappily.
He made a face. “Damn.”
She grabbed her Potions book off her desk before they left the room and handed it to him. As they made their way down the hallway, Lily commented, “She must like you, to have covered for us.”
“She wouldn’t have just done it for you?” he asked in puzzlement, and Lily shook her head.
“No, that’s not the way Tuney works. If she didn’t like you, she wouldn’t cover for us because she’d want to make my parents not like you.”
He considered that for a moment before shaking his head. “I don’t get it.”
Lily leaned up to kiss him softly. “That’s okay. You don’t have to.”
James smiled and wrapped his arm around her waist. “I love you,” he said as they started down the stairs.
She leaned her head against his shoulder. “I love you, too, James.”
When they’d reached the bottom, Lily saw her sister’s face in the doorway of the kitchen. She mouthed ‘Thank you,’ and Petunia rolled her eyes and turned away, a smile on her face.
As they made their way back into the living room, Lily felt her spirits lift. For Tuney to even consider liking James was a very good sign that the thoughts that had been swirling through her head lately – that James might really be it, or the one, or whatever people wanted to call it – were going to turn out to be true.
Before they sat back down on the couch, she stopped him and wrapped her arms around him. He returned the hug. “Are you okay?” he asked in confusion.
She looked up at him and nodded. “I’m just glad you’re here, and that I’m with you.”
His eyes were shining as he replied, “I’m glad, too.”
A/N: Hey, another update! And pretty quickly, too. Yay!
I hope you liked this chapter. It was a bit more explicit than I've generally written in the past, so I'm crossing my fingers that it came out well and not awkward and bad.
"The Muggle World, Part 2" will be up as soon as I can get it up. Which might take a little while, but I'll do my best! :)
Thanks for reading, and as always, reviews make me smile!
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