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disclaimer: you know how it goes, the characters belong to jo and such “Padfoot!” James called across the Great Hall. “Have you seen Lily? We have to get this party kicked off.” Sirius grinned at his best friend, and then looked behind him expectantly. When the three girls entered the Hall, Sirius responded to James’ dropped jaw by patting him on the back and saying, “thank me later.” When Lily scanned the Great Hall and found James, he was staring at her with a dumbfounded and open-mouthed expression. She blushed and broke their gaze. As she chanced another glace up, he seemed to have come to and was now flashing her one of his most adorable smiles. “Looking positively smashing this evening, as always,” James told her confidently, bowing his head slightly. Lily grinned shyly up at him. “You clean up pretty well yourself, Mr. Potter.” James raised an eyebrow playfully, then extended his arm. “Shall we get it started, then?” Hesitating for only a moment, Lily, deciding to throw caution to the wind, slid her hand into the crook of his arm. The two walked to the front of the Hall and called everyone’s attention. They announced the night’s proceedings, staring with the feast, followed by traditional muggle and wizard games. James finished it off by wishing everyone a fun and pleasurable evening and a hope that they would all enjoy their meal. The hour that followed satisfied everyone’s appetites and gave each of the houses ample time to talk with and enjoy each others company. Sirius was flirting shamelessly with Melanie, feeding her some line about how he liked the lip she had been showing him in her dorm earlier and how he hoped she’d show him again some time. This made Remus shake his head and turn his attention to Lily and Amelia’s conversation about how many NEWTS they needed to get at the end of the year. Not long had passed after this that the tables were magically cleared and moved out of the way to leave room for the games. There were pumpkin carving stations (though most students chose to use their wands instead of knives), tables to play Exploding Snap (when the deck exploded, a wispy ghost would flutter out), bobbing for apples, and face painting. Lily was looking around for someone who she could persuade to join in the face painting with her when she spotted Melanie over by the entrance of the Hall. She smiled and was about to walk over to her friend, however Sirius ducked inside the Hall for a moment and immediately pulled Melanie back out with him. Grinning to herself, Lily turned her focus back to the rest of the students milling around. She spotted a familiar head of messy black hair. A giddy sensation grew in her stomach as she began to walk towards him. He was entertaining a group of students at a small table playing Exploding Snap. Lily recognized a fifth year girl sitting across the table from James; she was grinning flirtatiously at him as he spoke. Rolling her eyes at this, Lily thought about going to ‘save’ him from his obvious spot of trouble when she realized it didn’t appear as if he needed saving. The fifth year girl ran her foot suggestively up the bottom of his leg, Lily could see, and James looked quite undisturbed by her obvious advance. A wave of jealously ran through Lily’s body. Just what did this... this girl think she was doing? Didn’t she know that James and she– And that’s when Lily realized what she was thinking. In all honesty, she and James were just friends, which left him perfectly free to flirt with whomever he chose. The jealously Lily felt at the thought didn’t desist, however, so instead of waiting around to see just how gutsy this fifth- year was, she turned on her heel and quickly left the Great Hall. Despite all outward appearances, James was not having the great evening he had expected to. Based on the outcome of that very afternoon, James had expected to spend a lot more time with Lily. He was currently talking animatedly with a group of students (including a young blonde girl sitting across from him), but he was just holding off for the right moment when he would ask Lily to join him for a moon-lit walk around the Lake. When at last he looked up to find her, he glimpsed her red ponytail bouncing as she exited the Great Hall. After excusing himself from the table (and a disgruntled looking blonde girl), he got up hurriedly and followed her out. He quickly jogged to the Head’s portrait and peered inside. Noting her not to have retired here, James headed to the Grand Staircase, taking the stone steps three at a time. He checked both the Library and Gryffindor Common Room, to find them both Lily-free. Racking his brain for where she might be, an idea popped into his head and he ran back to his own room. Tapping a spare bit of parchment and saying the words “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”, a complete map of Hogwarts sprung up on the parchment. He searched the names on top of all of the tiny moving dots labeled with the names of every moving thing inside the castle. Most of the dots were congregated in the Great Hall, so it wasn’t hard to find the lone dot labeled ‘Lily Evans’, outside the castle, somewhere near the Lake. Smiling to himself for his friends’ brilliance at making this map, he tapped it once again, saying “mischief managed”, and then left at a brisk walk for the Lake. He found her sitting against a tree, her knees tucked up close to her body. As he quietly approached, she closed her eyes and tilted her head towards the moon. James stood watching her for a moment, just to the left of the tree, one hand hanging at his side while the other absent-mindedly scratched at the back of his head. As he began to close the distance between them, a twig snapped under his foot. Lily’s eyes shot open and she turned quickly towards the sound. Her eyes were fearful for a half-second, but softened when she registered that it was James. Tilting her head in exasperation, her eyes flashed a common playfulness at his sudden appearance. “You scared me half to death! Do you always sneak up on people at night or do you save that especially for me?” He smiled apologetically. “Sorry, I just saw you leave the Hall and came to see what was up. May I?” He asked, gesturing to the spot on the ground beside her. Lily grinned up at him and shrugged her shoulders. “I won’t stop you.” James raised an eyebrow and sat beside her. He leaned over and purposefully bumped her with his shoulder. “That’s because I’m the unstoppable James Potter.” She laughed and shoved his head away. “I think you need to go back to the shop and get your head deflated again. It’s getting a little too large for my liking.” Chuckling at her, he reached up to remove her hand from his head. At the touch, both of them felt as if a spark had just surged from one to the other. They stared at each other for a few moments, Lily wondering if he was at last going to ask her out, James wondering if he dared. Fearing yet again to ruin the moment, however, James broke the silence. “Do you know what I like to do out here by myself sometimes?” Lily cocked her head curiously. “Come here, I’ll show you.” James stood and grabbed her hand to bring her with him (both of them experiencing a pleasant tingling in their stomachs), then began to lead her over closer to the Forbidden Forest. He could feel her pulling back slightly. “No, no, don’t worry, it’s ok, I promise.” She looked at him skeptically for a moment, but then continued to let him lead her. James turned to a clearing around the back of the Forest where most of the light form the castle was blocked out. Here, he finally let go of her hand, sprawled out on the grass beneath them, then looked up at her expectantly. Lily was holding her arms around herself and casting furtive glances around them. When she looked down at James, she couldn’t help but laugh at the look of indulgence on his face. “What are you doing?” Patting the ground beside him, he grinned. “Just humour me for a minute.” She shook her head but laid down beside him none-the-less. Just as she was about to ask again what he was doing, she looked up at the night’s sky and gasped. “Wow. I never knew it was so... wow...” James grinned as he, too, took to exploring the stars above. It truly was a breathtaking sight; the sky was so black here and the stars so bright that you couldn’t even fathom a possible end. After a few moments of searching for it, James spotted a constellation. “This one’s my favorite. It’s called Pegasus,” he told her. Lily searched the sky in the direction that James was pointing, but couldn’t see it. “Where, I can’t--” “Here,” James scooted closer to her (closer, indeed, than she had ever let him before) so that he could point directly above her. “It starts with that big one over there... do you see it? And then continues,” James motioned with his finger at all the points that formed the constellation. Following his hand, she smiled when she finally saw how the points came together to form the picture against the dark sky. Biting her lip, she toyed with a thought that wouldn’t leave her alone. Sighing deeply, she decided to voice her thoughts before she lost her nerve. “You know... I can’t believe, well, this. I mean, a few months ago we never would have been doing this. I can’t believe how different things are.” James looked over at her. “Yeah... I know what you mean.” She, likewise, looked over, and was glad it was so dark because she began to blush when she realized just how close they were. She wanted to tell him how much she enjoyed his company, that she was glad they had formed this friendship. What came out of her mouth instead was, “I’m sorry.” A look of puzzled curiosity on his face, James asked her what for. Sighing again, she spoke in a meek voice. “For being so completely unbearable these passed few years. I know you had good intentions,” she stopped and thought for a moment on all the times he and Sirius had tormented Snape, then added with a smile, “well, most of the time, anyway.” James smiled back. “I know I haven’t made it easy to get along with me. Thanks for, well, putting in the effort to get to know me.” He shook his hair out of his eyes, then froze a split second later. Sitting up and looking around them, he was keen to find the something that Lily was unaware of. “James, what’s--” “Shhh,” he motioned for her to sit quietly. “I think I heard--” James was interrupted by what sounded like a wolf baying at the moon. His heart sank. Why had he brought her so far from the safety of the castle? Whipping around, he faced the bright moon. His panic began to seep away to be replaced by confusion. It was only half moon, which meant that Remus couldn’t,/I> be– “James!” Lily hissed, tugging on his arm and pointing over at something advancing on them. Instinctively, he stood up (Lily following his lead) and took a protective step in front of her. James knew he would die before letting anything happen to her. As he pulled his wand out, a mangy black dog came trotting closer to them. Its snout seemed to curl up into a grin, and that’s when James sighed in relief. He bent and picked up a fist-sized rock from the ground and hurled it at the dog. “I ought to curse you into oblivion for that, you stupid prat!” “I don’t think that’s a good idea!” Lily whispered frantically, thinking what they were seeing was a wild dog. James turned around to face her. “Don’t worry, it’s just Sirius. Out here spying on us, I’ll bet.” The dog began prancing circles around them. Lily relaxed when the realization set in, and James began to laugh. “Quit showing off, you idiot, I already told her it was you.” The dog stopped mid-prance, and began to sulkily walk towards them. It was about to jump up and greet Lily like any normal dog would, but James grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and held him back. “You better keep that tongue of your in your mouth, Padfoot.” The dog retreated to the ground, and a moment later, Sirius lay in its place laughing loudly. “You should have seen the looks on your faces! Priceless!” Once he calmed down from his laughing fit, he suddenly blurted out, “oi! When did you tell little Miss Head Girl about us?” James looked at her and was about to respond when Lily beat him to it. “For your information, Black, he was helping me with an essay when he told me. And it’s not like I’m going to go blabbing it around school.” Sirius stared back at her, then broke out in one of his charming smiles. “I know, if James trusts you with it, I do. Besides, if you do tell, we’ll just have to kill you. Speaking of which, McGonagall’s been looking for you two. She might have a right good melt down if you don’t get back there soon.” Lily’s eyes widened. “I completely forgot! We have to get everyone back to their common rooms! Come on!” She began to rush back to the castle. James began to walk after her, throwing a punch at his friend. “Thanks for interrupting the perfect moment.” Sirius grinned knowingly and patted his friend on the back. “What?”

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