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A/N: Sorry about this huge delay--for those Living Life and Reason to Live readers, I'll be updating soon on those too. I promise I'll try not to take this long again.

Enjoy.




Lily had been sitting quietly in her dormitory at the time; she was brushing her hair and putting it up with her bobby pins. She smoothed out her nightgown and glanced at the mirror. She hated how white clothes made her look even paler.

After giving her reflection a critical look (she had always been self-conscious), she decided to look over her test that Flitwick had given out that day. She had received an ‘Outstanding’, much to her delight. James had also gotten an ‘Outstanding’, but she wouldn’t have known it if he hadn’t bragged about it to her when they left the classroom.

Stupid James, Lily thought viciously. She had given up on trying to train herself into calling him only Potter. It seemed that the more she tried the more she felt comfortable saying his first name, which wasn’t good at all. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

It was then that Lily noticed something. She must’ve been too preoccupied with calling James various names inside her head because she had just knocked over her glass of water as she tried to reach for it on her bedside cabinet. Not only did it spill water everywhere (she quickly tidied it up with her wand) it also rolled under her bed.

Miraculously, the cup did not break. When Lily bent down to look under her four-poster so that she would be able to retrieve it, she realized that James’s book was under there as well. She had forgotten that she had hidden it there.

Lily grabbed both her glass and the book, setting her cup on her cabinet and The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection onto her bed. She studied the cover for a moment, and then remembered how James had insisted for her to give it to him later that day. She didn’t—and not by accident, either. She liked to make that insufferable prat squirm, even if it was rather childish for her to do so. And for some reason, James had been very, very worried about not getting his book back.

Lily knew that it couldn’t have been homework because they hadn’t received any homework in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Perhaps he had borrowed it? Maybe he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to get it back to the owner in time. But this description of a James Potter that wasn’t selfish at all but actually thoughtful to others didn’t seem to fit the actual person. Lily checked the name in the inside cover and saw that there was none. So it had to be James’s—since he was very irresponsible. Sirius Black was rather irresponsible too, but she doubted that the two best friends would mind borrowing each other’s stuff.

So, what is it…? Lily flipped through the various pages and saw that there was a folded piece of parchment right in between pages 908 and 909. She picked it up, feeling pretty nosy but then reminding herself that this was James Potter and she shouldn’t care what he thought of her anyway. Lily unfolded it, but was disappointed to see that there was nothing written.

James was just being strange, she supposed.

***

After having his ears bitten off by both Sirius and Peter and having Remus telling him patiently that this was no way to ‘win fair lady’s heart’; James was finally able to leave upon seeing Lily enter the Great Hall. She had her hair in two braids today (she really is beautiful, isn’t she?), and was carrying James’s book in her arms.

“Good morning, James.” Lily said, surprising James immensely by greeting him first. She looked at him with a raised eyebrow and added, “And no, I don’t care that I’m saying your first name.”

James let his mouth drop open for a few seconds, and then realized that he probably looked very stupid doing so. He closed his mouth and cleared his throat, saying, “I’m glad to hear it, love.”

Lily immediately pushed aside his name for her and frowned at him. “Do you have my things?”

“Yep.” James said, grinning at her as he set his bag on the table and took out her Transfiguration book, which he gave to her. Lily gave him a suspicious look and opened her mouth to say something but James answered her first. “It’s in the first page.” He said.

Lily looked at him strangely. “What is?”

James raised an eyebrow. “Your essay,” James said, reaching towards the table and taking a pastry, which he immediately put in his mouth. He watched as Lily opened the book slowly, as if she wasn’t sure to believe him or not, then exhaled with relief upon seeing her essay folded right where he said it would be.

“Do you do this a lot?” Lily asked, pointing to her essay. “Put your homework in your books, I mean.”

James raised an eyebrow, wondering why she was asking. “Er—yeah, I do. It’s a habit.”

“Oh.” Lily said, and James was relieved to see her smile. “Well, here’s your book, then.”

“Thanks.” James said, glancing back at his friends who were all giving him expectant looks. He grimaced and turned to Lily, smiling. “I appreciate you being nice to me, Lil.”

Lily’s smile faded. “Don’t call me Lil.”

“Right.” He said, James’s own grin sliding off his face.

The bell rung overhead and Lily quickly took an apple from the fruit basket, biting off of it. James watched as she carefully put both her Transfiguration book and essay inside her bag and swung it over both her shoulders. Lily noticed that he was staring at her and she frowned.

“Don’t do that.” Lily snapped. James smirked.

“I guess the old Lily is back.” He said, raising an eyebrow. He too put his book inside his bag and followed her out of the Great Hall. “Any chance you’ll let me escort you?”

“I didn’t think I had a choice.” Lily sighed as they cut through the entrance hall and went out onto the grounds.

“You don’t.”

“Ah, okay.”

James stared at her openly. She was smiling. Again.

“What?” Lily asked. She looked perturbed to see him staring at her. But then again, she always did.

“Well—it’s that…why do you keep on doing that?” James asked, sounding much more demanding than what he wanted.

“Doing what?” Lily asked slowly.

James looked at her for a moment, and felt himself blush. “Er—never mind.”

“All right.” Lily said, although she still looked rather suspicious. “Oh, and James, I almost forgot…”

“Hm?” James asked, taking another bite out of his pastry that he had kept in his pocket.

“Here’s your piece of parchment.”

James gagged and choked on his food, stopping in his tracks and gasping for air once swallowing properly. “What?” he croaked. He put his hands onto his throat, feeling like it was on fire.

Lily raised an eyebrow at him. She was holding the Marauder’s Map, which was blissfully blank. “I said,” she replied. “Here’s your parchment.”

James took it immediately and stuffed it in his pocket. “Thanks.” He said hurriedly, opening the door to the greenhouse. Lily didn’t pass through.

“It fell out of your book—”

“That’s okay—”

“I wasn’t looking through your things or anything—”

“Of course not, why would I—”

“I just forgot to put it back—”

“That’s fine, Lily.” James said, ruffling his hair. Lily didn’t glare at him, but she wasn’t looking at him anyway. Instead, she stepped into the greenhouse and sat on one of the benches, not saying another word. He would’ve bothered her until she told him what she was up to, but James was far too worried about her finding out about the Marauder’s Map to risk it. Lily, unlike James, was responsible and took her Head job seriously and would give it straight to McGonagall, being sure to tell her whose it was also.

“Do you have it?”

James turned around and saw Sirius, Remus, and Peter enter the greenhouse and wearing identical frowns. Remus had his hand outstretched.

“Yeah,” James said quietly, glancing at Lily, who thankfully, wasn’t looking over at them. He handed Remus the Map who immediately put it in his bag. Sirius glowered at him as they took a seat on the benches.

“That was a close shave, Prongs,” he said. “Next time just don’t piss of Evans, okay?”

James didn’t even seem to register what he said. He was still looking at Lily, who seemed to know that he was doing so since she had her back turned to him. Lannie had just passed him and winked, taking a seat next to Lily once again.

“Oi, Prongs!” Sirius shouted, hitting James over on the head. Even though he sounded annoyed, he was grinning. “Do you mind taking your googley eyes off of Evans for one second so you can hear what I’m saying?”

That caught James’s attention to finally sit down. Thanks to Sirius, he had spoken loudly so that everyone in the greenhouse had heard him, but to James’s absolute happiness in his classmates’ laughing wake, he wasn’t the only one who was blushing.

***

Lily had left the greenhouse hurriedly as soon as the bell had rung, Lannie at her heels. While Lannie started talking about how Remus looked rather nice today, Lily was thinking of malicious ways to knock Sirius Black and James unconscious. She knew that they were just being the usual jerks, yet she was still blushing and it had been quite a while since her classmates had stopped laughing. It unnerved her.

“I always thought he looked nice in navy…probably his best color, I think—um, Lily? You okay?” Lannie had just stopped talking about Remus, either because Remus himself was just passing by or because Lily was still looking distressed, she wasn’t sure. James was passing by too, and had just brushed his shoulder against her, and even though he had apologized, Lily was pretty sure that it wasn’t an accident.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Lily said, although she did feel rather odd being asked if she was all right. She supposed she just wasn’t used to it, since she had been alone for most of her life anyway. Lannie was giving her a questioning look, however, which compelled Lily to change the subject and ask, “So. You really like Remus don’t you?”

This time it was Lannie’s turn to blush. It was strange seeing her blush, since Lily seemed to always think she was an outgoing, fearless person. Lily raised her eyebrow as Lannie mumbled something that sounded like an affirmative answer.

“Hm, okay.” Lily said. She couldn’t help but smirk a little, which made Lannie scowl.

“Well, I’m sure you know how it is.” Lannie said, exhaling loudly.

“Know what, exactly?”

Lannie furrowed her eyebrows. “You know…liking someone who doesn’t like you.”

“You mean unrequited love?” Lily asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Whatever.” Lannie huffed. Her bangs flew above her eyes as she glanced at Lily with a disbelieving look. “Are you saying you don’t know?”

“Well, yeah.” Lily said, as Lannie snorted loudly. Lily blushed. “No, seriously, I haven’t ever liked someone. Not like you with Remus, anyway.”

Lannie looked at her as if she had just sprouted two heads. “You never have,” she repeated flatly. She was smirking. “Alright then.”

“You don’t believe me?” Lily asked, noticing that Lannie wasn’t going back to the castle but was walking towards the lake. She sat cross-legged under a tree and pushed her bangs aside, raising her eyebrows at Lily.

“Well, I guess I do.” Lannie said, once studying Lily’s face for a moment. “I just find it strange.”

“It’s not.” Lily said, sitting down also. “I’m kind of glad I haven’t, actually.”

Lannie leaned against the bark of the tree and looked up at her. “Oh?”

Lily had to be quiet for a moment; she wanted to restrain herself from saying “Well, I wouldn’t want to be suffering like you are because of Remus,” but instead merely said, “Yes.”

Lannie looked like she was contemplating something. Lily knew before she opened her mouth that she was going to talk about a certain someone. “You never, ever felt anything for James?”

“Besides disgust and revulsion—no.”

“Really?” Lannie asked, as if she didn’t quite believe her. She clucked her tongue and said, “Well, it’s a pity then. He likes you so much.”

Lily couldn’t help but blush as she said that. “Well…that’s not my fault.” Lily said, finishing that last bit lamely.

Lannie raised an eyebrow. “Of course it is.”

“Excuse me?” Lily asked incredulously.

“You heard me.” Lannie said, shrugging. “I’m just saying…if you really wanted James to stop liking you, you would’ve changed somehow.”

“And why would I do that?” Lily asked, frowning. “I’m not the arrogant prat.”

“Because even though you don’t really believe it, I know James likes you a lot.” Lannie explained. “After all these years, do you really think he’s going to stop? I mean, think about it.”

No, Lily thought, he probably wasn’t…not until they left Hogwarts anyway. But what could Lily do about it? She certainly wasn’t going to change—that would be completely unfair to her. “Well, I don’t care.” Lily snapped. “If James likes me, that’s his problem.”

Lannie was looking at Lily oddly. Finally, she said, “Lily, are you sure?”

Lily raised her eyebrows at her. “What do you mean am I sure? Of course I am.”

Lannie merely sighed, pushing her bangs aside as she looked at the lake, a far away look in her eyes. “I wouldn’t want Remus to say that about me.” She said simply, but she said it in such a way that Lily knew that this time she was blushing of embarrassment.

***

James was very happy at the moment. He had just come up with a plan.

“Sirius, look at this,” he said, dragging Sirius’s arm so that it was thrown next to him with his body too. Sirius gave his friend an inquiring look, scratching his head as James merely pointed at a sign that had been posted that day in the common room. His expressions changed quickly as he read the sign, first to confusion, then to incredulity, then to utmost revulsion and dread.

“Well?” James asked eagerly.

“Prongs, mate—I respect you.” Sirius said, finally turning to him but with a sour expression. “You’re my friend, and I’m your friend. So please tell me that you’re not going to do this.”

“Hu? No, no, Sirius, you got it all wrong! Trust me, this is going to work.” James said jovially while thumping him on the back with a gigantic grin. “Seriously…have I ever been wrong?”

Sirius opened his mouth with the intention of fully saying and emphasizing, “Yes,” but James shushed him and started to mutter to himself. “Yes…all I have to do is…yes, that would work…”

“James—”

“It wouldn’t be too hard…Flitwick probably wouldn’t notice a thing…”

“Maybe you should—”

“Ill! I could say that I was ill and that’s why I couldn’t keep up with everyone else…”

“Yeah, ill of the head,” Sirius muttered. “Prongs! Can you please listen for just one second? This isn’t going to work!”

James had stopped rambling and was looking at Sirius as if he had just punched him. His face was crestfallen. “Why not?”

“Because it never does?”

“But I should at least try…”

“No.” Sirius said firmly. “You shouldn’t. Your grades are fine, but by the way things are going now, I think that you’re extremely stupid.”

James didn’t seem to have heard him, but was now walking to the portrait hole. “Yeah. Okay, Sirius.” He said, and then he left.
 
 
 

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