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“Shielding Charm.” “Protego,” Lily responded, indicating the correct wand movement. “Summoning Charm.” “Accio,” Amelia yawned, waving her wand lazily. “Enlargement Charm.” “Engorgio. Disillusionment Charm.” Amelia closed her eyes and screwed up her face in concentration. “My brain hurts too much to think anymore.” Lily flopped onto her bed. “I could use a break, too. All this studying is making me a little stir crazy.” Rolling onto her side to face Lily, Amelia commented, “we should take after Melanie, she’s obviously not too stressed at the moment.” Cocking her head in curiosity, she tried to remember what Melanie had said she would be doing. “I thought she was with Sirius? How is that—oooh,” Lily caught on as Amelia giggled. “They spend an awful lot of time alone… you don’t think they’ve…?” “I like to think that she’d tell us,” Amelia responded thoughtfully. “That’s a big pretty big step… especially with someone like Sirius Black.” “He’s really not that bad,” Lily cut in, “once you get to know him.” “I still worry. There are lots of storied from lots of different girls, Lily.” “Yes, I’ve heard quite a few of them, and I know for a fact that most of them are completely fabricated.” “Fair enough, fair enough. I suppose you do know him better than I do, anyway.” Lily nodded. “So, on the topic of romance, how are things going with you and Eric?” A large smile spread across her face. “Things are good. He’s already asked me to come along on his family vacation this summer.” “Oooo, sounds like fun,” Lily giggled. “I hadn’t realized you two were that close.” “That’s most likely because you’re had your own Prince Charming to deal with,” Amelia grinned back. “That nitwit seems to have it in his head that you two are going to get married.” The imprint of a smile remained on Lily’s face, but she averted her eyes and bit her lip. “It’s not really that crazy, is it? I mean, we do love each other.” She flicked her eyes upward once again. “To love someone, no, but, Lily—this is marriage we’re talking about here. For ever and ever—til death do you part. That’s a huge decision to make so young, don’t you think?” Lily opened her mouth to respond, then closed it to gather her thoughts fully. “Not when it’s right. And in times of danger like these when we could be ripped apart in seconds…” Her eyes locked on Amelia’s. “If lives can be ruined and taken away so easily, why shouldn’t we be together while we can?” Sighing deeply, Amelia raised a hand to Lily’s forehead. “Okay, Lily, I don’t know what Potter’s done to you, but it’s starting to worry me.” Lily sat up to protest, but before she could, Amelia broke out into a grin. “But it’s also proving just why you two are so perfect together.” Lily grinned at her friend. “Hey, Lil,” Amelia asked timidly. “Have you thought about what you’re going to do this summer? I mean—you know the offer still stands to come stay at my house, right?” She nodded in confirmation. “It would only be for a couple of months, then I’ll be off for Auror training…” “My mom would love you for as long as you would stay,” Amelia assured her with a smile. “Plus, then it will be like a continuation of this year. It’ll be perfect.” Lily smiled warmly at Amelia, then reached across the bed for her Charms textbook. “Ready for another go?” Amelia let out a loud groan and flopped back onto the bed. * * * All the spare time the fifth and seventh years had seemed to be over-run by OWL or NEWT preparations, which meant that the precious moments in between classes and studying time that Lily and James had were put to good use. On one such occasion, James was in a particularly frisky mood. Lily, on the other hand, was trying to stick religiously to her strict schedule. “Jaaames,” she pleaded, trying to push his head away so she could see her book. “Please, I really need to get through this.” “You’re just so pretty I can’t help it,” he responded, leaning in to kiss her again. Sighing in irritation, she stood from the chair and plopped onto the far side of the sofa, leaving James behind. James strode in front of the fireplace so that he could sit directly across from her, then pulled on his perfected puppy-dog face. Lily ignored him for a few moments, pretending to be deep in thought. Sniffing in predetermined defiance, she glared over the top of her book at him. “No. I really need to study, and so do you.” Still continuing to look as though someone had stolen his favourite Comet 360, James remained motionless. Rolling her eyes, Lily returned her gaze to her textbook. A page later, James was still staring at her. “That’s not going to work,” she told him without looking up. Two pages later, he was still determinedly staring at her. “James—” Lily started sternly, glaring up at him. If it was possible, he looked more homely than he had ever achieved before. This was his puppy-face to the extreme. “Been working on that, have you?” “I’ve gotten lots of practice lately,” he responded, never taking the dejected look from his face. “Is it working?” “No,” she replied immediately, returning to her book. The corners of her mouth twitched before she spoke again. “Maybe… a little… okay, it is.” Lily placed the book in her lap. “You’ve got five minutes.” James broke out in a grin in record time and pounced on the couch beside her. Lily giggled as he leaned over her to kiss her neck. “You act like such a child sometimes.” Swinging her legs onto the couch and pushing her back into a lying position, he responded, “I don’t know what you did as a child, but this is definitely not the way I used to play.” Giggling again and pinching his side, she shot back, “that’s not what I meant! This crazy way you’re acting is what’s so childish!” James held her hands so she couldn’t inflict anymore pinches on him, then kissed her. “I suppose I should just stop, then?” Lily fought half-heartedly against his restraint. “No, you don’t have to do that. I think it’s actually just what I needed right now.” James grinned down at her before taking full advantage of their remaining three minutes. * * * James and Lily even became creative in planning their time together. For every half hour that Lily studied, James provided her with ten minutes of relaxation in the bathtub. For James, the preferred method was the reward game. Every correct answer he gave would elicit a reward courtesy of Lily. “Essence of Bicorn Horn?” She asked, coyly playing with the hem of her sweater. “It’s the main ingredient in the Elixer of Harmony, and it’s also key to brewing a love potion and the Polyjuice Potion.” Lily grinned and unbuttoned her sweater as she took a step towards him. “Good. What’s another name for the Luck Potion?” “Felix Felicis.” Lily dropped her sweater to the floor and took another step forward. “Mm hm. The first person to successfully brew a sleeping draught?” “Aberforth Springwood, 1422.” The game would progress until Lily was convinced he had sufficiently learned the material—or until she was overcome by his charm, whichever came first. Lily was more than a willing participant if it meant getting James to study, just so long as the timing was right. Catching her on an off day was a mistake James didn’t make often after their first real spat. Lily had been growing increasingly irritable as the NEWTs drew nearer, and James had known fairly well when to stay out of her way. But he was only human, afterall, so his patience with not spending near enough time together was thinning. “Lily,” he whispered across the library table at her, making her jump at the sudden noise. She looked up at him with tired eyes that alighted the second they locked with his. His characteristic grin over-took his features as he leaned over the table and whispered, “I think I’ve got this all covered, wanna test me?” “Not now,” she responded tensely, looking around to see if anyone was listening in on their conversation. James, undeterred, slid into a chair on the other side of the table so he was beside her. Under the table, his hand found her knee. In hushed tones, he continued, “come on, Lily, no one has to know…” He tried to nuzzle her neck as he said this. Lily pushed his head away. “James, no. What we do in private is just that—private.” “Then let’s go somewhere else,” he breathed into her ear, sliding his hand up to her thigh. “No,” Lily hissed, shoving his hand away and casting embarrassed glances around the library. James sighed in agitation, his voice no longer a whisper. “We haven’t said so much as two words to each other the passed couple of days. Is it so much to want to spend a few moments alone?” Lily remained in a loud whisper. “We really don’t have the time right now, you know that!” “You just won’t make the time,” he grumbled. “That’s not true!” She shot back angrily. “It’s just a matter of priority!” James looked first shocked, then disbelieving. “So studying for some ruddy tests is more important to you than our relationship?” Lily had the decency to look apologetic, for she had not intended the statement to come out as it had. She loved him, and he was more important to her than—well, anything. She also knew that in a couple weeks when this would all be over, he would be there to spend time with her. Before she could explain this to him, however, he spoke again. “There’s lots of girls who would eat stinksap to be in your position, and you don’t even care to spend time with me.” The second the words had left his mouth, he wished that he could have stuffed his foot in there to stop them. That was the most arrogant thing he had ever found himself saying. “Lily, I--” But the damage was already done. Her eyes were narrowed, and James could see the hurt behind them. “Fine,” she growled, bothering only to grab her wand before standing to leave the library. “Go be with one of them, then.” “Lily, that’s not what I meant!” James, likewise, stood, taking hold of her arm. She pulled away forcefully from his grasp. “I don’t even want to see you right now,” she grumbled before leaving him alone to stew over his thoughts. * * * When James retreated to the common room (after having waited what he thought was ample time for Lily to cool down), he found Lily huddled in a chair. When he approached her, she glanced up. For a split-second, he was expecting her usual softened glance and possible smile, but was greeted instead with a hard, glistening stare. “Lily, please, can we--” “I’m going to bed,” she mumbled, retiring to her bedroom with a loud slam of her door. A/N: hey guys! i finally updated! woohoo! and its probably slightly disappointing because they ended up fighting...but who doesnt fight, right? well, i think ive got it down to two chapters left now, so the end is near! thanks for the continued support!

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