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The next day Lily was walking down the Charms corridor, heading for her next lesson, when she heard giggling coming from one of the alcoves. As she approached it, she saw a Hufflepuff 7th Year and James Potter kissing.

“Good afternoon, James,” she said snidely as she passed.

There was a smacking noise as James looked round to see who had spoken to him.

When he realised it was Lily he pushed the Hufflepuff girl off him and hurried after

Lily, who had just rounded the corner, ignoring the disgruntled yells of “Hey!” from the abandoned Hufflepuff.

When he reached Lily he grabbed her arm but immediately regretted it when she swung round and said in a venomous voice, “You have exactly three seconds to let go of my arm. One…two…”

“Ok!” said James, hastily removing his hand. He had been on the receiving end of one of Lily’s curses many times before and had no desire to repeat the experience. His hand instead jumped unconsciously to his hair, which he ruffled as he said to Lily, “No need for violence, just thought I’d respond to your rather polite greeting with:  ‘It’s an even better afternoon now I’ve seen you!’”

Lily rolled her eyes.

“Hey James, you’re not a vegan are you?”

“Er…no,” replied James confusedly.

“Oh good, ‘cause the amount of cheese you just spouted must surely go against all vegan morals!”

James burst out laughing and Lily couldn’t help a small smile. She wasn’t a naturally witty person but she thought that was a pretty good come-back.

Having broken the tension between them, James said, “So, you been busy lately?”

“No, but I know you have been,” replied Lily pointedly.

Surprisingly, James looked quite abashed.

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly. “Well, she said she fancied me and I thought ‘Hey there’s nothing else to do!’ so-”

“James, you’re supposed to be in Transfiguration,” Lily pointed out.

James grinned.

“I already am,” he said with a wink.

Lily looked confused.

James laughed at the expression on her face and proceeded to explain how he was in two places at once.

“… and so because Remus doesn’t have any classes today he can take the Polyjuice potion and take my lessons as me when I’m too busy with-”

“Snogging 7th Year Hufflepuffs in alcoves?” suggested Lily sweetly.

“Amongst other things,” replied James with a wink.

Lily rolled her eyes but let it pass.

As much as she hated to admit it, she was actually quite enjoying talking to James.

Maybe he was growing on her.

Lily suddenly spotted a problem with James’ little arrangement with Remus.

“Uh James, isn’t there a teensy flaw to your oh-so-brilliant double act?”

James considered it for a moment then shook his head.

“Can’t think of one, no. Care to enlighten me as to what it is?”

“Well, surely it’d be a dead giveaway having Remus pretend to be you, what with how he’d answer all the questions correctly and actually behave himself!”

James smirked.

“You’d think so wouldn’t you? But ever since Dumbledore made me Head Boy, I’ve decided to clean up my act.”

Lily frowned.

“Surely skipping lessons to snog girls is hardly ‘cleaning up your act’?”

“Yeah well, old habits die hard,” James replied with a wink.

Lily rolled her eyes yet again but thought about what he had just said. Her mind flashed back to all of the classes that they had shared in the past few months and realised with a jolt of surprise that James had actually behaved himself in every lesson.

“Wow,” said Lily softly. “I never noticed.”

“‘Course you didn’t,” said James, a note of sadness creeping into his voice. “You don’t ever pay me any attention, unless it’s to yell at me for hexing Snivellus or to inform me of something.”

Lily stopped walking, having noticed his change of tone, and looked at him.

“James,” began Lily. James looked over his shoulder and realised she’d stopped and hastened to imitate her.

“Yeah?”

“I do pay you attention at other times as well you know, but you’re too busy trying to show off to everyone that you just don’t notice!”

James visibly brightened at this news.

 “Well that’s good to know.”

Lily smiled at him and they began walking again.

As much as James Potter annoyed her, Lily didn’t like to see him down – it didn’t suit him.

Admittedly he seemed down a lot in her company - generally because she had, once again, rejected his request that she become his girlfriend - but he usually bounced right back to his usual, chirpy self after a few minutes of sulking.

“Why do you pick on Snape so much?” asked Lily heavily.

James opened his mouth to answer, then closed it again as he gave the question some serious thought.

Finally, he opened his mouth again and said slowly, “Well, I guess it’s because I hate who he is and what he believes in.”

“How do you mean?” questioned Lily, looking slightly confused.

“All his dark-arts affiliations – knowing the spells, calling you and other muggle-borns ‘m-blood’ because you’re not pure bloods (which obviously means you’re lesser than him) and just stuff like that.”

Lily noticed that James had refused to say mudblood and she suddenly found she had renewed respect for him. James Potter may well be arrogant, Lily thought, but he would never stoop as low as to insult someone because of their bloodline.

“Yeah, but sometimes James you pick on him for no reason!” Lily pressed.

“Yeah I know,” said James earnestly. “But me and Sirius just can’t help ourselves! He’s so slimy and everything we despise – he’s one of those idiot Slytherins who actually believes all that crap that Voldermort is spouting.”

Lily shuddered.

James noticed this and with raised eyebrows said disappointedly, “Ah Lil, don’t tell me you’re scared of using his name?”

Lily felt her cheeks redden.

“I can’t help it,” she replied quietly. “He… he scares me more than anything in this world. He’s so powerful and ruthless…”

James regarded her frightened face with unease. How he wised he could reach out and hold Lily in his arms and assure her that when she was with him he would do all he could to keep her safe but he knew that she would never permit it, so instead he reached out and took one of her hands in his.

She looked surprised at his actions but didn’t pull away.

“Lily,” he said gently, “There are worse things in life than Voldermort. One day he will be defeated and when that day comes, everyone will be saying his names as though it were nothing because they will no longer feel there is anything to fear. If you can say it now then his power over you will have already                                                                                                                                                     lessened. So do it, say it, and I guarantee you, you'll feel better."

Lily looked at him then nodded.

“I will. On one condition.”

James raised his eyebrows.

“And what condition is that?” he asked warily.

“Stop hexing/humiliating/bullying Snape.”

James looked like he was in pain.

“Does it have to be that?” he asked pleadingly.

“Yes,” responded Lily firmly.

James shook his head.

“Why do you stand up for that git so much Lily? He treats you like dirt and calls you m-blood on a regular basis!”

“I know,” said Lily. “But I can’t just stand by and watch you humiliate him when he hasn’t provoked you in any way. James, you’re popular enough – you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.”

James considered her for a moment and then nodded too.

“Deal,” he said. “You say Voldermort from now on and I’ll-” he grimaced. “I’ll leave old Snivelly alone.”

Lily smiled at him but didn’t notice him cross his fingers behind his back.

“Well,” said Lily. “I’d better go. DADA started twenty minutes ago and it doesn’t really look very good if the Head Girl comes in late.”

James laughed and nodded.

“Ok then. I’ll see you later for duties.”

“Sure thing,” smiled Lily. “Oh and James? I really enjoyed talking to you today.”

James felt his heart lift at her words.

“Me too,” he said, returning her smile.

With a grin, Lily turned to go off to her DADA class, leaving an extremely happy James Potter to walk back to Gryffindor tower, an ecstatic grin plastered across his face.

And you know what the best bit was?

Neither of them had noticed that they hadn’t used each other’s surnames once.

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