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Lily was in the Gryffindor common room. She was sitting quite happily by herself in front of the fire engrossed in her favourite book. Her friends were in the library completing their Transfiguration homework which was due in tomorrow. Lily would have normally sat with them after she had finished her own essay but James-pain-in-the-neck-Potter was also in the library. She really hadn’t been in the mood for one of his highly embarrassing (or highly amusing depending who you were) propositions. Lily had had enough of being told that they were just perfect for each other. When would people learn? She hadn’t believed it three years ago, she didn’t believe it now!

Lilly looked up from her novel when the door swung open. Great! Thought Lily- Potter, the rest of the gang in tow, had just jumped graciously through the portrait hole. She’d never have peace now. She saw Potter scan the room for someone but wasn’t quick enough to avoid his eye, a smile spread across his face. She’d been caught looking at him. She sighed and closed her book as he strolled towards her. She looked up at him.

“Hi Lily.”

“Good evening James.” at least he’d given up calling her by her surname.

“How are you?” he enquired, that stupid grin still plastered on his face.

“I’m fine thank you.” she forced herself to be civil. “Yourself?”

“Oh you know…” he sat down at her feet, legs crossed, elbows on knees, his hands clasped in front of him. He glanced down at the floor. Here it comes she thought, holding her breath for the inevitable why didn’t you just ignore him? He might have gone away, well, we can live in hope.
“Be better if you’d go out with me.” I knew it! Here we were having a normal conversation, almost pleasant, and he has to go ruin it by repeating that terribly unfunny farce.
“So what do you say Lily? Will you go out with me?” He knelt up looking almost hopeful. Poor fool. His eyes were pleading with her. He should be an actor. Lily made herself look at him seriously. You know he does have rather nice eyes. Shame about the rest of him! Lily stopped herself from laughing at him.

“Yes.” she said.

“Really?” he asked, jumping to his feet.

“No!” his shoulders slumped. “Honestly James! Years you’ve been asking me now, years I’ve been saying no. Why would I change my mind now?”

She picked up her book and headed for the girls dorm room, at least he wouldn’t bother her there. Would he ever give up?

“Will you ever give up?” for a second Lily was confused, had she voiced her question out loud? She stopped to look over her shoulder to see James slumped in the chair she had just vacated. Remus Lupin was stood in front of him, waiting for an answer to his exasperated question.

“I can’t.” was James’s reply. Lily lost interest and started to walk away again.

“Why Prongs?” Asked Peter, using the affectionate nickname the Marauders had given him for reasons unbeknownst to Lily.

“Because Potters never give up!” said Sirius in a deep, playful voice. James smiled at his friend and gave him a light punch on the shoulder. Sirius rubbed his arm pretending to be hurt.

“No.” James said, only the slightest hint of laughter in his voice. “It’s 'cause I love her isn’t it?” the other three stopped laughing at once. Lily dropped her book in shock.

“Huh?” was all Sirius could manage.

Lily quickly stooped to retrieve the fallen novel. She didn’t think she could have been any more affluent than “Huh” either. Lily scrambled around on the floor, desperately trying to grab all of the pages of her book. She’d read it so many times that it was falling apart.

“Why?” asked Remus, James answer hadn’t seemed to be such a surprise to him as the others.

Lily was hurt by the tone of Lupin’s voice. She had thought they were friends, but from how he had said "why", it sounded like he couldn’t think of any reason somebody would like Lily, let alone love her.

James looked up from the fire into which he had been staring.

“How can I not? It’s nothing and everything all at the same time. I try not to but every time I see her… I love her a little bit more everyday. She’s so clever and funny and amazingly beautiful, and those eyes… God those eyes! They make me so weak, and then of course there’s-”

“No.” Lupin cut him off. “I get that but I mean why, why do you still love her?” James looked at him, confusion written all over his face.

“Yeah!” Sirius seemed to have recover from his temporary muteness, and was making up for it by shouting. “I mean come on Prongs- how many times are you gonna let her turn you down mate?” he asked rhetorically. “All the things you’ve done for her…”

That caught Lily’s attention. What exactly did Sirius Black think that James Potter had ever done for her? Lily wasn’t even pretending to be gathering her papers anymore, she was crouched on the floor listening intently to the boys conversation.

“You changed for her mate!” he let the statement hang in the air for a moment before continuing. “She told you that you were arrogant- you crawled out of your arse. She told you that you were bigheaded and suddenly you deflated and doubted yourself. She thought you were a bully- you stopped with the random- and may I say completely reasonable- hexing. You’ve even stopped hexing Snape! I mean every time I see him I just wanna…” Lily imagined Sirius throttling thin air, she resisted the temptation to look at the four boys, one in particular, she would be spotted if she stood up and she wanted to hear more. “…but somehow you resist. You must have bloody super powers mate. Yesterday for example: Snape was the one who sent that tripping charm your way and you know it. I know you know it! But you just walk away. I mean I made a pretty good show of making it look like you gave him that nosebleed, but I can’t always be there to maintain your reputation mate.”

Lily suddenly felt flush with guilt. She had shouted for ten minutes straight at James about that incident. Complaining that as Head Boy he should set an example. That he should really just grow up, on and on she’d gone and he had never said a word, he had just taken it all. James was such a loyal friend, he could have easily incriminated Black.

“You’ve even stopped the pranks!” It appeared Sirius hadn’t quite finished. “And what’s worse Prongs is that you’ve stopped mine too! You’d do anything for that girl- you have done everything!"

Why had Lily never seen it before? Why did it take Sirius-Bloody-Black to make her realise just how much James had changed.

“And what thanks do you get for it mate?”

Lily had noticed some of the differences in James, of course she had. But she had thought it was all just for her. It appeared she had been right. But did it really matter? James HAD changed, surely the means justified the ends? Surely the important thing was that he had changed? James did listen to her! James did care what she thought. Lily was pleasantly surprised, a warm feeling started to fill her, beginning at her toes. Is that… don’t be silly girl it’s just cramp.

But Black was still talking…

“You’d follow her anywhere. You’d step in front of bloody Voldemort for her!” His last statement was a whisper, no one wanted to be heard talking about Him. Lily wasn’t shocked at the use of His real name though, Black wasn’t stupid enough to be scared of a word, no matter what it represented. Nor was she, but she understood the sentiment that those words meant. Suddenly she knew Sirius was right. James would fight Voldemort himself if it meant keeping Lily safe.

“And what does she do? Throws it all back in your face!”

James buried his face in his hands and shook his head from side to side in anguish.

“She hates me doesn’t she? She hates me!” Remus put a comforting hand on James’s shoulder, knowing that it wouldn’t really console him, only one thing could- one person.

Lily stood up from where she had been crouching, ignoring the pains shooting up and down her legs and the startled looks of other Gryffindors who had forgotten she was still on the floor. She walked over and stood in front of James, between the fire and the armchair he was sitting in. Remus stepped graciously aside. When he removed his hand James looked up, straight at Lily.

“What do you want Evans?” asked Sirius “Come to rip out another piece of James’s heart, gonna stamp on it in front of the whole common room?” Sirius was a fierce friend- James was his real brother as he saw it.

“Sirius” warned Lupin in a low growl.

But both Lily and James were ignoring him. When Lily looked at him with those exquisitely gorgeous green eyes, he couldn’t help but think only of her. He got lost in them and he had never been so happy at the thought of drowning. No one else mattered when she stood so close to him, he longed to cross those few inches to touch her, but chastised himself for being so greedy. This was enough, as much as she wanted to give him. All he could think of was her and the flutterings in his stomach and the racing of his heart.

James gazed up at Lily from his seat. The firelight behind her set her hair ablaze with all the colours of gold and copper and bronze and reds that could be imagined. Her perfect face was bathed in soft light and rich shadows, she had never looked so beautiful.

“I don’t hate you James.” she said simply, the smallest of smiles pulling at the corners of her mouth. Then she swooped down and kissed him on the cheek. He would still be able to feel it burning there hours later.

Lily wouldn’t be able to remember what possessed her to kiss him- even if it was only on the cheek. But she would remember how right it had felt… even if it was only on the cheek.

All four Marauders watched her walk away with mouths open. Remus let a low whistle and clapped James on the back.

Lily made herself walk in a straight line, she refused her weak legs, It’s only ‘cause you were crouching for so long she told herself. She resisted turning and looking at James all the way across the (what felt like) three mile long, and oddly silent, common room. Just as she was about to disappear up the stairs she turned back and caught James's eye. He still looked gob smacked. She laughed and smiled at him over her shoulder and saw his face alight with glee, his eyes sparkled in the most captivating way. She saw Sirius and Peter jumping up and down and crashing into each other behind James’s back where he stood watching her. Sirius began singing at the top of his voice “Lily loves Jay-ems, Lily loves Jay-ems” Lily blushed at this and “Jay-ems” broke eye contact just long enough to turn his head and tell Sirius to

“Shut-up, Padfoot!” When he looked back Lily had gone. But James couldn’t wipe the grin from his face despite the Marauders catcalling. The other three lads jumped on him and dragged him to the floor ruffling his hair. He laughed and joined in the play fight, rolling around with his friends in front of the fire. He grabbed Peter playfully around the neck and gave him “knucks”.

When Lily got back to her dorm she realised she had forgotten her book, but she didn’t mind. She knew James would find it before long. He would know it was hers, he always teased her about reading and re-reading it. Perhaps when he returns it, I’ll reward him with another kiss. She mused. She smiled to herself, blew out her candle and flicked the curtains closed around her four-poster. She flopped onto her pillow face down and squeezed it in her fists, muffling her delighted scream. Lily Evans does not get giddy! She rolled over and pulled the covers up over her head. Letting out a giggle and a happy sigh. Oh yes she does!

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