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AUTHOR'S NOTE:


This chapter contains a scene of a sexual nature (explicit non-graphic sexual activity/situations and suggestive language).  Take note that you can skip over it and still follow the story.


~*~*~*~*~*~


Lauren frowned as she headed downstairs with Tasha. When the both of them had arrived home late last night after having some local guys take them out for a night on the town, she had been rather surprised to have a stag patronus waiting for her in their room. Before it disappeared, James’ voice rang out in the room, “Lauren, I have to talk to you both so come see me downstairs tomorrow morning before you take off.”


Now, it had been rather late so she knew it would have been ridiculous to attempt to see him in his room last night. There were some things she didn’t want to see, especially since she already knew what he and Lily may or may not be doing in there. However, his cryptic message didn’t allow her to get the best of sleep. She was worried, but about what, she didn’t know.


When she and Tasha walked into the living room area together, she spotted a dark brown-haired girl in the kitchen making some sandwiches. Her brow furrowed. “Oh, I’m sorry— we haven’t met yet. Are you here with Sirius?”


The girl turned around with a sigh and rolled her dark brown eyes at her words. Lauren could tell there was something familiar about her, but she couldn’t quite place it. Had they met her earlier in the week? She looked to Tasha for help, but she, too, looked to be at a loss. The girl looked over both of their reactions a bit before smiling. “Good, you’re clueless. It’s Lily.”


Their mouths both dropped open in shock. Lauren eyed her critically and then looked at the stairwell disapprovingly, knowing that James must be upstairs still. “Ummm, is this one of those kinky sex ideas you guys are trying out because I really didn’t want to know about that sort of thing…”


Lily’s dark brown eyes glared at her while her face looked disgusted. “Ewww, Lauren. NO.”


Tasha started giggling so both girls turned to her, both equally confused as to why she would be laughing right now— one disgusted with the thought of James and Lily having sex in general while the other disgusted to think that someone thought the two of them would use transfiguration as a way to spice up their already great sex life. Tasha just shrugged innocently. “What? That was funny.”


Lauren shook her head at her best mate before turning back to Lily the brunette. “Ok, so what’s going on?”


Lily sighed when she thought about everything that might be going on around all of them. “We received a message last night that our trip may have been announced to unfriendly people. It was suggested that we don’t act like we’re here at all if we wish to stay. James should be almost done talking with Sirius. He was going to transfigure you girls so you look different. I hope you girls weren’t planning on meeting up with people who know who you are and what you look like…”


Tasha frowned. “We were going to meet up with those guys from last night. This sucks.”


Lauren didn’t say anything. She knew that Lily wasn’t being specific about this warning because of Tasha’s presence. However, if it was serious enough for Lily and James to change their appearances, this wasn’t good. Dumbledore must’ve contacted James about something. A male came down the stairs just then. Lauren could tell it was James only because of his watch. He had transfigured his hair so his head was shaved, changed his eyes to blue, and must’ve had Lily do the vision correction charm since he was not wearing his glasses. Lauren looked at him critically. He must’ve changed some other facial features too since she couldn’t see James when she looked at him, but she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what he had changed.


James sighed when he noticed Lauren looking at him seriously as she fingered her necklace while Tasha looked a little miffed about the whole thing. “Sorry about this, ladies. Sirius refuses to change himself, no matter what I say, all because he wants to hang out with that blonde witch again. However, I don’t think I can allow you both to act as stupid as he is being.”


Tasha looked like she might protest, but since Lauren hadn’t said anything about it and was probably going to go along with him, she figured the two of them could start fresh somewhere else, meeting new boys. “I guess.”


Lauren nodded. “We get it, Jimmy. Transfigure away.”


James looked them both over. “So what do you want?”


Lauren smiled wickedly. “Bigger boobs.”


James’ face looked horrified while Lily and Tasha burst out laughing. James sighed dramatically at Lauren’s awful teasing. “I’m not giving you bigger boobs, Lauren. You either, Tasha.”


Lauren giggled. “That’s ok. I was just kidding. I don’t care really.”


Tasha nodded similarly to her words so James rolled his eyes. “It’s easier when you give me a suggestion to work with here…”


Tasha shrugged. “Well, I have light brown hair so make me a blonde, I guess…or something...”


He pulled his wand out, waving it around expertly. He changed her hair to a white blonde, changed her eyes from brown to hazel, adjusted her nose, chin, and cheekbones a bit, and then asked, “What color do you want me to change your swimsuit to? It has to change too.”


Tasha looked down at her dark blue bikini underneath her clothes, but Lauren was looking at her critically. “Change her swimsuit to forest green, Jimmy. Like my dress from Valentine’s Day.”


He did as she suggested before turning his complete attention to Lauren. “So?”


Lauren shrugged. “Surprise me.”


James rolled his eyes. He waved his wand around after thinking for a moment, changing her eyes to a blue like his own, darkening her hair so it was raven-colored like his own, and then adjusted her chin, nose, and cheekbones a bit as well. He changed her red bikini to the ocean blue of her eyes. He sighed, shrugging. “There. Now, you look like my twin sister. Lily and I were thinking of going to a different beach today, but if we ever meet up with you, it gives us a back-story.”


Lauren nodded. “Fine by me. Are we changing our names too?”


James frowned. “I didn’t think about that, but we probably should.”


Lauren shrugged, waving her hand carelessly. “I’ll be Laura then. Easy to remember.”


Tasha’s brow furrowed. “I’ll be…Tiffany.”


James nodded. “I’ll just be Jay.”


Lily sighed, looking frustrated by their choices because they were all a derivative of or similar to their actual name in some way. “Well, I’m not being Rose.”


Lauren giggled at her as she looked her up and down. “Well, you sort of look like a Megan to me…”


Lily rolled her eyes playfully. “Fine. I’ll be Megan.”


Lauren turned to James, still concerned. “Can you tell us a little more about this threat?”


James gave her a look because he couldn’t say all that much in front of Tasha. “Just that we might have witches or wizards who may be watching us. Now that we look different, have different names, and whatnot, maybe it won’t be that big a deal. Just be mindful if people are watching you and be careful with whom you meet up with. If they’re claiming to be locals, ask them about something in the area and see how much they know. Be inquisitive and observant. If you have any problems, Lauren, you know how to contact me.”


Lauren nodded and pulled Tasha with her. “Alright, Jimmy. We’ll be careful, I promise.”


James said goodbye to the girls and watched them apparate away before turning his attention back to his incredibly beautiful girlfriend, who was now a brunette. He looked her over a bit before saying, “Is it weird for me to feel like I’m cheating on you by wanting to kiss you right now?”


She giggled. “It’s still my body you just checked out. Just my face and hair are different, but yeah, it feels weird for me too.”


She wound her arms up around his neck and kissed him gently, feeling his arms snake around her back to pull her closer to him. He looked down at her curiously. “So besides dancing tonight, we were going to a different beach for the day with a picnic lunch, am I right?”


She nodded, her dark brown eyes sparkling. “Hell yes. I get to wear red for the first time in my life. I might as well show it off.”


James smiled down at her, admiring what he could see of the same bikini he had been staring at all week, although the color had changed from green to a deep red. “Well, then I can’t wait to stare at you all day in it.”


She giggled into his neck before kissing it quickly and heading back over to finish up their sandwiches for their picnic lunch. Hopefully, this threat wouldn’t be such a big deal, and the two of them would still have a good time before they went home tomorrow. “Sounds like fun.”


James nodded, letting her go and helping her start to pack up some things she had already finished. He glanced over at her with a wicked smile. “You bet.”


~*~*~*~*~


“Are they still watching us?”


James buried his head into Lily’s hair with a sigh at her worried question. Their day had been ok until that afternoon. The two of them had been lying out in the sunshine after their picnic lunch, and he had spotted two clearly magical men watching the two of them more closely than necessary. The two men weren’t familiar by any means, but from that moment on, they were always around him and Lily. James remembered seeing the two wizards walking around aimlessly during the morning, looking about, but some time after he and Lily had eaten their lunch, it was as if they had started watching them like hawks. He could only conclude that he and Lily must’ve done something to make them think they were magical or they had slipped up with some random body language that suggested that they were who they really were instead of whom they were pretending to be. Since the two of them hadn’t done any magic out in public, James had no idea what must’ve triggered their incessant following.


He and Lily tried to confirm and make it blatantly obvious the two men were following them without them noticing that he and Lily had discovered them. They didn’t want to think they were blowing the attention out of proportion. So, as soon as they thought they were being watched, they immediately started taking a long, slow walk on the beach together. When the two men disappeared for a while and then seemed to resurface about a quarter mile down the beach when he and Lily eventually walked past, the both of them knew the two wizards had cheated and apparated to keep tabs on them. This was the confirmation he and Lily needed to assume the worst.


The two of them went out to a late dinner, hoping that would bore them, only to find when they left the restaurant two hours later that the two wizards were waiting across the street. Now, they had finally reached the dance club he had planned on taking her to using conjured muggle IDs, and the two men had entered the club shortly after the two of them had gotten in. Both of the men weren’t dancing and had been nursing their same drink for the last hour. Annoyingly enough, one or both of them could be caught looking at the two of them occasionally. This was not good. How was James supposed to apparate the two of them back home safely if they were being tailed? It was clear since the two men hadn’t done anything to them, they must be looking for where everyone was staying so they all could be ambushed together at a better time. There was no way the two wizards were going to find the townhouse if he could help it.


Lily’s fingers gently rubbing the nape of his neck brought him out of his dismal thoughts to finally answer her question. “I don’t know, baby.”


He couldn’t call her Megan. It was too weird so he had substituted a pet name for her earlier in the day instead. Lily didn’t seem to mind. When he met her dark brown eyes, he could see the concern still radiating out of them so he ran a hand over the side of her face and continued, “Don’t worry. We’ll figure something out, ok? You trust me, right?”


She nodded as she turned her gaze out onto the dance floor, taking a sip of her drink. Lily was currently sitting on his lap as they sat on a bar stool near one of the cocktail tables of the club. He pushed aside some of her dark brown hair so he could kiss the side of her neck to soothe her, his arm around her waist tightening a bit. They had been dancing for a while, but he had felt Lily tensing up over the situation so he brought her off to the side where they could relax from the two men’s prying eyes, if only for a little while. He had gotten the both of them a couple of muggle drinks; it was a good thing they had sampled muggle alcohol over the last week so they knew what they liked.


Lily sighed. She turned and nuzzled her head into James’ neck, inhaling his scent. It was remarkably calming. She felt him run his hand over her back gently as he surveyed the room. She couldn’t help but relax a bit by his presence and his touch. She brought her lips up to his ear, “I love you.”


His blue eyes met hers as he smiled at her. She loved his smile. “I love you too.” He kissed her lips gently before continuing, “You want to go dance some more?”


She sighed and finished the last sip of her drink, nodding. He kept his hands on her hips, keeping her close to him as he let her lead the two of them back out onto the dance floor. The dance club the local guys had suggested to him was rather good. It had a live band that fluctuated between fast and slow songs, and not to mention, was actually pretty good to listen to. It was just too bad they couldn’t enjoy it properly. He supposed he would look into finding a similar place back in muggle London to take her to instead.


Lily stopped walking once they reached the middle of the dance floor so they could blend in with the many people out on the floor. She turned in his arms so she was facing him once again, letting her hands run up his chest to loosely relax around his neck. He tightened his arms around her, pulling her petite body up against his own. He rested his hands just above her bum as he swayed the two of them to the beat of the music. He couldn’t help but glance inconspicuously at the two wizards in the corner and was disappointed when one of them was looking their way. The man didn’t watch them long, but the fact of the matter was that he was watching them in the first place. It annoyed him and made him angry. He needed to figure out a way to get the two of them out of the club safely without a chance they might be followed. It was kind of early to go home, but if he could get them out of there, he would. His perusal of some of the other couples on the dance floor was starting to give him a possible idea…


Lily’s voice broke him from his thoughts as she whispered in his ear, “What are you thinking about? We just need to figure out an excuse to leave.”


He smiled to himself as he rubbed her back. Even when he didn’t look like himself, Lily could still read him better than anyone else and knew exactly what he was thinking. His lips found her ear, “I have an idea I’d like to confirm— I think anyway. But I need my wand, and it’s in my back pocket.”


Lily shook her head just slightly, tightening her arms around his neck. Her soft breath near his ear was driving him quite mad. “You’re going to have to use mine. It’s in my back pocket, and your hands are already right there.”


He nuzzled her neck a bit, nodding slightly into her shoulder. He had never used her wand before, but he was sure it would be fine for him while he used Leglimency on a few American muggles. He was quite happy that magic use against muggles was not a big deal here in America so no one would be the wiser about his actions at the moment. His eyes strayed over to the two wizards, and he was pleased that they weren’t watching them that closely. He supposed the two of them being draped over each other like they were was annoying to watch. That’s why he didn’t mind doing it so much for the time being. He normally wasn’t so touchy feely in public and preferred that sort of activity to be behind closed doors. He was really only being this affectionate in public to comfort her and keep her near him, but it was particularly satisfying to know that the PDA was annoying their stalkers.


He let his hands slide from her lower back down to her bum where he slid his fingers into both of the pockets of her jean skirt. He couldn’t help copping a feel, and he chuckled into her neck when she smacked him gently on the back of his head. He felt her wand in her right pocket which had obviously been magically expanded, and once his fingers had grasped it just enough to pull it out carefully, he mumbled the eye aversion charm, the closest charm to render something invisible, as he slid his hands up her back again. The wand slid out with his hands, and he could see from over her shoulder that the charm had worked as no one around was the wiser to him holding a wand of any kind. He quickly began using minor Leglimency on a few of the close muggle males around him, as carefully and innocently as possible. Sure enough, his theory was confirmed.


He lowered the wand back into her back pocket, undoing his charm. He moved his arms around so he had one arm resting around her back while the other pulled her dark hair off of her shoulder, exposing her neck in front of him. As he ran his fingers through her hair, he felt her shiver a bit. She looked up into his eyes expectantly. “So?”


He leaned in close to her, and his lips found her ear, “Theory confirmed. I apologize in advance, but there appears to be only one reason why a couple would leave a club early.”


Lily was just about to ask him what the reason was, but then she felt James’ lips start to dance down the side of her neck, which he had exposed when he had played with her hair. She needed no other response than that. Clearly, making others think they were going to leave to have sex was the only way out of there. She wasn’t really having a problem with this at the moment, considering he now had all of her attention. Her breath hitched as he continued, and she tightened her fingers in his t-shirt near his neck. He had to know this was driving her crazy. She felt one of his hands slide beneath her camisole, touching the warm skin of her lower back. She sighed softly at his touch, but he must’ve heard her because his grip on her body tightened and any space between them was reduced to nothing.


James snuck a peak at the two wizards, and both of them were watching the display interestedly. As he kissed back up her neck, he let his tongue slide up toward her ear, which he nibbled on a bit, before he turned his attention to Lily’s amazing lips. Lily had no problem kissing him back. He let his hands slide down to either side of her hips, letting his fingers slip down inside of her skirt a bit. He was definitely enjoying this whole act way too much, and he was sure they had done enough of a showing of exactly what they were leaving to go do somewhere in private so he broke their kiss and placed his breathless lips near her ear once more, “When I stop talking to you, just nod back at me. We’re leaving, sweetheart.”


James pulled back to look at her, and she nodded up at him so he took her hand, keeping his other arm around her waist as they walked to the door. He could see out of the corner of his eye that the two men were also moving to leave quickly. He got a sudden burst of inspiration when he saw a muggle taxi out front. He opened the taxi door for Lily before saying to the taxi driver rather loudly and with as little a British accent as possible, “The Laguna Resort.”


Before Lily could question him at all, he slid into the taxi with her and pulled her onto his lap so he could resume their passionate snogging, tangling one of his hands into her dark hair. The two men had been really close so they probably heard everything and were watching them as they drove away. They would likely apparate to the hotel to confirm the destination, but they wouldn’t follow them past the elevator knowing what they were planning on doing upstairs. He was pretty sure the two wizards were confused and didn’t think they were magical anymore. He broke their kiss after they’d been driving a bit, nuzzling her neck and inhaling the sweet scent of her hair. He really wanted her right now, but he felt bad for being so obvious like that in public; it wasn’t his style. He waved his hand, thinking Muffliato, before whispering, “Again, I’m sorry about that.”


She merely nodded. Lily didn’t really need him to apologize because it’s not like she hadn’t enjoyed it, even if it was more public than either of them tended to like. At least it had been in front of strangers rather than friends they would have to talk with later. She kissed the side of his neck softly before whispering back to him, “You don’t need to be sorry. Why the Laguna Resort?”


He ran his fingers through her silky hair, which hadn’t changed textures even if it was now dark brown. He sighed, whispering in her ear and keeping her close to him, “We’re going to walk in and get on the elevator. They don’t look like they’re going to follow us any further than that. I don’t think they think we’re magical anymore. Plus, as much as I enjoyed all that, you know I would prefer not to do that type of thing in public. If they are Death Eaters and know about your and my tendencies from some of the wonderful Slytherins we go to school with, this behavior will appear very off character.”


He watched Lily nod at his words, but he was really paying more attention to her fingers running up and down his chest slowly. It was quite distracting. She kissed his lips gently and then began to place a few slow kisses on his neck, leaving a slightly wet trail all the way up to his ear. James fisted his hands into her camisole at her actions. He lowered his head onto her shoulder, trying to think of anything but what she was doing to his insides, but he only ended up being overwhelmed by how great she smelled, how soft her skin was, and how much he wanted her. Her fingers, now running slowly over his stomach muscles, even through his t-shirt, were starting to get to him. It was almost a relief when he noticed the taxi driver attempting to speak to him. It was taking all of his willpower not to throw Lily down in the backseat. He waved his hand slightly, eliminating the Muffliato spell, to hear the tail end of his words, “…will be $15.75, Sir.”


He reached into his back pocket quickly, handing him a $20 bill before pulling Lily out of the car with him, saying, “Keep the change.”


He shut the door and pulled Lily along carefully, walking them both through the revolving door together; he could see a familiar shadow to his left, but his attention was really on his girlfriend’s amazing body. He made a point not to keep his hands to himself. This wasn’t difficult, considering the whole thing wasn’t much of an act anymore. As they were waiting for the elevator, he stood behind her with his hands on her hips comfortably as he slowly kissed her shoulder. When the doors finally opened, he led her inside of the elevator, grabbing her arm to effectively turn her around to face him so he could push her against the wall of the elevator to kiss her deeply. As soon as the doors closed, he broke their kiss despite his intense desire to do otherwise. Lily’s dark brown eyes were staring up at him sexily, and it was all he could do not to make love to her right there. He tore his eyes away from her, and upon seeing there was no muggle video camera in the elevator, he turned back to her. “Did you see them?”


Lily nodded, still staring at him while her hands were resting on his chest. “They were there and looked confused. They saw it all.”


James couldn’t pull his eyes away from her as she licked her lips slightly. He shook his head to rid him of his horrendously dirty thoughts and took the second to apparate the two of them back to the townhouse before the elevator opened again. As soon as they were in the comforts of their room, he hugged her to him, nuzzling her neck a bit. “I’m sorry about all that. You know I don’t like to do that sort of thing in public.”


Lily pulled back from him so she could look into his eyes as she ran a hand over his face. “James, I know that. The point was to get out without being followed, which we did. You don’t have to be sorry.” She paused briefly before smiling at him teasingly. “Besides, now that we’re alone, you can finish what you started…”


He grinned at her wickedly. “If that’s what the lady wants…”


Lily nodded seductively, and James didn’t hesitate to let his lips cover hers. One of his arms continued to hold her tightly, but the other reached into his back pocket for his wand, which he immediately waved around a few times. Besides dulling the noise they were about to make and locking their door, he also canceled their transfigurations and charms, except for the one for his vision. He pulled back from her a little, and he groaned softly at finally looking into her beautiful green eyes and seeing her gorgeous red tresses once more. He mumbled against her lips, “I love you, beautiful.”


Lily was happy to see him with his hazel eyes and enjoyed getting to bury her fingers in his messy dark hair. She didn’t realize how much she missed doing that until she got to do it again. She pulled his lips against hers for a moment before whispering, “I love you too.”


[TRUNCATED - PORTION OF SCENE REMOVED]


It wasn’t long before the both of them fell asleep under their sheets in a tangle of limbs.


~*~*~*~*~


There weren’t many days like this one so James was taking full advantage of it. This rare event only happened occasionally. He was resting his head on his arm as he lay next to his beautiful girlfriend, leaving him able to observe her more easily.


The thing was— he was awake while she was still fast asleep.


He loved watching her sleep. She was still slightly curled up to him with her free hand tucked up close to her with some of the sheet. Her eyelashes rested softly against her cheeks while her face remained relaxed with the hint of a smile on her face. Her red hair flowed around her sweetly. The sheets had been pulled around her funny so her bare back was completely uncovered. He gently ran a hand through her silky red hair before softly running his fingers over her back. He had no idea how he got so lucky. How such an amazing woman was in love with him was beyond him.


Her breath hitched as his fingers ran over her back for a fourth or fifth time, and her pretty green eyes fluttered open. She smiled at him before asking sleepily, “Are you staring at me, Potter?”


He chuckled. “Yes.”


She smirked at his honesty, not that he could help it in anyway. “Cute.”


James just nodded, smiling a bit to himself while he remained staring at her comfortably. Lily pulled him closer to her though, forcing him to lie on his back so she could snuggle up to him. Her face was buried in his neck, and she felt his free hand run over the back of her head as his lips kissed her forehead. He sighed. “Since our disguises have been found out, we’re going to need new ones.”


She nodded against him. “Sure. We should all probably stick together today after what happened yesterday. We should catch the girls and Sirius before they disappear. We only have a few hours until we leave anyway.”


James sighed. “The girls are most likely hanging around so I can re-transfigure them this morning. Sirius is probably still sleeping.”


She lifted herself up a bit to look down at him, holding the sheet to herself due to her state of undress. “I believe you should transfigure me then so I can go get ready, and then we can go talk with the rest of the house.”


James tucked some of her hair behind her ear, nodding, before reaching to grab his wand off of the floor. When he turned back around, Lily gave a slight yelp as he pushed her to lie back down so he was the one looking down at her. She watched him curiously as he looked her over. “What?”


He frowned as he gazed down at his girlfriend. He had already memorized every feature about her a long time ago, but he felt the need to do it again since he wouldn’t see her this way for at least half the day. “You’re too beautiful the way you are.”


Lily pulled him lower so she could kiss him softly. “It’s just for some of today, James.”


He nodded, sighing slightly to himself before he started moving his wand around silently. Lily felt whatever effects he was placing on her, similar to yesterday. He gave her a pained look before waving his wand a final time with an exaggerated sigh. She raised her eyebrow at him, smiling slightly. “What was that sigh for?”


He leaned over her and buried his head into her neck, sighing for a third time. His voice sounded like all of his dreams had been utterly destroyed. “I had to shorten your hair.”


She giggled at him and kissed his cheek. “I love you.”


He leaned back so he could kiss her lips gently. “I love you too.”


Lily took a quick shower and pulled on her green bikini after she had magically cleaned it. When she had looked in the mirror, she was pleasantly surprised to look at James’ transfigurations. He had altered her facial features of course, her eyes were now a bright blue, and her normally red hair had been lightened to an almost strawberry blonde. Her hair, of course, now only fell just past her shoulders rather than down her back, but she knew it was a necessary change. Upon seeing her new features, she grabbed her wand and charmed her bikini to be a red, pink, blue, and green plaid combination.


She was waiting in their room, packing up their things so they wouldn’t have to do it later when James came out of their bathroom from his shower. He didn’t look a thing like himself. He had changed his facial features, of course, and his eyes were now an incredibly dark brown. His hair was somewhat longer and a medium brown. He must’ve charmed it a bit though because while it still stuck up in the back, it also stuck up all over, making it look distinctly messy on purpose. He was rather cute that way. She wondered what that hairstyle would look like if he was back to normal. He looked at her with a sad smile. “Will you charm my eyes for me, Lily love? My charm is already beginning to wear off.”


She waved her wand at him silently as she was able to grasp the charm quite easily. She saw his eyes react a bit so she was sure it had worked. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Thanks.”


She nodded, leaving their packed satchels lying on their bed. “So we need to let them know about yesterday, and you need to finish transfiguring.”


Lily sent him downstairs to go help the girls while she handled Sirius this time. He was not going to go off on his own for the morning if she could help it. She knocked tentatively on his door, and when she heard a moody grunt, she assumed that it was alright to come in. She covered her eyes though, just in case. When she heard a male scoff, she lowered her hand tentatively with a teasing grin only to see Sirius staring at her distinctly sleepy and not altogether happy with her waking him up. She could see a slight lump in the covers next to him and knew instantly that he was not alone. At least he had some clothes on. Sirius sighed before asking her softly, “What is it, Lily? I’m not doing that whole transfiguring stuff.”


Lily wasn’t surprised that he knew who she was, considering she would be the only one who would be sent to deal with his obstinacy despite the fact that he may have a female hidden in his room, but she frowned at him before answering him sternly, “Sirius, James and I were tailed last night. This is not a game. Since we’re leaving early this afternoon anyway, we’re all going to go to the beach and stick together for the morning. Transformed, of course. I know you may not like it, but that’s the way it is.”


Sirius seemed to grasp the danger of the situation finally. He grumbled a bit before replying, “I’m just going to stay here then. I have Jessica here right now so I’ll just send her on her way in a bit. I’ll probably sleep through the rest of the morning anyway. I’m a bit knackered after last night.”


Lily rolled her eyes at his insinuation of just what he was doing last night, not that she and James were any better. “Well, if you want to join us before we have to leave, you know what my disguise is, ok? And be sure to change yourself too. I know you may not like it, but we don’t need any trouble.”


Sirius nodded sleepily before lying back down so Lily made her way downstairs. James was looking through the kitchen, but he was alone. She glanced at him curiously. “Where are the girls?”


James sighed as he walked over to her, handing her a blueberry muffin, her favorite. “I sent them on their way. I told them we’d meet up with them, pretending we don’t know them.”


She nodded and proceeded to tell him about Sirius, which made him roll his eyes. They finished their breakfast before he apparated the two of them to the beach for the last time. They walked around for a short while, eventually finding Lauren and Tasha, who were disguised differently from yesterday— Lauren a blue-eyed blonde slightly reminiscent of Christina and Tasha a darker blonde with Lily’s green eyes.


They all stuck together for the most part. There were too many people on the beach to really discern anyone that may or may not be watching them. This was good because practically nothing could happen to them so long as they didn’t go off alone. The four of them lounged on the beach for the next hour or so, soaking up what sunshine they could before it was time to depart that afternoon.


Lauren sighed as she looked at the three of them from where she was quite happily tanning on her beach towel. “I’m thirsty. I’m going to go up and get some lemonade from that beach bar area up the way a bit. Who’s coming with me, and does anyone else want anything?”


Lily pulled herself up so she was leaning back on her arms. “I’ll go with you. I could stand for walking around a bit.”


Tasha and James declined a drink, and soon, the two girls made their way up to the beach bar area together. James stared at Lily’s bum longer than necessary which earned him a smack in the chest from Tasha. He rubbed the spot pitifully. “Hey! That hurt.”


She rolled her eyes, laughing at him. “Just keeping you on your toes, James.”


The two of them chatted quietly as they relaxed in the sunshine, but after about ten minutes, James sat back up to look back over at the beach bar area. He could still see the girls, but they were no longer alone. They had about three guys standing near them, clearly chatting them up. James frowned. He wasn’t jealous really, considering he knew Lily only had eyes for him, but it was a little unsettling considering their situation.


Tasha followed his line of vision with a frown of her own. “You don’t think…”


James kept watching, still unsure himself. His best guess from this faraway was that they could be magical. It was easier for him to tell when he was closer to the person he was looking at. However, if they were magical, the situation could potentially be dangerous. “I’m not sure, but maybe.”


Tasha’s eyes became concerned. The girls were clearly trying to be on their way, but the guys were persisting. When he noticed Lily’s hand resting purposefully along her right leg, he knew instantly that they were in another situation. She had attached her wand to her right leg and had cast a modified eye aversion charm so she would have it easily accessible, just in case. He was going to get up and go do something about it when both Lauren and Lily were able to leave.


The three guys continued to watch them as they made their way back over to them. Both Lily and Lauren’s expressions appeared rather worried so it wasn’t a surprise when Lily sat down, saying quietly, “They know.”


Lauren frowned as she sat down on her towel with her now unnecessary lemonade. “They’re clearly magical and clearly polyjuiced. The local guys don’t act like that at all.”


James turned back to Lily. “Are you sure they know?”


She nodded grimly. “Nothing specific, but a vibe. There were other girls up at the bar, and they chose to immediately come to us.”


Lauren looked over to James. “I felt it too. They were searching our faces constantly, almost trying to find an identifying feature. You did a good job with the transfigurations.”


James sighed and spoke quietly, “I guess we better leave incrementally then. I have a feeling they’ll stay with me and Lily. You two go off on your own and apparate back to the townhouse within a half hour. If Lily and I aren’t already there, get Sirius. If you guys run into trouble, you know how to apparate right to me. If we run into trouble and need to leave right away, I’ll alert you to apparate to me no matter where you are or what’s going on, ok?”


Lily and Tasha didn’t know what he meant by a lot of that, but Lauren nodded her head and started to collect her things. She and Tasha said goodbye, leaving Lily and James sitting together on the beach. James watched after them for awhile before turning back to Lily. She was leaning back on her arms, fidgeting a bit, probably from worry. He poked her in her side with a small smile. “No worrying yet, beautiful.”


She gave him a look, but she smiled some. “What’s the plan for us then, smartass?”


He shrugged as he looked around aimlessly, although his eyes were really watching the three guys who hadn’t moved from their spot. “Well, we need to apparate back to the townhouse as soon as we can. I guess we’re going to have to get a move on. I have a feeling they’re going to see us apparate, but who cares at this point.”


Both he and Lily got their stuff together before they started walking off the beach towards the apparition point. They could tell they were being followed by the three guys. They immediately apparated away once they got within the safe zone. He and Lily appeared in the townhouse living room and were about to head upstairs to tell Sirius when they both stopped cold at hearing a rather familiar, yet completely unwelcome feminine laugh behind them. James turned around, pulling Lily slightly behind him as he faced Bellatrix Black. He nodded to her coldly, “Bella.”


There were three more apparitions, which belonged to the three guys that had been tailing them. They were still in their polyjuiced forms so their identities were a mystery. It was now four to two. Both Lily and he had their wands out, but it wasn’t looking like the best of situations. Bella smiled at them evilly. “Tracking charm, Lily. Too bad you didn’t think to check for one. I’m surprised at you both. So irresponsible. Tsk tsk.”


James waved his wand, clearing their transfigurations and charms, including Lily’s tracking charm, before he slipped on his glasses. He knew at least one thing that would distract Bella— him. Bella didn’t disappoint and was now watching him appreciatively as he let go of Lily’s hand to rest at his side with his palm facing behind him. Lily was curious about his behavior, but when she saw a mirror wandlessly levitate out of his back pocket into his hand, she was beginning to get some sort of idea. The others couldn’t see any of this, of course. James smiled at Bella when he felt the mirror in his hands. “I’m impressed. Such a victory for you, Bella. I could, of course, give you another.”


Bella’s eyes were filled with lust. “Oh, do tell.”


James smiled. He would never give her that, but he knew something else she would want above all else. “Sirius is upstairs. Asleep. Sirius Black, all to yourself, Bella.”


Lily was shocked by what he was saying, but the mirror he was holding had taken on a faint purple glow as soon as he had spoken. She watched Bella’s features light up. “Is that so?”


James nodded. “Sirius wasn’t with us at the beach. I’m sure you know that. He’s upstairs asleep. I’m sure your family would be quite pleased with you.”


Bella appeared to be watching him closely, but James met her stare full-stop. It took her only a few moments before she suddenly disappeared silently, most likely having apparated upstairs. As soon as she disappeared, James fired off a series of stunners at the three guys in the room. They all threw up shield charms at the initial assault, but Lily had seen this so she immediately levitated one of the couches and threw it at the two men to their right. One of them dodged it by diving to the left, but the other caught the couch right around the middle. As soon as it landed on him, he didn’t move and was clearly knocked out. Lily wasn’t surprised, considering she had charmed it to weigh considerably more than it should. She turned her attention to the one that had dived out of the way since James was already exchanging rapid spellfire with the remaining one.


He sent multiple dark curses at her. She could tell they were powerful and wouldn’t be blocked by a shield charm so she had to dodge them personally. She fired off a few stunners, but her specialty was charms, not defense. She shot a constant volley of low power charms at him, and was pleased when he suddenly stopped moving, almost choking, as he also started sweating profusely. He had even dropped his wand in his panic. Her charms to hike his body temperature and tighten his clothes to the point where it would disrupt breathing and cut off circulation must’ve worked. She was just about to send off a stunner to incapacitate him when she heard James’ panicked voice yell out, “LILY, GET DOWN!”


She ducked immediately, in just enough time too, considering she saw a bright green spell shoot over her head. Her face paled considerably at the thought. She sent a stunner at her still choking adversary and then sent James’ attacker the full body bind, seeing as he was much too focused on James. He saw it coming though, side-stepping it easily, before sending another powerful volley of dark curses at James. He dodged most of them, but the last one hit his watch. A large force of magic flew throughout the room, knocking both Lily and the last attacker off their feet. James was now staring at his watch in anguish and despair so he didn’t see his attacker rushing back to his feet. Lily did, however, and sent the most powerful stunner she could muster at him. It managed to knock him back into the refrigerator after it grazed his shoulder.


She immediately made her way over to James, who was still messing with his watch, looking incredibly upset. She touched his arm gently, but jumped when she heard a loud crash from upstairs. “James, we have to help Sirius, we have to get the girls, and it’s time for us to go.”


James nodded, but he looked up at her briefly with a smile before turning his attention back to his watch, which he was continuously tinkering with and throwing spells at. “You were great. I don’t think I ever want to duel you.”


She smiled softly at his words before her worry over his behavior consumed her. “What are you doing? It’s ruined, sweetheart.”


James shook his head, looking distinctly upset over her saying that. “No. I need it. We need it.”


She was confused by his comments, but he finally stopped shooting spells at his watch and touched a button near the bottom corner of the shattered faceplate, causing the watch to shimmer slightly. Within seconds, Lauren and Tasha apparated in front of them. Lauren was holding her necklace and Tasha’s hand, looking slightly panicked. They both looked around, each gasping at the state of the house and the bodies on the floor. James frowned, still looking over his watch critically with a sad expression on his face. “You two, go get your things and head to my room. Check yourselves for tracking charms too. We need to get Sirius.”


Lauren freaked out when she saw the state of his watch. “What the hell happened to it? Oh, Jimmy, I’m so sorry…”


James shrugged, still clearly upset over the whole thing. “Go, Lauren. I just hope it’ll work one more time.”


The girls ran up the stairs with Lily and James trailing behind them. James pushed open Sirius’ door to find him breathing heavily with one of his hands resting on his stomach as he lay on his bed. The only good news was that Bella was clearly knocked out or stunned across the way. James ran over to him, immediately concerned. “Sirius? Sirius, are you ok?”


Sirius nodded groggily. “Thanks for the warning.”


James pulled him to his feet, looking him over. “Grab your things. We’re leaving now. More could be coming.”


Lily helped Sirius grab some of his stuff while James shot more spells at his watch, frowning the whole time. The three of them made it to James and Lily’s room where the girls were waiting. As soon as they were inside, James began to wave his wand around intricately. Lauren picked up on his idea to ward the room and started to do some of her own as well. Eventually, they were all standing wearily facing each other with their things. James sighed, removing his mangled watch. “We only are going to get one shot at this, and there won’t be a delay of any kind anymore. The watch should hold for this last bit of magic, but the portkey spell is complicated so we’ll see. Everyone touch a piece of the watch.”


Tasha looked at him surprised. “Your watch is a portkey?”


Lily was also surprised, but didn’t say anything. She should have figured, of course, considering she had admired his watch and some of its features before. He just sighed. “An illegal portkey that I hope still works.”


Everyone grabbed a piece of the watch, but jumped when they heard a loud clang sound through the room. Lauren paled. “That’s one of the wards.”


James shot a few spells at the watch, but it would only glow faintly. Finally, he pocketed his wand, placing both of his hands over the watch, concentrating intently. Everyone could see a distinct glow beneath his hands so he immediately touched the watch where the 12 would have been. The watch’s glow became a distinct blue, and they were all pulled away just as another loud clang shot through the room. They were pulled through time and space before the watch that had just been their portkey imploded within itself as they all landed awkwardly in James’ room in Potter Manor. James watched on pitifully as his watch disappeared into nothingness. He looked crushed. Lauren was the only one who seemed to understand. “I’m sorry, Jimmy.”


Sirius was frowning, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t look fully well. James nodded sadly. “It’s fine, Lauren. I’ll get over it. You two go relax. I’ll come and tell you both what’s going on later. Sirius, you might need Madam Pomfrey unless you know what she hit you with so I can find the remedy in the potions drawing room. Don’t tell me you’re fine because I know you’re not.”


Sirius shrugged unsteadily as Lauren dragged Tasha to her room. “I can go get the remedy downstairs. I’ll see Madam Pomfrey after you talk with Dumbledore though, just in case.”


James nodded and watched him leave his room to head downstairs. He finally turned towards his girlfriend, who looked a bit shaken up as she sat on the edge of his bed. He sat down next to her, pulling her into his arms. “You ok, Lils?”


She nodded into his shoulder. “I’m sorry about your watch.”


He sighed, trying not to think about it. “It was the last gift my parents ever got me.”


Lily’s arms tightened around his back. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”


He buried his face in her silky red hair, inhaling the comforting sweet scent. “I’ll be fine. I have to talk with Dumbledore, but then we need to appear happy and upbeat for your family.”


She nodded before replying cheekily, “So you mean we have to go from one stressful situation to the next?”


He chuckled into her hair before pulling back to kiss her lips gently. “Where’s that optimism I always see when you discuss your family?”


She rolled her eyes playfully. “What optimism? My patience can only go so far.”


He smiled, running his fingers through her hair. “Well, it’s a good thing I have enough patience for the both of us then.”


She reached up and pulled his lips against hers softly. “Come on. Let’s go get this over with. I want to know what’s going on.”


He kissed her a bit more before pulling the two of them up to their feet. “Yes. Let’s. I want to know that as well.”

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