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The common room was almost empty, it was a Hogsmeade weekend and apart from a few studious sixth years everyone was either in the village or out on the grounds enjoying the unseasonably good weather.  Lily, as usual, was reading in her favourite armchair.  She had not felt like going to Hogsmeade.  All of her friends had dates and she did not particularly fancy playing gooseberry.

"Hey Lily, you seen Sirius?"  Hi Lily, how are you? I'm fine thank you, James.  How are you?  I'm good thanks, say, you didn't happen to see Sirius did you?  Talk about skipping the chitchat!

"Detention."  As if he's ever anywhere else.

"Crap!  OK how about Peter?"

"With Sirius."

"Shit."

"Language," Lily muttered.  Don't ask him.  Don't do it, Lily, don't you do...  "James, where were you last night?"  So you do it!  Honestly Lily.  Well, whatever kept him up all night he's paying for it this morning, he's all pale and pasty.  Serves him right for not going to bed when he should have.  James stopped looking around distractedly.

"Huh?"

Lily rolled her eyes, very articulate James. 
"Last night, where were you?"

"What do you mean?  I was in the common room, Lily.  You were there."  He laughed but avoided looking her in the eye.

"James, don't play ignorant, you know what I mean.  Last night, say about 4 o'clock."

"Well strictly speaking that's this morning Lily.  I was in bed."

"No, you weren't"

"Yes, I was."

"James, if you don't want to tell me that's your prerogative, but don't insult me by lying."  Lily said quietly, standing and heading for the door.

"What makes you think I'm lying?"

"I saw your empty bed." Uh-oh, you did not just say that!

"Wait, what?  You were in my room last night?  Why were you in my room in the middle of the night."  Lily flushed bright red.

"Well strictly speaking, it was morning," she said giving him an awkward smile, but he just continued to look at her.  She sighed, "I was looking for you."

"In the middle of the night?"  Why is that so hard to believe.  Wait, no, don't answer that.

"Yes James, in the middle of the night.  It was your stupid book that gave me the stupid nightmare, so I figured it was only fair that stupid you-" at that moment a third year boy crashed into the both of them.

"Sorry!" he shouted over his shoulder as he threw himself out of the portrait hole without looking back.  Must be late for Hogsmeade, Lily reasoned.  She resisted the temptation to scold him for running in the castle and turned back to James who was clutching his side in apparent agony as his face turned a very pale grey colour.  The boy had crashed full pelt into James, but apart from being a little winded there really was no need for him to be doubled over in pain.  Wuss, talk about melodramtic!  Then she saw his eyes watering and, as he moved one of his hands to steady himself against the back of a chair, Lily saw his t-shirt and gasped, the left side was quickly being soaked in what was unquestionably blood.

"James, you're bleeding," she stated obviously.  Her own face now very white.

"It's nothing," he said, forcing himself to stand up straight.

"James, don't be so stupid, you have to go to Madame Pomfrey, now."  She had taken his left hand, which was slippery with his own blood – a thought Lily was trying very hard to ignore – and was leading him towards the exit.  At the mention of the school nurse, however, he came to an abrupt halt.

"No, Lily I can't.  I'm fine really."  But his brave smile was ruined by another stab of pain that turned it to a grimace and had him doubled over and clutching his left side once again.  "Please Lily, don't make me go to the infirmary, I'll be expelled.  Please Lily," he sent her an imploring look.  You do know he probably deserves whatever he would get.  "Please."

"Alright."

"I'll just wait for Sirius to get back and then..."

"No," Lily cut him off, "you can't wait that long, just let me think a second."  Think Lily, come on.  "Ok. Can you make it to the Head's bathroom?"

"I...I think so."

"Good, just give me one second."  Lily helped him over to one of the chairs, making sure that the bloodied left side of James’ t-shirt was hidden from prying eyes.  

Lily ran up to her room and began rummaging through her trunk.  Where's that bloody book, where is it?  Where is it?  She flung everything out of her trunk and onto the floor until she found what she was looking for.  

She ran back to James.  "Come on," she said gently, carefully pulling him to his feet.  She drew one of his arms around her shoulders, taking a little of his weight.  She heard one of the sixth years wolf whistle as the portrait swung closed behind them.  Thank God it's so close. James was struggling, gallantly, but struggling all the same.  

Lily muttered the password to the painting.  At the moment it showed a girl and a boy sitting on the edge of a fountain in a square in Venice, but If Lily was in the bathroom the boy would leave the painting, and if James was using it the girl would hide from view.  As there was no way of locking the bathroom, the portrait allowed each Head to know if the other was using the facilities, avoiding any embarrassing interruptions.  She often found the two characters talking with their heads close together, holding hands.  Although they always seemed happy to see her, unlike a certain Fat Lady.  Lily found herself wondering what would happen when she and James entered, would both leave the painting?

Lily stepped through the previously concealed archway and lowered James down to the floor leaning against the side of the swimming pool sized bath.  She set the book she had brought with her in front of him and began thumbing through the pages with shaking hands.

"James, I need you to take your shirt off."

"Whoa, slow down Lily, we haven't even had a first date yet."  Lily laughed and helped him pull it over his head.  Ok, so first you need to clean the wound.  Lily went to the sink, grabbed a clean flannel and then picked up a large bowl from a shelf unceremoniously chucking the candles out over her shoulder.  She filled the bowl with warm water and knelt in front of James.  "I've got to get rid of the blood so I can see what I'm doing, OK?"  James nodded silently his hazel eyes boring into hers.  She dunked the flannel into the water then rung it partially dry, she folded it and then tenderly wiped at the crimson staining his torso.  She repeated the process many times until the water ran red.  When the severity of the wound was revealed she stifled a gasp, it was very deep, the laceration long.  James made to look but her hands found his face first.  Don't let him see it, he might panic.  What, like you are?

"Don't look at it James."  He moved again to see.  "James, do not look.  Look at me instead."  His gaze was pulled to her face and when she was sure he wouldn't turn away, she let go of his face.  "I've got to disinfect it OK?" she asked, unscrewing a bottle she had pulled from the shelf earlier.  Getting up to grab another bowl, she diluted the bottle’s contents with a little clean water from the sink.  She knelt back down in front of James and wet a cotton pad with the disinfecting solution.  "This is going to sting.  Sure you can handle it?" she smiled and looked up at him, their eyes met instantly.

"Do your worst, Evans," he replied, his voice was light but his jaw set.  He could not help but cry out when the burning liquid hit the open wound though.  He gripped his leg, his knuckles white, and clenched his teeth.  After his initial outcry he refused to make another sound, though Lily knew each dousing must be just as painful.  He doesn't want to scare you she thought, although she was unsure how she knew it.  When she stole a glance at him his head was thrown back and he was biting down on his fist silencing himself.  She finished and consulted the book again.

"Maybe you should go to Madame Pomfrey.  I've only done this a couple of times, and only ever on small scrapes.  I don't know if I can do it James."  James took her hand in his and squeezed it.

"Lily you can do it, I know you can do it."  She looked him in the eye, nodded, looked once more at the book then picked up her wand.  If James can be brave, so can I. Come on Lily, you can do this, suck it up.  James thinks you can, not about to prove him wrong are you?

~*~

Lily gazed at her own work you'd never even know he was hurt!  "God I love magic!"

"Yeah, magic rocks."  James smiled at her.  Whoops, didn't mean to say that out loud.  "You rock, Lily."  Lily blushed and dropped her eyes from his face only to be confronted by a set of perfect pecs and a...six pack?  Go ahead lookI think you've deserved it.  Wait... are they...?  What looked like teeth marks – maybe fangs – were outlined in white on James' bare chest, the pale scars showing clearly on his tanned skin.  Lily's fingers stretched out seemingly of their own accord, intrigued she traced the scars with feather light touches.  Unexpectedly a hand closed over hers causing her to jump and look up into a pair of hazel eyes whose expression she could not read.  She realised suddenly what she had been doing and her cheeks tinged pink as she turned her face to the side.  But James would not relinquish his hold on her hand.

"I'm sorry," Lily said, embarrassed beyond belief.  What were you doing?

"It's alright," James said and Lily could not help but allow herself to be drawn back to those eyes, they conveyed so much but she found she could not understand any of it.  "Thank you," he said and lifted her hand to his mouth, grazing his lips against her knuckles.  Lily suddenly felt flustered and stood abruptly pulling her hand from his grasp.  She picked up the two bowls and emptied the bloodied water and disinfectant into the sink, running both under the tap and wiping down the sink.

“Lily, I think I owe you an explanation.”  Yes, you do.  Explain to me why every time you touch me I get a fluttery feeling in my stomach or why I can’t stop thinking about how you just kissed my hand.  When did you become such a gentleman anyway?  Explain to me why I can’t stop wondering what it would be like to feel those lips on mine.

“No you don’t James.  Not if you don’t want to.”

“I do want to, really I do.  I just can’t.”

“Okay James.”

“Lily, I…”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said turning to face him with a falsely bright smile pasted to her face.  “How does it feel?” she asked, back to business.  James stood and gingerly stretched, he twisted and then tried what seemed to be a quidditch move, it made his muscles ripple deliciously. 

Deliciously?

Yes, deliciously. Now stop staring!

Right, I’m going to stop staring, right… erm...ok...now. 
Lily forced her eyes back to his face.

“It’s perfect.  Thank you Lily.”  He looked as if he wanted to say something else but he turned instead and picked up his blood-stained shirt from the floor.

“No James, don’t put that back on.”  James looked at her for a moment with one eyebrow raised, then took a small step towards her.  Lily blushed furiously and hastened to explain, “It’s covered in blood, pass it here.”  He did so without question.  Oh, it’s still warm.  Lily lay it on the closed toilet seat – the closest thing she had to a table.  James had followed her and was standing entirely too close for her comfort, I think the rule is if you can feel the other person breathing on the nape of your neck they are definitely in your personal bubble!  “Scourgify,” Lily said waving her wand slightly erratically over the stained garment.  “If anyone saw you like that, well…”

“In that case you might want to do something about your jumper.”

Lily looked down at herself, she was drenched all down her right side with what could only be James’ blood.  “Oh great!  This is elf clean only!” 

James pulled on his t-shirt and by the time his head resurfaced Lily was wearing a lot less.  She had yanked off her thin blue sweater and was standing in a thin, tight fitted white camisole.  She dumped the sweater in the laundry basket and headed for the door.

“You coming?”  James nodded at her and finally remembered that 'goldfish' was not a good look on him.  He was still staring though, causing Lily to pull at her top self-consciously.  He would have to see me like this on a fat day!  Besides what IS he staring at?  So it’s a little tighter and lower cut than I normally wear, no one's supposed to see it, that’s why it’s called an UNDER shirt! They exited side by side through the portrait of a girl and boy whispering and pointing at them from a fountained square.

“James you dark horse!” said a Ravenclaw seventh year walking past with his arm slung around his girlfriend.  “If only we had a room our own to play in,” he said to the pretty Hufflepuff beside him who giggled giddily.  “Don’t wear him out before the match against Slytherin next week Lily!” he called back winking conspiratorially at James.

James looked confused for a brief moment.  “What…? Wait, no, we weren’t-“

“James, shush!” Lily interrupted him.

“But Lily they think that I…that you… that we…”

“Isn’t it better for them to think we just had a quick shag in the bathroom-”  James’s jaw dropped at her colourful expression, I really have been spending to much time with Tia, “than to know I’ve been healing your very inexplicable and very suspicious wounds?  I didn’t just save your life and, more importantly, your quidditch career so you could go and get yourself expelled!”  Lily started to walk back towards the common room.  Do not think about shagging Potter on the bathroom floor… or in the shower!  Argh!  STOP IT!  James stood still for a second before running to catch up with her.

“But Lily…”

“James?”

“That’s all I’ve got so far.”  Lily laughed at him.  “Thank you,” he said.  He smiled awkwardly and fell into step with her, stealing furtive glances every few milliseconds.  Does he think I can’t see him?  He does, doesn’t he?  Oh well, let him look.  Lily flicked her hair over her shoulder.

“You’re welcome James.”

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