A week flew by with no problem, and Lily couldn't understand how she was tolerating James so much better here. A lot of ideas came to her mind like the fact that maybe it was because she only saw him for four or eight hours at a time instead of months. It could even be that he couldn't stalk her around the store because he was stuck behind the register the whole day. When she heard some obnoxious boys come into the market it clicked in her head. It was so much more...quiet.
Usually he was with the other Marauders running around the school provoking Peeves, pulling pranks, or telling stupid jokes hoping to make her laugh. He didn't have them here to egg him on!
Satisfied that she had come to a conclusion she turned around to give the boys who had come in a nice hard glare for ruining her loving silence, but froze when she saw their three figures.
One was a tall, built, guy with straight black hair and a cocky smile. Another was slightly shorter with sandy blonde hair and tired eyes. The last guy was short and stocky, whose pointed face slightly reminded her of a rat.
She glanced over at James and was surprised when he didn't immediately turn to greet them. He was too busy trying to count a customer's change correctly, however there was no one in her line. 'Escape!!' her mind yelled. Trying to put on her calm face, she walked past James telling him she'd be right back and then practically sprinted to the back room where she knew she would be safe from their eye sight.
She found Paula and Michael there talking as vendors came in and out of the back room with new product. She figured they were using the "We're making sure everything came in right" excuse.
"Hey, hey, hey! Look who it is!" Michael smiled.
"Hey, Lils!" Paula greeted her.
"Surprised to see you out of your register. You've been stuck there like glue this whole week."
Lily laughed, shrugging her shoulders, "Well, someone has to do their job around here." She cleared her throat hinting at their laziness.
"We get our work done!" Paula said defiantly, "Plus, if we don't we know Marcus will be here and can make up for us."
"I think that's called abusing a friendship," Lily laughed.
"Yeah, but I can never turn down Paula's puppy eyes," Marcus walked up.
Lily tensed a little with him walking up from behind her, but didn't want to end the moment of feeling like they were in the good old days. She shifted her body to be closer to Paula as to help her keep her cool.
Since the last time he had confronted her they hadn't spoken, but only stole glances at each other. It oddly reminded her of James at Hogwarts, but oddly enough now it was James who kept his cool around her.
"Speaking of lazy asses," Lily rolled her eyes, "Paula three guys from my school came in to visit James."
"Really?" she said raising an eyebrow, "Stats?"
"All three single, two of them capable of being in a serious relationship, the other is a player who I will not allow you date."
"Then what're my chances of the two capables?"
"One you won't be interested in, but the other is very dateable."
"Well then! That's my cue!" Throwing a quick wink toward the two boys in the room she ran from them and up to the front end to spy out her hunt.
"Think she'll actually go for good one?" Michael asked.
"Nope," Lily sighed.
"How will she know which is which?" Marcus asked.
"Oh believe me, it's easy. Sirius is the player. He's basically a worse version of James so she'll spot that out. And Remus is more quiet...very thoughtful and smart."
"A boy version of you?"
"Barely!" Lily exclaimed, "Underneath it all he uses his intelligence for evil. You guys wouldn't believe how many pranks have been thanks to Remus!" Lily smiled.
She could feel Marcus's eyes begging for her to look at him, but she wouldn't give in. Finally he let his eyes drop to the floor mumbling he had a lot of work to do. Michael clapped his shoulder as he walked off to the sales floor.
"Have you dated any of them?" Michael asked scratching the back of his head.
"No...James has wanted me to date him for a long time, but-"
"Why don't you?"
"He's an arrogant toe rag," she shrugged.
"You guys get along well enough here, though."
"Yeah that's true..." Lily said thoughtfully, but shrugged. "He's been changing a lot this summer."
"You thinking about dating him now?"
"What is this, Mike? An investigation? No! I haven't!"
"Just wondering about your life is all! You hardly tell us about that boarding school of yours."
"Well be careful to be more blunt next time, will you?" she said sarcastically.
"He just wants to know," Mike mumbled.
"Who? Marcus? Because it's none of his business, and if i remember correctly he's supposed to be with tons of girls right now making me want to come back to him."
"Those girls mean nothing to him. Not in the past, not now."
"And how am I supposed to believe that? I've heard so many stories for these past years that it would take more than my fingers to count off the girls that he had dated while I was away. Who did I date? No one! Not because Potter scared them all off, but because I thought we were a serious thing. I even put up with his crap when he would start drinking and get jealous if I was looking in the direction of another guy. Back then it was only words, but now I come home to find out he beat a girl and I should fall back into his arms? No way!"
"You're only saying that because your parents aren't letting you guys see each other. You're using reverse psychology on yourself!"
Lily moved closer to Michael so that she could speak in a lower tone. "No, it's not. It's called taking a stand and learning to respect myself. Do you really think I want to go down to the pub where he gets drunk, as always, and I have to be constantly looking out for a fist coming my way in cause I don't feel like doing something with him?"
"No! We would watch out for you! You know that!"
Lily couldn't believe what she was hearing. He didn't say that they would get him help, or that he respected her decision, but "We would watch out for you".
"Unbelievable," She hissed. Her hair whipped around as she turned, and stormed out of the back room.
'I would have rather dealt with the Marauders than hear that...' she thought angrily.
When she finally got to the front she saw a long line starting to form making James look nervous. He was still having a little trouble remembering each coins worth, which made him take a few extra seconds to count back their change.
"It's not that difficult," a customer snapped at James, "Give me the one with gold on the edge and silver on the inside, and a small copper one."
James did as he was told looking horribly embarrassed.
"Thank Merlin you're here, Lily!" he exclaimed when he caught sight of her. Lily couldn't help but laugh at how helpless he really did look. It was almost cute. "I got the big gold one mixed up with the little one again and then I got confused and-"
"Stop complaining, Prongs! I told you we'd practice with them tonight again." Sirius came out of no where chewing on an apple in his hand. "Hey, Evans!"
"I hope you paid for that," was all she said before turning to open her register.
The small rush only lasted for a few minutes before it was nice and calm again. Lily closed out of her register and turned to see Paula sitting in the middle of the three boys. Sirius was leaning towards her, intoxicating her with his presence, Remus was leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head looking completely at ease, and Peter was sitting almost in a rigid position glancing between Remus and Sirius thinking, 'Should I lean forward like Padfoot? Or sit back like Moony? Should I go stand by Prongs?!'
"Peter looks very confused..." James said now standing next to Lily.
She looked up with a smile and nodded. "So you're having trouble with money still? I'm sorry that guy was so rude. What a muggle," Lily joked. James avoided her gaze though and looked in another direction. "It's nothing to be embarrassed about! It took me a while to get used to sickels and all too."
"But it is! I'm in the top ten of our class and can't understand the concept of muggle money...something we covered in Muggle Studies just last year."
"Well, how about a tutor?"
'What?' Both James and Lily's mind asked at the same time.
"I- I mean.... because you're having trouble... and no offense, but Sirius probably isn't as good with the specifics as I am..."
'Why are you saying this?' Lily's mind asked her.
"That would be great actually," James said with his smile getting bigger by the second.
"Great!" Lily exclaimed. 'Calm down, Lily! He's going to get the wrong idea, as usual.'
"So...this isn't like a date or anything, is it?"
'Told you.' "Absolutely not."
"If you happen to start snogging at the end of the night, it might be considered one!" Sirius yelled over from where he was sitting. Paula giggled sending Lily a wink.
"Merlin..." Lily mumbled.
"Padfoot, shut up will you?" James hissed. He slowly turned back to Lily. "Sorry...I was just wondering what you were making of it, and I say stupid things when I think too much..."
"I noticed," Lily laughed, "I'm off in a minute, but Shelly will be here after me. Want to just head over to my house when you're off?"
"Sure! Sounds like a plan."
"Alright, see you later then!"
Lily walked away feeling James's eyes on her, but for once didn't feel creeped out. Instead she walked smoothly over to Paula, and whispered, "You're hitting on the wrong one!"
Paula smiled largely and said back, "I know."
When Lily got home her parents were actually glad that they would have James as a visitor that night.
"That's the boy that just started, right?" her dad asked.
Her parents and James hadn't gotten a lot of time to work with each other since they were there in the mornings and she and James worked at night, but they were glad they would have this chance to get to know him.
"You know, it's funny that I didn't know that he was a wizard until after he was hired," Mrs. Evans commented. "Is there like a code question that we could start asking to know if they're magical or not?" she asked Lily.
"Not that I know of," she laughed. "I'm sure he'll only be here for a little while though since he doesn't get off until eight."
"Well, take as much time as he needs! We can't have our cashiers not knowing their money," her dad said with a chuckle, "What kind of business would that be?"
"I'll make snacks for you, Lils," her mum said heading to the counter. In the mean time, Lily gathered all of the different coins she would need to show James from her wallet before heading upstairs to get changed.
At first she lazily threw on a pair of old jeans with a baggy sweatshirt, but looking into her mirror...it was almost too lazy! And it was already 7:50. James would be off in just ten minutes leaving her only two minutes after that for him to find a dark corner to Apparate to her front door.
She ran back to her closet and found jeans that fit her nicer, but still couldn't find a top. It was times like these when she wished Petunia still lived with her parents. She may not have been the nicest, but she was easy to steal cute clothes from when she needed them. With very hopeful thinking, she threw on the sweatshirt again and ran from her room to Petunia's old room thinking that maybe she had left a few things in her closet.
Of course though, the closet was black and empty. More frustrated at herself, not knowing why she couldn't just wear her sweatshirt she walked back to her room and stood in front of her closet.
Catching the corner of her eye was an old t-shirt she had bought from Camden town. It was old giving it a feeling that Lily hadn't thought about it much, but it still fit her nicely enough that she didn't look completely lazy.
She threw off the sweatshirt and reached for the shirt. She tugged on it nicely trying to get it off the hanger, but one of the sleeves had caught one of the arms of the hangar. She started pulling on it harder not understanding why it wouldn't cooperate when a light knock sounded from outside her ajar door, and in came James Potter.
"Lily? Your mum said I could-OH MERLIN!"
And before she could even react the door slammed shut leaving Lily still just hanging onto the shirt; her face steadily growing a shade of red. She slammed the palm of her hand against her forehead and giving up on the shirt she threw the sweatshirt back on against her better judgement.
She tugged to open her door, but it wouldn't budge.
"Are you dressed?" James whispered from the other side of the door.
"A little late for that question, but yes I am. Now will you let go of my door knob?" she asked in a biting tone.
"What? Let me open my door!"
"No! I don't want you to yell at me!"
"You're being ridiculous! I'm not going to yell at you! It was my fault for not shutting the door." Silence. "If you don't open this door, Merlin so help me, I will blast it to pieces James Potter!"
She felt the pressure on the knob being released and then opened her door to find James's face even redder than hers. "Are you...blushing?"
"No!" he said loudly, "I was just shocked was all...I didn't expect to see...your mum sent me up."
Lily couldn't help but laugh. At first she was shocked that she wasn't too embarrassed to do so, but something about James having that much color in his cheeks was amusing and quite honestly adorable.
"Lets just pretend that didn't happen....and no that doesn't make this a date." She walked past him leaving him staring after her.
In just that brief second he had been in Heaven. Her skin wasn't necessarily pale, but just a porcelain white and it looked beautiful against the black bra she was wearing, which fit her perfectly. Her breasts weren't like the usual bimbos he was around. They were petite and perfectly proportioned for her body. His eyes had skimmed down from there he could see just how tiny her waist was. It was always hidden under their school robes and seeing it plain and simple right then made him want to brush his fingers up and down her sides.
"James, can you please come out of your day dream so we can get this going?"
He walked back down to their living room staring at the floor hoping his blush was fading away as his mind started coming back to him.
'You just saw her in her bra, man!...Don't let her see you're enjoying this too much she'll think you're a pig.'
"So which coins do you get confused with?"
He finally looked up but his eyes would slowly wander down, down, down, and then cranked back up to her face.
"Well....uh.....you know...so many silver ones...same, but different," he stumbled. "And er...the shapes...they..."
'Get your eyes in control, man! Have some dignity!!' James yelled at himself. "They um..."
"Are you going to be like this the entire night?"
'Well....you tried...' he sighed to himself. "Probably, yes."
'Poor boy...' Lily thought, 'He can't even keep track of his thoughts.'
"Then lets make a deal." 'Prepare yourself for his wishful thinking.' "Go home and study by yourself and then tomorrow night we'll review. Some of the people from work are going over to a pub to just kick back, want to join?"
"Yes. You can practice muggle money and buy me and Paula a drink."
"This isn't by any chance a way of you saying-"
"Potter! Unless I say it's a date, it's not. Stop asking that stupid question! Now get out of my house before I really start getting mad at you for staring at my chest for the last five minutes. For Merlin's sake, it was just a bra!"
"Right. Well, thanks for trying, love," He clapped his hands and stood up from the sofa that they had sat on.
"You're welcome, but don't call me love."
James laughed and said good night before pulling out his wand and 'popping' out of sight.
"That boy..." she sighed, "Never going to get a hint!"
"Where's James?" Lily's mum came out of the kitchen.
"He ended up having to leave early."
"Shame! I had cookies!"
Lily apologized and then said good night, heading for her bedroom. She still wasn't sure why she had invited James to the next night, but was relieved he had accepted it. Marcus would be there, and it helped her conscience that James would be there if anything went wrong. He might not always be her favorite of guys, but he made one hell of a body guard.
She sat on the edge of her bed ready to free fall into its covers when she saw an owl coming for her window. It was one that she wasn't familiar with, but opened her window to it none the less. Once inside, the bird very promptly stuck his leg out for Lily to grab out its note.
Written on the inside was, "I'm sorry about those last five minutes, I promise I'll be better tomorrow. However, I wanted to let you know that on the Marauder's scale of womanlyness you rate at 9. On the James Potter scale you've always been a 10+."
She had to cover her mouth from laughing out loud and then turned to her pillows to hide her giggling. The Marauder's scale? The James Potter scale? What is wrong with those boys?
Once James's feet landed inside of his house he sprinted all the way up to Sirius's room.
"You guys!" he practically screamed. He threw the door open to see Sirius, Remus and Peter sitting around a game of wizard's chest. "You are never going to believe what just happened!"
Remus looked at his watch before answering, "Lily could actually stand you for an extra five minutes more than we had figured she could?" A light went on in his eyes and moved one of his pieces making Sirius mutter, "Dammit."
"She probably could've stood me for another while, but I saw her in her bra!"
"Alright, Prongs! Back on top of your game!" Peter whooped.
Remus's head snapped to James's grinning face, "No way," he started shaking his head, "There's no way she let you see her in her bra."
Sirius took advantage of Remus's distracted moment to switch two of their pieces before saying, "Our Prongs is the second most sought after single man of Hogwarts! He can get any woman he wants! I'll bet you anything Evans just snapped not able to take their sexual chemistry anymore."
"Yeah, right," Remus scoffed.
James ruffled his hair wishing he could tell the story Sirius envisioned, but Lily would never forgive him if he did. So he told the truth.
"Well, I got to her house and her mum told me I could meet her up in her bedroom. I knocked before I went in and she didn't say anything so I went in! And there she was in her almost naked glory," James sighed smiling at the memory.
When he snapped out of the moment he looked at Sirius who was giving him a strange look.
"Prongs," he paused thinking carefully about his next words, "You're my best mate. I love you like my own brother."
"Okay...What's your point?"
"You're acting like a virgin!" he exclaimed, "You've seen plenty of other fully exposed chests, but you're acting like this is the most you've ever seen of a girl!"
"That's harsh," Peter mumbled.
"But it's true!" Sirius yelled. He stood up from his seat and placed a hand on James's shoulder, "You need to show Evans that you're a man. That she isn't your only option and you can get any girl you want!"
"Stop!" a voice came from outside of Sirius's door. Jasmine came in with a glare ready to set on Sirius. "Don't put that crap in his head! Girls never like a guy who could easily pass them off as just another pair!"
"Not in any of my experiences," Sirius said, "Women like to be handled!"
"Wha-? Who?" Jasmine took a second to calm herself down. Remus laughed at the two's going on debate. "How does any girl stand you for anything more than three minutes?" she choked out.
"Well, that's all it can take, you know," Sirius winked throwing his arms behind his head.
"Disgusting," Jasmine muttered. She changed her gaze to James saying, "It'd be ten times better to just apologize and move on. She didn't blame you did she?"
"Nope," James said his proud smile returning, "In fact she invited me to go out tomorrow night with some of the other employees and buy her and Paula a drink."
"Very nice, Prongsie!" Sirius said.
"Did you mess with my pieces?" Remus suddenly said finally looking back to their game.
"Nonsense! Why would I do that?"
"Reverto," Remus muttered with his wand pointed at the board.
The two pieces Sirius had switched returned to their original places making Sirius give a guilty smile.
"James," Jasmine said, "If you need some real advice for tomorrow just come and ask me."
She left the room leaving Sirius to mock her, "Come and ask me. Please. Who does she think she is? I'm Sirius Black! I know everything about girls!"
The three boys snickered at his pride.
"Just keep telling yourself that, Padfoot!" Peter laughed.
Sirius pushed Peter off of his seat. "Well I definitely know more than you."
They continued to bicker with each other while James pulled out a piece of parchment and sent his owl off to Lily's with a quick apology...with a Marauder twist.
Author's Note: Welcome back everyone! Wow, I am OVERWHELMED with all of those reviews! But believe me, I am loving every one of them! and i answer back to all of them so be looking for a reply!
I hope you liked the chapter and that it leaves you pretty excited for the next one (;
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