Lily Evans pulled a comb through her tangled red hair and looked carefully at herself in the mirror. She wasn't sure why she was putting so much effort into her appearance. All she was doing was going for a patrol with James.

One hand on the comb, the other holding a strand of particularly knotted hair, Lily froze.

Potter. Lily wasn't really sure where she and James Potter stood with each other. Over the last year, he seemed to have grown up a bit. He wasn't pranking people anymore (well, he probably was. He just wasn't doing it in front of her.) Black was still going strong. The Sunday tradition of interrupted breakfast due to somebody's pulled prank would continue, although it would be Sirius Black she would be yelling at, not James.

See, there it was again. She wasn't calling him Potter anymore. He was James. Not arrogant toerag, or asshole, or conceited idiot (which were all insults she had used against him at some time or other since first year).

But no matter. Lily finished combing her hair, tied it back in a ponytail, have herself one final appraising look in the mirror, and left to go meet James.  

He was down in the common room, sitting in an armchair by the fireplace, just where he'd said he'd be. When he saw her, he closed the Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook he'd been reading and set it down upon the table. Then he ran his hand through his hair, looking very self-conscious, and Lily realized that he only ever did that when he was around her. Was he nervous, by any chance?

"Hey," he said, standing up. He reached up to his neck, straightened his tie, and then flattened the hair he'd just pushed up.

Yep, Lily thought, definitely nervous.

"Hello," she replied. She wasn't all that surprised by the sound of her voice - calm, friendly. She was, however, surprise by the way her body had reacted upon seeing James.

Her heart had sped up, her throat felt dry, and her hands were clammy. Lily hoped that James didn't notice.

"So," James said, "shall we go?" She nodded.

"I talked with Professor McGonagall today," Lily told him, pleased that her voice was still obeying her fully. "She said that as it's almost Halloween there are bound to be some people setting up pranks for tomorrow. She added that they were to be given detention with Filch if we found them setting up anything." She paused, letting her words sink in to James. "So," she continued, "we're not going to find Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew in the dungeons setting up a massive Dungbomb explosion triggered by someone opening the door to the Slytherin common room, right?"

James laughed hollowly as they left the common room. "How - how did you know about that?" he asked, surprised.

"They were talking about it in Care of Magical Creatures," she informed him. They waited for a staircase to move and then crossed down it. "It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, you know. They were lucky that Professor Kettleburn didn't notice. He usually hears that kind of thing."

"Yes, I know," James grumbled. "That's primarily why I dropped that class."

They reached the ground floor and entered the hall that signalled the beginning of the dungeons. Already they could hear the murmur of sound, a duet of voices as Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew worked out the exact details of their prank.

They rounded the corner and James hesitated.

Sirius looked up from the Dungbomb he was holding in a gloved hand and froze. "Lily, hi," he said weakly.

Lily looked around her, at Peter who was still setting up the prank. At Sirius, who was looking hopefully at her. And she looked at James, who was leaning into the wall, appearing like he wanted to disappear into it.  

"You know," Lily said with a slight smile, "I'm not completely stuffy, you know." She looked at James, added, "We were never here, were, we, Potter?" and had to stifle a smile at the shocked expression on his face.

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