This bloody house was ridiculous. Lily had almost no idea where she was, but she'd passed the formal dining room on her right a few minutes ago and was sure that meant she was at least in the general vicinity of the kitchen. She should have paid more attention to what James was actually saying on her little tour of the house, rather than thinking about how nice his lips looked as he spoke. She briefly wondered if the houses elves would come if she called, but she assumed that they answered only to family members.

Just as she was wondering if anyone would ever find her body, she walked past a door that was ajar, revealing a cavernous kitchen beyond. Bingo.

She stepped into the room and took a moment to get her bearings before she moved towards the sink, hoping that it wouldn't take her that long to locate a cup, and wondering if it might be simpler to just conjure one.

'Are you looking for a drink as well?' Lily jumped at the voice coming from behind her, and turned to see James' mother crossing the expanse of floor between the door and the worktops, a curious smile gracing her still-pretty features.

'I…er, was going to make tea.' Lily shrugged a little helplessly. 'It was just taking me a little longer than I expected.'

Dorea Potter laughed charmingly. 'Believe it or not dear, I got lost three times in my first week when I moved in here after I married Charlus. It grows on you as a home, but it's incredibly irritating to navigate at first.'

She pulled two cups and saucers from one of the cupboards – fine china, naturally – and proceeded to make tea for them both. 'And why isn't my son here, making tea for his guest?'

Lily smiled. 'Because he's in the middle of a rather heated discussion with Sirius and your husband about who is going to win the Quidditch Cup this year, and it seemed cruel to disturb him. I just asked if it was okay if I came down to make tea, and he did offer to come with me, to be fair.'

Mrs Potter passed her a cup of tea and sipped her own delicately.

'Ah. Quidditch. I'm afraid it's just one of the crosses that you must bear when you're involved with a Potter man.'

Lily choked on her first sip of tea as she tried desperately to answer, and Dorea continued calmly as she looked at her over the edge of her teacup. 'I've often wondered what the girl he eventually brought home would be like; he's mentioned one or two in letters, but there's never been anyone he's spoken about as much as you.'

'Mrs Potter,' Lily finally found her voice, 'Mrs Potter, I think you may have got the wrong impression, James and I…we're friends. Good friends, but that's all.'

'Really?' Dorea took another dainty swallow of tea. 'He's never kissed you?'

'I…' Lily filled her mouth with tea as an excuse not to answer, because how do you tell your best friend's mother that yes, he had kissed you once, and it made your knees shake and head spin and then you'd asked him never to do it again because really, who could deal with feeling like that?

And that you couldn't take that back now, even though you wanted to do it again, even though you looked at his lips and remembered them. Now you didn't even know if he wanted you anymore, because you made him think you didn't want him and who wouldn't move on after that?

'I thought so. I'd worry about him if he hadn't.' Dorea's voice was still calm, though there was the slightest hint of gentle amusement in it now. 'We always did teach that boy to go for what he wanted. And he never was one to hold back.'

She placed a gentle hand on Lily's shoulder, and smiled consolingly at her dumbstruck expression. 'These things take time my dear, and they're invariably confusing. But they do have a way of working themselves out in the end.'

'Are you holding her hostage in here mother? I wondered why she'd been gone so long.'

James' voice from the doorway startled Lily, but his mother simply smiled and walked towards him with her teacup perfectly balanced in one hand.

'We were having a little chat, that's all.' She patted his cheek affectionately. 'Afraid I was telling her stories of your misspent youth?'

'Pretty sure she knows them all.' James answered easily. 'She hasn't shared a common room with me for six years for nothing.'

Dorea laughed as she slipped around her son and left them alone in the kitchen.

James strolled towards her, hands tucked in his pockets. 'She wasn't terrorising you too much was she? She's a…a little forceful at times.'

'No.' Lily answered slowly. 'No, actually I think…I think she helped me figure something out.'

James raised a questioning eyebrow. 'Oh yeah? What was that?'

'This.' She reached out one hand, grabbed a fistful of shirt and tugged until his body bumped into hers and she was close enough to rise on her tiptoes to meet his lips with hers. She felt his body stiffen in surprise for just a few seconds before his brain seemed to catch up and his hands landed on her back and tugged her closer.

She'd always known she hadn't been imagining it, knew that her mind couldn't have created the illusion of this feeling, with James pressed up against her and the feel of his lips on hers burning its way through her system.

When they neither of them had any breath left they broke apart, faces still pressed together.

'So, my mother somehow talked you into kissing me?' James grinned at her, his hands sliding up to cup her face.

Lily fought the blush. 'Something like that.'

'Remind me to buy her a really, really fantastic birthday present.'