Lily Evans does not know how she got here, here being more of a situation than a place. No, she is quite clear on the events of how she got here in the physical sense: a muggle car brought her. In that muggle car, she had sat next to - but as a far away from as physically possible - her older sister and directly behind her mother. The absence of her father had been painfully evident, seeing as how they had just come from his funeral.
Yes, Lily Evans knows every detail surrounding how she physically arrived here - the muggle home in which she had grown up - including every turn, stop, and bump the car had made along the way. What she is less certain of is how she got here - sitting on her front porch with James Potter's arm around her as she cries into his shoulder. So, really, what Lily Evans does not understand, she supposes, is how James Potter came to be here.
"Apparated," he says when she manages to get herself enough under control to speak.
She rolls her eyes and pulls away, wiping at her tears with embarrassingly unsteady hands.
"What?" James defends halfheartedly and Lily belatedly notices his windswept appearance. She wonders if he was having a game of quidditch with Sirius before he came over. "I'm of age now; I'm licensed."
"No, I…" Lily pauses to allow a sob to escape her chest before continuing on, mortified when James reaches out as if to embrace her again. She pulls away and his arms fall to his sides. "I guess what I meant is why are you here?"
James does not look at all surprised at her clarification, which annoys her. Of course he already knew what she meant to ask; the prat just didn't want to answer her the right way. But then he drags a hand through his hair, and Lily knows him well enough by now (especially after the last half of sixth year, during which he had, surprisingly enough, essentially become her new best friend) to recognize his nervous tic. She narrows her eyes at him, dread beginning to coil in her belly; she doesn't think she can take any more bad news. "What is it?"
"Calm down." James laughs, and this time she lets him pull her in for a quick hug, his hand rubbing her back soothingly. When they draw apart, he turns somber again. "It's nothing bad, really. I just… Marlene stopped by my house for a mo' and she mentioned how you had got Head Girl and I thought I had better congratulate you and also-maybe-mention-how-I'm-Head-Boy and then she let slip about your dad and I left immediately to come see you."
"You're Head Boy?" Lily blinks at him, dazed.
"I, well, yeah, apparently. I got the letter and the badge just last week. I was going to owl everyone about it, but then I… didn't know what to say, really, so I was going to let it be a surprise, but…" He trails off, his hazel eyes going wide as he seems to suddenly remember himself. "Oh, bloody hell. What am I doing? Lily, are you okay?"
"I'm a bit in shock, really, to be honest," Lily admits.
James regards her with something akin to (but not) panic (because James Potter does not panic) in his eyes and reaches out as if to steady her, but Lily is quite steady on her feet already. She supposes he just doesn't know how to deal with someone in shock.
"What can I do to make it better?" he asks, and Lily smacks him in the stomach.
"You can explain to me why it took you a bloody week to tell me you got Head Boy!" she shouts.
"Ow! Bloody hell, Evans! Stop!" He grabs her hand as she prepares to hit him again.
"Need I remind you that you didn't tell me you got Head Girl!"
"Well, I had other things going on, didn't I!" And Lily supposes he did as well, because he's James Potter and his best friend is Sirius Black and they live together so of course they've had a ton going on, but she doesn't really care. But then his eyes go soft and he uses her captured hand to pull her head onto his chest once again and she feels her eyes start to well up as she remembers exactly what she has had going on.
"Of course, you did," James says softly, and he is stroking her hair and she thinks she feels him place a soft, feather-light kiss on the top of her head, and she is, surprisingly enough, comforted.
"I just want to get away from here," she mumbles and she thinks her words may have been absorbed into his less-than-inconspicuous Quidditch tee-shirt until he pulls away slightly to gaze down at her. She lifts her eyes to meet his. "What?"
"Where do you want to go?" He looks so insistent that Lily allows the thought to distract her for just a moment.
"London." It's the first thing in her mind, and she immediately regrets it because London? Of all places?
"London." James frowns at her.
"Yes." She laughs and shakes her head. "No. Well, maybe. As a first stop?"
"Ah, yes, of course." James nods as if he suddenly understands where she is coming from, which he can't possibly because she still doesn't. "You have to visit your Gringotts vault first, I suppose."
"James. I'm muggle-born."
"No! I hadn't a clue!" He says sarcastically, then looks pointedly around her very muggle neighborhood.
"Oh, shut up!" Lily exclaims, stepping away from him to sit on the ground with her back against the brick exterior of her house. James follows suit, gesturing for her to explain. "I meant, I'm muggle-born, so I don't have a Gringotts vault."
"You don't?" He asks and he looks so baffled that Lily can't suppress another chuckle. "But where do you put your money?"
"Well, it's not my money, is it? It's my parents'. I expect when I get a job after this year, I'll open up my own vault, but for now, it's my parents' money. They exchange a certain amount for Wizarding currency every summer when we visit Diagon Alley," Lily explains. "My dad always slips me a little extra for sweets."
Lily stops suddenly, her eyes stinging with the sudden realization that that won't happen anymore. Her father won't be sneaking her any extra coins or sweets or hugs or kisses. He won't be seeing her off on the Hogwarts Express or wringing the hand of her future husband or - he'll never walk her down the aisle or play with his grandchildren or grow old and gray and maybe even bald next to her mother.
In the next second, James's arm is heavy on her shoulders and he is pulling her head down onto his shoulder, his long, long legs stretching out in front of them. "So, London." His voice is as light as his arm is heavy. "Why London if not Gringotts?"
She thinks for a moment and then answers honestly. "My sister hates London."
"So does Sirius," James says immediately. "Though for entirely different reasons, I suspect. Why does your sister hate London?"
"For the same reason I love it," Lily says with a shrug. "It's where magic became real for me. Diagon Alley, getting my wand, seeing all those witches and wizards, buying my first real spellbook, my first Potions kit, seeing goblins! Now that I'm used to seeing the Wizarding side of it all, I think I'd like to explore the muggle side of London. Abbey Road, that sort of thing, you know?"
He nods sagely as if he does, but Lily knows he has only the vaguest idea of the Beatles and therefore does not understand the importance of seeing Abbey Road.
"Muggle London, then. All right." James says and grins sideways at her. "Where to next, madam?"
"You said you'd go to London first. Where next?"
"Wiltshire," she says after a moment's hesitation.
"What the bloody hell is in Wiltshire?" James demands immediately.
"Stonehenge," Lily answers promptly. "It's a…"
"I know what it is and it's not muggle," James says dismissively. He catches Lily's curious stare and sighs. "Giants built it thousands of years ago. Loads of muggles were drawn to it and the giants killed and ate them. When wizards caught on, they made a war with the giants. Drove them away with magic. It was the first Giant War. It's why they hate magic, and those who wield it, so much."
"Really?" Lily stares in wide-eyed fascination when James nods. "But that's incredibly interesting! Why didn't we cover that in History of Magic?"
"You expect Binns to cover something interesting?" James asks, shaking his head as if he is ashamed of her. "Alright, so London to Wiltshire. What next?"
"Ireland?" James asks.
"Blarney Stone," Lily says as if that should be answer enough. When James looks more confused than ever, she smiles. "Some people call it the Kissing Stone."
"People kiss there?" His sudden interest amuses her.
"They don't kiss each other; they kiss the stone," she tells him.
"Why in Merlin's name would someone want to kiss a stone, especially one that thousands of people have kissed?" James says incredulously.
"It's supposed to give you the gift of the gab," Lily explains. "Makes you eloquent and whatnot."
"Well, that's ridiculous. I'd much rather kiss you than some stone," he says, then freezes momentarily, which makes Lily wonder if he had perhaps spoken without thinking. Before she can dwell on it, James clears his throat. "So, you want to kiss the rock. And then…?"
"Egypt, I suppose," Lily muses, allowing him the subject change. "I'd like to see the pyramids."
"Another Wizard thing, you know," James says.
"Yes, yes, that one I'm aware of. They're still beautiful."
"You know, they give witches and wizards tours," James tells her.
"For a hefty number of galleons, I'm sure." Lily says wryly.
"Don't worry, my treat," James says.
"Oh?" Lily cocks her head away from James when he turns to look at her. "I didn't realize I was to have your company on my travels."
"Well, of course. You think I could stand to watch you go off to travel the world without me? You think I could bear to be left behind by you?" At first, she thinks he is joking, but then she recognizes the sincerity behind his glasses. "I would take you anywhere you wanted to go. In a week, a month, a year. Right now. Just tell me where."
For a moment, Lily is stunned silent. She is, of course, aware that James had feelings for her a few years ago - she thinks the entire school is aware that James had feelings for her a few years ago - but she thought he had moved on by the time they became friends. This unexpected turn in conversation, however, has her wondering.
Suddenly feeling awkward, she leans forward, away from James so that his arm drops from her shoulders, and then stands to pace her front yard. James, for his part, does not move to follow her, but remains sitting, frowning sadly up at her.
"Do you fancy me, still?" she asks him rather more bluntly than she intends.
He is silent for a moment, but then he stands and approaches her. "Yeah, I do," he says simply, and he doesn't look embarrassed for it. But then, she thinks, this is something he meant to say, and not something that slipped out, and James Potter is never embarrassed over things he means to say. But then, he says something that makes him blush and drag his hand through his hair: "Do you fancy me yet?"
Immediately, he shakes his head and holds out a hand to stop her. "No, wait, I'm sorry. Don't say a thing. You've too much on your mind and I… I didn't mean to put that on you today of all days and I don't want next year to be awkward."
But she wasn't going to say anything because really, what would she say? She doesn't know how she feels about much of anything right now except for sad. Her father is dead and her sister is watching her, poking her abnormally long neck through the sitting room curtains and glaring at the two of them on the front lawn in heavy disapproval, and her mother is probably lying alone in her bed and crying, and James is looking at her with such adoring apology and he has managed to make her laugh today for the first time in weeks, since before her father fell ill, and he has held her while she cried and softly kissed her hair and distracted her from her misery and filled her head with fantasies of travel and, she realizes, yes, she does fancy him. Quite a bit, actually.
But he is right; she has a lot on her mind. And she doesn't want to say anything to lead him on or make him any promises she doesn't know if she can keep because her mind is so muddled with grief. And maybe she fancies him today after he has done all these sweet, kind, thoughtful James things to make her feel better, but what if, a month from now, whenever she is more settled and her heart is not so heavy, she does not feel the same way? They will be working closely together all next year and he is right. If she says something she isn't sure she means, things will be terribly uncomfortable between them.
Besides, he has been so dear to her lately that she doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize their standing as friends.
So she doesn't say anything, but she does reach out and take his hand. And she does pull him close to her. And she definitely tries to ignore her sister's prying eyes as she leans up on the tips of her toes and gently guides his head down by his shoulders so that she can plant a kiss on his cheek.
"James?" she says softly.
"Lily," James responds adoringly.
"Will you really take me anywhere I want to go?"
"Absolutely," he says immediately. "Anywhere."
"Tell me, have you ever had muggle chips?" she asks.
"Can't say I have," James tells her, and that grin is back and it's contagious and Lily feels one spreading on her own face.
"See, I really feel in the mood for some at the moment." Lily looks up at him pleadingly. "Care to take me for some?"
"Of course, m'lady." He gives a deep, sweeping bow that has Lily chuckling again.
"Trouble is, I have no idea where to acquire muggle chips."
"Lucky for both of us, I know just where to come by them," Lily says, thinking of the little place just down the road from her home. "Allow me to lead the way."
She takes his hand and drags him down to the street while he whines halfheartedly about how it doesn't count as him taking her if she's leading him.
"Maybe it could count if I pay. Don't even think of trying to pay for this, you hear, Evans?" James demands.
Lily suppresses a smile as she looks over her shoulder at him. "Bring any muggle money, Potter?"
His stern look falters as he lets loose a slew of swear words which would make Sirius proud. "I'll pay you back later."
"All right, Potter."
They are silent for a moment as they walk. The chips shop has just come into view and Lily can just barely smell the unmistakable scent of grease in the air when James pulls her to a stop, making her face him. The look of utter sincerity on his face stops her protest in her throat.
"One day," he says, "I swear I'll take you all those places you want to go. We can travel as muggles if you'd like. Take the Underground. Ride a skyplane?"
"An airplane, James," she corrects halfheartedly, though her chest feels too small for her heart at the moment.
"Right, that. We can ride that, if you like, even though it's probably much slower than apparition or the Knight Bus or a portkey, but if you want to see the muggle side of the world, I'll see it with you." He smiles at her and places a lingering kiss on her forehead.
"That's lovely, James, but right now let's just go down the road for some muggle chips, yeah?" And she leads him on before she can do something stupid like pull his lips down on hers.
YOU GUYS. I completely forgot I wrote this until someone reblogged it on Tumblr. I wrote it for Jily week like six months ago. The prompt was travel, I believe.
I remember it only took me like an hour to write and I think it's pretty not bad, if I do say so myself. Lol
NOTE: One line gave me pause and I almost cut it when I was editing just now, but then I remembered why I put it in there - James mentions that Sirius hates London after Lily mentions Petunia's distaste for it. The reason Sirius hates it, in my mind, is because it's where he grew up and all of his memories of London have to do with his abusive, insane family. My poor, poor Sirius feels. :(
Anyway, thanks for reading this! Let me know what you think. :)
My tumblr is jamespotterismyhomeboy if you want to follow me