Lily Evans walked into Andiamo's Café at 1:55, her heeled sandals clacking along the tiled floor and her fingernails beating out a drumline on her stiff leather purse. With a sigh and a flick of her hair she approached the young hostess.
"I have a reservation," Lily said. "It should be under Evans. Party of two for two o'clock. The—er—private room."
"Oh, yes, of course!" the hostess cried, her eyebrows flying up as she registered who Lily was. Or, rather, who Lily was meeting. "Follow me."
The girl led Lily through the café to a small, private room in the back. The enormous table was clearly meant to host large parties of twenty or more people. Lily flushed at the extravagance and hastily set her purse down on the chair at the far end. "Thank you," she said to the hostess.
When the girl had left, Lily opened the metal clasp of her purse and took out first her beloved steno pad, then a pen, and finally a tube of lipstick which she hastily applied, using her phone screen as a makeshift mirror.
"I appreciate the last minute primping, Evans," a familiar voice rang out. "But really, you didn't have to."
Lily dropped the lipstick on the table and snapped her head up, finding James Potter leaning against the door frame. She frowned and clamped the top back on the lipstick with more force than was strictly necessary before shoving it unceremoniously back in her purse.
The lazy grin which had graced Potter's face slid off and was replaced with a look of apprehension. He dragged a hand through his messy black hair and eyed Lily warily as he approached the table. "Look, er, Evans, I'm sorry I was such a git at the last interview—"
"Why don't you take a seat," Lily interrupted him, not wishing to spend half their time listening to Potter's rehearsed apology. She grabbed her steno pad and clicked her pen as Potter sighed and sat in the seat across from her. "Alright," Lily said, glancing up to see Potter's hazel eyes trained on her with a mixture of amusement and trepidation. His bottom lip was caught behind his front teeth and Lily suppressed the urge to sigh happily at the sight. She straightened in her seat and cleared her throat. "So, where would you like to begin, Potter? Don't forget you promised me a juicy secret."
"I haven't forgotten, don't you worry," Potter said, relaxing a bit in his chair. "Well, er, I didn't exactly give you many details last time about the work I did in South Africa, would that be a good place to start?"
Lily fought to cover her look of surprise and simply nodded her head, keeping her eyes glued on the paper in front of her. "That would be excellent," she said.
They spent over an hour discussing James Potter's work in South Africa. He seemed to have a never ending supply of anecdotes and, to Lily's amazement, rather impressive insight about his trip. He spoke about the people he had met while working there with such compassion, Lily had a hard time keeping a neutral face while she hastily scribbled everything down, only stopping every few minutes to take a sip of tea.
"Wow," she finally said after Potter finished his last story. She flipped back through her twenty two…twenty three…twenty four pages of notes and raised her eyebrows, throwing back the last dregs of her tea. "I reckon there's enough here to write a book on."
"So it's enough for your article?" Potter asked, leaning forward and refilling her cup with the kettle that the wait staff had left for them twenty minutes ago. "I can tell you more, if you'd like. Really, just ask, I'm sure—"
"I think I have enough," Lily laughed. "Thank you, though." She checked her watch and was startled by how long they had already spent in the café. How different this interview was going from the last one. Lily was actually enjoying herself. As a matter of fact, she couldn't remember the last time she had had this much fun listening to another person talk. Apparently when Potter made up his mind not to be a pompous git, he was a very interesting person.
"So, I suppose I still owe you one juicy secret, don't I?" Potter murmured, giving Lily a smirk and running a hand through his hair. "After all, that's the only reason you came to meet me today, isn't it?"
"No," Lily said feebly, biting her lip and unable to contain her smile and Potter snorted. "Okay," she conceded, pushing a piece of hair behind her ear. "Maybe it was. But you've made it worthwhile even without the secret."
"Glad to hear it," Potter said, giving her a lopsided grin that made his hazel eyes shine brightly behind his glasses.
"Well, out with it then," Lily said, taking up her steno pad once again and poising her pen over it. "What's this secret that's going to rock my world?"
"Well," Potter said theatrically, leaning forward and speaking in a stage whisper. He made a show of checking over his shoulder to be sure nobody else was in the room—the private room they had specifically booked—before turning back to her solemnly. "You have to promise not to tell anyone except all the thousands of dedicated tabloid readers," he said.
"I promise," Lily replied, equally solemn. Setting down her pen, she held out her hand. Potter shook it and gave her a pointed look.
"I'm going to hold you to that," he said. "Nobody except every tabloid-reading busybody can know. My personal well-being depends on it."
"Noted," Lily said, picking her pen back up and watching Potter with a playful grin. "So what is it? A family no one knows about? A secret girlfriend? A secret boyfriend? Is it Sirius Black? You know there's been some speculation there—"
"What," Potter sputtered, his eyebrows shooting up. "No—no! Nothing like that! I don't know what—no, no, no girlfriends or boyfriends—eurgh and really? Sirius? Of all the fit actors in the world there's speculation about Sirius?"
"Care to elaborate on who exactly those 'fit actors' are?" Lily asked, letting out a small giggle as Potter's ears immediately went bright red.
"No!" he cried, covering his face with his hands. "That's not what I meant!"
Lily only laughed and watched as James Potter—the bloody world famous actor who all of her friends were in love with—groaned in embarrassment.
"If you keep laughing I'm not telling you the secret," he said.
Lily bit her lip and schooled her face to a look of neutrality, although her lip kept twitching up. "Alright," she said. "Nobody is laughing anymore. All serious."
"Good," Potter replied. He took his hands away from his face, which was still a bit pink, and gave her a small smile. "I hope I don't disappoint you with this secret now."
"I'm sure you won't," Lily said.
"Well," Potter took a deep breath. "You know how everyone thinks my career started when I got that role in Defeating a Dark Lord?"
"Yes," Lily nodded, thinking back to the fantasy thriller that had introduced the world to James Potter the heartthrob.
"Well, I'd actually been in something before that," Potter said slowly, tugging at his shirt. "It just was a long time ago and not as—er—big."
"So it was…" Lily prompted, raising her eyebrows.
"An advert," Potter said. "You probably remember it. It was—er—you remember that one for nappies? With the ten-year-old boy who—"
"Who loses his pants in the supermarket?" Lily shrieked, her surprise getting the better of her. Her lip twitched up again and it took all her willpower not to laugh. "That one?" Her lower lip began trembling as the giggles built up in her throat. "Because if that's what you're talking about—"
"Yes, that one," Potter mumbled, his ears going red again. "Well—er—that's—that was me—that's the first job I got—"
Lily couldn't stop herself anymore. The knowledge that James Potter—sex symbol, hot shot James Potter—had gotten his start playing a ten-year-old who lost his pants to advertise nappies was just too much. Her shoulders shook and her lips parted as she let out a shriek of laughter and nearly doubled over, dropping her pen in the process.
"Oh that's brilliant!" she cried. "Just fucking brilliant—oh-oh my god—you—and now you're—but you were that kid!"
"You said you wouldn't laugh," Potter pouted, crossing his arms and glaring at her.
"I said no such thing," Lily argued, forcing herself to sit up again as fat tears of mirth rolled down her cheeks. "I said—I said I wouldn't tell anyone except my dear readers—I never said I wouldn't laugh." She wiped the stream of tears from her face and took a deep breath, swallowing the rest of her giggles as she tried to regain her composure.
"Glad you came now?" Potter asked.
"Oh, so glad," Lily answered, her shoulders still shaking from repressed laughter.
"That'll make one hell of an article," he said. "I can see the headline now: James Potter Nappies Kid From 15 Years Ago Details Inside."
"I won't put it in the article if you don't want me to," Lily said, surprising herself just as much as him. Seeing his face, though, and the relief which flooded it, she made up her mind to keep that promise.
"You sure?" Potter asked, peering at her through his glasses. "It'd sell loads of magazines."
Lily shrugged and smiled. "I think I've got enough about your work in South Africa to sell a load of magazines. Your fans love reading about you doing physical labor." She punctuated the sentence with a wink. Potter choked on his tongue and went red in the face again.
"I—I suppose they do," he said.
Lily grinned and checked her watch. "Oh, bugger," she muttered, grabbing her purse from the chair. "I've got to go. It was—er—nice to see you. I'll give Remus a call when the story's out."
"Right," he said, standing up as she threw her steno pad and pen into her purse and slung the bag over her shoulder. She had worn a white sundress, he noticed. It made her hair look extra bright, and brought out the hints of auburn in it.
"Er, well, goodbye," Lily said awkwardly, holding out her hand over the table.
James nodded and shook her hand, chewing the inside of his cheek.
With one last smile, Lily let go of his hand and walked around the table to the door.
"Wait!" he said loudly, faltering when she turned and looked at him expectantly. "Er—I have your number—" he stuttered, cringing internally as he heard the words leaving his mouth.
"I suppose you do," Lily said slowly, her eyebrows rising.
"Would it—can I call you? With your number I mean?"
For a second it looked as though Lily were going to laugh, but she didn't. She glanced towards the door and then at her hands and finally, up at him. Her mouth curled into a smirk and she flicked a piece of hair over her shoulder. "I suppose you can," she said. With that, she opened the door and walked out, her shoes clicking along the floor as she went.