It wasn't very often that the sixth year Gryffindor girls found themselves willingly sharing a space in the common room with the boys in their year. This was due, in part, to the fact that Emmeline Vance used to date Remus Lupin and Marlene McKinnon used to shag Sirius Black. It was due in greater part to the fact that Lily Evans, until quite recently, really, used to find it impossible to be around James Potter without the two of them ending up in a screaming match.
Surprisingly enough, it was the disastrous incident that had occurred by the Black Lake late last year following their Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL – an incident which lost Lily a best friend and caused James, Lily, and Severus Snape (the once-best-friend in question) no small amount of humiliation – which had made it easier for the two of them to be around each other. With Severus no longer constantly complaining to her about James and his friends, Lily found herself much less annoyed by their antics and she had to admit that, actually, James Potter was pretty damn funny at times and, she had admitted to Mary just last week after a bit much to drink, he was quite fit.
Mary MacDonald, on the other hand, had no such reason to avoid the Gryffindor boys – she never dated, hated, shagged, snogged, or even possibly fancied any of the four of them – but she had always gotten on better with the girls in her dormitory and, due to a sense of loyalty, tended to avoid the boys right alongside her friends. Heather Mumford had never been particularly close to either of the two groups of sixth years, instead choosing to spend a majority of her time with the Hufflepuffs in their year, one of whom was her twin brother. And then there was Lobelia Cartwright who, unlike any of her dormmates, usually chose the Gryffindor boys in their year over any other group in the school. Of course, having grown up close friends with Peter Pettigrew, no one expected anything different of her.
Despite the fact that, until recently, such a gathering was nearly unheard of unless a very important exam loomed for their year, all ten of the sixteen year-old Gryffindors were gathered in front of the common room fireplaces, James, Remus, and Lobelia having secured the space hours earlier for their usual group of five. James and Lobelia had taken the couch while Remus occupied an armchair and the three of them had set their bags in the other chair, defending it with a load of uninviting scowls and, honestly most likely the quite intimidating presence of James Potter alone.
Then Heather, having recently formed a small bond with the other five girls in her dormitory, had sat herself down quietly next to Lobelia just as Sirius and Peter climbed through the portrait hole, laughing about something and lugging a laden-down rucksack between them.
"Nearly got apprehended by Filch," Peter explained as they set the bag down on the table in front of them. "That damn cat of his. Luckily, Padfoot scared her off."
At this explanation, James, Remus, and Lobelia (who, having hung around the boys for the better part of six years, knew all of their secrets including furry little problems and illegal, highly dangerous, likely-Azkaban-worthy transformations) joined in their laughter. Out of the loop, Heather looked around at them and gave a wry smile, understanding that she was seated in the middle of an inside-joke and still appreciating that, clearly something highly amusing had been said or done. She had half a mind to get up and leave them to their private jokes, but before she could, Sirius sat himself down half on top of James who, laughing still, shoved him to the side so that he fell unceremoniously into Lobelia, who glared playfully and moved over to make room for him. This caused Heather to scoot over to make more room for Lobelia, who smiled at her and took her hand, effectively preventing Heather from leaving.
"Oh, Pete, won't you just sit down!" Lobelia said suddenly, leaping up from the couch and shoving Peter down into the seat she had previously occupied.
James, Remus, and Sirius all laughed as Peter smiled at Heather and turned a furious shade of red. Heather had the sense that she was intruding on another inside joke, but didn't really mind, having harbored a highly secret interest in Peter Pettigrew for the better part of two years. James gave Sirius another shove, presumably so that he wasn't so crowded on his end of the couch.
Peter, who was more than a little bit broader than Lobelia, had to lift his arm to settle on the back of the couch behind Heather to make more room so that she wasn't crushed into the arm of the couch. Completely by accident, Heather thought, she found Peter practically cuddling her in the tight squeeze and felt her cheeks flame up to match his. She completely missed the pleased look on Peter's face, feeling perfectly content herself.
Lobelia caught James's eye and they shared a victorious glance at having gotten Peter and Heather seated so closely together. Turning, she squeezed herself into the armchair with Remus, ignoring his vehement protests that she could have just moved their bags to the floor and taken the other armchair.
Not a full minute later, Lily and Mary came traipsing down the stairs from their dormitory. James spotted them when they were halfway to the portrait hole.
"Oi, Evans!" Both Lily and Mary turned to look at him. "Heading down to the Great Hall?"
It was late in the evening, but the house elves usually continued to serve food later into the night on the weekends. James smiled at the girls, ignoring Sirius, who was mocking him for his indiscrete interest in Lily Evans by making eyes at Remus, who had given up trying to convince Lobelia to let him have the chair to himself and had moved to sit cross-legged on the floor in favor of sorting through the rucksack Sirius and Peter had carried in, withdrawing from it a veritable feast and several large bottles of alcohol. He set it all out on the table in the center of the group.
"A girl's got to eat, Potter," Lily called in response.
"Well, sure, everyone has." James rolled his eyes and gestured to the spread on the table in front of him. "But why don't you two just join us? We've got plenty."
Lily glanced at Mary, who shrugged, leaving the decision to Lily, who deliberated for a moment longer, scanning the group gathered in front of the fire; her eyes landed on Lobelia and Heather. "All right."
James beamed and began to stand up to offer his seat to her, but Lily walked past him and chose to sit on the floor beside Remus, with whom she had always got on well. Remus smiled and offered her a napkin; James frowned at this, slightly jealous and incredibly ashamed of himself for it. Before he could decide whether to reclaim his seat or move somewhere else, Mary slipped past him to settle on the couch.
"Ta!" she said brightly. "What a gentleman, proffering your comfortable spot to a lady."
"My mother raised me well, MacDonald," James said easily and stepped over to the food to choose a chicken leg to devour before he dropped to the ground on Remus's other side, folding his long legs up beneath him.
"Those pureblood manners," Sirius added as he leaned forward to claim a hunk of bread and cheese, which he smashed together and shoved in his mouth whole.
From her stolen armchair, Lobelia watched him in disgust. "And where, exactly, did your pureblood manners go, Black?"
"Sirius is a grand pureblood disappointment, didn't you know, Lobelia?" Lily quipped lightly as she picked gingerly through a pile of hot chips to find the least soggy ones.
"She's right, you know," Sirius said with a grin when he caught Heather's slightly shocked expression – she wasn't used to the blunt, teasing honesty that group used, to which Lily – who had recently been spending more time with Lobelia and, therefore, the boys – had clearly grown accustomed. "My dear old mum even blasted my name off the family tapestry this past summer, or so I've heard. Course, that had nothing to do with manners."
"Bloody insane family you come from, Sirius," Peter said as he moved his arm away from Heather to claim some food for himself. "Makes a lot of sense why you're so unhinged."
Across the table, James and Remus both laughed while Lobelia smirked and Lily shoved a chip into her mouth. The other girls, however, seemed uncertain how to react, being not nearly as close to the situation as the others. But then Sirius let out a quick bark of a laugh and the girls felt instantly more at ease.
"Touché," he said after grabbing a chicken leg from the table and waving it in the air.
Several moments of relative silence passed while the boys and Lobelia all ate as much as they possibly could. Lily caught Heather's eye as Mary was busy wrestling Sirius for the last hunk of cheese and the two girls exchanged amused looks. It seemed the only time these boys and Lobelia were silent was when they were busy stuffing their faces. And, Lily knew from six years sharing their table in the Great Hall, even that didn't always do the trick.
It wasn't long before all that was left on the table was scraps, and then James held up a bottle of spiced rum and proffered it with a grin. "Shall we, then?"
"Get that shit out of my face, mate," Sirius complained and waved the bottle away. Instead, he got up from his seat for just a moment to grab the bottle of Firewhisky he and Peter had brought back with them.
"Ah, yes." Peter nodded sagely as he accepted the bottle of rum from James and took a swig before he passed it on to Heather, who looked at it for a short minute before taking a long drink. Peter raised an impressed eyebrow when she had finished and passed it on to Lobelia, who made a face and passed the bottle right back to Peter. "Lo and Sirius only drink the awful stuff that literally puts a fire in their bellies."
"Oi, shut it, Pete!" Lobelia said as she leaned over to wrestle the bottle of Firewhisky from a reluctant Sirius. "Just cos you can't handle your Firewhisky doesn't make it awful. Unlike that crap. Rum." She made a disgusted face at the bottle passing between Peter and Heather before taking a swig of Firewhisky. She made a pointed, satisfied smacking sound when she handed the bottle back off to Sirius. "Burns going down, just like any drink of champions should."
Remus lifted a second bottle of Firewhisky off the table and took a swig, offering it to Lily, who also drank from the bottle before giving it back to him.
"Hear, hear!" Sirius cheered, and brought the bottle to his lips, tipping his head back with a dramatic gulp.
"One of you slags needs to give up a bottle!" James complained suddenly and Sirius, Remus, and Peter, each of whom was holding a bottle of some sort of alcohol, all looked over at him. "I'm the one who started this and I haven't gotten any!"
"Well, to be honest, you never do," Remus said mildly. "Get any, that is."
"Sod off," James said with a scowl and stole the bottle out of Remus's hand. He tried to ignore the fact that his face was suddenly very warm as everyone around him laughed. He took an over-large gulp of Firewhisky and nearly coughed. "I get plenty, fuck you very much."
"Snogging ain't plenty, Potter," Marlene chirped as she and Emmeline suddenly appeared over Mary's shoulder.
"Though I've heard he's quite good at it," Emmeline allowed, reaching over to take the bottle of rum, which had by now made its way to Mary.
"Where did you hear that?" Lily questioned, but no one seemed to hear her over James's sudden and effusive thanks for Emmeline's kind comment.
"Of course, Potter," Emmeline said, taking a sip from the bottle. "And what are you lot all doing anyway?"
"And why weren't we invited?" Marlene frowned at Lily. "I thought you and Mary were going to meet us in the Great Hall."
"Clearly they received a better offer," Emmeline said before any actual answer could be offered, and grimaced as she handed the bottle to Marlene. "Awful stuff. What else have you got? Ah, Firewhisky. Good."
"A woman of fine taste, Vance," Sirius said even as she filched the bottle he had been trying to hide from Lobelia, who frowned at him, clearly wondering why she wasn't considered a woman of fine taste. Sirius raised an eyebrow at Remus. "Why did you break up with her, again? I was never clear on the reason."
"Sirius!" Remus protested as he eyed Emmeline cautiously.
She, on the other hand, laughed and dropped the bottle back down in Sirius's lap. "I seem to recall that I broke up with you, sorry to mar your reputation, darling," Emmeline told Remus as she moved his, James's, and Lobelia's bags to the floor so that she could sit in the other armchair
"What! No, you didn't." Remus stared at her indignantly while his mates all laughed at him.
"You were ditched, Rem?" Sirius chortled. Remus found a stray chip and chucked it at him, but Sirius only laughed harder and swiped at imaginary tears.
"And all this time, you've been so guiltily convinced that you broke her heart." Peter smirked at Remus and reached for the bottle of rum that had made its way back to Heather once more. When he tipped it back to his mouth, however, he discovered that it was empty. Heather giggled when he quirked an eyebrow at her.
"I get nervous in large groups," she told him, her words very slurred. Peter frowned at her, concerned, but no one else seemed to notice.
"Sod off," Remus said defensively and shoved James, who was patting him consolingly on the back, to the side. He turned to Emmeline, who budged over in the armchair so that Marlene could share with her. "Sorry, darling, but I definitely broke up with you. I distinctly remember it."
"Yeah?" Marlene raised an eyebrow at him as she sat down, speaking for Emmeline, who was preoccupied rummaging through Remus's bag for more liquor. "Then what was your reason?"
"Your reason, Remus," Heather repeated, her voice louder than necessary, and incredibly slurred. The other girls and Peter all looked worried about her, but Remus merely turned questioning eyes to her while James and Sirius laughed lightly. "Like Sirlious said," – at this bizarre pronunciation of his name, Sirius stopped laughing and frowned at her instead, while James only laughed harder – "why did you even break up with Emmi? 'F you even did."
"I had my reasons. Definitely." Remus reached for the bottle he, James, and Lily were sharing and downed a good bit of it as he hedged the question.
"Heather, you should have some water," Lily said and Mary quickly conjured a goblet and filled it with water, which she passed across Sirius to Peter, who tried to hand it to Heather.
"Eurgh." Heather coughed after taking a large gulp. "That's not rum."
"That's the point," Lobelia said, rolling her eyes as Heather tried to push the cup back to Peter. "Make her drink that, Pete."
"Oh, what a load of shit!" Emmeline said suddenly, and everyone realized that she and Remus were, apparently, still in disagreement over how they broke up. "That is not how it happened!"
She was very clearly about to inform them all of how, exactly, it did happen, when James interjected loudly. "It was a mutual breakup! Okay? You both decided to end things, only neither of you appropriately expressed that sentiment, apparently, and you've been awkwardly avoiding each other for over a year for no reason." He snatched the bottle back from Remus with an exaggerated sigh, clearly annoyed to be seated in the middle of an ex-lovers' quarrel.
"Either that or neither of you wanted to break up and you've both been secretly broken-hearted by the other because you both think you've been ditched and you're in denial." Lily reached over Remus, and a smirking James handed her the bottle of liquor. She looked around the group, all of whom were looking at her with expressions ranging from terribly offended to incredibly amused, as she took a sip. "What? Just something to consider."
"What a fascinating and compelling suggestion, Evans," James said, reaching back for the bottle over Remus's lap. Remus shot James a scandalized look, which James only ignored, beaming instead when Lily smirked at him and passed the bottle back.
"Fuck off, the both of you." Emmeline scowled when most everyone else laughed, excluding Remus, and Heather and Peter, who seemed to still be arguing the merits of water versus liquor.
"Slightly defensive there, Emmeline," Mary said as she reached for a stray bit of bread sitting on the table. "Careful," she said around a mouthful, "someone might think there's some truth to it."
"I hate all of you when you're drinking." Emmeline sent one last menacing glare at the group before returning to her search through Remus's rucksack, from which she withdrew another bottle. "And for that reason, I'll not be sharing this Firewhisky with anyone!"
"Oi! That's mine for later! There's a reason it was left in the bag," Remus immediately protested.
"Well, since you seem convinced you broke her heart, you should feel perfectly fine giving her your liquor." Marlene smiled innocently at Remus, who gaped back at her helplessly. "To ease your conscience, you know."
"You, I like. You, I will share with," Emmeline said, curling up slightly in the armchair so that she was almost cuddling Marlene. "Good friend. The only one I've got."
"Some people just can't take a joke," Lobelia said and smirked when she was able to wrestle the first bottle of Firewhisky from Sirius's grasp while he was busy eyeing the two girls in the armchair. She took a swig and sent him a vindictive look when he began to whine at her. "Oh, hush, pretty boy, or else I'll turn the conversation to your mess of a relationship with Marlene."
"Go right ahead, love. I'm not ashamed," Sirius said confidently as he leaned out of his seat to swipe the bottle back from her. "Besides, it was never a relationship so much as an arrangement, right Marlene?"
"Hmm?" Marlene looked around sleepily and then nodded. "Sure. No hard feelings there. It was only ever sex."
"Oh, no." Mary sent a concerned look Marlene's way before glancing between Lobelia and Lily. "She's hit her delirious had-two-sips-of-Firewhisky state already."
"Not really the best sex ever, to be honest," Marlene continued as if she hadn't even heard Mary. Emmeline snorted and Remus smirked at Sirius, both of them clearly smug that Sirius, who had started the group on them, was now facing his own humiliation.
"Oi! What now?!" Sirius yelped. "That's not… you're not…" He cut off to glare his best mate when James began to laugh at him. "Bloody fuckin' ha-ha, mate."
"No need to be ashamed, Sirius," James told him once he had forced himself to stop laughing. "Not everyone can be a good shag."
"Good snog, though," Marlene continued, only half-aware of the conflict arising. "Bloody good snog. Best snog I've ever had."
Sirius ignored her, instead choosing to respond to James, who still looked awful chuffed about the whole thing. "At least I've had a shag."
James's grin only faltered for a fraction of a second before he plastered it back on, his hand flying to his hair as he subconsciously glanced at Lily, who seemed to have momentarily joined Peter in his struggle to convince Heather to drink some water. James shrugged and turned back to Sirius. "Better to be known as a virgin than a terrible shag."
Peter, who suddenly tuned into the conversation when Heather drank deeply from the goblet of water, looked round with wide eyes. He looked questioningly at Lobelia, who leaned close to him and began to fill him in on what he had missed.
"Shut the fuck up," Sirius snapped. He shot Marlene a resentful look and pointed at her. "She's drunk, she doesn't know what she's saying."
"Clearly not. She did just say you were the best snog of her life," Lily said, shaking her head. "Can't possibly be true."
"Yeah, wasn't she saying only last week that Derek had the most talented mouth?" Mary added.
Emmeline snorted and leaned forward to look between the two of them. "She wasn't talking about Derek's snogging, ladies."
"Then what…?" Lily trailed off when she caught sight of James's raised eyebrows and the look of jealous rage on Sirius's face. "Oh. Oh, right."
"Hey, shut up!" Marlene shrieked, but laughed anyway. "That was private!"
"Peter's a fantastic snog!" Heather suddenly exclaimed.
All three of his mates turned to Peter with shocked expressions, but he looked just as confused. "What are you talking about, Heather? We've never kissed."
"No, but I've heard. From. From. What's her name? Your Hufflepuff ex-girlfriend," Heather waved a hand in the air, dismissing the need for a name. "My idiot twin brother is always hanging round her and I heard her talking about it one day. You're brilliant, she says." By now, Heather was staring at Peter's lips, but he was too shocked by this revelation to notice.
"Dorotha? But, are you sure she actually said that? Only, she never really seemed…" Peter stopped talking suddenly when he realized what he was saying.
On the other side of the table, Remus was still smirking at Sirius. "You seem mighty defensive about this, Sirius," he said innocently. "Understanding, really, considering the reputation you've always fancied yourself having."
"Not to worry, though, mate. Practice makes perfect, yeah?" James paused and cocked his head. "Course, if all the birds in school were to hear you're a terrible shag, you likely wouldn't get much practice."
"Oh, hush. If he's really such a magnificent snog, I'm sure he'll do fine," Lily interrupted before Remus could carry on taking the mickey. "After all, it's the kissing which really gets a girl in the mood."
James didn't know if he necessarily agreed with her assessment of things, but seeing as she was a girl, he shrugged it off. It was just that if he himself had such a good reputation for snogging, how was it that he was still a virgin? Perhaps he just hadn't tried hard enough.
"Thank you, Evans," Sirius blinked, surprised that she had stuck up for him.
"Sure." Lily gave a nonchalant shrug and then fixed a serious stare on him. "However, if that reputation is wide enough spread I suppose that the boys' fear could come true."
Sirius's face dropped immediately even as James and Remus broke out in hysterical laughter. "Devious wench."
"I wonder which of you four is the best snog." Mary looked from Sirius seated next to her to Peter at the opposite end of the couch to Remus and James across the table. "Because apparently you're all fantastic."
"Er… Are you making a offer MacDonald?" James wagged his eyebrows suggestively.
"Puh-lease," Mary rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I don't think my boyfriend would be very pleased with me for it."
"What Bellamy doesn't know, love…" Sirius winked at her and slung an arm over her shoulders. Mary shoved him off of her and Lobelia laughed. Sirius turned to her with one eyebrow cocked. "Lo…"
"What?" Lobelia looked around for a moment before her gaze came to rest on Peter, who looked uncomfortable and faintly ill all of a sudden. Her eyes widened and then she scowled, smacking Sirius quite violently in the stomach. "Sod off, you prat! I'm not kissing any of you! You're like my disgusting annoying brothers."
"Oi! Who is disgusting?!" Peter looked offended as he peered around Heather to send Lobelia a dirty look.
"The lot of you! You forget I've been in your dormitory countless times." Lobelia was completely unconcerned with Peter's apparent hurt feelings, too focused on her own disgust. "Honestly, suggesting I should snog the four of you. Never will that happen. Ever."
"I'll do it!" Heather said eagerly at Peter's expression changed from offended to distinctly uncertain.
"No," James said firmly before Peter had a chance to reply. Now it was Heather's turn to look offended. "You're lovely, but you're also quite drunk and none of us is going to kiss you tonight."
"How about it, Em? One last go to figure out if you and Remus have actually been in love all along?" Lobelia suggested with a devilish smirk.
"Sod off, Lobelia," Remus said quickly, but she only grinned at him.
"Can't be her anyway," Mary interjected. Everyone turned to look at her, confused. "Well, if we're actually going to do this, we should do it right. Unbiased participants only. Emmeline and Marlene have each already snogged one of the boys, so they can't participate. If we do it, it will have to be Lily."
"What!" Lily coughed over a gulp of liquor and came up gasping for air when Remus patted her consolingly on the back. "How does that work? You're the curious one!"
"Yes, but I've got a boyfriend" Mary pointed out. "And Marlene and Emmeline can't participate because they've both already snogged one of the boys. Heather is too drunk, and Lobelia is too disgusted. You're the only single, unbiased one of us who is sober enough and doesn't see any of them as brothers."
"You don't have to, Lily," Peter said kindly from the couch.
"None of us do, actually," Remus said.
"It's just for a bit of a laugh, guys!" Sirius insisted. "Come on."
James, for once, remained the only silent member of his little gang. Most everyone figured he would be all for this competition happening, seeing as how it was no secret he fancied Lily Evans, even though he had been attempting to hide it all year to build a friendship with her.
Mary, noticing his silence, wondered if maybe he was feeling conflicted. She had no doubt he very much wanted to snog Lily. However, this likely was not the scenario he had ever envisioned. "Of course, we will only proceed if all five participants are willing to give consent."
James found it odd and slightly disconcerting that Mary didn't take her eyes off of him as she spoke. He dragged a hand through his hair and gave it a thorough ruffling before he smirked and shrugged. "Well, obviously I consent."
"I already said I'm game," Sirius said, grinning around the group.
"I'll state my consent as well," Peter said with a wary glance between Lily and Heather. It was clear he would rather kiss Heather tonight if she weren't already too drunk for it, but if his mates were all participating, he couldn't very well sit this competition out.
Remus hesitated a moment, scowled at Sirius who was loudly egging him on, turned to study Lily, and then sighed. "Fine. If Lily consents, I will as well."
Lily frowned and looked around at the four blokes who would be potentially snogging her very soon. Her gaze fell on James, who wasn't quite meeting her eyes, but was putting on an air of great confidence. Lily found, however, that for all this bravado, he could not fully hide the air of nervousness that surrounded him. It was written in his hands, which were even more fidgety than normal and were very clearly itching to ruffle his hair, a trait she had recently come to realize was more of a nervous tic than a narcissistic tendency. It was also in his eyes, which kept darting between her lips and the fire, and the sight of his mouth, which he seemed unable to form into a full smirk. Something about his nerves was incredibly intriguing and it was that, along with alcohol she'd already consumed, which mostly influenced her decision.
"Yeah, all right." She sighed slowly and stood up. "But we need to establish some ground rules. No groping." Lily looked mostly at Sirius as she explained herself. "Your hands are not to touch my tits or my ass."
Sirius rolled his eyes, but it was James who answered with a firm look for all of his mates. "That sounds more than reasonable." The other three agreed with varying amounts of exasperation. As if they would actually get handsy with Lily Evans, especially in front of James.
"Good." Lily gave a little appreciative nod. "We also should determine a time limit. Three seconds?"
Then it was the other girls who voiced their disdain at this. Marlene scoffed loudly while Emmeline snorted softly. Mary rolled her eyes on a sigh and Heather merely pouted, still upset that she wasn't allowed to participate.
"Lily?" Lobelia wrinkled her nose in distaste at the situation. "Trust me, I understand not wanting to prolong contact with these four, but three seconds really isn't very long, is it? How are you supposed to get a real sense for their technique in three seconds?"
"Eugh, fine. How long, then?"
"Oi, don't Muggles have that Seven Minutes of Pure, Unadulterated Bliss game?" Sirius asked.
"It's Seven Minutes in Heaven, Black, and that is out of the question," Lily snapped.
"I know what it's called, I just think my title is more enticing, and certainly a better indication of what seven minutes snogging me is like." Sirius winked at her even as she shot him the most disgusted look she could muster.
"Regardless, none of you will be snogging me for seven minutes," Lily said with a scowl.
"How about 15 to 30 seconds?" Emmeline suggested. "It's long enough, I think, to get a sense for things, but not so long that you want to vomit after."
"She won't want to vomit after any of us," Remus said, maybe a bit defensively, to his ex-girlfriend. "I don't recall you ever wanting to vomit after kissing me."
"Even if you're fantastic snog, Remus, I'm not sure you should be making that promise for all of your mates," Mary said with a wink for Sirius, who pretended to look quite offended.
"I may be a disgrace to my high pureblood family, but I do recall some of my lessons. For instance, how to woo a lady," he said, then made a great show of bending at the waist in a low bow. Still bent at the waist he took Lily's hand in his and brought it to his lips. "My lady, if you are ready to begin, it would be my great honor to start off this contest."
Never having been on the receiving end of a proposition or bow of the sort, and despite the fact that it was extremely exaggerated and clearly a joke, Lily couldn't help but share a little nervous giggle with Mary. A moment later, embarrassed, Lily cleared her throat and smoothed her hair over her shoulders, then gave a dignified not. "All right, then."
Not one to waste time, Sirius took Lily by the waist with both hands and yanked her body flush against his. They were of a similar height – Lily was quite tall for a girl her age, and Sirius was of an average height, which made him only a few inches taller than her. Before Lily could register what was happening, he dipped her backwards, keeping their chests flush so that he was leaning over her, and laid his mouth over hers.
He kissed with a sense of style, she thought, and grace, and no small amount of confidence. His mouth moved over hers in such a way that, it seemed to her, he had no interest in anything but winning a stupid contest between his friends, which was probably true. Sirius Black definitely did not fancy her, but Lily had to admit she was a bit disappointed at the distant way he kissed her. She had not expected emotion from his kiss, but at least the feeling that he was kissing her, and not just an available set of lips.
When the 30 seconds was up, as indicated by an announcement from Lobelia, who stood by with James's pocket watch in hand, Sirius brought Lily upright and released her immediately, taking several steps back. Everyone stared at Lily, who looked around in some confusion. "What?"
"I think we're all waiting for your verdict," Mary told her.
Lily shrugged. "I can't say yet. I don't know that it would be fair to rate a kiss on a scale when I've only had one of the four. What if I gave him the highest possible score on the scale and each bloke upped the ante?"
"You're overthinking it, Lily." Marlene said with a groan, then sighed when Lily remained resolute. "Fine, if you won't rate them, you've at least got to come up with one word to describe each boy's technique."
"Fine," Lily said, then turned to study Sirius, who stood impatiently waiting for her verdict. "Sirius is… stylish."
"Stylish?" Sirius said with a contemplative frown, then shrugged. "I was hoping for mind-blowing or maybe orgasmic, but I'll take stylish. Anytime you want another go, let me know, love, and I'll make myself useful to you."
James scowled at him and looked for a moment as if he was prepared to lunge and start a fight, but Lily laughed and batted Sirius's hand away when he reached out to bring to her hand to his lips again.
"All right, who's up next?" Marlene said, looking around the group eagerly. Her eyes flashed wickedly when her gaze fell on James. "Potter, maybe?"
"Actually," Mary interrupted before James had a chance to do more than ruffle his hair. "I think James should go last."
"Ah, yes," said Lobelia eagerly. "So Lily doesn't vomit before she gets the chance to finish making the rounds."
James glared at her, but Lobelia just wiggled the tips of the fingers of her right hand at him with a sly grin while the rest of the blokes, turncoats all, laughed at his obvious offense
"Sure, something like that," Mary said blandly, but didn't take her eyes off Lily, whose face was carefully blank. James noticed the look that passed between the two girls and then they both looked at him. His hand jumped to his hair and he found himself grinning when Lily turned away from him with a slight pink tinge to her cheeks.
"How about Peter next," Lobelia suggested, giving Peter a little shove over the arm of the couch. "Then Remus, and we can end with James, as Mary insists."
"All right," Remus said, reaching out to steal his last bottle of Firewhisky from Emmeline, who glared at him when he took a long gulp and stepped away from her so she couldn't reach the bottle.
James looked around, locked eyes with Lily, and shrugged in an attempt to look unaffected. He was pretty sure that the way he mussed his hair gave away his nerves, though. "Right, sure. I'll go last. Up you are, Pete."
When Peter stood and glanced around uncomfortably, Sirius laughed and sprawled himself out on the couch, jostling Heather in the process. Unapologetic, he grinned when Lobelia smacked him upside the head and Heather grumbled unhappily. "Don't be afraid to kiss the pretty girl, Pete."
Peter glared at Sirius and moved around the table to stand in front of Lily. "Hello."
"Hello, Peter," Lily said kindly, looking nearly as awkward as he did when he glanced at Heather on the couch. She lowered her voice and leaned in close. "Don't worry. I don't think she really knows what's going on anymore. She won't be upset, it doesn't even mean a thing."
"Right." Peter smiled at Lily, and their eyes were level. "Thanks, Lily."
He put his hands lightly on her waist, but left a great deal of space between their bodies. Lily put her hands on his shoulders; she ignored the fact that she could hear the other boys – mostly Sirius and Remus – making fun of their stance. Peter looked at them over his shoulder, then turned back to her, grimaced, and pressed his mouth to hers.
It was soft, gentle, and sweet. Just like Peter, Lily thought. It was quite pleasant but nothing to brag about, but then, Peter didn't actually want to be doing this – he was only doing it because his mates had goaded him into it. Lily could imagine that the kiss would be much more impressive if he actually tried.
As it was, he ended the kiss before Lobelia announced that it had been 30 seconds. Sirius, Lobelia, Remus, Marlene, and Emmeline all called foul, but Peter glared at all of them. "It wasn't supposed to be thirty seconds, it was fifteen to thirty seconds. I kissed her for fifteen seconds."
"On the dot," Lobelia grumbled.
"To be fair," Mary said, "Emmeline did say fifteen to thirty seconds."
"Dammit, Peter, this is a competition," Remus said. Lily blinked, surprised at the drunken slur to his words, but no one else seem to particularly concerned as an argument broke out.
Lily didn't mind the argument – it gave her time to think about how she would describe Peter's kiss. Her first thought was nice but she had a feeling that the other boys, and Lobelia, would tease him mercilessly for that and Lily quite liked Peter; she definitely didn't want to give anyone a reason to make fun of him.
"I believe it's time for Lily's one word summary," James suddenly announced loudly over the others' slightly intoxicated bickering. Lily looked at him while everyone else looked at her – except for Heather, who had, by this time, passed out.
"Pleasant," Lily said, forcing her gaze to return to Peter, who was flushed – with anger at the others, not embarrassment, she thought.
"Well, it's no stylish, but you can get by on pleasant," Sirius said, clapping Peter on the shoulder.
"I'll show you what a competitive kiss looks like," Remus said and then, before Lily could steel herself properly, he yanked her body to his, slid his hands up to her face, and took her mouth with his.
The first thing that registered for her was the overwhelming taste of Firewhisky, which almost choked her. She liked the taste of the stuff when she was expecting it, but it was a bit much when she was unprepared, much like the intensity of a kiss from a bloke she had long thought of as a mild-mannered mate. She was beginning to regret agreeing to this competition. She jumped a bit when his teeth grazed her bottom lip as he pulled away at Lobelia's amused announcement.
"How was that for competitive!" he shouted.
Only then did Lily realize that his eyes were shadowed, his pupils darker and larger than normal, his skin paler. It all clicked for her suddenly. The reason the boys had set up camp to dine in the common room as opposed to make the trek all the way down to the Great Hall, why Remus had been so touchy about Emmeline, a subject he usually didn't care that much about, why his kiss was so forceful and not at all what she expected of him. The full moon was just a night away.
"Very competitive," Lily said, patting him on the arm as he grinned drunkenly at his friends.
James rolled his eyes in an attempt to not look incredibly jealous while Sirius laughed appreciatively, and Peter scowled.
"Is competitive your word?" Mary asked
Lily laughed and shook her head, grinning wickedly at Remus. "No, Remus is positively primal."
Lobelia and the boys all laughed at that – Remus a bit wildly, while Mary, Emmeline, and Marlene all looked on, a bit confused. Mary made a note on parchment and Peter quirked an eyebrow at that.
"Are you taking notes?" he asked.
"People are going to be very curious about this little experiment," Mary explained. "One word will go a long way."
"Hey, we didn't agree to that," Lily said, not entirely sure that she wanted the entire school to know that she had allowed all four of these boys to kiss her, in one night, no less.
"Oh, just be quiet and kiss this one," Marlene said, planting a foot in the small of James's back and giving him a gentle shove towards Lily.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" James said quietly as Remus stepped aside. "We don't have to go through with it if you don't want to."
"Backing down, Potter? Don't want to kiss me after all?" Lily asked. James rolled his eyes at that. He suspected that she was well aware of just how badly he wanted to kiss her. They were friends, sure, but James knew how bad he was at hiding his feelings; he always had been.
"I'm just giving you the option to change your mind."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Just kiss me, Potter."
Never needing to be told twice, James stepped up to her, wrapped his left arm around her waist to draw her close, and laid his right hand lightly on her face. He moved in slowly, maintaining eye contact and marveling at the forest of her eyes for as long as possible. It wasn't until several seconds after their lips met that either of them managed to close their eyes.
He kissed her soft and slow, taking his time with her as if he thought he would never get another chance. It was as if he were taking her all in, memorizing every detail of her. Lily found herself doing the same with him.
The taste of Firewhisky was on his lips, but after Remus, it was more expected and less overwhelming. She focused instead on the hum of energy that came out of him and rippled straight through her veins, on the warmth that he exuded and produced in her and on the odd softness of his Quidditch-calloused fingertips on her face. He tilted his head and she threaded both of her hands in his hair. A small sound of contentment left her as she lost herself for a moment, until a chip hit her in the side of the head.
They broke apart instantly and both became aware of the boys' boisterous laughter and the giggles of the girls around them. Lily took several hurried steps back from James, hating the fact that she could feel her cheeks heating and trying to ignore the way that she was breathing a bit more heavily than normal.
"Well, that was nearly a full minute," Lobelia said, trying for Lily's sake, and maybe James's, to stifle her laughter.
"What?" Lily said before she could stop herself. If she had been asked, she would have guessed that they had only been kissing for a few seconds. James looked likewise surprised, and pleased with himself, as he accepted his pocket watch back from Lobelia.
"Have you got the word to describe James?" Marlene asked kindly, laughter still evident in her voice.
Lily couldn't meet James's eyes as he watched her, waiting eagerly. Instead she focused on the small burn in the rug at her feet – probably caused by the boys one night long ago, if she had to guess.
"Electric," she answered honestly after an embarrassed pause.
"I move to have James disqualified seeing as how he clearly cheated, kissing her for twice the maximum allowed limit," Sirius said.
"Hey, Lo never told us time was up," James said and Lily agreed, frowning when the group around them broke out in quiet giggles again.
"Sorry, loves, but she did announce that your time was up," Emmeline pointed out. "Several times. You were both, er – distracted."
James looked at Lily, who looked at him. They both saw that neither of them had even been aware that their friends were still there until the food had been thrown.
"Sore loser," Marlene said.
"You're just assuming that James won," Remus pointed out. "This was a competition, which must be judged. By Lily, who has to actually declare a victor."
"Isn't it obvious that James won?" Emmeline said.
"Lily?" Mary said softly. "The verdict is…?"
"The verdict is that this was a stupid idea and I regret agreeing to my part in it since it's caused all of you to behave like children." Lily stalked away from the group, which was finally, mercifully silent. At the foot of the stairs, she paused and turned to find everyone but Heather, who was still asleep on the sofa, looking at her. She locked eyes with James and couldn't stop the smile that tugged at her lips at the sight at his messy hair and the newfound knowledge that it was surprisingly, gloriously, soft. "But the winner is Potter."
Turning away from his wide grin, she ran up the stairs to her dormitory, Potter's energy still thrumming in her veins.
This was written for hpshipweeks Jily ship week on Tumblr.
I hope you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to read!
I hope you're all safe and well, wherever you live. 3