A/N: I prompted myself for this one after some vague requests for a Jily celebrity AU and it's definitely dedicated to petalstofish :)
Most days, Lily Evans is a pepper pot of a human being, filled with a rather infectious zest for life that has served her fairly well over her twenty-four some-odd years. However, that enthusiasm fails even Lily Evans on the fourth consecutive day of torrential rain when she finds a hole in her galoshes, loses her umbrella to a particularly violent gust of wind, and is further drenched when a passing car speeds through a mud puddle and covers her from nose to knees in cold, wet grime.
Still, when faced with this sort of situation, Lily prides herself on her proverbial 'stiff upper lip' and ability to move past life's little frustrations. Except during the last month before the annual Helping Hands fundraiser, which would be more appropriately termed 'The Never-Ending Hellish Month Lily Evans Would Prefer to Have Struck From the Calendar." But apparently that's too 'negative' and 'long-winded,' so Lily plows through for mostly for the sake of the much deserving children and secondarily her continued employment. However, Lily still contests that any event which requires an eight person meeting that lasts more than forty five minutes to determine whether aubergine is more purple or blue needs a priority assessment.
She does consider herself lucky though, despite her occasional complaints – made almost exclusively to the ever attentive Alice who manages to nod and smile like a champ – to be working in a creative and productive environment where she gets to do work she's excited about. And as bad as the Wednesday morning drenching incident was, she always keeps a spare jumper in her office, and her coat really absorbed most of the hit, so she pushed thoughts of impending overpriced dry cleaning out of her mind and went about her business, working late into the evening putting the finishing touches on her responsibilities and splurging for an Uber home when she saw the dark, puddle covered streets.
The worst of it really comes the following morning, when she wakes to a stuffed nose, crusty eyes, and a headache that radiates through her skull. But it's fundraiser day, so she dresses quickly, gulps down a little too much DayQuil, shoves the bottle in her purse, and pours a travel mug full of peppermint tea with copious amounts of honey, and she's out the door. And then she's back in the door to grab her garment bag and dress shoes for the event that evening, and back out, making work before the clouds even have a chance to think about raining.
The rest of the day is spent medicating her problem, avoiding infecting coworkers who soon take to avoiding her like the plague, and double, triple, and quadruple checking everything for that night. Including confirming their 'special guests' for the bachelor auction, which goes mostly well despite her new found 'sultry' toned voice. And being Lily Evans, she only grumbles to herself for a few minutes when some up and coming actor's agent says his name is Sirius, makes an accompanying joke that her congested brain can't take, and then calls her Mr Evans before he hangs up. Maybe she'll find him tonight and sneeze on him.
All in all, when six o'clock rolls around and she's dressing in the office bathroom, she doesn't feel too hideous, and after some artfully placed powder and concealer, only her mother or someone entirely too fascinated with her face would question her health. If she does say so herself. Most of the credit for her Instagram-worthy face really should go to that girl on YouTube that she frantically sought out when she realized appearing as a certain red-nosed reindeer wasn't appropriate for a springtime gala.
She arrives at the ritzy hotel in plenty of time to help with the last minute touches, clutch never leaving her hand, since it's stuffed with tissues, cough drops, and more DayQuil than anyone should take in a twenty-four hour period.
Somehow, she manages to schmooze the donors, making graceful and fairly personable circuits around the room without hinting at the pounding behind her eyes or the mucus that has taken up permanent residence in the places she prefers as breathing apparatus.
So by the time things settle into the actual scheduled portion of the evening and everyone is armed with bidding paddles and sparkling glasses of champagne, Lily is slumped against a darkened back corner after a brief but productive trip to the loo where she depleted and refilled her tissue stash but decided her other bathroom needs could wait for a shorter line.
After snatching some of the more bland finger foods and managing to keep them down, Lily returns to the ballroom, where the auction is underway. The early part is the usual – donated boats, vacations, trips to the spa, and various antique items – but the second half is the bachelor auction, which includes the bachelor and a lovely 'date' of some sort that the man in question chose beforehand.
In the transition between the two halves, a seat opens up near the back and Lily finally sits down and wriggles her feet out of the attractive but painful heels she'd paired with her azure gown.
The first handful of winners are blue haired ladies with bejeweled dresses and flirtatious winks, only half crossing the line into genuine lasciviousness that has Lily questioning the wisdom of this particular fundraising technique.
But it's become something of an expected tradition for Helping Hands, so Lily mentally shrugs and tosses her head back, gulping down a couple of DayQuil capsules with one of the complimentary waters when she hears it, "Going once, for the red head in the back – "
And she's still not really tuned in, because apparently she isn't one of those people who can effortlessly swallow pills so she starts choking, which apparently involves flailing because she – or 'the red head' – puts another bid in and Lily's half wishing she would actually choke to death on the pills so she doesn't have to mortgage her life to pay for a date with some hot shot she can't even see from way back here –
She looks up when the auctioneer calls it – for her of course, because that's just how her week is going – and finds most of the audience's attention on her prize. Which she can't particularly blame them for; maybe it wasn't such a bad week if it got her a date with that man with the cheeky grin that really should be illegal.
As she's mentally adding up the contents of her bank account and the balances on her credit cards, a dry, familiar voice comes from her left, "Got a thing for James Potter, eh?" she frowns, logging this away for the weirdest pick up scenario she's personally experienced when the admittedly gorgeous man continues, "I'm his agent, Sirius Black."
Lily quirks a brow, finally putting the voice with the face, and offers her hand, "We've spoken. I'm 'Mr Evans.'"
Unruffled, he nods, looking thoughtful. "Are you allowed to bid in your own auction?"
"Are you going to challenge it?" Lily asks, arms crossing over her middle, jaw set. Internally, she's wondering when exactly she decided she actually wanted to pay for this date – until she sees his mess of hair over the dispersing crowd and finds herself wondering what it would feel like between her fingers…
It seems she's been daydreaming for longer than she realized because Sirius is waiting for an answer, a dangerous grin rising on his mouth when he sees the direction of her gaze. "You know, I think I'd like to see this little soirée happen."
"No can do Padfoot – dates are the one time I don't work for an audience."
Sirius wraps an arm around James' shoulders and makes some crack that Lily tunes out because those eyes. She'd pay just to look at him because messy hair and glasses – yum.
Soon enough, James is shoving Sirius away, telling him to 'be useful for once' and pulling Lily toward a shadowed corner behind what she's pretty sure is a fichus draped with fairy lights. "Sorry, that was kinda weird I guess – "
She quickly realizes that bashful awkward James is even more of a thing than cheeky flirtatious James and she's in huge trouble. "No, I understand. Hide from the adoring fans, yeah?"
His smile is lopsided and genuine, bright white against his tanned face. "Yeah, one in particular was rather clingy. Bully to you for outbidding her."
The reality of his words falls with a thud in her chest and she's wondering if anyone would notice a camp bed suddenly appearing in her office. James misinterprets her expression and he flushes, looking like a deer in headlights as he ruffles his hair nervously. "That made me sound like an arrogant prick, just if you knew – "
Realizing its unkind to watch him go off the rails – no matter how adorable he looks in the process – Lily cuts in, "No, I just. This is so embarrassing."
James' brow furrows in confusion for a moment before his hazel eyes light with understanding, "If it makes you feel better, I would've asked you out anyway. Or tried. You're right fanciable."
Lily shakes her head, unable to enjoy the thrum that goes through her at his warm gaze. "No I just – I still have to pay."
Understanding dawns and he adjusts his glasses, sending them even more crooked than previously. "Well this charity is one of my favorites – it all goes to underprivileged kids in the city. They have a separate fundraiser for expenses and twice a year they –"
Her hand flies over his mouth and she has to ignore the softness of his mouth and the breath that whooshes out of his parted lips. "I know about Helping Hands. I kind of, work here."
She never finds out what he was going to say because a posh sounding voice calls from somewhere nearby in the ballroom, "Sirius Black you tell me where he is right this second."
For the first time since she's known him, Sirius seems to fumble for words. "Now Miss – "
"Don't 'Now Miss' me."
And then their hideaway is breached and an elderly woman, hair silvery but streaked through with dark slivers, who sizes them both up and addresses James, "I'll deal with you later," before her attention turns fully on Lily, and briefly, Lily wonders if this is all some strange fever-induced hallucination. "Now I don't believe we've met."
For a moment, Lily debates whether security needs to be called, but Sirius is actually grinning now and James looks more resigned than scared so she offers her hand kindly. "Lily Evans."
The woman's deep brown eyes light in recognition and Lily feels the familiarity but can't place it before the question is answered for her. "Euphemia Potter, and please call me Mia."
James rolls his eyes affectionately. "My mother in case you didn't catch on."
"I've been reduced to bidding for my son's time," she whispers conspiratorially to Lily, who winks before understanding dawns, "Did I steal your mother-son date?"
Sirius cuts in over Mia's shoulder, "James dear has been dying for a candlelit dinner and carriage ride with Mum Potter, sorry Evans."
Euphemia grins and ruffles Sirius' hair familiarly. "I was planning on spending James' inheritance on this date just to teach him a lesson about loving his mum. But then I saw this beauty," she glances kindly at Lily, "and realized life is short and I want grandbabies."
Now Lily is blushing and James is choking on air and Sirius is full on guffawing, but Euphemia is unperturbed. "But then I realized my son is gifted in many things, but wooing beautiful young women is obviously not one of them, since he's terminally single and spends his nights with Mr Black and his other marauding cohorts."
At this point James is melting into the fichus and Lily can't help the smile that twitches at her lips and she finds herself answering truthfully, "He is a bit awkward, but it was working."
Smiling kindly, Mrs Potter pats Lily's arm, "I think I'll go settle our bill then, yes? I drove that price up on you."
Lily's torn between not wanting to take the lovely woman's money and the knowledge that she in no way has the capability to pay for James herself. But Mia doesn't pause for arguments, just sends Lily a mischievous wink and drags Sirius away with her.
James jumps to talk first, one hand burying itself in his hair, ruffling it nervously. "Sorry about all," he gestured vaguely with his free hand, "that."
Lily gives him a small smile. "S'alright. I'm a bit relieved your mum is so generous, otherwise you would've been up a roommate."
"Doesn't seem such a bad prospect," James blurts, his face scrunching in disbelief as Lily giggles softly, laughter which quickly turns to hacking coughs.
He manages to grab a gangly looking teen from the wait staff who fetches water for Lily, which she gulps once they're settled on a plush bench outside the ballroom. "Thanks."
He's already shrugging out of his suit coat and Lily can't help the sigh that slips out as she's enveloped by the warmth and the faint smell of cinnamon and boy that manages to break through her congestion. Lily freezes when James brushes a kiss across her fever-heated forehead and he pulls away, sheepish. "Sorry, that's just how mum always – "
"Bet you'd be a popular doctor," Lily jokes lightly, pulling the jacket closer around her throat.
"Quite right Evans. You've a good head on your shoulders," James answers with a wink before tugging her to stand close, tucked into his side, "Now let's get you home."
"How very forward of you," Lily murmurs into his neck, and she nearly misses the shiver that run's through him when her lips accidentally brush his skin. "Are you too big a star to escort me yourself?"
He presses a kiss to her hairline. "I'm willing to risk it if you are."
As it turns out, James has a car with a driver and Sirius offers a casual salute as he heads back to the Potter Estate for some family bonding (gossip) time with Euphemia – who badgers James into attending afternoon tea the following day. By the time they arrive at Lily's building, it's drizzling lightly so James brooks no arguments, walking her to the door with his double-sized umbrella as lamplight glints of the rain-damp street.
Once they're under the overhang, James pulls her close, his arms banding around her middle and Lily practically melts into the embrace as he drops the umbrella his to the side as Lily whispers in his ear, "If I wasn't contagious I'd ask to snog the daylights out of you."
James presses a warm, lingering kiss to her jaw, nudging the spot gently before he murmurs back, "Take a chance, eh?"