A/N: So, apologies for posting a HP fanfic to my naruto account but in the years I've been MIA I've actually forgotten my HP account email and so am locked out!

This fic started out as a birthday present for the amazing ghost-of-bambi so I really hope she likes it (seriously people, go read her Jily stuff, she's amazing).

Fingers crossed there will be some shikatema fanfic soonish as I stil love them as much as ever!

All reviews welcome.


"I've met a girl."

James Potter looked up at his son from his dinner plate, mouth half full of the spaghetti Bolognese he had spent the afternoon preparing and was currently trying not to splatter all over the table because he didn't plan on cleaning the kitchen for a second time that day.

"What happened to Bonnie?" Sirius asked uninterestedly from next to James, picking at his food. "You two seemed so in love it was enough to make me vomit. Not enough merlot," he added briefly to James, who knew that some form of complaint was coming.

"Nothing has happened to Ginny," Harry responded dryly, "not a girl for me. One for him," he added, jerking his head towards James.

"Who? Me?" James asked, not really paying Harry any attention, "and the recipe said a glass," he added to Sirius, ignoring the smirk that was forming on Remus's face.

"The recipe is bollocks. And you used rosemary instead of thyme," Sirius replied distastefully, peering into the bowl with narrowed eyes and picking through the strands of pasta with his fork.

"It's a Jamie Oliver one. It says rosemary, not thyme," James answered firmly, getting up to find the book, determined to prove his point and wondering why he bothered trying to feed anyone other than the one human in the room he was responsible for. "And you said you weren't going to criticise my cooking anymore."

"That was before I knew you were going to start fucking with a two-hundred-year-old recipe."

"Dad!" Harry hissed, trying to glare at his father who was rifling through the 'Oliver's Twist' recipe book. James thrust the book under Sirius's nose, tapping triumphantly at the page.

"I'd advise bringing this up when Sirius isn't here, Harry" Remus suggested wryly from the other end of the table. "And when Bolognese is not involved."

"Why are you trying to set him up with a eighteen-year-old, anyways?" Sirius asked, finally turning his attention back to Harry, grabbing some more garlic bread and ignoring James's insistent tapping at the book.

"She's not eighteen, she's your age," Harry replied, successfully finding James's eyes. "I think you'd really like her."

"Thank you, as always, for your concern, Harry but I don't need you to find me a girl," James said with a small smile, sitting down again, "have some salad too." He watched as his son reached for the salad bowl, before settling back to his own meal. Harry's concern with his love life reared its head at least once a year but usually James was able to avert any serious discussion of the subject matter by bringing up rugby or suggesting another Mario Kart tournament.

"Yes, you do! You're terrible with women. I can't remember you ever going on a date," Harry hit back, ladling a huge amount of salad onto his plate without looking and throwing down the tongs carelessly.

"He has a point, Prongs," Sirius agreed, inspecting Jamie Oliver's book with a grimace. "This is bollocks. Why didn't you use Carluccio's recipe?"

"Because you stole my book and still haven't given it back!" James gritted out, grabbing the book out of Sirius's hands.

"Harry, your father doesn't need a girlfriend because he has already has a wife to bicker with," Remus interjected smartly as Sirius and James glared at him in sync.

"I've noticed that," Harry smirked, ignoring his father's glare. "Seriously, Dad, she's exactly your type. She's smart and witty and…and she could…keep up with you," he finished sincerely. "Just give it a chance."

"Out of curiosity, where exactly are you meeting women in their thirties, Harry?" Remus queried bemusedly.

"She's a friend of Mrs Weasley's," Harry replied, a little indignantly, still primarily talking to James. "I've met her a couple of times at the Burrow. She's a librarian."

"Harry," James sighed, "I will worry about my own love life; you worry about your exams and university. If you get into Oxford, I'll marry this woman, how does that sound?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "It sounds like you're ignoring me. Ginny thinks you'd be perfect together."

"You and your girlfriend are eighty years old," Sirius observed grimly, "and you know your father is celibate."

"I am not celibate," James stated, beginning to sound hassled. "I have a son who is a full-time job," he continued, pointedly staring at Harry, "and two friends who eat all my food constantly. Now can we please talk about something else? Is Ginny playing on Saturday?"

"Yes, it's a big match," Remus replied with the air of someone trying to move the conversation along, passing Harry the garlic bread. "Whole school was worried her ankle wouldn't recover in time."

"She's okay now though, right?" James asked Harry. "You said she's been back at training."

"Ginny is fine, her ankle is fine, she is going to win us the match single-handedly, five tries at least" Harry replied, setting his fork down. "Stop changing the subject."

"As owner of this house, this table, this cutlery and this food, I get to change the subject," James quipped, setting his own fork down.

"Alright, I'll change the subject," Sirius interrupted, "who else thinks Prongs is turning into Fleamont?"

"Sirius…" Remus said wearily.

"What?" he exclaimed, "I definitely heard old Flea' say that at some point. His cooking was a lot better than yours, though," he added, flinging a small piece of rocket at James who stopped himself from flinging some salad back.

"You're not helping," Remus replied, before turning to Harry, teacher voice now firmly in place, "Harry, you know you are your father's priority. I'm sure when you're out of the house, he will start dating."

"Now, who's his wife, Moony?"

"Remus is right, Harry," James said evenly, taking a deep breath. "You are my priority."

"Ok," Harry said begrudgingly, stirring his pasta around on the plate and allowing a brief pause before he next spoke. "Changing the subject…" he started as James began to eat again, "isn't it pathetic that the only person having sex at this table is the eighteen-year-old?"

Sirius, James and Remus looked at each other and James noted his son holding his breath until he saw a small smile make its way onto their faces.

"He's been spending too much time with your mother," Sirius said to James, shaking his head, "and not enough time with mine. I've said for years some physical chastisement is exactly what you need," he finished to Harry, thrusting his fork at him yet still somehow grinning with pride.

"Seriously, when was the last time any of you got any?" Harry queried, looking around the table, ignoring his father's look of disapproval, daring to go further now that he knew he could.

"Well, Moony is still trying to figure out how to tell Tonks he likes her, even though she's already asked him out, so probably around four years ago when he dated that teaching assistant for three weeks and didn't tell anyone," Sirius began, elaborately picking up his glass of wine and eyeing Remus, "I believe it's unfair to offer women anything more than friendship when I'm still on my philosophical journey towards enlightenment…"

"Which means he keeps telling women he doesn't believe in work, marriage or having children and they won't sleep with him after that," Remus added lowly to Harry.

"And as for your father," Sirius continued loudly, "add nine months to eighteen years and there's your answer."

"Thank you," James groaned, now giving up on his dinner and leaning back in his chair. "I remember there was a time when you two were actually helpful to me as a single parent."

"Well, I think we've established that, of the people sat at this table, I am the only one qualified to be giving out advice about dating," Harry said happily, particularly at James. "You should go out with Lily."

James was about to rebut Harry's suggest when Remus spoke quickly. "Lily Evans?"

"Yeah," Harry answered, "you know her?"

"Yes, through Molly as well," Remus laughed, "she was at Arthur's birthday party a few years ago. The one you two ditched in favour of staying in to binge watch Stranger Things," he told James and Sirius.

"Right decision," Sirius stated triumphantly, as James grinned back.

"You know, Harry might be right, Prongs," Remus continued, leaning back in his chair. "I can see you two together."

"Thank you!" Harry sang, turning to his dad expectantly with a large smile.

When James regarded Remus sceptically, he went on, "she's sharp, funny and very pretty from what I remember. She also laughed at all of Arthur's terrible jokes which means she has the same sense of humour as you."

"One, I have a great sense of humour," James huffed, "two, we didn't ditch Arthur's party, Harry wasn't well and three, if she's so great, why don't you go out with her?"

"Harry had a mild cold and we both know you ditched because you're obsessed with single parent television shows," Remus threw back confidently, as Harry sniggered. "And I'm not going to go out with her because I don't fancy her. But, remembering back centuries ago when you last expressed an interest in girl, she seems like your type."

"He doesn't have a type, Moony," Sirius observed, "he's Joyce Byers in glasses and little Will here is his only concern."

"Ok, I am ending this conversation once and for all," James interjected, standing up and leaning down over the table. "I'm going to read in the other room and you two can do the dishes for being such terrible guests," he said to Remus and Sirius. "Harry, go finish your homework and stop worrying about finding me a girlfriend."

James gave them all one final look before exiting the room.

"You know he's going to play Super Mario Odyssey, right?" he heard Harry say as he shut the kitchen door. "And he is going to go out with Lily," he added as Sirius laughed. "He'll be pining over her the minute he sees her."

The one habit James noted he had picked up as a parent was the ability to arrive on time. He thought this as he surveyed The Three Crowns from his booth, bemoaning the fact that no one else seemed to have developed this particular skill in the intervening years. Watching the rugby with Harry, Ginny and Sirius had been a tradition for years as was the fact that James always watched the first fifteen minutes by himself.

This Saturday wasn't so bad, he thought, letting his eyes drift over to the back of the bar where they had been coming to rest more and more the longer he sat there. James didn't know if it was because of Harry's insistence earlier that week that he start dating but for some reason he could not stop staring at a girl with a book, a radiant smile and vivid red hair as she sat sipping her coffee.

He was beginning to feel inappropriate, watching her so intently but every so often, she'd smile at something she had read and James would feel his pulse quicken and a smile ghost over his own face. He'd force himself to stare down into his pint but when his self-control weakened, he'd look back up again and once or twice she'd been looking at him. The first time their eyes connected, he half forgot how to breathe, looked away quickly and inwardly wondered how his eighteen-year-old son was better around women than he was.

"You look like crap," Sirius said as he appeared out of nowhere, sliding into the booth with a pint of Guinness.


"Are you ill?"

"I'm fine," James responded, turning his glass in his hands and taking a second to phrase next question as Sirius watched the match. "Do you think I need to date?" he asked carefully.

"What?" Sirius snorted, looking down from the tv screen. "Is this about the sprog and his obsession with this librarian?"

"Maybe," James said, his eyes drifting back over to the redhead.

Sirius followed his gaze and turned around in his seat to see what James was looking at.

"You want to date her?" he queried, grinning at James as James inwardly cursed Sirius's eternal lack of subtlety.

The girl caught his eye again and James felt his stomach flutter. He looked away to smile weakly at Sirius.

"Oh God," Sirius let out, rolling his eyes. "I don't think I'm ready for pining Prongs again. I need at least three more pints."

"I'm not pining," James said lowly, worried she'd hear them, although that was completely unrealistic over the noise of the pub and the television. "She just…well, she's…"


"I can't stop staring at her," he admitted, as Sirius looked at him strangely. "It's not that I haven't found other women attractive but since Harry was born, I've never really…"

"Fancied anyone?" Sirius tried helpfully.

"…taken a second look," James finished uncomfortably. "And now…now I can't stop staring at her."

Sirius continued to look at him with a strange look, until he sat back in his seat.

"You know, Harry was right, he really is best qualified to give out this kind of advice," he said, taking a large gulp of Guinness.

"Do you think it's because he was suggesting I date?"

"I don't know," Sirius shrugged, "maybe. Or maybe you just think she's hot."

"She's beautiful," James corrected softly, staring at her again.

"For fuck sake, Prongs," Sirius groaned, hitting the table, "you haven't even spoken to her yet and you're already looking at her like she's your long-lost love."

"Who's his long-lost love?" Ginny asked, appearing out of nowhere with Harry in tow, both of them in rugby shirts and both of them blocking James's view.

"Minnie!" Sirius cried, patting the seat beside him, "how are you?"

"I thought you said the man-child was banished from pub rugby," Ginny asked James dryly, taking the seat.

"He knows where we drink," James advised her, "I tried distracting him with a chew toy but he followed me here."

"Oi!" Sirius cried, glaring at James.

"Stop looking wounded, you deserve it," Harry scolded Sirius.

"Now, who is Mr Potter's long-lost love?" Ginny asked brightly, smiling at James.

"Harry, you promised she'd stop calling me that," James muttered.

"Only after you promised you'd make him learn my name," Ginny replied, elbowing Sirius. "Now, stop ignoring my question!"

"There's some woman over there that your father is mooning over," Sirius finally answered, snubbing James's protests.

"Who?" Ginny asked, sounding delighted as she and Harry eagerly surveyed the pub.

"The redhead in the back. Green dress, book. Making your father weak at the knees, apparently."

"Ask her out," Harry said immediately, looking at the woman and then back to James.

"Harry…" James sighed, taking a second to glower at Sirius before letting his head hang forward.

"What?" the boy exclaimed, as Ginny smiled and took his hand. "You like her, right? Just go over there and say hello."

"You should," Ginny urged, nodding her head in tandem with Harry as James inwardly agreed with Sirius that sometimes they did look like eighty-year olds.

"Can we all please stop talking about Prongs and his boring love life and watch the goddamn match," Sirius hissed, wincing at the tv screen. "Your stupid team is losing this match, Mitsy."

"They're your team too, you overgrown trust fund baby," Ginny shot back pleasantly, "and they're not losing anything, you just don't understand anything about rugby tactics."

Letting the sound of Ginny and Sirius's playful arguing fade into the background as Harry went to get a drink, James moved his head slightly to see if the redhead was still sitting in the back of the bar. He hadn't noticed her green dress until Sirius pointed it out but now he looked at her, the green stood out to him as much as her eyes. James smiled a little to himself, watching her casually playing with an errant piece of her hair which had fallen from its bun. He was starting to contemplate the possibility of maybe going over to speak to her when he jumped to noticed that Harry had gotten there before him. Unable to yelp in time to stop it, he broke out in a sweat properly this time as he watched the woman smile and turn to his son.

"Sirius, never have children," James hissed hurriedly, somewhere hoping that his best friend would manage to salvage this situation without him having to do anything.

"Wh…" Sirius began to ask, turning around in his seat and then shaking his head when he saw what James was looking at. "He gets all this from Euphemia, you know. Hattie, tell your boyfriend to get back over here before Prongs dies of shame."

Ginny was about to respond but lost her chance when the woman stood up and started walking with Harry back to their table, making James wonder if his heart was going to stop before they got there.

"You can tell your boyfriend he is grounded until his twenty-fifth birthday," James spat, feeling his right-hand drift to his hair, helpless to stop it as Ginny ignored him.

"Hi," Ginny said brightly to the pair as they reached the booth, all three of them smiling as James wondered how bright red his face was.

"Hi, rocket," the woman replied, grinning down at Ginny and gripping her by the shoulder. "You playing tomorrow?"

"Yup," Ginny answered, "can't wait. I want five tries or more. Nothing less."

The woman laughed. "Your girlfriend is fierce, Potter," she said to Harry, whacking him on the shoulder.

"I know," Harry smiled, "by the way, have you met my Dad? Dad, this is Lily Evans. Lily, this is my dad, James."

Ignoring what he knew was certainly going to be a long conversation with his son later, James felt his mouth go dry as her vivid green eyes turned to him and she smiled gently. "Hi."

"I'm not married," was the first thing that came out of his mouth.

All of a sudden, James couldn't hear anything other than the sound of Sirius snorting into his Guinness and howling with laughter.

"That was….fantastic," Sirius snickered between breaths, banging the table with his fist and still coughing up his drink.

"Um…okay…," Lily replied, a half smile ghosting over her face. James's eyes drifted from Ginny and Harry's delighted faces back over to Lily's. She was now starting to smile fully and James couldn't help but feel a smile creep onto his own, embarrassed face.

"For the record, neither is she," Harry said triumphantly, sitting down next to James again and giving him a knowing look.

"Subtle, kid," Lily smirked, now the only one standing as Ginny sat down too.

"Join us, Lil'," Ginny invited, patting the seat next to her and shoving a disgruntled Sirius over to the corner of the booth. "Come sit in the non-married booth."

Rolling her eyes, Lily slid in next to Ginny, nudging her in the side.

"You are a carbon copy of your father, Potter," she said, eyes darting between them both as James felt his hand go to his hair again, causing Lily to smile once more.

"No," Harry replied, shaking his head, "not at all. I have a girlfriend. My father is single."

Lily met James's eyes, both of them now grinning.

"I think I heard that somewhere," Lily breathed, blushing lightly which didn't help James at all.

"I would like to apologise on behalf of my son," James tried steadily, wincing at the sound of his own ridiculous voice as it came out. "He thinks he's helping, but he's not."

"Not helping would be pointing out that you've been single for 18 years," Sirius added, smirking at James. "Sirius Black," he went on to Lily, "I'm single but not interested."

"Trust me when I say she doesn't care," Ginny said, rolling her eyes. "Did you know James raised Harry all by himself, Lily," she continued, now grinning along with Harry.

"I did know that," Lily nodded, looking again at James who held onto his right hand with his left to stop it from leaping to his hair. "You mentioned that when you brought Harry and his dad up two nights ago," she said, now smiling meaningfully at Harry. "There seem to be a plan here," she finished to James.

"I'm starting to get that sense myself," James responded, trying to look annoyed at his son but failing miserably – he was starting to rather like this plan. "You're a lot more troublesome than I was as a teenager," he added to Harry, ignoring Sirius's snickers of disbelief in the background.

"Maybe you two should grab a drink sometime to discuss the failing youth of today," Ginny suggested helpfully. "Or why don't you come to the match tomorrow?"

"Oh, I don't think so," Lily said, causing the smile to fall off James's face before he could figure out a way to agree with Ginny without seeming too eager.

"What? Why not?" Ginny retorted, sounding outraged as James became very quickly aware of how small the booth was.

"Oh, don't look so put out," Lily said dismissively, looking from Harry to Ginny. "It's not the end of the world."

"Yeah, it isn't," Sirius chimed in, "Moony said she was smart but if she doesn't want to go out with Prongs, she's an idiot and he doesn't need her."

"Sirius," James warned, unable to apologise before Lily cut in.

"I'm not going to go out with someone who has stood me up already," Lily said lightly, as all four heads in the booth snapped to look at her at once.

"What?" James and Harry asked at the same time. "He stood you up?" Harry asked, this time by himself, already glaring at James.

"No!" James replied before Lily could, turning to her, his face creased with confusion. "I've never…"

"You know, you're a lot like your mother, Rocket," Lily interrupted, smiling at Ginny. "And you're definitely not the first person who has thought that James and I should date," she went on, now turning to grin victoriously at James. "I have very vivid recollections of Molly Weasley emphatically detailing your every virtue as well as saying, 'he's raising Harry on his own, Lily!'," she chuckled.

"Mum tried to set you up?" Ginny asked faintly, as Lily nodded.

For reasons he was trying to ignore, James felt severely uncomfortable with the idea that Lily wouldn't go out with him through some misunderstanding. He was about to speak up on his own behalf when Sirius got there first.

"He hasn't had a date in eighteen years," Sirius droned, sounding unimpressed, "how is it possible that…"

"14 May 2007," Lily cut in loudly, not bothering to look at Sirius. "We were supposed to meet for drinks in Newington Green because it was near where you lived: some pub opposite..."

"…the green," James inserted faintly, feeling his memory come flooding back to him. As realisation crossed his face, Lily smiled wryly. "Oh my God," he said, sounding exactly as horrified as he felt, feeling the colour drain from his face.

"The Alma," she remembered. "Molly said you liked it because it had good pub quizzes."

"It did," Sirius said, clearly taking the opportunity to speak because words were failing James. "We went every Thursday. Why didn't you tell me you had a date?"

"Why didn't you show up is the more important question?" Harry put in, continuing to glare at James in the way that only disappointed children can.

"I…I…," James stuttered, trying to remember back to his thought processes that night, "I can't really remember," he said, as Harry rolled his eyes. "I only…vaguely…remember not wanting to leave you."

"That's your excuse?" Harry retorted dramatically.

"It's a pretty good one, kid," Lily said, drawing Harry's attention and ire away from James. "Well, it's a good one for not wanting to go out on a date," she reassessed, "you still could have called," she added, smirking again at James.

"I definitely should have called," James replied, leaning forward earnestly. "I am really sorry."

"It's okay," Lily stated charitably as Harry snorted, "really it is. I had a few drinks, ate and went home with the barman," she smiled, effortlessly lightening the mood as Ginny giggled.


"Really. We went out for 6 months," she laughed, "it's the reason I remember the date I was stood up. If I wanted to blame the whole wretched relationship on you I could, I suppose," she mused humorously, looking at James.

"Lily, on behalf of my father, I would like to apologise," Harry said solemnly, mimicking his father.

"You don't have to, I've already done that," James said quickly, before turning to Lily again, "really, I am. Sorry. I was an idiot. There's no excuse."

"James, it's fine," Lily replied, focusing on him so completely with those green eyes of hers that James had to take a deep breath. "Give your dad a break, Potter," she said to Harry. "Everyone is stupid in their early twenties…apart from you and the missus obviously."

"Well then you give him a break," Sirius mumbled as James kicked him under the table. "Give him another chance and go out with him."

Lily laughed, shaking her head and turned to James, "you know that is officially the third person to ask me out on your behalf."

"Eh….yeah….I can see that," James said, feeling himself go red again.

"He doesn't have a lot of experience asking girls out," Sirius put in helpfully.

"He really doesn't," Harry confirmed to Lily earnestly.

"If it helps, you're the first girl I've wanted to ask out in 17 years," James added quietly, trying to pretend that he and Lily were the only two people at the table. She smiled in such a pretty way, his stomach flip-flopped, and he was forced to stare at the table.

"That was a pretty decent line for someone who's been out of the game so long," Lily replied, sounding far more sensible than James although he noted she now blushing again.

"Ask her out," Ginny hissed unsubtly across the table, causing everyone to laugh.

"Could I maybe take you to dinner?" James tried, feeling relieved as Lily continued to smile.

"Sure," Lily said with a small nod of her head, "as long as you're planning to show up this time."

"Trust me, he is," Sirius confirmed, "He's free every Saturday for the next ten years. Pick one that suits you and he'll be there."

"Here," Lily said, scribbling on a napkin and then handing it to James, "that's my number. Call me and we'll arrange a date," she stood up, and turned to Harry and Ginny, "and nice wing-manning, you two. You did nothing to help," she said pleasantly to Sirius finally before walking away.

"See," Harry said to James, nudging him once more. "She can put up with Sirius. She's made for you!"

"Do not wear that stupid patterned shirt that you think looks nice," James heard his son yell up the stairs.

"I can get dressed by myself, thank you," James yelled back, throwing down the patterned shirt and making his way back to the wardrobe, now knowing why he hadn't bothered to date in eighteen years. The sick feeling in his stomach wasn't one he was used to but if felt like a snake was slithering around his innards. He didn't know how he was going to finish a meal never mind make witty conversation.

"Something white, Prongs," Remus suggested, also yelling up the stairs. "Wear a white shirt and some form of jacket."

"How do you know what he should wear?" he heard Sirius query derisively.

"I'm reliably informed by my female colleagues that when going on a date one should always try to look like James Bond."

"Are you planning to feed my son at all this evening or do I need to call mum?" James yelled back, picking out the one white-ish shirt that he possessed and wondering if the only formal jacket he owned was his old school blazer.

"He's eating cereal out of the box, does that not count?" Sirius asked.

"We're ordering pizza at mine later," Remus supplied, just as James was about to yell back. "The black jacket Harry wore to his formal last year is still in his wardrobe, it'd probably fit you."

"Thanks," James replied hesitantly, throwing on the white shirt and wandering into Harry's room to rifle through his wardrobe. He jumped when he felt a hand fall on his shoulder.

"You're going to be fine," Remus reassured, moving over to Harry's bed to sit down.

"I don't know about that," James half-laughed, pulling hangers apart. "I never learned how to do this bit. I was too busy learning how to put on nappies."

"I spoke to Molly earlier this week," Remus replied, as James found the jacket. "She couldn't have been nicer about Lily. She doesn't sound like the kind to put you through the ringer. Plus, she knows it's your first date in a while…"

"I doubt she forgot when Sirius and Harry were reminding her every two minutes," James cut in grumpily.

"…so I think you'll get a bit of leeway if you do anything stupid."

"Like what?"

"Like propose."

James laughed, turning to look at himself in the mirror. "You know, when Harry had his first date with Ginny, I told him it was going to be easy and he shouldn't worry. Clearly, I was an idiot."

"Clearly, you were right. They've been together for a year. Sounds like their first date went well."

"Why did I say I'd do this?" James moaned, throwing himself down on the bed beside Remus. "There is no way I'm not going to make an idiot out of myself. When I look at her, I can't think properly. I can't talk like a normal person…"

"You've been texting this week, haven't you?"

"A bit," James admitted, "she's much better at this whole flirting thing than I am too," he said, pulling out his phone and passing it to Remus.

"She likes you," he grinned, scrolling through the messages.

"I have no idea why," James replied, grabbing his phone back and looking at his own messages. "I text like someone in their fifties. I remind me of my mother. I should've watched more of that Love Island thing Sirius was obsessed with. I might have learned something."

"You text fine, you don't have to be like a reality tv contestant, you can just be yourself," Remus said, patting him on the back again. "Molly says she thinks you're charming."

James felt his eyebrows leap up into his hair, "she does?"

"According to Molly," Remus smiled, "so you must have done something right at the Crown."

"Moony, hurry up, he has to leave in five," Sirius screeched from downstairs, as Remus threw his eyes up to heaven and they both got up.

"Will you tip the delivery guy this time," James asked Remus as they made their way downstairs, "they add half an hour to my delivery time every time you don't."

"Yes, I will," Remus droned, shuffling down the stairs behind him. "I also won't let Sirius answer the door, will make sure we put out any fires before tweeting about them, lock the door before we leave and only let Harry have two beers, not five."

"So basically, you're going to make this the dullest evening ever," Sirius greeted them with Harry in tow, both of them eating out of the same box of cereal.

"I am leaving now," James said, ignoring them.

"Oh!" Harry said, shoving the box of cereal towards Sirius. "Here," he went on, stuffing his hand into his back pocket and pulling out a condom. "I'm staying at Remus's tonight. Be safe. Last thing you want is an unexpected pregnancy."

"Brilliant," James said dryly, pushing Harry's hand away and going towards the door. "I will be coming home tonight, so you don't need to stay at Remus's," James advised.

"I've been waiting my entire life to make that joke," he heard Harry say to Sirius as he shut the front door.

As he walked to the restaurant he had suggested, James was glad he had picked one that he could get to on foot. For one, the cold air was helping to calm his nerves and cool him down and for another, it meant he caught sight of Lily standing outside of the trattoria, leaning against the wall, before she saw him. That gave him the opportunity to acknowledge how amazing she looked before he actually had to talk to her. She was wearing some floaty white dress with pink flowers and birds on it that somehow helped her to look unreasonably pretty. She had a leather jacket on over that made James think Sirius would probably approve after all.

Taking a deep breath to ready himself, James ruffled his hair and walked up to her with what he hoped was a normal smile. "Hi."

"Hey," Lily replied brightly. "You're here."

"Yes," James laughed, "I made it this time. Is that why you're standing outside?"

"Yup," she grinned, "I didn't fancy sitting at a table by myself for an hour whilst the waiters looked at me like I was pathetic. At least this way, I could make sure you showed up."

"Eh, yeah…have I apologised for that?"

"Twice," Lily said, "so I think three times would be overkill. Shall we go in?"

Managing to open the door for Lily, ask for their table and seat himself all without saying anything stupid, James opened his menu when Lily did likewise.

"This all looks great," she hummed, as James took a second to appreciate the sight of her swooning over the menu. "Good choice."

"Sirius approves of their Bolognese, so I figured it was a safe bet," James agreed, mentally taking note of the food he could eat without looking ridiculous.

"Molly said you cook for them all quite a bit," Lily half-asked, still looking downwards.

"Yeah," James replied, "Sirius and Remus sort of live with me and Harry, except when they decide not to. I think you know Remus? He said he met you a couple of years ago?"

"At Arthur's birthday," Lily nodded, setting her menu down. "Seemed a little shy at first but by the end of the night…"

"…you realised that was an act and he's the worst prankster you've ever met?"

"Yes!" Lily said excitedly, smiling widely. "He put shaving foam behind all of Molly's door handles."

"I love watching people figure out that Remus is completely evil," James grinned back. "Everyone thinks he's this shy, principled teacher the first time they meet him. Then he rips the last pages out of the books they're reading and they figure out his true nature quickly."

"He does not do that!" Lily hissed, looking genuinely horrified.

"I'm sorry to say it's true," James replied sorrowfully. "For two years, I thought Sirius was ruining all my books and he thought it was me doing it to him, and then one day we went to Remus's house and he had papered the bathroom with the pages of all the books he'd defaced."

"What did you do?" Lily asked, attention rapt.

"I think Sirius called him his hero and swore fealty to him on the spot," James tried to recall. "We had just finished watching Game of Thrones," he clarified.

"I find all of this offensive as a librarian," Lily stated firmly, shaking her head. "I'm going to have to reprimand Ginny. She cannot call him her favourite teacher when this is how he behaves."

"Harry says you met him at Arthur's party too?"

"Yeah," Lily smiled, "he was lovely. Cleared the table with Molly and got everyone drinks the whole night. Very mannerly."

"That's all my mother," James clarified hastily. "She loves Ginny, she's determined they're getting married and that Harry is going to impress his in-laws."

Lily laughed out loud as the waiter appeared and took their order.

"So, you know a lot about me from Harry and Ginny and Molly," James began again, starting to feel more relaxed as Lily smirked. "What about you? Any crazy friends who live with you or children who act like the parent?"

"None," she replied, "although I do have several crazy friends. They like to show up to the library, sneak in bottles of wine and get drunk while I work. Then they complain about the service."

"That might just beat Sirius and Remus," James laughed, "although do not tell Sirius about that or he'll be with your friends next time you're working."

"They're great really," Lily said happily. "I'd be lost without Mary. I was given seven outfit choices for this evening and then told which one to pick."

"Well, Mary has great taste. You look beautiful," James tried, hoping that the line that sounded romantic in his head actually came out that way.

Lily gave him a stunning smile for his efforts. "I'll let her know," she said as the waiter arrived to bring over some water and take their orders.

"So, is Harry happy that you're finally on a date?" she asked after the waiter had left.

"Delighted," James confirmed.

"He and Ginny seemed to be very interested in your love life."

"I think he's just worried about going off to university and leaving me alone," James said, inwardly wincing at how feeble he sounded.

"That's quite cute," Lily replied sincerely. "That's a good son you've raised all by yourself."

James grinned, "I definitely didn't raise him 'all by myself'. I wouldn't have been able to do it without a lot of help from my parents. And Remus and Sirius as well. But he's turned out pretty great, even if it is me saying that."

"Is it okay to ask about his mum?" Lily queried, somewhat nervously.

"Yeah," he nodded, "it is. She's a photographer, travels a lot. Harry sees her when she's in England. Most of the time, she lives in Amsterdam."

"How long has he lived with you?"

"Since he was about one," James said, knowing he was getting into uncomfortable territory but deciding it was better to tell the story now. "I knew from when he was born that I wanted to take care of him and after a while, his mum wasn't really handling the responsibility so well. Which was fine. She wanted to go to uni and all of that. I wanted to stay home with Harry. So, I spoke to my mum and we all decided Harry would live with us."

"How did you meet her?" Lily continued, still sounding unsure of herself.

"In school," James said. "We didn't really date," he went on steadily, "just sorted of bonded over Pokemon Blue and then were a bit stupid."

"A bit?" Lily said incredulously, "I can't believe you even bothered with blue, yellow was the only one worth playing."

"Yellow wasn't out until 2000 and I was already hooked on Blue by then," James corrected confidently, smiling when Lily looked impressed rather than repulsed.

"That is some serious nerd knowledge," Lily marvelled, looking at him in such a way that he ruffled his hair again, inwardly hating himself. "Do you still play?"

"Not at all," James obviously lied, "I'm a grown-up man who isn't in any way addicted to Pokemon Go."

"Brilliant," Lily laughed, "Ginny told me about this."

"About what?" he asked, as the waiter arrived with their food.

"About the videogames, the D&D, the board game café…"

"In my defence, I like rugby as well," James tried, looking down at his plate.

"Oh, she told me about the rugby coaching and pub rugby too," Lily smiled, startling James when she reached across the table to take his hand. "But it was the nerd thing I liked best."

"It was?" James asked, hoping his hand wasn't too clammy.

"Yeah," Lily nodded, a bit bashfully, "librarian, remember?" she said, gesturing to herself.

"Is that why you decided to give me a second chance?"

Lily smiled and shook her head. "No, I gave you a second chance because you're really hot."

James couldn't hold back the disbelieving laugh he let out.

"You are!" Lily insisted, squeezing his hand before she let it go. "And…you know…the good father thing helps too."

"It does?" he checked, as Lily grinned in a way that James found particularly alluring.

"Yes," she confirmed, "your love for your son somehow makes you hotter. I have no idea why. Now, ask me about my book collection. As a nerd, you're about to find me unbearably hot."

Over the rest of dinner, Lily revealed herself to be pretty much the perfect woman, save for her preference for Charmander as a starter Pokemon. What James still couldn't believe was that everything she said indicated that she was an in to him as he was to her. He didn't know what he was doing to make her feel this way but no matter how stupid or ridiculous he sounded to himself, Lily laughed, smiled and flirted her way through the rest of the night. Still putting James's flirting skills to shame but at least giving him the confidence to relax a bit more and think that maybe she might go out with him a second time.

However, no matter how relaxed he was by the end of the night, nothing prepared James for the shock of her trying to kiss him.

"Are you okay?" she giggled, as he jumped when she moved in closer to him after they had walked away from the restaurant.

"Eh…yeah," James breathed, feeling once more like an idiot but taking both Lily's hands and pulling her closer again. "I wasn't expecting you to do that."

"I keep forgetting you're new at this," Lily said quietly, moving towards him easily.

"So, I kiss you now," he confirmed, as Lily nodded with a small laugh.

"Yes," she murmured, kissing him first.

Kissing Lily and feeling her press up against him after a full week of day-dreaming about her was the best wish fulfilment James could have hoped for. It made him forget all his concerns that he didn't have a clue what he was doing, emptying his head of all thoughts but her and how amazing she was.

"Would you maybe like to do this again sometime?" James blurted out as Lily pulled away, keeping her arms looped around his neck.

Lily laughed again.

"James, this is the part where you try to get me to go home with you."

"I do?" he responded, causing her to laugh harder.

"Yeah," she confirmed, nudging her nose against his. "If it helps, you won't have to try that hard."

Ignoring the twisting in his stomach, James smiled, "fancy seeing my video game collection?"

James was busy making scrambled eggs when he heard the front door open and close behind him.

"Hey," he said to Harry and Sirius as they ambled into the kitchen.

"As you can see, he's still alive and only has a minor hangover," Sirius announced, clapping Harry on the shoulder.

"How'd it go last night?" Harry said immediately as James looked at him.

"Good," James replied, trying to hide his smile. "We had a nice time."

"Good," Harry repeated, evidently happy though sounding slightly surprised.

"Didn't bring her home though," Sirius mocked, elbowing Harry.

"I didn't expect him to," Harry condescended, folding his arms. "Doesn't matter, means I can make that condom joke another couple of times."

"That's if she'll see him again," Sirius put in, lowering himself into a chair. "She might just've said it went well to not hurt his feelings. Did she actually laugh at dinner or was she pity laughing, Prongs?"

James was saved the trouble of responding as Lily strode into the kitchen, silencing Harry and Sirius in the middle of their chuckles.

"I don't pity laugh," she said, not looking at either of them and walking over to James, hair still wet from the shower, his shirt looking better on her than it ever did on him. "Do you have a hair dryer?" she asked, moving her arms around his neck and pressing a kiss against his cheek.

"Yeah," he smiled, thoroughly enjoying the stunned looks on Harry and Sirius's faces. "Sirius's from when he lived here. It's in the closet in the bathroom."

"Thanks," she said, giving him another kiss, "I'll be down in a minute. Don't let Sirius eat all my breakfast," she added, leaving with a smirk.

"There isn't breakfast for anyone other than me and you," James said after her, turning back to the stove.

"What?" Sirius yelped, finally finding the words to speak.

"You have to feed me, I'm your child!" Harry protested.

"How long is it before you bugger off to uni again?" James asked, ladling the scrambled eggs onto two plates with toast.

"Hey!" Harry objected, somehow managing to sound half-pleased.

"We're eating upstairs," James decided, lifting the plates and cutlery, "Harry, if Sirius won't feed you, call your grandmother or Ginny or Remus or someone."

Ignoring Harry's protests, James climbed the stairs, smiling as he heard Lily singing from above.

"Oi, Evans" he called, "breakfast is ready."