He was watching her again.
Sirius rolled his eyes, before making a quick decision. Not that the decision was hard, considering he'd been thinking of doing something along the same lines for the past month or so at least. He poked James in the side. Hard. And he hissed, "Do you want me to stand up and tell everyone that James Potter has a crush on the Prefect Evans?"
James jumped, glaring at Sirius. "Shut it, Padfoot. I do not have a crush on Evans!" he hissed back.
Sirius rolled his eyes again. "Oh of course not. You don't have a crush on her so that's why you stare at her whenever you're in the same room as her and why you turn red every time she looks at you or talks to you."
Beside him, he heard Remus and Peter snickering.
"Black! Potter! If you're going to talk, do it outside!"
They both jumped as Madam Pince, the librarian, looked sternly at them.
Sirius put on his best charming face as he said, "Yes, Madam Pince. I was just trying to explain to James here that Love Potions are illegal."
James glared at Sirius. He was going to kill his best friend.
People started to snicker, whispering that he was planning on using a Love Potion on someone. Several girls started to giggle amongst themselves, while looking sideways at him, some even simpering at him.
Great ghost, he was definitely going to kill his best friend.
Giving a last glare at Sirius, James gathered up his books and left the library.
He was not having a good day. And Lily Evans hadn't even looked up at him as he left either.
In a thoroughly bad mood at Sirius and at the rest of the world, he headed over to the Quidditch pitch. Flying always made him feel better. He was at home in the air, on his broom.
She was not going to look up. She was not going to look up. She was not going to look up.
Lily stared blindly down at her Charms textbook, determined she wasn't going to look up at James Potter when he left the library.
This was getting too much. He was distracting her from her studies and that was the last thing she needed right now. As Prefect, she felt a responsibility to keep up her grades as an example and also so she could help the younger students when they needed tutoring in any of their subjects. Admittedly, she'd never been the best at Potions but that was because Professor Grimsby was biased and never bothered to really help anyone except for Slytherins, his house. And she wasn't the best in the class at Transfiguration either. James Potter was. He seemed to have a natural knack for it, as much as for Quidditch.
And of course, she was thinking about James again.
This was really getting ridiculous, Lily thought. She shouldn't be thinking about James Potter all the time. So what if he was handsome and charming and clever and a positive whiz on the Quidditch pitch? Why should that matter to her? He was also a prankster (but such a cute one, her traitorous mind thought) and…
That was that. Lily slammed her book shut, standing up hurriedly, ignoring the surprised looks on everyone in the library. She didn't see and wouldn't have particularly cared if she had seen, the smirks and nudges that passed between Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, James Potter's best friends, as she left.
She needed some fresh air. There were times when the castle just got stifling, much as she loved it and much as she loved the library.
Back in her room, she dropped her book bag down and glanced out the window at the clear blue sky before making a quick decision.
She would take her broom and fly a little. It had been a while since she'd flown, since she wasn't on the Quidditch team and generally was too busy to fly on a regular basis. But she still enjoyed the feeling of leaving the ground and feeling the wind in her hair. Now would be the perfect time, too, since it would probably be empty at the Quidditch pitch as it wasn't practice time for any of the House Teams, Lily knew.
She was wrong. She realized that when she was still a ways away from the field and saw a solitary figure flying leisurely back and forth over the pitch.
She grimaced a little. It was James Potter. No one else flew as gracefully as he did, as if he had been born on a broom. For a moment she considered going back but then decided that she wasn't going to be a coward and run from him. Just because she seemed to think about him on an increasingly regular basis didn't mean she was going to live her life avoiding him. She lifted her chin, walking onto the pitch.
She kicked off the ground, and immediately felt the wonderful sensation of the ground dropping away. Experimentally, she tried doing a few easy loops in the air, before flying higher. It was good to be up in the air again.
She had closed her eyes to enjoy the feeling of the wind in her hair and when she opened them again, James was hovering at her side, looking at her a little oddly.
Her defenses automatically went up. It was bad enough that she thought about him so much, now he seemed to be questioning her right to be on the Quidditch pitch.
She faced him. "What? I may not be on the Quidditch team but I can fly too, you know."
James seemed to find his voice and his thoughts at that. "I know that," he said hurriedly. "I was, uh, just wondering why you had your eyes closed."
For a moment Lily paused, studying him. He seemed sincerely curious. She repented her sharp tone of earlier and smiled as she answered, "I like the feeling of the wind in my hair, the freedom of flying, and closing my eyes allows me to enjoy it more fully."
James smiled back and Lily felt color creeping into her cheeks. Blast. It should be illegal for any boy to have a smile so charming it made her go weak in the knees just seeing it directed at her. Gods, that smile and those eyes…
Lily woke up from her rather dreamy reverie about James's smile and warm brown eyes to hear him agreeing with her about flying and the freedom it brought.
And suddenly, it didn't matter that she was blushing because he smiled at her, or that she thought about him so often. All that mattered was that it was a beautiful day and she was flying and he was flying and he understood how she felt. The moment needed nothing more.
Grinning at him over her shoulder, Lily bent forward on her broom, going into a dive before pulling up and flying up again. Glancing to her side, she saw that James was flying with her, his Chaser instincts coming into play as he stayed beside her.
She heard him give a whoop of pure enjoyment as he followed her into a loop and laughed, her heart lighter than it had been in a while.
James couldn't believe his eyes. Lily Evans, the Perfect Prefect and all around smartest girl of the class, was flying and enjoying it.
He heard her laugh ring out, clear and pure, and couldn't help smiling. It felt right to be doing this, flying around with her, enjoying the cool breeze and the sunshine.
It felt right and so he stayed, enjoying the way the wind had loosened her hair in its ponytail and was blowing strands of it into her face. He loved to watch her brush her hair away with one hand. He loved to see her smiling, her beautiful green eyes shining with fun and happiness.
How had it taken him so long to see that Lily Evans was a beautiful girl? She was so beautiful it made his breath catch in his throat just to see her, so beautiful he knew he could spend the rest of his life looking at her.
His mind and his heart seemed to stop at that thought. He was in love with Lily Evans. He loved her intelligence, her diligence, her loyalty. He loved her sense of humor. He loved the way she looked when she was frowning into her book when something confused her. And he loved the fact that she felt the same way he did about flying. He loved Lily Evans. Gods, but Sirius was going to have a field day when he found out.
Even as he thought it, though, he shrugged it off. Let Sirius have his fun. He knew this was real.
They continued to fly, matching each other move for move until dinnertime.
Lily was in something of a dream-like state. The afternoon had just been perfect. She and James hadn't said much to each other, being preoccupied with flying but what they had said had been pleasant. They had more in common than she would have thought. She smiled to herself and then felt her foot catch on something, she didn't know what, and pitched forward and would have fallen if James hadn't caught her.
Lily caught her breath at the feeling of his hand on her arm, as he spoke, "Careful, there, Lily."
How did he manage to make the two syllables of her name sound so beautiful, she wondered rather absently, preoccupied as she was with the warmth of his hand and the fact that he hadn't yet let go of her arm even though she was in no danger of falling anymore and was instead just looking at her rather oddly.
She opened her mouth to ask him what was wrong when he stopped her by putting his finger over her mouth. And then he kissed her.
And it was perfect. Nothing Lily had ever heard or read about kisses could have prepared her for the fireworks that seemed to go off inside her at the touch of his lips against hers. Nothing had ever felt more right, more pleasurable.
Involuntarily, her arms went up around his neck, dropping her broom but she didn't care. He made a small noise in the back of his throat and slid his arms around her waist, bringing her in closer to him. It felt right to be in his arms, felt right to slide her fingers through his messy black hair, felt right to tug him closer.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, the small part that was still thinking rationally, a voice was asking how this could happen so suddenly, how it could feel so right when she barely even knew him. Her mind answered that question though, as soon as it was asked.
She knew enough about James Potter. She knew he was a loyal friend, she knew he was clever, she knew he was charming and handsome. She knew he was a genuinely nice guy and wouldn't hurt her.
She almost gasped with disappointment when he pulled away, staring at her out of wide eyes. She felt a hot blush on her cheeks. Good God, she'd practically thrown herself at him. What if he hadn't felt it too? What if—
Her thoughts were cut short as he bent and kissed her again, briefly this time, before looking into her eyes and saying softly, "I think I love you, Lily Evans."
Warmth seemed to grow and expand in her heart at his softly spoken confession and she smiled at him. "I think I love you too, James Potter."
He looked surprised. She loved that he looked surprised. "Really?"
"Yes, really." As if any girl could possibly resist him, she thought in some amusement at his modesty.
And when he kissed her again, she knew that things were just as they should be. One kiss was all it took, one kiss, a kiss to build a dream on.