A/N: In which Lily blurts out she is dating James Potter. And she would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for that meddling James.
This is something I wrote a while ago and only published on my tumblr. Silly and pointless as it is, I've always wanted to write a fake dating fic so here we are. Hope you like it!
Not for the first time during their ten minute interaction, Petunia wrinkles her nose in distaste. Lily is unsure what her sister disapproves of now since the salon holds an endless list of possibilities. Only mildly interested, Lily follows her stony gaze to the stylist working next to her station.
There it is, Lily thinks and, for some reason, she struggles to suppress a smirk. Of course her sister would hold purple hair in contempt, no matter how gorgeous it looked on the person wearing it.
"Anyway," her sister continues, eyes back on her. Lily notes how the derision in her demeanor does not soften a bit as she looks at her. "It's going to be a very tasteful ceremony. Very elegant." She says this with a pointed, meaningful edge in her voice.
Lily almost rolls her eyes. She abstains, sure Petunia will see her through the mirror at her station. "Tasteful, elegant," she repeats with a nod. Uptight. Obnoxious. "Got it."
Petunia is unimpressed. "Do you?" she asks impatiently. "Because most of our guests are very distinguished clients from Vernon's firm and I will not tolerate anything that might embarrass us."
Lily wants to inform her that marrying someone like Vernon Dursley was embarrassment enough, but she bites back the retort. Her eyes fall on the clock and she realizes her next appointment will be in soon. Lily's stomach lurches briefly at the realization.
She decides to offer a reply that promises to shorten the conversation. On most days, this entails agreeing with her sister and withholding all the snark from her replies.
"I'll be as proper as ever," Lily says, but even to her ears, the words sound sarcastic. So much for withholding snark.
Petunia notices too and her lips press together tightly. "None of your radical expressions when you talk to my guests," she starts sternly. She says this far too loudly, attempting to make her point over the sound of chatter from other clients and blow dryers.
Anger begins to flare up in the pit of Lily's stomach. "Right," Lily says tartly, interrupting what promised to be a long list of forbidden behaviors. "Is there anything else you needed, because I have to get back to work."
Petunia's lip curls mockingly at the word work. Again, she glances at the hair salon with an expression of someone in the middle of a pigpen. Lily feels her cheeks flush, the urge to defend her career making itself known. It is the same reaction to Petunia's constant jabs about Lily's profession as a hair stylist. This time, however, Lily successfully swallows down her words, thinking instead of how her next client would be there any minute now. Again, her heart swoops slightly.
Wordlessly, Petunia holds out an envelope to her. There is reluctance in the action, as though an invisible someone holds a gun to her head. "Your invitation will say you can bring a guest," she says. A wicked glint lights her eyes as she adds, "A date, perhaps?" Petunia looks as though she is about to cackle. "Not that you'll need it."
The words offend her more than they should. In reality, Lily is far more furious at herself than at her sister for letting the comment hurt her.
Lily's love life, or lack thereof, is another of Petunia's favorite things to criticize about Lily. Lately, all Petunia can do is compare her own impending wedding to Lily's lack of serious romantic suitors. Her sister delights in telling everyone that will listen about how her life is falling into place now that she's marrying a man from a good family, with an impressive career. She delights even more in following this proclamation by pointing out how, meanwhile, her sister is nowhere near finding quite a catch, let alone the promise of a good marriage. And every time, Lily stifles the urge to correct her sister and inform her that a lack of suitors is not a problem Lily has to worry about and even if it was, there is more purpose to her life than a man. But, more often than not, Lily sagely chooses to say nothing. She is absolutely certain that fiercely recounting her many romantic conquests, no matter how short lived, will only spur Petunia on.
Lily can feel the words rising up to her throat even now, but she refrains. She didn't want to give her sister a live example of what she considered Lily's "radical views."
There is something about Petunia's condescending smirk, though, that makes Lily say, "Maybe I will need it."
The words had been out before Lily registered the intention of saying them. She quickly decides that the lie will be no problem. She would simply ask—no, beg — her mate Benjy Fenwick to go as her date.
"Really?" her sister sneers. "Who? Your friend? That lowly musician you took to mother's birthday?"
Fuck. Lily had forgotten. Belatedly, she also realizes she has already taken Benjy to several of her family's events throughout the years. It had become clear to everyone in her family that he was simply her friend.
Lily tries to remain unfazed. "I'm seeing someone, " she informs her as convincingly as she could. "That's who I'm taking."
Petunia laughs derisively. "And who is that?"
Lily is unable to think of any names. She is aware of the long pause that stretches as she struggles to think of a bloody name. "James," she blurts out, thinking of her next client. "His name is James Potter."
By the unmoved expression on her face, Petunia doesn't recognize his name. "Since when?" she challenges.
"Since four months ago," she returns, just as defiant. At least this isn't a complete lie. Four months is the time she had known the real James Potter.
Unconvinced, Petunia opens her mouth, no doubt to pester Lily with more questions that would slowly expose her. However, before any words leave her, Hestia, the hair salon's front desk attendant, is at their side.
"Lily," she says apologetically, visibly sorry for the interruption. "James is here."
With a stab of panic, Lily's eyes search for him in the waiting area. Sure enough, he is there, sitting on one of the cushioned chairs that looks far too small for his long frame. He is not looking at her, his attention fixed on his phone. He swipes his free hand through his hair and Lily is unable to suppress a smile. On his last visit, Lily had teasingly informed him of this nervous tick, but James had denied it quite passionately, saying he's not a big enough prat to continuously run his hand through his hair. On the chair next to him, Lily can see a brown bag from a restaurant nearby. This time, she does smile. It had been James's solemn duty to bring her lunch from his favorite places ever since she proclaimed there was "nothing good to eat" in the area.
Almost as if sensing her eyes on him, James looks up from his phone. When their eyes meet, he gives her a lopsided half smile. Her stomach dives again.
"Is it okay if he comes back here?" Hestia says, alerting Lily of her presence. She had forgotten she was still there, waiting. Hestia's eyes fall on Petunia. Lily had almost forgotten about her sister, too. She feels little remorse about that.
It is Petunia who speaks, the false sweetness in her voice making Lily sick. "Yes, absolutely," she tells Hestia without looking at her, as though she was a servant. "I'd love to meet him."
Lily knows this is far from the truth. Petunia had never showed any interest in any aspect of Lily's life. What Petunia would love to do is expose Lily and make her subject of even more relentless teasing.
Panic sweeps over her as Hestia nods at him and he walks over to her station. Lily takes in a deep, shaky breath, attempting to abate her dread.
Why did she have to say his name?
Their eyes meet again and this time, he flashes her a full smile, one that is so customary of him and so charming that Lily briefly forgets her idiocy.
Oh, she thinks stupidly. That's why.
His step—usually confident— halters only slightly at the sight of Petunia. Lily is unsure if he's momentarily disconcerted by the presence of someone new or by the almost maniacal smile on her sister's face.
Lily's throat is dry by the time James nears them. She musters the nerve to smile sweetly at him, hoping she is a far better actress than liar.
"Hey, you," Lily says in what she hopes is a loving, flirtatious voice. She inwardly cringes at how the effect is ruined when her voice cracks slightly on the last word.
James raises his eyebrows.
Her heart is a raging storm in her chest as she walks up to meet him a safe distance away from Petunia. It threatens to beat itself out of her chest at the thought of what she is about to do. Before her nerve fails her, and with a quick mental fuck it, she lifts herself on her tiptoes and presses a kiss on his cheek.
"Please go with it," she implores in a small whisper before pulling away from him.
James doesn't move and for an awful moment, Lily fears he might have not heard her plea. In his silence, she begins to feel the weight of her action crush her. She kissed a client. Worst, she kissed her favorite client, James, who seemed so repulsed by it that he was rendered speechless.
The silence between them roars. Desperate, Lily looks around at anything except her sister, afraid of the spectacle she had just made. But no one is looking at them, all the other stylists too busy with their own work . She is about to open her mouth and spew out apologies that would be too rushed, too tangled to be comprehensible, but James regains his movement.
He smirks, the gesture making his already handsome face even more so. As Lily looks at him, she swears she can detect a small blush on his face, but she has no time to dwell on it.
"Hey, you," he returns, leaning in to kiss her cheek in a much more casual and convincing manner than she had. He lifts the brown bag at her. "Brought you lunch."
She could kiss him. Again.
Her smile is real as she looks at him gratefully. "You're too good to me," she tells him, and this too, she realizes, is not acting.
"Anything for you," he returns without missing a beat. For good measure, he kisses her forehead and Lily's breath catches. "Did you make dessert?"
As part of their lunch arrangement on his visits, Lily offered to make her famous pastries. At least, famous to her friends, family, and now James.
She nods. "I made treacle tart this time," she informs him.
James hums approvingly.
"Just for you," she quips.
"I'll consider myself lucky, then."
"That, you are."
"The luckiest," he agrees.
Except for the kisses and the sweet, melodious tone coating their voices, the exchange is not unlike their usual ones. At least their conversations didn't have to be faked.
He makes a show to look up at Petunia and feigns brief confusion. He is a damn good actor, she notes. Another thing to add to his already long list of talents. "Are you with a client?"
For the second time, Lily had forgotten her sister was there. This makes Lily feel the most ridiculous since the boyfriend act is for her benefit.
Petunia is watching them with discontent. Arms crossed tightly across her chest, she takes in James's appearance, starting with his disheveled hair, made wilder still by his hand, running predictably through it. Her eyes move down to his glasses, passing his ever present jovial smirk, and resting on his attire. He is wearing a faded band t-shirt, layered with a plaid shirt. An outfit that betrays nothing of his family's hair product empire and their insurmountable wealth, according to Google. They also happen to be the two articles of clothing Petunia despises the most.
"James, this is my sister, Petunia Evans," Lily says, moving to stand next to James. "Petunia, this is James Potter."
Lily feels James's arm move as he begins to extend it, but Lily places her own hand over his forearm, halting the movement. She is positive Petunia will not feign enough civility to shake his hand and Lily is unwilling to allow him to suffer that humiliation.
"So," Petunia says instead of a greeting, "You're Lily's boyfriend."
"That I am," he says confidently.
Petunia does not look suspicious. Instead, she looks angered as her small eyes swivel to Lily briefly. "For how long?" she asks James, determined to find a flaw.
"Four months," he replies without hesitation, throwing an arm around Lily. She attempts to quell the fluttering in her stomach.
Disappointment, defeat, and anger crash in her sister's expression.
"Best four months of my life, actually," James adds, pressing another kiss on the top of Lily's forehead.
Heat blooms from Lily's neck to her face. She braves a quick look at James to find he is already looking down at her, his smile disappears completely, replaced by a rare seriousness that is alien to him. Before she can stop herself, she opens her mouth to say something, though she is unsure what. She closes it and the movement draws his attention to her mouth. His eyes rest on her lips briefly and Lily feels as though caught in a spell.
"How did you meet?" Petunia's shrill voice demands.
And just like that, the spell is broken.
James's eyebrows shoot up briefly, no doubt feeling as though he is part of a criminal interrogation rather than an introduction. It would have been sweet, coming from any other pair of siblings. An older sister meeting her little sister's boyfriend for the first time and asking question after question to make sure he was good enough for her. Lily feels a small pang at the thought. It had never been that way with Petunia.
"My family is in the hair styling business," he says simply. Lily almost laughs at the understatement. "I was at this location on business and I was told Lily is the best hairstylist in the area. So I had to see it for myself." He looks down at Lily briefly, his smile returning. "She is also lovelier than anyone I've ever met before so I had to pretend like I needed a haircut every two weeks as an excuse to see her."
Lily does laugh at that.
Petunia, on the other hand, is unaffected. Lily can see her jaw working, the way it does when she is pensive.
Before her sister can think of any more questions to hurl at James, Lily asks, "Was there anything else?"
Petunia looks as though there are a million different questions she wants to ask, hoping one will reveal their lie. She opens her mouth but closes it immediately, scowl deepening. "No," she says at last, pursing her lips with false dignity. "Just remember what I asked you for my wedding." Her eyes fall on James and his plaid shirt. "It'll be a black tie wedding."
Lily rolls her eyes. "We'll do our best," she says sardonically.
"See that you do," Petunia counters acridly as she turns to leave.
"It was a pleasure to finally meet the famous Tuney," James says cheerfully, arm still around Lily's shoulder.
Petunia looks at him as though he had slapped her. She directs her glare at Lily who only smiles innocently at her. Lips pressed so tight that they appear ghostly white, she all but storms out of the salon.
James waits a full minute after Petunia disappears before he lets his arm fall. Lily tries not to miss its warmth.
"Thank you," she begins, the words a blur as she tries to explain. "She was being so awful about bringing a date to her wedding and I just— "
But James is shaking his head, putting up a hand to pause her. "Don't mention it, Evans," he says, setting the sealed brown bag of food on the counter next to Lily's station. "Believe me, I know what it's like to be pressured by family." He wrinkles his nose. "Although, my mum is not that determined when she asks me about my love life."
Lily grimaces. "Sorry about her," she says with a sigh. "I reckon she knew I was lying and was trying to prove it."
James laughs. "She looked furious," he comments. "So I think we convinced her." He finishes this statement with a wink that makes her face flush yet again.
There is a brief silence as he takes his usual seat in the styling chair. Lily lowers it as far as it goes before draping the black nylon cape over him.
"You're an impressive liar," she comments as she fastens it at the back of his neck.
James doesn't reply. He is looking at her through the mirror, all traces of humor vanished from his face. "I didn't lie."
Despite his serious expression as he looks at her, Lily laughs uncertainly. James, however, does not join her in her amusement, as he typically does. Instead, he watches her for a long time, so long that Lily has to look away.
"Best four months of my life, actually," he had said.
The memory of the words send a thrill through her.
Like before, she opens her mouth, but this time she does know what she wants to say. She wants to say that the last four months have been pretty good for her too. She wants to properly tell him that she looks forward to his appointments and their shared lunches. That his ridiculous jokes keep her grinning for two weeks, until she sees him again. That two weeks is entirely too long to go without seeing him.
But Lily does not feel brave enough to say it. Instead, she brushes through the chaos that is his hair.
"Evans?" he says quietly, his voice almost entirely lost in the sound of the blow dryers nearby.
"Hmm?" she allows, not looking up from his hair.
He doesn't say anything, waiting for her to look up at him and meet his eyes through the mirror. When she does, he is grinning effortlessly at her. "You do realize now you have to take me to her wedding?"
"You don't have to go," she assures him quickly. "I can tell them you had somewhere else to be."
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be," he tells her.
Again, Lily schools her features, masking the intoxicating rush his words send through her. He is entirely too good at doing that.
"I couldn't ask you go through all that pretending again," she insists. "And for an entire evening."
James considers this, though his expression is far too exaggerated to be entirely genuine. "Yeah, you're right," he says finally. "I don't want to go through all that pretending."
Lily gives him a single nod, looking down at his hair again. She tries to dismiss the disappointment.
"That's why I should go as your real date," he says simply.
Her eyes fly up to meet his again and she is ready to detect hints of humor on his face. There are none. He is looking at her expectantly, shifting slightly in his chair. For a moment, she imagines his hand flying up to his hair as he waits.
This silence is the longest by far.
"No," she says at last.
His expression dissolves into surprise, followed by apprehension and finally settling on disappointment.
"Er…right," he begins, looking so completely unlike his usual confident self that Lily bites down a smirk. His face flushes with color as he struggles to find what to say next and it is so endearing to her that she is unable to contain a laugh.
"I refuse to spend our first date in the presence of my parents, my sister, and Vernon Dursley," she explains, saying the last two words with unrestrained horror.
James's shoulders drop, his relief palpable in the crooked smirk that dawns on his face and gives way to a laugh. "So you're telling me I have to take you out many times before then?"
"Precisely," she says quite seriously. "And you've only got three weeks to do it."
"Well, then," he says, matching her faux business-like tone. "We should get started right away. Tonight at eight?"
"Tonight at eight," she repeats with a nod.
"You're going to grow sick of seeing my face," he warns her.
Lily breaks and laughs at that. Her eyes trace the edges of his defined jaw through the mirror. She is quite certain he is aware she is watching him so intently, but she doesn't care.
Feeling elated, she says, "I highly doubt that, Potter."
A/N: So that was my first "Fake Dating" AU. Definitely won't be the last. It's really amusing to me that James's family would still be in the hair product business (Sleekeazy's Hair Potion) in another world. It's just so wonderfully ironic, lol.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed and thank you for reading!