Sorry it's taken me so long to update! I've gotten completely swallowed in Role-playing and I'll admit it! I have my own site going and all, so I've really been into that. I'm sorry! Oh...and fanfiction didn't want to work for me whenever I tried to upload this, so that caused some further delay. But fear not! I haven't forgotten about this story!

Chapter Twenty-Three

The Pride of A Muggleborn

The train arrived at the station hours later, and soon they were filing into the Great Hall for the Welcome Back feast. Lily was a bit happy to be back, and relieved that she wouldn't have to deal with Petunia and her oaf sized boyfriend Vernon anymore. What a sickly couple those two were. Lily knew one thing was for sure. If the two were going to get married, count Lily out of attending the wedding.

She and James held hands as they entered the Great Hall, but through all the hustle and bustle of people, no one really seemed to notice.

"Lily!" A voice called blissfully. Lily turned to see Candace hurrying into the Great Hall toward her.

"Hey Candace! Did you have a good break?" Lily asked with a smile. James broke off, gave her a small wave and departed when he caught sight of Sirius and Peter entering the Great Hall.

"Did I ever! And...you'll never guess. Sirius finally asked me out!" Candace gushed. A grin spread across Lily's face. So Sirius had followed through on his end of the deal. But Lily knew that if Candace ever knew that Lily had made that deal with him...Oh boy, things would not be good. Plus the fact that Candace would probably never talk to Lily again.

"He did?" Lily asked, making her best attempt at looking shocked beyond belief that he had actually asked her.

Candace raised her eyes, and Lily realized she might have been a bit overly dramatic. "Something tells me you knew." Candace said, hands falling upon her hips.

Lily's mind reeled. 'Yes Candace. I knew. Sirius somehow forced me, his skill and ability to do so still amazes me, but he got me to take James home with me for the break. But he was decent enough to let me make my terms which were, The only way I will take James Potter home for the break with me is if you ask Candace out. So that is how I knew.' Somehow the idea of even saying such a thing wasn't too inviting.

"He told me before I left on break." Lily resorted to, keeping a straight face for once.

Candace's face fell. "And you didn't tell me? I thought you were my friend, Lily!" She said, her mouth agape.

"But it made so much better of a surprise, didn't it?" Lily grinned falsely, hoping to god that Candace wouldn't see through her.

"Guess so." Candace grinned, dropping into a seat at the Gryffindor table. "How was your break with James? It wasn't too bad was it?" She teased, as if thinking that Lily's break had been nothing short of torture.

"You know, it really wasn't that bad." Lily grinned. But she wasn't going to stop there. How could she? She was a seventeen year old girl talking to her best friend. How could she stop there? "It was great actually." She grinned. She would have dropped her voice to tell the rest, but the volume in the Great Hall didn't make it necessary to.

"Great?" Candace asked, her face splitting into another smile, her dimples shining. "Go on." She said, scooting closer to hear every word that escaped Lily's mouth.

"Oh Candace, it was awesome!" Lily finally gushed. "First night we were there I took him down to Muggle London...it was the cutest thing I've ever seen! He was so fascinated by all the Muggle toys and everything electronic and..." Lily sighed. "Then on Christmas Eve I got in the worst fight with Petunia, evil wench she is...but I could hardly care. I got really upset and ran outside into the small village just south of my house and it was so quiet and snowing gently and all...."

Candace simply grinned as she heard Lily's story. It was almost as if the impossible had happened! Lily was gushing about her Christmas vacation with James!

"And James followed me out there and...and he kissed me!" Lily finished with a sigh. "Then on Christmas he gave me a bouquet of white lilies, and he gave my mum a rose! Can you believe that! But it was like from that point on all we did was...well...kiss. And my mum walked up on us this one time...it was so embarrassing, but turned out to be really funny in the end..." Lily sighed.

Candace giggled. "Lily...I never thought I would say it, but you are so stuck on him." She shook her head.

"Well I should be." Lily said with a smile. The end of the story was coming. And she could almost see the look of disbelief on Candace's face. "He's my boyfriend."

Candace dropped the flask of pumpkin juice she was holding, and the orange liquid proceeded to stain the tablecloth, but Candace paid no attention to it. "You....Lily! I can't believe it!" Candace said, though her face split into a grin as she tossed a napkin onto her mess.

"He asked me out again on the train and for once I said yes." Lily smiled. But she had had enough with the gossip for then. She had at least told someone about her lovely break. She was now free to eat with a renewed vigor. But where was James? She wheeled around in her seat looking for him only to see head nor hide of her boyfriend. James....her boyfriend. She never thought she would have gotten such a kick out of saying that.

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Wind whipped through James' hair as the four Marauders sat out on the sloping grounds of Hogwarts, eating their way through delicacies Sirius had nicked from the kitchens moments before. His thoughts were running wild inside his head, almost as if they were being thrown about in the nighttime breeze. He wished he was in the Great Hall with Lily, but at the same time, he had seen so little of his three best mates that he couldn't help but not miss Lily too much.

"So, Prongs. How was break with Evans?" Sirius grinned, a slight feeling of pride swelling inside him as the thought that he was the one who set the two up for the break floated across his mind.

James, one who usually gave little detail answered simply in response, "Swell." He said, grinning slightly for he knew Sirius would desire more detail then simply 'swell'.

"Swell? And?" Sirius pushed, just as James knew he would.

"Well...overview would be I kissed her Christmas Eve, her mum caught us snogging in her backyard on Christmas, and oh, she's my girlfriend now." James grinned.

"I was being serious, Prongs." Sirius said, shaking his head in amusement as he reached into his basket extracting a large pasty.

"As was I." James grinned.

"You and Lily?" Peter asked, biting into a large piece of fudge cake.

"Me and Lily." James sighed happily, falling back to lay on the grass, not caring about the water that was seeping into his robes from all of the melted snow.

The pride inside Sirius doubled. "You actually hooked up? You're not just pulling my leg?" Sirius asked, grinning like a fool before taking a large bite out of his pasty.

"Now when have I ever pulled your leg, Padfoot?" James smiled.

"Should I answer that question honestly?" Sirius asked as he removed a large bottle of firewhiskey from his bag, taking a deep swig from it.

"Drinking? Padfoot, I'm ashamed of you!" James grinned, grabbing the bottle from Sirius, taking a drink himself. "Oh yeah, I got Lily into a bar too. That Muggle stuff is junk compared to this, though." James said, passing the bottle to Remus who had been rather quiet most of the time. Remus took a sullen swig, then passed it to Peter.

"Aw, no drinks for Wormtail! The light weight gets smashed off of two sips!" Sirius grinned, making an attempt to wrench it away from Peter who defiantly took a sip. Though neither Sirius nor Peter seemed to take notice of Remus's sudden silence, James did.

"You don't mind about me and Lily, do you?" James asked, believing strongly that that was the cause of Remus's silence. "Because I'll break up with her if you don't like it." James said regrettably, hoping to god he wouldn't have to stick to his word if Remus really didn't like it.

"No, Prongs. I'm not upset by that. And if I were I would have absolutely no right to be. Padfoot and I found this a couple of days ago." Remus said, handing the large leather bound book to James. James took it in his hands, and pulled his wand out.

"Lumos!" James said as he began reading the first page. "You still have this?" James grinned, looking at Sirius. "Can't believe we ever wasted our time to fill this out!"

"That's not the point, Prongs. You've liked Lily since the second year, and I still went out with her. It was the lowest thing I ever could have done. Then getting angry at you like I did on Halloween... Put simply, I'm sorry."

James shook his head. "Don't be. Never should have made that pact thing in the first place. It was only to keep him in line." James said, jabbing a finger at Sirius.

"Don't look at me!" Sirius said in a horrible attempt to look innocent as he took another swig of firewhiskey.

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"Have you heard?"

"Heard what?"

"About the Head Boy and the Head Girl! They're going out!"

"What? Lily? And James? No way! She would never!"

"But it's true! That's what I heard at least!"

"Who told you?"

"Alena."

"And who told her?"

"Harmony. And she's dorm mates with Lily's best friend Candace!"

Things flashed around the school the next day about Lily and James, and by the morning break, it seemed that everyone knew about them.

"This is ridiculous." Lily muttered quietly to Candace during passing period. "How could everyone have found out so fast?"

"Could it help that I made a public announcement about it in the dormitory?" Candace asked with a grin.

"With Harmony in there? Then, yes." Lily said grimly as people bumped passed her in the corridor. They stepped into the Entrance Hall, and made their way out onto the grounds toward their Care of Magical Creatures lesson, at the border of the forest. Amazingly, as punctuality was never an attribute that Candace had possessed, and an attribute Lily never possessed when in the presence of Candace, they were the first two waiting out on the grounds for lessons to begin.

"Oh no! I've forgotten my book!" Candace said, her face widening in panic. She tore off across the grounds and back into the school.

"Well, that's why she's never on time." Lily mumbled to herself, as she waited alone in the slight breeze, drawing her robes closer to her in the chill of the morning.

She heard a rather unpleasant snickering, and turned to see a band of Slytherins crossing the grounds toward Lily. Of course. They had class with her. So pleasant it had been to forget. And much to her luck the group of Slytherins consisted of Lucius Malfoy, Severus Snape, Crabbe, Goyle, Bellatrix, and Narcissa Black. Quite the group. Lily's favorite people.

"What are you doing here all alone, Evans?" Bellatrix sneered, her lip curling under heavily lidded eyes.

"Poor lost little mudblood. The pound is that way, don't get lost." Narcissa said, receiving some appreciative guffaws from the rest of the Slytherins.

"I'm hurt by your witty repartee, Black. Honestly, I am." Lily snapped in response. Lovely way she could say one surname and it would address both ridiculous little cronies.

"I hear Potter spent the break at your house, Evans. As if your mudblood infested shack doesn't smell enough." Lucius Malfoy smirked, receiving more laughs from Crabbe and Goyle in particular.

"I don't know, after living with mudbloods...oh, and being one herself, maybe she just got used to the stench." Narcissa said with a shriek of laughter.

"It's pretty strong from where I'm standing. Perhaps a gas mask might do well if we could get one." Malfoy laughed.

"I hear that at the Malfoy Manor you have over fifty house elves, am I right?" Lily asked, a look of disgust upon her face.

"Yeah, that's right. Sixty three to be exact," Malfoy said with a cocky grin.

"Did your parents hire one in specific to wipe off the shit that comes out of your mouth?" Lily asked, cocking her head to the side as she watched Malfoy's eyes.

His eyes narrowed as he cast a stony glare back at Lily. "Better watch it, Evans. Or I'll..."

"Curse me into oblivion? Honestly, Malfoy. That doesn't scare anyone anymore. Especially after you got such a bad grade on your Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. And to think you actually passed the fifth year. You amaze me every day, Malfoy." Lily sneered furiously. She was so sick of them! She had taken too much from them for the last six and a half years. It was oh so satisfying to take a peek into his O.W.L. grades when she had been sorting them on Prefects duty the previous year to find that he had barely scraped passed as well.

"Filthy mudblood. Noble Gryffindor, Head Girl, Dumbledore's pet...must feel real special, huh Evans?" Mafloy asked. "Well, once we're out of Hogwarts, you'll be singing a different tune. Everyone will be." Malfoy snapped. Bellatrix hissed something in Lucius's ear after giving him a painful elbow in the ribs making Lily slightly suspicious. What were they up to? They HAD been a bit too happy ever since they good back from break. Way too happy if you asked Lily. And a bit too smug for their own good.

"I might actually be intimidated if I ever thought you would graduate. But even if you do graduate, what will you be? I don't think you even scraped enough O.W.L.'s to be a waiter at the Three Broomsticks. Even they have job requirements. And having the intellect of a troll won't look too good on your job resume, now will it?" Lily snapped in response, casting aside her queries about the odd whisper in Malfoy's ear.

By then more people had arrived at class, and as they did, they formed a circle around Lily and the Slytherin's to watch, some of them watching wide eyed, others laughing appreciatively as certain remarks were passed.

"You're gonna learn when to keep your mouth shut, mudblood!" Lucius Malfoy growled, pulling his wand out of the pocket of his robes. Lily refused to push it any further. He could hex her if he would, but she wouldn't send a hex back. She wasn't going to fall to the methods of James Potter...then again James hadn't done something like that for a long while, as Lily could recall.

"Furnunculus!" A voice came from outside the circle. And in came James Potter. Lily's heart did a back flip as James stepped in front of her. "I don't think she's going to." James sneered as boils began to sprout all over Malfoy's face, and hands. Any skin visible through the school robes for that matter.

"Ah, gentlemen," Sirius called jovially as he entered the center ring. "And ladies." He said, nodding at his cousins who glared at him in response. "Love that family warmth and love here." Sirius said as a side comment motioning toward Narcissa and Bellatrix. "When are we going to learn that verbal abuse gets us nowhere? Fighting's the only way to handle things now." Sirius grinned, spinning his wand like a baton in his hand.

"How touching. Evans can't fight her own battles, and her boyfriend and his side kick have to step in to help." Snape sneered.

"Silencio!" Sirius called on demand. "Shut up, Snivelly. No one likes to hear you talk. Not even them." He said, motioning to the group of Slytherins.

"Densuago!" Bellatrix aimed at her cousin with a gleam of hatred in her eyes.

"Protego!" Sirius called in response, blocking the spell just in time to send it spiraling back at Bellatrix, hitting her square in the face causing her front teeth to enlarge grotesquely.

Hexes and curses began to fly all over the place. Even a couple of innocent bystanders were struck and became the victims of grotesque effects from the vile spells sent their way. Several times Lily muttered the counter-curse to the hexes that Sirius and James were hit with. Yet after minutes of calls and shouts, no one was getting anywhere. Everyone involved in the fight were just beginning to look more and more grotesque.

"Oh, move over!" Lily finally growled, whipping her wand out of her pocket.

It was a tale the Gryffindor seventh years couldn't stop laughing about for hours.

"I can't believe you actually hexed them, Lily!" Candace said incredulously. "And that I missed it all." Sirius wiped the tears from his eyes. It had been more then he could handle.

"It was great. Totally priceless." He laughed from where he sat on one of the couches in the Common Room, arm around Candace affectionately.

"I'm more worried about the fifty points I lost." Lily said sullenly looking into the fire.

"Don't worry about it. I've lost more points then I could ever hope to count." James laughed, taking a seat next to Lily.

"Well, you like causing trouble. I don't. I usually get pushed into it somehow." Lily sulked.

"Excuse me, Miss. Oh Move Over. No one pushed you into casting the Bat-Bogey hex on six innocent Slytherin's. Prongs and I could have very well taken over from that point on." Sirius grinned teasingly at Lily.

"You're not the only ones with pride." Lily snapped irritably, finally turning to look at James and Sirius. "I'm not going to let you fight my battles for me. You go pick your own. But honestly, if you bring this up ever again I might strangle you." Lily said seriously.

"Don't want people to know that you resort to the ethics of the Marauders?" Sirius grinned. "It's all right. It's a form of entertainment around here."

"Not in my opinion." Lily snapped, folding her arms across her chest in annoyance. "Fighting is a disgusting form of entertainment if you ask me."

"No one did, sweet pea." Sirius grinned, pulling a silent Candace closer to him.

"Sirius, you do know how much of a pain in the ass you are, don't you?" Lily asked with a slight smile, unable to not be entertained by him.

"I live to be one, Miss Evans." Sirius said jovially.

Lily checked the clock on the wall, and jumped slightly. "James...we have rounds." She said, standing up from the couch.

"I hate rounds." James said with a grin, though he didn't have rounds in mind for that night.

"Who wouldn't? I mean, strolling around after curfew with your girlfriend really eats away at a guy, doesn't it?" Sirius joked, a steely glint in his eye as he managed to pull Candace even closer. It was lucky all the younger students had gone to bed. Lily feared she might have had to tell them off for public displays of affection if there had been first and second years lurking about the Common Room.

"Come on." Lily said, taking James by the hand pulling him toward the portrait hole, stepping out into the rather chilly corridors. From there they strolled in silence, hands firmly clasped together.

They rounded the bend of a particularly quiet corridor where not even a breath of wind passed through, causing a grin to spread across James' face. The perfect spot.

He stopped and pushed Lily to the wall, pressing his lips to hers. Lily's eyes widened in shock, but she couldn't help but not protest as he deepened the kiss. But after a while she couldn't help but push him away, her Head Girl duties still in mind.

"James." Lily giggled. "What if we get caught?"

"Who wanders around the corridors at this hour other then us?" James laughed in response, but he took Lily's words to heart, and stepped away from the wall freeing her.

"Well, apparently McGonagall knew when we weren't at rounds." Lily said pointedly.

"I hate it when you're right about things like this," James grinned, taking her hand in his. But as they made their way down the corridor (and seemingly closer to a vacant broom cupboard) it became increasingly difficult for Lily to resist.

"Oh, forget about this," She grinned, twisting the doorknob to the broom cupboard open, pushing James inside. James couldn't help but grin as he took Lily into his arms, kissing her first on the lips, then trailing down to her neck. Lily giggled hopelessly, snaking her arms around James' neck, pulling him closer.

He made his way back up from her neck, to her cheek, and stopped just inches away from Lily's face before kissing her on the lips again. "How did I ever get so lucky?" He whispered to Lily.

"Lucky?" Lily giggled, pulling James into a kiss.

"To be with you," James said after pulling away.

Lily couldn't help but giggle as she planted a kiss on James lips again. "It wasn't luck. You worked the man hours for it, James," Lily finished, running her hands through James wild hair. "How did I ever get so lucky to have a guy like you chase me around for five years?" Lily asked before kissing James once again.

"It was animal magnetism," James joked, gazing down into Lily's vibrant green eyes. Eyes that he had spent so much time staring at longingly, eyes that used to be narrowed in hatred every time he saw her, but eyes that were now sparkling happily as she looked up at him.

"I'm an animal now, am I?" Lily giggled, giving James a soft kiss.

"Only the most beautiful of them all," James said softly in response.

Lily smiled at James in silence before realizing they were supposed to be out on rounds. "C'mon, James," Lily said, pushing the closet door open, pulling him back out into the corridors.