Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the amazingly talented J.K Rowling! I'm only borrowing the characters she has so brilliantly created.

Beta by: ilovethedotgame

…………………

Chapter One: A Romantic Relationship


"Your parents are forcing you to date Hestia?" Sirius asked, slack-jawed, looking at his best friend in utter disbelief.

"Basically," James muttered, shoving his hands into the pockets of his trousers.

"Can I ask why?" Sirius inquired, a curious expression on his darkly handsome face.

James kicked at a pebble on the ground. "You know why. They think we should date before we're forced into wedlock. As being betrothed wasn't bad enough. Now I have to date her first."

Sirius considered this for a moment. "Well, I do see their point," Ignoring James's outraged expression, he continued on. "Sure, you and Hestia are casual friends and you know each other pretty well, but dating her will give you a different perspective. Maybe they're hoping that through dating, you two will fall in love."

"What they're hoping for is a whole house full of kids bearing the Potter name and blood."

"Do you think that your entire betrothal is based off of the purity of blood?" Sirius asked hesitantly.

"Not entirely, no. The Albright and Potter families have been friends for centuries. We've even had a few other arranged marriages between our families before. But I don't doubt that subtly behind this "family friend banner" there's some concern about keeping the blood pure."

"Hmm," Sirius responded, staring up at the sky. "Makes me glad that my parents didn't care enough to arrange a marriage for me."

L … J

Hestia shut her door with more force than necessary, relishing in the loud noise the slam made and the angered shout from her father.

Her parents had just informed her that she was going to be dating James Potter this year. End of story.

She sighed and flopped down on her bed. It wasn't that she didn't like James; she did, but only as a friend. Hestia had grown up with James; they were childhood friends.

As far back as Hestia could remember James had been a part of her life. Their parents had arranged their marriage when Hestia and James were two years old and ever since, they'd been forced into spending time with one another. As children they played together, their families ate dinner together at least once a week, and holidays were spent together.

Glancing around her room, Hestia could pick out several things that James had given her in past years. Although they now attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and were only casual friends, they were still expected to exchange gifts.

"Hestia?" The knob turned and the door opened slowly to reveal her mother standing there.

"What?" Hestia asked sulkily, refusing to look at her mother and staring at the ceiling instead.

"Hestia…please look at me," her mother pleaded, coming to sit on the edge of the bed.

Hestia rolled onto her side, away from her mother.

"Hestia, I know you don't want to date James, but you two are going to be married. You need to date before you're married."

"Can't I just marry him and skip the dating part?"

"Your father and I thought it would be easier for both you and James if you had a romantic relationship before your marriage."

Hestia turned and stared at her mother, not quite believing what she was hearing. "Romantic relationship?"

"Of course, dear."

"You have to care about the other person in order to have a "romantic relationship". It doesn't just happen automatically when two people date," Hestia pointed out, her voice rising in volume.

"But you care for James," Mrs. Albright stated, as if Hestia's friendship with James was grounds for romance.

"As a friend, but nothing more!" Hestia felt close to shouting at her mother. Was she not listening at all?

Her mother stood up and walked toward the door. "You will, Hestia, once you start dating him. Now, get some sleep. You don't want to oversleep and miss the train tomorrow. Goodnight," She closed the door behind her.

Hestia fell back onto her bed and suppressed a scream. Had her mother not heard a word she said?

Of course she hadn't. She never did.

L … J

"Goodbye Mum, goodbye Dad," Lily Evans hugged her parents, tears forming in her eyes.

"There's nothing to cry about," her mum gently scolded, holding back tears of her own.

Lily smiled and wiped the back of her hand over her bright green eyes. "I know; it's just that it's my last year. This is the second to the last time I'll ever ride this train."

"Study hard," her father smiled lovingly down at her with the same green eyes. "Remember, we'll be proud of you no matter what."

The train whistle blew and Lily gave each of her parents one last hug before boarding the scarlet Hogwarts Express. Waving once more, she made her way to the prefects' compartment. As Head Girl, she was supposed to be there when all the prefects arrived.

Arriving at the compartment, she stopped short. The letter that had informed her that she was Head Girl had given her no clues about the identity of the Head Boy.

What is she was stuck working with a Slytherin? Or Robbie Archer, that obnoxious bloke from Hufflepuff who was always telling humorless jokes? She hoped it was Remus, but she knew that his illness could potentially keep him from being able to carry out all the duties of the Head Boy.

Lily reached out for the doorknob, but pulled her hand away quickly, not ready to go in just yet. Taking a deep breath, she reached out only to pull back again.

Just as she was about to try once more, the door was flung open and pair of hazel eyes were staring down at her.

"Are you going to come in? Or are you just going stare at the door until we get there?"

James Potter.

James Potter was the new Head Boy.

"Lily?" A tanned hand waved in front of her face.

"Oh!" Lily's cheeks burned with embarrassment. "I'm coming in."

"Good." James stepped aside and held the door for her.

Taking a seat next to the window, Lily smoothed out her school robes, looking for something to do with her hands.

"So…" she began. "You're Head Boy."

"Believe me, no one was more surprised than me. I thought it would be Remus for sure…" James trailed off, sounding slightly awkward with the subject.

"So did I," Lily admitted. "Is he disappointed?"

"Quite the opposite, actually. He said it would be a welcome reprieve and he wished me the best of luck…I think I'm going to need it."

"You'll get the hang of it," Lily said, trying to reassure him.

James smiled wryly. "I hope so. …But what if I mess up? What if I make a complete prat out of myself?"

"You might," Lily conceded. "But that's okay. I did too when I became a prefect."

"That's the difference here," James pointed out, leaned back in his seat. "You became a prefect in fifth year; you've had practice. I've never done anything like this before. I'm a tad worried I won't be up to the job."

"James, listen," she told him rationally. "You're going to be fine. You've been Quidditch captain since fifth year; surely it won't be that different. Besides, this job isn't as difficult as it's cracked up to be. It's okay to mess up. Nobody's going to stay angry with you for too long, anyway."

James frowned. "What do you mean?"

Lily shrugged, feeling slightly uncomfortable. "You're a popular person, James. You're a top student, an excellent quidditch player, and from a well-known pureblood family. No one's going to make too big of a fuss over anything you do as Head Boy."

"I know that," James replied quietly. "It's not the student population I'm worried about."

"Then what are you worried about?" Lily asked softly.

James looked away from Lily, out the window. "Letting Dumbledore down. He's put such faith in me, appointing me Head Boy when I wasn't a prefect. I'm scared that I won't live up to his expectations of me as a Head of this school."

Here James turned back to Lily and locked eyes with her. "I'm also afraid of letting you down. I know you'll be a wonderful Head Girl and that you'll uphold your share of the responsibilities, but me? What if I can't do this? What if I leave you all the work and…"

"James," Lily said, leaning forward and taking his hand in hers. "You've been thinking about this way too much. Dumbledore made you Head Boy for a reason. He wouldn't have done it if he didn't think you were perfectly capable. And as for letting me down… you won't."

"How do you know?"

"I faith in you," Lily told James, watching as a smile spread across his handsome features.

The compartment door slid open and the Ravenclaw prefects Sara McGregor and Tristan Pritchard walked in, chatting amiably. Lily withdrew her hand from James' grasp, not wanting to give people something to talk about. Especially since there was nothing to talk about.

"Hey, Potter," Tristan greeted James. "I hope you Gryffindors have been practicing over the summer. Anderson's got two new chasers on our team this year."

"Think we should get things under way?" James asked, as the last Prefect hurried into the compartment.

Lily nodded and smiled. "Oh, and James? Congratulations."

L … J

The last prefect exited the compartment and James flopped onto his seat, feeling a tad weary, but pleased nonetheless.

"See, you did just fine," Lily said, gathering up the hall patrol schedules and a few quills. "You're a natural public speaker."

"Er…thanks," he replied, feeling his neck grow warm at the praise. "Going somewhere?" he asked, noticing Lily making her way toward the door.

"We don't have to stay here the whole ride, you know. I'm going to find my friends."

"I'll come with," James immediately offered, eager to find his own friends. "I need to say hello to Hestia in any case."

Lily glanced at James. "Hestia told me about you two."

"It's part of our arranged marriage." James explained. He was on tender ground with this topic since Hestia was Lily's best friend. If he complained about dating Hestia, he was sure that Lily would have a few choice words to say to him. "Not that I don't like her, she's a great friend. I just…"

"You don't feel that way about her."

"Exactly!" James felt relieved, knowing Lily wasn't going to be angry with him for not liking her friend. It would be a silly thing to be angry over, but some girls he knew would find it horribly offensive. But then again, he's never had much of a good opinion of those girls anyway.

"Don't worry," Lily assured him with a kind smile. "She doesn't feel that way about you either."

L … J

The Great Hall was already crowded and buzzing with activity as Lily and her friends Hestia, Alice, and Emmeline made their way to the far end of the Gryffindor table.

"I can't believe we're seventh years!" Alice said, carefully stepping over the bench and taking her seat.

"It feels like just yesterday we were the ones up front being sorted," Lily agreed.

The large double doors swung open and Professor McGonagall strode in, leading a group of terrified looking first years to the front of the Hall.

Lily watched with interest as the Professor called out the names of the new students. One by one they ascended the stairs, sat on the rickety stool, and had the ancient sorting hat placed upon their heads.

She clapped with enthusiasm when any of the new students were sorted into Gryffindor, fondly remembering her own sorting experience.

She had been positively scared silly, a small girl from a completely muggle family, knees shaking quite obviously. Of course, it hadn't helped when a boy with extremely messy black hair and glasses had told her that they were going to be asked questions about magic. And if that wasn't bad enough, he had informed her that if she didn't know any of the answers, she was going to be sent home.

Lily glanced down the table at the still messy haired boy. Although James Potter was still a troublemaker, it was to a lesser extent than he had been in his younger years. He had grown up quite a bit within the last year.

The last first year scampered off to join his house table and the headmaster stood up. A hush fell over the students as they listened with anticipation.

"Welcome to another year. I have just a few words of wisdom to our new students that would also serve as a reminder to some of our older students," Professor Dumbledore paused briefly, his gaze aimed at the Gryffindor table.

Lily smiled to herself, knowing full well to whom Professor Dumbledore's glance was directed.

"The Forbidden Forest is, as its name suggests, forbidden. The Whomping Willow and the surrounding area are also off limits to students. Enjoy your meal."

The dishes were magically filled with all sorts of varieties of food and everyone began to fill their plates, talking with their fellow students about their respective summers.

L … J

Despite the large quantity of sweets they had eaten on the train, James and Sirius were still putting away vast sums of food.

"Where do you put it all?" Remus asked rhetorically, seemingly caught between disgusted by his friend's antics and impressed that they could hold so much food.

James finished chewing his pork chop and swallowed. "I've seen you eat your fair share before, Moony."

Remus smiled. "Not like you two," he motioned to Sirius who was spooning a rather large helping of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

Professor Dumbledore stood up again at the end of the feast to say a few words, and then the students began to head up to their Houses.

James waited for Lily and her friends to catch up and then fell into step next to Hestia. Just because he wasn't dating her by choice didn't mean that he should be anything but a gentleman towards her.

Hestia gave him a small smile. "How's the new Head Boy?" she asked.

James rolled his eyes with a grin. "Clueless. Are we supposed to lead the new students up to the tower?" he asked Lily.

"No, the prefects do that," Lily explained. "We're supposed to meet Dumbledore at his office for a brief meeting."

Reaching the staircase that led to Gryffindor Tower, James and Lily separated from the group and headed towards the headmaster's office.

"So…what's Dumbledore going to say to us?"

"Information about our duties, expectations," Lily shrugged. "Things like that."

"Oh. Fizzing whizbees."

"What?"

"The password," James motioned to the stone gargoyle that had moved aside to allow the wall to slide away to reveal a circular staircase.

"How did you know that?" Lily questioned as she stepped onto the moving spiral steps.

James grinned. "Lucky guess. I've been here quite a few times before. The password is always a kind of sweet. Fizzing whizbee was just the first thing I thought of."

"Good guess."

James knocked once and from inside a kind, warm voice called for them to enter.

As James stepped into the room he noticed Lily's look of complete awe. Having been to Dumbledore's office on a regular basis for six consecutive years, he had forgotten how he had felt when he had first entered this room.

The tall, sweeping arches and large windows gave the room the feel of a royal palace. Hundreds of well-worn books lined the walls on shelves and numerous magical gadgets covered the tabletops. It was enough to make anyone's head spin.

"Ah, Mr. Potter, Miss Evans," Dumbledore stood behind his cluttered desk. "Won't you please sit down?" he asked, motioning to the two cushy chairs placed in front of the desk.

All three took their seats and Dumbledore folded his hands in front of him on the desk.

"First of all, may I say congratulations, Mr. Potter and Miss Evans on being chosen as the Head Boy and Head Girl. I trust that you'll accomplish many fine things as the Heads of this school."

"Thank you Professor," Lily murmured, cheeks pink with blush.

James inclined his head formally in thanks.

The Headmaster continued on. "As you know, the Head students and prefects share a meeting room located close to the library. Please remind the prefects that the room is to be used for prefect meetings only. However, as Head Boy and Head Girl, you are allowed to use the room also as a sort of study area if you so choose.

"The room is only for the Head Students and prefects. Friends are not permitted in the meeting room. I know I can trust you two and although this goes without saying, I expect that no improper behavior will take place in the room."

"No worries there, Professor," James intoned solemnly.

Dumbledore smiled warmly. "As I said, I know I can trust you."

L … J

"I'm glad to be back at Hogwarts," Lily said as she and James made their way to Gryffindor Tower.

"Me too," James agreed. "I love my parents, but I always feel that this castle is more my home than the place where they live."

"I feel that way too. I don't have to hide my magical abilities here. People don't look at me funny because of the weird things that sometimes happen around me."

"You mean before you got your letter, the signs that meant you were a witch?" James asked.

"Yes, those," Lily laughed. "I remember the first time something odd I couldn't explain happened to me. I was five. My sister and I had gone to the park and were playing on the swings. We were seeing how far we could jump off them when I decided to swing as high as I possibly could and jump. I should have broken both my arms and cracked my head open, but I was fine. I didn't even get a bruise."

James smiled. "I had a similar incident. I wanted to see if I could fly without a broom so I jumped out of a third story window."

"At least you come from a wizarding family and knew what the signs meant. I had no idea. Strange things always seemed to happen around me. Some of the kids at my school were actually scared to come near me."

James glanced sideways at Lily. Her face reflected a tinge of sadness. He couldn't say he could blame her. Living for ten years thinking that you were abnormal must have been hard on her.

"I was so excited when I got my Hogwarts letter. I love it here. I feel as though I belong here, that I can make a difference here."

James nodded in an understanding manner and grinned - a crooked smile, one side of his mouth higher than the other. "I think we're going to make a great team. I'm looking forward to working with you, Lily Evans."

Lily smiled back warmly. "I think I'll enjoy working with you too, James Potter."

L … J