Welcome to this new chapter fic! I figure every Marauders-era writer has to at sometime crank out a "James and Lily stop hating each other" story, so here's my submission. I won't claim that mine's different or unique; though I've only read a few of these, I'm sure someone out there's had a similar story. But I do promise this: the chapters will be long, there will be a minimum of grammar and spelling errors, and it will have an ending. I've also tried to make it entertaining! (laughs)

Have fun, LE/JP shippers!

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Have you ever had a memory so surreal, so wonderful, that you doubt that it ever happened? And not just a moment, either, or an hour, or a day. Have you ever had a week where the days slipped by like a golden dream, and each morning you woke up disbelieving the wonders of the previous day, only to be pleasantly surprised by happenings more delightful than ever before? There was a girl who had such a week; indeed, she might have had more than her share of joy, for she had two. It was the summer of 1975, and those were the Stockton Gala Days.

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None of her friends had heard of Stockton-on-Tees beyond her own stories. But every summer for two weeks Lily Evans was bundled off there to visit her fraternal grandparents. This generally meant a fortnight of studying her new copy of The Standard Book of Spells and memorizing as much as possible before the new term began. Certainly the town was interesting enough at first, but after nine years not much was new to her, and she was through exploring after only a day or so.

Her grandparents lived in a stately old house not too far from the country. Indeed, though it had a street running in front of it and neighbors to either side, old pastures and a strip of forest butted against the back of the house. Had Lily loved the outdoors half as well as she liked to study her books, it would have been paradise. As it was, she rarely stepped foot outside unless she had to.

Grampapa and Meema Evans, as her aging grandparents were called by the girl, gave her free reign while she was there. She came and went as she pleased, and the only restriction was that she should tell them should she decide to spend the night elsewhere. Most of her time was spent in the room laid aside for her, reading her schoolbooks and picking at the hand-knitted coverlets. In previous years Petunia had accompanied Lily to the house, but this summer the younger girl was taking a trip to France with Mr. And Mrs. Evans. This prickled Lily a bit, but she told herself that is was fine that she visited her grandparents in Stockton instead of seeing France.

It was only the second day of her visit, and she had taken her bicycle down to the high street in pursuit of ice cream. It was getting warm, being the middle of July, and she had enough pocket money to satisfy her want for a cone. She was headed for her favorite shop and began to think about the next two weeks. They promised to be fairly average.

Because she was wrapped up her own thoughts, she didn't notice the incredulous look on the familiar face as she whizzed past. She started to become aware of her surroundings again upon hearing "Evans?" shouted back at her. She was in the process of deciding to turn around when the speaker ran up beside her and caught her handlebars. She looked up from the hand to the face, and for a moment, the gleam of the sun off of his glasses confused her. Then her jaw went slack.

It was James Potter.

"Evans!" he cried, grinning. "What're you doing in Stockton? Are you here for the hols, too? I'm just...hey, are you feeling okay?"

Lily was clutching her chest and gasping. The shock had been too much for her. Of all people, of all places... The next thing she knew, Potter was leading her inside a cool shop and sitting her down. She watched as though in a daze and he went back outside and chained her bike to a post.

Her mind was spinning as to why he should be here. He'd said something about the holidays...perhaps his family was visiting? But why Stockton? Maybe he had relatives in the area. At any rate, now that he knew she was here, she'd have to hide in her room even more than usual.

His return made her glance back up. In his hands he held two ice cream cones. He handed her the strawberry cheesecake and kept the green one–whatever it was–for himself. Then he pulled out the chair across the table from her and sat down. After a few minutes and several calming licks of the ice cream (her favorite flavor, oddly enough), he asked, "Better now?"

Her eyes shot over to him as she nodded slowly. Feeling awkward, she asked, "So...um...what flavor do you have?"

He grinned sheepishly and responded, "Pistachio." He then proceeded to laugh at her disgusted face. "Hey! I happen to like this kind of ice cream!"

A few more moments went by with the two looking out the window and slurping at their melting treats. Finally Lily couldn't stand it any more. "What are you doing here?" she burst out.

Potter laughed. "Well, I've got an uncle and some cousins who live out this way. I visit them every few years, and this just happens to be one of those visits. What're the odds, eh? I've been here for a week already. What are you doing here, Evans? How long are you staying?"

Lily turned a slight pink. "My grandparents live here. I visit them for two weeks each summer. I've been every year since I was eight."

He whistled softly and went back to eating his ice cream.

Lily couldn't help but be a bit disconcerted by his unusually calm attitude. It was like they were good friends enjoying a habitual meeting. He certainly seemed different when he wasn't flanked by Sirius Black...

Suddenly, as though noticing it for the first time, she looked down at the rapidly melting ice cream in her hands. A sneaking suspicion coming upon her, she asked, "Potter? How did you know my favorite flavor?"

Now it was his turn to turn pink. "Er...lucky?" When her eyes narrowed further than before, he confessed, "I asked one of your dorm mates some time in fourth year. You know, just in case," he added, flashing an embarrassed smile.

She nodded in a rather annoyed 'I thought so' fashion and he turned a deeper scarlet.

The rest of the time in the ice cream parlor was spent in silence. Lily watched Potter when she thought it was safe. He had gotten taller in the month since she had seen him. She wasn't quite certain how boys grew so fast, but he certainly looked different. And he was being so quiet. She flushed slightly when she realized that he was actually kind of handsome. Quickly pushing this thought far out of her head, she finished her cone and stood to leave.

He stood as well and walked ahead of her to open the door. Slightly irritated at this minor yet chivalrous act, she proceeded to try to unhook her bicycle. Unfortunately, she didn't remember having a chain before, and she certainly didn't remember having a key to the lock on that chain. After a few futile attempts to unlatch her bike, she whipped around to Potter, her temper rising.

He, meanwhile, had crouched down and was covertly taking out his wand and touching it to the lock. The entire chain fell apart in his hands. Lily immediately smacked his hand and hissed, "We're not supposed to do magic outside of school, Potter!"

He straightened and grinned down at her. "Correction. You're not supposed to do magic outside of school. I'm seventeen now, and a legal, of-age wizard. Therefore, using a charmed chain and releasing that charmed chain is perfectly acceptable for me."

She was furious. Of course it was fine; she had forgotten that he was older than she. Her birthday was not for another week and a half.

She fumed silently as she pedaled back to the house. The entire encounter had been simply infuriating. Her good mood was ruined for the day. First of all, her main annoyance during the school year was not supposed to bother her during the holidays. Secondly, why did he have to go and buy her ice cream and hold the door? Third, why'd he act so...normal? And finally, and most distressing to Lily, when had she started finding him handsome?

It was not until after dinner that evening that Lily was finally able to calm down and focus on her textbook. An hour or so before dark, when the twilight was just creeping in, her grandmother called her from downstairs. Heading to the door, Lily chanced a look out the window. She half expected to see Potter standing outside.

She was not expecting to see Potter sitting on the couch in the living room, though. For the second time in the day, she was shocked speechless and could do nothing but gape at him like a fish. He smiled sweetly at her with all of the gentleness of a lamb.

Meema Evans bustled over and smiled at Lily. "This nice young man has told me that you two are friends at school! How nice that you're both here, hm? I'll go and make some orange juice spritzers for you two."

"No, Meema, wait!" Lily called, but it was hopeless. Once her grandmother was out of the room, she turned livid eyes upon Potter. "Get out."

He blinked innocently. "But your sweet grandmother is making me an orange juice spritzer! It would be rude to leave now."

She was becoming very red. "Do you want me to hurt you? How did you find me? What do you want?"

"Of course not; I asked around for the residence of the cute girl with the red hair; to invite you to a picnic," he retorted, grin widening.

It took a few seconds for this barrage of answers to sink in. But when it did, Lily was angrier than ever. "A picnic? What on earth could induce you to think I'd go on a picnic with you?" she spat.

He shrugged. "You owe me."

Her voice suddenly got very calm. Probably too calm. "How do I owe you, Potter?"

"I bought you an ice cream this afternoon. Now, I'm willing to overlook this debt you owe me if you will agree to accompany on a simple, one-afternoon outing." His smile was slowly getting bigger.

Lily's eyes narrowed. "How much did that cone cost?" she growled, pulling some coins from her pocket.

Suddenly Potter leaned forward and began to get up. His entire demeanor changed drastically; the smile was gone, to be replaced by a frantic light in his eyes. "Oh, come on, Evans! Just this once, I promise you won't regret it! Please?" he begged. "Just give me a chance, one chance! I'll bring all the food and everything. All you have to do is show up!"

She paused midway through counting out the coins. He sounded desperate, all right. Some small part of her heart weakened. After all, it was only a picnic, a one-time deal. She had almost decided to tell Potter she'd go with him when her grandmother hustled back into the room with two glasses in her hands.

Smiling widely at the tall, skinny boy who was once again sitting, relaxed, on the couch, she asked, "Do you prefer more fizzy or less fizzy?"

"I'll take whichever one Lily doesn't want," he replied sweetly.

Lily thought she might retch from the sugariness of it all. How did his personality switch so suddenly? It was just creepy. Compared to him, Lily felt like she wore her heart on her sleeve. She was so concerned with this thought that she barely noticed when Meema handed her a glass. She drank absent-mindedly for a moment before the words, "A picnic? How lovely!" registered in her brain.

Snapping back to attention, she saw her grandmother beaming at her from her place on the couch beside Potter, whose expression was hovering somewhere between apologetic and amused. Lily's look immediately darkened. So he was resorting to dirty tactics, eh? Now that Meema was involved, he knew she couldn't back down.

Smiling suddenly, she replied, "Yes, Meema, a picnic. It's because James and I are never going to see each other again. He's transferring to another school come fall term, and it's one last visit before we never speak again."

She was pleased to see Potter swallow a bit. He got the hint. This was his one chance. Unless some miracle happened on this outing (which already seemed predestined to be disastrous), he could kiss his chances of ever getting close to her again goodbye.

The older woman puckered her lips. "That's so sad," she sighed, shaking her head slowly. Patting Potter on the hand, she added, "Well, have fun, dear." She then left the teens to finish their spritzers and say good evening to one another.

As soon as Meema Evans had left, Lily whirled on the black-haired boy sitting on the couch. "You understand that this is it, right?" she demanded, voice dripping with venom. "After this you could be dying in some alley somewhere and I wouldn't even stop to spit on you."

"Deal." He smiled up at her, the perfect picture of innocent adoration.

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And so we begin. (grins) I hope that you'll like this story! I'm enjoying writing it. By the way, if I have any British readers who actually know Stockton-on-Tees, drop me a line, please! I'd love to have some first-hand knowledge about it. (I mean, I've read up on it and all, but it's never as good as an eye-witness report.)

So, what did you think? Any good? Let me know, good or bad!