Disclaimer: Unless J.K. Rowling is studying for her Earth-and-Atmospheric-Science and U.S.-Post-Reconstruction-History finals tomorrow, I'm not her. But, then again, maybe she is, and I'm actually sitting in my dorm room diligently typing up the seventh book...


In the late evening, Diagon Alley had become a dicey place to be these days, but I was here, nonetheless, two days before the start of school. Alice was back at the Leaky Cauldron. Frank had come by, and I didn't want to be a nuisance, so I had slipped out of the crowded pub. Dangerous as it was, I had honestly been looking for an excuse to escape for a bit—clear my head in the fresh air.

So here I was, perched in the near-dark on the rough cement steps leading to Flourish and Blott's, when I heard a voice call out.

"Evans," the shadowed silhouette now standing in front of me said. I was amazed that he'd managed to get so close without me sensing him. Letting that happen could be perilous given the current state of the wizarding world.

He seemed to be thinking the same thing: "You'll get yourself killed if you let people sneak up on you like that."

"Potter," I sighed. James Potter was my arch nemesis/soul mate—the first according to me and the latter according to him. Needless to say, we had a complicated relationship. I used to despise the boy; he was an arrogant, bullying prick. Sometime in our six-year relationship, though, the dynamic had changed. Our passionate spats and creative verbal sparring matches had lost their bitterness, and a certain, equally as passionate, admiring civility and mutual respect had taken its place. He preferred the term "flirting"; I refused to associate with that word.

Our fellow students and professors at Hogwarts talked about us—we both knew it. Some were of the mind that we really, earnestly hated each other; others thought we were having a torrid, secret love affair. In actuality, we were sort of friends—just sort of. We'd been moving in that direction recently, I suppose. It was a biting, sarcastic friend-esque relationship, but we weren't exactly "friends." I don't think we ever could be—what with him asking me out every week and our natural…chemistry… which I am only very reluctantly admitting. I wasn't so sure I liked this new facet of our interaction, and I had of late been fighting especially hard to prove to the world that there was, in fact, nothing at all between James Potter and me.

"Evans? Are you listening to a word I'm saying?" Potter demanded, pulling me out of my reverie.

"What?" I slipped without thinking.

"Honestly," he muttered with fake exasperation, sinking down to sit beside me, his shoulder lightly bumping mine, "What does it take to get a girl to listen to a bloke these days?"

"Personally, I only listen to blokes when they have something intelligent say," I quipped, knowing it lacked my usual wit.

James knew it, too: "Wow, that one really cut me deep, Evans."

"Sorry. I'm not playing with my A-game tonight."

"Not a problem," James replied breezily. "I'll play with you any day…no matter what game you bring to the pitch."

I rolled my eyes, stretching my arms out behind me and leaning back on the heels of my hands in silence.

"What's on your mind?" James asked, his voice switching to utmost seriousness that quickly.

I sighed again. "You heard about Whitley's parents, I'm assuming?"

His eyes darkened, and he set his jaw. He unconsciously ran his fingers through his untidy raven hair. I reached up and grabbed his hand. My reaction was out of habit—not because his action so much annoyed me anymore. I didn't even notice that our fingers were still overlapped as they settled on the concrete.

"Lily," he began but then paused and started over. "Lils, are you scared?"

I sucked my breath in quickly, not expecting him to be so forthright; then, I wondered why it surprised me—we were always excruciatingly honest with each other. Nervously, I lifted my hand and pushed a loose, red curl behind my ear, very aware of his fingers slipping off of mine. He shifted positions, resting his hand behind me and leaning on it so that he was as near to being draped around me as I would permit.

"I worry," I whispered, breathing deeply before continuing in a rushed voice, "a-about my parents, about my friends, about you, about my future. James, I don't want to die. I want to graduate, to have a job, to get married, to start a family—" I stopped abruptly and shook my head, trying to tidy my jumbled thoughts, my fiery hair falling back into my face in the process.

"You will," James told me with a confidence that made it seem like he actually saw more than just loads of fog in the crystal balls from Divination.

I tilted my head back until it was mere centimeters from resting on his shoulder, but I never let it touch. "How do you know that?"

"I dunno, but I just…do. You'll get all of those things." I turned my chin to catch his hazel eyes as he said this. He was so sure. His gaze held this determination that nearly had me convinced with a single glance. A few seconds longer and I'd be completely persuaded. So I kept looking, and he did, too.

And that's what we were doing when a pack of our fellow Hogwarts students rounded the corner. We weren't touching each other…but that was pretty much it. Without physical contact, he was wrapped around me, I was leaning on him, and we were staring into each other's eyes.

"Potter? Evans?" a Ravenclaw from our year called as he led the group towards us.

I jumped at the sound of a voice besides James' and scurried to my feet. "Hi," I replied awkwardly. James, meanwhile, ever his confident, composed self, struck up a conversation with our schoolmates.

Secretly admiring his ability but mostly still mortified at being caught in such a compromising position with him, I was fighting the urge to turn and flee.

"Sorry to interrupt, but I'm going to head on back to the Leaky Cauldron. I'll see you guys later," I blurted out, spinning on my heel. I couldn't help it; I had to get away from James before repressed emotions and unspoken sentiments escaped my lock on them.

I knew that I'd cave in the end—that he'd win me over, and we'd be together for the rest of our lives. And he knew it, too. But I wasn't ready to admit that yet. I was quite content with my denial at the moment.

Alas, however, my denial was not content with me.

"Wait, Lily." I turned back around at the words. "It's not safe to go by yourself; I'm coming with you," James spoke as he took only a few long strides to catch up with me.

"Sooo," he said, falling into place beside me.

"So," I breathed softly back.

His fingers suddenly intertwined themselves with my own, and I knew, without a doubt, that this was the end…and I'd just caved.

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed it, and I very much appreciate you taking the time to read my writing (when you could be doing much more productive things--like studying for finals...diverts eyes guiltily...). This is the first story I've ever posted anywhere so please tell me what you think about it. Any comments/suggestions are appreciated. Since I've never done this before, I don't quite know what to expect with the "someone-reviewed-my-fic" giddiness, but I hear it's pretty fantastic. Anyway, don't hold back--be honest--I'm tough; I can handle it. Merci beaucoup (one of the few surviving remnants of my high-school French).