Disclaimer: I'm not JK Rowling, ergo, anything you recognise is hers, and not mine.
Author's Note: This is dedicated to Bratanimus, my fellow Remus/Lily shipper in an R/T world… and it's set around Christmas of their 6th year.
It had been Lily's idea to go Christmas shopping in Muggle London together.
It seemed the practical, sensible solution, Remus thought, since they both had Muggle relatives to buy for, and even though he could have gone with his friends, he knew from bitter experience that four Marauders in a shopping centre was a recipe for disaster, and any such trip usually resulted in him being banned from somewhere for something that wasn't his fault, and then him trudging round the shops on Christmas Eve with his mother, jostled by frustrated last-minute shoppers, and trying to find gifts at the same time as reasonable-sounding excuses for why he couldn't go to the shops he was banned from.
Going with Lily was common sense – nothing more – he thought. They both had mainly pure blood friends who would have spent too long gawping at the decorations in department stores, commenting too loudly that fairies were better than fairy lights, wondering why Muggles didn't shrink their packages and complaining each time they got smacked in the shin by this year's must-have toy.
And they'd be able to help each other out, he thought, she with his female relatives, he with her male ones.
That was it.
Nothing else going on at all.
They were just good friends.
Practicality and good sense, however, had nothing to do with the twenty minutes Remus spent that morning in front of the mirror, picking out his most flattering Muggle jumper and jeans, or the further ten he spent trying to arrange his hair into an attractive shape on top of his head. But he pushed the thought, and the vague fluttery sensation in his stomach, aside, and went down to breakfast.
Much as he wished they might have done, his efforts didn't go unnoticed, and all through breakfast, Remus had to fend off enquiries from his parents about the mysterious Lily, who'd previously only appeared as a brief mention in letters home and was now the cause of flattering clothing and an attempt at neatly arranged hair. He did his best to deflect them, to assure them that the mysterious Lily was nothing more than a friend and convenient shopping partner, but the reassuring wink his dad offered him, and the smile of something that looked a bit like maternal pride tinged with concern he received from his mother as he left, said that he hadn't been entirely successful.
But he didn't have time to dwell. And anyway, he knew the truth. They were just good friends.
Just. Good. Friends.
He repeated the words over and over to himself as he walked through the chill wind to the train station.
He met Lily at King's Cross, since it was a convenient location they both knew how to get to, and the first time his eyes fell on her through the crowd, his heart started beating an appreciative rhythm in his chest.
She was wearing a jumper he thought was new – he was certain that if he'd seen her wear it before, he would have remembered it, because the particular shade of green it was, and the way it clung the right way in all the right places, was nothing if not memorable, even though he could only see a brief glimpse of it underneath her coat. For a second, as his eyes met hers for the first time, Remus wondered if the new jumper was for his benefit, that she'd gone to some effort as he had, but as soon as the thought occurred he dismissed it. Nothing was ever going to happen between him and Lily.
She was far too…Lily, and he was far too…Remus.
Not to mention the James problem. Remus frowned at the thought.
If James ever found out about the kind of thoughts he'd been having about Lily's jumper, he'd be too dead to do anything about anything.
They chatted for a minute about what they'd been up to in the couple of days since the end of term, and then agreed to head out to a nearby department store to get started before the snow that had been threatening all morning started to make good on its promise and fall.
They set off through the crowds, and Remus tried desperately to remind himself, even as she laughed at one of his lame, nervous jokes and his heart fluttered, that everything between him and Lily was entirely platonic. Platonic with a capital Potter.
But as the wind whipped her hair into his face and got a whiff of her distinctive apple-scented shampoo, he really couldn't help wondering what if..?
What if it wasn't just practicality and good sense that had made her ask him if he fancied tackling the big Christmas shop together? What if she'd spent half an hour in front of the mirror, fretting about her outfit? What if she had the same flutter in her chest at the thought of him as he had in his about her?
What if – and this was the big one – they were more than just good friends after all?
The thought rattled around his head as they shopped – picking up items to laugh at, or to show the other, to suggest for some relative – but answers weren't quick to suggest themselves, and he tried not to read things into how close she stood, or how often they bumped shoulders as they walked.
The shops were packed, and they seemed to spend a lot of their time queuing to get on escalators or to pay for what they'd chosen, but that hardly mattered to Remus, because it gave them time to talk.
It wasn't as if either of them said anything interesting or particularly profound, he didn't think, but he liked the way Lily saw the world, and he loved that she wanted to share her thoughts with him. She'd make witty comments about the bizarre scarves on display in the ladies' wear section, point out people in amusing outerwear, like one woman who appeared to have just Flooed in from the Arctic, she was so entangled in a padded jacket.
He found out lots about Lily, too – how when she was little she really wanted a rocking horse for Christmas but she'd never got one, and that her sister always took back whatever gifts she received and kept the cash, things that he never would have found out any other way, in a million late-night common room conversations, because they were unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but none the less riveting for it.
He was amazed that Lily seemed to find him amusing, too. She laughed at his jokes when he made them, and she kept smiling, even when other shoppers trod on her feet or smacked her in the leg with their purchases, all of which contributed to the tingling in his stomach, the idea that somehow, for some reason, these moments were special, even though on the surface of it, there was nothing special about them at all.
When they'd finally got everything they both needed and were longing to perform a shrinking charm on their packages, they found a large, bright café to stop in for a drink. They found a table near the window and ordered a pot of tea and a mince pie each, and chatted about what they'd bought, laughing over the stories they'd collected during the day as if they were age-old reminiscences.
At some point it started to snow – neither of them noticed, at first, until people started coming in, shaking the flakes out of their hair, and then they sat and watched it fall, the flakes get bigger, start to clump together and stick to the pavement.
Lily sat back in her chair, gazing out of the window at the grey-white sky and falling snow. "We'd better go, I suppose," she said, meeting his eye with something that looked like reluctance, "before the trains give up and stop running."
Remus' heart sank. He didn't want her to go. In fact, he wanted the very opposite, and for a moment, he allowed himself to forget all the reasons he shouldn't say what he was about to, and just let the words out of his mouth. "You could come to mine for a bit," he said, too quickly. "I mean it's closer – you could Floo home from there."
For a second he worried that she'd see right through him, that whatever feelings these were brewing in his chest were written all over his face – but then she smiled, and it wasn't smug, or knowing, just pleased, and he couldn't help but return the gesture with eagerness he didn't care if she saw through or not. "Are you sure that's all right?" she said, biting her lip. He nodded – he hoped, with understated enthusiasm – although he doubted that he'd really pulled it off. "Ok," she said.
Ok, he thought.
Somehow, it didn't seem a big enough word for the huge leap they'd both just taken.
He hadn't had a lot of friends come back to his – for most of his life he hadn't had anyone to ask, but the nerves in his stomach were more than that, he thought, more than that it was an unfamiliar situation. In making the offer (under the guise of sense and practicality, of course) he'd offered to show her a part of himself, who he was, and in accepting, she'd agreed that it was something she wanted to see.
Unless, of course, he thought, she really just didn't fancy the long, chilly train back to hers and all she was after was his Floo powder….
They passed the train ride out to the outskirts of the city with jokes – he fancied nervous ones, although he wasn't sure if that was just him, because how on earth could she know how her 'ok' had sent the fluttering in his stomach into override? – and comments on how quickly the snow was falling, how glad they were that they'd left when they did, and how pretty the fields and trees around them looked dusted in white as they sped past.
It was a short walk from the station to Remus' house – but by the time they got there, they both had snow in their hair and caked on the top of their shoes, faces chilled by the wind and fingers biting with cold.
The snow had turned the fields and small copses that dotted the landscape into a picture postcard winter wonderland, but for a moment as the house came into view over the horizon, Remus was nervous – he knew it looked an odd place to live, a ramshackle cottage, here in pretty much the middle of nowhere, and he couldn't help wishing with all his heart for Lily to like it, reading too much into whether she would, or not. "Well, that's it," he said, gesturing vaguely at the cottage with a wave.
"This is where you live?" she said, and he looked at the ground, afraid to meet her eye in case she didn't like it, but nodded anyway. "It's nice," she said, bumping his arm with her elbow. "I always wanted to live somewhere like this – somewhere quiet and interesting."
Lily nodded. "You can have enough of suburbia, you know?" she said.
He met her eye, watching a couple of snowflakes settle in her hair and one land on her nose, wishing he had the nerve to brush them away. "Are your parents in?" she asked, coking her head and regarding him curiously
"I don't know – I don't think so," he said.
"Good," she replied, flashing him a cheeky smile.
Before Remus had chance to register her word or what on earth she meant by it, she'd knelt down, scooped up some snow from the path beneath them, and caught him on the shoulder with a snowball.
He spluttered a protest, but Lily laughed at him unrepentantly, and so he shifted all of his bags into one hand, and grabbed a fistful of snow with the other, flicking it in Lily's general direction and catching her coat. Lily laughed, ducked down for another handful and stepped towards him menacingly. He backed away, hand raised in front of him, but Lily showed him no mercy, tossing her handful of snow into his face, and spluttering a laugh when he retaliated.
Shopping bags were abandoned, and snowballs flew through the air, occasionally making contact and causing the victim to shriek as snow trickled down their neck or soaked their jumper. They chased each other through the snow – begging for mercy but showing none, and Remus couldn't remember laughing so much in a very long time. He'd never expected that Lily would be this much fun – or this kind of fun – and so when she tripped on a root buried by the snow and went sprawling, and he followed, wrong-footed by one of her feet, landing beside her with an ouff, all he could do was laugh, long and hard.
They lay, side by side in the snow, their quick, panting breaths forming tiny blue clouds that drifted away from them, snowflakes stinging their faces as they continued to fall.
"I like snow," Remus said, out of nowhere. In fact, he was a little surprised to have said it out loud.
"What?" Lily said.
"Nothing," he muttered, hoping that a change of subject would come to him. No such luck. Lily poked him on the shoulder.
"What?" she said, and he let out a short, relenting, sigh.
"Just – I like snow," he said, and she chuckled, forming a much bigger blue cloud that drifted over them both.
She turned to face him, pink cheeked from the cold and grinning. "You're strange," she said, and shoved him on the shoulder in admonishment. He laughed.
"I know," he said.
He propped himself up on one elbow and looked at her, and for a moment, all he could think of was how enchanting she looked, surrounded by snow, sparkling flakes in her hair, and that wicked grin on her face –
And before he knew what was happening, he was leaning forward – or she was – or they both were – and his lips were on hers, hers were on his, and his hands were in her hair, mingling with the snow.
He didn't really know what he was doing – his mind seemed to swirl away as he surrendered to the blur of wonderful sensation, but the one thought he could summon from the hazy chaos of his mind was that he was kissing Lily Evans, and she was kissing him back.
And Merlin, she was a good kisser. Her lips were cold on his but insistent, and he wasn't entirely sure if it was the nip of the freezing wind on his skin that made him feel everything more keenly than he ever had before, or if it was just her.
He pressed her back against the ground, delighting in the pleased sigh that elicited from her against his lips, and as she wound her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, he couldn't help emitting a rather contented sigh of his own.
How had he not realised how much he wanted to do this until now?
He raised one hand to stroke her face, his skin prickling with cold, and deepened the kiss, because he couldn't bear not to – and the way she explored his mouth made his stomach cave in with the weight of the butterflies pressing on it.
He was suddenly consumed by the idea of wanting to do nothing but kiss Lily Evans in the snow forever.
He wasn't sure how far he got with his plan – because concerns like time and hypothermia became something of an irrelevance in the face of such deliciously wonderful distraction – or how far he would have got with it if someone hadn't coughed politely but pointedly, and jolted them back to reality.
At first he had to blink a little to bring everything back into focus, and then he looked up to find his dad, wrapped up in his scarf and hat against the cold, gazing down at them with a rather wry smile.
"This'll be the girlfriend you claim not to have, then, will it?" he said.
"Dad!" Remus said, leaping to his feet in somewhat delayed shock. "I didn't think you'd be home."
His father raised an eyebrow, but the gesture did nothing to hide the smile in his eyes. "That, son," he said, gesturing to Lily, "is perfectly evident."
Remus avoided his dad's eyes, wondering if there was some kind of counter-jinx for immediate mortification, and held out his hand to Lily, pulling her to her feet. "The mysterious Lily, I presume?" his dad said, voice dancing with evident amusement that made Remus want to cringe.
Lily dusted the snow off her coat and then held out her hand, slightly belying the boldness of her gesture with a blush. "Pleased to meet you, Mr Lupin," she said, and although her voice was quieter than usual, she made a good show of not sounding too embarrassed.
"We were just – " Remus stalled and swallowed, wondering why he felt like he was in trouble when his dad seemed pleased, rather than angry.
"Snowball fight," Lily said quickly.
Remus' dad raised an eyebrow in amused consideration, as if he was about to make a quip along the lines of 'oh, is that what you kids are calling it these days?', but to Remus' immense relief, he let it pass. "Lily lives miles away," Remus said, just to fill the somewhat awkward silence. "I said she could come here and then Floo."
"Well," his dad said, battling a grin, "that sounds like a very sensible idea. I'll get inside and put the kettle on, shall I? I daresay you could do with something to warm you up after all that – snowball fighting."
"We'll be in in a minute," Remus said, any vestiges of cold completely banished from him by the heat emanating from his face.
His dad nodded and made for the cottage, his feet crunching on the snow as he went, and almost masking the sound of him tittering to himself. But not quite.
Remus winced briefly in embarrassment, and then turned to Lily to find her biting her lip and eyeing him with a coy smile he couldn't quite fathom the meaning of.
"Well…" she said, trailing off into a shrug. He couldn't resist a smile at the thought that he'd never really seen Lily not have an answer for something before, and thinking that he very much liked being the cause of this first.
He felt he should say something, and since not giving things too much thought appeared to be panning out for him today, he said the first thing that occurred to him. "That was – unexpected," he said.
"Your dad, or..?"
"Or," he said. "Definitely the or."
Lily sniggered, and glanced down at the snow beneath her feet before meeting his eye again. "Not entirely unexpected, though, was it?" she said, and he pressed his lips together to suppress a grin at the thought that she must have had all the same possibly not just good friends after all thoughts that he had.
"No. Not entirely."
She smiled, and he returned it, and for a moment, just a moment, he thought that standing in the snow with Lily Evans like this was better than any Christmas present he'd ever hoped of receiving. And it left him a little bereft of words.
"I'm not sure I know what to say," he said, and she laughed, stepping a little closer, and slipping her cold fingers into his, sending a shiver of something entirely not cold-related through him.
"I'm not sure you need to say anything," she said, squeezing his fingers and looking up at him, her eyes sparkling like the snow all around them.
"Well that's worked out nicely, then," he said, and she laughed, her frozen breath mingling with his.
"So are we – "
She paused, peered up at him through a few strands of loose, damp hair, and smiled with the same coy expression she'd had before. "More than just good friends?" he said tentatively, and she nodded. "I'd say so, wouldn't you?" he added, and she grinned.
"Good," she said. "Now - didn't your dad say he was going to put the kettle on? I'm freezing."
Remus let out a short breath of amusement, thinking that his dad would just love this, the opportunity to tease him forever about Lily, the word 'girlfriend', and catching him rolling about in the snow.
As they picked up their bags and made for the cottage, though, he couldn't help thinking that being teased by his dad was a very small price to pay for Lily being his girlfriend.
A/N: Cheers for reading. Reviewers get a chilled werewolf – I'll leave to your imagination how to warm him up again ;).