There was a loud boom, several shrieks, and then footsteps running down the stairs. Yet none of the Gryffindors flinched as they moved toward the portrait hole for breakfast. This was not the first time this had happened, nor the second. In fact, they had lost count of how many times this happened.

What was unusual about this morning, though, was that the common room was not filled with Lily Evans's yelling. Instead she had stopped at the foot of the stairs, smirking at the two boys who were howling with laughter. She didn't know how James Potter and Sirius Black had figured out how to get into the girls' dormitories, but she had fixed them this time.

Their laughter died away as the two boys realized that Lily was not about to launch into her usual tirade. Nor was she glaring at them; her smug expression was in fact rather disconcerting. She grinned in satisfaction as they looked up at her.

"Just as I thought," she said, before she turned and trotted up the stairs.

"What's she talking--," James gaped as he saw his friend's face.

"Prongs," Sirius started weakly. Across James's face had sprung large pimples that spelled out the word "wanker". "Does mine say the same as yours?"

"What's mine say?"


James shook his head. "Yours is 'pervert'."

Frantically they attempted to erase the pimples from their faces, but to no avail; the pimples only grew larger. Eventually they gave up and went to Madame Pomfrey, who found their situation quite amusing. After bearing the humiliation of her laughter and comments about that "clever Lily", they found out that only Lily could remove them without permanent scarring.

Muttering angrily, James made his way down to catch what was left of breakfast.

"Look at the bright side, Prongs, at least most of the students will have left for class," Sirius said bracingly.

"True, but I'm still going to kill her."

"I thought you liked her."

"Oh, she went a little too far this time," snarled James.

"I actually think it was kind of clever. How do you think she knew we'd planted the Boomers?"

"I don't care—." He trailed off as they entered the dining hall and everyone turned toward them. Several Slytherins burst out in loud laughter, while numerous giggles were heard around the room. James wasn't sure but he could have sworn he saw Dumbledore hide a chuckle.

"Look suave," muttered Sirius, putting on a charming grin, and slipping his hands into his pockets.

James ran a hand through his hair and put on a smirk. He winked at several Hufflepuff girls who erupted into uncontrollable giggles.

"You still thinking of killing her," Sirius muttered as they made their way to the Gryffindor table.


"I'll go to Azkaban with you then."

"Good morning," said Lily as she passed them on her way out.

"Think you're funny, Evans," growled James.

"Actually, yes. And apparently a few other people do too," she called over her shoulder. James and Sirius glared after her as she swept from the room, joining her friends at the doorway.

"Why didn't you hex her?" demanded Sirius.

James shrugged, his anger suddenly gone, replaced by hunger as his stomach growled. "Why didn't you, mate?"

"'Cuz as good as I am, I can't hold off you and her. So why didn't you?"

"I think I'll lie low until she removes the pimples. Then Lily Evans is going to have the living daylights pranked out of her."

Sirius chuckled as they sat down. "Sounds good to me!"

By the end of the day, James was ready to hex Lily Evans regardless of having the pimples removed. He had been pointed and laughed at all day. Every time he'd tried to utter a hex though, his voice had become squeaky. He'd gotten off a few non-verbal ones though.

He traipsed into the common room late from Quidditch practice and dealing with a couple of annoying Slytherins. He was halfway to the stairs when he heard a deep sigh. He turned to find Lily Evans rising from her seat.

"Come here," she said. He was debating whether or not to ignore her or hex her when he found his feet already moving toward her. When he stopped before her, she drew out her wand and gently touched it to his face.

He felt the pimples recede and when he put his hand to his face, it was smooth once more.

"Congratulations Potter, you made it through a day without asking me out," she said quietly.

He wondered why she sounded so forlorn but decided not to agitate her at the moment. The day was far too fresh in his mind. Moony's serves-you-right glances and smirks had nettled him and his team had found it hilarious to refer to him as 'Wanker' all through practice.

"Thanks," he said curtly. "Enjoy your fun today?"

She sighed again. "For a while, yes. But then, well, I felt kind of bad, even though you and Sirius deserved it."


Lily looked at him sharply. "No one likes to be scared out of her mind just for opening her trunk. And you got a taste of what it's like when people laugh at you and talk about you behind your back because someone else was picking on you. You know, that's what it's like for those you pick on."

James opened his mouth to retort, but stopped. He was suddenly reminded of why he liked her so much. He ceaselessly pranked her, teased her, goaded her, but every time she got him back she felt regretful about it. Some would say Lily Evans was weak, but James would disagree. He knew no one who could rival her compassion.

Why did she look so sad at the moment? As angry as he had been that morning, he wanted to hug her now, to hear what was bothering her so he could stop it. He didn't know how she would respond to that though. So he settled for making her smile.

"So, Evans, wanna go out with me?" he asked, wriggling his eyebrows at her.

She sighed. "Potter, can you make it through one day without asking me out?"

"What d'you say? Madame Pudifoot's—,"

"Uggh, you couldn't get me in there if you swore never to ask me out again!" she cried with disgust.

James was surprised. Every girl he had dated had dragged him to that horrid place. The worse was that Valentine's day with Evrina Peirce. He'd wanted to throw up with all the hearts swirling about. At least if he ever got Evans to go out with him, he knew they wouldn't end up there.

"Three Broomsticks works too," he added hastily.

"Potter, no. I'm not going out with you."

Maybe it was that this was one of their civilest conversations or that they were alone, but James suddenly sighed. "Look, Evans, what do I have to do to get you to go out with me? I'd do anything."

She smiled weakly. "I think you know what you have to do. But I'm not worth it. Good night."

Lily stepped past him and headed toward the stairs to her dormitory. Her heels were about to disappear as she went up the stairs when James turned toward her. Once more that evening he didn't know what made him say it, but he called softly after her, "Lily, you're worth anything and everything."

Her feet paused and then he heard her sob as she ran up the stairs. What had he done?