A/N: Reviews very much appreciated. I spent a long time working on this one-shot-which-may-turn-into-a-short-fic-depending-on-whether-or-not-I-can-think-of-more, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
She sat down at their table, needing a breather from all the dancing she'd just done with James. The spring ball was a much-anticipated annual event, and she was thoroughly enjoying herself—especially since this would be her last time attending it. Lily took a sip of her lemonade, taking in all the activity around her. It was a whirlwind in here. She didn't expect James to come and sit with her; she'd seen him get taken up almost instantly after she left him by a younger girl in a low-cut pink set of dress robes. Lily wasn't jealous. She knew he was too far gone in love with her for his mind to ever stray. Drumming her fingers lightly on the tabletop, she scanned the room for something to catch her interest. Her lively and vivacious friend Alice dropped by for a swallow of Butterbeer before taking off again with her overeager boyfriend Frank. "Come dance, Lil!" she called as he swept her into the thick crush of students. Lily shook her head, laughing.
"How about with me?"
She glanced over her shoulder at Sirius and rolled her eyes. "Where's your flavour of the week? She get boring?" she asked, only half-joking. He shrugged.
"Can't find her." Lily lifted her eyebrows as he sat down beside her and swiped some of her lemonade.
"I drank out of that."
"Mmm, indirect kissing. Y'know, Evans, you're about the only girl in Hogwarts relatively our age who I haven't dated once?"
She sighed and raised her eyes to the heavens, praying for the virtue of patience. "So you've told me every day for the past year. Is there something you want?"
"Just your delightful company," he replied idly, mechanically twirling his wand between three fingers and watching the crowd. Lily ignored him. She was good at it; years of practice paid off. He only flirted with her to make James jealous anyway. Sirius flirted with everyone; he wasn't exactly what you could call a one-woman-man, after all. At least he hadn't slept with more than one girl at a time, as far as Lily knew. Though there had been many.
Last year he'd gone through a phase where all of his considerable attentions were focused on Lily. She had blamed it on jealousy; James didn't spend as much time with the rest of the Marauders once Lily had actually began to tolerate him. Nevertheless, it had stirred some unusual, uncomfortable feelings in her—she wasn't used to being the center of so much male attention, and didn't know how to react. Sirius had lain off after a while, and things went back to normal. Now he only flirted to get a rise out of James. Speaking of, where was her messy-haired adorer? The song had long finished. Wouldn't he come see her now?
Apparently not, she thought glumly as the next song began. Well, it wasn't as if he had actually asked her to be his girlfriend yet, so technically they were both still fair game. Coward. As if I'd say no. She sighed and reached for her glass, only to find it empty. Sirius grinned unremorsefully at her glare, and she stood to get another, walking over to the long table at the side of the room where refreshments were held. When she turned back, she met his gaze—he'd been watching her go, an appreciative look in his eye. She was uncomfortably reminded of his attitude last year and glanced away. She could barely stand James's constant attentiveness to her every whim—she didn't want more.
Sitting down at the table again proved to be a bad idea. He immediately leaned forward and tugged at her dress. "C'mon, one dance. That's all I'm asking."
"I'm resting, Sirius. Go find Hannah."
She wouldn't admit she was impressed that he actually remembered the girl's name. "Whatever. Why are you bothering me?"
"You wound me, Evans," he moaned, clutching his chest dramatically. "You break my heart every day as you grow more beautiful, and you won't give me one dance to ease my sorrow?"
She laughed. Sometimes she wished James would say playful things like that to her; all he ever did was give her adoring looks from across the room. That was all very well and good, but she was seventeen. She wanted to have a bit more fun in her life at this age than he could probably provide. She felt badly every time she thought it, but it was true.
Sirius was still going. "You are the wood that fuels my fire! I burn for your touch—"
"Alright, that's enough," she said, sticking her tongue out at him. "James isn't even around, I don't know why you bother."
Sirius looked affronted. "How dare you accuse me of—"
"Yeah, yeah. I'll dance with you if you shut up."
Immediately he was silent, leaping to his feet and offering his hand to help her up. With a resigned look she took it and let him lead her eagerly out onto the floor and pull her close as they fell into the rhythm of the music. The number of students surrounding them forced them closer together, to Lily's irritation. Sirius slid his hands around her waist and tugged her even nearer, as if to protect her from being touched by anyone else, then sighed loudly and declared that he had never been happier, making her laugh again. The song finished; another one started. They remained where they were. He constantly kept her amused with little comments about various things spoken low into her ear. She continued dancing with him for the next several songs until a slow one came on.
Many people sat down, not having a partner to dance with. Lily looked for James and didn't see him anywhere; Sirius asked with his eyes and she shrugged. Why not? She hung her arms around the tall boy's neck as he swayed her back and forth, and after a minute rested her head on his shoulder. He paused in momentary surprise, then found the slow beat again. Lily was surprised herself at how comfortable it felt. She sighed unconsciously into his neck, and he stiffened, pulling away and rubbing the spot. "Don't do that!"
She looked at him in surprise, then laughed. "I'm sorry," she said, amused, and he grumbled as he pulled her back into his arms. She could feel his heartbeat through their clothes, their bodies were pressed so together. She couldn't help noticing that her head fit perfectly into the crook of his neck and shoulder; perhaps she could irritate him by nestling even closer...and sure enough, at the touch of her nose to his skin he pulled away again, exasperated. She was pleased with herself when she felt his heartbeat quicken.
"Vixen!" he cried indignantly as she snickered. "Playing on my weakness for you—little minx!"
"I'm just getting James jealous," she insisted innocently, making Sirius look around for his friend, who wasn't in sight. He glared at her and narrowed his eyes.
"I know your tricks, Evans. You're paying me back for making you dance with me. Well, it won't work."
"I've been up here for half an hour already! If I wanted to, I'd just sit down."
"Aha!" he exclaimed triumphantly, grinning at her. "You do want me! I knew it."
"Get over yourself, Black. I wouldn't have you even if you were the last man on earth."
"So you agree that I'm a man, and not a boy."
"Shh! You're ruining the mood!" someone hissed, and Lily pressed her lips together to keep from snorting with laughter. Very ladylike of me, I'm sure. She and Sirius continued their cheerful bickering quietly until the song ended. Lily told him she was sitting down again, and he followed her back to the table. Showing a gentlemanly streak that rarely surfaced, he pulled out her chair for her and sank down into the one beside it, taking a long swig of the lemonade she'd left there earlier. "Will you leave my drinks alone?" she said in exasperation as he chuckled, wiping his mouth with a napkin.
"If indirect kissing is the closest I'll ever get, precious, then by god I'll indirectly kiss you silly!"
Lily looked away and searched for James again. Where was he, anyway? The stupid boy was utterly, irrevocably infatuated with her, and nowhere to be found. She hadn't seen him once while up dancing with Sirius, and they'd moved around a bit. Now again he was gone. She glanced back at Sirius, who was looking thoughtfully at her with his chin resting on one hand. "You alright, Evans? Really, I mean."
"Of course, dumbbell." Defense through offense. "I'm waiting for James to drag himself over here."
"Why wouldn't I be?"
Not appearing satisfied, he nonetheless leaned back in his chair and scanned the dance floor for his friend. When the boy in question did not appear, after a few minutes of silence Sirius spoke again. "I don't mean to sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I did see him earlier with a pretty little thing even shorter than you. Not that I think that's what's keeping him, but...maybe he got kidnapped. You can enjoy yourself without him, right?"
"Just look at me now," was her reply.
"Ah, I'm always looking at you, Evans."
"Right, forgot your obsession. What do you want again? I already danced with you a lot, why aren't you off with James and Remus and Peter?" she asked, rubbing her shoulder. It had started to ache from all the dancing she'd done that evening. Her feet hurt too. Sirius dragged his chair around behind her and eased her hand back into her lap, gently massaging both her shoulders himself.
"Can't find James, can I? Remus is probably with Peter, and Peter annoys me lately. Besides," he added, pausing to lean close to her ear, "I much more enjoy your company, Evans."
She laughed and swatted him away, and he continued to rub down her skin. She closed her eyes and let her head loll back to rest on one of his hands. When he'd worked out the knot, she looked at him upside down and smiled gratefully. "Thank you." He shrugged as if to say 'Well, what can I say? I'm the best.' She grinned, feeling absurdly warm, and snapped herself out of relaxation. Lily leaned forward, grabbed a glass on the table and downed it—it was Butterbeer mixed with Firewhisky. There wasn't enough to make her ears start dripping smoke, but she did feel a little more lightheaded.
"That was mine, Evans."
"Sorry. Indirect kissing." She didn't know why she said that; just word association spoken out loud.
"Ah, but alas; I will never know the joy of your lips on mine, sweet angel." He turned his chair back to the table and leaned on his forearms, winking sidelong at her. She shoved him.
"Louse," she accused playfully, and expected him to pretend to be mortally wounded.
"Yes, and a scoundrel too. Anything you want me to be." She was surprised into laughter; he never failed to keep her entertained, she'd give him that. Perhaps she ought to give him a little more credit than she did—after all, he and James had both grown up a lot in the past year and a half or so (though Sirius remained as flirtatious and coy as ever, and James could still only talk about Quidditch). Lily knew she'd never find another pair quite like them if she searched her whole life.
She looked up to see James break loose of the crowd at long last and approach her. Sirius leaned back instantly, reclining in his chair and tipping it so that it was standing on two legs, balanced by his foot hooked around the table leg. She agreed with his unspoken sentiment; James was jealous by nature, and wouldn't appreciate seeing his best friend having a civil conversation with his not-quite-girlfriend. Nothing was official, yet, but everyone knew James was just waiting for the opportune moment.
Sirius could flirt all he wanted—as far as Lily was concerned—because though James made a show of getting angry, he knew Sirius wasn't...well, serious. However, Lily rarely spoke to the taller boy when James wasn't around, and even though there was no logic to it...she felt better having James unaware that she actually didn't think his friend was the devil reincarnate. If that made sense. Now she focused her attention on him. "Hullo. Where have you been?"
"Oh, y'know," he gestured vaguely. No, she didn't know. Why wouldn't he tell her? "Are you ready for more dancing?" he asked, eyes unusually bright. She frowned at him and crossed her arms.
"Are you drunk?"
"Aw, Lils, don't be a prude," he whined. "Everyone's a little drunk. Here, have some Whirefisky."
"Firewhisky," she muttered, and shook her head. "No, thank you. And I don't want to dance if you're drunk, you'll step on my feet and slobber on my face."
"You did last time," she reminded him grumpily, and turned his hand away. "Look, I have no problem with you drinking heavily as long as you don't involve me in it, okay?"
"Go away, James."
At this, he swooped down on her and threw his arms around her neck. She recoiled in disgust and pushed him off. "You reek of alcohol." When he didn't move, she wiped her mouth with a napkin on the table, crushed it in her hand and stood up to look for a trash can. James tugged pathetically at her sleeve and she shook him off. She didn't want to see him like this, especially not when she was already having doubts about her feelings for him—before he had even really made a move. It wasn't a good sign that she was moving on before their relationship had even begun. As she walked off to throw out the napkin, she watched over her shoulder as Sirius helped James to a seat and made sure that his friend was comfortable. Almost immediately James's head fell forward; she saw Sirius sigh and pick him up, throwing James's arm over his back to help him walk.
Lily watched him lead their barely-conscious friend out of the Great Hall, and shook her head. She hated it when James drank so much, and he knew she did. Whatever. Let him kill brain cells if he wants to. Tossing the napkin into a can, she headed back to her seat and dropped her head down on the table, lying on her arms. A few songs passed without anyone bothering her, and then Alice came back.
"Hey Lils, why so down?" she said breathlessly, a huge smile on her face as she sat down. "It's our last spring ball!"
"Yeah, I know," Lily grumbled, not lifting her head.
"James is drunk. Sirius just took him up to the dorms."
"Oh, honey," Alice tch-ed, patting Lily's arm sympathetically. "That's terrible."
Their conversation was cut short by the arrival of Frank with two drinks in hand. Alice went off with him to a corner of the room to schmooze, leaving Lily to sulk by herself. She'd been having such a good time, too. It really was irritating that her last fun event at Hogwarts had been ruined by James. The night wasn't even half over yet, either; that was the worst part. It was only ten fifteen, and the ball went till midnight. She didn't want to leave two hours early and go to bed, firstly because she wasn't tired and second because she still wanted to have fun.
She lifted her head at a tap on her shoulder. Sirius was standing over her. "He's passed out on his bed."
Lily nodded and sighed, looking the very picture of dejection. Another slow song came on, and she rolled her eyes. Just what I need. A reminder that James isn't here. She groaned, and was about to put her head back down when Sirius offered her his hand. She looked up at him. He shrugged sympathetically, and tilted his head a little. Lily hesitated, then smiled and took his hand, letting him lead her onto the dance floor for the second time that night.
He pulled her into his arms and this time she immediately settled her head on his shoulder, basking in the comfort his embrace provided. She remembered the last time James had been this drunk—at Christmas—and recalled that it had been Sirius who she had turned to then, as well. The boy certainly did have his moments of insight. Not to mention he made her laugh with every word he spoke. He balanced James out: where James was boyish and eager to please her, Sirius was proud and aloof. If James was reputed to be a gentleman (now, at least), Sirius was still the womanizing cad he'd always been. Dependable and unreliable; tamed and wild.
James had his moments of spontaneity; he'd surprise her with little gifts, and never failed to cheer her up when she needed it. Of course, pretty much anyone could cheer her up given the right amount of time, so that was nothing unique. Oh well.
The song finished. She stepped out of Sirius's arms and he looked fleetingly disappointed before tugging on a ringlet of her hair. "Feel better, blossom?"
She nodded. "I think I'm going to step outside for some air, it's stifling in here." She left him, and made her way through the crowd until she reached the doors to the entrance hall. Taking one last automatic glance around to look for James, she sighed—and remembered where he was. She shook her head as she pushed open the doors and headed for the gardens outside. It was dark out, the sun having set about an hour ago. It was unusually warm for the end of May, too; there was a lot of humidity in the night air. Lily worried for perhaps three seconds about her hair, and then decided she didn't care. Who was going to see her out here?
Not that it really mattered if they did. She was practically taken. James had been after her for years, and with their seventh year at Hogwarts coming to a close, she expected he would seriously ask her to be his girlfriend very soon. Any day now. In fact, he should have asked her to go to the ball with him; instead, she'd come stag, feeling somewhat put-out that he hadn't been able to work up the courage. If her hints weren't enough to signal she was ready for him, she didn't know what else to do.
Lily wandered out across the lawns, no particular destination in mind. She came to the edge of the lake and walked a little ways around the edge of it, pausing beneath a flowering tree. She reached up to pick a blossom and was reminded of one of Sirius's many pet names for her. Smiling to herself—she'd never admit it, but she did enjoy the attention he gave her—she tucked it into the half-bun her hair was twisted up in. The look was courtesy of Alice and Gemma, both girls in her dorm. Lily could never have gotten it to look half so nice by herself, at least without the aid of magic.
She looked over her shoulder at the sound of approaching footsteps through the tall grass, squinting to identify the person's silhouette against the night. When he got closer, his telltale carefree grin gave him away instantly, and she smiled. "Want to sit?"
"No thanks, Evans; I prefer to tower over you like a lunafang python to its prey," Sirius drawled.
"What's a lunafang python?"
"A big snake that uses moonlight to hypnotize its victims before eating them. It lives in Africa, South America, and India."
Lily blinked. What random information. "Let me guess—you heard it somewhere and were waiting for the perfect moment to impress me with it?"
"Worked, didn't it?" he said, tipping her a wink and leaning casually against the tree trunk. She waited patiently for him to say what he'd come to say. It must be something of relative importance, or he'd have stayed inside where he would be surrounded by adoring fans. She was surprised, in fact, that they had managed to last as long as they did while dancing without being interrupted by one of them. She squatted down as gracefully as she could—difficult in her thin dress robes—and dipped her fingertips into the water, making patterns with the ripples.
"Funny how you manage to look elegant even all crouched down, Lilyflower."
She grimaced and got to her feet, shooting a dirty look at him. "Ha, ha."
"No, really," he said, taking a step away from the tree towards her. "You shine under the stars, you glow in the moonlight, you radiate radiance." Lily pffted.
"I radiate radiance?"
"That you do."
She smiled lopsidedly at him, unsure whether or not to laugh. He seemed to be sincere, but then...it was Sirius. "Thanks...?"
He grinned broadly, pleased with himself—and then paused. "Do you feel that?"
Lily stopped, and sure enough after a few seconds, felt a drop of rain on her forehead. She looked at him. "Uh oh," they said in unison, and both laughed. As she turned to head back to the castle, the drops began to fall faster and faster—and she leapt back under the tree just as the clouds burst, and it began to rain harder than it had in all her years at Hogwarts. Thankfully, it wasn't cold—the water was warm on her skin as it slipped through the meager cover that the tree's small number of leaves provided. Sirius laughed loudly at the rain, mocking it.
"That the best you can do?" he yelled, and Lily shoved him.
"Don't jinx it!"
Too late; right on cue, the rain came down even harder than before. She couldn't see twenty feet in front of them, the air was so thick with it. Sirius offered her his jacket for cover, but as she reached to take it, she decided she didn't need it. "What the hell—it's only water," she said mischievously, and Sirius grinned slowly, sensing her idea from the tone of her voice. She slipped off her shoes and held them in one hand, and Sirius braced himself to take off. "One...two...THREE!" she cried, and they both lunged out into the downpour at the same time.
It had been a long time since she'd last run around outside in heavy rain. Lily laughed out loud in sheer exhilaration, spinning around in circles; she was soaked to the skin in a matter of seconds, and so was he. Her hair flew out around her, sending droplets flying in every direction, and she felt her dress clinging onto every curve she had. There was so much rain that it was almost like being underwater, without the pressing problem of being unable to breathe.
Sirius caught her hand and pulled her off in some direction; she couldn't tell where they were going, as she could barely see, and wondered how he knew—but didn't question it. They ran through the warm rain until she was breathless, and then they came upon a little depression in the grass about ten feet wide, which was rapidly filling with water. It was a miniature pond, and there was a rock in the middle. How on earth did he find it? Laughing together they waded through it and hopped up onto the rock, which really wasn't big enough to hold them both. Sirius surrounded her with a strong arm to keep her upright, holding her close to his body. She felt on top of the world.
Looking up at him and meeting his dark dancing eyes, she opened her mouth to thank him. The words died off in her throat before she spoke them. He was lifting his hand to brush strands of her hair, clinging to her face, out of her eyes. She was astonished to feel her heartbeat rapidly increase and her breath come quicker. Standing on a rock in the rain, he kissed her.
She felt dizzy. Butterflies exploded in her stomach. This wasn't James—this was far from James, whom she loved or thought she loved—and yet she found herself kissing him back, and as his lips moved over hers and his hands pressed into her back, she discovered that this was what she had been waiting for. This feeling of unbridled passion, breathlessness, even with her makeup running and her hair plastered to her head and her clothes soaked through, probably ruined...he wanted her. And she wanted him. Oh, she wanted him.
Lily couldn't get enough. Her hands were wrapped around his neck, fingers buried in his hair, keeping him firmly in her arms where he couldn't escape. Her lips felt like they were on fire. She drank him in like wine.
When they needed to breathe, Sirius tore himself away and rested his forehead against hers, still holding her as close as possible. She couldn't think of anything to say, so she gasped for air and struggled to calm her wildly beating heart. "I always knew you couldn't resist me," he said with a sudden grin, and she laughed in delight. Then he took her head in his hands and looked at her sincerely, the frivolity gone. "Lily." Her heart felt as though it would burst out of her chest and she kissed him again, feeling the heat in his embrace. He'd called her by her name. Just Lily. It was heartfelt and lovely. She felt like she was floating.
"Are we even allowed to do this?"
"Who's to stop us?"
James, she thought, but then considered the rain coming down in buckets all around them. To be fair, Sirius got here first. She savoured the delicious feeling of doing forbidden things. Sirius was a player; he never settled for one girl long. Everyone pined after him. He could have anyone. And he wanted her. Lily felt blissfully elated for the first time in a long time.
"Are you cold?"
She laughed. He would never stop making her laugh, and she couldn't wait to let him. James was passionate about loving her, but he wasn't just...passionateHe couldn't do something like this. It wasn't in his nature. It wasn't who he was. And maybe she wouldn't ever take Sirius home to meet her parents—unless he cleaned up his manners around adults a bit—but lord, if she didn't kiss him again soon, she thought she'd have a fit. So she did. And it was glorious.
Eventually, they both started shivering despite feeling warm, and because they had become all pruney and wrinkled, Sirius kissed her fingertips. He clasped her hand in his, lacing their fingers together, and pulled her towards the castle. She could see somewhat through the rain now; it was beginning to thin. They stood in the entrance hall, dripping everywhere and grinning at each other like fools, until they were discovered by Alice. Sirius dropped her hand like a hot coal. Lily couldn't help sighing a little in frustration; her friend kept running into her lately, and she didn't want her time with Sirius to be interrupted.
"LILY! You're all wet! Were you caught outside in the rain? Oh, that's just awful—yes, hello, Sirius—I can't believe it, your poor dress!"
"It's alright, I don't care."
"We've got to get you out of those clothes, you'll catch your death of cold."
Lily saw Sirius wiggle his eyebrows suggestively out of the corner of her eye, and she elbowed him discreetly while addressing her frantic friend. "It's fine—I think I'm just gonna go up to bed anyway. You go back in there and enjoy the rest of the ball, Alice. Really."
"Are you sure? Because you must be—"
"I'm fine!" Lily laughed, giving Alice a gentle push towards the Great Hall. "Go find Frank."
The girl couldn't resist taking that suggestion, and disappeared through the huge doors. Lily turned around to face Sirius, and as she opened her mouth, he planted one on her. She promptly forgot anything she was going to say and just kissed him back. "You can't keep doing that," she murmured against his lips. "People will see."
"Let 'em look."
He was so...so...she couldn't describe it. Reckless. Uncaring. No—carefree. He wasn't uncaring, she knew, because he cared about her. The thought made her smile. He was without worry. A line from a movie she'd watched as a child came to her—Hakuna Matata. No worries. That phrase embodied him.
He lead her up to Gryffindor tower and escorted her to the base of the stairs leading to her dormitory, knowing he couldn't go any further up. She told him to wait a few minutes; he nodded and kissed her palm. Lily rushed up the staircase, taking two at a time even in her heels, hiking up her waterlogged skirts. She quickly stripped off everything that was wet and changed into a pair of too-big flannel pajamas, given to her by her father for Christmas, then fairly flew back down to the common room without caring that her hair was still dripping wet and half-fallen out of its arrangement. Sirius was waiting for her, having changed into casual dry clothes even faster than her. She hopped over the back of the couch onto the cushions beside him and grinned like a madwoman. He laughed at the goofy look on her face, and she laughed because she'd made him laugh. It was only fair to return the favour once in a while.
They sat up and talked for hours, gabbing away like old friends at a reunion. Lily couldn't imagine why she had never just talked with Sirius before; perhaps because James was always in the way. For someone who had always put himself front and center when it came to Lily, James sure was shy about making a move on her this year. She was tired of waiting, and Sirius had gotten here first. Maybe he'd lose interest in a few weeks, or a few days, but she found herself not caring at all. He had rubbed that off on her.
When she finally tucked herself into bed that night, she fell asleep with a smile on her face that stayed there long after she'd wandered into the world of dreams. The other girls would ask her about it in the morning, and she would want to tell them...but she wouldn't. What had happened was between her and Sirius—it was their little secret.