Disclaimer: I don't own Lily or James or the Harry Potter series. So sue me, but there's not way in hell you'll ever get a cent. This is a disclaimer, after all.

Just One Kiss

To say that I've loved Lily Evans since I first saw her would be a lie. I haven't. I barely even noticed her. She was just some little red-headed girl with her nose in a book. Not very appealing, I must say, but she wasn't completely unappealing either. She just sort of… was.

When I first met her, I didn't know who she was. Frankly, I didn't care. As long as she didn't tell me to be quiet (which she did), or tell me to not be mean to people (which she did), or try to teach me better manners (which she did), or look annoyed when I told her to shut her mouth and leave me alone (which she most definitely did).

What can I say? I was a stupid eleven-year-old kid. You're insane if you really think that I was in the least bit mature.

Not long after I first met her, Sirius and I finally became friends. It was still a bumpy road with the two of us—and Remus and Peter—but we were trying and (so far) succeeding.

I still didn't know her name, though. I didn't learn it until I had spoken with Remus some. He had spent some time with her in the library, studying for classes and doing homework. Like that's a surprise.

Everyone—which, at that point in time, consisted of only Sirius and Peter, because I didn't listen to what everybody else thought—seemed to think that the two liked each other, which for some reason perturbed me. It was almost sickening, but I didn't tell Sirius anything because he'd make fun of me, and I didn't tell Peter because he'd probably say something to Sirius, who would then make fun of me. Aren't my friends great?

After that, Remus joined our little group, and he stopped hanging out with Lily. I was glad for that, but she seemed rather upset. She didn't really have any other friends. Remus felt bad for her. Hell, even I did. Sirius didn't. Peter didn't really notice that much, but he seemed to care when it was called to his attention.

It took a while for all of us to agree on it, but, when we did, Remus asked the girl if she wanted to hang out with us a little bit. She was very hesitant, especially when she looked at me and Sirius. Neither of us had ever been very nice to her. But Remus finally convinced her, and she sat with us at lunch and I finally learned her name.

That first lunch didn't go very well… at all. It was horrible! She and Remus were being very friendly, and it just completely grossed me out. Sirius kept making jokes and several far too dirty comments for a twelve-year-old boy. Lily got really pissed off and left.

Remus was angry with us at that point. I don't know why he was upset with me. I didn't do a damn thing, but I guess my facial features gave away how I felt about the situation. I think both Remus and Lily had taken it as that I didn't like her. That wasn't it. I just didn't like her with him—and I still had no idea why.

Sirius was very amused by it all, and I think that he was catching on to what I wasn't.

Lily wouldn't talk to Remus after that. He tried to apologize for Sirius's rude behavior and the looks of disgust on my face, but she wouldn't buy it. She thought that it had been planned or something. Besides, she didn't like the idea that she had a crush on him. She actually said that to him when Sirius and I weren't that far away. She said, "I don't mean to be mean to you. I want to be friends with you, Remus, and nothing more, but I can't with the way you're acting."

He took it rather well. Apparently he didn't like her like that either.

For some reason, I was extremely relieved. I actually breathed a sigh of relief and contentment when Sirius and I overheard their conversation. (It's not like we were trying to listen. It was an accident, I promise.) Sirius sent me a weird look at that. He was definitely suspicious of something, but I still didn't know what.

From that moment on, our reputation as the Marauders grew. We found out about Remus's furry little problem, and we even started on our Animagi Project. That's what we called it, only we shorted it to the 'A. Project' in front of people. Despite all of our warnings and constant denials, people just kept asking us what it was. We never told as soul.

Our mastery of pranks was growing greatly at that point—and we put it to good use. For instance, whenever a boy got too close to Lily than I preferred, he was suddenly at the bad end of our pranks.

Sirius and Remus had figured it out by then. They tried to subtly ask me about it and get me to say things that inevitably proved their point.

They weren't the only ones to figure it out, though. Practically the whole school knew before I did—even Lily Evans. She completely ignored it, though, just as she had grown to ignore me and the rest of the Marauders.

After figuring out that I was actually oblivious to the fact, Sirius and Remus yelled at me until I finally realized that I had a crush on her. It would have been extremely funny if I hadn't been the one being yelled at. Looking back now, I know it was very funny, but I hated it then. It had been so very embarrassing.

Peter, amazingly, wasn't as smart as he looked—and he didn't look all that smart in the first place—so he didn't catch on until after I did, which really surprised us all. I had thought that I was the very last person to find out, but no! It was actually Peter. We were all a little bit disappointed in him, but none of us said anything.

But then I just couldn't get her out of my head. I knew that I really liked her, but I didn't know what to do about it. How can you explain to your longtime crush (that you didn't even know about it) how you feel?

I felt so damn stupid. Every time I tried to say something to her, she would just ignore me and walk away or tell me to belt up because I talk too much.

So I gave up. I know, not like me at all. But what else was I supposed to do? She hated me. I couldn't do anything to change her feelings about me, could I?

Sirius and Remus seemed to think differently than I—but they also thought differently than each other. Both agreed that I shouldn't give up, but it was the how that they disagreed on.

Sirius thought that I should just ask her out, but I argued that she would say no. He reasoned that, if I kept arguing, she would finally give in.

Remus, on the other hand, said that, if I let her calm down some, she'll be much more inclined to listen to me when I try to tell her.

Guess what I did. Come on, I dare you.

Okay, you're right. I did the stupid thing. I did what Sirius told me to do. Very stupid, right? Definitely.

So I kept trying. From the beginning of fifth year all the way to the end of sixth. Like it did any good. It was so stupid and so pointless. It just made her hate me even more.

Remus tried to talk to her on my behalf, but she told him never to bring up the subject of James Potter while talking with her. Gee, that's really encouraging.

Merlin, I'm such an idiot, aren't I? How could I possibly believe that any plan of Sirius's (other than a prank) could ever work? Stupid. Very, very stupid!

Many, many fights ensued. Many, many times of being turned down.

So guess what. I gave up again. It was at the end of sixth year. Sirius is an idiot, and his romantic plans never work.

So here I am. It's seventh year now, and I've finally agreed to go with Remus's original plan. It's the middle of the night, and I'm just wandering the halls. It's not like there's anything else for me to do. I can't sleep.

Besides, as the Head Boy, I have to make sure no students are out of bed—and, of course, lose some sleep in the process. What would life be like if I really got all the sleep I really needed? It would be weird and wrong and mentally messed up. Why even try to get the sleep if I know I have to patrol the corridors anyway?

Damn, it's time for me to go back to bed. My hour is over, and it's time for some stupid prefect to take over. Maybe I'll actually fall asleep tonight. …Yeah right.

The common room is dark. The fireplace is full of only embers and coals. Everything is empty; not a soul is there—well, except me. With a sigh, I flop down in large chair by the dying fire.

This is all so useless. What's the point of even liking the girl when she hates you? Hell, I don't even like her anymore. I actually think I am in love with her. I'll never be able to get over her, but I know that I should.

There's a creak coming from the staircases. I glance over to see a dark silhouette on the closest landing, one dainty foot stretched out for the expectant step hesitant. I think the girl saw me. There's a muffled sob—damn, I recognize that voice.

"Lily?" I call quietly. At least we've somewhat become friends in our Head duties—well, just enough to go by first names; nothing more.

She slowly descends toward me, and my heart stops as she tries to stop from crying. I know she's crying. Her voice is so crackly. I wish I could comfort her.

"James?" she asks, her voice weak and husky, as she draws nearer to the hearth. "What are you doing out here?"

"I could ask you the same question."

She pulled her left hand up toward her chest almost protectively. She's holding something in it. Her eyes are swollen and pink.

"What's wrong?" I inquire cautiously. My face contorts with confusion and sympathy. I have no idea what's wrong with her and I already feel sorry for her. Damn, I'll never be able to snap out of this—but it's not like love is something that can be snapped out of… unless this isn't love, but I'm just so sure it is.

She doesn't say anything.

"I want to help you, Lily. Please tell me what's the matter."

This time, she shakes her head.


Apprehensively, she extends her hand toward me, holding out the piece of parchment in it. "Go ahead," she murmurs. When I clasp it in my hand, she lets go and sits down on the floor as close to the fire as possible.

I lean forward a little so that I can read the tear-stained writing with the small light from the cinders.

By Merlin's beard! The letter is horrible. It was from her sister, Petunia. I've heard of her before. Lily told me once. But that's not the worst part. Her parents just died—and now her sister is blaming her.

I glance over to her.

She looks so calm and serene. If it weren't for the tears, I would have thought that she didn't care.

I discard the parchment on the seat behind me as I move toward her on the floor. "Lily," I say quietly, my hand moving out to touch her, but I don't think she'd like it if I did. Oh well, and I let my hand settle on her shoulder.

She looks over at me, flinching at the touch of my skin. "Yeah?"

"Merlin, Lily, I'm so sorry," I murmur in her ear and pull her into my arms.

She shudders at the embrace but relaxes a second later. "It's all right."

"No, it isn't. I wish I could help you, Lily."

"You're helping now."

"No, not really. I just wish that you didn't have to feel any pain at all."

"Everyone feels pain, James. It's only natural."

"Yes, but I hate it when you're in pain. You need to be happy… or angry. That's just who you are. It's not right if you aren't one of those two."

She laughs hollowly. "That's very sweet, James, but I can't be happy or angry all the time. Everyone needs to cry—even you."

"Of course, but I still don't want you to cry."

"Nothing you say can change it, James. Stop trying to change it."

I wish I could help you, Lily. I wish I could completely take away your pain. I wish that just one kiss could make everything okay. I wish that just one kiss could show you how much I love you… and how much there is to make you happy.

But I could never do that to you. You'd hate me forever, I know you would.

Damn, now it's like you're in my head. You're so beautiful, so wonderful, so lovely that I just can't seem to get you out of it.

There's nothing I can say to her now. Nothing I say will help her. It'll just hurt her or make her frustrated. Why do I even try?

I don't know how much time passes. I'm just thinking and thinking—about her. I wouldn't be able to keep track of time if there was suddenly a huge clock that sat in front of me for the rest of my life. Maybe it's been hours. Maybe minutes. I don't know.

But she finally pulls away, not looking me in the eyes. "Thank you, James," she says in a hushed voice. She stands and moves toward the chair to pick up the letter from her sister. A second later, she's kneeling down beside me again, the letter clutched in her hand tightly. "Thank you very much." She tosses the parchment onto the few remaining coals. It takes a moment for it to start to burn, smoke filling the air, but it finally does, and I can tell that it makes her feel better.

Then, she looks to me again, her eyes still pink, but they look kind and almost happy again. She leans a little closer and places her lips on the edge of mine in a short, thankful kiss before leaving me there in the common room alone. The sound of the creaking stairs and the closing of a door are the only signs that she was ever even there.

Maybe I do have a chance, after all. I guess I won't give up yet.