Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to JKR. The plot ideas are mine!
James' head was throbbing. He blinked, groaning groggily as he tried to sit up. The floor was cold and hard beneath him, and he shivered, licking his lips.
Where was he?
The room was small and dark, oppressively so, and although he couldn't tell for certain, James was quite sure he had seen a shadow move in the corner of the room, responding to his awakening.
His voice was raw, as though he had been yelling. It struck him as odd that he couldn't recall how he had arrived in this strange, foreboding place. Searching his mind desperately for some answers, it occurred to James that the last thing he remembered was studying in the library…
How very strange indeed.
"Hello?" he tried again. "I can see you, you know."
It was a bluff, though James hoped a good one. He couldn't help but grin as he heard a sigh in response.
"You want to lighten this place up a little, and tell me what in Merlin's name I'm doing here?" he asked smoothly.
The sigh had sounded wistful, even feminine.
"I'd – I'd rather not," the other person muttered suddenly, confirming James' suspicions. The voice didn't even seem particularly old, which could only be a good sign.
"Are we still in Hogwarts?" he asked the girl.
She seemed manageable now, somehow. Yes, it did indeed appear he had been kidnapped, but he wasn't frightened in the least. After all, who would want to hurt him?
"We are," she conceded, and all worry left James' mind.
"And we're in the Room of Requirement?"
"Of course we bloody well are, Potter," she snapped, suddenly aggravated. "Stop being so bloody… self assured, and smug… and – you!"
James blinked disbelievingly as the grin on his face widened.
"Evans?" he asked incredulously.
"Shut up," she replied instantly, evidently grumpy.
Realising that he could stand, James did so, feeling his hands up against the wall for support. It occurred to him to look for his wand, and sure enough, there it was in his pocket.
His prison illuminated, James raised his eyebrows. Lily had certainly outdone herself: stone walls and floor encased the room completely, and the overall effect was that of a damp, cold, dark and slightly menacing place, although James couldn't help but be reminded of the dungeon classrooms.
Lily was sitting in the opposite corner, arms hugged around her knees, face hidden in a tumble of hair.
James approached her easily, hands in his pockets. "Do you want to tell me what's going on?" he asked conversationally.
Lily sniffed. "We're trapped," she replied miserably.
James slid down the wall to sit beside her, rolling his eyes. "Obviously, since there isn't any door. I meant, how did we end up in here?"
Lily raised her head to glare at him. "It's all your bloody fault," she replied haltingly. "If I hadn't kidnapped you neither of us would be stuck in here."
James fought the urge to laugh, holding up a hand as Lily opened her mouth once more.
"Wait – you kidnapped me and this is my fault?"
Lily hunched her shoulders and hid behind her hair, emitting a muffled and extremely sulky, "Yes."
James could hold it in no longer: he simply had to laugh.
"Lily Evans, you have well and truly outdone yourself," he told her fondly. And, as an afterthought, "What did I do to deserve a kidnapping?"
This time, James couldn't make out her reply. He leant closer, so close that when he asked, "Pardon?" Lily jumped. Her head shot up again, and to her extreme discomfort, she found his face much closer than she expected.
"I said, I couldn't get you to go away."
"So you put us together in a room without a door?"
Because that obviously seemed like the logical response…
Hang on –
"Besides, I haven't annoyed you all year, so I really don't know what you're talking about."
Lily sniffed. "You're in my head, damnit, Potter, and I want you out."
"I'm in your head?"
Lily leapt to her feet and stalked away, but James was quick to follow.
"Come, now Evans. You can't be scared of sounding stupid – it'd take a lot to outdo this mess we're in."
Fists clenched and teeth gritted, she turned to him furiously. "I can't stop thinking about you, ok?" she screeched shrilly. "And I've had it up to here with you and your… you!"
James' heart thudded in his chest, and he felt the sudden need to sit down. Backing toward the wall once again, he sank to the ground.
"You can't stop thinking about me?" His voice was faint, as though he couldn't quite believe the words. "You can't stop thinking about me, after all those years of being absolutely horrid to me? You hate me! And now – now this?"
"All's fair in love and war," Lily replied shortly. She gestured to herself suddenly, eagerly. "Go on, then. Take the spell off. I've had enough."
James shook his head numbly. "I don't have the faintest idea of what you're talking about, Evans. No spell, I swear."
Lily frowned, biting her lip and running a hand down her neck in a manner that James found so enticing that he had to restrain himself.
"No, he wouldn't do that, I'm afraid. I think it's just you," he told her, as sympathetically as he could muster.
Lily scowled. "It can't be me. It's just like you said: I hate you! I absolutely and completely loathe you. I wouldn't care less if I never saw you again, Potter. I don't understand why all of a sudden I- I can't… I can't do this, you know. I'm going insane. Make it stop, please?"
She gazed at him imploringly. James, who felt as though he had once again landed back in reality – Lily Evans was yelling at him, after all – threw up his hands to illustrate his helplessness.
"I don't know what to do, Lily. I'm sorry."
She winced. "Don't – don't – say my name. Merlin, I can't even look at you without – It's just not good enough. This has to stop, now!"
He was stuck in a room without a door while the love of his life was literally deconstructing in front of his eyes.
"Li- Evans?" he offered tentatively, patting the cold stone slab beside him invitingly. "Come and sit."
Eyes squeezed shut, Lily shook her head in refusal. Sighing, James stood. She jumped as he gripped her shoulders and gently directed her to the floor, before resuming his seat. Then, hesitantly, he put an arm around her. "Just calm down," he advised. "Everything is going to be all right."
"It isn't," she said, so positively that it flawed him. "There's something wrong with me."
"There's nothing wrong with you," he told her softly. "You're just a bit mixed up, that's all."
And without really understanding how he had come across the information, James began to explain things in a slow, soothing voice.
"It's not really me you're angry with," he murmured softly, stroking her hair. "You're angry with yourself. You're not used to doing things you don't want to, because you're so in control all the time. You never ask yourself for anything more than you're willing to give, and you can't understand why this is happening, because you don't want it to happen, but you can't make it stop, can you?"
Lily shook her head balefully, chancing a glance at him in wonder. "How did you know all that?"
James grinned. "Ah, well, you know… All's fair in love and war, Lily."
Lily raised her head hopefully. "Know thy enemy?" she suggested, grasping for something she could understand.
James met her eyes sadly. "Not quite," he told her softly. "More like, know thy own heart."
"Know thy own heart."
Lily gasped, seeing that familiar look in his eyes. It was a look she absolutely dreaded: eyes wide and enticing, he held her gaze, and the depth of admiration that look carried was frightening.
"You don't really fancy me," she said, more to herself than to him.
James laughed softly, the arm around her shoulder tightening. "Oh, but I do," he contradicted softly.
Lily shook her head. "No, you can't," she said simply. "You can't like me."
His hand gripped her shoulder, now. "Lily Evans, I fancy you, for all your stubborn denial. I'm sorry, but that's the truth."
Lily remained silent this time, processing the information thoughtfully. Who was this solemn boy, with his arm around her, apologizing for being attracted to her? And, more importantly, what had he done with the rude, arrogant and infuriating Potter?
His heavy sigh promptly brought her back, just in time to hear his wistful:
"Not that it matters, anyway."
James's head bumped against hers before coming to rest there. May as well savor the moment before it passes, he thought sadly.
Because, inevitably, Lily was about to hex him.
"Why doesn't it matter?" Her timid response was the last thing he had expected.
"Because as much as I fancy you, you're never going to fancy me, so it's rather hopeless."
He couldn't believe he was having the conversation, really. He had thought about it constantly, considered the words so many times before, but it had never occurred to James that he'd ever speak them.
Lily was shaking her head for the umpteenth time. "Not so hopeless."
James breath caught in his chest, and he turned to look at her once again. "Not?" he repeated, although it was a struggle to get the word out.
"I – I couldn't stop thinking about you… because I think I fancy you."
James didn't know what to say.
"And I couldn't fancy you, because you're so… well… you."
Lily glanced at him abruptly as he made a soft choking sound. James' face was the picture of absolute disbelief. However, he didn't seem ready, or able, to speak.
"But," Lily continued softly. "You're not being you. You're being someone else at the moment, and I… I quite like him, to be honest, so, you know… I just figured I'd let you know: not so hopeless."
"Not so hopeless," he agreed, brain scrambling.
Swiftly, he removed the arm from around her shoulders and moved to kneel in front of her.
Lily watched him suspiciously. "You're back, then." The hostility renewed to her voice was almost chilling.
James' eyes widened, and he shook his head, giving her a weak smile. "No – no, no, I'm still not me," he reassured her quickly, and Lily seemed to relax once more. James continued doggedly. "Or – or rather, Evans-"
"Call me Lily. You're allowed to call me Lily. Just not… you know, you."
There seemed to be a very strange logic to this girl, James decided, fighting a smile. A very strange logic indeed – which made her, in his eyes at least, all the more endearing.
"OK. Anyway – I was going to say, Lily… that I rather am being me. This is me."
Lily blinked. "But you can't be you, because you're horrid."
James' face contorted, so that it appeared he was grinning and frowning all at once.
"That's the thing, Lily: I'm not horrid. You just think I'm horrid. This is me, really."
Lily looked at him skeptically. "To be honest, I don't really believe you. I mean, if you're you, but you're… this – then what do I call you?"
"James. My name is James."
She nodded, cocking her head to the side. "All right," she agreed. "I'll call you James… but I still don't believe you."
"Well I don't know what else I can say-?"
"Prove it, then. Prove to me that you're James, but you're you. Because I really can't see how you can be both, but if you are, you can prove it to me."
James nodded slowly, at the same time wondering, mystified, how he had ended up at this point. Maybe he really did have a split personality? At the very least, he was beginning to suspect Lily did - or alternatively, some other debilitating mental issue. Maybe even concussion. Concussion was a preferable option, since it at least was temporary.
"How do I prove it to you?" he asked reasonably.
Head still cocked to the side, Lily squinted at him. She looked so positively adorable that it was all James could do not to-
"The you I know would do anything to kiss me. And if you really are him, you'd want to. So I suppose the big question is, do you, as James, want to kiss me?"
"Of course I do!" James was almost offended.
Lily smiled. "I don't suppose I'll mind, either, so long as it doesn't transform you back into you. I don't think I want you to change back – it's quite nice, you-"
Lily found herself cut off by the kiss she had been requesting. She also found, greatly to her surprise, that it was very much Potter who was kissing her. He was just as fierce and confident and passionate as the boy she knew and loathed… but at the same time, all she could taste, and feel, and smell, was James.
He pulled away, panting slightly to catch his breath. "Has that convinced you, then?"
James felt rather giddy, although he hadn't expected anything different from kissing Lily. Realistically, he had just fulfilled his daily wish of about four or five years, so to be all over the place was to be expected.
"I – I rather think you have convinced me, yes."
The disappointment in Lily's voice cut through James' euphoria like a brutal and effective killing curse.
"Oh. I'm… I'm sorry then," he replied, stomach sinking.
They were back to where they had started, once again, and it was all his stupid fault for-
"Don't be sorry," she said quietly. "I didn't say I minded."
Lily offered a shy smile. "I… I daresay I liked it, even – James."
James grinned, although the smile instantly vanished as she rolled her eyes.
"Oh, yes," she murmured dryly, "You are Potter, aren't you?"
James nodded. "Very much so, Lily."
She sighed. "And we just kissed. And I like you…"
"You still like me?" his voice was so high and squeaky that had it been any other occasion, James would have been thoroughly ashamed of himself.
"Of course I do. That was the whole problem… although now, it doesn't seem so…"
"Problematic?" he suggested slyly.
Lily nodded. "Yes, thank you. It doesn't seem so problematic. So long as you keep being James and don't go all the way back to Potter, I think we can manage marvelously."
James eyed her quizzically. "But I'm still me," he reminded her gently. "I… I don't really think I can't not be me…?"
"But you aren't being you. Not the Potter I know. You are being the James I know, though. Just… just not Potter-the-twat."
"I don't think he exists," James said thoughtfully, looking all the more self-assured. "You'll just have to get to know me a little better, won't you?"
Lily grinned. "And how do you propose I go about that, do you think?"
James performed a double take, delighted. "You're flirting with me!"
Lily slapped him over the back of his head. "You dolt," she muttered, standing up and offering him a hand.
James stood and accepted her hand, pulling her to him and wrapping his arms around her. "Yes?" he replied cheekily.
Lily scowled, although her eyes danced playfully. "Don't you dare, Ja-"
She was cut off by another kiss. Yes, she was certainly going to enjoy this new and improved James Potter…
He pulled away, eyes twinkling. "Now that that's sorted," he spoke briskly, "how do you propose we get out of here?"
Lily drew back a little, gazing around. "See, that was the problem – that's why I ended up stuck in here with you-"
"Not that I'm complaining," he interrupted cheerfully.
"- I wanted a place you couldn't get out of, and then the door shut and disappeared and I couldn't get out either…"
"But you asked for a door, right?"
Lily's eyes snapped back to his incredulously. "I what?"
"You asked for a door once it disappeared, didn't you?"
She shook her head slowly, mouth formed into a soft 'o' that James wanted to kiss again. And he would, too, he decided, right after he got them out of this place.
"Lily, this is the room of requirement. You asked for this room, and it gave you exactly what you wanted-"
"Minus the door."
"Minus the door… But you could have just asked for a door."
She eyed him doubtfully. "All I had to do was ask for a door?" she repeated faintly. "All I had to do was ask and I wouldn't have-"
"Not that we're complaining," James repeated once more. "All you need to do is ask, and we can get out of here, and go and see how many people pass out in shock when we walk into the common room holding hands."
Lily smiled, shaking her head in disbelief. "I can't believe I didn't think of that," she admitted ruefully. She added, rather absently, "And I bet Sirius is the first to fall."
James grinned, kissing her forehead. "You're on. Weave your magic, door-lady."
Lily closed her eyes, thoughts focused on nothing more and nothing less than a door by means of leaving the room. She opened her eyes, breathing a sigh of relief as a door materialised in the wall before them.
Shaking her head, Lily preceded James out of the room, waiting whilst he closed the door. He did so, and they watched it vanish back into the wall together, arms slung about each other.
Lily grinned up at them. "I'm so sorry, you know…"
James returned her smile. "I'm not," he responded easily as they began down the corridor.
Even before they reached the end, Sirius came skidding into sight.
"Prongs! Prongs! I think the Map is malfunction-"
Sirius slid to a halt before them, eyes widening. He stretched out a hand to the wall for support. "Oh Merlin…"
James sighed audibly, turning to Lily gravely. "He didn't faint," he murmured sadly.
Lily couldn't help it. She had to laugh.
"What's going on?" Sirius demanded, apparently recovered enough to regard them suspiciously. "Prongs, if this is some sort of joke, then really, mate…"
James slung his free arm around his best friend's shoulder, and together, the three of them strolled off down the corridor, Sirius peeking curiously at James and Lily, as though they would disappear the moment he looked away.
"Paddy, have you ever heard the old saying 'All's fair in love and war'?"
A/N: A lovely bit of romantic nonsense for you all! Hope you enjoyed it, and I would love to hear from you if you did!
Thanks for reading,