Disclaimer: I'm not about to go and write a 700 page novel, that one's just not happening.

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8 Simple Rules to Getting the Ring

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Summary:"I think we need to get engaged." It was only when she heard James chocking loudly, however, that she finally got up the courage to look up at him. "Something wrong love?"

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challenge: create a fic that is a play on the title of the famous TV show "8 simple rules to dating my teenage daughter"

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Rule one: vocalize your desire for the ring

"Bloody hell, Star Etcher is getting married!" James suddenly exclaimed, taking Lily so off guard that she choked on her chocolate croissant.

"Who?" she asked; dumbfounded by what could have possibly compelled him to yell out that positively useless piece of news in the quite café where they were eating breakfast.

James, however, merely rolled his eyes at her as if she had asked the most absurd question ever. "Star Etcher, the socialite."

"Well I'm sorry if I'm not big on reading about the slags mentioned in Witch Weekly," she smirked as she teased him mercilessly for his less than stellar reading material of choice.

"Okay, listen," she sopped her, sending her a dirty look. "You have to stop mocking the fact that I read this. I'll have you know that it's very important to keep up to date with what's going on in your community, Lily, have you no pride?" he asked her, a look of unadulterated incredulity marring his face as he spoke.

"You look like a poofter when you read that trash," she told him monotonously before returning her attention to her latest issue of the New Yorker. "So I was thinking," she continued as she read the latest cartoon by Lee Lorenz.

"What about?"

"I think we need to get engaged," she announced furrowing her eyebrows as she tired to make sense of what Lorenz was trying to say with the caricature, must be an American thing, she rationalized. It was only when she heard James choking, and very loudly so, however, that she finally got up the courage to look up at him. "Something wrong, love?"

"You want to get married?" he asked between coughs, clearly struggling to breathe as the impact of the shock hit him full force.

"Well I can't let Star Etcher get married before me, now can I?" she asked him with a small smirk.

"Lily, I don't know if you've realized this yet, but we're not exactly totally committed yet-"

She stiffened at those words, already well aware of what the arse would say next, typical James. "Do you love me?"

He let out a groan. "Come on, Lils, we had a deal! You know, only say that in the after sex euphoria…"

"I don't like that deal that much anymore," she told him, coolly taking a sip from her coffee, giving him a chance to mull it all over before saying anything—knowing him he'd need the time so he wouldn't screw it up, as he usually did.

"Well you know, you can't very well expect me to marry you when we've never even really lived together, for all I know you might be a nightmare to shack up with, and we can't very well go into marriage unprepared-" he rambled on, trying to rationalize it all while avoiding her wrath to whatever extent possible, well aware that playing with fire wasn't very fun when with one Lily Evans.

Lily snorted. "You're kidding me, right?"

He stared at her blankly, absolutely serious. "Do I look like I'm kidding?"

"We spend every night together, James, half my clothes are at your place and you have your own closet at mine. Are you seriously going to use that excuse?"

"Well those are just minor technicalities; we don't really live together-"

She merely glared at him. "Go to hell."

"But then where would you be without me love?" he asked her with a wink.

"Married," she stiffly told him before grabbing what was left of her croissant, her magazine, and walking out on him.

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Rule two: hex the prat for… well being such a prat

"What are you doing here?" she asked him, raising a questioning eyebrow at him.

"Well I decided I'd do you the favor of forgetting about that little mishap this morning," he announced with a cheery smile before taking a seat on her couch and turning on the TV.

She rolled her eyes, marching over to the coffee table where he'd placed the remote and grabbing it, turning off the TV with an angry slam of the power button.

"Oi, that was a good football game, Germany versus Poland, you know that deep-seated rivalry between the two from that world cup a few years back!"

She took a deep breath, clearly exasperated and willing herself not to punch the bastard for being such a wanker. "You conceited, self-centered arse, what the hell makes you think that I even want you here after the shit that you pulled this morning?!"

"OW, did you have to poke me?"

"James, stop it! Just stop avoiding this, you always do this when you don't want to talk about something; well guess what, it's now or never."

"What exactly do you mean by never?" he asked her with that charming wink that pulled on her heart strings whether she liked it or not.

She had learned to ignore that feeling, however, and find some sort of immunity with it by using the knowledge that he was a conceited prat who couldn't care less about anyone but himself. So she shrieked, she yelled, and grabbed his ear, a pathetic weakness of his that he blamed on a low threshold for pain but was really just because he was blasted pansy, and dragged him out of her flat.

After she threw him out of her apartment, her last words to him being the canary transfiguration hex that she placed on him she couldn't help but mutter a silent prayer of thanks to the gods for having blessed her with a place in a magical community.

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Rule three: don't be afraid to wallow

"Wotcher!" Alice greeted her as she entered Lily's room only to be taken aback by the sight of her angrily throwing things into boxes.

"Can't talk, kind of busy at the moment in case you haven't noticed," Lily distractedly told her as she went back into her closet, surely to find more of James's clothes to cut up and throw away.

"Oi," alice moved towards her, waving a hand in front of her face. "If you really think I'm going to let you go on autopilot like this you're sadly mistaken—in fact, you're as nutters as everyone says you are."

"Listen, just let me do this will you, let me be Alice," Lily stiffly ordered her.

Alice rolled her eyes, going into the walk in closet after Lily, roughly grabbing her by the back of her shirt and pulling her out.

"Bloody hell, what was that for?!" she groaned.

"Look at you," Alice yelled, never having been a believer in that absurd idea of patience being a virtue. "This is pathetic. Going on like this as if you're not affected by it when you clearly are. You love the bloke, that's nothing to be ashamed of—well okay, it kind of is when he's acting like a wanker," she admitted, going off on a tangent as she reconsidered her argument. "But, Lils, you can't change that. You have to face the facts and stop ignoring your feelings like this. You're a ticking time bomb and, honestly, I don't want to have to deal with the imminent explosion."

Lily just shrugged in response. "What's the point?"

Alice sighed. "You're a stubborn bitch, love. Now come on, I brought your favorite movies over and a ton of junk food, time for wallowing."

As Alice pulled on her hand to lead her into the living room, where she had set everything up, she was surprised to find that Lily wasn't following her, but instead remained rooted in place.

"I can't," Lily told her, answering the silent question Alice had asked by turning to face her friend.

Alice smiled at her sympathetically. "You need to get it out… and—I mean, you don't have to cry, but just let it go. Wallowing is a chance to be fat and merry while confronting all the shit that's going on in your life."

"But I don't want to be that girl, I always hated that girl," Lily moaned.

"That girl is the one that's not going to die because of all the stress, and at least she faces her problem head on. You're cutting up and throwing away all of his things, but still avoiding the real issue the entire time. Sometimes you just need to wallow before you can move on with your life, Lils."

Lily grumbled, stomping her foot petulantly before acquiescing by silently nodded, letting Alice take her hand and lead her into the living room where Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was playing.

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Rule four: show him what his so-called "uncommitted relationship" should be like

She was so startled by the sudden crackle of a person apparating into her apartment that she actually fell into one of the empty boxes that she was about to throw out. "Bloody hell, Sirius, couldn't you apparate in front of the apartment and then knock on the door so I could let you in—you know, like a normal person who has a sense of propriety?"

"Now what would the fun be in that, love?" he teasingly asked her with a wink.

She rolled her eyes, fighting the grin that was slowly tugging on her lips. "You're an idiot, you know that?"

"You love it," he retorted with a grin. His face, however, was quickly marred by one of utter confusion, as he asked, "What's all this? Are you moving?"

Lily stiffened at the mention of the boxes; she had been praying that she'd get by without him noticing, sadly, however, he wasn't that oblivious. "No, just some spring cleaning."

"It's winter," he dryly noted.

"Yeah, well after the conversation with, James, the one that I'm sure he told you about-"

He winced. "Listen, about that-"

"Ah," she said, stopping him before he could say any more, she couldn't risk it, just having James's best mate there was enough to make her waver, anymore and she just knew she'd break down. "It's okay, I get it; he wants to be free, whatever. Just do me a favor and take these to him, will you?"

"Lils-"

she raised a hand, silently begging him to just shut up. "Please, Sirius, I can't—after everything I just want us to have a clean slate and be able to move on."

"He loves you, Lils-"

She sighed, shrugging helplessly. "Just not enough to say it anywhere other than the bedroom-"

"He was never particularly romantic," Sirius sheepishly admitted, well aware of what a poor defense that was.

"It's not that, I don't need someone spouting sonnets to me or anything, I just—I'd like it to be so that when he says he loves me it's not just in the bedroom, in the 'after sex euphoria,' as he so romantically puts it."

Sirius winced at that depiction. "He needs you though… I mean, he has his faults, but-"

"But he can't commit after seven years together, and you know—it didn't bother me until recently, until I realized that he really doesn't want to ever be married, does he?" she asked him solemnly.

His lack of response was all that she needed to know what her answer was. "Take these boxes with you as you leave, will you? I have a feeling he'll need his clothes."

"Sure Lils," he nodded, pecking her on the cheek before shrinking the boxes and disapparating with them.

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Rule five: move on, if he can't appreciate you then there are tons of other blokes that can

"Hey you," she heard a voice great her as the familiar voice took a seat across from her at her table in a secluded corner of the pub.

"Dylan? Hi, how are you?" she asked him, surprised to see the ex-boyfriend whom she hadn't seen in two years, since he moved to Australia.

He beamed at her. "I'm good, you?"

"Fantastic, I've missed you," she told him with a smile.

"Glad to hear it, and I see you're still a regular at this pub, some things really never do change, Evans."

She laughed. "It's still got the best screwdriver known to man so what can I say, I have good taste in alcohol."

"It's not that you're an alcoholic or anything," he teased her.

"Never," she laughed. "I merely enjoy its company," she told him with a wink.

He let out a bark of laughter. "So, really, who is he?"

She choked slightly on the drink that she had decided to take a sip from at that exact moment. "Pardon?" she asked with a small cough.

"I know you, Lils, we were mates before we ever dated and you don't drink alone, so who was it?"

She rolled her eyes, crinkling her nose lightly as he sussed it out so easily; she wasn't that predictable, was she? "James," she meekly admitted.

Dylan's eyes widened in shock. "Bloody hell, I thought that that ended just before you and I got together."

"No, James and I got back together soon after you left for Australia."

"Damn."

She nodded solemnly. "Yeah."

"So it's over between you two now?"

She let out a sigh. "Yep, week and a half now."

"How'd it end?"

"He doesn't want to get married. After seven years of an on-again off-again relationship… it's really over," she told him, taking a large sip of her drink as the realization hit her full force for the first time. Fuck.

"I'm sorry," he told her, placing a hand over hers in a sympathetic manner.

"Don't be, I don't regret it—just a bit hurt, you know?" she smiled sadly at him, sighing. "Listen, I should go, Alice wants some help preparing a few last minute things for her anniversary with Frank."

"Okay, listen, how about I take you out to Café Amore tomorrow, you love Italian food and I love your company, you can tell me all about what a huge wanker he is," he told her with a conspiratory wink that she couldn't help but laugh at.

She nodded eagerly. "I'd like that; it's always nice to catch up with a mate. I'll see you tomorrow night, Dylan; I'll meet you there, seven o'clock?"

"I'll be there."

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Rule six: don't fall for the pretty little knickknacks—they're not worth much in the long run

"Miss Evans," the secretary announced herself as she entered Lily's office at the Auror department.

"Yes, Jacqueline?" Lily asked, tiredly running a hand through her hair as she leafed through the latest set of death records she'd received.

"Um this came for you today," she said, effectively gaining Lily's attention, as she brought in seven bouquets of white tulips- she couldn't help smiling fondly as she saw her favorite flower and various assortments of chocolates.

She walked over to the flowers to take out the card, and the "euphoria" was quickly disrupted by what she read.

I'm sorry, take me back; I'll even let you train me.
I'll do whatever you want, I need you.

It was the absence of that one word, that final confirmation of his feelings that he only seemed to be able to give in bed—in the safety of the dark; she let out a deep breath before finally turning to her secretary. "Send them back, please."

"Oh," the woman said, looking at her incredulously, clearly put off by the cutting reply to the ostentatious show of affection. "But they're so-"

"Worthless," she cut her off. "They're absolutely worthless and he's a bastard… just send them back, Jacqueline."

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Rule seven: make sure he knows you're moving on—karma, after all, is a bitch

"You sent it back?!" an irate James asked when he suddenly surprised her by apparating into her apartment.

She rolled here eyes bitterly. "Oh don't be so petulant about it, I sent it back hours ago, it's not like you just found out," she told him with a glare.

"I did just find out, I was on the field all day."

"Oh." Well that put quite the damper on her argument, but at leats she could always revert to the "he's just an arse" argument, she rationalized.

"Is that all you have to say—and wait, why are you all dressed up?" he asked her, his outrage quickly escalating with each word.

"I have a date tonight," she told him simply, rather pleased by the way his face turned purplre upon hearing her little white lie, it was a rather funny sight, actually. She held strong, never letting him break her cool exterior, she knew she couldn't let herself be weak around him again. She loved him too much to make it through alive once more that much even she could admit to herself.

His jaw went slack for a moment and she had to force herself to resist the building urge to do a little victory dance on those glasses of his—especially given that that seemed to be a reoccurring fantasy of hers ever since their fight.

"With who?"

"Dylan, you remember him don't you? I used to be partners with him…" she smiled widely at him, well aware of his hatred for the bloke.

"Seater?! Your ex-boyfriend Dylan—the one you dated while we were on a break?!" he asked, absolutely livid, she could feel the anger radiating off his body, and, as much as she hated to admit it, she loved the feeling—finally being able to get a real reaction off of him after having tried so hard after her confession.

She nodded gleefully. "That's the one."

"Not happening, I'm not going to let you go out with him, much less when you look like that."

She honestly didn't know whether to blush at the semi-compliment or slap him for having the audacity to be so controlling—given their history she opted for the latter.

"You slapped me!"

"It was well deserved, trust me. Now get out of here, James, you no longer have any jurisdiction in my life, I thought I made that fact clear enough."

He looked a bit like a fish with his mouth opening and closing as it did when she said those parting words to him. He just gaped at her, no sound coming out of his mouth for the longest time before he was finally able to utter something. "But-"

She, however, wasn't one for trifling with useless things such as patience when concerning him and stupefied him, only to apparate him back to his apartment that he shared with Sirius, before making her way back to her flat.

"Bastard, cocky bastard," she muttered to herself as she checked her appearance in the mirror when the doorbell rang.

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one week later.

"James, what are you doing here?" she asked him with a tired sigh as she moved past him to unlock her door.

"You changed the wards," he said, almost as if in a dazed state, absolutely unconnected with the world around him.

Lily snorted as she realized that he had just realized how serious she had actually been when she had given him that ultimatum two and a half weeks ago. Figures.

She shrugged. "Thought it might be for the best, you seem to have this annoying tendency to just pop in at the most inconvenient times."

He agitatedly ran a hand through his hair, grimacing. "Can we talk?"

She didn't bother answering, only finally opened the unlocked door, letting both of them in. "What do you want to talk about?" she asked, taking a seat on the chair across from the sofa in which he had placed himself. She needed that space, that separation from him, no matter how small it was vital in retaining whatever immunity she had. She loved him, she knew that much, and it was a liability.

"You and me."

She groaned, even if she had been expecting it. "Don't you think that one's a little hackneyed by now, James?"

He winced at her words, and she couldn't deny that the fact that she had hurt him with that comment bothered her.

"Sorry," she said, tracing designs into the arm rest of her arm chair as she avoided looking at him. "That came out harsher than I had intended it to."

"No… you were right, I shouldn't have expected anything more," he told her, clenching his jaw slightly as he spoke.

She sighed, looking up at him. "How did we get here, James? We can barely even talk to one another—how can one conversation do so much damage?"

He shrugged. "It's not as little of a conversation as it seems."

She nodded. "Guess so."

"I—I'm sorry that I hurt you, you know?"

She nodded, again, smiling sadly at him. "I know; I know you, you'd never hurt me intentionally…"

"Lily-"

"James-"

They both laughed slightly when they saw that they had spoken at the same time. "You go first," he told her.

"I think you should leave."

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three days later.

"Miss," a little boy of about seven years or so stopped her before she opened the door to her apartment.

"Yes, sweetie?"

"I was told to give you this," he told her as he handed her a balloon that he had been hidden behind his back until he said those words.

She looked at the balloon that as attached to a stick in confusion, and just as she was about to ask him who sent it she was surprised to see that the little boy had already disappeared. Playing with it, Lily noted how on the opposite side it said "pop me for your surprise."

She bit back a smile as she rummaged through her purse for the nearest pen or quill, quickly going about stabbing the balloon. She was shocked, however, when suddenly a piece confetti flew out of it. As it deflated she noticed that there was something inside of it, and with the attention of a person who appeared almost transfixed she tore at the plastic, quickly setting free the rest of the confetti with a grin.

A smile that only grew when she saw what else had been in the balloon. There, attached to the stick, was an engagement ring with a simple note card behind it saying "marry me."

"So, will you?" she heard a voice say.

"James," she gasped, biting her lip slightly as she felt the blush travel up her neck. "You shouldn't have done this."

"No, I did."

She sighed, hugging the gift to her chest tightly one last time before handing it to James. "No—you really shouldn't have."

His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he stared at her in bafflement. "What?"

"I wanted to get married, but not like this, James. I never hoped to con you into going down the aisle with me…"

"But you didn't," he persistently told her, and she almost believed him, and that was what hurt the most, having it dangled before her like that.

She cocked an eyebrow. "You sure about that one?"

"Lily, I love you, these past three weeks… they've been hell. I can't do this, I can't be without you. Please, marry me."

"No," she told him with a slight whimper, and he couldn't help but smile when he felt her wavering.

"Come on, love," he persisted, moving towards her and bringing a hand to her cheek before he cupped her face, forcing her to look him in the eyes. "We're great together—we shag, we talk, we shag, we argue, we shag, we banter, we shag… and did I mention the fucking amazing sex?" he grinned scharmingly and she ahted him for it.

"James, no," she told him, feeling herself weakening at his words and hating herself for not having more resolve.

"Lily, we have our faults, we fight like there's no tomorrow, and yeah, I'm a stubborn and oblivious prat half the time, but we can make it work. I love you, and you love me too."

"No…"

Rule eight: say yes.

Fin.

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author's note: so I'm working on a sequel for this for a challenge and this version has been bothering me forever so I decided to reboot it, revise and edit it completely. Please review.