Disclaimer: All characters, settings, etc. belong to JKR and the various companies she chooses to do business with. They do not belong to me, I am only borrowing them.

A/N: Thanks to Anne for beta-reading this for me and thanks to the Queens for posting this on thier site.



Then and Now





The boy with the messy black hair tiptoed down the stairs into the Gryffindor common room with his invisibility cloak in hand. He hadn't been able to sleep and decided to go for a walk to clear his head. As he quietly entered the common room, he froze. Seated in front of the fireplace was the very person who was in his thoughts just five minutes before. (Those were the thoughts which had kept him awake until two a.m. and those were the thoughts from which he was trying to escape.) "Damn," he thought. Why did she have to be so beautiful, her dark red hair catching the barely there light from the fireplace and looking as though it were almost glowing. She was holding a letter, reading and re-reading it unaware that she was no longer alone. She seemed mesmerized by that letter. Her hands were shaking and he noticed that she was crying. He was torn between running to her and holding her in his arms until she could smile again and slipping away unnoticed. He took a deep breath and began to quietly slip on his invisibility cloak and continue out of the common room, deciding that she needed her privacy and he desperately needed to clear his mind. Just then, she turned her head and saw him standing there.

"Hi?" she said, clearly confused by the sight of him standing in the doorway watching her. "What are you doing up at this hour?"

He quietly walked to her and sat down beside her on the sofa, very near her, but not close enough to touch her. "I was just going for a walk. I couldn't sleep. Are you alright?" she shook her head. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked softly.

"No," was her only reply.

He sat there just watching her for nearly ten minutes but still she said nothing. He knew that he should go, that he was intruding on her privacy, but he was unable to move away from her side. He wanted so much to comfort her, to tell her everything was going to be all right. As it was though, he didn't even know what it was that had her so upset. She had stopped crying when he sat down, but still she just kept staring at that letter with the saddest expression he had ever seen.

Finally, she turned to him and said in a voice barely loud enough for him to hear, "It's my parents. They're dead." Tears were beginning to run down her checks again.

"What happened?" he asked, his heart beginning to break for her.

"Auto accident," she whispered.

"Oh," was the only reply he could think of. After a few moments, he regained his composure and asked her if Dumbledore knew.

"Yes," she replied. "He called me to his office and gave me the letter. He offered to let me stay and talk about it but I really just wanted to be by myself."

"I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone," he replied moving to get up.

She reached out her hand and placed it lightly on his arm. "No, don't go, please. I want you to stay."

He sat back down, confused, not knowing what to say or do. As he was desperately searching for the words that would make her pain disappear, she leaned over, resting her head on his shoulder. He put his arm around her and gently pulled her to him. "Tell me about your parents."

She reached up a hand to wipe away her tears that seemed to be coming more rapidly now and said simply, "They were wonderful." After a few moments she added, "They always made sure my sister and I had everything we needed. They told us we could do anything we set our minds to. I don't know what I'm going to do without them."

The two of them sat like that on the couch for nearly an hour. James was thinking about the woman in his arms; it felt so right to be holding her like this. His Lily! Of course, she wasn't really his Lily. Not yet anyway, but he hoped that maybe some day she would be. They had been friends for nearly seven years now, not good friends, but more than acquaintances. Only in the past year, however, had he began to notice how beautiful and special she was and he resolved to get to know her better. James was lost in these thoughts about Lily; how smart she was and how her smile lit up the room and how soft her hair felt under his hand, when he felt her shift in his arms. He noticed her slow and steady breathing and realized she'd fallen asleep. Carefully, he leaned back on the couch, slowly pulling her with him and soon he, too, fell asleep.

A few hours later, soft sunlight crept into the common room, waking James. He looked down at Lily sleeping so peacefully and wished there was something he could do so that she didn't have to wake up in the cruel world, full of pain, that had surrounded her before she fell asleep. However, all he could do was allow her a few more minutes of calming sleep. James was unsure of how long they remained like that, but the sun continued to shine brighter through the common room windows and he knew he would have to wake her soon to save her the embarrassment of being found in such a compromising situation. Gently, he shook her, whispering her name to wake her. She opened her eyes, saw James looking at her with apprehension and sat bolt upright. James watched her as her confusion faded and was replaced with harsh reality. She glanced from James to the letter still clutched in her hand and began to once again fight back tears.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I'm sure you didn't want to stay here all night while I cried on your shoulder."

He looked into her bright green eyes, which were usually sparkling with happiness and light. Now there was only sadness there. He would have given anything to make that sadness disappear, even for a single minute. "It's o.k." he said, brushing a strand of hair away from her face.



She met his eyes for the first time that morning. Before he realized what he was doing, he leaned forward and tenderly kissed her on the lips. As soon as the realization set in that he was, in fact, kissing her, he jerked away, hoping she wouldn't think he was taking advantage of her. She looked at him questioningly for a few moments before saying, "Thank you for being there for me. I really needed a friend."

"You're welcome," was all he could think to say before she disappeared up the stairs to her room.

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Harry folded his letter from Sirius. Ever since Voldemort had been defeated last year, he had decided that he wanted to learn more about his parents. He had always been curious about them and now that he wasn't spending his time trying to save himself or some other unfortunate soul from the wrath of his nemesis, he wanted to know exactly what they were like as people. Sure, he had heard their last moments and seen their ghostly shadows but he didn't know just what kind of people they were. He knew they were Head Boy and Girl and his mum had the same emerald green eyes he had. He knew his dad liked to play practical jokes and was on the Quidditch team, but suddenly that limited information was not enough to satisfy him. He wanted to know things like did his mum have lots of boyfriends before his dad? And how, exactly did his dad manage to be a marauder and Head Boy? So he had written to Sirius and asked him to tell him about how his parents had become a couple. It seemed as good a place as any to start.

Harry opened his letter again and thought, so that's how they first got together. His dad had loved his mum for a year, but it had taken a tragedy to bring them together. Harry sat back and thought about the girl he has loved for nearly a year. She had red hair too, though much brighter than his mum's and soulful chocolate brown eyes. He sighed, hoping it wouldn't take a tragedy to bring him and Ginny together. "Well, maybe it won't have to," he thought, "maybe I'll just take matters into my own hands." That's just what he resolved to do as he folded his letter and put it away.