Previously on Boyfriend:

I bit my lip and shut my eyes. Did I really want to do this? This would complicate things even further.
"Okay," I breathed.
James's smile was so beautiful that my heart seemed to beat erratically at the sight of it. He leaned over to kiss me, and I closed my eyes and let it happen.

Chapter Fourteen
Dinner Date

"When I was in high school, I got in trouble with my girlfriend's Dad. He said, 'I want my daughter back by 8:15.' I said, 'The middle of August? Cool!' " — Steven Wright

"Lily," a voice whispered into my ear. It sounded so warm, like golden honey, and I inhaled sweetly at the sound. Instinctively, I knew to whom it belonged.

"Mmm," I moaned quietly in my sleep.

"Lily," the voice coaxed again with the same velvety tone. Warm arms wrapped around my torso, and I thanked my subconscious for making it all feel real enough that I felt tingles run down my spine. I breathed in the scent. Merlin, the scent preserving spell I had put on James's shirt was powerful. I could smell his aroma all around me.

"Lily, you have to wake up."

I frowned and rolled over. Normally, my dream James tried to make the illusion go on for as long as possible-usually with fun seduction techniques.

"Time to get up."

I pulled my sheets up over my head, muttering dissents the entire time. Slowly, I felt the sheets being loosened from my fingers and brushed down to my stomach with a slight tickle when it passed my ribs. I kept my eyes closed as I felt a callused thumb trace my cheek in a circular pattern. A content sigh left my lips as I felt drowsiness take over again. My perception was fading.

"No, Lily, don't go back to sleep," dream James urged me.

I opened my mouth to ask him why he was acting so strangely and why he wasn't kissing me, but suddenly I couldn't speak because there were soft lips pressing themselves against mine. Ahh, that was better.

My eyes still shut, I let dream James take over. This was what I had been expecting. "Mmm, James," I sighed as our lips danced lightly together, enough for me to feel the pressure of his lips but not enough to expect anything more-even though dream James never wore shirts. The kiss was sweet.

My head spinning dizzily, I pulled back. Normally, dream James and I never had to worry about oxygen. His fingers ran through my hair as I breathed deeply.

"Open your eyes," James whispered throatily.

I did as he requested. There was James. He looked a bit too prim and proper for my liking. Dream James usually sported a bit of scruff. I reached out to feel his freshly shaven jaw. "I want my subconscious to go back to normal, dream James," I told him.

James's hand trailed from my hair to my arm, stopping to rest over my hand. "Lily, this isn't a dream."

"It's not?"


I blinked and sat up a little. I didn't feel groggy or tired at all. In fact, all of my cramps had gone away, though, that wasn't too unusual; it was always the worst on the first day. My room was filled with sunlight, but I pinched myself just to make sure. Yep, I was awake. My eyebrows furrowed in confusion as I asked, "Then why did you kiss me?"

He chuckled lightly, and I felt the bed hum underneath me. "To wake you up."

I smiled demurely at him. "Good idea."

"You still seem a bit too drowsy for me, though," he decided.

"Mmm," I agreed, licking my lips in anticipation.

"I think I should rectify the situation," James told me in all seriousness.

Kissing James, I decided that this was the perfect method of waking someone up. If this could happen every day, hell, I could even become a morning person. Several minutes later, when all three of us were, ahem, thoroughly awakened, James and I got out of bed.

As I worked to fluff out my hair and pull down his shirt so that I looked less like a desperate, ostracized veela during last call at the Hog's Head, James walked over to peer more at my room. He gave my books a once over, then looked at my dresser like he really wanted to open up the drawers, but he refrained. I grinned to myself. Oh yeah, he was still afraid of my awesome wrath.

James walked over to my shelves, which were all overflowing with unicorns. I had all sorts of them. Unicorn figurines, plush dolls, book ends, pictures, even unicorn salt shakers. James picked up one of the stuffed animals, and I winced a bit when he threw it up into the air.

"Hey," I called out to him as I rescued the animal from his grasp. "Be nicer to Mr. Snuggles." I hugged him to my chest and frowned sadly at his mistreatment.

James snorted and laughed at the same time, and I willed my face to remain composed. "Mr. Snuggles?" he asked.

"Oh, shut up," I told him as I placed Mr. Snuggles back in his spot and gave him a quick pat on the head when James wasn't looking.

"You named your unicorn doll?"

"He's not a doll," I corrected him prissily. "He's a stuffed animal. Besides, that was years ago."

Okay, two, but he didn't need to know that. It was still plural!

"Oh, sorry," teased James with a grin. "I didn't think you were the type to be so uppity about this kind of stuff."

I shrugged in what I hoped was a nonchalant way.

His grinned widened. "Though, I suppose you are a bit uppity about everything."

Scrunching up my nose, I smacked him in the chest with my arm. "Git," I told him as I hit him again. He raised his hands in surrender, and I sighed. "I just like unicorns-even before I found out I was magic. They're just so beautiful and pure and innocent. I wish I could see one."

"Wait, you've been living at Hogwarts for six years, and you've still never seen a unicorn?" asked James, taken aback.

I shook my head. "The lesson in Care of Magical Creatures was only theory that day. Professor Kettleburn couldn't find any for us, remember?"

"Yeah, but there are loads of them in the Forbidden Forest. Why didn't you ever just go find one?"

"Because we're not supposed to go in there, James," I told him obviously. "It's forbidden. Hence, the name, see," I told him with a mocking smile.

He rolled his eyes.

"Lily, you can't let them spoil your fun," James commented with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "Sometimes you've got to break a few rules."

"Put it on the list," I sighed.

He ruffled up his hair in thought.

I raised an eyebrow at his lost in thought, already dressed body-bloody morning person, and he stiffened when he noticed my stare but then broke into an impish smirk.

"Tired?" he asked hopefully.

I scoffed and rolled my eyes. "Not at all," I lied. "Actually, I'm going to get dressed," I told him.

His eyes sparkled, and he sat down at my desk, waiting.

"Am I going to let you watch?" I asked him pointedly.

"Yes," James said back hopefully.

I rolled my eyes but couldn't help but to play along. "And why would that be?"

"Because I was cursed with no siblings and this is Merlin's way of paying me back for my seventeen long years of solitude," James replied with a roguish wink.

I pulled him out of my chair and guided him to the door. "Time for Potter to leave," I scolded.

"Damn," he complained. "I promise not to look."

"Liar," I accused.

"Guilty," he agreed before stealing a kiss at the door.

I let him steal all of my oxygen until I remembered that I was the one in charge and pushed him back.

Breathless, he smiled jubilantly at me. "I'll be home at six o'clock to take you out. Dress nice," he told me.

"Wait, where are you going? Where are we going?"

"Your mum is going to drop me off at your dad's office to do some guy bonding stuff."

I rolled my eyes. It was just so like him to want to go and bore himself silly with Dad. Chances were that they'd spend the afternoon gossiping like little old women and trying to throw wads of paper into a rubbish bin, cheering loudly and pathetically when they actually tossed it in. Still, the term "guy bonding" was rather hysterical. "Don't go for the three-pointer," I advised.

His eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but he just let it slide. I didn't think James understood half the things I said. What was the point of being witty if no one got the joke?

"Just ignore me," I told him with a sigh. "So what is going on?"

"I'm going to spend the day with your dad at his office."

"But it's Sunday," I told James.

"Yeah, but he's got to work overtime to solve that number problem. Apparently, the accowmans can't figure it out, so he has to help."

"Accountants," I corrected him with a laugh.

"Right, well, your mum is taking me before she goes off to some special teacher lunch meeting."

I nodded. "The annual fancy shmancy lunch before all the children show up."

"And as for tonight, it's a surprise," he announced enigmatically.

I groaned. "I hate surprises."

He laughed and kissed my nose. "I know."

I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Sensing them, too, James turned to look. "Your mum."

"Awesome," I deadpanned.

"Oh, there you are," I heard Mum say as James and I put a few more centimeters of distance between us. "James, we have to go now, or I'm going to be late." She looked distracted as she checked her watch and pulled at her skirt hem. She was probably debating which macaroni artwork best symbolized education, or something. Merlin, I'd make a terrible teacher.

Wait….hold those freaking thestrals. "What time is it?" I asked.

"Eight," answered James, his teeth glinting as he grinned malevolently.

Bollocks. I gave him the most sinister look I could muster. "Oh, you loathsome-"

"No more adjectives, Lily, we're running late," Mum interrupted me with a strained voice while tracing her temple with her forefinger. "I'll be back at three. Tuney should come home before that. Now tell James you love him so we can leave."

I rolled my eyes. "I love you," I muttered at the boy trying not laugh in front of me.

"I know," he answered.

Grumbling to myself about the dangers of letting James Potter watch Star Wars, I pushed him out the door towards my mother. "Thanks for the wakeup call!" I called out to his back.

"My pleasure," replied James, pausing at the stairs to give me one last wink.

Rolling my eyes at his cheesiness and, worse, my pathetic, butterflies, blushing, dizzy, estrogen ensuing weakness for it, I shut my bedroom door.

I crawled back into my bed and slept for a few more hours before thoroughly waking up. It was Sunday and day twelve of this two-week marathon. I realized how much I had changed in less than two weeks. Twelve days ago, I had been counting down the seconds until it would be credulous enough for me to break up with James. Now, I was trying to make time slow down to avoid us parting.

Shaking my head, I walked into the bathroom and took care of what needed to be taken care of. Looking back, I was rather embarrassed about my behavior from yesterday. As much as I had tried to be pleasant, I thought the biological monster won the battle. I hoped it wasn't just me who turned into a bloody fire-breathing dragon during her time of the month.

I had once talked to Remus about it, and he said that he always felt uncontrollably irritable around the full moon. Apparently, chocolate helped. Still, he was working on a whole different cycle-one of the lunar variety.

I felt awful for Remus. He was really the most genuine person I had ever met. It wasn't that the werewolf thing bothered me or lessened my opinion of him in any way-quite the opposite, really; it was just that I knew that this stigma would follow him around for the rest of his life. Remus didn't deserve that.

When he told me-during a late patrol together last year-I remembered not knowing what to say. What does one say when she hears that type of information? Do you want me to buy you some were-snausages? just didn't seem to cut it. Still, at the time, I couldn't help but to envy Remus a little-not for the furriness, but for the sense of identity his condition gave him. He seemed so sure of himself, so collected, like he knew whom he really was and he wasn't ashamed of it. I wished I could have that kind of acceptance in my own life. I couldn't even get over the whole Christmas color scheme thing.

I sighed and brushed my teeth. I hoped James enjoyed the dragon breath I had been sporting this morning. I was fairly certain that Newt Scamander would have had to write a whole new edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to classify what hideous monster I was in the mornings. Ahh, well, it was his own ruddy fault for waking me up.

I walked downstairs and glided into the kitchen for some breakfast. As I nibbled on my toast, I reveled in the fact that I had the house all to myself—no parents, no sister, and no boyfriend. I could run around naked! Okay, I'd never do that. What if something happened, like a fire, and I had to evacuate? I didn't even want to let people see me in my jammies-let alone starkers. I could just picture it: Hey, Billy, little 12 year old boy from down the street. Yes, it is a little chilly this morning.

No thank you.

Instead, I turned up the volume to my favorite muggle singer-a new bloke from America with a great voice-and screeched along to it. This only lasted for about a half hour, at which time I figured poor Calypso had suffered through enough of my wrong notes for a lifetime. Petunia had all the music genes. I had the magic ones.

I watched Callie fly around my room and flipped through my new books. They were filled with new and exciting things with which to stress over and make myself insane for the next year as I tried to be the best. Yay for type A personalities! Everyone loved some good hypertension!

After whipping myself up a quick tuna sandwich for lunch, I even attempted to start packing for school-well, if laying on your bed and willing everything to pack itself counted as an attempt. Did you reckon they invented brainless magic? That would solve all my problems.

However, when Tuney came home around two o'clock, I couldn't deny it any longer. I was going on a date with James Potter. Tonight.

I frantically paced around my room as I tried to remain calm. Yet, the questions kept pouring through my head:

Where was he taking me?

What should I say?

If we get dinner, what do I order to not seem like a pig or a twig?

Do I pay?

Does he pay?

Do we both pay?

Was it too weird to have the girl drive because the bloke didn't even know what a car was up until a few days ago?

Since we were treating this as an actual date, did that make all previous encounters null and void? And if so, did that mean I wasn't supposed to kiss him? Did you kiss on the first date? Was tongue involved?

And most importantly, what in the name of Merlin's right testicle was I supposed to wear?

I reminded myself to breathe and count backwards from ten. This was going to be fine. I could do this. I just had to lock in the crazy. What would James's girlfriend do? She'd shut up, dress up, and then show up. Right.

Merlin, I needed help.

Hestia would know exactly what to do in this situation. She'd been on more first dates than I could count. Every Hogsmeade there'd be a different bloke as she searched for the secret, kismet connection she was always spouting off about. She knew proper dating etiquette. What would she say?

Lily, get a freaking grip! It's just a date, and you are gracing whichever gent seems worthy enough to have the pleasure of your company. You look fabulous, make him sweat, and you play with him. He's yours for the taking. He pays, of course. If he asks, then he pays. It's only right. Don't let him talk the whole night about himself, and eat whatever the damn hell you want. If he's got a problem with it, then you've got a problem with him. Women empowerment, Lily! Then, at the end, if you like him, and he hasn't screwed up too badly yet, kiss the bloke, softly, pulling away before it's really over, and he'll be yours for as long as you want him to be. That's the Hestia Jones guarantee.

I smiled with a pang as I thought of her. I missed my best friend so much. Yet, it was not a good sign if my inner Hestia was starting to make sense to me. Even worse, I still had no ruddy idea what to wear.

I pulled clothes out of my closet, inspected them briefly, and then threw them over my shoulder and onto the floor behind me. Everything was too clingy, too prudish, too slutty, too short, too long, too itchy, or too orange. I had nearly emptied my entire closet onto the floor when I heard the heeled clicks of my mom in the kitchen, the only room in the house with tile floor that seemed to echo throughout the entire house.

I ran down the stairs to her. I had never been happier to see my mum in all of my seventeen years. Who would have known that a mustard stained blouse and flyaway hair could be the most beautiful image of a lifetime?

"Mum, I need your help," I blurted out.

She put down her suitcase in surprise, all anxious behavior from this morning gone and replaced with reasonable Mum. "Everything okay, Lily? You look frazzled."

"I'm freaking out, Mum."

She smiled knowingly. "Is this about the big date James was telling me about in the car?"

I nodded, feeling sick to my stomach at the word.

"What's the problem?" she asked with a laugh as she yanked off her uncomfortable looking pointy shoes.

"I have no idea what to wear."

"Oh, that is a problem," she agreed.

"Help me, Mummy," I pleaded pathetically.

She walked over and pulled me into one of her priceless Mum hugs. Her familiar floral perfume made me feel safe and relaxed, all at the same time. "Let's go take a look upstairs."

Together, we picked up all the clothes from my floor and returned them to my closet while searching for possible date wear. Unfortunately, when the last shirt was hung back up, we were back at square one. "You really need to get some new clothes," Mum decided with a laugh.

"Mum!" I squeaked. "Not helping here."

"Right, sorry," she said quickly while holding back her laughter. Apparently, not only am I mentally unstable when I'm about to go on a date with James Potter, I'm hysterically funny, as well. Neat-o. "Don't you have anything a little nicer? I could have sworn you had the perfect outfit."

I gestured to my reassembled closet dejectedly. "Where?" I asked.

Mum snapped her fingers. "The dress," she whispered momentously.

I stared at her blankly. "Dress, what dress? Mum, what are you talking about? This is no time for imaginary dresses. We only have about an hour and a half to turn me back into a normal, sane person before James gets here."

Mum sighed at my dramatics. "Honestly, Lily," she scolded before explaining. "The dress we bought at the mall during our spa weekend."


I hugged her on the spot. "You're a genius, Mum!" I commended her gleefully.

She smirked knowingly. "Who do you think you get it from? Your father? Please."

I grinned and turned back to my closet. "Where is it, though? I would have seen it already."

"It's in my closet because a certain stubborn daughter of mine told me she wouldn't need it and she didn't want it taking up space in her closet."

I balked sheepishly. "Love you, Mum," I offered lamely.

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, let's go get that dress."

Neatly squeezed into my dress with a magic sticking charm placed on it so that I wouldn't be pulling the top up all night-stupid strapless dresses-I was feeling a lot calmer. Mum helped me put on my makeup. She was an eyeshadow guru.

I was removing all mascara clumpiness from my eyelashes when Mum gasped suddenly with realization.

"What are you going to do with your hair?" she asked.

I reached up to touch the knotty bun I had hoisted onto the top of my head that morning. "Oh, I knew this date thing was a bad idea," I groaned.

"No, it's going to be fine," Mum assured me, though her voice sounded a bit strained. "You still have half an hour left."

"Ruddy hell. Half an hour?"

"Okay, we need to call in some reinforcements. Petunia!" She got up and walked out of my room to go bang on Petunia's door. "Petunia!"

Five minutes, and what I could only presume was some generous bartering, later, Petunia came into my room with a curling iron, her weapon of choice, in hand.

"Tuney's going to fix your hair for you, Lily," Mum said as she trailed in behind Tuney.

I smiled at my sister in thanks. I could do simple charms, but I never was very good at styling hair. Tuney, though, she was a master. She had much more patience for it than I did. I just wanted something fast, which meant that it usually looked like crap.

Petunia pulled out a chair. "Okay, sit down."

I winced as she brushed my hair out. "Merlin, Tuney, do you have to be so rough?"

"It's not my fault that you don't comb your hair thoroughly enough and have knots," she told me.

I kept my mouth shut except for the occasional hissing when the curling iron got too close to my ear.

"Why are you freaking out so much anyway, Lily?" Petunia asked.

"James and I are going on our first date," I told her, my voice squeaking at the end as her bony fingers yanked on my hair.

She laughed snottily. "You mean, he hasn't taken you out on a date in the, what, six months that you've been dating him? Nice catch, Lils."

"Is that true, Lily?" Mom asked.

I mentally cursed at my mistake. I couldn't believe I let that slip. "Of course not!" I covered quickly. "I meant that this is our first date outside of the magic world."

"Oh," said Petunia simply as I saw my mum nod with comprehension in the reflection of my mirror.

"Any tips?" I asked eagerly.

"Make sure he opens doors for you," said Mum. "I know you girls want equality and all that, but it's just plain manners. I hate it when boys don't act gentlemanly. If he's not willing to do it, then he doesn't deserve you."

I smiled. "Thanks, Mum." It was so easy for her. She had married Dad because he was the first bloke to ever ask her to dance. I remembered asking her to repeat the story to me endlessly as a child. It had all seemed so romantic in its simplicity.

"Though, it's James, so I don't think you'll have to worry," concluded Mum, sounding like a lovestruck teenager.

Of course, she might drop my father in a blink of an eye if James ever suddenly became available. Bullocks.

"Bring breath mints in your purse," Petunia told me practically. "You can suck on one after dinner so that you don't scare him off later."

"Huh, thanks Tuney."

"Yeah, well," she muttered, tugging at my hair.

"Freaking-OWW!" I screeched in pain as I reached out to grab my head.

Petunia slapped my hand away. "Don't touch," she ordered.

"You're murdering my head," I complained dramatically.

"Stop whining. Beauty is pain."

When she stuck some bobby pins in to hold my hair back-so hard that I think she bypassed my skull and went straight for the brain the way the ancient Egyptians did to embalm people-I had that weird reflex thing when it all hurts so much that I laugh and cry at the same time. It was the weirdest phenomenon. All I knew was that it made my face all red and splotchy.

"Quit it, Lily. You're going to ruin your makeup," Tuney admonished me as she sprayed my hair a bit to keep it from falling out. "There," she announced as she stood back to admire her work. "You're all ready."

I grinned at her. "Thanks, Tuney."

She shrugged. "Whatever, freak," she replied with a slight curl of her pursed lips.

"You look lovely, Lily. Grab your purse. James and your father should be here soon."

Stuffing tampons, breath mints, and some lipstick into my purse, I felt a rush of gratitude to the women of the Evans household. I had never really considered myself a girly girl. I was not one to sit in front of the mirror all day and obsess over my complexion. But for some reason, having them there and doing all those stupid clichéd things made me feel so happy. I loved my mum. And I loved my sister.

I pulled out a pair of pale yellow flats and slipped them on.

"You're not going to where those ugly shoes are you?" Petunia sneered.

Well, I loved my mum, at least.

I paced around the kitchen as I waited for James to come. I willed away any and all irrational fears as I desperately wished I had gone out with a few boys to Hogsmeade. Even if they had been complete fuddy duddies, at least I would have had the experience. Exactly two minutes and thirty two seconds after six, the door bell rang.

My heart racing, I forced myself to wait a few seconds before I walked slowly to the door. I opened it to find… father.

"Dad? Where's James?" I squeaked, looking past his shoulder for a tall, moderately—okay, very attractive fellow.

Dad chuckled weakly. "Nice to see you too, Lils."

I bit my lip. "Oh, sorry, Daddy." I gave him a big hug. "How are you? How was work?"

"Fine and fine," he answered as he stepped through the threshold and wiped his feet onto the mat so that Mum wouldn't yell at him later for caking mud into the house-he was well trained. "James and I skipped out a bit early to take care of a few things."

"And where is James?" I pried.

"Getting ready. He'll only be a few minutes," answered Dad, loosening his tie.

"Okay," I replied as I sat down at the kitchen table.

Dad sat down next to me and placed a hand on my knee to stop my leg's nervous tapping. "I'll never understand teenage girls," Dad told me with a smile.

I grinned at him. "Me either," I answered truthfully.

Mum, changed into a pair of pants and a loose shirt, barged into the kitchen then with Petunia at her heels. Oh, Merlin, they were all going to see me off. Well, he'd asked for it.

The doorbell rang a few minutes of agonizingly slow anticipation later. I jumped up. "I've got it," I announced to the kitchen inhabitants, who were muffling their snorts of laughter behind their hands.

Taking deep breaths and smoothing my white and floral dress out, I walked over to the door and opened it. "James."

"Lily," he said as his eyes swept me in. "You look…." his voice faltered, and my mum cut in as she rushed into the hallway.

"Ahh, there you are, James. Okay, well, have fun kids!"

Dad walked over to the door and eyed James dubiously. It was both insanely adorable and thoroughly disgusting that he was putting on the territorial father act when he had just driven James home after a day of male bonding not three minutes ago. "Have her home by eleven, son."

Merlin, we weren't really going to do the parental sizing up, were we? Complete with curfew? Were you kidding me? He was bloody living in our guest room!

"Yes, sir," agreed James with a nod.

"Twelve," I argued.

"Eleven thirty," he countered.

"Forty-five?" I pressed.

"Lily," Dad warned.

I grinned. "Twelve, it is, Dad!" I kissed his cheek before he could say anything else. "Bye, guys!" I said over my shoulder at my parent's confused expressions and Petunia's proud grin as I grabbed James's hand and sped right out of that familial nightmare.

My face was bright red by the time we made it to the car. "Sorry about that. I've been trying to get them committed for ages." I took the opportunity to give him a once-over. He was wearing a crisp white dress shirt and a thin black tie with black trousers. It was an extremely classic look when combined with his dark, messy hair. It made my palms sweat.

James shrugged casually. "Just first date stuff, I suppose," he said, trying to appear aloof except for the wide grin that spread across his face.

Yep, we were both way too excited about this. Bloody hell! People did this all the time! It wasn't that big of a deal. Oh, I was such a headcase.

"So are you going to tell me where we're going?" I asked.

James shook his head. "I told you that it's a surprise."

"Well, I kind of need to where it is where going if I'm going to drive there. Unless, we're apparating," I realized.

"Nope, no apparating. We're getting there in true muggle fashion."

"Then how?" I asked, but I was distracted by James opening the passenger door for me. "What are you doing?" I demanded.

"Being a good date?" he replied simply, as though he was explaining basic addition to a college graduate.

"Don't you have this backwards? I'm driving."

"No, you're not," dissented James, taking car keys out of his pocket. "I'm old fashioned. The bloke drives."

"You don't know how to drive!" I shrieked, crossing my arms in defiance. "You don't even have a license!"

"Wrong on both accounts, love. Not your usual standard," laughed James, obviously enjoying my astonishment.

I opened my mouth to argue, but no words came out. He walked over to me and guided me into the car. Shocked, I didn't resist.

James quickly flounced over to the right side and started the ignition. My stomach rolled over in my stomach.

"I don't know how I feel about this," I told him uneasily.

"Relax, Lily, driving really isn't that hard," James assured me.

Not that hard? It had taken me all summer last year to figure it out! And I had almost failed the test-almost, Lily Evans did not fail tests.

"That's what you think," I told him loudly. "You've never even been driving before!"

James sighed, pulled at his hair, and put his hand on my knee to calm down my hysterics. "Yes, I have. Your dad's been teaching me for the past week or so. I even took that muggle test today. I'm good to go," said James, pulling his license out of his pocket to show me.

I marveled at the little photo of him on the card. "You didn't just transfigure that?" I asked.

He laughed and put the identification back into his pocket. "Trust me, Lily."

"I don't want you to kill me."

"Never," he promised. "I'll save you."

I rolled my eyes. "Romantic crap is not going to make me feel less freaked out."

"Lily, take a potion," he told me as he put the car into reverse.

"Oh, Merlin," I chanted to myself over and over again as I squeezed my eyes shut and ducked my head down. This was quite a role reversal.

James sighed loudly, and the next thing I knew, his lips were on mine. I relaxed into the soft kiss and forgot all about my imminent death by head-on truck collision. When he pulled back, and I opened my eyes, I saw that we were on the road.

"You tricked me!" I screeched.

"Yes, I did," he agreed.


"Do you really want to distract me right now, Evans?" asked James, his eyes never leaving the road in front of us.

I growled at him. "I can't believe you did that," I told him. "That was not covered in the permit manual!"

"Yeah, well, it's the only way to shut you up," he said with a smirk.

I slouched into my seat and pouted silently. He really was a good driver. He signaled correctly and took his turns at the right speed. Actually, it was kind of nice after a while. I felt like a real girl with a real boyfriend on a real date. Hell, I guessed I was.

Eventually, with much wincing on my part, James parked the car and sprinted over to my side so that he could open my door for me.

"I can get it myself," I told him.

"I know, but indulge me," he said with a grin. "Besides, you look too radiant tonight to have to do anything yourself."

I rolled my eyes. "James, we're on a date. It means I like you. You can cut it out with the perfect gentleman stuff and radiant rubbish and just say you want to shag me with this dress on."

"I want to shag you with that dress on," he admitted. Then, his lips curled into his trademark smirk. "Well, actually, the dress would be off at that point."

"Good, we're back to inappropriate sexual innuendo. Right, now where are we?"

James grabbed my hand. "Lily, we are going out for a nice muggle dinner."

I smiled. It was perfect, but I couldn't tell him that. "All right," I allowed demurely.

Grinning like an idiot, James grabbed my hand and guided us into an unfamiliar restaurant down the street. It was quaint inside-obviously upscale, but not too fancy that I felt overwhelmed.

"Good evening," the hostess greeted us. "How many?"

"We have reservations for two," James told her. "Under Evans."

I shot him a quizzical look.

"Your dad helped me out a lot," he admitted into my ear. "He set up the reservations. I'm still not so good with the telephone yet."

I nodded. "So that's what you two were whispering about yesterday."

"I was asking him for help," replied James as we were escorted out the doors and to our table.

It was a cozy, round table outside on the deck. A few couples were already dining quietly together. James sent me a pointed look that told me to behave as he pulled out my chair for me.

I stuck my tongue out at him but didn't say anything else about it. If he wanted to play Lancelot, I wasn't going to ruin it for him—just as long as he didn't get it in his head to start fighting dragons next. I wasn't a damsel.

"Your waitress should be with you in a few moments," the hostess informed us diplomatically before handing us our menus and walking away.

I settled into my chair as James sat down opposite of me. "So," I began, sucking a bit on my teeth as I said the word. I looked around at the twinkling lights hung across the black terrace as a soft classical piece began to play from a few violinists in the corner. "This is all a little surreal," I admitted.

"Really?" asked James, amused. "I thought it was dinner. You see, Lily, you order food, and then they bring it to you. Like magic, really."

I rolled my eyes. "Shut up, twat, you know what I mean."

James laughed, and I couldn't help but to chuckle a bit before a silence fell upon us.

"So," he said slowly. "This is a little awkward."


"You know, Sirius has a theory about awkward situations?"

"Oh, really?" I gazed up at him as I flipped open my menu.

"Yep. He says that if you acknowledge that a situation is awkward and then say 'hippogriff,' it breaks the ice because nothing is weirder than bowing down to an eagle that's shaped like a horse."

I rolled my eyes as a light snort escaped my nose. "Hippogriff," I said.

"Hippogriff," James agreed.

And just like that, we didn't run out of things to talk about the entire way through my chicken alfredo, after which, I made sure to pop some mints into my mouth while James was tying his shoe.

As we were waiting for the check to come-which I knew I wouldn't be allowed to pay for because of Captain Chauvinist, James ruffled his hair and watched some of the couples swaying to the music on a small dance floor on the side of the deck.

I knew what he was going to do as he walked over to me.

"No," I refused pointblank.

"Aww, come on, Lily," pleaded James with irresistible eyes.

"Not even if you were Dumbledore," I told him.

He pouted but then looked at me wickedly. "Dumbledore, love? Is it the beard thing?" he asked. "Just morbid curiosity, of course."

I shook my head. "No, James."

"I won't complain if you step on my toes."

"And if I break them?" I asked, thinking about my dismal dancing abilities.

"Then I'll heal them with my magic wand," he told me sardonically with a wry smile as he pulled me to my feet.

I slumped over to the wooden dance floor with him. A light jazzy piece was playing. James positioned his hand on my lower back, and I awkwardly placed mine on his shoulder. He took a few steps forward at the same time I did, and we clonked heads.

"Ow!" I yelped as he grunted "Bugger," at the same time.

We tried again, but our feet kept getting all tangled up.

"I thought you were supposed to be good at this," I accused. "Didn't you tell my mum you took ballroom dancing lessons?"

James sighed. "It's been a while. Plus, I was never very good at it."

"Well, that makes one thing," I grumbled as we tried again.

In a poor attempt at a spin, I had accidentally whacked James in the face with my elbow. We were the most pathetic couple there, but the old, white haired couples around us cooed with delight at how "gosh darn adorable" we were.

My toes were in pain by the time the next song came on. It was a slow one.

"Thank Merlin," I exclaimed as I gave up on any rhythmic coordination and just wrapped my arms around James's neck. He seemed to get the idea and pulled me closer to him as he let his hands rest on my hips.

"I think our toes will be safe for now," James whispered to me.

"They better be," I warned him. "I can't believe you lied about being able to dance."

"Well, I wanted to impress a pretty girl," he said.

"Trust me, Mum was impressed."

He chuckled and then leaned down to sniff my hair. "This is nice," he told me.

I snuggled my head into the crook of his neck and silently agreed. I breathed in his familiar scent that made me feel so right and sighed. James kissed the top of my head and slowly rubbed circles against my back as we both swayed—on the upbeat-to the music.

Too soon, when the song ended and a fast jive that would have meant mass homicide began, we giggled back to our table and James paid for our dinner with some muggle money that he had mysteriously procured. We walked through the restaurant and out towards the car.

"I had a good time," I told him. "You're a good date, Potter."

James raised an eyebrow at me incredulously. "You don't seriously think this was the end, do you?"

I shrugged. "What else are we supposed to do?"

James grabbed my hand. "C'mon," he urged as he ran behind a building.

I had to sprint to keep up with him. "James, what's going on?"

"Hold on to me," he ordered. "And close your eyes."

I had barely managed to fasten my arms around his neck when I felt myself being tugged about the middle. Wind rushed around me, and I landed with a thump on the ground.

"Ugh," I groaned as I eyed the damp grass all around me. I saw James rolling his sleeves up to his elbows in front of me. "You could have warned me that you were going to apparate."

"But then—" he insisted.

I pulled at my skirt, which had puffed up in odd places. "I know, I know, you and your bloody surprises. Help me up."

He walked over and grabbed my waiting hand to pull me up. James grinned at me and then patted down my hair, which had probably lost Petunia's miracle touch by now.

"What are we doing here?" I asked. "Where is here?"

"It's a place I've gone to since I was little," he told me as he guided us along a stone path, his brandished wand lighting the way. "My mum has a fascination with a certain animal, and she made my father buy her a present when they first married as a kind of incentive. Apparently, she wanted to make him jump through one last hoop. Of course, Dad would never say 'no' to anything-Mum's so pushy. And you already know about our rather peculiar financial situation. So now we have a bit of a hideaway for them to live."

I looked out at the dark trees and leafy bushes surrounding us with supreme curiosity. "What type of animal?" I asked.

James grinned at me and stopped in his tracks. "Be very slow and very quiet," he instructed in a hushed voice.

"James?" I asked, confused.

He pulled back a large leafy barrier, and my eyes were assaulted with a blinding light.

"Unicorns," I breathed as I felt all the air from my lungs disappear.

"Yeah," voiced James, suddenly beside me. "Mum loves them. She thinks they're beautiful."

"They are," I sighed.

They were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A mother, her white fur glistening in the moonlight-a white so startlingly beautiful that it seemed to reinvent the color- and her baby, a tiny little thing, still a pure gold. They both had golden hooves, but only the mother had a long spindly horn that reminded me of the fancy lollipops I used to eat on vacation; the foal's would grow once he turned four. That would be after his fur changed to silver. The leaves seemed to glow from just being in their presence, and I felt a pull at my chest at such astonishing beauty.

"We're one of the only families to keep unicorns," James whispered to me. "They're not pets, and we don't pretend that they belong to us. But we give them a place to stay that's safe. Mum worries about them becoming endangered because of the value of their blood."

"But it's cursed," I said in horror.

"To some people, Lily, it doesn't matter," James replied back gravely.

I stared back at the creatures before me and could not fathom how anyone could ever hurt anything so glorious. "Can I go closer?"

"Slow," James told me. "I have to stay back here. They don't like boys as much."

"I remember," I snapped back playfully at him. "I took the class, too."

"And paid more attention than I did," he teased with a wink. He pulled a few sugar cubes out of pocket and handed them to me. "Go ahead," he urged.

Almost inhumanly aware of the sound of every leaf crunching under my flats, I painstakingly inched towards the mother. She was still about fifteen meters away, but she eyed me with fierce protection of her young foal.

"It's okay," I assured her. "I'm not going to hurt either of you."

The mother lessened the severity of her stance, but I could tell she was still being vigilant. I slowed down my movements even more. Shakily, I held out the sugar cubes in front of me as a type of peace offering. As I neared closer, I bent down and placed one on the floor. The mother moved closer and sniffed it. Satisfied with what she smelled, she quickly stuck out her tongue and ate it.

I moved the slightest bit closer and put down another cube. Again, she ate it up. I put down two more and the baby followed his mother this time. Trying me luck, I slowly walked over to the majestic mother. She didn't do anything at all but stare at the remaining sugar cubes in my hand with big blue eyes. I held out my hand, and her tongue licked my palm as she ate up the rest of the sugar. I giggled at the wetness.

"Hey," I whispered to her softly. She raised her eyes up to me, and I beamed at her. "Hi," I repeated, at a loss for any words that could describe the happiness I felt. She nuzzled her face into my hand, and I felt her smooth, sleek skin under my fingertips. It was like touching rain.

I hesitated briefly, but she didn't seem to mind my touch. I let my fingertips softly glide up her face to trace her bright horn, which was surprisingly hard for such a soft, gentle looking creature. A soft, songlike hum emitted from her mouth, and I grinned.

The baby nudged my leg with his nose, and I bent down onto my knees to look at him. He had the same blue eyes, but they looked melted surrounded by all that gold. My heart went out to him. "Hey, little buddy," I greeted him. He sneezed into my hand, and I laughed freely.

After what only seemed like minutes, James called out to my softly. "Lily."

I turned my smile away from the baby to look at James. "Yeah?" I cooed.

"We should go. It's getting late, and I promised your dad I'd have you home."

Suddenly remembering there was another whole world outside of this secluded patch of trees, I patted each unicorn one last time before forcing myself away. I crept back to where James was standing.

"Thank you," I whispered.

"You're welcome," he replied back simply.

I looked over my shoulder one last time as we turned the corner. Once out of the trees, I felt some of the magic begin to dissipate, but it was replaced by a blazing excitement. "James, that was amazing! I saw a unicorn—two! And I touched them!"

"Yes, you did!"

"Eee!" I squealed as I reached out to hug him. "You're amazing. This place is amazing. What is this place?"

"It's a house," he told me. "See, right over there." He pointed out a huge house, silhouetted by the night sky.

"Whose is it?" I asked. "How come they let your family use their property?"

James reached up to tangle his hands in his hair. "Well, we didn't need permission because that's our house," he answered with trepidation.

I blinked. "Seriously? You live here?"

"Err, yeah."

"But you only have three people in your family! That house is massive!"

"And house-elves," James reminded me. "They're part of the family, too."

"Yeah, but they're tiny!" I exclaimed. "They probably get lost for days in that house."

"Nope," James disagreed with a smile. "That's only Mum. They are actual quite capable with directions—all aspects of life, really."

"Can we go inside?"

"How about on our next date," James told me. "I still have to drive you back home."

"Next date, Potter?" I teased. "Isn't that a bit presumptuous of you?"

He ruffled his hair nervously. "There is going to be another one, isn't there?" he asked anxiously.

"Untwist your knickers, Potter. Of course, there's going to be another one. Though, how you'll top tonight, I have no idea."

James beamed.

After apparating back to the restaurant, the drive home passed quickly in a pleasantly peaceful manner. James and I were content to just hold hands as he drove us back to the house. I didn't even complain about his driving.

"We're home," James announced as he cut the engine.

"Yep," I agreed, glancing out at the familiar brick house.

Not quite ready to go inside just yet, we lingered around the swings. I sat down, and James stood behind me, pushing me back and forth. He leaned down to bring his lips to my ear, and a shiver of excitement went down my spine.

"Lily, I have to say something."

I froze and stood up to face him, the seat of the swing separating us. "Something?" I asked with trepidation.

He pulled at his hair. "Lily, I've tried really, really hard not to do anything too quickly. This is one of those opportunities that change everything. I wouldn't let myself screw it up by freaking you out. I know this whole thing needed some getting used to. I was just this annoying bloke who bugged the hell out of you at school. You needed time to change that opinion of me. Only, I've never needed that. You thought it was so decent of me to play the part of your boyfriend, but it was really only selfishness on my part. It's all I've ever wanted. For the past six years, it was what I wanted."

Past tense. "What changed?" I asked quietly.

"Everything," he told me sincerely. "You, me. I'm ashamed of it now, but I had this idea of who you were in my head. I thought you were this person I had fantasized about, the perfect girl, but then I came here, and I found out that I was completely wrong."

I winced. "Thanks," I grumbled.

"No, you misunderstand me! Lily, you're funny and brilliant and stunning and the grouchiest person in the morning I have ever met. And I realized that I care more about the real you that murders alarm clocks and bickers with her sister than whoever it was I've always thought you were. Seeing you at home with your family, it's just reassured what I've known all along. So, I don't care if it's too fast, or if I'm expecting too much too soon. I just don't care. I can't not say it any longer. I love you, Lily."

I inhaled quickly and bit my lip. I felt the need to say something back-only I couldn't. I couldn't say it. I was too confused. "James-"

He put his fingers up to my lips. "It's okay. You don't have to say anything," James said understandingly. "I just needed you to know. I love you, Lily Evans."

I yanked his tie forward and pulled his face towards me. I kissed him with everything I couldn't say aloud. I reached for his hair and kissed him through the swing handles. I kissed him with every bit of emotion I had inside.

Panting, we pulled away. His face was more heartbreakingly beautiful than any unicorn. "I can't wait till we get back to Hogwarts when ties will be a more frequent part of my wardrobe," he laughed.

I bit my lip, and I knew. I knew, and I didn't want to.

I moved my hands up to his face and let my fingertips slide into his hair as my thumbs caressed his cheekbones. I stared at his hazel eyes through his spectacles for a few seconds before I leaned in closer to him. My lips met his, and I tried to convince myself that as long as our lips continued to touch, nothing would ever have to change.

A/N: hello, awesomes! i struggled a bit with trying to remember something funny for you this week. but then i remembered the obvious. yesterday, my nineteen year-old sister invited up all of the neighborhood kids and threw a birthday party. for her cat. and the sad thing is, this is the third time that's happened. speaking of celebrations, happy anniversary, charm!
anyways, i hope the date didn't disappoint. i felt like there was a lot of pressure on this one (it helped me feel more like james as i tried to impress the girl). i love all of you guys, and i can't thank you enough for your tremendous support through the forums, dobby nominations, and reviews. it really brightens my day. but, we have a slight problem! the queue is going to be closed, so it's going to be two weeks before i next update for you guys! (time for molly to regroup and possibly get some college application stuff done.) i strongly recommend watching "a very potter musical" to tide you over. it's hysterical. thank you all! i hope you have a week that is just as beautiful as all of you are!

sleepily yours,

Modern Molly Update: hello, guys. i wish i was more chipper today, but alas, i am not. things have not been going that well lately. nothing to get worried about. still, it puts a damper on things. i really do appreciate all the feedback that i've been getting. to be frank, reading reviews has been the one thing i have to look forward to. thank you.