Disclaimer: The brilliant JKR has all the rights to what you recognize.

More of a disclaimer: I've been reading a lot of Abigail-Nicole and Liebling on here lately, which put me in the mood to write this kind of piece. I don't usually. In fact, I've only ever once or twice, and that wasn't for HP. Oh well... I get a little credit, at least... :D

"I hated you for a really long time," Lily says conversationally. Sirius smirks.

"I absolutely loathed you until fifth year," he informs her. Her jaw drops.

"You never said!" she accuses. "At least I told you I hated you."

"Well what did you expect? You were always hexing me and my friends." But he's laughing.

"I dunno... I sort of thought you fancied me." Now he's nearly crying with mirth. "It's not funny!"

Eventually, he calms. "Yeah, Lily, it is. James had been after you for years and you always turned him down. Plus the hexing thing. And you were smarter than me. I hated everything about you until I actually got to know you."

"And what do you think of me now?" She tosses her red hair, her green eyes amused.

"I think you're a very good person. I think you and James deserve each other. I think you're the best friend I've ever had, except for James."

She takes a sip of her wine, looking thoughtful. "Yeah."

"What, that's it? No, Oh Sirius, do shag me! Or, Oh Sirius, you're the best friend I've ever had, too!?" He laughs again.

She lays her head on his shoulder. "You are the best friend I've ever had."

"Even compared to Snivellus?"

"Don't call him that! We've all graduated. Can't you grow up?" She jerks her head away, angry, and he sighs.

"I'm sorry, Lily. Old habits die hard." She nestles back into his shoulder, and he rests his cheek atop her head.

"I know. Sirius, can I ask a question?"

"Go ahead."

"Does James really love me?" He raises his head. He looks half-surprised, half-sad.

"James does love you. He loves you a lot."

"I don't think so. I think he loves the girl he imagined I was." She heaves a great sigh and drinks more wine.

"And who do you think he imagined you to be?"

She almost laughs. Her voice, when she speaks, is bitter. "A girl who is alive. A girl who is proud. A girl who is brave and happy and fiery."

"You are those things." Sirius is adamant on this.

"I know I am. But I'm other things too... I'm sad, sometimes, and scared."

"So is he. He loves everything about you. We all do. You're like..." he trails off, leaving his sentence uncompleted.

"I'm like what?"

"Oh, I don't know. I was just thinking that you're like a sister to me and Remus and Peter. We'd die before letting something happen to you."

A tear rolls down her cheek. "I wouldn't want you to. I'd rather I die than one of you."

"Never say that." His voice is rough, angry.

"I'm sorry. I just can't bear the thought of any of you being hurt. I love all of you too much. I don't want to die, either." Another tear.

"No one wants to die," he says quietly.

"That's not true. I think maybe I used to. Until you four came along. Severus never understood why I was sad about my family. He thought I shouldn't care about them because they're Muggles. You cared, though. You got it. Why I miss Petunia. Why I want my parents to look at me as a daughter, not the local entertainment." Her shoulders shake with her sobs. He strokes her hair absently.

"I know, Lily. I know."

"I'm scared to marry James. I'm scared that he'll leave me. Or that he'll die. Or I'll die."

"You have to do it, Lily. Even though you're scared. You and James are meant to be. And we're in the middle of a war. If something does happen, won't you want to know you've been everything?"

"I hate that we're in a war! It's not fair!" Her voice is trembling with anger and sadness and hatred.

"It's never fair." His fist is clenched. "Nothing in life is fair. You know that."

"I hate this! I want to end this bloody war!" She throws her glass. It shatters against the far wall, the red wine dripping to the floor.

Sirius swipes his free hand across his eyes discreetly. "Time for you to stop drinking. I think this night is over."

She stands up unsteadily. "Yeah. I'm going back to my place."

He shakes his head. "Oh no you're not. In your drunken state you'd end up half in America and half in Germany."

"I resent that."

"You won't when you're sober tomorrow. Come on, I've got a second bedroom you can have."

"...Well, okay. Night, Sirius."

"Night, Lily." He stands and goes to his room, shutting the door behind him. She stands still a moment longer, than smiles sadly in the dark.

"I almost loved you, Sirius," she whispers. "I could have, if James hadn't been so..." She stops, shakes her head, and shrugs. "But this is how things happened, and now you're my brother instead. And I'm happy like this. I am." She goes to the spare room and lies down on the uncomfortable, unfriendly bed. "I am."