A/N- This is it! The very last chapter. I'm slightly apprehensive about it; I must have changed it about five times. I just couldn't decide exactly what I wanted James to do in the end, and this was the best I could come up with, so feedback would be much appreciated. Anyway, I hope you've all enjoyed the journey. I know I have. Thanks again to everyone who reviewed and favourite, because you guys are awesome. And please, drop a review when you finish because I would love to know your opinions on this. So, without further ado, I present:
Of Friends and Feelings
Lily was in a restless slumber when she heard the Portrait creak open. She stiffened slightly, unsure how she was meant to handle being alone with James.
"Lily? Lily, are you here?"
"Where else would she be, she's sick Alice!"
"I'm just giving her some warning in case she's… indecent or something."
"What, you think she's going to be dancing around the common room half naked when she's sick?"
Lily burst out laughing at the image, surprising her two friends.
"Marlene, Alice!" She cried happily, overjoyed that her friends were finally there. She was met with two similar grins.
"Lily, how are you feeling?" Alice asked in concern as she and Marlene took a seat. Lily shrugged her shoulders.
"Better than I was. I'm pretty sure by tomorrow I'll be fine," Lily said happily. Marlene was distracted by the delicious smell wafting from the table.
"What is that?" She asked as she peered at it curiously.
"It's… it's soup! Why is there a bowl of soup here?" Alice asked. Lily blushed slightly.
"Oh um, the house elves probably brought it for me when I was asleep."
"Yeah, apparently the kitchens are run by house elves!"
"Wouldn't that make them kitchen elves?"
"What, I'm just asking…"
"Hang on a second Lily," Alice said as she stood up. "Why would the house elves bring you soup? They didn't bring me soup when I was sick last year."
Lily's blush deepened.
"Um well, most likely because….. Jamesaskedthemtobringitforme."
"Sorry, didn't catch that last bit," Marlene said cheerfully. Lily glared at her.
"James may possibly have asked them to bring it for me." She said slowly, although her cheeks were still flushed.
"James. James Potter, the boy you have repeatedly called arrogant, a bully, a toerag, as well as several combinations of the aforementioned? Do you mean that Ja-"
"Yes, I get the point. And yes, that James. He had them bring me lunch before," Lily explained, before pointedly attempting to change the subject. "So how was Potions today?"
But Marlene and Alice were not to be sidetracked.
"That's so sweet of James to arrange lunch and dinner to be brought to you!" Alice squealed, clapping her hands together. Lily sighed as she grudgingly picked up the bowl, the cause of the entire interrogation, and began sipping at it. Her negative mood left as soon as the spoon touched her lips however; she was quite sure there was something magical about the soup.
Yes, he's been very sweet to me today," she noted as she took another sip of the glorious soup. Marlene's head perked up.
"You like him!" She accused Lily loudly. Lily looked up, startled.
"What? No I don't!" She protested, but her reddening cheeks gave her away. Both Alice and Marlene squealed.
"You do!" Alice cried out, grinning.
"No, I just- he's been very nice today, and I'm just- oh stop laughing!" Lily cried out. Her two friends payed no attention to her, both giggling excitedly.
"After six years," Marlene gasped, out of breath. "Six years and you finally fall for him. Oh Merlin, I never thought I'd see this day!"
"Well I always knew," Alice said confidently. "I knew you would see how much he's matured this year."
Lily meanwhile was sitting still, unsure what course of action she was meant to take. She liked James. The same male she had declared would come second to the giant squid in her dating preference.
What on earth was she meant to do now?
"Do you admit it?" Marlene grabbed Lily's arm, drawing her attention. "Do you admit you like him?"
"Yes," Lily whispered finally, smiling despite herself as her two friends squealed loudly again.
Meanwhile in the Gryffindor Common Room, the Marauders were celebrating the return of their fourth member for the few hours before bed. Plus James had finally removed the spell he had placed on Sirius and Peter. Although Peter and Sirius insisted it was not a spell, it was a curse.
"Its good to have you back with us Prongs," Sirius said as devoured his fifth chocolate frog in the past two minutes. James had placed a spell on his two friends which resulted in them repelling chocolate. Sirius had only noticed when he had tried to pick up a chocolate frog and it had flown two metres down the table from him. James personally felt the best moment of the night was when Peter had attempted to leap onto the chocolate pudding only to face plant on the table as the pudding flew out of reach.
James had actually forgiven his friends as soon as Lily had told him she blackmailed them. However he was never one to turn down the opportunity for a good prank, and since the best pranks were those performed on people who deserved them, he felt quite satisfied.
Once the spell had been removed, Sirius and Peter had raided the kitchen, collected any and all chocolates and brought them back up to feast on. Remus and James had eagerly joined in. Not that there was much chocolate left to eat; Sirius and Peter seemed intent on making up for lost time by consuming as much chocolate as they could.
"Sirius, you make it sound like I've been gone for a long time." James grabbed his own chocolate frog from the increasingly diminishing pile.
"But you have been gone!" Peter exclaimed, wide eyed.
"Only in the night time! I see you all everyday! Not to mention the occasional moonlit stroll," James said cryptically.
"It's not the same," Peter said sadly. Sirius nodded in agreement. James turned to Remus for help, and was rewarded with a shrug.
"It is different without you up there," he admitted. James groaned, although he was secretly pleased he had such an impact on his friends.
"No, but its true!" Sirius insisted. "How many nights did we stay up planning pranks together?"
"Or putting those pranks into action," Remus added.
"Or doing detention as a result of those pranks" Peter finished. A slow grin spread across James' face.
"Remember that time we tried to put Flobberworms in the Slytherin dormitories and McGonagall nearly caught us?" James began. Sirius perked up.
"Who could forget that? We had to leg it to the nearest room whilst hiding the Flobberworms!"
"And then Peter dropped one and McGonagall stepped on it," Remus reminisced.
"The look on her face!" Sirius crowed and the four burst out laughing. It was several minutes before they could speak again.
"That detention was so worth it," Peter gasped out before they all collapsed into a fit of laughter once more.
Several hours later, James was trekking back to his own dormitory, a grin on his face. Sometimes he forgot how much he missed sleeping in the same dormitory as his friends. He entered the Heads Common Room only to find Alice and Marlene about to leave. They gestured for him to be quiet, pointing at the sleeping form behind them.
"She nodded off about five minutes ago," Marlene whispered as they turned to leave.
"Okay, I'll get her up to bed." James said. He was slightly confused by the sight of Alice beaming at him inexplicably. He gave a cautious grin, and her smile widened.
"Oh for goodness sake," Marlene hissed and pushed her out of the dormitory. James stared at the Portrait which closed behind them, completely baffled. He was disrupted from his thoughts when Lily mumbled a word and turned slightly in her sleep. James hated to wake her, but he knew that sleeping in her bed would be best for her.
"Lily," he whispered and gently shook her shoulder.
"Lily," he whispered slightly louder, and more insistently.
Still no response.
"Lily!" James shouted, and was rewarded with a hand slamming into his cheek.
"Ow!" James cried out, clutching his cheek.
"Ow!" Lily cried out, clutching her hand. She looked around wildly before spotting James. "James? What- what happened?"
"You hit me!" James exclaimed, still nursing his cheek. Lily's eyes widened.
"Well I don't know! I was trying to be all nice and wake you up so you wouldn't have to sleep on the couch and you hit me!" He sounded affronted and was pouting slightly. His cheek was turning bright red, a clear hand imprint now visible. Lily looked horrified.
"Gosh, I'm so sorry James!" She cried as she looked around for something cool to lie on his cheek. Unfortunately in the middle of winter, no such object was laying around. So she settled for placing her own palm against his cheek. She was unable to see whether this had a positive effect or not however, because as soon as her palm came into contact, James' entire face flushed red.
Meanwhile, Lily was struggling against her own flush. 'Don't blush, don't blush, there's nothing remotely embarrassing about this,' she told herself. 'You're just touching James' cheek; it's not like you're touching his chest or something… his tanned chest. Muscled, tanned chest. No, don't think about that! Think about something else. Like his hair. Stupid, messy, untameable hair. Black, and unruly and it looks really soft. I wonder if he'll let me touch it. No Lily, stop thinking about touching James!'
Lily, cheeks now red, looked up at James, who was also sporting red cheeks. She avoided glancing at his chest and hair.
"So um, does it feel a bit better?" She asked, gesturing with her other hand to his cheek. James nodded slowly, seeming slightly out of it.
'Hand on cheek. Hand on cheek! James my boy, this is a big improvement. Voluntary contact! Six years of pining has finally paid off!' was James' line of thought. He shook his head slightly as he realised Lily's lips were moving again.
"… heading off to bed now. Thanks again James, for everything. I really appreciate it," Lily said, and with a shy smile planted a kiss on James' smarting cheek.
It was five minutes later when James could finally move. When he did, it was a slow walk to his bedroom, his eyebrows seemingly permanently raised, his mouth forming a small 'o'. And so it was that James Potter went to bed the happiest man alive, a hand still touching the spot where Lily's lips had made contact with his skin.
The next morning, James woke up very early, a goofy smile on his face. Getting ready quickly, he raced to the Gryffindor boy's dormitory with the intention of telling his friends the good news. However the sight that met his eyes there drove any thoughts of Lily from his mind.
Peter was curled into a ball on his bed, coughing harshly. Sirius, sprawled on his bed with a flushed face, held up his arms to James pathetically, his nose streaming. Remus let out a loud sneeze and grabbed for the nearest tissue. James stared at his three best friends. His three sick best friends.
"I think we caught what Lily had," Peter told him croakily. Remus opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by another sneeze. Sirius merely sniffed sadly.
"Prongsie, I want breakfast," he informed James, eyes bloodshot.
At the thought of breakfast, Peter ran into the bathroom.
James let a loud groan escape his lips as he realised exactly what awaited him.