My life is full of drama. And I'm planning on moving halfway across the US in the next month or so, so updating is going to be slow.

This chapter would not be completed without Some Scribbles help. Thanks so much!

Ravyn


James, Peter and Remus didn't just plan when it came to Sirius's birthday… they strategized an all out assault. It was the only explanation for why she and Peter were crouched behind the Shrieking Shack, waiting for the appointed time to make a sprint for the shops with the pre-approved lists. James and Remus were off trying to find ways to distract Sirius from being, as Remus had called him, an unapologetic snoop. She'd been assured that the big presents had been pre-ordered and would arrive by owl flight, but the smaller, more generic presents required skill to acquire without being caught. There was apparently some sort of point system involved in getting as many simple, inexpensive presents as possible without getting caught. And as far as she knew, this was the only birthday in which there was this level of subterfuge. And it probably meant in their special brand of crazy, that everyone had their own personal birthday schedule, tailored to the individual paranoia of each friend.

The fact that they'd be celebrating her birthday this year was both terrifying and exhilarating.

"You know," Peter muttered as he bounced on his heels. "It is simply wicked that this year, you can hide the presents in your room."

Lily glanced over at him and grinned. "James was beside himself with glee this morning. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Sirius would probably figure that part out and try to bribe my roommates."

Peter pursed his lips. "That's true."

"This is why I let a few key roommates in on that part of the plan. I've never seen witches so gleeful at the thought of bribes. I'm thankful that I somehow missed the part of Sirius being a man-slut up until this morning. I'm going to have to compensate for this knowledge with chocolate. Lots of chocolate."

Peter blinked at her for a moment, before a slow smile crossed his face. "I forget, sometimes, that you're like that."

Lily arched an eyebrow. "Like what?"

"Sneaky." Peter said matter-of-factly. "First you go and get a Misuse of Magic warning, then you're secretive and smart, and now you're preemptively fixing pranks. If you don't want James, I'll marry you."

Lily snorted, even as she felt a flush working across her cheeks. She was starting to think that Remus and Peter was doing it on purpose, casually tossing it out there that James liked her, to see if she'd react. "I wasn't aware that marriageable criteria involved pranking skills."

Peter smiled at her, something knowing behind his eyes. "Then you really haven't been paying attention."

Frowning, Lily tilted her head at him. "People keep saying that to me."

Peter nudged her with his shoulder. "You didn't freak out when I said that Prongs wanted to marry you."

Lily opened her mouth and then shut it, her face flushing again and she waved her hand, trying to distract him from her obviously red face. "Pete!"

He smirked at her, sitting back on his haunches, and looked delighted. "Is that why you've been all… fluster-y lately?"

"That's not a word." Lily pointed out, feeling hot. "And I didn't react because the idea of James wanting to marry me is ridiculous!"

"Oh, come on Evans." His eyes danced. "Then why'd you blush!"

Lily blew her bangs out of her eyes and frowned at him. "Not one word Peter."

Looking highly amused, he wiggled his eyebrows. "Oh, come on, Lily. Talk."

"There isn't anything to talk about!" Lily protested.

There wasn't anything... just because she'd recently had the realization that maybe; there was the teeny, tiniest possibility that she well, liked James Potter; that the those spikes of awareness and the way her insides fizzed at the intensity of his expression when he looked at her, had finally gotten through her thick skull was still too new to talk about. Realizing how easily a bloke had crawled beneath her skin – much less James – starting with that horrible train ride last year and just getting worse as the year went on, was frankly terrifying. Part of it, she was willing to admit, was sheer stubbornness – after years of refusing him, now she fancied him and it was embarrassing. But the rest of her didn't really care about that. Those long nights calculating numbers and rearranging schedules and just, spending time with him had started to add up and now her emotions were all over the place.

And she liked James Potter.

"Uh huh," Peter said, sitting back with that bland expression of his that made the back of her neck itch. "So are you really letting James buy you a butterbeer before walking you back to the castle?"

Suspicious, but not certain where he was going, she studied him. "Yes."

"Like, I dunno, a date?"

Eyes narrowing, she fidgeted. "Maybe. Sort of."

Peter nodded sagely. "You like him."

Hoping she wasn't blushing, again, she pointed at him. "Of course I like him, now. We're friends!"

"I'm just saying, I think I'd be a far more dashing best man than Sirius. He's speech is going to be dreadful!"

"Peter Pettigrew!"

Laughing, he dodged her half-hearted swipe.

"Muffliato."

Lily spine straightened and the casual grip on her wand went white-knuckled tight. Turning, she set her jaw and stared at Severus. Peter was warmth at her side, and she didn't have to look to know he was gripping his own wand, but out of the corner of her eye she watched him hunch in on himself; the direct conflict of the Peter-she-knew and the Peter-he'd-been startled her out of her instinctive fury.

"Snape."

"Lily."

"You don't get to call me that anymore."

His jaw tightened and the hand not holding his wand curled into a fist. His eyes glanced at Peter and then just as clearly dismissed him as unimportant. "I need to talk to you."

Lily lifted her chin, her temper flushing through her at the dismissal of her friend and his arrogance that she would bother talking to him after what he had done. "I have nothing to say to you."

He shifted his weight, face twisting into a sneer. "So bloody stubborn. You have no idea how much attention you are drawing!"

"Oh, you should know!" Lily snapped. "Considering our previous conversation, you've made it perfectly clear the type of attention I'm drawing."

He slashed his hand down, face tight with anger. "You wouldn't listen! You stood on your bloody pedestal of righteous anger and you wouldn't let me explain! What else was I supposed to do, to get your attention? To make you understand?"

Lily felt Peter shift at her side as she stepped forward, rage making her ears ring. Breathing in deeply, she dug her nails into her palms. She had no qualm about hexing Snape, was already riffling through the extensive collection she had memorized and perfected, but as soon as she lifted her wand this would become a duel. And it wasn't time for that. But for him to suggest….

"You unbelievable bastard," Lily breathed, voice gaining in volume as she moved forward. "You'd blame your decision to… you'd think I'd take responsibility for that?"

Snape's face went blank but his eyes snapped. "You're standing in the middle of something you cannot begin to understand."

"Do you know what I understand, Snape?" Lily bared her teeth, magic vibrating with her anger. "I understand that you knew exactly what you were saying when you called me a mudblood. I was your best friend for years, I let you into my family and I stood by you regardless of our houses. You chose to destroy our friendship, you chose to threaten my family and you're choosing now to lay the blame at my feet. I refuse to take responsibility for your actions, Severus Snape, and you are no longer the boy I knew."

His face twisted. "You understand nothing."

"Stay away from me."

Severus stepped forward, jaw working hard. "Or what, Lily Evans?"

And everything inside her went cold and hard. Deliberately she lifted her wand, twisting the familiar wood between her fingers. "You're not the only one who learned during those summers, Snape. You come near me or mine again, and you'll regret it."

Cold black eyes studied her expression, and Lily forced herself to stay cold. This wasn't Severus who liked strawberry ice cream, muggle television and bike rides. The boy who'd sat under hot summer skies and shared treasures and secrets, who had spent hours patiently debating spell theory. That boy was gone. And she was left with Snape. A Death Eater.

"This is not over."

Lily lifted her chin. "No. I imagine it's just beginning. But that is the only warning you'll get, Snape."

Turning on his heel, he cancelled the charm and strode away, cloak bellowing behind him. Lily clenched her jaw, fighting a sudden and ridiculous urge to cry. Blinking rapidly, she jumped when Peter touched her arm.

"Lily?"

And for a moment, she'd forgotten she wasn't alone. Swallowing, she glanced over at Peter. The hunched, uneasy Peter was gone and in its place was the one she'd become friends with over the last few months. Shoving her hands through her bangs, she breathed deeply to center herself.

"You do that well."

Peter studied her for several moments, blue eyes grave, before he nodded. "People over look me."

Swallowing again, she nodded. "I know."

He patted her arm. "It's okay. I was easy to over look. Sixth Year, a group of Slytherins spent a considerable amount of energy trying to intimidate me. Its better if they think it worked."

Lily frowned at him. "That's why Snape was willing to discuss that in front of you? He thought you'd keep it to yourself?"

His expression was solemn. "If you want me to."

She blinked down at him, feeling off balance and a little shaky. Peter was offering to keep her secrets. Just as James had. Remus had been keeping some for years. It didn't fill the hole in her chest, but it didn't feel so deep. Blinking back actual tears this time, she shook her head slowly.

"Thank you."

Peter nodded and glanced down at this watch. "We'd better hurry if we're going to get anything from those lists!"

Fortifying herself, she nodded. She'd worry about Snape and all his subtexts later.

X

James stared at Sirius, feeling torn between murder and laughter. Sirius looked defiant, but even he wasn't managing it completely with tufts of leaves clinging to his hair, clothes rumpled and mud stained. Looking over at Remus, the resigned irritation told him that it might be best to put this one under laughter and move on.

"Do I…"

"No." Remus said in that particular flat tone. "But he's promised not to do it again and to behave himself. Or I'm sending the presents back."

Ah. Clearing his throat, he simply offered the warm butterbeer he had been originally intending to drink himself. Remus took it with a grim smile and then pointed Sirius to the momentarily empty booth near the back. Sirius compressed his lips and then marched. James coughed to hide his laughter and glanced back over at Remus. It usually took effort to find Remus's temper, much less stomp all over it, but Sirius usually managed it at least once before his birthday and a handful of times throughout the year.

Granted, Sirius was a right pill before his birthday. It was one of the reasons they had started all this nonsense, and it had all escalated over the years. Grinning to himself, he admitted that it was also a great deal of fun to watch Sirius get so worked up.

"If we killed him, how hard would it be to hide the body?"

"It isn't hiding the body that would be difficult, Moony. It's explaining to me mum. She'd cry. I can't handle crying."

Remus sighed and took another long drink. "Right. Well, we'd better collect some more of these and see about giving Pete and Lily some more time. They should be joining us at any moment, but with Pete you never know."

James agreed, shoving his hands into his pockets and then hesitated, glancing over his shoulder. Remus looked over and grimaced. "You really don't want to know. But in the spirit of fairness, I'd avoid Madam Pudifoots for a while. Just in case."

"… right. I'll just… get those butterbeers."

Shaking his head, James moved back to the counter and found himself jiggling the change in his pockets nervously. Forcing his hands to still, he leaned back on his heels and blew out a breath. The last time he felt this jittery, he'd been anxiously waiting for the start of his first quidditch game. Granted, in the scheme of things, a butterbeer with Lily Evans was far more nerve wracking than the chance of being maimed, but still. Closing his eyes, he breathed in and blew out a breath.

Lily Evans had invited him for a butterbeer.

And if he kept letting that spin in his head like a muggle toy, he was going to be useless.

"I wasn't aware that butterbeer took this much concentration." The familiar voice cut into this brain and he grinned, opening his eyes to watch Rosmerta head his direction.

"Clearly this is why you need me in your life, Evans. You keep getting the important and the non-important things mixed up."

"And butterbeer is important."

A faint smile curved his lips as he held up the correct number of fingers for Madam Rosmerta. "Lils, butterbeer can be life altering."

Instead of the huff and snarled warning not to call her that, he got silence. Turning his head, he took in her wind-pinked cheeks, the slightly red-rimmed eyes and the unsure smile she was trying to pass off as happy. Twisting around, glanced over at Pete who shook his head minutely. The laughing, amused faces that had promised an afternoon of sneaking around behind Sirius's back had disappeared beneath a grim sort of determination. And the nervous, jittery happiness that had cushioned him from even Sirius' complete stupidity evaporated with the knowledge that something had happened. And by the look in Pete's eyes, if he wanted to know, he was going to have to find out from Lily.

And the Three Broomsticks was hardly the place to have a personal conversation. Glancing back at the booth that had been accommodated by Remus and Sirius, he amended the thought. The Three Broomsticks wasn't the place to have a personal conversation unless you could lay down the appropriate wards.

"Lily?"

She waved him off and helped collect butterbeers. Eyes narrowing, James held his tongue as he followed her back to the booth, watching the way she moved. When Lily was the most upset, she'd hold herself carefully; shoulders slightly rounded and body language wary as she attempted to keep what she was feeling to herself. James much preferred furious, angry Lily to the Lily who kept whatever was bothering her bottled up tight. If the way Remus suddenly frowned as they approached, he wasn't going to have to try wiggle this out of her alone.

But surprisingly, it was Sirius who reacted first.

"Evans, you look like you went a round with the Bloody Baron." He tsked, even as he slid out of the booth, pointing to the spot he had just vacated. Even more surprising, was that Lily went without commenting. James bit the side of his tongue and took the spot next to Remus as Sirius sat back down; shifting so there was enough room for Pete next to him. Thankfully, Pete was already muttering the strongest privacy charms they knew, while Remus blocked his wand movements from the crowd with his body.

"What in the blazes happened?"

Lily frowned at Sirius. "It's fine."

Remus leaned forward. "You've been crying."

Her chin went up and she shook her head. "It's not important right now."

James set his jaw and caught her gaze with his. She scowled at him, green eyes narrowed but instead of the fight he was expecting, could feel building between them, she suddenly seemed to deflate. Concerned, he glanced over at Pete who shrugged.

"Lily?"

Swallowing, she lifted her wand and flicked it. "Muffliato."

James frowned even as he mentally cataloged the wand movement and, finally, the correct and clear pronunciation of the charm. He opened his mouth to comment but Pete beat him to it.

"You learned that charm from Snape."

Lily set her wand down and ran her fingers through her bangs and then finally nodded. "He was always better at creating new spells than me."

Her simple explanation floored James. He would never have given the slimy snake credit for being able to create spells – as much as he disliked Snape, he had to admit the Muffliato spell was particularly effective. Remus leaned forward, brown eyes studying her as she sat so carefully against the booth wall.

"What are you good at?"

Lily blinked up and then seemed to shake herself and James was relieved to see some unnatural stillness ease. Lips quirking, she fiddled with the napkin in front of her. "Snape and I… we both liked spell theory. But where he tended to create something out of nothing, I took older spells and tweaked them into something more useful. Changed them a little."

Sirius heaved out breath, gray eyes tight but he nudged her with his shoulder. "Spell theory is tricky and that sort of experimenting can end badly."

"I know."

James cleared his throat. There was a wealth of underlying dryness to her tone and he wondered how badly some of those experiments had ended. Wondered how he had missed that she was experimenting with spell theory at all. "So those spells you've been muffling… those are Snape's."

"Yes. Those are his." She looked uncomfortable before seeming to come to a decision, her hand lifting to wave in front of her. "I… he was my friend for a very long time. It just didn't seem… right to give away his secrets. Even if he doesn't have the same compunction to keep mine."

"What changed?" Remus asked.

Lily's eyes dropped to the table and James clenched his fist where she couldn't see them as her fingertips dragged along the table top. What he wanted to do was crawl over the table and… something that would make her feel safe and comfortable enough to talk. Scowling, he glanced at Sirius. Catching his eyes, he jerked his chin over at Lily, and though Sirius rolled his eyes, he nudged her harder than previously.

"Oi, Evans. Either spit it out or get over it. My birthday is in a few days and I demand everyone I associate with to be happy. So fake it."

Her jaw dropped open and James leaned back, smiling lazily when she sat up straight and put the full force of her ire onto Sirius. "The hell, Black! Did you seriously just tell me to fake being happy for you?"

Sirius dismissed her temper with a flick of his fingers and a shrug. "Yes. Have to keep our priorities here."

Green eyes narrowed even as a particular pretty color flushed through her cheeks. "I'm going to turn you into a toad."

Sirius pursed his lips, considering. "Birthday pranks are only acceptable between the hours of noon and three on my birthday. Anything else would be out of bounds, Evans. I think I'd make a particular spectacular bullfrog."

Remus covered his eyes. "Lily, he's just going to turn it into some spectacular attempt to get poor, defenseless witches to kiss him."

"Like a Prince!" Sirius declared, ignoring the growing ire from the witch next to him. "The one who managed it would get a… special prize."

James watched them bicker for a moment. Glancing over at Remus, he frowned at his friend who looked grim. Running his fingers through his hair, he worked to keep his temper from exploding. Pete had said she had learned the spell from Snape. Which mean that Pete had seen Snape use the spell. Breathing in deep, he jumped into the argument between Sirius and Lily, before Lily decided to actually demonstrate her proficiency with transfiguration. "You ran into Snape."

Lily's braid slapped into Sirius's shoulder, she whipped her head around so fast.

"Pete knew who'd taught you the spell, and he's been obsessing over it for weeks."

"Hey!" Peter protested. "I gave it the same amount of attention I gave to Sirius's birthday present."

Sirius puffed up his chest. "Exactly."

James caught Lily's gaze and rolled his eyes deliberately. She bit her bottom lip, and shook her head before sighing and making a helpless gesture with her hands. "Yes. Pete and I ran into Snape. We… exchanged a few words."

"Want us to curse him for you?" Sirius asked, completely serious. There was a hard glitter behind his eyes that promised he wasn't bluffing. James made a mental note to have a chat with Sirius soon. He was always twitchy about his family around his birthday, but this reminder that Slytherian was a recruiting hot spot was going to require watching.

Lily rolled her eyes. "No. I've told you, I can handle Snape."

Peter spoke up. "She handled him fine today."

"Thanks," she muttered.

"Awe, don't be like that Lils," James teased, working to disguise the irritation that had crept into his chest at the idea of Snape confronting her about anything. She may have handled it, but it was clear that he had hurt her. They'd deal with that later. "Wormtail's recommendation carries weight, you know."

Something bright and unexpected flickered behind her eyes. "I know."

Now wasn't that interesting. James tilted his head and studied her. He knew that Pete and Lily had become friends, same as the rest of them. But even people who thought they were friends with Peter missed his most important sides. It wasn't until after they had sworn the loyalty oath that James had realized how much that lack of understanding had eaten away at his friend's confidence, and he'd been careful to casually show his appreciation since. But that Lily had picked up on his friend's worth and simply accepted it…

"Well then, Evans?" James offered her his best smile. "I believe I was promised a romantic stroll back to Hogwarts."

And to James eternal delight, the annoyed huff didn't manage to completely cover Lily's sudden embarrassment. Biting the side of his tongue to contain himself, he met Remus's gaze while Sirius let Lily out of the booth.

"Good luck."

Remus snorted. "We're both going to need it."

X

"You're awfully quiet for who someone who blackmailed me into walking back to the castle early, Evans."

Lily looked up. They had cleared Hogsmead some time ago and she'd been lost in her thoughts. Her altercation with Snape had rattled her more than she'd wanted to let on, but sitting in that booth had eased the knot in her chest. Arguing with Sirius had been like a valve, letting steam off the top. And, she realized as her steps slowed, he'd done it on purpose. They'd all done it on purpose.

Forcing those thoughts to the side, she nudged him with her shoulder. "I thought you had questions?"

"Lily," James said. He paused, seeming to try to figure out exactly how to say whatever he was thinking and he finally looked away. "I'm not certain where to start."

Surprised, she blinked up at him and then caught the sleeve of his jumper between her fingers and tugged. He didn't look at her. Biting her lower lip, she studied his profile. She knew he was worried about her, and she was certain what he was thinking had happened this afternoon had just made it worse. But how was she supposed to explain Severus? She'd never had the opportunity to tell someone why, had never really wanted too. How did you distill six years of friendship that had gone sour into conversation?

You found someone who cared about his friends as much as you and let him see.

"James. It's not…" She chewed on her lip as he turned to face her. "The last year has been so different from anything I'd expected. I'm so far off balance with the directions I'm being pulled sometimes I just want to scream. Snape… Snape is always going to have the power to hurt me. He knows all my weak points, knows how to hit them and how much pressure I can take. But I know him too. We've avoided an all out war, because I think we both know once we start down that path, once we do more than posture and threaten, we're both going to bleed."

Instead of losing his temper like she'd expected, he shut his eyes and blew out a long breath.

Lily swallowed. "I'm not sure how much longer we can avoid it."

"I want to tell you I won't let that happen." His voice was tight, hard. When his eyes opened, that familiar intensity made the hairs on the back of her neck stand. "He doesn't get to hurt you."

"I'm not a child to hide, James. I can't do that." She tugged on his jumper. "I won't."

"I know," he said finally. "But you're not alone, either."

And that was the crux of it, Lily realized. She'd become used to being alone. First Petunia, then Snape, then her parents… she was used to people edging her out of their lives. Except this infuriating, stubborn man who refused to quit. Swallowing past a sudden lump in her throat, she reached up to adjust her scarf. "I know."

He nodded and then kept walking. Lily started after him, pulling even after a few steps. James seemed to be thinking about something, so she let him and glanced around the road. This early in the afternoon, it was nearly deserted, the occasional flash of color ahead them a sign of a few students who had also headed back early, but the real rush would be in a couple of hours.

"Snape took the dark mark."

Lily snapped her head around, staring in shock at James. His wand was out, and it was clear he'd cast some sort of privacy charm while she'd been thinking. Swallowing, she looked at the way he watched her, the green in his eyes sharp against the brown.

"Yes."

His jaw tightened and the temper he'd kept in check earlier flared behind his eyes. "That's why you were so upset last year. He threatened you. It wasn't his friends you were worried about hunting your family, but him."

Lily looked away. "James…"

Warm fingers curled around her wrist. Her eyes jumped to his as his fingers slide down, interlocking with hers tightly. "You didn't tell Dumbledore."

She tugged but his fingers tightened. Standing in the middle of the road, she suddenly felt exposed. Maybe it was because he'd taken the lead on the conversation instead of letting her speak at her own pace, maybe because he was digging at secrets she wasn't prepared for.

When she spoke, her tone was sharp. "Potter!"

He squared his shoulders, facing her straight on, jaw hard. "I don't know what games Dumbledore is playing, but why didn't you tell him?"

Lily shook her head. "Tell him what? That one of the students had shown me his… his… when my family. He'd threatened my muggle family. I couldn't say anything until they were safe. Then… what could I say then? How do I do that without Snape knowing about it?"

His fingers were hot against her jaw in the cool weather, the pressure of his wand behind her ear as he held her in place. "We'll use our next Head meeting."

She went still under his grip. "I… but, you don't trust Dumbledore."

"I trust Dumbledore to do what he thinks is right to protect this school," James said slowly. "He cares about people. I just don't know if I can trust him to care about my people as well as I do. Regardless of my personal belief, Lily, Dumbledore is a brilliant wizard who is firmly on the side of the light. You're family is as safe as magic and muggle can make them."

"Alright," she said finally. "I'll tell him."

James nodded, but his hold on her jaw lightened and he used two fingers not gripping his wand to push a strand of hair behind her ear. "Good. I just don't know what we should expect from him knowing."

Lily sighed. "Professor Flitwick may have already told him about my interest in the Fidelius."

"So that's who helped you." James said. "Good. And I wouldn't expect Flitwick to have given away all your secrets, Lily. He's part goblin, after all, and they're notorious for keeping things to themselves. Besides, you're his favorite."

"Oh hush," she muttered. "You have no room to talk. I swear, no matter how many detentions she gives you, McGonagall almost looks happy when you start asking your ridiculous questions about some random transfiguration theory."

He laughed and Lily relaxed. Just let the quiet of the afternoon sink into her bones as she stood in the middle of the road with James Potter. Until he moved. It wasn't a big move, just enough so that a little of the distance between them disappeared, but somehow the air between them changed. Swallowing at a sudden lick of nerves in her stomach, Lily looked up. James was studying her from beneath his lashes, something hot behind his eyes that hadn't been there before.

Before he said anything, a sudden burst of giggles interrupted. James pulled away, but his fingers stayed tightly wrapped around hers. He glanced over his shoulder even as he silently dispelled the charm that kept anyone from ease dropping and arched an eyebrow at the gaggle of third years.

"Can we help you?"

Lily compressed her lips, forcing down the flush of embarrassment as the girl just grinned and took off for the castle. James looked amused as he glance down at her, tugging her forward to finish the trek, the castle in the distance. "You realize this will be all over the Hufflepuff common room in an hour."

"What? That the Head Girl seems to be friends with the Head Boy? I thought we'd cleared that up after the first prefect meeting. With our united front and continued willingness to tag team, or whatever it was that Remus was quietly snickering to himself." Lily teased. "I'm particularly fond of the rumors that I'm all knowing."

"That the Head Boy was thinking about kissing the Head Girl, and she didn't seem to mind." James shot back. Lily gawked at him as he tugged her forward, hazel eyes somehow laughing and serious at the same time.

"Fair warning, Evans."

And he grinned at her and then started chatting about some inane and unimportant transfiguration theory that she honestly just didn't care about. There was really no doubt that the man was something of a genius when it came to transfiguration (she hoped that one day in her life, she'd have the pleasure of seeing McGonagall's face when she found out about him being an Animagus.) And the sudden realization of how pleased with himself he was made something buzz along her nerve endings. It was the feeling she got when she was a hairs breath away from figuring out the components of a spell; from completing something new.

James Potter thought he had a handle on this. On what she had finally admitted to herself just days ago. Somehow he'd picked up the signals she wasn't even aware she had been sharing, and the gambler that he was, he'd put his cards on the table. 'Fair warning, Evans.' Because he expected her to dig her heels in, to duck around this and…

Her eyes narrowed as they slipped back into the castle.

She didn't want to run. James Potter wasn't the only one who could take charge of a situation. She was so tired of being afraid, and cautious, and planning for the worst – expecting people to let her go. He might have put his cards on the table, but she had her own hand, and she was playing it.

See what he thought about that.

"You know what, Potter?" she interrupted a few feet away from the portrait entrance. She waited for him to glance back, a shot of those eyes of his. There was mischief and amusement, and buried, a little bit of something that looked stubborn.

"Hmm?"

She stopped short, using his grip on her hand to turn him to face her, ignoring the huffing noises from the Fat Lady. He turned willingly, his lips curved slightly at the corners even as his gaze danced across her face, looking for a clue as to what she was thinking.

"What is it, Lily? Just can't stand to see our date end?"

Her lips twisted into a smirk, "I was just thinking." She took a half-step closer, "That there wasn't much to be said about only thinkingof kissing the Head Girl. Actions," she said, taking a half-step towards him, "speak louder than words."

His eyes widened, and he opened up his mouth in what she was sure would be a flirtatious or defensive retort, but she didn't give him a chance to speak. She leaned up on her tiptoes, curled one hand determinedly in his jumper, the other fisting in his hair and stole his words with her kiss. His mouth was warm, a little chapped from the wind and for a moment, completely unresponsive.

Then his fingers were encircling her waist and his lips moving against hers as James Potter came to life under her hands. Rising up on tiptoe, she let him pull her close as her fingers tightened in his hair, body flush against his as he caught her lower lip between his teeth. Gasping a little, she moaned as his tongue licked along the sting. As the kiss deepened, she completely forgot that they were standing right outside the Gryffindor Common Room entrance.

Until a loud, obnoxious wolf whistle pierced her brain.

"Damn Potter!" The voice broke through her haze and she pulled back, blinking. "If you dodge right, I can probably get a shield up before she hexes you!"

Fingers flexing against her hip, James met her gaze with his, something wild and hot and brilliant staring back at her before he reached up and adjusted his glasses. The smile that was spreading across his face was so wide, she couldn't help but she smile back.

"Let it be known," he responded without turning towards the voice, "that Lily Evans kissed me!"

Lily lifted her chin, ignoring the audience that was crowding into the portrait entrance as she started to detangle herself from James. It was one thing to kiss him in an empty hallway, and it was another to do it with an audience. Ignoring the cheering that she could hear from inside the portrait as whoever that was – she was embarrassed to realize she hadn't paid attention – ducked back inside to shout the news, she paused as James caught her hand.

"Evans."

"Potter."

Leaning forward, he pressed his forehead against hers, eyes hot behind his glasses. "I'm going to that again. Soon. Better brace yourself."

Stepping back, Lily tilted her head and very deliberately gave him a once over. Smiling to herself when she watched him swallow, she pushed her hair behind her shoulder and sauntered towards the still open portrait.

"Do what, Potter? As you said, I kissed you."


Please Comment

So notes:

Even a Severus Snape who is obsessive and mostly evil, in canon he loved Lily, or at least, felt what he thought was love for Lily. Severus is a complex character. The disintegration of the friendship between Lily and Severus was complicated. In fact, everything about them is complicated.

Do I think that Snape would have done what he thought was best, in his own twisted way, to try to protect Lily? We see that in cannon when he asked Voldemort to spare her. The biggest problem with their relationships as adults is this: Lily does not understand the anger and loathing that drives Severus, and Severus does not understand what drives Lily to protect others. It was important to show that both of them had made decisions that had led to their friendship ending, but that they both still struggle with it. Why ask Voldemort to spare someone who had not only ended any and all friendship with you, but married the man you hated so much that you take that hatred out on an 11 year old boy, years later?

Still, Snape's love is a selfish, volatile thing if he only cares that Lily lives, not that she'd suffer the loss of her husband and son. He seemingly only cared about keeping her in his life, not how much those losses would hurt. (Unfortunately, J.K's Snape is full of so many contradictions. We are expected to believe for almost all of the books that if not the bad guy entirely, Snape is someone who is bitter and jaded and sometimes evil. We are expected to brush aside and accept that Snape's rage is because of his love for Lily, that his behavior towards Harry is a result of that loss. However, what I think many people miss, is that Snape was directly involved in the Potter's deaths, and that his behavior towards Harry was always lacking in respect for Lily's sacrifice. Snape did not care that Harry was her son, he only cared that in giving her life for her son, he had lost Lily.)