A/N: Hey! This is my first attempt at writing a HP fanfic, so I hope you like it, but I can handle it if you think it's rubbish. Reviews would still be appreciated! Also, Merlin readers of mine (in case you're here), I know I'm being useless at the moment; don't blame me, blame LIFE. It keeps insisting I get off the internet. Pfft. Anyway, this is me trying to get back into the internet. :)
Lily Evans' eyes snapped open liken shutters. Now… where was she? An adorable little frown bit down into the middle of her ginger eyebrows, which were wiggling slightly along with her nose; or perhaps a better word might be twitching, in the way that a dog's does, when it sniffs out the unknown.
She felt crumpled Hogwarts' bed sheets, smelled the rather unique smell of her own pyjamas, and, as her eyes became accustomed to the dark, she could see the room around her was, in fact, a room, and not Narnia. Lily sighed, because that had been a rather nice dream. There had been no Severus not-so-subtly stalking her around the school, no wannabe Deatheaters glaring daggers at her just because she was a muggle-born and, most importantly of all, absolutely no James sodding Potter.
She turned over on her side and grumbled a little, burying her head in her arm and trying to force herself to remember the debate she'd been having with Mr Tumnus about House elf rights…
There was a startling retching noise from next door, and Lily shot up, knowing that there was pretty much only one person who could be in the Head Boy's bath room at this time of night. She edged anxiously to the end of her bed and crept out of her room, slipping her wand into her sock for good measure, and quietly made her way through their little Common Room into James Potter's bedroom, occasionally bumping into things along the way and having to hold back screams that would probably have Filch banging on the door in a matter of seconds.
She stopped to take in the room that was virtually a mirror image of her own aside from the fact that it was strewn with socks and underwear and various unfinished assignments. Lily snorted to herself, realising that James' obvious effort to 'grow up' did not extend to his personal living space. She tiptoed across miscellaneous piles of things, the identities of which did not bear thinking about, and knocked cautiously on the bathroom door.
"James?" she whispered, far too quietly for anyone to hear.
She was greeted by the sound of vomiting.
Lily cleared her throat, steeled her stomach and rapped resolutely on the door. "James Potter, I'm coming in there, ready or not!"
She faltered for a few seconds on the thresh hold as the door creaked open by her own hand, already beginning to doubt her words when she considered - after having seen his bedroom - how much of a mess he might have made in here.
Surprisingly, however, the bathroom was spotless. It was white and shiny and luminous under the glow of the moon sneaking in through the open window. Surfaces were clean and towels were, for the most part, dry and where they were supposed to be.
The only thing wrong with the picture was one James Potter slumped over the toilet in his Hogwarts' dress robes - because Padfoot had told him they looked dashing, and it had sounded like a brilliant idea at the time to prance around in them - spewing up puddle after puddle of puke.
She was not a squeamish girl, but this was a little much for her.
Her immediate reaction was to cover as many articles of her face as she could with her hands, not really successfully blocking out the horrifying smell, and then to mumble - as best she could, with her fingers smacked firmly over her mouth - "That looks like goblin snot!"
Later, when James had sobered up, he would ask Lily Evans just how exactly it was that she came to know what goblin snot looked like. For now, he simply snorted something non-committal.
Lily peeled her hands back and forced herself over to him, ignoring the pool of fudge-coloured sick wallowing morosely in the toilet bowl.
James eventually turned his face to meet her, his eyes squinting at her and his mouth slipping all around as he tried to say something.
She caught a whiff of his breath. "Merlin's beard, James! How much firewhisky have you had?"
He shrugged at her in that cavalier Marauder way that, under any other circumstance would have incurred her wrath, but she was too busy mothering him to really notice. She'd already slipped herself behind him to keep him supported, letting his head rest on her neck, and was rubbing soothing little circles in his hair and mumbling comforts in his ear, as she carefully slipped her wand out of her sock, conjuring him up a glass of water.
"Drink this, James. You need to stay hydrated."
He nodded, not bothering with the antics he usually threw at Padfoot and Moony whenever they tried to take care of him, which was rare. He couldn't quite work out why it was that he was doing whatever this person said.
"Little sips," she reprimanded him sternly, as he tried to practically swallow the glass whole.
He nodded, listening carefully to her voice. Her voice… That was it. There was something so enchanting about her voice; she must have enchanted him. It was the only obvious explanation: this person had snuck up behind him and put him under the Imperius curse.
"Imp…" he tried to say, but she was already tilting a little more water down his throat and he was letting her.
Again Lily tugged the cup out of James' grasp, quite the feat since he seemed to like clinging on to it with his teeth, and now she wiped round his mouth with a freshly-conjured tissue. It seemed slightly gratuitous, she thought to herself, to conjure tissues when there was toilet paper right in front of her, but she wasn't going to wipe James' mouth with toilet paper. That threw her. Why not? Why did she care?
He kept his face still as she wiped it very, very softly, scowling to himself all the while.
"A little more water," she instructed him, and he thrust his mouth open so sullenly that it caused her to giggle a little bit. She didn't know what in Godric's name had got Potter so riled, but it was pretty funny.
This time he was determined not to do as she told him; he'd do as he liked. And he liked the water. It was much better than that horrible, bitter taste in his mouth, that she'd no doubt put there in the first place. So he drank. He drank and drank and drank and wouldn't stop drinking, which was a strangely familiar feeling, almost as if he'd already done it that night, but it was all dark and hazy, and he couldn't remember why…
Lily tried to pull the cup away from Potter but he was pretty determined. And also pretty strong. Internally, she was cursing Quidditch and what it had done for his ability to completely overpower her; externally, she hadn't quite accepted that he'd won, and was still trying to yank the cup off him, to no avail.
At first James felt a strong, overwhelming sense of victory. He could almost hear the glorious roaring of a crowd as he won a match, but quickly he realised that the roaring in his ears was not a good thing, and he dropped the cup, spluttering.
Lily found the object of her pulling suddenly dropped into Potter's lap, along with herself. She wriggled back round over him, snatching the empty cup - a slightly hollow victory - and unwittingly dragging acres of long, red hair over his confused face.
Suddenly James Potter understood.
He placed that gentle, commanding, Imperius voice, the warmth squished against him, keeping him propped upright, and the nursing hands that kept offering him things and making him feel better, in spite of himself.
He understood because of that sudden fiery flash of scent that clouded every inch of his face as she readjusted herself. He had never, in his life, had that much of Lily Evans' hair in his face before. But he'd spent enough of his time staring at it and smelling it and playing with it when she wasn't looking to know what it would feel like; it would feel like that.
A little, lily-white hand dabbed the dribble off his face with yet another tissue - where was that girl getting all of those tissues from, anyway? - and it was so obvious who it was. How could it have been anyone else?
Her tiny, nibbled pink nails scurried across his blurry vision once or twice like frightened mice, and all he could do was slump against her, knowing he'd probably never get another chance like this one ever again.
"James," she whispered in his ear, sending his eyes flying open. "You can't sleep." He nodded. "I need you to sit up for me." He did. "Thank you."
The next morning found James Potter asleep, in his bath room, with Lily Evans curled around him; her hands on his face, her head on his shoulder, her flaming hair trailing down his chest.
He woke up first, with a crashing headache, as if someone was repeatedly tripping over a drum kit in his brain.
That didn't really matter overly much to him, when he caught the scent of a very familiar shampoo directly beneath his nose. He inhaled sharply at her close proximity, her legs coiled round each of his, her arms wrapped round his neck; it was almost as if they'd fallen over mid piggy-back. He felt a little dishonest not waking her up the minute he realised quite what a situation they'd found themselves in, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead he watched the gentle shift of her as she dozed, and the way her little pink lips flickered slightly, as if she was speaking to him.
His eyes grazed her limbs, flung over him at odd, protective angles, and he considered how every part of her seemed so little and frail. But he knew the second he woke up she'd be screaming blue bloody murder at him. That was just how she worked. She was perfect. Perfectly insane.
James chuckled. He couldn't help himself.
Like little bullets, the chuckles ricocheted off inside his chest and made him jiggle, regretfully causing Lily Evans to stir.
How he hated chain reactions right then.
He looked down into her face and waited for the moment when she'd look up into his, her angelic little face contorted with dislike and fury. It might have been adorable and attractive, but it was really beginning to wear him down. James would like more moments like this one, please, and fewer where she hated him.
The moment he was dreading never came.
Her emerald eyes pinged open and stared up at him in the manner of a startled bush baby. There appeared to be nothing in her eyes but surprise, concern, and something. Some unannounced, uninvited guest sitting in the back row, keeping his head down; who James caught sight of nonetheless, and wasn't ever ever going to forget seeing.
They stared at each other, awkwardness growing to such a point it was becoming physically painful.
Then James grinned crookedly at her, and, after a painful pause, she smiled back, slowly.
Lily wondered if James' face had always looked like that behind his glasses. Close up. She felt as if a stranger was smirking at her. A handsome stranger, she realised, with a start, but a stranger nonetheless. And anyway, bristled an indignant voice at the back of her head, who had apparently decided to stick up for James Potter, I think he's just as handsome with his glasses on! Lily didn't really know how to come back at that, because it was her who'd thought it.
"You're a very good nurse. Anyone would think you had practise," James teased, leaning his head back slightly as he became aware of the fact that his breath probably did not smell fabulous. He regretted the slightly fuzziness that took over Lily instantly, and wished he could find his glasses. He was sure he'd been wearing them last night…
"You're not the only one with daft friends, Potter," she teased, nudging him in the side, but secretly a bit put out at the fact that he'd moved away from her. She was determined not to read too much into that.
"Oh, really? I'm sure Sirius would be very interested in that…"
She slapped his arm slightly, meaning it was no longer wrapped around him. Neither of them let on how that really made them feel. "I thought I'd told you I was fed up of him sniffing around Marlene!"
Lily didn't know what she'd said, but she did know most of Potter's facial expressions, and something about what she'd just said was apparently rather amusing to him.
"What?" she asked indignantly.
"Nothing," he replied, smiling to himself at her frown. "I'll tell Sirius to go sniffing somewhere else…" he broke down in a fit of chuckles, only to straighten up and look her seriously in her now narrowed eyes.
"I'm suspicious," she informed him, after a pause.
"I can tell. I'm not too worried." She looked offended, but not too offended, and James wondered why it was that he seemed to go out of his way to irritate her. She folded her cute little eyebrows together and then he remembered: it was to see that expression.
She rolled her eyes and shuffled away from him a bit, making him immediately regret his last comment. But then she thrust his glasses under his nose.
"I took them off you last night," she explained, when he looked at her questioningly. "Just so they'd be safe."
He smiled as she flushed pink. "You do know I could just have repaired them with magic, right?"
"If you're not careful, Potter, someone's going to have to repair you with magic."
He laughed raucously at that, and then regretted it, bringing a hand to his ringing head where the sound of his laughter was still vibrating round.
She leaned back towards him sympathetically and he didn't regret laughing at all. "You look awful."
"Thank you, Evans!"
"Sorry," she muttered. "Maybe you shouldn't drink so much…"
He looked up at her and smiled tightly, remembering now why the Marauders had gone out drinking in the first place, and he decided not to respond.
She saw him staring at her and stared back, with mock intensity. But there was that something again, behind the mockery that egged him on in spite of himself. The few vestiges of sanity and pride he still possessed were reminding him that this girl's latest rejection came only yesterday, but the rest of him, which was completely and irrevocably in love with her, was simply screaming LILY EVANS, LILY EVANS, LILY EVANS, like some kind of demented chant. LILY EVANS won out.
"Will you go out with me?" he asked, expecting a no.
She looked at him with disbelief, but he detected something about her that suggested it was put on. Perhaps it was the way her heart thudded against his back when he asked.
"I wonder if there's any time you won't ask?" she grinned at him slightly.
He grinned back.
"You are such an opportunist! What was it about the bathroom that seemed particularly romantic to you? Was it the smell of your vomit?" she shoved him playfully in the arm and hauled herself to her feet, muttering as she went.
James was still grinning as he sat on the floor.
He was still grinning when he got up and followed her out.
He was still grinning when she demanded of him why exactly he was wearing that stupid grin as they sat together over breakfast.
James didn't tell her, but he kept telling himself.
She didn't say no.