A/N: Okay, this little plot bunny just popped into my head and I couldn't continue any of my other fics until I wrote this and posted it. It's my take on how James and Lily got together in the first place.
It was the first day back to Hogwarts for Lily Evans. The first day of her seventh year, and for the second time, she hadn't sought out her childhood friend, Severus Snape, on the train or at the Slytherin table for the welcoming feast. She remembered when that had changed.
At the end of her fifth year, he had called her the unforgivable word; Mudblood. It wasn't so much the word itself, but whose mouth it came from. She didn't know Severus any more, and she was done giving him second chances. She was done having her heart broken.
As she sat down with the other seventh year girls at the Gryffindor table, she couldn't help but notice four boys a short way down the table from her, and for the first time it wasn't James Potter who irritated her most out of the group.
Despite the constant cover stories that Remus Lupin's mother was ill, it was impossible for someone as clever as Lily not to know the boy was disappearing every full moon. But that's not who irritated her, in fact out of the four, Remus was the one she was on the best terms with. No, it was Sirius Black who had been the target of her ire for the last several months.
She knew that it was he who had thought it would be funny to drop hints to Severus about how to find out where Remus was always disappearing to. He knew Severus would go down to the Whomping Willow to discover the secret. No matter how much she was upset with Severus, she would never think it was funny to send the boy looking for a werewolf.
James looked up the table at her and smiled. Lily found herself smiling back before quickly turning her face away. It had astonished her, upon going to the Prefect compartment on the Hogwarts Express with her new Head Girl badge on the front of her robes, to find James there as well. At first, she had thought he was there to visit Remus, who was a Prefect, but when he turned to face her, she felt her jaw drop. There, pinned to his robes, was clearly a badge meant for the Head Boy.
When she thought about it though, it made sense. Quite apart from his good marks, especially in Transfiguration, he had been the one to save Severus from Remus on the full moon, at a great risk to his own life. She would be forever grateful to James for saving her estranged friend's life, despite how much he obviously hated him. Even Lily could shelve her pride in this issue.
What continued to surprise her about James, though, was the fact that him being Head Boy should have given him the perfect opportunity to ask her out for the umpteenth time, but he hadn't.
"Can you believe this?" he'd asked her with a smile. "Me, Head Boy! Dumbledore must be mad."
In that statement alone, she could tell that James Potter was done being an arrogant toerag and an obnoxious prat. Something had changed in him over the summer; he was more mature. Lily found that she quite liked the new James.
A month had passed since the first day and Lily found herself purposely seeking James out in the corridors for any reason she could think of. Once it had something to do with Peeves.
"Oh hi, Potter," she said feigning surprise upon meeting him again.
"Hello, Lily," he replied.
That was something else that had changed. He had stopped using her surname, and she found that her stomach did a flip every time he called her Lily.
"Uh, I'm glad I ran in to you," she said, sure there was a smart remark coming. When none came, she continued. "Peeves has been throwing rat spleens at the first years. I figure since he tends to listen to you, you could convince him to stop, or to at least throw something less disgusting."
"Sure, Lily, anything you need."
She found it almost disturbing how sincere he was with her, not the usual overly colourful words he once used to try and win her affections, nor was it his usual humorous banter he shared with his friends. Although, as disturbing as it was, she couldn't get him out of her mind.
By November, Lily had been spending all of her free time in the company of the Marauders, usually pointedly ignoring Sirius altogether. She'd often ask Remus for a game of chess or play exploding snap with Peter. She'd even join them in a bit of their hilarious teasing. They really were funny and she wondered why she had never seen it before.
One afternoon, the day after the full moon, Lily was hanging out in the common room with the Marauders as usual. She was reading her Charms book, James was working on a Transfiguration essay, Peter was working on the same essay and constantly pestering him with questions, Sirius was reading Witch Weekly, slacking off, and Remus was falling asleep in his Defence book.
"Are you okay, Remus?" Lily asked in concern. "You seem rather tired."
He jerked his head up from his text book, his eyes suddenly wide. "I'm fine, I just got back really early this morning from visiting my mum—she's sick again—and I didn't get much sleep."
The words flooded out of his mouth like a tidal wave, as if he had perfected this speech. Of course thats when Lily remembered that last night had been a full moon.
Her face obviously showed something of her thoughts, because he exchanged a nervous look with James and Sirius. Lily sighed, time to confess, she thought.
"It's all right, Remus, relax," she soothed. "I know you're a werewolf."
His eyes went wider, as did all of the Marauders'.
"What?" his voice went high and squeaky. "That's ridiculous! Who told you that?" He glared accusingly at Sirius.
Lily deduced that he thought Severus had told her and he was blaming Sirius for tricking him.
"No one told me, Remus. I figured it out for myself."
They all seemed surprised.
"Oh don't insult my intelligence," she snapped at them all. "I'm not thick you know. It was a little too much to be coincidence that Remus was always disappearing on the full moon. Furthermore, the rest of you nicknaming him Moony just tells me that you all know too. On that note," she glared at Sirius. "I know why Severus was so spooked last year, Black. You know it's actually nice to get this off my chest. Potter," she added looking at him, he leaned back worried that she would snap at him too. "Thank you."
James was floored. "For what, Lily?"
"For saving Severus, even though I know you hate him so much, and even though you risked your own life to do it."
With that, she got up with her book, kissed him on the cheek, and left for the girls' dormitories.
What she didn't see as she left the room, was an ashamed Sirius staring at his lap, an amazed Remus staring at the spot she had been sitting, and a stunned James holding his hand up to the spot she had kissed.
It seemed that after her little monologue to the Marauders, Sirius was determined to be extra polite to her, trying to help her with anything and everything. She assumed it was because he was ashamed of his rash actions the previous year and was trying to show her that he was capable of being mature when he wanted to be. Remus, on the other hand, seemed a lot more relaxed around her, as if a great weight had been lifted, he talked more animatedly, smiled more. It was as though he had always been so worried that he'd slip up around her and that was now no longer the case.
James did the complete opposite of what Lily had expected. Two years ago, if she had kissed him, even on the cheek, he would have pestered her to no end to go on a date with him. But this was the new James, the almost mature James. No, he didn't ask her out, instead he treated her as he would Sirius, Remus, or Peter; like a friend. He was polite to her, certainly, but he didn't pull out any stops, he had become her friend, and though the idea of being friends with James Potter boggled her mind, she found herself quite liking the thought.
It was Christmas holliday, and The Marauders and Lily had decided to stay at Hogwarts. They had agreed, together, that one last Christmas in the castle is just what they needed before their NEWT exams. It ended up that they were the only Gryffindors to stay behind that year, so they had the entire common room to themselves.
Come Christmas day, they exchanged gifts together. Sirius had gotten Lily a silver charm bracelet with wolf, rat, dog, and stag charms on it. It looked expensive and she knew it was another of his pleas for forgiveness.
"What do the charms represent?" she asked.
"Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs," he said pointing to each in turn.
"But that's what you call each other..." Lily said slowly. She couldn't fathom what that could mean.
James smiled and stood up. "Lily, since you've kept Moony's secret to yourself for so long, the rest of us have decided to show you what no one else knows."
With that, he transformed into a stag, right there in the common room. He was magnificent, and Lily found herself transfixed in his wide black eyes. She noticed faint markings around his eyes that showed where his glasses sat.
A bark from behind her got her attention and she looked. There, with one paw on the coffee table, was a huge black dog, a fat grey rat perched next to him. Remus sat there in the same place as before, a broad grin on his face.
"You three are animagi!" Lily blurted as it all suddenly made sense. "How long?"
"They perfected it in our fifth year to visit me on the full moon," Remus explained as the others transformed back.
"See," Sirius explained. "Werewolves are only dangerous to humans on the full moon."
"But not to animals," James finished. "We did it so Moony wouldn't be lonely on those nights."
Lily hadn't realized the Marauders were capable of such empathy. Well, it was obvious they had no prejudices against werewolves, but to illegally become animagi to keep one company?
"I didn't know that you all had this much compassion," she said, tears welling up in her eyes. She then flung her arms out and hugged the nearest person, which happened to be Sirius, who stood there frozen in shock. "I love the bracelet, Sirius, thank you."
"Er... you're welcome, Lils," he mumbled awkwardly.
She pulled herself together and dried her eyes. "I'm still angry with you for tricking Severus, though," she added.
"Fair enough," he replied.
After that, everyone settled down and continued to pass out gifts.
Christmas dinner was a noisy affair. The Marauders and Lily had the entire Gryffindor table to themselves, and Sirius had started a food fight by shoving potatoes into Peter's face. Peter squeeled and flung a piece of turkey back at him, but Sirius ducked and it hit Remus instead. Of course, he retaliated.
Across the table from them were James and Lily. James was laughing hysterically at the antics of his friends when Lily tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to look at her, only to receive a face full of yams. He stared at her in shock; Lily Evans was throwing food!
Lily burst out laughing, soon followed by Sirius, Remus, and Peter. James got a diabolical look on his face. Lily noticed.
"No," she said warningly. "James Potter, don't you dare!"
He grabbed a hand full of stuffing from his plate and smeared it into Lily's face.
Then all hell broke loose. Food was flying in every direction at the Gryffindor table and all five of them were laughing hysterically.
What none of them saw was over at the Slytherin table, Severus Snape was scowling bitterly and the merriment across the hall.
Later that evening, after everyone had cleaned up from their mess-making, the Marauders and Lily sat around the common room, eating chocolate frogs and telling jokes.
At around one o'clock in the morning, both Lily and James got up to go to bed. As they crossed paths to get to their own staircases, a chorus of "ooooh"s broke out from behind them. They both turned back to the other three Marauders.
"What?" they both asked at the same time.
Their answer came in the form of three fingers pointing at something above their heads. Their eyes shot up to the ceiling, already knowing what was there.
"Mistletoe," Lily breathed. This was it, she thought, James was going to take full advantage of the situation, she just knew it.
James smiled at her, leaned down, and kissed her. Not on the mouth, as she had expected, but on the cheek, and very softly at that.
"Goodnight, Lily," he said, and went up to his dormitory.
There was absolute silence in the common room, as the others stared at her.
"'Night," she murmured, and went numbly up to her own dormitory.
Lily barely slept at all that night; she just couldn't get James out of her head. She wondered if thoughts of her were keeping him awake as well. Then she wondered why she wondered it in the first place. This was James Potter, the arrogant bully that hexed people in the corridors just because he could, the big headed Quidditch player that ruffled his hair to make it look even messier than it usually was, but on the other hand, he had rescued Severus, risking his own life in the process.
This was just so frustrating. He had changed a lot; he had become Head Boy, despite not having been a Prefect in the first place, he had stopped pranking Severus altogether, and he had even stopped asking her out every day.
She just couldn't keep him out of her mind.
It was still bothering her by New Year's Eve and she felt like she ought to do or say something about it before Gryffindor tower was crowded again.
When Lily entered the common room, James was reading a copy of Which Broomstick in an armchair by the fire, Sirius and Remus were playing chess, and Peter was watching.
"Potter, I need to speak to you," she demanded.
James looked up from his magazine, startled.
"What did I do?" he asked, obviously assuming he had once again, ticked her off somehow.
"It's not what you did," she said testily. "It's what you're not doing, and I want to know what you're playing at."
Sirius and Remus paused in their game to watch the confrontation. Peter, too, looked up from the board.
James was confused. "Playing at? Lily what are you on about?"
"All of a sudden, you're very polite to me, you've stopped hexing Severus, you—"
"And that!" she exclaimed. "You've stopped calling me by my surname. What the hell do you mean by all of that?"
"I've always been polite to you," he replied calmly. "I've just been a bit cocky about it. I stopped hexing Snape because I think we've gone too far and it needs to stop. As for the use of your first name; are we not on first name terms? Aren't we friends?"
Lily was stunned. His response was so mature that she didn't know how to respond. He said friends. Were they friends? It did seem like it, but there was one more thing that was bothering her.
"You've stopped asking me out every bloody day," she challenged. "What's that about?"
James looked baffled. "It irritated you, as I recall. Why? Do you want me to start doing that again?"
Her mouth fell open. Once again she didn't have a response. Did she want him to ask her out? What would her answer be if he did? Would she continue to turn him down point blank? Or would she do what she never would have dared to do in the past and accept?
James correctly interpreted the turmoil on her face for indecision and stood up, facing her.
"Let's give it a test run, then shall we. I'll ask you out, and you tell me whether or not I should do that every day, okay. Okay, Lily, will you go out with me?"
The other Marauders were holding their breath, waiting for Lily's response.
Lily, for her part, seemed to have lost her indecision and found herself answering with her first impulse.
James raised an eyebrow. "Yes, you want me to ask you that every day?"
"Yes, I'll go out with you."
His jaw dropped. Six years he had been asking her out, and six years she had been turning him down, and now, suddenly, she had accepted.
"You-you will?" he stammered.
"Yes, James," she said with a smile. It was the first time she had called him by his first name, something he didn't fail to notice.
And with that, she closed the gap between them and kissed him, right on the mouth. His eyes widened for a moment before he closed them and wrapped his arms around her waist. The moment seemed to go on for ages, but still didn't last long enough as they were both rudely interrupted by the other Marauders.
"Finally!" Sirius exclaimed.
"Merlin, it took you long enough," Remus agreed.
Peter just giggled insanely with a huge goofy grin on his face.
When the rest of the students returned to Hogwarts, they were shocked to find that the castle had gained another couple, one that everyone had been betting on or against since the beginning. Everywhere, throughout the corridors, students exchanged gold, having won or lost the bet on whether or not Lily Evans would ever say yes to James Potter.
A/N:You may have noticed that Peter hasn't said a word the whole story. That's my take on the start of his betrayal; he was in league with Voldemort by this time and, as a result, is more aloof among his "friends".
Anyway, I want to know what you think! R&R!