JAMES:

James arrived back at the Gryffindor common room, shortly followed by Amy who was in the middle of a rant about a Witch Weekly article.

"- so if you think about it, she didn't need to dye her hippogriff's feathers at all!" she laughed, playfully slapping James on the shoulder. He pretended to laugh along.

"Haha, yeah! Stupid when you think about it..." he muttered, climbing through the portrait hole. He walked across to the fireplace and collapsed into an armchair, sighing. Amy, being the loyal 'girlfriend' she was, followed and fell daintily into the opposite chair. James undid his tie and toed of his shoes. He sat there with his eyes closed, enjoying the silence of the common room. "God, today's been hectic. I'm awful at herbology, I can't help it, there was no need for that weeks worth of detention! All I did was knock over that pot of soil! I didn't know there was a mandrake in it! And I have two essays into tomorrow," he sighed then smiled mischievously to himself, "want to do them for me, Lils?" Amy coughed. James opened his eyes and sat up, oblivious to his mistake. "What?" he questioned.

"'Lils'?" she repeated, a mock look of hurt on her face. She stood, one hand on her hip and the other on her heart. "'Lils', James? As in Lily? Evans? Seems like someone's not over there little red-head girlfriend." she stormed off, leaving James to the deadly silence that he had enjoyed just two minutes ago. He looked down at his discarded shoes, thinking about what Amy had just said.

"Maybe I'm not..." he said to himself.

SNAPE:

It had been a week since Lily's transfer and everything was perfect for Snape. The only problem they'd had was when Lily managed to lock herself out of the Slytherin common room, but that was a small price to pay for such a wonderful prize. He was even beginning to get more confident thanks to Lily being permanently by his side. This, however, made Potter very angry indeed. He was fuming. In the last Gryffindor-Slytherin potions lesson they'd had, Snape had found copious amounts of a mysterious brown liquid poured in his caldron, which would have no doubt exploded if it wasn't for Lily coming to the rescue. Snape sat a while on his bed that morning thinking of the red-haired girl. Those piercing green eyes, her perfect skin, and that one adorable freckle just below her left eye... He smiled to himself as he slid on his shoes and walked down to the common room, where his brief peace was shattered.

"James, what are you even doing here? How did you even get in here?" Lily was stood at one end of the room, with Potter at the other, shouting at him more irritatedly that Snape had ever seen.

"I thought the latter would have been obvious, Lils',"she shuddered at his use of her nickname and shot him an accusative look.

"Ah," she said, understanding, "it was Amy, wasn't it?" James laughed slightly at the absurdity of the suggestion.

"Who? That little mouse? No, of course not." Lily blinked at him, confused. Suddenly Snape felt uncomfortable, as if he shouldn't be there. This argument was between them. He was about to sneak back to his dorm, out of sight, when James drew attention to him. "If your looking for somewhere to point the finger for me being here, Lils', look behind you." She didn't move, but Snape knew that she'd figured it out. The silence in the room seemed almost unnatural after all the shouting, so Snape broke it.

"Erm, hi..." he stepped forward so that he was almost between them, feeling very awkward indeed.

LILY:

"I don't understand." Lily said, looking back and forth from James and Severus. Only now was she noticing their differences, but realising how similar their intentions were. She looked at Severus again. "Sev, I... I thought you hated him? Why would you tell him how to get in here?" the Slytherin boy seemed to lose all the confidence he'd gained over the past week now Lily was questioning him.

"I... Well, it's just that..." James, who still had all his confidence, began to get arrogant again.

"Yeah, come on Potions boy! Why did you let me in here? I never did think to ask."

"That's your problem, Potter, you never think." the words came out of Severus' mouth before he could stop them. James' faces turned a satisfying shade of red, but Lily wasn't here to continue arguing. She wanted answers.

"Okay, enough. James, stop taunting Sev. Sev, explain." Severus reluctantly nodded and Lily took a seat, preparing herself for an explanation.

"Look," he began, taking the seat across from Lily. James remained standing, almost too reluctant to touch anything Slytherin. "I was in the library the other day, and I found Amy crying to herself something terrible so I asked her what was wrong. The answer, which I didn't expect to hear, was-" the words caught in his throat as if he was going to burst into tears. James started to make a joke, but Lily had thrown a book at him before he had the chance to finish. "I asked her what was wrong and she sort of screamed at me, really. It was quite frightening. She looked me in the eye and just said 'Oh, don't you know? James still has a thing for his little brainiac girlfriend'...". James' face flushed red again, more from

embarrassment now than annoyance. Lily stared at her feet. This was a lot to take in. She had known that James had liked her, and she sort of liked him, but with the words coming out of Severus' mouth it just felt slightly wrong. She didn't know what to do, but Severus hadn't finished yet. "Anyway," he continued, uncomfortably playing with the end of his tie, "Amy explained to me how James had accidentally called her Lily and, well, you've accidentally called me James a few times and it made me realise that, well, maybe I'm being mean by coming between you. So I thought I'd let-" he swallowed, knowing he was going to regret this, "I thought I'd let James come and talk to you."

"I-"

"Lily-" James and Lily both began simultaneously, causing them to laugh nervously a little. Some of the tension between the two vanished. Severus took this as his cue to leave and stood up, but Lily caught the hem of his robe as he walked past. She pulled him down close so that she could whisper in his ear and said one sentence, one sentence containing one word that would stay with him forever:

No matter what happens with me and James, Sev, I'll still love you. Always have, always will.

Severus rose, squeezed Lily's shoulder thankfully and almost jogged to his dorm to prevent the embarrassment in crying in front of anyone.

JAMES:

James was glad that Snivvely had left the room, he felt he could talk more easily now. Even drop his much-loved cocksure attitude. He contemplated sitting the chair across from Lily, but finally chose to simply lounge on the arm of it, maintaining a cool exterior whilst his stomach was flipping at a million miles per hour.

"So..." James began, looking at his feet rather than Lily.

"Yeah, so..." Lily didn't continue but James hoped to God that she would start talking first, but a minute passed and no-one had said anything yet. Suddenly James felt a blunt blow on his shoulder and he looked up. Lily was sat there wearing a similar cocky smile to the one James favoured so much and he knew she'd thrown another book at him. She had to stop doing that.

"What was that for?" he complained, rubbing his arm, faking injury.

"For being an arrogant prat who messes everything up but somehow still has the capability to make me love you." James blinked at her, doubting whether Lily had actually said that or not.

"You- you love me?"

LILY:

Lily hadn't meant to have said it, it just sort of came out. However, once she'd said it, she knew in her heart it was true. She loved Severus, of course she did, but somehow it was different with James. With Severus she sometimes felt like an older sister, guiding him, always taking control. But with James... It was just different.

"You- you love me?" James asked, looking more nervous that Lily had ever seen him. She scanned his face for any sign that he was simply winding her up, but her eyes simply met his and she nodded.

"Of course I do," she replied, smiling, "why did you think I was so annoyed when you stood me up at the Three Broomsticks?" James laughed a little and stood up.

"I'm sorry, Lily," he said, and the sincerity in his voice was overwhelming. He walked to her chair, pulled her up and hugged her tight. Lily pulled away.

"Hang on a second..." she removed her tie, ran to the table and scribbled a note on a piece of parchment. After attaching the parchment to the tie and tying that around the boys dormitory door, she returned to James' arms.

"Better?" he asked, running a hand threw her hair. She sunk even further into the hug.

"Perfect."

"And anyway, " James began, pulling away slightly so he could see Lily's face, "maybe we could still all be friends." Lily's shocked face caused James to laugh. Moving a strand of red hair out of her eyes, he continued. "After all, it's just the difference between green and red, silver and gold..."

SNAPE

About an hour later, when Snape was sure the common room was empty, he left the dorm. He turned around to close the door behind him and found a tie wrapped around the handle.

Lily.

He took the tie, and saw a small piece of Parchment flutter to the ground. He picked it up and laughed to himself, pure happiness pulsing through him as he read the single word.

Always x

- FIN -