Some things in life are meant to be questioned, but never understood.

Religion. Science. Love. Hate. Men. Arguably the human species as a whole.

Some things in life happen for the people living to learn a lesson.

War. Divorce. Heartbreak. Failure. Disaster. Fear

And some things in life are supposed to happen to everyone, or rather ought to happen to everyone at some point.

I can only think of one, really, that falls into this category.

Love.

That includes the superficial kind of love that society tells us love should be: flowers, chocolates, mad, passionate snogging and perfect, cliché roles that each member of the relationship are supposed to fall into. It also includes the completely unselfish, flawless kind of love that a mother or father shares with their child or the mature kind of love that old mates share when they age together. The silly, loyal love that only a dog and its owner can possess or the sort of selfish love that a young child has for its toys.

Its thoughts like these that come into my mind that I seem to just spill out to someone, anyone, who's listening. I don't think before I speak, really – it's one of my biggest downfalls. When a thought like this one comes to my mind, I just have to share it, especially when it's unique and special and meaningful like this one. It's something that should be shared, celebrated even.

Or, at least that's what plain old me, Lily Evans, thinks.

There's something about my mind that I think doesn't really fit with the rest of me – it's complex, and great, and brilliant, and I'm rather proud of it, with it scoring me some of the highest grades in my courses at my home (my real home, anyway: Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But I'll explain that later), a secured position as the Head Girl for my graduating year at school, and giving me the feel of superiority and excellence in at least something.

Because I really wasn't that supreme or excellent in almost anything else.

Sports? Rubbish. I couldn't even fly on a broomstick, much less carry a quaffle or beat a bludger or catch a snitch while riding one

Fashion? Rubbish. Hogwarts didn't provide much in that area, anyway, with the required uniforms and such. Yet, one of my three best friends, Emmeline Vance, still found a way to be stylish and cute and girly and flawless while wearing her uniform. Bloody prat.

Boys? Oh, absolute rubbish. I had involuntarily inserted myself into the friend zone with almost every single decent looking bloke at Hogwarts.

Looks? Subjectively, I had the essentials to be pretty, as Emmeline had pointed out to me once – she saw bright, fiery red hair, a cute nose, a light spray of elegant freckles that covered it, gorgeous green eyes, long legs, and a skinny figure. I saw hair that was thick and boringly straight with a few waves, twists, and curls, a too-small nose, blemishes that seemed to get darker and more prominent in the sun, awkwardly lengthy legs, and a too-skinny girl who should have had more of a curvy, womanly body, considering her age of seventeen.

Except, I did rather like my eyes. If anything, they were the only thing I liked about myself, unlike my annoying prat-of-a-sister, Petunia, who was sitting next to me, sipping her tea perfectly, with her pinkie finger stuck out and all.

Petunia seemed to think she could do no wrong, with more than just looks (though her shoulder length, exquisitely dyed blonde hair, piercingly blue eyes, and curvaceous body didn't provide a safe argument for anyone who dared to question it) – with her oaf of a fiancé sitting next to her, only to be married in less than a hundred days. Ninety-seven, to be exact. (She had a calendar hanging in just about every room in our house to remind anyone whose mine it might have slipped.)

Her wedding, fittingly, had to be perfect as well. It would take place in a great, old church on the north part of London, the reception being at the Hotel de Magnificent just down the street. She, still deciding on details frantically as the time slipped away from her in each passing day, spat questions out to Vernon (the lucky gentleman who got to marry this lunatic of a girl) left and right, to which, mostly, he would just blindly agree to things.

The whole ordeal was quite funny, if I was being wholly honest.

Especially when my mother offered the idea of me being in the wedding. But let's hold on to that thought for later.

One thing I should warn you about now, that is as much as I dislike my sister, she dislikes me about ten times more.

I just disliked her in a sisterly way that was normal. I still loved my sister – it's just that her antics were freakishly enjoyable, and I entertained myself at her expense, and, well, she disliked that about me.

Oh, and the fact that I was a witch.

Minor factor.

…Okay, major factor.

Details, details.

Petunias dislike for me began the day that I had met that sodding Severus Snape (my ex-best friend, mind you – and look, triple alliteration! Extra points!), who made me love being a witch and embrace my abnormal-ness, if anything. However, he was also the reason my sister couldn't bear to be in the same room as I without trying to start an all-out war. Someone had once told me that in order to win, you must also lose. I suppose that applied here.

Anyway, back to my mother's request.

This morning, the last morning I would be spending at my house before I returned to Hogwarts after Christmas Vacation, I had finished packing, descended the staircase, and sat down at the breakfast table with my mother (the only sane one in my entire family, cousins and all, who were all exactly like my father and Petunia – freakishly obsessed with their images and perfection, also which was why I was given the cold shoulder by most of my family), my father, Petunia, and Vernon, the former half who were drinking their coffee and chatting pleasantly, the latter half who were going over buffets and cakes.

"I do suppose that a nice fish and chips for the kids would be fine, and that a choice of Italian, Greek, and French Cuisine would be rather safe for the adult buffet table. Do you reckon that's alright?" Petunia looked up expectedly at Vernon, who picked at the napkin in front of him.

"Hm? Oh, yes, very nice, and safe, hmm."

Petunia smiled appreciatively and scribbled down on the paper in front of her. "Absolutely brill. Now, for the bridesmaids' dresses." Petunia said, flipping to the next page in her never-ending packet of wedding details, "I was thinking pink, and – "

"Oh, heavens no." My mother said, shaking her head, her red hair flying everywhere. She clicked her nails against her coffee mug and said, "Pink is too overdone. Plus, pink doesn't look very good with red, does it?"

Petunia stared at her blankly for a moment, and even my father's eyes rested on my mother questioningly from above the rim of his paper. Vernon remained unbothered. "What? There's no red in the wedding," Petunia mused, the gears in her head noticeably turning, "We decided against the roses after all, mother, and said that blue Gentian would be the flower of our wedding."

"That's great and all, but I wasn't talking about the roses." My mother said amusedly, sipping her coffee. "Lily's going to be in the wedding, too, and it clashes something awful with her hair."

A few seconds passed by in utter silence, in which my father clenched his jaw, Vernon still stared simply at the table, not listening, and Petunia's face grew redder with every second. I watched the scene in front of me with great bewilderment.

"She…She…what?"Petunia managed to sputter out in total shock. I stifled a giggle. My sister quite adored me, didn't she? "She certainly is not going to be in the wedding!"

"I agree," My father said, sending me a wary glance, almost as if afraid that I would curse or hex him or something odd. "I mean do we really want any of, of her lot involved?" He asked quietly, and my heart would've normally snapped at the ashamed tone he used, but I was all too used to it at this point.

"Oh, hush, Ted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her lot," My mother said, rolling her eyes. My father, having no further argument, sent a look to Petunia and went back to reading his paper. My sister, on the other hand, still fumed.

"Mother! First of all, who said anything about Lily being in the wedding, because I certainly didn't, and neither did you!" She began desperately, almost pleadingly, "She won't look quite right with all the other bridesmaids, and now the number will be off between bridesmaids and groomsmen, and it'll just ruin everything! And," she started as an afterthought, "Even if she were to be in the wedding, which she won't be, I shouldn't have to revolve my bridesmaids' dresses around her! Mother, the thought is simply, simply…"

"Unacceptable, considering you have to stop thinking about yourself for a moment, dear?" My mother inserted with a soft laugh, and Petunia just glowered.

"I think mother has a point," I quipped, momentarily victorious that I had unintentionally gotten under my sister's skin, "I think being in a wedding would be such fun, don't you, Tuney?" I smiled sweetly at her.

"No! Absolutely not! I mean - …Vernon!" Petunia cried, almost in relief. "Vernon, surely you must have an opinion about Lily being in the wedding?"

Unbothered, he watched his nails and responded with a, "Hm? Oh, yes, very nice, Lily, yes, hmm."

Petunia gaped at him while my mother laughed good-naturedly, and I silently threw a fist of triumph into the air.

Take that, Petunia! You're slug and oaf of a fiancé couldn't care less!

"Brilliant!" My mother said, slamming her coffee mug on the table with a grin. "So it's settled than – You'll be in the wedding, Lily, and you won't have the bridesmaids dresses made in pink, will you, Petunia?"

My sister, still wide-eyed and gaping, sat stock still in surprise and shock and something that might have looked like anger, if I cared. Which I didn't. Not in the least.

I was invading Petunia's wedding, and it was gramd, and nothing could ruin the great taste of success that tasted on my tongue, nothing at all –

"So who're you going to bring then, Lily?"

Except maybe that.

I snapped my eyes over to my father, who gave me a curious look through his spectacles. And then, in the next moment, I dared glance in Petunia's direction, and it only took her a second to take this opportunity to jump on me in revenge.

And mind you, she did, and did not hold back.

If there was one bad thing about picking on Petunia, it was that she always found a way to pick on me back. I should have known that something like this would have happened. It always did. For even though I triumphed Petunia over personality and wits and sanity, she triumphed me over looks, and popularity, and – I stiffened cold in my seat – boys.

It sounded so silly, the way I was talking about it. Who would care if she had had more boyfriends in her life, and had always been considered the pretty one, and had always been confident and great and sure of herself? No one.

No one but me.

Because, you see, I lacked in all those things. And if there was something that was sensitive about me, it was boys.

A boy I had had a relationship with just about two years ago, Richard Anderson, had cheated on me. I mean, cheated on me badly. Him, being a year ahead of me at school, had been great, and handsome, and smart and I thought he was bloody perfect at the time and I thought I was bloody in love – which I was not, by the way – but I thought I was, and that was enough.

So when your tart boyfriend of a year cheats on you with a total slag of a girl in the middle of a corridor for all to see while he's still dating you, it's not something you get over easily, or quickly.

After that, I had rid my life of that awful bloke, and stopped really trying to have a boyfriend. I stopped with looks, trying to be pretty and girly and gorgeous all the time, petty flirting, and banished the idea of romance from my life completely. Even when I was ready for maybe another shot at a relationship, I had already made friends (and just friends) with all possible boys in my year (except for that bloody James Potter, but that was a whole other story in itself that I couldn't bother to explain at the moment), and it was a lost cause.

So boys were a tender spot for me.

Petunia's grin spread wickedly to every feature of her face, and soon, she was giving me a knowing look from across the table. "Yes, what about your date, Lily? Who could it be?" She pretended to ponder for a moment before a dark look filled her eyes. "Perhaps…Richard?"

I felt my jaw clench, and my tongue become tied, and my right eyebrow twitch a bit as it always did right before I either cried, screamed, or had an emotional break down. Which of these three was about to happen, I was not sure, nor would I ever be, for my mother hastily said, "Enough, Petunia."

"I was merely inquiring about Lily's date," Petunia replied with feign innocence, "Unless, of course, you don't have one…"

For even though I could outsmart and outwit and outshine Petunia in a lot of ways, she could find ways to do the same, and one particular way was that she was a lot more emotionally stable and happier than I was.

And for a teenage girl, that's quite a big thing.

"Petunia…" My mother warned, and my father's grip on his paper tightened as the tension at the table thickened. Even Vernon bothered to look up to glance timidly back and forth between Petunia, my mother, and I.

"No, mother. It's fine." And then, that fatal flaw of mine was coming out, the one that I was trying so hard to stop, but that I knew I couldn't. I was about to say something I regretted. "Petunia has every right to inquire, because I…I…" Don't say it, Lily, don't you dare open that stupid mouth of yours –

"I have a date, too. A boyfriend, actually."

Oh, bloody hell.

I had done it again. Speaking without thinking.

Cursed mouth.

Petunia raised a dubious eyebrow at me, alongside my father, but my mother just grinned.

"Really, Lily? Well, that's wonderful!"She cried happily, reaching out to squeeze my hand from across the table. Petunia didn't look nearly as thrilled, or like she believed me at all.

"Really?" Asked Petunia in faux happiness, too – we had fought so many times in the past that I knew she saw right through my lie. I should have stopped right then and there, blimey, I should have just bit my tongue or turned my head or gotten up or something – because in the next second, more words were spilling out of my mouth.

"Oh yes, and he's something brill." I heard myself saying, a self-satisfied smirk playing on my lips. "He's handsome, and smart, and funny, and clever, we are just in love."

Oh, Merlin.

The Lily on the outside projected an air of arrogance, accomplishment, and confidence, while the Lily on the inside was freaking and screaming and crying and kicking herself in the face for being such an insufferable, obnoxious liar.

"And he's magical like yourself, yes?" The 'm' word caused Petunia, my father, and even Vernon, who was told about my differance but did not quite understand it, cringe. I stubbornly nodded.

"Y-yes, he is." And it was that little slur, that little slip of tongue, that had caused Petunia to regain herself, and once again, that wicked smile was on her lips.

"Can't wait to meet him, Lily. He sure sounds like a swell guy." She said, popping her lips zealously as she relished in what she thought was victory. But it wasn't. I wouldn't let it be.

"Oh, he is. He's great. I'll bring him to your wedding, and you'll see then just how swell he is."I said, showing her a dazzling smile. She smiled back, without words accepting my challenge, and as I turned to my father and asked him to drive me to the platform and walked into my room to get my luggage, I grabbed my pillow and screamed into it.

Oh, what had I just done?


I arrived at platform nine and three quarters, and usually, the scene of silvery smoke and smell of fire and air of warmth would have me feeling pleasant and wonderful inside, and everything would seem great.

But that was not today.

Because all I could think about was how I had told Petunia that I had a perfectly happy boyfriend and that I now had to bring him to my sister's wedding and show him off to her and her fiancé and our family that really, for lack of a better word, hated me.

And that weighs on a girl, surprisingly enough.

"Lily!" A familiar voice called from over my shoulder, and I turned around to see the petite figure of Jemima Rahman waving at me from just a few meters away. I grinned – my first real grin since the craziness of this morning – and walked over to her, quickly hugging her.

"Jem!" I said happily, and I backed away so I could properly look at her – Christmas had been good to her, I noticed, as she proudly sported a brand new jumper and a fantastic smile. Her light brown skin, dark eyes, and wide smile seemed as obvious as ever, and her dark hair glistened as she tucked it behind her ears. "How was your vacation?"

"Oh, fantastic." She said, nodding enthusiastically. "My ninamma came to visit from India, and it was great to see her. How about you? Do anything ravishing for the holidays?"

"Well, I have a new imaginary boyfriend that I'm taking to my sister's wedding in April, but you know, nothing big." I said, shrugging nonchalantly, and as she raised an eyebrow to question me, I just shook my head. "I'll tell you when we get to the compartment. Don't want to have to retell the story twice to you, Emmeline, and Dawn."

After a moment: "Oh, alright." She said, still eyeing me suspiciously, but I just grinned half-heartedly and returned to my luggage, which I then began to bring over to the train with Jem.

"I don't suppose you've seen either of them yet, have you?" I asked her while we struggled to pull our luggage up onto the train.

"No, though I'm assuming we'll all just meet up in the usual compartment." She said, and I nodded, still gripping my luggage very carefully.

"Would you like some help with that, Lily?" said a voice from next to me, and I turned my head around to see the face of Carter Thompson politely extending a hand to my luggage. I laughed and nodded, and he (whoa, he was strong) lifted the luggage with ease onto the train next to me, taking a moment next to help Jemima as well.

"You are a life saver." Jemima thanked happily, praising the Ravenclaw gratefully. He shrugged and smirked.

"Well, can't let a pair of lovely women hurt themselves, can I?" he said, the smallest bit of a Scottish accent noted in his voice, and Jemima rolled her eyes, though a smile still rested on her face.

"Oh, shove off, Thompson. Have you seen your cousin around anywhere?" She asked, surely meaning her boyfriend, Scott Cooper. Ever since Potter (ah, James Potter, how I loathed even thinking his name) set them up at the Halloween ball a few months ago, the two were practically inseparable, which was okay. He was decent sort of bloke, quiet, at that, but decent. He fit well with the small, also quiet brunette girl next to me.

"Yeah, I think he's already in the prefect's compartment with that other Hufflepuff girl." He murmured casually, flicking his soft brown hair out of his soft brown eyes (gorgeous, he was, did I already say that?) and leaning against the doorframe of the compartment. I nodded.

"Yeah, I suppose I'll head there with Remus after we meet Emmeline and Dawn." I added, and Jemima nodded in agreement.

"See you there, Ravenclaw." I added to Carter, and he smirked and said, "Same to you, Gryffindor."

"That's Head Girl to you!"

"My apologies." He responded with a chuckle, and then he was gone. I grabbed the handle of my luggage and, with Jemima behind me, began walking to the designated compartment that we had dubbed our own in our first year. As soon as we made our way there and had opened the door, someone was rather roughly jumping on me from the inside.

"Lily! Jem!" Dawn cried, latching onto me in a hug. I laughed and stumbled into the compartment, nearly tripping over Emmeline as she put down her book to smile and greet us as well.

"Hey, guys!" Jemima waved, and after we had lifted our bags to the rack above us and the four of us were seated, we all began retelling the stories of our vacation and the eventfulness of it all.

"So, we went to that crazy party in London for New Years, and who did we meet there but the Marauders (I'll explain them later) and a few other Hogwarts seventh years!" Dawn said, and Emmeline nodded in affirmation. "So Potter introduced me to a friend of his, that Hufflepuff Amos in our year that I hadn't really known all too well, and now we're going out on a date to the next Hogsmeade trip!"

Merlin, Potter really was the matchmaker, wasn't he? I suppose now's the best time as any to explain the very bane of my existence:

James Potter.

Where do I start with James?

Well for one, he was the most frustrating, inconsistent, rubbish person I knew. For a solid five years, ever since I had encountered him on this very train with Severus, he had been quite determined in getting me to go on a date with him. He went through five years of trying – and failing – to garner my attention with his idiotic and mediocre efforts of trying to impress me. He might've charmed every other girl with that sloppily attractive hair, heavenly eyes, godly facial structure, toned physique, and stupid, stupid smile, but I was better than to fall for that. I was better than to just be a part of his silly game of girls.

So, after five years of the James Potter (Yes, I say 'the' only because he is so famous in Hogwarts as the leader of the Marauders and biggest womanizer known to mankind, alongside Sirius Black. Why he had spent so much time on an average, plain girl like myself, no one really knew) and his fruitless attempts of getting me to agree to go out with him, I had started to date Richard, and, well, I suppose that was enough for him. He stopped asking me out, and started with something much, much worse.

He started hating me.

I mean, really, really hating me.

Insults were thrown at me whenever he was around, and everything he said wanted to make me hit him or scream or tear out my own hair. He would pull silly hexes on me all the time, or challenge me in class just because he could, and would get try to surpass me in the courses I worked so hard to ace. And worst of all, when I finally thought I had beaten him by receiving prefect in sixth year, and then Head Girl in seventh year, he goes and get's Head Boy, too.

That boy, my Merlin…

Him and the Marauders (Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew) didn't used to be that bad – mostly, they were just stupid and humorous in their pranks and mischievous ways, the kind of trouble-makers that made girls swoon and made boys jealous and made teachers annoyed. But as the years wore on them, they became more arrogant, and sneakier, and cleverer, and more dangerous. Then, with James' new power as head boy (Merlin, why would Dumbledore make him head boy?) and Remus' power of prefect, they got away with just about everything.

Just another thing to add onto my list of reasons that James is the bane of my existence.

And even though I had stopped them a number of times and fulfilled my duties as Head girl, it wasn't exactly great having to give my fellow Gryffindors detention and dock points from my own house.

"That's great!" Jemima said to Dawn, and the latter brushed her short, black hair out of her eyes and smirked.

"I reckon so, too. Though it might get difficult with him being on the Hufflepuff quidditch team and me being on Gryffindor…" She said, scratching the side of her tan face. Emmeline shook her head and laughed.

"Please. Like James would ever let you hold back. He'd have a replacement beater take your place in a second if you even thought about it. He even threatened to have is own best mate thrown off the team because he skipped a practice." Emmeline said with a shake of her head. "Good thing Sirius Black is a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, because personally I would have been bothered."

"Yeah, well, you're always a little too overemotional for comfort." Dawn smirked, and Emmeline went to whack her with her book.

"Yeah, yeah. So how was your vacation, Lily?"

And suddenly, I remembered the drama of this morning, seemingly during the same time that Jemima did, for she exclaimed, "Yeah, you need to tell me about this imaginary-boyfriend shit."

"What imaginary boyfriend shit?" Dawn quipped, and even Emmeline's interest peak as she stared at me through her long curls of blonde hair. I began to retell the entire story to them in a messy string of words and eagerness that I couldn't help but stress over it even more than I had previously. I'm sure they felt my stress, too, because after I had finished relaying the part where Petunia challenged me to bring him to the wedding, they all sat very quietly.

"So…So let me get this straight." Dawn began slowly, "You're meaning to tell me, that because you're sister's sort of a git, you need to bring a boy back with you for your sister's wedding to show him off to the entire family, and to prove to her that you're better than her…?"

Well, when she worded it that way, I felt even more pathetic.

"Yeah." I said, tugging at the ends of my red hair anxiously. Jemima raised an eyebrow at me.

"What's the problem, then? You get someone to go with you, like Remus, let's say, and then you 'break up with him' when the wedding's over. No one will ever know."

"It's – It's more complicated than that." I sighed and fidgeted with my fingers in my lap. "Petunia…Petunia knows that that's kind of a, a sore spot for me after Richard and everything. She knows. And she loves to target that. Plus," I added, looking up to meet their eyes, "If Petunia knows me even about half as well as I know her, she'll know I'm lying, and she'll know that he's a fake."

"So this is more about you trying to prove a point to yourself rather than your sister?" Emmeline said, tucking a golden lock of hair behind her ear. I shrugged.

"Maybe? I, I don't know. All I know is that I'm rubbish as this stuff, and have been for awhile, and – "

"Lily?" a voice spoke from just outside the compartment, and soon after, a head covered in sandy-brown hair poked into the room.

"Oh, hello Remus." Dawn said, her eyebrows raising in surprise. He just smiled and addressed everyone with a, "Have a good vacation?"

"Brill," Said Jemima with grin. "How about yours?"

"Oh, just peachy. Do you mind if Prongs and I steal Lily for a bit? There's a prefects meeting in the front compartment for a few minutes."

"Oh, well she was just in the middle of…" Emmeline started, but I hushed her.

"Em, darling, don't be rude." I said cleverly with a small smirk, "Of course. I'll be right back. Feel free to ponder over this new information and think of a solution by the time I get back!" I called from over my shoulder as I slid out from the compartment and into the small hall. The scenery outside swam by us, and I turned my attention from the window to Remus, the polite and friendly boy next to me (perhaps by favorite Marauder, tied with Sirius), and the boy behind him.

James Potter leaned against the wall opposite of me, handsome as ever, his arms crossed, and a bored expression on his face. It was weird, seeing him after a solid two weeks away – without his usual detest and irritation directed at me, life had been considerable…well, calmer, that's for sure. I waited for the much anticipated insult that he would surely pay me, but after a moment passed of an awkward sort of silence, I raised an eyebrow at him. He rather looked quite unperturbed by my appearance.

"Oi, Potter."

"Hmm." He hummed in response, his eyes meeting mine, and I narrowed my own at him.

"You're holding us up. What kind of Head boy are you?"

I heard Remus sigh next to me. "Oh, heavens, here we go…"

"How rude of me, Evans. My apologies." James tutted contemptuously and slowly lifted himself from the wall. The smell of him rose into my nose (if arrogance had a smell, it was James Potter and his reek of cologne and quidditch and boy), and I couldn't help but notice that he didn't seem to be fighting back as he normally would have. He stood there, bored and un-amused, and offered a, "Ladies first," while motioning to the hallway in front of him.

James Potter. I had used the word inconsistent to describe him. And this was why. Because for however annoying and stupid and pratish he was, he was still human, and that was another reason on my list of reasons why James is the bane of my existence. I couldn't really hate him.

Oh, buggar.

"Er…alright." Odd. I shuffled in front of him and began our departure to the prefect compartment in the front of the train, the two Marauders following not too far behind me. As soon as we arrived, I grabbed the handle of the door and swung it open, stepping inside.

A few people greeted me warmly, including two younger classmen and Carter (who, somehow, was already there with the other Ravenclaw prefect, a bored looking albeit pretty Asian girl named Mai Phan). Remus was greeted in the like, but James, upon entering, was nearly jumped, however.

"James!"

"James, darling, how are you?"

"Hey, mate, how you been?"

"Potter, you pumped for the Puddlemere United game?"

"He-llo, James."

I sighed. Of course.

James smirked and suddenly, the normal James Potter was back – that is, arrogant, good-looking-and-I-know-it, proud, womanizing James Potter.

"Chelsea Jones. I've been just lovely, how have you been?" He said, seating next to the sixth year Gryffindor prefect. Her face reddened, and she twirled her hair stupidly and giggled.

"Well, I've been just fine. How've you been?"

"I reckon I'm better now." He responded with a wink, and the girl nearly wet herself in excitement. I merely rolled my eyes as Remus chuckled, and we sat down at the other end of the compartment together.

"I can see you're just thrilled to see my Prongs." Remus mused, shaking his head with a quiet laugh.

"Oh, positively delighted." Heavy sarcasm.

"Come now, Lily," He began, glancing over to James, who was now conversing with Carter and a fifth year Gryffindor prefect, also Seeker for the Gryffindor quidditch team, Michael Kennedy. "He's really not a bad bloke. I promise."

"You're one of his best friends." I scoffed, tucking a piece of red hair behind my ear. "You're obligated to say that."

"If I wanted to sit here and tell you how Prongs was an annoying ponce, I could do that, too. But you already know that, so I might as well try to convince you of the other side of him, as well." Remus said, reaching into the small bag he had brought with him to take out a piece of chocolate. He tossed me one, and I caught it, unwrapped it, and popped it in my mouth.

"Thanks. And really, Remus, he's had the opportunity to prove me wrong about a trillion times, and he hasn't yet, and still resorts to insults and pranks. I think my opinion about Potter is rather accurate at this point." I said, rolling my eyes, and just as Remus was about to argue his point back, I shook my head. "Nonsense. That's my final word, Remus."

"Fine. How was your winter vacation then?" He asked politely, nibbling on his own piece of chocolate.

I hesitated for a moment, and then responded with a weak, "Well, it was…interesting." He quirked an eyebrow at me, but before I could elaborate any more to him, the last two prefects (being two Slytherins, of course) arrived at the compartment, and I excused myself and stood up, approaching James.

"The rest of the prefects are here," I said, interrupting his conversation with Michael Kennedy and Carter. "I do believe that we should start this meeting so we can all return to our own affairs, yeah?"

"Always on top of things, Evans." Said James with a smirk, and Michael stifled a laugh while Carter rolled his eyes (though the smile on his face betrayed him).

"Oh, really Potter, try to be mature for once in your life." I sighed exasperatedly, and James merely shrugged, his smirk still prominent, and bid good bye to the boys before walking over the front of the compartment with me.

"Evans, you need to lighten up." I shook my head. Really, he was pulling that card? Next reason James Potter is the bane of my existence – he made me feel like a boring, solemn, old-type person.

I was young and hip and fun and –

"Or perhaps you just need to grow up." I snapped back, and he rolled his eyes, leaning against the wall and shoving his hands in his pockets. I then addressed the compartment.

"Hello, all. I hope you lot had a lovely vacation, but now we're back at Hogwarts, and your duties remain." I few kids groaned, but I just ignored them and continued talking. "Each of you will come see Potter, and he will give you your schedule of patrolling duties for the new year, the password to the headmaster's office, and a new packet for point deduction, rules, and other regulations." I concluded.

"Yes, as Evans said, all the boring stuff is right here." He motioned to a small table next to him, wear a handful of folders sat with each prefect's name written on one. "If you could all get in a line, and I'll give you your folder and you can go on with your day…Yes, that's quite right, just this way…"

I allowed James to take control of the students, and returned to where Remus was sitting. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" He asked bemusedly, and I shook my head. "So, about this interesting vacation of yours…"

"Oh Merlin, Remus, I don't even know where to start." I groaned and tugged at the ends of my hair, slamming my eyes shut. "I suppose I'll start with asking if you remember that prat sister of mine?"

"Petunia?" He asked, screwing his face up in remembrance, "Yes, of course I remember Petunia. I met her last year when she dropped you off at the platform, right?" I nodded, and Remus allowed a small smile. "She gave me one look, asked me if I was a wizard, and when I told her I was, stormed away. Lovely girl. Quality."

"Don't have to remind me," I said tiredly, scratching the back of my neck. Merlin, my sister just impressed everyone, didn't she? "Long story short, she's getting married in April, and I need a date that'll make her furious."

"I don't think that's very, ah, sisterly of you." He replied at length after a moment, and I shook my head.

"You don't understand. I need a date that will be so completely in love with me and vice versa, that I'll drive her absolutely mad to see how I can be just as happy as she is."

"So, you need a boyfriend, not just an escort." Remus asked, raising an eyebrow. Again, with the rewording it so I sounded as pathetic as I felt.

"Awful, I know. But I need to do this, Remus. I…I don't suppose you can understand, seeing as you're an only child and all, but…" I bit my lip and looked down, "Everything between the two of us has always been a competition, and even though I've always outsmarted her and outdone her in a lot of places, she's always been…happier than I am." I looked back up at him, only to see him giving me a curious glance. "If I can just, be happy at her wedding, and have her see that I'm happy…"

"Ah, so this is a self-thing, too." Remus spoke slowly, and I just stared blankly at him, too. First Emmeline, now him…did I really seem the type who was in need of self-improvement and opinion?

"I don't know, I mean, maybe." I replied, my eyebrow twitching just as it always did on the verge of an emotional spew, "I just really, really need to…to be happy at her wedding. To prove something. Maybe to her and to myself, too, but, who knows. I just know I need this."

"Lily…" Remus began, crossing his arms over his chest, "How many days away is the wedding?"

"Um…ninety-seven. Exactly." I said meekly, and Remus, again, shook his head.

"So you're telling me, that you plan on falling wholly and completely in love with a bloke, in ninety-seven days?" He asked in astonishment.

"Yes?"

"First, Lily, I don't believe that falling in love with someone and getting to the point in your relationship where you're as happy as you seem to want to be at your sister's wedding is even remotely possible. That kind of love and happiness take time, several months, years, even…" He started, and I just stared at him in hopelessness. This was not making me feel any better. "Not to mention, I think that if you have your mind set on falling in love with whichever bloke you think you can have this relationship with, you won't really be in love – you'll just know that you have to be in love. Then, the whole relationship will worthless, disappointing, forced, and a sham, if anything, Lily."

I groaned and aggravatingly ran a hand through my hair. "You're right, of course, Remus. I can't believe I've gotten myself into this situation with that blasted mouth of mine, and bloody hell, the look on Petunia's face when she realizes I've lied to her…" I felt my eyebrow twitch even harder than before, meaning that the emotional break down or shouting or tears were sure to spill over soon. I think Remus sensed it, too, because he placed his hand on my shoulder.

"Hey, don't worry about it, Lily." He said softly, and I peered at him from under my dark, thick eyelashes. "Maybe we can figure something out, maybe we can – "

"Oi, Remus," called a voice from somewhere close, and we both turned to the left to see Mai Phan walking towards us.

"Potter says he's accidently switched up the folders, and that the one he gave you before the meeting is actually mine. I've got yours right here," she added, holding up a folder that read Remus Lupin in bold script. The boy chuckled and reached for his bag.

"Sorry about that, Mai. Prongs can be quite ignorant sometimes." He started digging into his own bag, and as he did so, I looked up at the Vietnamese girl next to me. Her long, dark hair swished and shone, and the electric blue dress and large earrings she adorned made me smile. She was rather striking. And a seeker, at that – what a package deal.

"Hey, Mai, how was your vacation?" I asked simply, and she grinned at me and tapped her blazing red nails against her thigh.

"Amazing. My family went to Greece for the entire time," She said, proudly sporting her new tan.

"Well, you look great." I said honestly, and she grinned at me as Remus finally handed her the correct folder.

"Thanks. You as well." She and Remus exchanged the folders, and then she added a, "Bye, Lily," and began making her way to an awaiting sixth year Ravenclaw. After a moment, she turned back around and added a light, "I'll see you around, Remus, yeah?"

Remus raised his eyebrows in slight surprise before saying, "Uh, yeah, I suppose so, Mai."

She grinned at him and began walking away, and Remus stared after her for a moment before shaking his head and turning back to me.

"Anyway, where were we…?"

"Oi, Prongs, Moony, are you done yet? Wormtail and I are getting bored." Both our heads, once again, turned to the source of the voice interrupting us. Sirius barged through the doors, Peter behind him, and his eyes scanned over the room. They briefly stopped over the seventh year Hufflepuff girl, and he winked, and she swooned, and I felt myself becoming more sarcastic and bitter as the time wore on.

"So, Prongs, I didn't – Lily darling!" As Sirius spotted me, he grinned and sprinted over to me, only to envelope me in a bone-crushing hug.

Once again. Complete and utter friend-zoned with every single decent looking bloke. Anywhere.

No matter how bitter I was, I still managed to smile sincerely and hug the boy back, my face smothered with the fabric of his cotton shirt, my body crushed under his strong (and big and manly and attractive and great) biceps.

"Hello, Sirius." I managed to breathe out before he released his death grip on me, still smirking down at me.

"How've you been, Lily? Do anything crazy over vacation? Meet anyone? Have a ravishing adventure? Go on a wild journey of self-enlightenment? See any – "

"My goodness, Padfoot, don't overload the poor girl." James muttered, joining the scene while shaking his head. "Merlin knows her tiny brain can't handle it."

"Cute, Potter." I replied curtly, huffing at him. "Is that all you've got?"

"Afraid not." Sirius responded, throwing an arm around his best mate's shoulders. "He's got a whole arsenal of sharp tongued hurtfulness. It grows on you, though."

"Don't mind him, Lily." Peter said, lightly waving it off with his hand, "James has been pissy all morning."

"I have not been pissy all morning – "

"And then the night before…" Remus added thoughtfully, and even Sirius piped up with, "And the day before, as well…"

"Oi, let's stop picking on me, yeah?" James muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets. I silently questioned his seemingly bored and slightly pissy countenance, but just shrugged my shoulders.

"You lot spend way to much time together, really."

"It's a Marauder's thing." Sirius boasted proudly, puffing out his chest, and I just grinned and nudged him with my elbow before turning to leave the compartment, allowing the four of them the solitude they surely wanted, seeing as I was the last one left in place.

"Remus, we'll finish talking later." I called from over my shoulder as I opened the door to the noisy hallway. He nodded and waved, and I waved back and stepped away from the compartment, closing the door behind me. As I made my way down the hall, I spotted a seventh year Gryffindor I knew, referred to by name as Mary MacDonald.

"Hey, Mary." I said, and she greeted me in the like.

"Hello, Lily. How're things?"

"Oh, things are great, I suppose."

"That's fantastic." She beamed at me, "Things are just brill with me, too."

I noted the dreamlike tone she used, the cute sigh she exhaled, and smirked at her, already knowing the answer to the question I was about to ask: "Yeah? How do you make?"

"Well, there's this bloke…" She said, the corners of her mouth twitching into a small smile, "Colin Montgomery. Seventh year Ravenclaw, really nice, easy on the eyes…" Merlin, why was it that everyone seemed to be getting together, now? Was it just God scorning me and the fact that I was desperately single? My ears perked up again as she mentioned a name that I had already heard one too many times today.

"What did you just say about James Potter?" I asked irritably, and she eyed me with suspicion.

"Just that he was the one that introduced us right before the semester ended…" She drawled slowly, and I found myself nearly screaming in frustration.

"Again, with Potter and his matchmaking! I swear he's just trying to mock me!" So it wasn't God scorning me. It was that James somehow knew that this was going to happen, so he jumped at the opportunity to get rid of all decent blokes and corner me into going to the wedding alone out of humiliation. How did he know?

Mary, staring at me after my outburst (one again, that dreaded thing about me not being able to think before I speak showed), slowly swallowed and nervously said a, "Well, p-perhaps I'll see you around then, Lily? Yeah, good, alright…" and she turned in the other direction and nearly ran away.

She, along with the rest of the school, I'm sure, knew not to mess with me when it came to James Potter. After five years of destruction and another year of hate, our relationship was learned to be left alone by anyone who dared get involved.

Still upset, still fuming, still mad that somehow, James had unintentionally succeeded in making me look foolish (because the Petunia extravaganza had happened just this morning, and he had set the past three couples up in the past), I stormed back into my compartment with Dawn, Emmeline, and Jemima, and sat down angrily.

"First row between you and James of the new year?" Dawn asked with a smirk, and I just shook my head.

"What do you mean, 'no'? You're only ever this cross after you and James have had a particularly bad row." Jemima observed, and I sighed.

"He's been playing matchmaker, as you obviously know." I said, sending a look to Dawn, who gave me a curious glance.

"You mean between Amos and I?"

"Yes, and between Jem and Scott, and now between Mary MacDonald and Colin Montgomery! It's like he just knew that something miserable like this was going to happen to me and is trying to spite me!" I whined, leaning my head against the frame behind me. Emmeline chuckled behind her hand, and I sent her a withering glance.

"Really, Lily." She said, placing a bookmark in her novel and setting it down next to her, "You mustn't blame James for all of your problems. It's not like he could've guessed that you and your sister would have a fight that would end up in you doubting your happiness and having to prove to her that you are, in fact, quite happy, by showing up with this fantasy bloke you've made up." The dimples in her cheeks from her smile seemed to taunt me and my supposed ridiculousness.

"Whatever, Emmeline. I'm just saying." I mumbled, pathetically rubbing my bare forearms. She rolled her eyes and picked her book back up, and no later than she did, Dawn jumped up.

"Wait, I've got it!"

"What, the runs? Because there's a loo right down the hall, darling." Jem cheekily grinned up at her, but Dawn merely ignored her and continued.

"James is the master at matchmaking!" she proclaimed, and I rolled my eyes.

"Yes, we just went over this – no need to say it any louder, either, because if he hears it it'll just inflame is already obnoxious ego."

"No, I mean, he's really, really good at it." She elaborated, her eyes darting back and forth between the three of us in hopes that one of would catch onto the whim of where this was going. None of did, though.

"O…kay?" Jemima faltered skeptically.

"He understands people. He knows how they work, and can predict them very well, too. That's how he gets people together." She said, motioning with her hands, "He understands people."

"That's great and all, but what exactly does this have to do with Lily's bitterness?" Emmeline asked, and Dawn just rolled her eyes.

"Don't you see it? I've found the solution to Lily's problem! We get James to help set her up with someone, and because Lily's rubbish when it comes to boys – "

"Hey – "

"– we also get James to help this bloke fall in love with Lily, and for Lily to fall in love with him! It's absolutely brilliant!" Dawn exclaimed, placing her hands on her skinny hips and nodding in approval. Then, Jemima hopped up, too.

"Wait, I actually think Dawn's onto something!" Dawn nodded in eagerness, and I just gaped at them. What the hell? Potter? Setting me up? Not only would that involve him seeing me at my weakest point (I shuddered – dating), but it also involved telling him about my total rubbish situation. And that was even more humiliating.

"No. Absolutely not. Never. No." I said in disbelief, shaking my head, and Emmeline did, too.

"I agree. This is not a good idea, having James manipulate Lily and whichever bloke into a relationship. It's so…uncivil."

"But absolutely fantastic, also!" Jemima proclaimed, and she grabbed my hand. "Come on, let's go find him and see what he thinks!"

"Jem, no!" I cried, but between the combined strength of her and quidditch extraordinaire Dawn, I was forced out of my seat and literally dragged down the hall, Emmeline following simply in amusement. Traitor. I thought she was on my side?

After asking an Edgar Bones where he had last spotted them and he pointed to a compartment that was a mere two inches away, Dawn literally yelped in disbelief, Jemima in happiness.

"Come on, let's go!"

"No, no! Let go of me, don't make me go in there, don't make me, I won't do it! You can't – " I struggled hopelessly against the firm hold of my RUBBISH mates and kicked, pulled, jerked, and whined, trying so difficultly to pull myself away from the very bane of my existence. Did they not understand that? I had only called him that at least once every day since third year!

I tried one last time to leap away, but only ended up on the ground, Dawn pinning my arms down and Jemima holding my legs.

"Goodness, Lily!" Jemima cried as I tried to kick her off me, "We're only doing this for your own good!"

"GERROFF ME, I DON'T WANNA!"

"Lily, will you calm the fuck down for five seconds! Why must you make an episode out of everything?"

"Oi, what's all this shouting – " Peter yelled in an annoyed voice as he pulled the compartment door open. Him, upon seeing the scene (which must have looked odd, might I tell you, with Dawn nearly sitting on top of me and Jemima holding my legs down and Emmeline laughing off next to us, hands on her knees as she howled) stopped midsentence, and cut it off with an, " - …oh?"

Sirius came over to the door and peered down at us from over Peter's shoulder.

"Er, hello, there." Dawn said awkwardly as she blew her black bangs out of her eyes, smiling up at the boy.

"Huh." Sirius simply said, quirking an eyebrow. "Well, this is curious." And then he smirked. "Really, ladies, don't stop on our behalf, we'll be just glad to watch, perhaps join in if you'd let us - ?"

"Oh, come off it, Padfoot, what ever could be happening out there that could make you…?" And then James was peering down at us over Peter's other shoulder, and his face immediately turned to that infamous smirk of his. "Actually, on second thought…"

If one could die from embarrassment, now would be the proper time to do so. I didn't even have to look to know that my face was about as red as my hair, and was still the same shade even when my supposed 'friends' had gotten off me and I had picked myself off the ground, fixed my hair, dusted my leggings and sweater off, and stood stock still in front of the Marauders.

"So what bring you young ladies to the outside of our door in a catfight? My charming good looks get the better of you all, and you just decided to duke it out for me? Quite lovely, thanks." James crossed his arms over his chest and chuckled, and if I wasn't already so embarrassed, I would have come up with a retort to his stupid arrogance.

"No, actually. We just have a proposal for you." Dawn said before quickly saying, "Rather, Lily has a proposal for you…"

The four of them stared at me, Remus and Sirius and Peter in question, and James in complete shock. "What's this?"

"Go on, Lily." Jemima said, giving me a light push forward. I still stared at the ground, not daring to look up to meet James' eyes. My cheeks burned, and I shuffled my feet uncomfortably.

I gave one last look back at my friends – Dawn, who was smirking broadly, Jemima with a small grin, and Emmeline, who looked at least a little bit guilty as she shrugged her shoulders in apology to me – and finally, summoning all the pride that I had left, straightened my back and raised my head to look up at James. He was a lot closer than I expected.

"Erm…Potter."

"Evans."

Cologne and quidditch and boy wafted into my nose. "You…you don't suppose, um – maybe…"

"Lily Evans, quite the articulate little bird, isn't she?" He murmured to Remus at his side, and the boy gave a small chuckle. That little insult gave me just enough of a boost to final say,

"Do…Do you guys mind giving us a minute, perhaps?"

"Why, by all means." Sirius stepped out of the compartment, motioning for me to enter it. I nodded my head in gratitude at him and slowly ventured in as Remus and Peter removed themselves from our presence.

"Don't be too long, Lily. James is used to quickies."

"Padfoot."

"Have fun, children!" Sirius said with a final grin as he closed the door to the train compartment. Finally, James and I were alone.

Oh.

Oh.

Shit, hell, fuck, dammit.

I did most certainly not want to be here.

But – well, I was, and there was no stopping that now. Plus, who knows…maybe this will actual workout, and he'll actually agree to it, if perhaps he forgot the fact that he absolutely despised me, and –

"Are you just going to stand there and stare at me, Evans?" James asked, a smirk playing on his face. My cheeks turned a light shade of pink, but I shook my embarrassment away and coughed.

"I, er, need to talk to you."

"Clearly."

"Actually, it's quite important – "

"Naturally."

" – and I would quite appreciate your take on things – "

"Given, considering my opinions are quite valuable – "

"- Actually, I would really appreciate it, – "

"- Yes, well, I would appreciate a lot of things, too, Evans, actually – "

"- And I need your help."

" – considering I…wait, what?" he asked in disbelief as my last words hit him. I shifted uncomfortably under his stare.

"Uh, yeah." I coughed awkwardly and awaited his response. Instead:

"Help. You want…my help." He repeatedly doubtfully, and I couldn't help but notice that when he wasn't being a downright arse, he kind of looked…surprised, if anything. As if even my being here shocked him. As I'm sure it did. I surprised myself by being here.

And then, as I mulled over this fact, James started to – bloody hell – laugh.

"Evans, you, you want me to help you?" he asked, bending over to clutch at his abdomen while he laughed heartily. "Ahh, this is a great day, Evans. Truly great."

Okay, it really wasn't that funny.

"This was a mistake." I said after a minute, and as I went to make my way to the door, he grabbed my upper arm.

"Wait, no, no Evans, hold on…I'll…" he stopped laughing, though a satisfied smirk was still present on his face, "I'll bite. What do you need help with?"

As if being here wasn't already embarrassing enough, the real reason for me being here would be. I swallowed nosily.

"W-Well, I have this…dilemma." I started, and James nodded.

"Go on…"

"And, you see, the thing is, well – erm, what I mean to say, is…"

"Blimey, Evans, do you have a stutter or something?"

I glared at him. "No."

"Then you're wasting precious time here, sweetheart." He bit sarcastically, and I finally just shook my head, swallowed my pride, and said:

"I'm awful at this whole dating thing."

James expression changed from amusement to something else – I couldn't quite read what, but he stared at me, and stared, and finally, in a voice that did not quite sound like his own, said "What?"

"Dating." I shrugged, the familiar feeling of hotness creeping up on my neck, making its way to my cheeks, where it would turn into a blush. "I'm rubbish at it."

James, still unreadable: "Okay…"

"What if I told you that I needed a bloke to fall in love with me in ninety seven days? What would you say?"

James thought about this for a moment before saying slowly, "I'd say there better be some real chemistry there in order for that to happen. Why?"

I sighed and tugged at the ends of my red hair. "Because I need that to happen."

James seemed to put two and two together, and his eyes quickly scanned over my face. "You're serious?" he quirked an eyebrow at me and said, "You want me to help you with dating?"

Okay, this was so, so beyond pathetic.

"Y-Yes." I said, and he simply retorted with a plain, "Why?"

"I-I don't really want to disclose…" My sister's a prat and I want to be happy, I just want to be happy with a boy for once in my life and show her that, and… "…my reasoning behind it. But ninety seven days is Easter vacation, s-so…I guess I just want one to take home for the holidays." That made sense, didn't it?

"Lily…" He said after a moment, and I jumped back in surprise at the use of my first name, and then I saw the frustration etched onto his face and he ran a hand through his hair and his eyes blinking rapidly under his specs. I just watched him.

"What if I said yes? Then what?" He asked, his hard disposition coming back. I wondered what was up with his emotions today, remembering the fact that his friends had said he'd been pissy lately. "What bloke did you have in mind?"

"I don't know." I answered honestly, "But he has to be handsome, and smart, and funny, and clever."

James' eyebrows shot into the air, and then he said in an exasperated voice, "You don't even have a bloke in mind?"

"Well, I was kind of hoping you could help me with that. And, you know. Getting him to fall in love with me and all." I added weakly, because the more I talked about it, the more ridiculous and far-fetched this whole thing seemed. James seemed to think the same thing, too, for in the next second, grumpy James was back.

"Evans, you think some handsome, smart, funny, clever bloke is just going to come waltzing into this situation happily and willing to start a full-out, serious relationship with you? The idea of that is unthinkable, unimaginable, if not impossible, and – "

A knock sounded from the door, and James and I (who, somehow, were rather close to each other) took an embarrassed step away from the other, just as the door opened up to reveal a smiling Carter Thompson.

"Oh hello, Lily, and – erm, James." He said, saying the latter's name with a bit of hesitation.

"Hello, Carter." James and I said simultaneously, and I could only think, Merlin, this boy was handsome…

"I was just looking for a place to read some James Joyce, you know, Finnegan's Wake…" James Joyce? That man's literature was nearly impossible to understand, only someone of great intelligence would be able to decipher such a thing… "Because, God forbid, a seventeen year old male read in his spare time, yeah? My mates gave me such a rough time about it, but I just told them to shove off and that I'd find a place to read in peace." I cracked a grin at that. He was rather clever, and funny, at that…

My mouth nearly dropped open in shock, and I couldn't help but (regrettably) pry my eyes away from Carter to look at James, whose mouth was also agape.

I think my luck just turned out.

"But if I'm interrupting something…" He said, clearly uncomfortable.

My shocked person quickly turned to panic, and I cried, "No! No, there's absolutely nothing going on between James and I, no interruption here!" Smooth, Lily.

"Oh, that's…great." He said, staring at James, whose mouth had finally shut as he all but glared at the boy, and then at me, who must've been beaming so brightly that he would go blind.

"So…James Joyce?" I said after a moment of tense silence passed. Carter swallowed and nodded.

"Have you read him before?"

"Yes, I think he's rather brilliant, if you can understand and decipher his works."

Carter's face lit up, and he said happily, "Really? I've never met anyone who's read his works, let alone like them! I'm a huge fan."

"Same." I said, giggling. Carter shot me an approving look.

"Say, we should meet up sometime and discuss him, yeah?" He asked kindly with a cheerful grin. "I mean, if that's something you'd be interested in…"

My mouth fell open yet again, and this time, it only took me a second to close it after realizing how completely un-ladylike it must've looked. James seemed to stare at him in disbelief.

"S-Sure!" I said after a moment, and Carter grinned again.

"Great. I'll come find you when I'm finished with it, yeah?" I nodded in shock and delight and how bloody ironic was this…

"Alright. I'll leave you two be to finish up, um…" he looked back and forth between us, "Whatever you two have been doing…"

"Oh. Right. Well, have fun with James Joyce."

"And you with James Potter." I giggled again. Funny. And clever.

He nodded his head at me, did the same to James, and quietly slipped out of the compartment. I stared after his form in shock.

"Bloody fuck." James said, breaking the silence that reigned over us. I just stared, a stupid smile playing on my face, until finally I had regained enough sense to return to James.

"Well, that solves that problem." I said in cheer, and James blinked and gaped and shook his head.

"You, Lily Evans, are going to be the death of me." I had no idea what that meant, but instead of questioning it, I just smirked.

"Are you going to help me or not, Potter?"

"I suppose I don't really have a choice after a display like that…" He muttered, and I beamed. Maybe things were going to start looking up from here on out.

"This is…phenomenal. Great. Brilliant. Extravagant. Wonderful. Sup – " James quickly threw his hand in front of my mouth and glanced down at me.

"Lily, if I agree to this, there's three things you have to agree to. Deal?" I nodded (did I really expect for him not to want anything out of this?), and noted how big his hands, with slender fingers that were soft in some places and taut in others and –

What was I doing? Right, perspective.

"Good. First: did you already tell your friends about your plan?" I nodded again, seeing as his hand still covered my mouth. "That's fine. But no one else besides them and the other Marauders will know about this. I don't want people to know that I'm purposely helping you use a boy for selfish reasons. Deal?" I nodded once again. I didn't really have a choice, did I?

"Great. Second: Anytime the Marauders happen to be doing something, let's say, against the rules, you will just turn your head and pretend you never noticed it. Understood?" I started to speak in protest, but the sound of my voice was muffled against his hand. He frowned. "What was that, Lily?" he said warningly, the corners of his eyes narrowing at me, almost challenging me to deny this request.

I sighed and gave in, nodding in agreement, and he grinned.

"Spectacular. And third…" He advanced closer to me, taking his hand off of my mouth and smirking down at me. Oh, no. That was certainly not a friendly smirk. In fact, that looked like a rather evil smirk.

"You have to do whatever I say, whenever I say. Not only does that apply to the situation with Carter, but just in general. If I ask for you to give me a quill, you do it. If I ask for a drink, you do it. If I ask for you to get me into the girls' dormitories, you do it. Clear?"

As I was about to argue, I stopped and thought for a moment – ninety seven days. Three and a half months. I had dealt with Potter and his antics for six and a half years. This should be nothing. I just had to chalk it up. After all, I would be rid of this blasted boy in sixth months anyway when we graduated.

With a final sigh, I said, "Clear." And then James smirked, and I felt his breath on my nose as I realized how close we still were.

"That's good." He whispered, and I inhaled quickly and held my breath.

"It's been nice doing business with you, Evans." He said, his voice laced with amusement and delight and something else, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it, and then he was pushing me out the door, that same, stupid smirk playing on his lips, and it was only when I was outside and the door closed between us did I let out the breath I hadn't even realized I was holding.

Oh, Merlin. What did I just get myself into?

Some things in life were meant to be questioned, conmplicated, and maybe even regretted.

And this was definitely one of them.

Buggar.

A/N There you have it! The first chapter of "How to fall in love 97 days". Conflict revealed. Characters and setting introduced. The next chapter begins the plotline, and boy am I excited.

Song inspiration: Always – Blink 182. Not so much lyrics as the song in itself. Although some of the lyrics make sense, I suppose.

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Please tell me I'm rather brill by leaving a review.

Thank you!

Roxalicous