Well how long, can I go on like this,
Wishing to kiss you,
Before I rightly explode?

It's a feeling inside that keeps building
And I will find a way to you if it kills me.

-If It Kills Me, Jason Mraz


how Sirius Black got James Potter and Lily Evans together.

James Potter had a plan.

Remus had shaken his head and Peter had looked nervous, whilst his ever faithful best friend had clapped him on the back and told him he was mental. Lily Evans wasn't going to care if he started avoiding her. Lily Evan's had a stick so far up her arse she probably wouldn't care if he never spoke to her again, married her muggle sister and transfigured her into a toad so he could bring her back to Hogwarts with him, Sirius said. James had rolled his eyes and insisted that even if she didn't notice that he wasn't talking to her, she'd have to at some point notice that her sister had become a toad and she would, quite rightly, demand he changed her back and then she would have to speak to him. Which was the idea, actually, so Sirius's plan wasn't such a bad one after all.

Sirius had grinned. He'd never met anyone quite as stubborn as James Potter.

The title of Head Boy being presented to James Potter was somewhat of a surprising one: Lily had been expecting Remus to be handed the badge and she had expected a relatively nice, quiet final year at Hogwarts. God knew it was what she needed: June was months away, but from the very first day back, the teaching staff at their school had done nothing but terrify her into spending countless hours in the library already, trying to read around every subject and attend every lesson more than prepared than the teacher. She was so prepared, in fact, that by Hallowe'en she had practically exhausted herself to the point she couldn't keep up with her Head Girl duties anymore. On the 30th of October, she found herself slamming shut another textbook as the light from outside the windows began to dim and rubbing her eyes with a finger and thumb. The theory on Animagi was easy enough to understand, but the actual practical element...

She yawned, leaning back into the hard back of the library and contemplating the next day. It was her turn to do the rounds tomorrow night, a job she'd assigned to herself in an effort to keep the corridors of Hogwarts quiet after the Hallowe'en feast. She groaned allowed, wishing she could just allow herself to trust other people a little more: she could have had a break.

"I refuse to study tomorrow," she muttered to herself as she stood up and piled her books into her arms, drawing them to her body. After slipping her bag onto her shoulder, she made her way back towards Gryffindor Tower, all the while her mind on her rounds the next evening. Her concentration was slipping as she reached the seventh floor, and she didn't notice the frantic girl running straight towards her until they'd collided and Lily's books had landed very painfully on her right foot.

"Shit," she swore, staggering back a step as her foot throbbed. Her attacker blushed crimson and grabbed a fistful of her long blonde locks.

"Oh, Lily, I'm sorry!" the perpetrator, a pretty girl named Cynthia Johns who was also a sixth year prefect, bent down and scooped up Lily's copy of Transfiguring What You Thought was Untransfigurable. She stood, tucking her hair back behind both her ears quickly and giving Lily a pure, wide eyed look of horror.

"Cynthia," Lily said through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the pain, "it's alright. Don't look so worried."

"Oh, I am sorry, Lily," the girl said again, "but see – I wanted to ask you..."

Lily bit back a sigh. Those words never boded well for her over helpful, Head Girl self. Forcing a small smile onto her face, she nodded. "Yes?"

"Well you see I'm supposed to be doing my rounds this evening but the most dreadful thing has happened, Bobby Campbell, you know Bobby?"

"The Ravenclaw?"

Cynthia nodded. "Well he fell off his broom during Quidditch practice, the dunce, I told him Firewhiskey before flying was a bad idea but -"

She cut off, shooting Lily a guilty look at this comment and quickly stuttered, "Just a drop you know, for Hallowe'en -"

"Cynthia," Lily said, feigning seriousness. "I am afraid I'm going to have to punish Bobby if he's been underage drinking during school hours -" the girl looked positively terrified –"unless you can tell me where he got it from so I can get my own." Lily smiled ruefully at Cynthia, who let out half a sigh of relief while giggling nervously.

"Oh," she said, "well I think it was James Potter and Sirius Black."

Lily sighed and squeezed her eyes together tightly for a second. "Of course it was."

Cynthia shrugged a shoulder and knitted her hands together. "Yeah, so I was just wondering if maybe tonight you would switch shifts with me? I have rounds but I really want to go and sit with Bobby. I think -" her cheeks flushed a pleasant shade of pink and her voice dropped to a whisper, "he's going to ask me to go to Hogsmead with him."

Lily didn't hold back the smile that touched her lips. God, the last time she'd been asked out it had been a complete waste of time. The Ravenclaw seventh year had been more interested in talking about Prefect duties and spent the majority of the time staring somewhere just south of her neck. That had been last January. She consoled herself with the thought that she was far, far too busy for a boyfriend with all the pressures of her seventh year, especially working with James, but – she swallowed, hard – working with him might have just been the whole problem. So, far be it from Lily Evans to ruin someone else's chance at romance.

"Sure," Lily said. Plus, it would free up the entirety of tomorrow so she really could relax. Really smiling now, she tucked her books tighter to her chest. "Who are your rounds with?"

"Oh!" Cynthia said, face flush with happiness as she turned back to Lily, having already begun making her way to the hospital wing after a quick word of gratitude towards her Head Girl. Blonde hair flying over her shoulder, blue eyes bright, she smiled. "James Potter."

"Did you hear about Campbell?" Sirius said, head tilted back and mouth wide open as he tossed Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans into the air and tried to catch them with his mouth. An off yellow one landed on his tongue and he grimaced. "Mustard."

"What happened?" Peter said, flicking the pages of his History of Magic textbook back and forth rather than actually reading from it.

"Hospital wing. Fell off his broom during Quidditch practice after taking a bit too much Firewhiskey, it seems."

The four boys were gathered around the chairs by the fire in Gryffindor common room. Remus was watching the flames spit in the grate and James was twisting his wand round his fingers absentmindedly. He looked up when Sirius spoke.

"Is he alright?"

"Nothing a bottle of good ol' Skele-Gro won't fix," Padfoot said with a grin. James snorted and relaxed back into his chair. He'd had some of that stuff before. He didn't envy the boy.

"Don't you feel the least bit of remorse? After all, you did supply Bobby with the Firewhiskey that caused him to spend the night in the hospital wing."

Sirius shrugged at Remus. "Yeah, but it's not like we made him drink it, especially not before flying. Even Iknow not to do something as stupid as that."

"That's true," Remus said amusedly, "turning into a dog is much more your thing."

Sirius narrowed his eyes and chucked a chocolate flavoured bean at Moony. He looked solemn as he realised what flavour it had been after Remus picked it up and popped it in his mouth.

"The good always die young."

Peter snorted as the portrait hole opened and Lily Evans climbed through clutching her books. James sat up in his chair and looked at Sirius, who'd opened his mouth to say something sarcastic, but James was already leaping over the back of the chair and hastening up the stairs to the seventh year dormitory where he would hide out to avoid seeing Lily in the common room of the Head Boy and Girl dormitories. Sirius rolled his eyes, convinced the redhead wouldn't even take any notice of them; so it was with considerable shock that they widened when she made her way straight towards them. Sirius watched her watch James: there was an odd, slightly sick look on her face and it made him curious.

"Good evening, Red," Sirius drawled, leaning back against the chair, "how can we fine gentlemen help you?"

"You know I hate it when you call me that, Sirius," Lily said, a hand resting on her hip. He grinned.

"I know," he said, "that's why I do it." With a yawn he stood up.

"Wait!" Lily blurted, and he looked over at her with a raised eyebrow. "Sirius, can I speak to you – alone – for a moment?"

"Oh, Lily," he teased, "I didn't know you felt that way about me!"

With a roll of her eyes she turned and headed towards the staircase to the dormitories. He followed her until they were away from any listening ears.

"Listen, I heard about Bobby and -"

"Woah, Evans," Sirius said instantly, throwing his hands up in defence, "you can't blame us for this one. We didn't make him drink it and honestly if the prat is stupid enough to drink Firewhiskey before getting on a broom then -"

"I agree," Lily said, dismissing his cry of innocence. Sirius looked shocked and then his features became wary.

"Then what do you want?"

"I want some Firewhiskey."

There was silence for a moment before: "sorry, what?"

"I said," Lily said again, looking around anxiously as if someone would overhear, "I want a bottle of Firewhiskey. Please."

"For who?"

"For me, stupid! I thought you were meant to be smart!"

"Yeah but... really? For you?"

"Yes," Lily's face flushed and she held herself taller. "A girl has to have a bit of fun sometime."

"Huh," Sirius said, stroking his chin. "Well. Can I be there to see it?"

Lily narrowed her eyes. "Get me the bottle, Black, or you'll be spending a lot more time with Filch."

Looking unsure as to if this conversation was really happening, Sirius nodded and turned and headed up to the seventh year dorm. "Just – just wait here a second, okay?"

"Okay," she replied, glancing at the clock on the wall. "But hurry. I've got places to be."

He scooted up the stairs and into his dorm. It was empty: James must have gone to his room.

"Oh, Prongs," he muttered, yanking up the floorboard they hid their stash under, "I wish you were here to see this, mate."

The door to the trophy room opened and James span round.

"About time Cynth -"

His eyes practically bulged out of their sockets when he saw the witch falling through the door. Unsteady on her feet, Lily Evans stumbled into the room, a bottle of Firewhiskey in one hand. Her eyes were wide and she was giggling and hiccupping as she staggered over to him.

"Sorry, sorry," Lily gasped, hitting the wall with a thud and sliding down into a sitting position on the floor. "Sirius challenged me to a game of something that involved drinking lots of Firewhiskey -" she broke off into another round of giggles, "it was fun but I kept telling him I had to – to go and he kept saying 'another drink, Evans!' I have to hand it to him," she said, settling herself comfortably against the wall. "He is fun."

James has not moved from his position in the middle of the room, mouth open wide in shock. He couldn't understand what was happening here. Lily – Lily Evans – his Lily, Head Girl and all round fun spoiler, Lily Evans – was drunk?

Well, he thought sourly, this just blew his entire plan out of the window. He could hardly ignore her now, could he? He needed to get her back to Gryffindor Tower as soon as possible, because she was exactly the kind of person he was supposed to be reporting to McGonagall about. He somehow doubted Lily would appreciate his rule adhering in this occasion.

"Lily," he said softly, and she nodded to show she'd heard him. "Let's get you back to Gryffindor Tower. Come on."

"No!" she said suddenly, struggling to her feet. Merlin, he was going to kill Sirius. "I'm on rounds duty tonight!"

"No, you're on tomorrow night," James said, striding forward and catching her as she stumbled into the wall. She shook her head and babbled over him.

"No, no, no, Cynthia and I switched shifts, you see? She wanted to go sit with Bobby Campbell in the Hospital Wing because apparently they're making a go of it and I wouldn't want to be the one to stop true love so I said I'd do it tonight and she could do tomorrow and it's good, you see, because I'm going to take – take – take tomorrow off..."

She sagged forwards into his arms, her face pressed up against his chest. One arm instantly locked around her waist.

"Okay, well, I can handle rounds on my own tonight," he said. She purred against his chest and Merlin, he thought, Lily Evans was more trouble than she was worth. In what planetary cycle was it fair that he of all people had to sort Lily out? Lily, the girl he'd been in love with since he'd stopped thinking so much about exploding things and causing havoc with Sirius? (He still liked those things of course; he'd just grown up a little since then.) With a groan he righted her and pulled out the Map, consulting it quickly. The halls were relatively empty, but Filch was on patrol and no doubt Mrs Norris would sniff out the alcohol on Lily's breath soon enough.

"Lily," he said, keeping his voice steady and calm, "have you been drunk much before?"

She shook her head, attempting to nestle back into the warmth of his chest. Was she trying to murder him?

"Okay," he said, thinking back to the days he and the Marauders had first started drinking. It had been damn near impossible to get Peter back to Gryffindor Tower after one night of mischief, and he'd been about the same level of drunk as Lily was now. They'd levitated him back to Gryffindor Tower after Sirius had given him a friendly kick, knocked him over and he'd passed out. Somehow doubting Lily would be very pleased with that treatment and unwilling to hurt her, James took in a deep sigh and considered carrying her. He was stopped by the thought that if he did carry her, that he would probably lose it completely and say something he definitely never planned telling Lily Evans when she was drunker than his great Aunt Mildred at his Christmas family party. "We'll go slow. Just think about how warm and comfy your bed is, okay? Doesn't that sound like a nice place to be?"

"Yeah, bed. Will you come with me?" she asked, eyes already drooping. Swallowing hard, he reminded himself that the untouchable Lily Evans was very drunk and actually, he should count himself lucky it was him who'd found her in this state, because for one thing he would sure as hell never hear those words out of her mouth again, and for another, some other guy might have said yes.

"I'll take you as far as I can. I'll make sure you're safe, Lils."

She sighed. "You hardly ever call me Lils, James. I like it when you do."

With a dry mouth, he ignored her and pulled her towards the door, confiscating the Firewhiskey bottle on the way.

Lily opened her eyes and hissed as the bright light from the window poured into the room. She closed her eyes quickly and groaned.

"Awake, are we?" a female voice asked. Lily's brow creased.


"The one and only," her friend replied. Lily cracked her eye open a centimetre and saw the brunette standing at the end of her bed with her arms crossed, an amused smile on her face.

"Why am I in this dorm?" the Head Girl asked, sitting up slowly and wincing as her head spun.

"Because Sirius Black got you drunk on Firewhiskey and James Potter had to escort you back."

"What?" Lily said, eyes flying open. "Sirus – James – what?"

"Yes," Marlene said, biting back a grin. "It was very amusing. James was practically carrying you by the time he got you back here from the Trophy room. And you were saying such interesting things..."

"No," Lily whispered, "oh no, no, no..."

"Oh yes," Marlene nodded. "You told James all about how annoying you find his hair ruffling."

From between her fingers, Lily peaked out at Marlene. "Is... is that all I said?"

"Yeah. He laughed."

Lily exhaled. She couldn't remember what had happened last night, but she hoped that was all she had said.

"Anyway," Marlene said, "it's nearly time for lunch. Coming?"

"Go on," Lily said, flopping back onto her pillow, "I'll meet you there."

Marlene left and Lily rolled slowly onto her front and groaned. Her head hurt and although she hadn't said anything really that embarrassing – surely James must have already known she hated when he ruffled his hair: well, she didn't exactly hate it, but – she couldn't bear to see his face. She could only imagine how amusing he found the whole thing. He had, at least, she consoled herself, grow up since their fifth year, and probably wouldn't tease her until she hexed him. She probably wouldn't hex him, either: she had grown up, too.

But James Potter had grown in more ways than just maturity. He had grown on Lily, suddenly, during the winter of sixth year. Suddenly he wasn't a toerag but charming, wasn't immature but... kind. Thoughtful. Suddenly he wasn't Potter anymore, he was James and she wasn't Evans: she was Lily. So they became Lily and James, and then Head Girl and Boy in a tentative friendship that somehow became feelings that Lily hadn't been able to deal with yet. She didn't know where James stood anymore; of course before he had been obvious in his attraction for her, but James hadn't asked her out since the very end of fifth year and he had seen other girls since that time. It was, Lily supposed, too late. That ship had sailed and all she had to do was wait until her feelings had gone. Which they hoped they would. Soon. She understood how completely unfair it would be for her to go to him and confess feeling anything for him after she had turned him down so many times and he had moved on.

She moved gingerly out of bed and cursed Sirius Black. Then she cursed herself. What was she thinking? She was Head Girl! Merlin, if James hadn't have brought her back to Gryffindor tower and someone else had found her – Filch, McGonagall – she would have been in so much trouble. She had to find him and thank him.

She was trying her hardest to avoid him, to make things a little easier on herself, but he had really helped her, and she had to show her gratitude.

She'd also have to put Black into detention for the next week.

"I suspect she's probably nursing a filthy hangover," Sirius chuckled as they collapsed onto the bench, still covered in mud from Quidditch practise that morning. He breathed deeply, sucking in the sweet smell of potatoes and ham. "God bless Saturdays."

James was silent as he stared at his glass of Pumpkin juice. He hadn't told Sirius the things Lily had said and done last night, except that she had insisted she was on Prefect duty and he'd had to take her to her room before they'd been caught. His best friend had been amused to say the least, and had zoomed around the Quidditch pitch singing a song he'd devised about girls named Lily Evans, drinking before seven, ending up giving James a piece of Heaven...

This is stupid, the Quidditch captain thought. Lily was drunk. People did ridiculous things when they were drunk, something he could easily attest to. He decided the best course of action was to follow his plan and perhaps instead of getting her attention he'd finally, finally move on from Lily Evans. Forcing himself to fix a smile on his face, he began shovelling a spoonful on mashed potato onto his plate. It was only the sound of Sirius's low laughter that made him look up. Standing on the other side of the table looking adorably sheepish, Lily Evans was clasping her hands together, cheeks slightly pink, hair falling over her shoulder. How was it possible that someone could look so beautiful after being completely wasted the night before? How was it possible that his heart could beat faster after he'd only just made a firm agreement with himself that Lily Evans was history? Why was he smiling at her like that? Was he ever going to listen to anything his common sense said?

"Hi," Lily said shyly, tucking a strand of hair behind her hair. He swallowed. Nope.

"Hey," he said, hoping she didn't notice the slightly catch in his voice. "Wanna sit down?"

"Um," Lily said, curling her fingers around the sleeves of her jumper. "Can we... talk?"

James was nodding before he realised it. He stood up and followed her out of the Great Hall and into the Entrance Hall.

Lily turned to face them once they were by the staircase and cleared her throat. Did she remember?

"I just wanted to thank you," Lily said awkwardly, "for last night. I -" she lowered her voice, "Marlene told me I said some stupid stuff about your hair, which was out of order considering you basically stopped me from getting my badge taken off me and possibly kicked out of school."

James smirked.

"What?" Lily asked.

"Come on, Lily. Badge maybe, but kicked out of school? When have you ever broken a rule before? You would have been fine."

Lily's eyes narrowed. "You have no idea what my record is like!"

"So how did you get Head Girl if you had spots on your record?"

"How did you get Head Boy?" she shot back, crossing her arms.

There was a moment of silence.

"Touché," James nodded. "You might secretly have a bad side, but I have yet to see it."

"Maybe I only show it to special people," Lily said. James's eyebrows rose slightly. Was Lily Evans flirting with him?

"Technically, I think I saw it last night," he grinned. Her face flushed scarlet.

"That was such a stupid thing to do," Lily sighed. "I can't believe I let myself get carried away like that."

"Don't worry about it," James shrugged. "Everyone has to let lose sometimes, Lil, even the law-abiding Lily Evans."

Lily's forehead creased. Lil? She –

"Yeah, bed. Will you come with me?"

"I'll take you as far as I can. I'll make sure you're safe, Lils."

She sighed. "You hardly ever call me Lils, James. I like it when you do."

Her eyes widened and her hand flew to her mouth. James looked confused for a moment before understanding dawned across his face. He looked torn between amusement and something else, something Lily couldn't read. She remembered what she had said last night, and he knew she remembered, and she knew he knew she remembered.

She'd asked him to come to bed with her? Merlin, could she have been any more obvious? With a moan she closed her eyes and shook her head. This couldn't be happening. This really couldn't be happening. Oh, Black was so dead. Black was going to be so dead they wouldn't even be able to find the pieces of his mutilated body...


"Stop calling me that!" Lily exploded suddenly. James looked affronted, and then his eyes narrowed. Lily didn't stay to wait and see what he had to say next. She turned and escaped up the stairs before James could say another word.

No. Lily Evans was not going to run from him again. James was tired: for years he'd chased her and then during sixth year he had decided that giving her space was a better plan. Lily was the only plan in his life, but he decided that maybe he could see some other girls – there were plenty of nice, pretty girls at Hogwarts – he could find out if perhaps he'd been wrong about his feelings all along. After all, he was only a teenager. Maybe, eventually, he'd grow out of those feelings.

But James Potter knew himself. He wasn't the flighty type. He was loyal and he knew what he wanted and what he wanted was Lily Evans and dammit, he'd tried to convince himself that she had been drunk last night and it had all been nothing but if that was the truth, why had she run away when she'd remembered? The Lily Evans he'd grown up with was just as snarky as he was and would have set him straight automatically if she'd felt she had been perceived wrong. No, James thought. There was more to this.

"This isn't over, Lily," he muttered, turning back into the Great Hall, "Not yet."

The Hallowe'en feast was, as usual, an occasion to be remembered. Lily and James had been in charge of decorating, but by the time James had arrived in the Hall that evening to help, Lily had already distributed jobs amongst the students helping and was supervising those in detention as they levitated pumpkins into the air above each House table. James didn't approach her, but kept his eyes on her as she ordered the students about, reprimanding those who were playing around. Part of him wanting to step in a tell them to respect her, but James knew Lily didn't need any help. She was strong enough without him. He didn't want to protect her (well he did, but she was far too independent to allow him do that): he wanted to help her. Hold her up. Give her strength when she didn't feel strong. He wanted to...

He'd quickly put a stop to those thoughts. He'd had that conversation with himself so many times, rehearsing what he'd say to her; what he'd always felt for her. He knew words were important to her and he'd wanted, one day, to be able to say the perfect words to her. He was biding his time, but he had a feeling maybe it was almost time.

Lily had glanced over at him, no doubt feeling his eyes burning as he looked at her, and then quickly looked away. He'd been able to see her cheeks were flushing again, and smiled, just a little. He was right. Something was happening here.

Sirius would be pleased.

The best friend in question was currently sitting next to him at the table, stuffing his face with chicken and laughing at something Peter was saying. James was only half listening, eyes trained on Lily a few seats down from his, sat between Marlene McKinnon and Emmaline Vance. She was studiously ignoring him, and he expected her neck was aching from the way it was twisted to the right in an effort to purposely avoid his eye. That was alright, he thought. He'd kiss it better later.

Lily trudged up the corridor, warm and full, reflecting on the fact that she'd never eat another Hallowe'en feast at Hogwarts again. It saddened her to think that seven years had flown by so fast and she was only stopping to enjoy all the moments she had taken for granted now.

Sighing with relief when she reached the Portrait hole, Lily said the password and climbed through. It was empty, as she'd had to go for a meeting with McGonagall after dinner and had then been roped into clearing the decorations from the Great Hall. Usually, she would have insisted James help, but after everything that had transpired between them in the last twenty four hours, Lily was avoiding him like it was her profession. She didn't want to talk to him or even look at him. She didn't want to have to explain her actions from last night, or from this morning: she realised even as she was fleeing how odd it looked that she was running away from him instead of just brushing it off and telling him she was drunk, but she hadn't been expecting that.

She made her way to the staircase up to the girl's dormitory and had just placed her foot on the first stair when a cough from behind her brought her up short. Lily turned and saw a little first year standing behind her, eyes wide, looking up at her. Feeling tired and still suffering from the after affects of the previous evenings antics, Lily bit back a sigh.

"Hi," she said, leaning against the wall.

"Hi," the boy squeaked. "Um, you're Lily Evans."

"Yes," Lily said, trying to bite back her thinly veiled annoyance. "I know who I am. Who are you? What do you want?"

"Don't get mad at him," a voice said, and someone stepped out of the shadows and into the dying firelight by the sofas. "He's just the decoy."

"What -" the first year scampered away as James took a step towards her. Lily resisted the urge to step back and put on a show of crossing her arms and sighing heavily. "What do you want, Potter?"

"Oh, don't give me that, Evans," James said angrily, stepping forward again. Lily stood up straighter, building herself up for a shouting match. When did they suddenly become fifteen year olds again? Why could Lily never control herself around him? Why did he make her feelings feel as if they were fighting each other for dominance? Part of her wanted to hex him for being such an annoying prick and the other half wanted to – wanted to –

"I'm going to bed," Lily said, turning on her heel, "I'm not in the mood for a slanging match."

She took a step up the staircase but jumped as a hand clamped around her wrist. She turned back and found herself on a step that made her just higher than James, which was no mean feat. He reached 6'3, easily.

"There's not going to be a slanging match, Lily," James said calmly, looking up at her. "We are going to talk to each other like the adults we are."

"We don't have anything to talk about," Lily said, pulling her arm away from James, but he held onto her fast.

"Oh really? I won't call you Lil anymore if you don't tell me to."

"James," Lily hissed. "Just let it go, alright?"

"No, I'm not going to let it go!" James said, using his strength to pull Lily down a step so he was taller than her again. He looked down at her, a breath of space between them, and ran his free hand through his hair exasperatedly. "What's going on, Lil? There's something happening here."

"There's nothing happening! I just want -"

"No," he growled, "no Lily, don't do that! I spent three years worshipping the ground you walked on and you wouldn't give me a second look unless it was to aim a well placed hex at me. And now you're stumbling into the Trophy room telling me you want me to call you Lil and using me as your own personal pillow. I know you were drunk," he said emphatically as her mouth opened in protest, "but how do you think that made me feel? And then today, when you remembered – if you were just drunk why didn't you just tell me so?"

Lily deflated. Casting her eyes towards the floor, she answered him quietly. "That's why I didn't say anything. I didn't want to – you were seeing Jenny Fowler last time I checked and -"

"Lily," James said, his fingers gripping her wrist tighter, "Lily, what are you saying?"

She shook her head, still staring at the floor.

"Look at me, Lily," James said softly, his free hand reaching up and gently pushing her chin up to force her to look at him. His fingers were shaking. "Talk to me."

She avoided his eyes. With a defeated sigh, James stepped back, dropping all contact with her. She immediately wanted to reach out to him, but stopped herself, wrapping her arms around her waist to stop herself. It was then, as he turned back to look at her – Merlin, she just looked so lost and vulnerable – that James stepped forward again and this time, he didn't take her wrist, but her lips.

Lily's eyes widened in shock. She blinked rapidly a few times before her eyes fluttered closed. James used the weight of his body to push her back until her back hit the side of the staircase behind them, making her jump. She sprang away from the coldness of the wall, her lips still on his, and he wrapped a strong arm around her waist. She could feel the muscles from the hours of Quidditch he played bunching together as he pulled her close to him and she pulled away with a gasp. What was she doing? This wasn't fair on James – she screwed him around for far too long. She didn't deserve him so easily.

They fell against the wall again, James's head dropping to fall on her shoulder. He was breathing heavily and Lily's heart was racing. Her lips were burning, too, and she couldn't stop herself from turning her head and kissing just below his ear. He groaned and suddenly turned his head and began pressing kisses against her neck. She gasped and her head fell, her neck like jelly, as he worshipped the delicate skin with his mouth.

"Better?" he said against her skin, his lips sucking in places she'd never been touched before. She took a deep, shuddering breath and stuttered a reply.


"You were spending so long avoiding my eye at dinner," he said, paying particular attention to the place just beneath where her jaw curved round to meet ear, "I supposed you must have permanently damaged your neck."

She tipped her head back against the wall and it was then, as her hand began to move towards his expanse of soft, dark hair that she came about her senses and pushed him away from her. She'd always loved his hair and found his ruffling endearing. The only thing that bothered her – and the only thing that had prompted her drunken confession the night before – was that she didn't get to tangle her fingers in it. Now, coming so close to touching it: it was a sobering moment.

"No," she said, holding her head in her hands. James moved back towards her but she put her palm out. "No."

James stopped and crossed his arms. He watched silently.

"James," Lily said, fingers massaging her forehead. "I just – I just need to think for a minute." She ran her fingers through her hair. She wasnot good with expressing her emotions. She didn't know how to get the words out.

"When did you decide you weren't going to tell me you had feelings for me, Lily?"James said, watching her carefully. She gulped at the tone of his voice.

"Look," she said quickly, "James, not long. I thought you were over me – so over me! You were seeing Florence Robinson at the time and -"

"Last Christmas?" James exploded, "you've had feelings for me for nearly a whole year and you didn't tell me? I should have been able to do that -" he said, eyes darting down to her bottom lip, which Lily was chewing on, trying not to think about what that was –"for a whole year already? Merlin, Lil," he said, laughing bitterly as he ran a hand through his hair, "you sure know how to make a wizard suffer."

"No!" Lily countered, "No, don't you get it? I was trying to not make you suffer! I thought you were over me! You were dating other girls and you started calling me by my first name and at first I thought it was just because I was happy we weren't fighting anymore, but – you -" she cut off. "I just: I didn't want to throw you through a loop. I didn't want to confuse you. You're well within your rights to tell me to buggar off. Merlin, if I was you, I'd probably do it!"

James laughed. "Tell you to buggar off? Are you crazy?"

"No," Lily said in small voice, "I just didn't want to hurt you anymore, James."

His face softened and he stepped forward, cupping her cheek in the palm of his hand. "How could this possibly hurt me, Lily? How could knowing that the girl I've been in love with since I was thirteen has feelings for me hurt me?"

He leant forward and pressed their lips together again and kissed her harder this time, his tongue dancing along her bottom lip. Her hands slid up to his neck – she was practically on her tiptoes trying to reach him – and at last found themselves buried in his dark, messy hair. She inhaled deeply and pulled away.

"I thought you didn't like my hair," he muttered with a smirk. Lily shook her head, her lips clamped together. He began pressing butterfly kisses along her jaw and Lily gasped out loud.

"James, stop – someone could come in -"

"Should we move it up to your bed?" he said, wiggling his eyebrows. Lily groaned and dropped her head onto her chest.

"That is so embarrassing," she murmured. She could feel the laughter bubbling in James's chest. After a moment, Lily looked up at him slowly.

"James," she said, unsure of how to tell him what she needed to say, "I know you said you love me, but – I don't know exactly how I feel yet; I -"

James leant forward and kissed her head. "You don't have to say anything. It took me a long time to understand it all, too. Merlin," he laughed, pulling away but seeming unable to relinquish his hold on her. His arm slipped back around her waist. "This is insane."

Lily nodded and rested her head against his chest, fingers curling into his shirt. James drew her close and his hands met around her waist, and rested his chin on the top of her head. Lily hummed in contentment.

"I was supposed to be avoiding you, you know," James said, sounding amused. "I thought maybe if I stopped talking to you, you'd miss me."

"I would have," Lily said, "but I was supposed to be avoiding you to," she smiled into his shirt.

"What are we like?" James chuckled. They fell into silence again as James considered just how similar they were and wondered if the passion they'd always had in their arguments would make everything in their relationship as passionate...

"So what do we do now?" she asked, lifting her head to look at him.

"Now," he said, grinning down at her, "we go and thank Sirius for the Firewhiskey."

AN: thanks for reading! this is my first real excursion into the world of Marauders Era fiction: I've dipped my toes before, but hopefully this is a slight improvement from that time, back when I first joined five years ago... this felt a little overly fluffy but there's too much tragedy waiting for these two for me to be able to write anything that didn't make me at least slightly nauseous. :-)

Disclaimer: I own nothing!