A/N: I know, I know, I know........There are a hundred of you out there that are ready to have my head for not getting this out sooner. I didn't realize until the other day that it has been an entire year since I last posted anything. Time seriously got away from me. If you would have asked me how long it had been, I would have said it had only been a month or two. Yeah, that's how demented my brain is. Real life kicked in and I was swamped with a million things. It can sometimes do that to you, I suppose.

This chapter is for Lisa who wrote me that wonderful email and inspired me to finally write again and finish my stories. It's going to be tough, but what in life that's worth it isn't? So, thank you, Lisa. This one's for you.

Disclaimer: I did come up with the plot and a few characters/places here and there. However, I did not create the Potter-verse, or anything in it. I do not intend to make any money from this twist of art. (Although making money from it would be nice...I'm a college student: All I have to my name at this moment are a few books, my stories, and my brain. :o) )

Illicit Love

Chapter Eighteen

Cause for Celebration

"For the love of all that is holy, where did you get that?"

James twisted the tiny velvet box he was holding and watched the early morning sunlight glint off the pretty object inside.

The object inside, of course, was a ring – a ring for Lily. It was a white gold band with a diamond flanked by two tiny emeralds. It was a very pretty ring, and James hoped that Lily would like it. Though, at the moment, it didn't matter if she liked it, he only hoped that she would agree to wear it.

"Well?" Remus demanded when James didn't answer.

James shut the velvet box with a snap, placed it in his pocket, and looked at his friends, standing in a line, all with their arms folded.

"It was my great-grandmother's," he replied. "It has been passed on for generations, and was supposed to go to my sister, but she didn't want it, and Mum gave it to me. I sent an owl home to Jessica and asked if she would send it up here."

"Do your parents know? They're okay with you asking Lily to – to – asking Lily to wear it?" Sirius asked.

"Don't be ridiculous, of course they don't know. Well, Jessica does, of course. And I suspect that Mum knows, since it had to be taken out of her possession. But, Dad doesn't know, and I'm not daft enough to inform him. I hope everyone else is the same as well."

Remus got that look on his face, the one he got when he was attempting to be the voice of reason.

"James," he said. "How do you expect to marry Lily without your father knowing? Hell, how do you expect to marry anyone at all without the whole world finding out?"

"I –" He stopped and scratched his chin pensively. It was apparent that he hadn't thought of the matter at hand at all. But, he didn't let that stop him from feeling cheerful and grinning at his friends. "You know, I don't know."

"This is serious, James," Sirius said. "Are you willing to risk everything you have? Everything you might be able to have? I know you love Lily, and I've grown to love her like family, but James, think about this. Think about your future!"

"Sirius," James said calmly, "when I look in the future, I don't see millions of Galleons that that I've inherited from my father. I don't see being rich and famous because I've married someone like Josephine. When I see myself in the future, I'm with Lily. She's standing by my side as my partner in life. That's all that matters."

He interlaced his fingers, stretched them to crack his knuckles, then said, "Wish me luck," and walked out of the dormitory, leaving his friends gaping at his back.

Lily unplaited her hair for the third time. It was becoming uncharacteristically frizzy, and all because she was nervous and didn't know what to do with it.

She huffed, irritated, and brushed her hair again.

"What's the matter?" Louisa Jamison asked, poking her head out from her bed hangings. Alisa Leone poked her head out from her hangings too.

"It's James," Lily replied. "I'm meeting him outside Greenhouse Five and – "

"And you want to look killer, right?" Louisa finished.

"Well, yeah."

"Don't worry, hun, we'll take good care of you."

Then Louisa and Alisa pounced.

The two had pounced all right.

Lily ran a hand through her now-straightened hair as she walked down the path to Greenhouse Five. Louisa and Alisa had dusted gold shadow on the lids of her eyes, and coated her lips with the shiniest lipgloss Lily had ever seen. She had donned a skirt of Louisa's, a camisole from Alisa, and the cardigan over the top was Louisa's as well. The shoes she wore, thankfully, were her own. She had refused to slip her feet into those nonsensical platforms that they were always wearing. If she had worn those, she probably would never have made it down to Greenhouse Five – she would have been lying in the castle somewhere with more than a few broken bones.

Rounding the corner around the back of the greenhouse, Lily saw the back of James's head; his unruly black hair looked at if it had faced an attempt to be tamed. The result of that, as always, was that it looked even more unruly. Lily smiled at the thought that he at least tried, though, instead of leaving it how it usually was and ruffling it up all the time. It meant a lot more to her this way.

When Lily didn't think her heart could beat any faster, James turned and stood face to face with her. Her breath caught in her throat, and only one thought crossed her mind: I'm going to spend the rest of my life with this man.

In James's head, though, there were no thoughts going through his head. He wasn't even nervous. He was determined with all his heart that he was going to ask her to be his wife, and he was sure that she wouldn't say no. If she was going to say no, then she wouldn't have shown up at all.

Lily stepped closer to him, and James dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms around her waist, burrowing his face into her stomach. She wrapped her arms loosely around his head, holding him to her.

He pulled away from her, held her at arms-length and stared up at her. Her emerald eyes were shining – not with tears, but with love.

"Spend forever with me," James said softly. "Marry me, Lily. Anything you want is yours as long as you spend forever with me."

"I only want you."

Lily sank to her knees, threw her arms around James's neck and kissed him hard. "Yes," she said when she pulled away. "Yes, I'll marry you."

She hugged him to her, as tight as she could. This was, after all, the person she would spend the rest of her life with.

"Did you know anything about this?" Sirius asked, looking around at Peter and Remus. For this early on a Sunday morning, they had the common room to themselves.

Peter shook his head. "Never saw it coming. I just never thought of James as the marrying type."

"It's Sirius who isn't the marrying type," Remus said. Sirius grinned. "I saw this coming from miles away. I realized it when he didn't seem to be goofy in love. With his other girlfriends he acted like a bumbling idiot. But with Lily, he kind of seems...well he's still a bumbling idiot, but not so much. He's found his niche – if you please – in life and I knew it was only a matter of time before he asked her to marry him."

Sirius knitted his eyebrows at Remus, then turned to Peter and said, "I never saw it coming either." He grinned at Remus. "Come on, what happened to the days when we would talk about the bachelor pad we were going to get after Hogwarts? What about the parties we were going to have? James has got the setup, mates – we all agreed on that. He's got the money and the fame, so he'd be the one bringing all the ladies home for us. What happened to those dreams?"

"Love happened, I suppose," Remus replied. Sirius and Peter frowned. "Oh, for heaven's sake, he's still going to be the same James, just now his first duty will be to Lily, instead of getting smashed and sleeping with a different girl every night."

"I'm happier for him more than anybody in the world, don't get me wrong," Sirius said, "but he's crazy. He's my best mate, but this whole marriage thing is insane. I'm not ready for that yet."

"Me either," both Peter and Remus agreed.

The portrait swung back. The three held their breath, but they soon let it out. It was only a blonde fifth year, probably coming back from a nice dip in the giant prefects' bathtub. She smiled as she passed and went up the stairs to her dormitory. Sirius, who had been watching her walk up the stairs, turned back to his friends and whistled. "What a nice piece of – "

Before he could finish his sentence, the portrait hole swung back again. This time, a very flushed Lily stepped through, by a very smiley James.

"Hi!" Lily said when she saw them.

"Congrats," Remus said. "I'm very happy for you."

"Thank you," Lily said. "We're very happy ourselves."

"We couldn't tell," Sirius said, as he stood and gave his best friend a hug – a manly one that consisted of hitting each other on the back as hard as possible. He then gave Lily considerably gentler hug, and said, "Welcome to the family. You know what you're getting yourself into, right?"

"I think I have a pretty good idea," she replied. "You know what you're getting yourself into by accepting me, right?"

"I think so. As long as there aren't anymore Hurricane Lily's, I'll be fine."

She grinned at him. "Well, you'd better be careful, then."

Lily and James were lying in James's bed, exhausted from all the celebrating they had done – both the traditional and non-traditional kind, as Lily had called it.

They had first celebrated with their friends and fellow Gryffindors by holding a party in the common room. Sirius and Remus had disappeared with a trace three hours before the party had come back with a bag full of sweets and butterbeers. Lily wondered how they had gone into Hogsmeade without being noticed, and figured it had something to do with the Invisibility Cloak. Everything else that was involved, she neither knew nor cared to find out. She was too happy.

After the party, the two had gone back to James's room and had a little party of their own. This party was less clamorous, featuring candles, romantic music on the wireless, a bottle of champagne that Sirius had slipped them after they declared they were "going to bed," and lots of scented bubbles in the large tub.

Now they were in bed, tired, sated, but couldn't sleep. Lily had too many butterflies in her stomach to sleep. Every time she felt James's chest rising and falling against her back, her stomach felt as if she were on a roller coaster. She had tried to explain this, but all James could do was laugh. He didn't know what a roller coaster was, and thought Lily was mental for suggesting that there was such a thing as a train that people rode in that went upside-down.

"I love you, though," he added as a consolation.

"Well, that's lovely," she replied, a hint of acid sarcasm in her voice. "If you didn't, they'd be waiting outside to drag me off to St. Mungo's."

James chuckled and kissed the top of her head. Her head covered in damp tangles of auburn. Tangles that he had helped put there. He smiled with pride at the thought. Not because he was proud that he could do that to a woman; but because he was doing it to Lily – his one and only, his true love.

"How do you suppose your life would have turned out if you wouldn't have met me? I mean, how did you see yourself in the future before you met me?"

James pursed his lips. "Honestly, it's difficult to remember things from before I met you. When I met you and I saw you in my future, it just felt so right that I forgot everything that I thought about before I met you." He kissed her head again. "But let me dig into my memory a bit more.... Yep, I see something now.... Something about Sirius using my charm, good looks, and fame to bring home gorgeous girls and all their friends to party and shag all night."

"Can't Sirius get his own girlfriends? I wouldn't have thought he would need one brought to him."

"I tell him that all the time, but he seems to think that if it were left up to him, all the girls would take him and leave the rest of us with none."

"He's quite self-confident, isn't he?"

"He'll grow out of it," James replied. He yawned, finally feeling the eases of sleep tickle his brain. "He hasn't started yet, but I'm sure he'll be ready to settle down in about forty years."

Lily laughed, then yawned as well. This was the perfect end to a perfect day, lying in James's arms. She began drifting off to sleep.

"Lily?" James whispered.


"I really do love you, you know."

She smiled softly. "I know you do. I love you too."

A/N: I know this chapter is quite sappy. And my creative power for this story is a bit rusty at the moment. But, don't you worry, this isn't the last chapter. I've got plenty more to prove myself with. James hasn't even started playing pro quidditch yet, and we've got a whole wedding to plan. Not to mention witness how some relatives might feel about said wedding (and let me tell you, Charles Damion Potter is not going to be happy).

That said, thank you all for your reviews. It's been too long for me to make an actual thank-you list, but I hope you know that, even though I wasn't writing for a while, I still read all of your comments, and took each to heart. I really appreciate them.

Now, I usually like to give away a reward for reviewers, but, as I said earlier, all I own are my books, my stories, and my brain. So, I'm just going to have to give you all big hugs! Yay! :o)

Thank you all! Happy reading and writing!

Loves, Lavender