Author's note: I'm not entirely sure I like this, and yet some of it I do. I'll let you be the judge of it, so when you're done reading, it would mean a lot if you would leave your thoughts in a review - pretty, pretty please. Good, bad or indifferent, I'd just like to improve.

Oh, and yay for Veronica Mars, the movie. The only thing that would be better than that would be a Marauder movie. Just saying.

Summary: When Lily Evans finally decided to tell James Potter that she fancied him, she figured that some liquid courage would be much appreciated. Perhaps, though, she ended up having just a little bit too much.

Disclaimer: I'm disclaiming. Consider Harry Potter disclaimed.


"LIQUID COURAGE"

When Lily Evans finally decided to tell James Potter that she fancied him, she figured that some liquid courage would be much appreciated. Not enough to get really drunk per se, just enough to take the tip off her nervousness. To lend her just a bit of the Gryffindor bravery that seemed to have evaded her completely. But, really, Lily should have known that there is no such thing as "just a little" when it comes to firewhisky – especially not firewhisky which she knew for a fact that Marlene had nicked from Sirius Black.

Coupled with the fact that Lily rarely drank, and therefore had an abhorrently low tolerance for alcohol, it practically spelled disaster.

Lily had realized two months prior – only a month into her seventh and last year at Hogwarts – that she had come to fancy James Potter something dreadful. This revelation had in no way pleased Lily. The Head Girl had to grudgingly admit that James had changed quite a bit over the last year – matured. He was not the same as he had been in fifth year, and not even quite the same as the James she had tentatively befriended through the course of sixth year. He was something else entirely (though still completely and utterly James), and Lily simply could not help but fall for him.

She spent the first month of her revelation snapping at him and everyone else, silently willing the new, absurd feelings to go away, but, though not for the lack of effort, it did not happen. If anything, her observance of the new James Potter only intensified her crush as the weeks wore on.

A month into her new fancy she had to admit it to herself that the feelings weren't likely to disappear any time soon. This revelation gave Lily and entirely new problem, because it was no secret that James had once fancied her very much, just as it was no secret that he had some time in sixth year gotten well and truly over that.

Lily couldn't help but notice the irony that she developed feelings for the boy who practically worshipped her for years, only after he had given up and moved on from her. Lily, however, who was ever the optimist, thought that maybe she could spark some of those forgotten feelings, and thus Lily developed a new plan for her second month of fancying James Potter. She made a point of spending as much time with him as possible, and with their shared Head's quarters and Head duties, it was not difficult to find excuses to be with him. She found herself smiling more at him, touching him subtly whenever possible and flirting innocently with him. She'd even gotten into the habit of eating with James and the marauders, and spent much of her time doing homework with James, helping each other where the other had difficulties.

If James had detected Lily's change of feelings, though, he did not let it show. He returned her many smiles, countered her touches with ones of his own, and took her flirting in a stride. Truthfully Lily suspected he didn't even realize he was flirting back. No matter how blatant Lily made her efforts, James accepted it as though it was perfectly natural, but he dared not push the boundaries himself. When Lily perched herself in his lap, as he sat in the Gryffindor common room with his mates, he accepted it without even a raised eyebrow, and merely smiled at her, before placing his hands platonically on her hips and continuing his conversation with Sirius. When she linked arms with him as they walked down the corridor, he merely reached over and ruffled her hair, as a big brother might do to his little sister, and continued to walk arm-in-arm. When she'd leaned her head on his shoulders and closed her eyes after having studied for transfiguration long into the night, he merely put his arm around her shoulder and given her a friendly squeeze. It was all things that felt decidedly couple-y to Lily, but each time James made it seem as platonic as had she done same thing to Remus or Peter or Sirius.

Lily had learned to ignore the knowing looks she received from the other Marauders and Marlene.

After the second month Lily had quite given up, and therefore found herself in a very depressing state (she tried not to think of how awful James must have felt all those years she hadn't returned his feelings, but had in fact loathed him). Her change in moods had not gone unnoticed, and after a couple of days James had carefully asked if something was bothering her. Lily had shook her head, denying this, and James, clearly unconvinced, had dropped a kiss on her forehead, squeezed her hand and told her to come to him if he could do anything to help her. Lily almost cried right then and there.

Unrequited love really was a bitch.

Now, it would be quite natural to wonder how Lily came to the decision to tell James of her feelings, and in all honesty, she probably wouldn't have for a long time, had it not been for an unique mix of Remus Lupin and Charlotte Gaml.

"You should tell him, you know." Remus had said one day, startling her quite a bit, as he came up behind her and sat down by the lake next to her.

"Tell who what?" Lily asked innocently, not meeting his eyes.

"Prongs. That you are in love with him."

This got Lily's attention, and her eyes immediately snapped to his. "I'm not in love with James!"

Remus chuckled. "Lily, even a blind man would be able to see that you two are in love with each other."

Lily shook her head. "No," she denied. "I mean, you're right... I do fancy him. But he's over me... and we're certainly not in love. I don't know him nearly well enough to be in love with him..."

Remus simply smiled. "You should tell him." The words hung between them for a few moments, before Remus got up and left Lily sitting alone by the lake. She barely noticed him leave.

Remus' words haunted her days after their encounter, and played in her mind like a broken record. Love. Love. Love. Before Lily had disregarded her feelings as a crush – a strong crush admittedly, but a crush nonetheless. Now, as she observed James, she thought that there might be more truth to Remus' words than she had initially been willing to admit. She was certain that she didn't love James – not yet – but she couldn't deny either that she was slowly, but surely, falling in love with him.

Then, exactly a week after her conversation with Remus, Lily rounded a corner, only to be met with the sight of James Potter standing impossibly close to Charlotte Gaml. The girl in question was giggling at something James said, and touched his arm playfully, as James grinned crookedly down at her. Suddenly hit with a strong wave of nausea, Lily quickly walked back where she'd come from, and promptly slid down the wall when she felt she'd put enough distance between herself, James and Charlotte.

Seeing James with Charlotte was quite an eye opening experience for Lily. It managed to singlehandedly make her realize she'd never be able to live with herself, if James ended up with someone like Charlotte Gaml, and she, Lily, had never even told him how she felt, never even given a last pathetic attempt at winning his affections. She felt that after all the awful rejections he had suffered at her hands, the least she could do was own up to her feeling for him. To let him know that he'd won her over in the end – even if it was too late.

So that's how Lily Evans ended up sitting stiffly on her bed in her Head Girl room, a bottle of firewhisky in her hand. The first sip had been the hardest; it had burned through Lily's throat, ending up in her stomach, swirling around like a pool of liquid fire – for a moment she was quite certain it would burn a hole straight through her stomach. The second had been far easier, and after that followed a third, a fourth, a fifth... She drank until her throat felt numb and her head fuzzy.

It was not the first time Lily was drunk. She'd gone to a couple of parties with Marlene over the summer, and even had a few drinks at some of the Quidditch victory parties. It was, however, the first time Lily had gotten drunk alone in her room. Looking at her clock on her nightstand she saw that it was ten minutes to ten, and James should be coming back from his Quidditch practise any time.

She got up from her bed, her legs unsteady, and walked to her mirror. Striking a pose, she looked at her figure in the mirror. She was by no means an ugly girl, but not traditionally pretty either. Perhaps striking was a better description with her bright green eyes, shockingly red hair and fair, freckled skin. She pursed her rosy lips at the mirror and made kissing motions at herself, before laughing quite undignified at her own antics.

Had she been a bit more sober, Lily would have seen that the drinking, unfortunately, hadn't done anything good for her appearance. Her hair was still falling to the middle of her back in soft, natural waves, and her clothes had – thankfully and quite miraculously – remained firewhisky free, but her eyes were bloodshot already, and decidedly glassy.

She swayed slightly as she made her way to their small, shared common room, and dumped herself unceremoniously onto the couch with a loud sigh. The entire world was spinning, but Lily tried to ignore this, as she leaned her head back against the couch and closed her eyes.

Luckily – or, perhaps, unluckily – she didn't have time to fall asleep before James stepped through the portrait hole. He was freshly showered, and wearing a pair of jeans and a jumper under his long, thick, black cloak.

Upon hearing the portrait open, Lily's eyes snapped open, and her head whirled around to take in James figure as he entered. Unrestrained joy coursed through her, and she cried out "James!" excitedly, as she jumped from the couch, and then swayed dangerously, as she tried to get accustomed to standing up.

Surprised and startled, James was by her side steadying her in seconds. He regarded her with careful curiosity, before everything seemed to fall into place for him. His eyes widened and his face portrayed his obvious shock, as he asked what he must surely already have known the answer to. "Merlin, Lily, are you drunk?!"

Lily's answer was a quite un-Lily-like giggle.

James seemed torn between amusement and worry, though judging by the way the corners of his lips kept tugging upwards as though he was trying to fight a smile, he was most likely leaning mostly towards the former. Finally he gave in, and laughed out loud. "Shit," he swore. "You are! What party did I miss?"

"Just mine." Lily giggled.

"Oh?" James raised his eyebrows in question. "And why exactly are you getting drunk? Are Mary and Marlene here?"

"Nope." Lilly replied, making a popping sound with the p. "Just me. I was waiting for you." She punctured the 'you' by poking his chest with her finger.

"Right... Um, well that's nice, Lil. Anything I can help you with?"

Lily nodded, and took a step closer to him. James watched her warily, unsure of what to expect from her, and he was quite surprised when she suddenly grabbed his head and pulled him down towards her. Next thing he knew, he had his face in dangerously close proximity to her chest, and her hands were buried in his hair. He was quite sure that sober-Lily would have smacked him silly for the position.

"Um, Lil... What exactly are you doing?" He questioned after a moment in their awkward position. As he tried to straighten up, she practically growled.

"Don't move!" She snapped, and then added in a softer tone: "I've wanted to do this for ages!" And she promptly continued running her hands through his hair. "You have very soft hair, James. And shiny. Very shiny. It's very, very pretty. And very soft, did I say that? Your hair is very soft. And pretty. And shiny."

James felt himself being stunned into silence. He had no idea how to react to drunk-Lily, and merely opted for staying silent while she rambled on while running her hands trough his hair. Suddenly she did something that stunned him even more, standing on her toes; she brought her nose to his hair and inhaled.

"Smells great too." She concluded seriously, before releasing her hold on him and taking a step back. James straightened up, but otherwise remained silent and motionless. He watched Lily carefully, seeking some sort of indicator as to what the hell was going on.

Lily, for her part, was contemplating what she'd just smelled, and therefore wore a very serious expression on her face, which contradicted quite beautifully with her otherwise drunken-appearance. In all honesty James thought she looked positively ridiculous (and very, very beautiful), but he felt it would be counterproductive to point this out. Suddenly she broke out of her trance, and grinned ridiculously at him.

"It smells like amortentia!" She exclaimed, nodded vigorously.

"What?" James asked, quite confused by her turn of conversation.

"You smell like amortentia, silly," she explained again. "Like grass and woodpolish and... and... Well, I don't know what the last thing is, but it is very James Potter." She nodded seriously, as though it was a normal everyday occurrence to tell someone that they smelled like amortentia.

Surprised, James remained silent. If he weren't mistaken, she'd just claimed that amortentia smelled like him to her. Amortentia, the love potion. The potion which smelled different to each individual depending on what attracted them the most. James visibly shook his head. The notion that Lily Evans was attracted to him was ridiculous, and he wasn't going to entertain the thought, or the hope the thought brought with it, a second longer.

This was Lily Evans, after all, the girl who had hated him notoriously for almost six years before beginning a tentative friendship with him. Sure, they'd grown a lot closer, so close in fact, that James considered her to be one of his closest friends, but he had long since given up on ever being with her in any romantic sense of the word. James had given up on her, true, but he had never changed his mind about her. He was still every bit as in love with her as he'd been the past two and a half years.

"Right," he said, his tone rather business-like, as he straightened further up. "I think it's time to get you to bed, Lily."

"No!" She gasped dramatically, quite horrified by his suggestion. "No, no, no, no, no. I have to tell you something!"

James raised his eyebrow, but remained silent, waiting for her to continue.

Lily seemed to take a moment to think, and then, quite without warning, she surged forward, and planted her lips soundly against his. James, who had been expecting words, was stunned into paralysis for the total amount of five seconds, before his brain caught onto what was going on.

She's drunk, she's drunk, and she certainly doesn't know what she's doing. The voice inside James' head told him what he already knew, and he didn't dare think of how Lily would react in the morning if he took advantage of her intoxication. It would be the end of their friendship, surely.

Regretfully he pulled his lips from hers and took a step back. He ran his hand through his hair out of a mixture of nerves and frustration, and shook his head, as if it would rid him of the feel of her lips against his. Even though she'd been drunk and he hadn't kissed her back and the kiss had lasted a total of barely ten seconds, it was still enough to make James' heart soar.

"Stop, Lily." He said softly, meeting her eyes for the first time since she'd kissed him.

Her eyes widened, and for a moment she seemed quite shocked by what had transpired between them. Then, without warning, her lips quivered and James saw tears pool in her eyes. Horrified, James watched as tears slipped from Lily's eyes, and travelled at path down her cheeks.

"Lily-" James began, and took a step towards her, reaching out to touch her.

Lily shook her head and slapped his hand away. "Don't touch me!" She choked out through alcohol-induced tears, the burning rejection coursing through her. She took a step back, and sat down on the couch, before covering her face with her hands, as she sobbed into them. "You don't want me." She stated, as though it would help her accept it by saying it out loud.

James' heart was hurting from the sight of the crying girl in front of him. He sat down carefully next to her, and grabbed her wrists with his calloused hands, tearing them gently away from her face. "Lily," he said softly, the sound of his voice forcing her eyes to meet his. "You're drunk, Lil. We both know you wouldn't be kissing me if you weren't."

Lily seemed to find this statement ridiculous, as she snorted and shook her head. "Of course I would!"

James merely shook his head, a bitter smile grazing his lips. "Lily, you'd hate me in the morning if I took advantage of the fact that you're drunk. I'm not going to ruin our friendship because you're drunk and horny and I just happen to be here." Lily gasped and opened her mouth to say something back, but was promptly cut off as James continued. "Look, Lil, it's not that I don't want to be kissing you. Merlin, anyone within a four mile radius of Hogwarts knows that I've been in love with you for years." He didn't seem to be completely aware of what he was saying, and Lily's alcohol-muddled brain had a hard time keeping up with everything. She was starting to feel some of the negative side-effects from her drinking, and it was getting increasingly difficult to keep track of what he was saying.

James shook his head, and looked down on Lily next to him. "Come on, love. You really need to sleep." Lily, who was starting to feel her eyelids drop, nodded her consent. Surprising her, James got up from the couch, and before she had a chance to do the same, he scooped her up in his arms, bridal style, and carried her through their common room and to her own room. Regarding the bottle of firewhisky, which was missing about a quarter of its contents, he kicked it away gently, as if it would hurt Lily to see it in the morning (it rolled underneath her bed and would not be remembered for another few months).

He placed her carefully on the bed, and debated briefly whether to help her into more comfortable clothing, but thought that he should probably play it safe after everything that had transpired between them this evening, and pray that their friendship wouldn't be in jeopardy in the morning. He opted instead to pull the covers over her, as she curled onto her side, and watched him with wide, beautiful eyes.

"Now, Lil," he told her sternly. "Don't think we won't be talking about what made you feel that it was a good idea to get shit-faced drunk alone. Next time, you could at least include me." He smiled good-naturedly at her, though it was a small smile by his standards, and it didn't quite seem to reach his eyes. His hand shook slightly, as he brought it to her cheek and stroked it. Lily's eyes closed automatically at the contact. "Look, Lil," James began carefully. "If, um... Well, you know, you can find me when you're sober. If nothing has changed, I mean. If you still want... Just... I'll see you tomorrow, yeah?" He hurriedly dropped a kiss to her forehead, and rushed out of her room as fast as his legs could carry him.

Finally in the sanctuary of his own room, he dropped heavily unto his bed and cursed his own stupidity. He knew that come morning their friendship would be as good as over. Unless, of course, Lily didn't remember anything, but James knew perfectly well that she hadn't been that drunk. He doubted that, in the grand scheme of things, she would care much for the fact that he had not kissed her back. Alone what had been said – particularly, but not limited to, his proclamation of love for her – was enough to put their friendship into an awkward position they weren't likely to get out of.

James didn't want to be just friends with her - of course he wanted to be more, but if it was a choice between being her friend – her close friend – or being nothing at all, he'd take the friend position any day. That's what he'd done when she'd handed him an olive branch of friendship almost a year ago. He'd buried his feelings for her, enjoying nothing more than being a part of her everyday life. He just wanted her to be happy, and if being his friend was what made her happy, then he would do it. Now, though, it seemed like his life was going to become entirely Lily-free.

Unable to bear thinking about it anymore, James quickly got ready for bed, shedding his shirt and pants and brushing his teeth. His was absolutely exhausted – both physically from the long Quidditch practice, and mentally from the whole ordeal with Lily. Sleep should have come easy, but of course it took several hours before James Potter drifted off to sleep.


It was very, very early the next morning that Lily Evans woke with an ungodly headache. At first she was confused as to what had transpired the night before, but slowly the night came back to her.

"Bloody firewhisky" she swore. "And bloody Sirius Black!" Somehow she felt better blaming someone else for her drunken mistakes, but it did not change the fact that she had thoroughly botched her talk with James last night. What should have been a simple "James, I fancy you" turned into a Lily-Evans-drunk-show. How exactly was she supposed to face him again after last night? She had thrown herself at him, and he hadn't even kissed her back for a second. She'd sobbed in front of him, and he'd been a perfect gentleman. He'd carried her to her bed and tucked her in.

Suddenly she shot up from her bed, and immediately regretted it as her head punished her viciously for her quick movement. Lily moaned in pain, before deciding that she'd deal with her headache later. Right now she had more important issues at hand.

He'd said he'd been in love with her for years. He'd stopped her because he thought she was only kissing him because she was drunk. He told her to find him if nothing had changed when she was sober.

Suddenly Lily didn't care that it was barely half past four in the morning. She didn't care that she was wearing yesterdays clothing, surely had make-up smeared all over her face, and that she most likely looked about as shitty as she felt. She flew from her bed, practically running towards the door, before stopping halfway through her room. She stood still for a moment, before changing direction towards her trunk. Throwing it open she grabbed a peppermint bristle ('almost as good as brushing your teeth') and practically gagged as the strong taste of peppermint hit her tongue. Her stomach rolled, but Lily continued to suck the candy (which had developed bristles that brushed against her teeth as she sucked) until she was quite sure her alcohol breath has completely disappeared.

Then, she hurried on towards her door as had been her previous goal. She didn't stop before she was standing in front of his bedroom door. She hesitated for a fraction of a second, before opening the door silently.

His room was dark and she could only barely make out the outline of him sleeping on the bed. She quietly closed the door behind her, and started to make her way through the dark room.

"Bugger!" She swore loudly, as she almost fell over his large trunk, which was quite inconveniently placed right in the middle of the room. Unfortunately for Lily her little run-in with the trunk had not only given her a stubbed toe, it had also caused quite a racket.

James woke with a start when he heard the crash. Instantly he grabbed his wand from his bedside table, and with a quick 'Lumos' he bathed the room in light. Upon seeing Lily's form, slightly hunched over, and shielding her eyes from his harsh light with her hand, he quickly grabbed his glasses, which had been lying next to his wand, to be sure he wasn't hallucinating.

Upon putting on his glasses he was surprised to see that he was still seeing her in his room. "Lily?" He asked hesitantly.

"Turn off the bloody light, James Potter!" She practically growled, pleasantries going out the window as her headache steadily worsened due to the harsh light.

"Oh, right! Sorry. Nox." The light in his wand went out, but he turned towards his bedside table and lighted the candle it held. The room was now bathed in a soft orange glow, which was much kinder to Lily's sensitive eyes.

For a moment the two Head students merely stared at each other, both waiting for the other to speak. James was the one who ended up breaking the silence. He sat up further in the bed, his comforter sliding down and revealing more of his bare, toned stomach. "Is everything okay, Lil?" He asked, concern etched clearly onto his face. He glanced at his clock, which read half past four, and looked back at Lily, who had straightened up, and was moving closer to him.

She sat down next to him on his bed. "I'm sorry for waking you." She said softly, meeting his eyes.

Seeing her up close, James could clearly see that the previous night had done a number on her. Her clothes was wrinkled, her eyes bloodshot, her hair an absolute mess and she had dark circles under her eyes. To James she was still absolutely breathtaking.

"Don't worry about it, Lil. It doesn't matter. But, nothing's wrong, right? You're fine?"

"Well, I've got a killer headache, but nothing I won't survive." She smiled softly at him. He nodded slowly, until he seemed to realize something.

"Oh, right, of course," he said. "You're here to get a hangover potion. I'll just get it for you, Lily. Won't be a moment." He made to get out of the bed.

"What? No!" Lily's shocked denial stopping him immediately. "Well," she quickly amended, "I could definitely use one right about now, but that's not why I came!"

James seemed sceptical. "It's not?" He questioned.

Lily shook her head. "No. It's not." Gathering all her courage she straightened her back and looked him in his eyes. "I wanted to talk to you about what happened last night."

"Oh," James seemed quite surprised, and very uncomfortable at her admission. "Look, Lil" he began, but she quickly cut him off.

"Just let me speak, okay?" Upon James' nod she continued, though she was unable to keep eye contact with him. "You told me to find you when I was sober. If nothing had changed. Well, I'm sober now, and... Nothing has changed, James." James' eyes widened in shock at her veiled admission. "I was planning to tell you yesterday that... Well, that I fancy you. That I've fancied you for a while now. That I'm pretty sure I'm falling in love with you."

"Lily-" his throat felt dry and his voice raspy as he fought the urge to pinch himself in order to check that he wasn't just having a very lively dream.

She shook her head and held up her hand. "Let me finish, James. The thing is, I didn't really want to fancy you, especially not when you'd gotten over me. I tried everything to make it go away, but nothing helped. No matter how much of a bitch I was, you were always kind, always absolutely bloody fantastic, and every time you countered my horribleness with concern you only made me care for you more.

"And then, after I realized that these feeling weren't going to go away, I thought that maybe I could make you fancy me again. Maybe, you know, if I flirted with you and spent loads of time with you, you'd realize that you weren't over me... but you were completely oblivious to all my efforts. You just took it all in a stride and barely even reacted.

"Until finally, I figured that you at least deserved to know. That telling you was the least I could do. Only telling the boy who used to fancy me that I now fancy him wasn't exactly easy, so I thought that I'd just take a sip of firewhisky – just a little bit of liquid courage. But maybe I had just a tad too much, because the plan definitely backfired." Lily paused and met James' eyes. She'd been staring determinedly at the candle while speaking, but now hazel met emerald for the first time since her admission. "Except, maybe not," she acknowledged softly, holding his gaze. "Because what you said yesterday, if you meant it..." She trailed off, loosing herself in the multitude of emotions visible in James' hazel eyes.

"Of course I meant it."

That was really all Lily needed to hear, because the next thing they knew their lips were connected. Lily had his head cradled between her hands, and James' hands were buried in her red tresses. This time he did kiss her back.

When the need for oxygen became too great they pulled apart slightly and rested their foreheads against each other. Suddenly James let out a laugh, and startled Lily pulled back slightly.

"What?" She asked concerned.

"Did you brush your teeth before coming here?"

Lily blushed slightly. "Um.. I ate a peppermint bristle." This only made James laugh harder, until suddenly he grabbed her and pulled her down onto his bed before rolling on top of her, pinning her onto the bed. He smiled roguishly at her, before bringing his lips to hers again.

This kiss was decidedly more heated than the previous. Lily couldn't help but run her hands down his perfectly toned stomach, and when James ran his tongue along her bottom lip, asking for entrance to her mouth, she didn't hesitate to grant it. Suddenly – quite without warning - James pulled away from her, and moved off the bed and out of his room. Confused Lily sat up, her appearance now even more disgruntled than before she'd entered.

"James?" She called.

"Just a moment, love." She heard him call back from the bathroom, and the next thing she knew, he was emerging with a bottle containing a disgusting looking brown potion.

"For your hangover." He explained smiling, and Lily accepted the potion gratefully. "It tastes like dragon's piss, but it works wonders."

Lily gulped it down in one go, and nearly threw it up again. James was quite right that it was disgusting, but thankfully she was already starting to feel her headache disappearing. She couldn't help but grin at him, before she mused out loud: "You know, I think I will."

"Will what?" James asked confused, as he laced his fingers through hers.

"Include you next time I want to get shitfaced drunk." Lily replied grinning, referring to what he'd said the night before.

He grinned back at her crookedly. "Oh, yeah?"

"Yes. I reckon there's still some of that firewhisky left." Lily nodded seriously. "Though, you know, next time I'd appreciate it if you'd kiss me back, even though I'm drunk."

Connecting their lips once more, James mumbled against hers: "I think we might be able to arrange that."