Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. That honor belongs to JK Rowling

She was James Potter's girlfriend.

Lily didn't know when it happened. It seemed to her as if she had always hated him, since before the womb, and that she would always continue to hate him. And yet now she found herself quite fond of him. Was he arrogant? Painfully so. Could he be cruel? Yes, though not as much as he used to be. But something had changed in the past year. Lily wasn't sure whether it was because it was her last year at Hogwarts and she didn't want it filled with anger and spite towards him, or whether she was simply tired and gave into his advances. Either way, it turned out to be one of the best decisions she'd ever made, loathe as she was to admit it.

James was charming, kind, and doting. At first he treated her too much like a princess, but he quickly learned to let her have some independence. He backed off of Snape at her request, and even managed to do some of his homework. He took her on dates to the Black Lake and Hogsmeade, and of course the snogging was fantastic. Everything was better than she had expected.

Except for Sirius.

Lily got along with the other Marauders wonderfully. She and Remus had been friends for a while. They were both prefects, loved Muggle novels, and were diligent students. Remus was often the one to calm her down after a row with James. She had just recently come to be friends with Peter. He was quiet and a little skittish, but he was wonderfully attentive when she told stories and he always shared his sweets with her. Sirius, on the other hand, had done nothing but sulk for the month that she and James had been together. James reassured her that Sirius would come around, but he didn't make an effort to hide his glare when she sat next to her boyfriend in the Great Hall or classes. She had tried to make conversation with him, but he'd either only grunt at her, or if he was in a particularly chatty mood, answer her tersely and shortly, effectively ending the conversation in five words or less. Usually he forwent excusing himself, and simply left to brood by Remus. Remus would shoot her a sympathetic glance and scold Sirius lightly, his disappointment falling on deaf ears. And so it went, day after day.

Lily lay curled up next to James on the couch in front of the fire one night, having just been brushed off by his friend once again. "I give up," she lamented. "He hates me, that's all there is to it."

"No," James assured her, his voice rumbling beneath her ear. "He's just…being difficult. You know him; he has a tendency to be a bit dramatic."

Lily snorted at this. Several images flashed through her mind—Sirius bowing low after a particularly clever prank, laughing loudly, too loudly, at a joke that was sub-par at best, near tears when he found out the Chudley Cannons had lost, storming the castle in a blind rage after a run-in with his relatives. Yes, Sirius Black could be somewhat dramatic. Lily sighed, curling her arms around James more tightly. "I don't know what to do!" she exclaimed. "He's more moody and stubborn than anyone I know, even the girls I room with!" James chuckled quietly at this. "James, please, I need your help."

James played with her hair idly. "I've been trying, I swear. I keep threatening him to—wait," he said suddenly, his fingers stilling in her hair. "I have an idea."

"Yeah?" Lily asked, sitting up slightly to look at James' face.

"Yeah," he said, looking down at her. "Look, you can't tell anyone this—Sirius would kill me—but," James trailed off, biting his lip.

"What?" Lily prompted, sitting up fully.

James glanced at her and sighed slightly. "Sirius is a bit of an affection addict."

Lily paused, waiting for James to continue. When he didn't offer anything else, she raised her eyebrows and repeated herself. "What?"

James shifted so that he was facing her fully. "Sirius acts the tough guy part, but he loves to be loved. He likes to be around other people, to be paid attention to, and whatnot. It's hard to explain." James scrunched up his face in thought. "When I first met him, he didn't like to be touched at all. He jumped any time I clapped him on the shoulder or even touched his arm to get his attention. It was like he grew up without any of that. He probably did; his parents probably convinced him it made him weak," James added sadly. "Anyway, once he got used to us, he didn't jump anymore. After a while, he seemed to seek it out."

Lily was quiet for a moment after that. "So you're saying I should…hug him?"

James shook his head, furrowing his brow. "No, he can tell when it's not genuine. He's had too many girlfriends to know when someone actually likes him and when it's just the idea of him. No, all you have to do is… Just…" James sighed again, something he seemed to be doing a lot over his best friend lately, and ran a hand over his face. "Just watch what he does with Remus and Peter, or with me when he thinks you're not around. You'll get the gist of it."

So Lily spent the next two days observing her best friend in-law. She didn't need wait long to see what James was talking about. In the Great Hall, Sirius would repeatedly ask Remus or Peter to pass something that he could have easily reached himself. He nudged Peter with his elbow playfully after a friendly jest. He would ruffle Remus' hair from time to time, for no other reason than to exasperate him. Occasionally either Remus or Peter would shift their weight slightly, and Lily had the distinct impression that Sirius' bony knees were knocking against theirs.

In the halls, Lily wasn't surprised to see that Sirius placed himself in between his two friends. At one point he pulled away to talk to Marlene McKinnon, but was easily yanked back from the elbow by Remus. Sirius, however, didn't seem bothered by it. During classes, Sirius neglected to take his textbook out of his bag, electing instead to crowd Peter's personal space and read over his shoulder. Lily was impressed by the level of patience exerted by Remus and Peter—if it had been her, she'd have told Sirius to bugger off ten times over by then. Then again, Remus and Peter had been friends with Sirius for a long time; they knew his habits, and which battles were worth fighting.

The next night, Lily left James to his friends. She curled up in an armchair across the Common Room, angled so that she could watch them discreetly. Sirius was sprawled along the couch in front of the fire, his bare feet crossed at the ankle and resting in James' lap. He was tossing a Quaffle up and down, twisting it so that it spun in the air before he caught it. James was sifting through a Quidditch magazine, his arms resting on Sirius' shins. Remus and Peter were scrutinizing the latter's potions essay as they sat on the floor in front of the couch. It was an oddly tranquil scene for the Marauders. With all of their pranks and mischief and noisiness and arrogance and brilliance, it was easy to forget that they were normal teenagers.

Sirius' mouth twisted into a smirk, and he suddenly hurled the Quaffle at James, hard. James jumped, startled, and whipped his head to glare at Sirius. Sirius' face was a mask of perfect innocence for a few seconds until that infernal smirk betrayed him. With a cry of indignation, James began to wallop his best friend with his magazine. Sirius rolled off the couch in an attempt to retreat, but James followed him, the pair falling onto Remus and Peter. A mad wrestling match ensued, eventually ending with Sirius sitting on James' chest triumphantly. Both of their hair was ruffled uncontrollably, their clothes were wrinkled and disheveled, and James' glasses sat askew on the bridge of his nose. They both chuckled as if it was a normal occurrence. Maybe it was. Remus rolled his eyes and beckoned Peter to follow him to a more remote part of the Common Room.

James reached up to adjust his glasses and he said something to Sirius. Lily could not hear him, but whatever James had said caused the grin to slide off of his best friend's face. Sirius lowered his eyes and nodded, pursing his lips together as if he were trapping the words in. James poked him in the ribs none too gently, and when Sirius glanced back at him, James said something else, eyes intense and concerned. Sirius sighed and rolled off of James. He pulled his knees up to his chest and looked determinedly away from James as he shrugged and muttered something. James placed his hand on the back of Sirius' neck and squeezed reassuringly. Sirius turned and locked eyes with his friend, and Lily was surprised by the amount of emotion blatantly written on his face. For as much as Sirius claimed to be different from his family, he had learned well how to keep his emotions carefully hidden behind a cool, indifferent mask. But it seemed that he trusted James enough to be completely candid with him. By the light of the fire, Sirius' face clearly displayed how tired he was. How sad he was. Had Lily really made him that unhappy? James said something in a low voice, causing Sirius to smile despondently. James slid his hand down to cup Sirius' shoulder and he pulled his best friend in for a tight side hug.

Perhaps thinking Sirius would become friends with Lily through James was a bad assumption. She would have to be more direct.

The morning after, Lily asked Peter to sit next to James instead of Sirius. It was an odd request, but he did not question her. With his seat free, she sat herself next to Sirius at the Gryffindor table. The boys stopped their conversation and all turned to stare at her. Sirius regarded her warily, scrutinizing her every move as she filled her plate as if nothing were amiss. When he glanced to James, the bespectacled boy simply shrugged.

Lily continued like this for a week. Nothing had really changed apart from the seating arrangement. Sirius still didn't talk to her, but she noticed that his glares had been replaced by a puzzled stare. He was trying to figure out what she was doing, her motive, and if her actions held any malice. The next week, Lily lightly rested a hand on Sirius' shoulder as she greeted the boys before sitting down. He visibly jumped, but Lily smiled as if it didn't bother her. Sirius remained tense as he shoveled food into his mouth, quickly excusing himself once he was finished. Lily's heart sunk in her chest. How was she supposed to become friends with Sirius if he wouldn't give her a chance? James took her hand and squeezed, smiling sympathetically.

Lily had all but given up. James had been wrong. For once, his hair-brained scheme would not work. The thought kept her up at night. Because in all honesty, Lily was not sure that if James was forced to choose between her and his best friend that she would come out on top. And after witnessing their brotherly interaction the other night, she wasn't sure she wanted to come between them.

Groaning, Lily threw her covers off and silently padded out of her dormitory. She thought best on the sill of the Common Room window, and she fully intended spending the silent hours of the night reasoning out a solution to her problem.

However, when Lily rekindled the fire, she noticed that she was not alone. Lying along the full length of the sofa with his feet hanging of the edge was none other than Sirius Black. He was lying on his stomach, loosely hugging the pillow under his head, his hair splayed in every which way. Someone had covered him with a blue blanket, but his feet and elbows poked out from underneath. Lily crouched down so that her face was level with his. Sirius' jaw was slack and his lips were slightly parted; he almost looked like a child when he slept. He certainly looked happier than he had been for the past month. Lily considered leaving him there, but as comfortable as he seemed, his back wouldn't likely forgive him in the morning. Gently, she shook his large shoulder. His eyes scrunched before opening slowly. Once his eyes focused, he inhaled sharply and jerked back, startled. He let out a hard sigh after a moment, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. "Merlin, Lily," he grumbled.

"Sorry," she whispered. "I thought you might like to sleep in a bed tonight." Sirius nodded, but made no move to get off the couch. He ran a hand over his face, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Lily faltered. "Are you okay?"

Sirius nodded, eyes closed. "Yeah," he stated gruffly, "I'm fine."

Lily snorted. She couldn't help herself. Sirius glared at her. "Sorry," she said. "But, I mean, you're obviously not fine." Sirius harrumphed, curled the blanket around his shoulders, and made to get up, but Lily stretched out a hand. "Wait, I'm sorry," she said hurriedly. "I'm sorry, it's just—why do you hate me?"

Sirius sat back heavily, eyes wide as if he were genuinely surprised. "Hate you?" he asked. "I don't hate you Lily."

Lily's jaw dropped. "Seriously?" she half screeched, half whispered. She barreled on before Sirius could even think about the over-used pun on his name. "You glare at me day and night, barely talk to me unless you're snapping at me, and completely ignore me the rest of the time, and you're trying to convince me that you don't hate me?" Her face was red, and she forgot how desperate she'd been to become his friend. In that moment, Lily was furious.

Sirius tugged the blanket tighter to himself and dropped his gaze sheepishly. "I was never very good at sharing."

The fight left her. "Oh, Sirius." Lily quickly moved to sit next to him, and she laid her hand over his. "I'm not trying to take him away."

"I know you're not," he affirmed quickly. "And I'm happy for you, for both of you. Merlin's beard, the entire Hogwarts population is overjoyed that you two have finally gotten together. And you're the only person I think is worthy enough for James, it's just—" He struggled to find the right words and she squeezed his hand lightly. He smiled faintly and returned the gesture. "It just won't be the same."

"No, I don't suppose it will," Lily agreed. Sirius heaved a great sigh and tried to pull his hand from hers, but she held fast. "But that doesn't mean it has to be bad. You're still James' best friend. He loves you like a brother. Nothing will change that. It's just that now I'll be a new addition to the group."

Sirius twisted his mouth playfully. "You're not a Marauder now, I hope you know that."

Lily guffawed. "As if I'd want to be." Sirius chuckled lightly under his breath. Lily nudged his shoulder with hers. "But you know, this could be a lot easier on all of us, especially James, if we could get along." Sirius nodded absently, eyes directed toward the fire. Lily untangled her hand from his and reached it out for a handshake. "Friends?"

Sirius looked first at her hand, then her face, and he smiled genuinely. Batting her hand away gently, he pulled her into an embrace. Lily rested her forehead on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him in return. "Friends," he agreed.

Later that week, James sat under his favorite tree on the Hogwarts grounds, grinning from ear to ear. Sirius currently had Lily tossed over his shoulder, threatening to dump her in the Black Lake. She, in turn, beat her little fists on his back ruthlessly. He finally conceded, putting her down. Lily smacked him hard in the chest and screamed when he chased after her. Lily ran to James giggling, "James, help me! Please!"

James chuckled and pulled himself to his feet. As Sirius drew closer, James shared a devious grin with him. Before Lily knew what hit her, James had pinned her arms behind her back and Sirius took the opportunity to tickle her mercilessly. Lily wheezed for them to stop, complaining that she would burst. When they released her, Lily slumped to the ground, still chuckling breathlessly. The boys sat on the grass next to her, high fiving. Lily punched them both in the leg, but she could not contain her grin. Everything was better than she had expected.