This was written for ChocolateWonder / AJ for July in Monthly One-Shot Exchange.


Note: For the purposes of this fanfiction story, I have messed up the timelines – aging some characters down and aging some others up. While I have largely stuck with people from the Marauders Era, I have added people from the Riddle Era and the Trio Era. For example, James and Sirius are two years older than Lily, and Minerva is twenty-two, only five years older than Lily.


The title came from "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson from his 1987 album Bad.


Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: James Potter/Lily Evans; Remus Lupin/Sirius Black;
Warnings: alternate universe; het; slash; pure-blood culture; pure-blood society; not Walburga Black friendly; not Bellatrix Black friendly; people are out of character; and original characters
Prompts: (AU) Royalty; (AU) Four Schools; (Pairing) James/Lily; (Genre) Friendship; (Genre) Romance; (Color) Periwinkle; (Emotion) Greed; (Dialogue) "Shut up and kiss me."; and (Song) "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson

Summary: While she was thinking about her future, Lily found herself falling in love with James Prongs over the Winter Holidays. The better she got to know him, the more Lily could tell James was hiding something. Nothing prepared her for the truth: his last name was Potter, not Prongs. James/Lily.


Just kiss me baby
And tell me twice
That you're the one for me
–"The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson from Bad


Love Me, Forevermore

Lily Evans gracefully tucked one foot under the other as she listened to the headmistress yammer on and on about something or another, related the Silver Ball. Honestly, she didn't care. While Lily was a model student and she stood out amongst her classmates at Ravenclaw Academy of Fine Witches, she knew there wasn't much of a future for her beyond graduation – which was only a few months away.

When she began her education, Lily was full of naïve hope and excitement about the future. Despite her blood status, Lily was selected to attend the prestigious Ravenclaw Academy. The academy was considered the top magical school for witches in the United Kingdom. The student body was largely constructed of pure-blood witches and legacy families. The school was known to accept between three and ten muggle-born witches a year.

At the age of eleven, Lily thought the opportunity would open doors for her and her future. As the first witch in her family, Lily was excited to start a new adventure, learn new things, and meet new people. She was off to one of the finest magical schools in the country! Lily had dreams of meeting a handsome wizard, and falling in love. She hoped that handsome wizard would be wealthy, and she could bring her family with her when they married. Her father would no longer be forced to work endless days while her mother found work as a part-time seamstress.

At the age of eleven, Lily didn't understand how cruel the world was and how heartless some people could be. Even at the age of seventeen, Lily knew she had a lot to learn. There was a lot she hadn't seen or experienced.

"And as such, I expect you girls to behave yourselves and set an excellent example of what a Ravenclaw girl is and can be," Headmistress Walburga Black said, her cold eyes trailing over each and every one of her assembled students.

Those eyes fell on Lily, and a sneer forced on her lips, as the woman continued, "Now, most of you should use this as a trail run before the Season begins. This will be a good chance to mingle and socialize with your fellow wizards, and for some of you, this will be your only chance to gaze upon the Elite."

Lily forced herself to take a breath, knowing that last jab was directed towards her. In addition, she fought to keep her facial expression neutral, not daring to betray any emotion. She was the only muggle-born seventh year left. Therefore, she would be the only out "socializing" with the Elite.

For some reason, Headmistress Black took an extra special personal interest in Lily – had since her first day, even more so than any of the other muggle-born witches. The woman assigned Lily difficult tasks and berated her for the slightly mistake – while the other students would giggle at her misfortune. It was like the woman was trying to intimidate Lily and force her into dropping out – like the woman had with the other muggle-born girls. Most of those girls attend Hufflepuff School of Young Witches.

From what Lily understood, Headmistress Black wanted Ravenclaw Academy to be the female counterpart of Slytherin Institution – a magical school that solely focused on pure-blood and legacy witches from important families, the very ones she called "Elite."
The woman continued to ramble on about the prestigious school and its precious reputation. Lily tuned the woman out. She knew plenty about the renowned Silver Ball. It was hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Pottermore every four years, and this year was extra special because it was the debate of their eligible son. In fact, Heir Potter was the most eligible bachelor of the Season.

"Young ladies," Headmistress Black announced, "you're free to return to class."

Almost as one, the young women rose from their seats before falling into a neat and orderly line as they exited the Great Hall. At this time of day, most of the students had club activities or extra classes. Personally, Lily had extra classes – French, Enchanting, and Math.

A majority of Lily's classmates were scheduled to enter the upcoming debutant season, where they try to find a betrothal and marriage prospects, while Lily was headed to London without any marriage offers or interest. In addition, Lily had no clue what to do with her future. As a muggle-born with no connections and no money, her options were limited. With these aspects, Lily focused her extra time and energy on her academics to help prepare her for her future. She wanted some kind of trade and skills to use upon her graduation.

"Good afternoon, Miss Evans," greeted Apolline Delacour, the Charms professor, in her native language. Outside of the Charms lessons, she offered extra classes in French and Music. The professor was a gorgeous woman with pale skin, long silver-blonde hair, and dark blue eyes. She was a half-Veela.

Professor Delacour was her favorite professor – and it helped that Charms was one of her best subjects. She was one of the youngest professors, and she was passionate about her subjects and her students. Despite marrying a Lord, Professor Delacour chose to take a job teaching instead of playing the role of the dutiful wife or get a job at a Ministry, like most women in her position would chose to do.

While they waited for the rest of the class to show up, Lily and Professor Delacour chatted about the snowy weather and their plans for the upcoming holidays. Professor Delacour was headed home to France with her husband while Lily was staying with her friend and mentors, Minerva McGonagall, in London.

Five minutes after class was scheduled to start, Professor Delacour frowned. Out of her six students, only one was present.

"Where are the other girls?" she asked.

"I'm not sure," Lily answered. "Headmistress Black assembled us to announce the upcoming Silver Ball."

Professor Delacour frowned, shaking her head. The Silver Ball wasn't until March, almost four months away. There was no need to start getting ready today. "Well, what do you want to focus on today?" she asked her only student.

Lily shrugged.

Rolling her eyes, Professor Delacour pulled out some papers. "What kind of dress are you planning to wear?" she asked, picking up a quill.

"To what?" Lily asked, tilting her head. "I don't understand what you mean."

"To the Silver Ball, what else?" the older woman asked, twirling the quill in her hand.

"I don't know," she answered, shaking her head. "I haven't thought about it, yet. I learned I would attend less than an hour ago."

Professor Delacour raised an eyebrow. "So, you have no ideas?" she asked.

Shrugging, Lily replied, "I don't even know if I want to attend."

Professor Delacour's dark blue eyes widened and she flung her quill at Lily. "Don't say anything like that!" she ordered. "You will attend, and you will have a good time."

Lily stared at her professor in shock – both from being hit with the quill and her professor's words. "Why does it matter if I attend?" Lily asked. She was planning to go. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and she would be crazy to skip it. There was a good chance that Lily could meet someone that could provide her with career opportunities.

Scowling, Professor Delacour answered, "It's an amazing opportunity. You might meet somoene and fall in love."

Lily snorted. "I would be more likely to meet someone over the holidays," she said with a laugh.

"That's the spirit," Professor Delacour told her. "Believe in love, and love will always find a way. Now, even if you meet someone over the holidays, you should still attend the Silver Ball. Now, let's discuss your dress."

There remaining time in class was spent with Lily watching and listening as Professor Delacour sketched out a few dress designs. When class was over, the professor promised she would finish some of the sketches before handing them over to Lily.

Like in French class, Lily was the only student in both of her Enchanting and Math classes. The professors assigned Lily some work before dismissing the classes early for the day.

...

The following week and a half went by quickly. Most of the girls spent the time planning and obsessing over their dresses for the upcoming Silver Ball. Lily spent most of her time focused on classes and her grades. Both were far more important than a dress for a ball that was four months away. In between classes and homework, she would go over possible dress designs with Professor Delacour.

As the third week in December began, Lily sat off to join her friend and mentor Minerva in London. Lily caught a train to King's Cross, where she found her friend waiting on the platform. Minerva was in her early twenties with dark hair and glasses. She was studying to earn her Mastery in Transfigurations.

The reason Lily was visiting Minerva instead of her own family was simple. Her parents were deceased, and her older sister wanted nothing to do with her. While they attended Ravenclaw together, Minerva had taken Lily under her wing, and they remained close.

"Lily!" Minerva smiled as Lily joined her on the platform.

The pair embraced before separating in order to collect Lily's luggage – a pair of suitcases and a bag. Despite being seventeen, it was illegal for Lily to use magic outside of school until she graduated. This was one of the privileges of being a muggle-born student.

"Is this everything?" Minerva asked.

Lily nodded. "I know how to pack light." It was unusual for a Ravenclaw girl to have such few luggage. Most of Lily's classmates took ten suitcases with them on their winter holiday vacations.

With ease, they collected Lily's belongings and headed out of the station. Outside, Minerva made quick word in flagging down a cab. Minerva was a half-blood, and after graduating, she returned to living in the muggle world. According to her, the standards of living were cheaper.

Due to the London traffic, it took a good thirty minutes to reach Minerva's house. It was a brick, three-story townhouse with a small porch and a front yard covered in snow. While Minerva navigated the walk from cab to the front of her house with little difficulty, Lily was another story. She wasn't use to walking around in this kind of weather. Due to the frozen and compact snow, it was icy and slippery.

As Lily approached the stairs, she felt her feet slipping out from underneath her. She clenched her eyes shut as she prepared for the impact of hitting the ground. Much to her surprise that didn't happen. Instead she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist and chest appeared behind her back.

"It's okay," a masculine voice said. "I've got you."

Opening her eyes, Lily found herself blushing as the kind stranger helped her back onto her feet. She turned her head, and her blush deepened at the sight of her savior. He was handsome with messy dark hair, hazel eyes, and a kind smile.

"Are you alright, Miss?" he asked.

Unable to form words, Lily wordless nodded.

"Lily, are you alright?" Minerva asked, rushing to her friend's side.

"I good," she replied. Her face turned redder when she realized she used incorrect English. Quickly, she corrected herself, "I'm fine."

The stranger smiled. "I'm glad to hear that, Miss Lily," he said, removing his arms from her body.

Lily was a little saddened by the loss of his arms, if only for a moment. "I'm Lily Evans," she said, holding out her hand.

Smiling, he took ahold of her hand. "Pleased to meet you, Lily," he said. "I'm James Po-Prongs – James Prongs."

"Same as you, James," Lily smiled. She noted his odd last name. It wasn't something she had heard before.

"Nice to see you, again, James," Minerva said, interrupting the moment between the two. "Thank you for your assistance."

James blushed, quickly dropping Lily's hand. "Hello, Minerva."

"Where's Mister Padfoot?" Minerva asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Sirius is off visiting his friend," James replied.

Minerva nodded. "Do you mean Mister Lupin?"

"We have other friends," James muttered, his tone a little defensive.

"I have only met Remus," Minerva stated. Turning to Lily, she said, "Let's get you settled." Minerva ushered her friend into the house.

"See you later, Lily!" James called.

Once they were inside the townhouse, Minerva showed Lily to the guest room. It was a small room with a twin bed, a chest of drawers, a mirror, and a small desk. The room was decorated in soft neutral palette – periwinkle walls with white furniture, yellow bedding, and light green pillows. For the next few weeks, it would work well for Lily.

"Unpack and make yourself at homework," Minerva ordered before she left Lily in the room.

Lily looked over the room before placing both of her suitcases on the bed. She got to work on unpacking her clothes from one suitcase. Everything fit neatly into the chest of drawers. The second suitcase contacted her textbooks and school supplies, which were placed on the desk. The empty suitcases were placed under the bed. From her bag, Lily removed some picture-frames and other trinkets that were placed around the room to provide a sense of comfort and an atmosphere of home.

...

The morning of the first day went by slowly. Minerva headed off to her mentor's house early in the morning. Without much to do, Lily worked on her homework. After lunch that day, there was a knock on the door. Lily was surprised to see James.

"How can I help you, James?" Lily asked, opening the front door. "Minerva isn't here."

James smiled, "I came to see you. I wanted to ask you to accompany me to lunch."

Lily blushed. She rarely had boys interested in her. "You're a little late," she said. "I just finished eating."

Nodding, James' smile didn't fade. "How does lunch together tomorrow sound?"

"I think that can happen," Lily agreed with a smile.

"In the meantime, I'm hoping we can get tea together," he said. "There's a great place around the corner."

With so many interesting things to do around Minerva's townhouse, Lily quickly agreed. "Do you want to come in?" she asked. She needed a few minutes to get ready – clean up any mess she might have left, change her clothes, and leave a note for Minerva.

"I'll meet you out front in fifteen minutes," he promised before entering the townhouse next door.

Closing the front door behind her, Lily quickly got to work. She cleaned up the kitchen before scribbling a note that she attached to the fridge. Those taken care of, she dashed to the guest room. She tore through her clothes, looking for something cute to wear. This was her first real date.

In the end, Lily settled on a pair of light denims jeans with a black tank top, a gray sweater, and her black boots. Before leaving Minerva's townhouse, she grabbed her coat, hat, scarf, and gloves.

Like he promised, James was waiting outside for her. He smiled at the sight of her.

"Where are we headed?" Lily asked, coming to a stop next to James.

"Rosa Lee Teabag," James replied. "It's four blocks away."

Smiling, Lily eagerly nodded as a wave of butterflies filled her stomach. She could barely believe what she was doing – going out with a guy she had met a day before that she didn't know. While this kind of thing was foreign to Lily, she had witnessed plenty of her classmates do similar things. They seemed to always have a good time.

At a fairly slow and steady pace, James and Lily walked the four blocks to Rosa Lee Teabag. With the snowy and slippery ground, Lily wanted to take her time. This was a date, and she didn't want to slip and make a fool of herself today. The walk took about twenty minutes.

Rosa Lee Teabag was housed inside of brick building with large windows and a glass door. Inside there were a long counter with ten small tables and a section with armchairs and couches. There were six people seated around the teashop.

When they entered the building, James led Lily up to the counter. A young man with sandy brown hair and amber eyes stood behind the counter. He wore a red apron over his clothes and his name-tag said Remus.

"Good afternoon, James," Remus greeted them with a smile.

"Hi, Remus," James said, returning the smile.

"What no Sirius today?" Remus asked, glancing at Lily.

Lily recalled hearing James and Minerva discuss someone named Sirius yesterday. From what she gathered, she assumed James and Sirius were friends.

"You should know better than me," James said with a teasing grin. "Sirius didn't come home last night, and it's Monday, meaning he's having dinner with his parents."

Remus blushed, looking a little embarrassed. "What can I get you?" he asked.

"A pot of honeysuckle jasmine tea," Lily answered, scanning the menu, "and a plate of chocolate chip scones."

Remus barely had any time to finish ringing in their orders before James was holding out a credit card. Taking the credit card, Remus ran it without giving their total.

After taking back his credit card, James escorted Lily over to a pair of armchairs located in a corner. Lily removed her jacket, her hat, her scarf, and her gloves before sitting down. Copying her actions, James took the other armchair. An awkward silence fell over them.

"So, what should be talk about?" Lily asked.

"You?" James asked.

Lily shrugged. "Personally, I want to learn more about you," she said.

James grinned, looking cocky. "Ask away, and I will do my best to answer," he replied.

"Can you tell me about yourself?" she asked.

"What do you want to know?" James asked, his tone flirtatious.

"The usual," Lily answered with a shrug. "Things like your interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, dreams – those kind of things."

James nodded, looking thoughtful for a moment, before he began to answer, "I like sports – mostly football, tennis, and golf. Otherwise I like to read fiction."

Remus approved a moment later, placing a tray down on the small in front of James and Lily. He offered the pair a smile before he retreated to his spot behind the counter. Neatly arranged on the tray was a floral teapot, two matching cups with saucers, a container holding lumps of sugar, a dish with lemons, a small pitcher of cream, a plate full of chocolate chip scones, two butter knives, two silver butter, and two small plates.

"How do you like your tea?" James asked. He poured both himself and Lily some tea. He added some sugar to his tea.

"Two sugars," Lily answered, reaching out to help herself to the sugar.

James playful batted her hand away before he picked up the sugar container. He childishly stuck his tongue out before placing two lumps of sugar into her cup.

With a proud smile, he handed the cup of tea over to Lily. "Here you are, my lady," he said with a smile.

"Why, thank you, James," Lily said, taking the tea. She blushed when their fingers touched, inwardly cursing at herself. Why was she acting like a schoolgirl with a crush?

Picking up his own tea, James lifted the cup in a wordless toast before taking a sip.

Lily laughed at James' actions before taking a sip herself. She was unprepared for the hot liquid to burn her tongue. Placing the tea down, she decided to let it cool while she helped herself to a scone.

As she bit into the chocolate chip scone, Lily's green eyes met James'. He was watching her something intense in those hazel eyes. Lily blushed. She quickly ate her scone. Once it was gone, she picked her tea back up.

"So," James began, "which school do you attend?"

"You probably haven't heard of it," Lily answered. "It's a small boarding school in the English countryside."

A mischievous smile crossed James' lips. "That would mean Ravenclaw, right?"

Lily's green eyes widened and her mouth fell open. "W-what? How do you know about Ravenclaw?" she asked.

James smirked. "I attended one of the brother schools."

Eyes narrowed, Lily quickly processed what James had told her. He knew about Ravenclaw, which meant he was a wizard, and there were only two brothers schools to Ravenclaw – Slytherin and Gryffindor. Since James was in the muggle world, it was easy for her to guess which school.

"Would I be wrong if I guessed Gryffindor?" she asked.

James nodded with a smile. "I'm something of a legacy. My family's been attending Gryffindor since its founding. In fact, my ancestor was personally recruited by Godric to teach," he boasted. "What about you?"

As he spoke, Lily sat her tea down, suddenly feeling annoyed and irritated with James' bragging. Standing up, she grabbed her coat, glaring at him. "I'm muggle-born," she answered, "and I attend Ravenclaw on a full scholarship."

Without another word, Lily pulled her jacket on before storming out of the tea shop. Once she got outside, she stopped for a moment to pull her hat, scarf, and gloves on. Using a quicker pace than she was comfortable with, Lily walked back Minerva's townhouse.

...

When Minerva arrived home, Lily was still foaming over James' words and attitude. The redhead was hard at work cooking. There was a mess of dirty dishes in her wake.

She could understand some of his pride in his family's legacies and accomplishments, but James' attitude was cocky and self-entitled, which was what irritated Lily the most. Lily had the privilege of dealing with classmates with a similar attitude. One of her classmates that stood out was Bellatrix Black – the niece of Headmistress Black. Because her family's status as legacies and her aunt's position, Bellatrix felt she had a level of superiority over her fellow students and the staff. Everything had to go her way or else.

There were a few notable times Bellatrix took dramatic actions when she didn't get her way. There was one time she harassed a girl – Alice Monroe – to the point where she had a mental breakdown, all over Frank Longbottom, who had no interest in Bellatrix. Another time, Bellatrix convinced her aunt to fire Professor Trelawney when the Divinations professor refused to give her a passing grade when Bellatrix rarely attended class and she didn't do any of the work. Then there were several times Bellatrix would steal things – homework, boyfriends, clothes – out of jealousy and greed.

After dealing with people like Bellatrix, Lily didn't have the time and energy to deal with others. It took too much effort on her part.

"What's wrong?" Minerva asked a few minutes after she stepped out of the fireplace.

"James bloody Prongs," Lily muttered, chopping vegetables on the cutting board.

Minerva frowned at the mention of her neighbor. "What did he do?" she asked.

"He opened his big mouth," Lily replied, chopping the vegetables with increasing force.

"He does that a lot," Minerva agreed. "What did he say – or not say?"

Lily stopped clopping for a moment, but she kept a firm grip on the knife. "Did you know he was a wizard?" she asked.

Nodding, Minerva explained, "This neighborhood is largely magical families – muggle-borns wishing to remain in the muggle world, muggle families with magical children, or squib families."

That was interesting to learn. Lily hadn't heard of a neighbor like this before. "Well, he easily guessed I attend Ravenclaw," she explained, "and he went on to brag about his family's legacies at Gryffindor."

"He does that," Minerva confirmed with a nod. "James is very proud of his family and their history. It stems from the accomplishments and achievements of his ancestors. It's a pure-blood thing." Minerva left the kitchen, headed up to her bedroom.

Left in the quiet kitchen, Lily thought over what Minerva had said. She made several points, and she could understand that were was a difference between James and Bellatrix. Where Bellatrix used her family's status to her advantage, she lacked the pride and sincerity in the achievements. Then James bragged about his family's accomplishments, all he seemed to do was talk.

Thinking about it, Lily came to the conclusion that James was trying to impress her with his family, when she wanted to know him and be impressed by him. It was James she was interested, not his family.

As she thought over it, Lily was willing to admit that she had overreacted when she stormed off. She bit her lip, wondering if James was still interested in her. There really wasn't a way of knowing without asking him directly or waiting until tomorrow – for their lunch date.

Out of those two options, Lily decided to go with waiting. She wasn't brave enough to go and investigate herself. It was easiest to wait and see what happened.

...

The next morning, Lily got up with Minerva to see her friend off. Minerva was up and ready to leave before five in the morning. The redhead wasn't able to sleep mich the night before. She was anxious about today. After Minerva floo'ed off to her mentor's house, Lily got to work on distracting herself.

The first distraction she tried was focusing on her homework. There was only so much she could do without using her wand. Since she was a magical neighbor, there was a chance she could use her wand without getting caught. But she wanted to check with Minerva before attempting it herself. Lily was done with her French and Math homework before breakfast time.

Armed with her Potions textbook and a pen, Lily ate while making marks in the textbook. She had an essay to write. She quickly finished eating and making notes before she returned the textbook before the desk in the guest room. After Potions, she breezed through her remaining subjects.

Before she knew it, it was noon. Lily looked through her clothes, trying to assemble another cute outfit before she headed the hallway bathroom for a shower.

Twenty minutes later, Lily emerged dressed in a pair of dark jeans, a dark tank top underneath a large and baggy gray cardigan, and a pair of black boots. Her red hair was styled in loose waves.

In an effort to keep herself busy, Lily started tinker around the kitchen. With a sense of mindless ease, she got to prepare a roast for dinner. While Minerva wasn't a cook, she was happy to keep the fridge fully stocked for Lily's visit. The older witch was eager to enjoy some home cooked meals.

Her work was interrupted around one o'clock by a knock on the door. Lily perked up at the sound. Carefully, she sat the knife down before she dashed out of the kitchen. She came to a stop in front of the door.

Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm her beating heart and her nerves before she opened the door. Her face fell when she found herself looking at a young man with shoulder-length dark hair and silver eyes.

"Can I help you?" Lily asked. While she was disappointed with the visitor, her mother had raised her to be polite.

"Are you Lily Evans?" he asked.

Lily nodded. "And you are?"

"I'm Sirius Padfoot," he said.

"How can I help you, Mister Padfoot?" she asked. It was rather difficult to say his last name without laughing since it was a strange one. For some reason, it made Lily want to laugh – like James' last name.

Padfoot frowned. "What did you do to James?" he asked, his tone demanding.

She took a deep breath before replying. She didn't like his tone, but she trusted he wasn't trying to be disrespectful. Padfoot was concerned about his friend. "I didn't do anything," Lily replied.

Eyes narrowed, Padfoot frowned. "He been acting different since yesterday," he explained. "And Remus told me about your date at Rosa Lee. He said you stormed out."

"James said something that irritated me and I left," Lily stated.

Padfoot stared at her for a moment. "What did he say?"

Lily pressed her lips together, thinking for a moment. "I would rather not say," she replied, "since it's personal."

"Fine," Padfoot said, shaking his head.

Silence fell between them for a little. Lily shivered a little.

"Would you like to come in?" she asked. Her mother raised her to have good manners, despite what others would claim. Lily had a feeling this conversation wasn't over, and she wasn't about to freeze outside when Minerva's warm house was a few feet behind her.

After a moment of consideration, Padfoot nodded. He quietly followed Lily into the townhouse.

Lily led Padfoot into the kitchen where she was in the middle of making potato soup. Picking up a rocking knife, Lily got to work on slicing and dicing potatoes into scoop-sized pieces.

Padfoot stood in the doorway, watching her for a few minutes. "Why don't you just use your magic?" he asked, slowly entering the room.

Glancing up at him, she answered, "I'm a muggle-born. So, I'm not allowed to magic outside of school until I graduate."

"Why?" Padfoot asked, his eyes widened. It was like he had never heard of the rule before. Since James was pure-blood, it was likely his friend was as well. Most pure-bloods didn't know all the rules that restricted muggle-borns and their rights.

"That's just the way it is," Lily responded with a shrug. After seven years, she had learned to accept the laws.

"That doesn't seem fair," Padfoot stated, crossing his arms. "Everyone should be allowed to use magic outside of school at the age of seventeen."

"It's just the way things are," Lily muttered. She sat her knife down for a moment while she pushed the potatoes off of the cutting board and into the boiling water on the stove. Placing the cutting board aside, Lily grabbed a wooden scoop to stir as she adjected the temperature of the burner.

Turning back to the counter, Lily placed the cutting board in front of her. She grabbed the knife and carrots. With a glance up, she found Padfoot stearing at her.

Padfoot watched her with wide eyes, as though he were memorized by her actions. Knowing how much witches and wizards relied on magic, it wasn't much of surprise. This was probably one of the first times he had seen someone cooking by hand – without any magic.

"Would you like to help?" Lily asked cautiously. It was hard to guess how Padfoot – any witch or wizard – would react to being asked to do work the muggle way.

He looked at her with wide gray eyes, watching as she rocked the knife back and forth to chop the carrots in a small pieces. "Yeah," he answered after a few minutes.

Lily nodded, she sat the knife down. Walking around the kitchen, she pulled out another cutting board and a knife and she grabbed some celery from the fridge. After placing everything on the counter, Lily backed up to grab the peeler.

Once she everything set up, she motioned Padfoot over to join her. As slowly and patiently as she could, Lily taught him to peel the celery then she showed him how to cut it, including the small size she wanted.

"Think you can handle this?" she asked, offering Padfoot the knife.

There was a dazed and terrified expression on his face, but Padfoot nodded. He carefully took the knife.

Smiling, Lily turned back to her own work. Once she was done with the carrots, she had an onion to peel and dice before cooking the chicken.

The pair worked in silence for awhile, each consumed with their own tasks.

"Do you even like James?" Padfoot asked, breaking the silence. He looked over at Lily.

Stopping her work, Lily looked over her shoulder at him. "I don't know what you mean," she said with a frown. "I don't know James, so I can't really say if I like or dislike him."

Padfoot frowned. "Why would you go out with him then?"

Setting her knife down, Lily turned to face him. "When we met, I thought James was nice," she explained, crossing her arms. "He saved me from slipping on the ice. So, when he asked me out, I decided I wanted to get to know him."

"So you went out with him even though you didn't like him?" Padfoot asked, sounding a little confused.

Lily sighed, trying to think of a way to explain everything. "In the limited interact I had with him," she answered, "I thought James was a nice person."

Padfoot nodded, seeming to accept that answer.

"How do you know James?" Lily asked, turning back to work.

"We're lifelong friends," Padfoot answered. "Our mums attended school together, and they've remained close. We grew up together. James is practically a member of the family."

"Did you attend Gryffindor together?" she asked.

Padfoot nodded. "I was the first in my family to attend," he boasted with a smile. "My mum isn't fond of Slytherin and the pure-blood agenda."

That caught Lily's interest. "Why?"

Smiling, he replied, "My mum's a half-blood, but she was raised in the muggle world by her maternal aunt. She didn't know she was a witch until her Hufflepuff acceptance letter arrived. While she attended Hufflepuff, she exposed to the pure-blood culture. She adapted and flourished, but she refused to ignore her muggle roots and her muggle family."

Lily nodded. That story sounded familiar – it was similar to her own, minus the magical relatives portion.

"My parents raised me and my siblings in the magical world," Padfoot carried on to explain, "but my mum took us into the muggle world. It's because of her James and I are doing this."

"Doing what?" Lily asked, glancing over him.

Padfoot froze, his eyes widened. "Experiencing the muggle world," he replied, slowly and tensely. It seemed as though he carefully chose his words.

Her curiosity was peaked, but Lily didn't ask any questions. She had a feeling this was a subject Padfoot didn't want to discuss. Instead, she settled for asking, "How are you liking the muggle world?"

The tension eased in Padfoot's posture. "I love it!" he exclaimed with a smile. "There's so much to see and do." He went on to share stories about some of the adventures he had had with James travelling around England and the rest of Europe. A lot of his stories featured his prized motorcycle, which he customized with magic.

Lily listened with a smile. It was nice to hear a wizard talk so passionately about the muggle world, especially when he was raised in the magical world and he had a long ancestry.

As Padfoot spoke, Lily continued to work. She finished the carrots before moving onto the chicken. She cut the chicken into smaller pieces before placing those in a skillet. After lightly cooking them, the chicken was added to the soup pot.

While Lily was happy for the company, she was sad that James hadn't come over. She bit her lip, trying to think of a way to reach out to him. As she listened to Padfoot ramble on Paris, an idea came to her.

"Hey, Sirius?" she called, interrupting his story.

The man stopped mid-sentence to listen to hear.

"Would you and James like to join us for dinner?" she asked.

Sirius blinked a few times before agreeing. "It smells good," he said with a smile.

Lily returned the smile, her heart skipping a few beats.

Sirius quickly resumed telling his story as Lily continued to work on the soup.

...

As Lily finished the soup and turned to making biscuits, Sirius left to head home. He needed to grab James and find a way to get him over – without James knowing all the details. According to Sirius, James was rather heartbroken over Lily's rejection on their date the day before.

Completing everything for dinner took Lily a little over an hour. With nerves running high, she decided to make something for dessert. She went to her favorite chocolate chip cookies. The recipe was something a family's secret, and Lily fondly remembered learning how to make these cookies from her mum when she was a child.

As the cookies were baking, Minerva stepped into the kitchen. She raised an eyebrow, taking in the messy dishes and the messy countertops. "Are you done with these?" she asked, gesturing to the mess.

With a blush, Lily nodded. "I got a little carried away," she muttered.

Minerva smiled, wordlessly waving her wand. The dishes started washing themselves and the countertops were cleaned. "Are you feeling better?" she asked.

Lily shrugged. After spending the day with Sirius, she was feeling better. But she was started to feel nervous again since James and Sirius were joining them. "We have company for dinner," she told Minerva.

The older woman raised an eyebrow, but she didn't comment. Instead, she left the kitchen, muttering about needing to shower and change.

"Dinner will be ready at seven," she called after Minerva.

Licking her lips, Lily grabbed a stack of plates as she debated between setting the eat-in kitchen table or the dining room table. She decided on the kitchen table. It was more intimate and less formal feeling, which Lily felt was important. Once her decision was made, she quickly got to work on setting the table for four people. She wanted this evening to go well and not end in disaster.

Before she knew it, seven o'clock was only minutes later. Lily took a deep breath as she straightened her cardigan sleeves. She heartbeat picked up as the seconds ticked by – slowly at first, then all too quickly.

As Minerva arrived into the kitchen there was a knock on the front door. Lily's green eyes widened at the sound. This was the knock she was waiting for. Her heartbeat quickened and her palms started to sweat. Forcing herself to take a deep breath, Lily turned to walk towards the door.

She stopped in front of the door, she placed her hand on the doorknob. As she took another deep breath, Lily turned the doorknob, opening the door.

Sirius stood on the steps with a smile and a tight hold on James. James looked ready to bolt.

"Hi, Lily," Sirius greeted, stepping into the townhouse. He pulled James along with him.

"Welcome, Sirius," she said with a smile. "Thanks for agreeing to come."

Lily watched as Sirius elbowed James and whispered something to his friend.

"Thank for inviting us, Lily," James muttered, glaring at his friend.

Her smile turned a little sad as she responded, "It's nice to see you again."

James' eyes narrowed before his expression softened.

Lily took their coats, placing them in the hallway closet, before she led them into the kitchen. Minerva was seated at the table with a glass of wine and the newspaper. She looked up, greeting both Sirius and James.

Dinner started off as a tense affair. Lily bit her lip while glancing over at James, trying to think of something to say. James alternated between sending longing looks at Lily and shooting glares at his best friend. Sirius ate while offering his best friend grins and winks. Minerva watched the three of them, wishing she had something stronger to drink because she was too old to deal with this.

"So, Lily," Minerva began, breaking the tense silence amongst them, "what are your post-graduation plans?"

Lily shrugged. "I don't know," she answered. "I haven't received any offers. I don't think I'll get much until early April."

Sirius frowned. "Why such a long wait?"

"I'm hoping to network at the Silver Ball in March," Lily replied.

Both James and Sirius choked at the mention of the Silver Ball. They shared some kind of coded panicked look.

"The Silver Ball?" Sirius asked with fake curiosity.

Lily offered a tight smile. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," she explained, "and it's a good chance to meet people, and it's probably my best chance to find a job."

"What are you interested in?" James asked, speaking up for the first time.

"Several things, mostly Potions, Charms, and History," Lily answered. Out of all those subjects, Lily was most interested in History. There was something about history that made her want to learn more to try and better understand people and events.

"Any career interests?" Sirius asked.

Lily shrugged. "I'm not sure," she replied. "I like the idea of teaching or writing textbooks."

"Don't sell yourself short," Minerva said. "Lily here has some revolutionary ideas."

Lily blushed, ducking her head, while Sirius and James looked at her with interested.

"Please, do share," Sirius requested.

"Are these ideas related to teaching?" James asked.

Nodding, Lily explained, "They're centered around the issues muggle-borns encounter."

Both James and Sirius perked up. While they were both pure-blood and magical-raised, they were interested in assisting their fellow witches and wizards transits into the magical world and interacting within the muggle world.

Lily glanced between them, feeling uncertain. Most pure-bloods and magical-raised witches and wizards had no interest in her ideas. Several people had told her so. "I want to open a primary school," she stated. "This would allow muggle-borns and muggle-raised children and their families to interact with the magical world."

"Go on," Minerva encouraged with a smile. She had heard several versions over the years, each one becoming more refined and and detailed than the last.

Nodding in agreement, Sirius and James leaned in closer.

Lily turned red as she continued to explain her ideas. The primary school would introduce muggle-born and muggle-raised children to magic and teach them about the magical customs while providing them with a good education. Other areas this school would focus on were penmanship with a quill, Latin, and etiquette.

"You have some amazing ideas," James told her with a smile.

Her blush darkened with the praise as Lily returned the smile.

As James and Lily stared at each other, Minerva and Sirius shared a knowing look. Minerva stood up from the table, using her wand to send the dishes to the sink where they started washing themselves in hot, soapy water. Crossing the kitchen, Minerva picked up a bottle of wine and two glasses before leaving with Sirius a few steps behind her.

...

Left alone, James and Lily really got to talking.

"I'm sorry about yesterday," Lily muttered, her cheek red in embarrassment. "I misinterpreted your words and I overreacted."

James nodded, a frown forming on his lips. "How did you misinterpret them?" he asked.

"Both Sirius and Minerva have explained that you're proud of heritage – which is what you were talking about," Lily explained. "I thought you were bragging about your ancestors, and I was under the impression you were cocky and self-entitled because the accomplishments of your ancestors."

A hurt look crossed James' face as Lily spoke.

"I am sorry," she whispered. "Most of experience with pure-bloods are my classmates, and I have one of the worst."

"Who?" asked James, his interest peaked. He wanted to change the subject for now as he thought over Lily's words. Her apology was sincere.

"Bellatrix Black," Lily answered.

James started coughing at the sound of the name.

"Are you alright?" she asked, pouring a glass of water for him.

Taking the water, James took a long sip. "Yeah," he said, his voice a little rough. "I'm fine." He finished the water, placing the glass on the table. "What about this Bellatrix Black?"

"She's cocky and self-entitled," Lily explained. "She uses her aunt and her family to get her way – to her own selfish advantage."

"That sounds like a Black," James muttered.

Lily frowned at the comment. While she didn't know a lot about the Black family, she wanted to believe most of the family wasn't as horrid as Bellatrix and Headmistress Black. Instead of asking about his comment, Lily asked, "What are your future plans?"

"I plan to return home sometime next year," James answered, "to learn and work with my father before taking over the family business."

"Do you want to take over the family business?" Lily asked. It was common among pure-bloods to join the family business instead of pursuing the individual's own interests.

"Of course," James answered, determination in his tone. "It's an honor – and it's tradition."

Lily nodded, accepting the answer. "What is the family business?" she asked, curious. Different families had different businesses. The Black family worked in the government or in schools while the Bones family worked in law, usually law enforcement or in the courtroom.

"The short version is politics," James replied.

The topic quickly changed to their own educations and schools. While they each liked having a same-sex school, they did wish there were chances for the four magical schools to join together and socialize.

...

After having dinner together and talking for a few hours, James and Lily made plans to meet up for lunch the next day. James and Sirius left the townhouse with smiles and in good spirits. Left alone, Lily headed to the guest room, where she finished up another homework assignment before pulling out the designs Professor Delacour had created for her.

There was one dress that Lily liked. It was a muggle-based design with the sweetheart neckline and the tight fit around her chest flowing into a mermaid-style skirt. While Lily had beautiful green eyes, Professor Delacour liked the idea of the dress being a light blue color like periwinkle or a light purple color like lavender, and Lily preferred light blue.

Before heading to bed, Lily placed the sketch on the desk.

...

With James and Sirius around the townhouse, time went by quickly. Lily had a lot of fun with the pair. She met Sirius' boyfriend Remus on a double date, and the pair began friends, sharing a common interest in books and a passion for learning.

As they continued to date, Lily began more aware of the fact that James was hiding something – a big something. While she was curious, Lily focused on getting to know James better. She had feeling the secret was important and James would tell her in time. Whatever the secret was, Sirius knew it and his boyfriend didn't. Remus wasn't stupid, and he had been dating Sirius for awhile.

...

"What do you want for Christmas?" James asked one afternoon in Minerva's townhouse as he watched Lily prepare dinner.

Lily glanced up from her cutting, meeting James' hazel eyes. "I haven't really thought about it," she answered with a shrug. "Do you want to exchange gifts?"

James turned red as he nodded.

Frowning, Lily tried to think of something. She was a practical person, and she had little use for impractical things, like beauty potions. At the thought of beauty potions, an impractical gift idea crossed her mind. "How about light blue and silver fabrics?" she asked. She wanted to start working on her Silver Ball gown.

"I see what I can find," James vowed, looking determined.

"What about you?" she asked. While she was getting to know James, she didn't have a clue what a useful and meaningful gift would be.

James shrugged. "I let you know," he replied.

Turning away, Lily hid her frown. Since he wasn't a lot of help, she would have to think of something and fast since Christmas was only four days away.

...

An idea came to Lily the next morning over breakfast as she listened to James and Sirius praised her food. Like Minerva, they didn't get a lot of home cooked meals. Neither of them really knew how to cook, having grown up with house-elves. She would try and teach them how to cook, but Lily liked the idea of making James a cookbook with a lot of her recipes – the ones she had used over the last few days.

After breakfast, Sirius and James were eager to escorted Lily to Diagon Alley for a sudden shopping trip. Both of the young men needed to pick up some gifts for their parents and other family members.

"Haven't you done your Christmas shopping?" Lily asked.

Both James and Sirius wore matching guilty expressions.

Lily sighed, resisting the urge to shake her head. Growing up, her mom taught her the importance of shopping early. Most years, Lily was done with her Christmas shopping by November.

"What do you need to get?" she asked.

With a grin, James pulled a list.

Reading over the list, Lily resisted the urge to punch James. It was merely a list of people he needed to shop for. There were no gift ideas or notes on what the individual might like.

"I just need something my parents," Sirius stated. "They're the hardest to shop for."

Lily sighed, grabbed her jacket before taking ahold of James' arm to be apparated to Diagon Alley. Apparation was better than using the floo system.

In Diagon Alley, Lily led James and Sirius into a stationary shops where she bought some famous parchment, quills, ink, and an empty journal. With Lily's guidance, James selected a personalized stationary and a journal for his female cousins and a few aunts while Sirius got a set of new ink pens for his father. The ink pens were based off the muggle design of a fountain pen.

From there, the group slowly moved around to the different shops in Diagon Alley. It took four hours, but Lily helped James and Sirius find gifts for everyone. Sirius decided to get better gifts for his siblings when he saw what Lily was helping James pick out. Sirius refused to be outdone by his best friend.

"We need to make one more stop," Sirius announced, headed into The Glass Slipper.

Lily's eyes widened at the shop and she followed a full step behind Sirius and James. The Glass Slipper was a famous jewelry store, founded by Virgo Black a few decades ago. The shop was famous for its stellar and unique creations and the high prices to match. It was a popular jewelry store among pure-bloods and wealth families.

Inside of the store, James and Sirius headed over to a display case filled with rings.

"I'm getting one for Remus," Sirius declared, peering at the rings.

Lily's eyes widened at the declaration. She didn't know either Sirius or Remus well enough, but it seemed a little sudden. According to Remus, they just passed nine months of official dating – whatever that meant. But this was Sirius' decision and she would wish him the best of luck because Remus was a nice guy.

As James and Sirius debated rings, Lily looked around the various display cases and pieces of jewelry. A lot of the pieces were beautiful. Lily's favorites were the matching sets of necklaces and bracelets. There was a pink fire opal set that caught her eye.

An hour passed before Sirius made a purchase. Lily's eyes widened at the final total, and she noticed that neither Sirius or James blinked at it, thus confirming her beliefs that they were from wealthy families. Sirius scribbled down his vault information and he mentioned to have Virgo contact him if there were any issues.

Feeling a little dazed, Lily followed James and Sirius from the store. They stopped off at The Golden Apple for a quick bite to eat before returning to Minerva's townhouse.

...

With the new parchment and quills, Lily got to work on James' gift. She wrote each recipe with an ingredient list and painfully detailed directions. As she worked on each recipe, Lily wished there was some kind of magical photography that printed in color. Those kind of images would make her recipes even better. Lily made a note of the idea for a later date.

As she finished each recipes, Lily organized them into different categories, like lunch or dinner. Each category was organized by level of difficulty, which were placed in alphabetic order. It took her two days to finish writing everything out.

Once everything was written, she got Minerva to assist her in transferring this parchment into the blank journal. After everything was placed in the journal, Minerva helped design the cover. With the gift complete, Lily wrapped it in Quidditch-themed paper before placing the gift under the tree.

In addition, Lily created a small cookbook for Sirius, all based around pastries and desserts. Each recipe had notes on good tea pairings. It was a gift that would help him with Remus.

...

When James and Sirius left on the twenty-fourth, Lily found herself with a lot of extra time on her hands. She most of the time on her homework – finishing essays, reading ahead in her textbooks, and competing other assignments. Outside of her homework, she spent her time cooking and cleaning, and she worked on her dress for the Silver Ball.

Minerva had the twenty-fifth off. Christmas was a small affair between them. They had breakfast, consisting off pancakes and hot chocolate. With tea in hand, the pair opened gifts. Minerva received several Transfigurations books, quills, and parchments. Lily gave her friend a potions set, containing Pepper Up Potion, Dreamless Sleep Potion, a few different potions to sharpen memory and retain information, and a few potions to help with relaxing. In return, Minerva gave Lily her old NEWTs notes and a potion to help with memory retention, which would assist with study. Lily received a few gifts from classmates and Apolline Delacour, which consisted of school supplies and clothes.

Several days later, Lily stayed up late, staring into the darkness of midnight as the New Year approached. In the distance, Lily saw fireworks from London.

...

Lily didn't get the chance to give James and Sirius their presents until the second of January, a few days before she was schedule to return to Ravenclaw. They had joined their families for Christmas and New Years.

"I missed you," James told her in greeting when she opened the door. He pulled her into a hug.

Lily blushed, wrapping her arms around James'. "Me too," she whispered.

James' arms seemed to tighten around her in response.

It took a cough from Sirius before James dropped his arms and stepped into Minerva's townhouse.

"Hello, Lily," Sirius greeted with a smile. "Thank you for letting me in from the cold." He shot a glare at his best friend.

Lily laughed a little. She motioned for the pair to follow her into the kitchen where she was making some hot chocolate while working on her dress for the Silver Ball. Her green eyes widened at the sight of the mess on the table. She had forgotten about that in the excitement of seeing James and Sirius.

"What have we here?" asked Sirius, his tone teasing and playful. He picked up the piece of parchment with the dress design. There were notes on colors and Lily's recent measurements.

"My dress for the Silver Ball," Lily shyly admitted, trying to snatch the parchment from Sirius.

Sirius raised the parchment up as he looked it over. "Did you design this?" he asked, passing the parchment to James.

"Apolline Delacour did," she answered, picking up the other items on the table – a measuring strip, fabric samples, a muggle catalogue with shoes, hairstyle ideas.

"She's talented," James stated, handing Lily the piece of parchment.

She took it with a smile before running to the guest room. Everything was dumped on the bed and she closed the door before returning to the kitchen.

"– tell her?" she heard Sirius asked.

"I don't know," James answered. "When are you planning to tell Remus?"

"That's not fair!" Sirius hissed. "I'm not a Duke."

"Because being a Lord is so much different," James said.

"Well, it is," Sirius stated. "At least I don't have to explain my ancestors were royalty."

Lily's eyes widened and her heartbeat started to pick up. Whatever they were talking seemed important. Did it have anything to do with their secret?

It sounded like it did, but Lily wasn't convinced.

Taking a few steps back, she asked, "How does hot chocolate sound?" This allowed them a few seconds to compose themselves or something, and it gave her some time to smile and pretend she didn't overhear anything.

When Lily entered the kitchen she found James and Sirius seated around the table with the newspaper open in front of them.

"That sounds great!" Sirius proclaimed, sounding a little too eager.

Walking over to the stove, Lily checked the pot before grabbing three mugs. She poured some into each mug and added a few marshmallows. As carefully as she could, she took ahold of all three mugs and she walked over to the table.

At the table she placed all three down before sliding a mug in front of each James and Sirius. She took a seat, pulling her own mug close.

"How was home?" Lily asked, glancing between the pair. She could sense some tension there.

"It was good," James answered. "It was nice seeing my parents. I've missed them."

"It was nice to visit, but I'm glad to be back," Sirius admitted. "Being with my family is tiring. My dad wants to discuss my future while my mum wants to discuss my love life, and my siblings are eager to see me one minute than mad at me the next."

"Sounds nice," Lily muttered with a weak smile. She missed those days with her own family.

"What about you?" James asked.

Lily shrugged. "Me and Minerva slept in and I cooked us brunch before we opened present," she responded with a smile. "It was low-key."

James frowned. "Why didn't you go see your own family?" he asked.

Lily ran her tongue along her lips as she thought about an answer. She hadn't really mentioned her parents were dead and her sister hated her guts. It made for an awkward conversation and people grew uncomfortable.

"I didn't feel like visiting their graves," Lily answered. It was truthful. While she wanted to see her parents, she didn't to risk running into Petunia at their graves. "Tunia and I don't talk these days." Lily couldn't be in same room as Petunia without her sister turning purple and saying foul and hurtful things.

"Did you have a good holiday?" James asked, his tone uncertain.

Shrugging, Lily replied, "It's the best I've had in two years."

"That's all that's important," Sirius said with a smile.

An awkward silence fell over them, which Lily predicted.

"Can we exchange gifts?" Sirius asked.

James quickly nodded in agreement and Lily smiled.

"Let's move to the living room," she said.

The three of them moved into the living room, making themselves comfortable. James joined Lily on the couch and Sirius took the armchair.

Before silence had a chance to fall between them, Lily pulled out her gifts. She presented one to each James and Sirius with a smile. James looked happy to receive his gift, his eyes lit up and his lips curved into a smile. Sirius looked shocked at the sight of his, his his eye widened before he accept the gift with a bright smile.

"Here," Sirius said, handing Lily a large box wrapped into pale blue paper with a silver bow.

Lily took with a smile.

"I'll give you mine, later," James promised. "It's something I want to do in private."

The three young adults opened their presents at different paces. Sirius tore through the Quidditch paper and golden ribbon with the eagerness and excitement of a child on Christmas morning. James took a few second to admire the wrapping and ribbons before he started opening his gift. The first two tares were slow before James gave into his inner-child and eager, shredding the paper into pieces of confetti in his quest to open the present.

Lily watched James and Sirius, smiling and laughing. She pegged them for the eager-present type, but she didn't accept this level of enthusiasm and passion.

With a fond shake of her head, Lily turned her attention to Sirius' gift. She removed the silver bow before tearing into the paper. Her eagerness was an equal match for James' and Sirius', but she kept her tears long and wide, reaching the black box in six motions – whiles Sirius was uncovering his cookbook and James was still producing confetti.

After removing all the paper from the box, Lily picked the lid up. Inside of the box was a large amount of tissue paper – more than the box appeared to be capable of holding. Interest peaked, Lily reached a hand inside of the box, finding it was enchanted with some serious magic like Expansion Charms and Feather-Light Charms.

Tucking a piece of red hair before her ear, Lily removed the first item from the box. Her heart stopped as she removed the layer of tissue paper. It was a history book on the Four Founders – Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, and Rowena Ravenclaw – about their friendship and the events that led to them creating different schools instead of one school called Hogwarts: The Foundation of the Four.

Lily had heard of this book. It was incredibly rare. With shaking hands, she traced over the cover and spine before thumbing through the pages – as if she was checking to make sure the good was real.

Feeling light-headed, Lily sat the book aside and she continued to open Sirius' gift. She found a few other rare books that felt her feeling dizzy. After finding seven books, she came across some obscure items – a peacock-feather quill, a shimmery black ink, a large block of green wax, and an H wax seal.

"Wow, Lily, this is great!" Sirius declared, turning the pages in his cookbook. He grinned. "Remus is gonna love this!"

Lily smiled, feeling proud of herself.

James leaned forward, gently pressing his lips against hers in a tender kiss.

Her cheeks heated up as Lily's returned the kiss – her first kiss.

Pulling back, James placed a hand on her cheek, trying to keep her close. "This is amazing,"

Lily's cheeks warmed at the praise. Something warmed and fluttered in her stomach at James' words. "I wanted it to be meaningful," she whispered.

James pressed a quick kiss to Lily's lips. "I couldn't ask for anything better," he said.

"So, Lily," Sirius said, breaking the couple's moment.

Remembering Sirius was in the room, Lily pulled back from James, turning to face his best friend. She offered Sirius a guilty smile. "Yes, Sirius?" she asked.

Next to Lily, James glared as he wrapped an arm around Lily's shoulders.

"What you think of my gift?" he asked eagerly, almost bouncing out of his seat.

"It's great," she responded with a smile. "I love the books. I can't wait to read them."

"What about other things?" There was something in his tone that Lily couldn't place.

"They're nice," Lily said, her tone a little weak. "I like the quill."

A grin formed on Sirius' lips. "Do you know what any of those things are for?"

Lily shook her head.

"They're supplies to help you with that school," he explained. "The one you want to open for muggle-raised and muggle-born children."

Her eyes lit up as she glanced over at the items. She wasn't really sure how they would help her design and open a school, but she was eager to learn. Hopefully one of her new books would explain the process.

"Most of these will help with the process of opening the school," Sirius added.

"Thank you!" Lily said with a smile. She was touched by the thoughtfulness of Sirius' gift. They had known each other that long and they were still getting to know one another, but he got this for her.

"I can't wait to have Remus over and try some of these out!" Sirius declared, shaking his new cookbook.

Lily laughed while James shot his best friend a smile with a raised eyebrow.

"Well," Sirius said, standing up, "I'm going to head home. I've got a date with Remus." Sirius left the room and the townhouse with another smile, leaving James and Lily behind.

Turning to look at James, Lily found herself blushing.

"Can I kiss you?" James asked.

"Again?" she responded with a smile.

James' face turned pink. "I mean, can I really kiss you?" he asked.

Instead of responding with words, Lily smiled leaning in closer to James.

Taking the hint, James placed a hand against her cheek before capturing her lips with his own. This kiss was better than the last, but the last kiss would always be special because it was their first kiss and it happened in the spur of the moment when James couldn't find the words.

...

James and Lily sat on the couch, alternating between brief kisses and making out for a close to an hour before they separated.

"Here," James said, presenting Lily with a dark box with a lavender bow.

Lily took the gift with a smile. Looking over the box, she knew this wasn't any ordinary box. It was covered in runes and the box was made out of some wood that Lily didn't recognize. Something like this box would be considered a family heirloom due to the numerous protection and blessing runes.

Slipping the lavender bow off, Lily removed the lid. Like the box that contained Sirius' gift, this box was light and had an expanded inside. While she wasn't an expert on runes, Lily was willing to bet this enchantments were the work of the runes, and not spellwork. Inside the box, she found a few different fabrics of various shades of light blue and light purple, and a few old dress robes. There were some additional items like loose diamonds and a few pieces of jewelry. Lily made a mental note to study the jewelry and diamonds later.

"Thank you, James," Lily said, turning to offer him a smile. "This is perfect."

James turned the smile before pulling Lily into another kiss.

...

The next three days passed too quickly for Lily. She spent as much time as she could with James before she had to return to Ravenclaw. It seemed that with each moment she spent with James, an hour passed by. Before Lily knew it, it was sixth of January arrived, and with it her return to Ravenclaw for the spring semester.

That morning found Lily taking a taxi to King's Cross, where she would catch the Express back to Ravenclaw. Minerva floo'ed off to her apprenticeship after giving her friend a hug farewell. With some help from James and Sirius, Lily had everything carried and loaded into the taxi.

"I'm gonna miss you," Sirius said, pulling her into a hug. "Be sure to write me."

"I will," Lily promised, returning the hug.

After a short hug, Sirius backed off to allow James a chance to embrace Lily before she left.

James offered her a sad smile before pulling her into a tight hug, which she quickly returned.

"I'll miss you," he promised, whispering in her ear.

"And I'll miss you," Lily responded with tears in her eyes. How she could miss someone so much, especially after knowing James for a few weeks, was beyond her. How was it possible?

Moving his hands to Lily's face, James stared into her green eyes, as if trying to memorize them, before pulling her into a kiss. It was a short and passionate kiss with the unwanted audience watching – Sirius and the taxi driver.

"Here," James said, fumbling in his coat pocket for something. "I want you to have this." He withdrew a silver chain that had a stag charm.

As Lily moved to take it, James placed the necklace out of her reach with a mischievous smile. "Let me put it on you," he stated.

Holding still, Lily watched as James placed the chain around her throat before clasping it behind her neck. Despite their close proximity, Lily couldn't hear what James muttered after locking the clasp. Her eyes narrowed.

"I love you," James told her, pulling into another kiss.

The declaration felt Lily feeling speechless as she stared at James. "Thank you," she said, feeling lost and overwhelmed.

Something on James' eyes hardened at her response.

Reaching out, Lily grabbed ahold of his arm before James could turn away. "I do care about you," she stated, "but I'm not ready to say that, yet."

James nodded, placing a kiss on her cheek. "Have a safe trip back to school," he said before removing Lily's hand.

Feeling dejected, Lily watched as James and Sirius headed into their townhouse, leaving her outside with the taxi. With a sigh, she turned and climbed into the car. She told the driver her destination as she buckled her seatbelt, ignoring the voice telling her to chase after James and say everything he wanted to hear and more – even if she didn't mean it.

Lily leaned back into her seat as the driver pulled away from the curb, headed into the downtown London. The last time anyone had told her they loved her was three years ago when her parents dropped her off at King's Cross after their winter holidays together. They were killed in a car accident a week later.

...

When Lily arrived back to Ravenclaw, she barely had a second to breath before she was forced back into the routine of school. Headmistress Black had called for a meeting with the seventh year girls to go over their new schedules. Due to slipping grades and bad behavior, she was forced to enact a new policy regarding a student's performance and their eligibility to attend the Silver Ball.

In addition, the headmistress announced a few upcoming social events with The Slytherin Institute for Pure-Blood Gentlemen – which were the first of their kind in the schools' history. The four magical schools hadn't had much interaction since they were founded. Each school was kept separate. The new policy would apply to these events as well as the Silver Ball.

After the meeting was over, Lily returned to her dorm to review her homework assignments before classes began the next morning. It took two hours to check over everything and review her essays before she decided everything looked alright. With that decision made, Lily cast a few spells on her parchment before placing everything in her bag. She would hate for someone to copy or steal her homework.

That night Lily ate dinner by herself as she tried to write a letter to James on a piece of scrap parchment. It took five tries before she gave up and decided to save writing the letter for later. It would be two days before Lily had the chance to write that letter and send it off to James.

...

While Lily was busy with school, she tried to write at least one letter a week to James. Their relationship lacked an official label, but Lily was comfortable referring to him as her boyfriend. The title seemed to fit their current relationship as they were getting to know one another. After the first awkward letter, things seemed to be going soothly. While there was an underlining tension between them, they were communicating and it was clear that they missed one another.

Outside of classes, Lily enlisted the assistance of Professor Delacour and one of the school's house-elves, Winky, to create her dress for the Silver Ball. Winky was eager to help and please with a talent for sewing. The dress itself was going to a soft blue called maya blue with silver accents and detailing. The dress was paired with a pair of silver kitten heels and a silver shall.

...

Two weeks before the Silver Ball found Lily attending the first social event with Slytherin Institute. She had no interest in attending, but she decided to after exchanging a few letters with Minerva. Minerva pointed out that Lily might meet someone who could help her form that school she wanted to. Most pure-bloods had connections and money, two things that Lily would need.

On the day of the event, Lily floo'ed to the small wizarding village of Hogsmeade. For some reason that wasn't explained, Headmistress Black and Headmaster Abraxas Malfoy had decided it was the perfect location.

After floo'ing into The Three Broomsticks, Lily decided to explore the wizarding village. As far as she knew this was the only remaining wizarding village in Scotland. There were a few others wizarding villages in England and Wales. This the first wizarding village Lily had had the chance to visit before.

As she walked along the main street of Hogsmeade, Lily stopped to look in the different storefront window displays. When she came across Honeyduke's, she ventured inside to look over the various sweets. She ended up purchasing several bars of chocolate since Honeyduke's offered a large variety.

From Honeyduke's, Lily ended up returning to The Three Broomsticks. There weren't too many other shops that interested her. After ordering a butterbeer and some food, Lily picked up a discarded copy of The Daily Prophet before claiming a small table.

Opening the newspaper, she greeted by the bold headline "Duke of Pottermore Announces the Return of His Heir, Lord James as Family Prepares for Silver Ball." There was a picture of Duke and Duchess Potter underneath the headline, but nothing of their son, Lord James. As far as Lily knew, no one had a picture of Lord James since his parents wanted to "protect his privacy" or something.

Lily was curious what the young man looked like. Did he take after his father with messy hair? Did he have his mother's high cheekbones?

With a shrug, Lily turned her attention to the article. There much that interested Lily regarding the family's history or the rumors surrounding the Silver Ball. Though there was one thing that stood out to her. Towards the end of the article was a small paragraph about the withdrawal of the family jewelry, including the engagement rings. It would appear as though Lord James was interested in someone. There were some accompanying photographs of the family's jewelry, including a familiar stag charm. In the photograph, this charm was attached to a charm bracelet owned by Lord James' great-grandmother, Duchess Harriette.

Lily's heartbeat quickened at the sight of the charm as her right hand clutched her necklace. Her mind started spinning as she thought over everything she knew and suspected about her James. Some of the pieces were starting to fit and make sense, like the whispered conversation she overheard between James and Sirius about telling the truth.

There was a passing feeling of betrayal. James had lied to her – it was a lie of omission. He hadn't told her the truth.

Of course, Lily didn't fault him for that. If he had been truthful, she couldn't say she would have been willing to give him a chance. Lily wanted a regular romance with a normal guy, not the Heir of Pottermore.

What did this mean for her – and for them? Did they have a future? More importantly, did Lily want a future with James?

The thought of leaving James made her chest hurt and the very thought made her feel like crying.

So, no, Lily wanted to stay with James. She wanted a future with him – even if it meant becoming the Duchess of Pottermore. Being a Duchess and being royalty was never a part of her plans or her dreams – even as a child she never wanted to be a princess, like most girls.

With her decision made, Lily put the newspaper aside. She didn't feel like reading anymore. Still feeling overwhelmed, she needed a different distraction.

Glancing around the pub, Lily found several of her classmates were exchanged in conversation with different Slytherin boys. With a passing glance at the back, Lily knew there was much more than a conversation taking place between Bellatrix Black and Rabastan Lestrange.

There was nothing interest here. Lily stood up, headed over to the fireplace. She might as well head back to Ravenclaw. There was homework to occupy her time or she could work on her dress for the Silver Ball. Now knowing who James was added more pressure to complete the dress and make it absolutely stunning.

"Where are you headed?" a male voice asked, pulling Lily from her thoughts.

Turning, she found herself staring at a young man with shoulder-length black hair, dark eyes, and a pale complexion. He wore white silk gloves. "Me?" Lily asked. There was no one else around, but she still felt the need to ask.

The young man nodded. "Who else would I be talking to?" he asked, his tone had an underlining tone of sarcasm.

"I'm headed back to Ravenclaw," Lily replied. "I wanted to get ahead start on my homework."

"Why don't you stay for a bit?" the young man asked. "I find you're the least dwell person here."

His statement made Lily raise an eyebrow. It was both insulting and flattering all at the same time. Personally, she felt rather annoyed.

"And you would be?" she asked, choosing to ignore his invitation – if one could call it that.

"I'm Alfredas Edmund Pyrites the Third," he answered. "Heir of the Pyrites line."

The House of Pyrites was a pure-blood family that had fallen on hard time in the last few generations. The family had last a good amount of their money and standing, and a few prominent members had disappeared. There was something about this Alfredas Edmund Pyrites that made Lily feel uneasy.

Deciding to play nice, she smiled.

"What is your name, my dear?" he asked. There something about his tone that made Lily's uneasiness grow.

"I'm Lily Evans," she forced herself to say with a smile.

"Evans?" Pyrites repeated. "I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with the Evans family."

"I'm muggle-born." She would keep her answers short and her tone polite until she could find a chance to escape.

A spark appeared in Pyrites' eyes. "It's wonderful to meet you, Ms. Evans," he said. He took ahold of one of her hands and kissed it.

Lily forced herself to remain smile instead of snatching her hand away or squirming. "You as well, Heir Pyrites."

Pyrites smirked at the use of his title. "You're very respectful and polite," he said. "I can see you've been well trained."

There was something about his words that made the hairs on the back of Lily's neck stand up as the feeling of unease and discomfort continued to grow. It was the way he said well trained, like she wasn't human.

"Ravenclaw offers etiquette classes." No need to mention that her parents had raised her well, to be polite and respectful even when she didn't want to be.

"They must be good since you're so well behaved."

Pyrites was quickly becoming Lily's new second least favorite person – the first spot was reserved for Headmistress Black. "Is there anything in particular I can assist you with, Heir Prince?"

"No," he replied, "I think I have everything I need. Is there anything you wish to ask me before I accept Headmistress Black's wonderful offer."

"What offer?" Lily had a very bad feeling.

"An offer of marriage, of course," Pyrites replied with a smirk. "I hope you understand that you would be forced to drop out of school. You don't need any more training and I would hate for you to get ideas about your position."

Lily remained smiling as she internally started to panic. Why was the headmistress making marriage offers for her? That woman had no right.

"We'll be married within the next day or two," Pyrites declared. "The contract needs to be approved, and my mother needs to plan the ceremony, but will all happen very quickly."

Biting her tongue, Lily forced herself to refrain from saying anything. It was starting to sound like she needed to return to school and pack her belongings before fleeing. Where could she go? Minerva was out of the country, visiting a man named Albus Dumbledore in Germany. James had moved, and probably Sirius as well. There was only one person Lily could think of and hope he hadn't moved. Remus Lupin.

"I'll Headmistress Black accelerate your withdrawal from Ravenclaw," he declared. "You'll be moving into Pyrites Manor by tomorrow morning."

Hopefully Lily would be able to use Professor Delacour's floo to get to Diagon Alley then apparate or take a muggle taxi to Rosa Lee Teabag, where she hoped to find Remus.

"I can see you're speechless. Why don't you run along and pack, like the good obey girl that you are?"

"That sounds excellent, Heir Pyrite." Without another word, Lily hurried over to the fireplace and she quickly floo'ed back to school.

...

As quickly as she could, Lily packed her most prized possessions. Thanks to James and Sirius, she had two box with expanded storage, making this task easier. She made sure to pack everything James and Sirius gave her along with every items from her parents and Minerva. Those were the ones that mattered the most. From there, she packed a few changes of clothes before carefully packing her dress for the Silver Ball. Lily placed the new boxes inside her suitcase.

With the suitcase in hand, she hurried to Professor Delacour's office. She was relieved to find the woman inside.

"I need to use your floo," Lily said, hurrying over the fireplace.

"Why?" the Professor's eyes widened as she took in her favorite student. "Lily, what's going on?"

"I don't know," she responded, shaking her head. "I think the headmistress sold me to the Pyrites. There was told of marriage tomorrow. I need to get away now."

Professor Delacour's expression turned panicked. "Here," she said, grabbing her coin purse from her pocket. She thrusted it into Lily's hand. "Take this. Is there anything else you need?"

As Lily was about to shake her head, her eyes widened. She needed a quick getaway and she needed to be hidden. "I need you to send a letter to James Prongs, I mean James Potter," she said. "Tell I'm waiting for him at the sight of our first date."

The professor nodded, curiosity clearly written on her features.

"Thank you," Lily said, pulling her mentor into a quick hug before she turned to step into the fireplace.

...

Two hours later found Lily entering Rosa Lee Teabag. The place was crowded, more so than she was use to. A quick glance around yielded no sightings of James or Remus. Her heartbeat quickened.

Forcing herself to take a deep breath, Lily walked up to the counter. Hopefully some tea and scones would help put her at ease as she waited for James or Remus to show up.

"What can I get you?" the young man behind the counter asked. His dark hair was pulled back, and he had dark eyes and a hooked nose.

"A pot of the citrus and white tea and some blueberry scones, please," Lily answered, glancing over the menu.

The young man nodded.

"Do you know if Remus is scheduled today?" she asked, handing over a few coins.

"He should be in soon," he said, his attitude turning dour. "I can leave when he arrives."

A sense of relief filled Lily as she selected a table near the back of the shop. She placed her suitcase on chair next to the one she sat down in. With little to do, Lily opened the suitcase and she pulled out a random book. She needed a distraction while she waited. If she didn't have one then she would second guess every decision she made and question whether or not James or Remus would arrive.

As Lily opened the book, her pot of tea and plate of scones arrived. She poured herself a cup of tea as she started to read.

...

"Aren't you supposed to be at school?" Remus asked, catching Lily's attention.

Looking up, Lily was filled with relief at the sight of Remus. "It's a long story," she told him. "I need to talk to James and Sirius."

Remus frowned at the mention of his boyfriend's name. "We're not exactly speaking at the moment," he muttered.

"Is it about the secret?" To some extent, Lily was still processing James' real identity.

"Of course," he replied. "Doesn't it bother you?"

Shrugging, Lily told him, "I think I figured it out – by accident."

Remus' eyes widened. "Tell me!" he demanded.

Lily bit her lip. Was it her place to tell Remus? She thought that Sirius should be the one to tell him, but it seemed cruel to withhold the information when she knew it. "Won't you rather talk to Sirius?" she asked.

"I would," he admitted, taking a seat at her table, "but he won't tell me, and right now we're not even talking."

Lily sighed, thinking about her options. She would tell him part of the truth. "I don't know what Sirius' real last name is," she explained. "James is Potter."

Remus frowned. "Potter," he repeated. "That sounds familiar, but I can't place it."

"Can you send Sirius an owl?" Lily asked. "I need to see James."

"Lily, what's going on?" Remus asked with a frown.

"I don't really know," she admitted, shaking her head. "I think my headmistress sold me to some creep named Pyrites. He was talking about marrying me."

"I'll get right now that," Remus promised. "Can I get you anything? Another pot of tea or some scones?"

"Please," Lily requested. "Something a little stronger."

"I don't think tea is strong enough," Remus said, a little humor in his tone.

Despite the situation, Lily smiled.

After having a second pot of tea, Remus led Lily into the employee break room, where she curled up in an armchair to take a nap.

...

A little while later, Lily awoke to someone shaking her shoulder. It took her a few minutes to realize that it was James who was in front of her.

"James, what are you doing here?" she asked, stretching. Looking around, Lily tried to recall where she was.

"I got a letter from Apolline," he said, "telling me to meet you here."

With James' words, the last few hours came rushing back. "I'm so glad you're here," she whispered, throwing her arms around him.

"I'm happy to see you," James whispered, wrapping his arms around Lily.

They pulled apart after a minute.

"What's going on, Lils?" James asked with a frown. "Why are you out of school?"

Lily sighed, moving to take a seat. She motioned for James to join her on the couch.

"It's a long story," she said, shaking her head, "and I don't even know all of it."

"Tell me what you can," James urged, seating down next to her.

"I think Headmistress Black sold me to some creep named Pyrites," Lily explained, shaking her head. "He spoke of getting married tomorrow."

James' expression grew angry and cold. "He can't have you!" he hissed, taking a hold of Lily's hand. "I can't tell you to love or marry, but I'll make sure it isn't Pyrites."

"I only want you," Lily confessed, leaning into his side.

His expression calmed as he moved to wrap an arm around Lily's shoulders. "Do you know why your headmistress would try to arrange a marriage for you?" he asked, his tone was tense.

"No," she shook head. "I don't have a clue." Lily knew the headmistress didn't like her, but that didn't explain the woman's actions.

"I know how to fix this," James told her, "but I don't know you'll like the solution."

"What is it?" Lily asked, perking up. She wanted to escape Pyrites and possibility of ending up with him. From the beginning, she was confident James would assist her. She trusted in his love for her – and hers for him.

"You will need to marry someone else," James replied.

Lily's eyes widened as she realized what he was implying. "Are you?" she asked, her voice trailing off.

"Lily,," he began, taking hold of her right hand. "I will do my best to love and cherish you until the end of our days. I would love nothing more than to be your husband."

"Yes!" Lily told him, cutting him off. "Yes, I will marry you. I love you, too."

James smiled, his hazel eyes growing with love. "Lily," he said, "there's something I need to tell you. I want you to know I love you–"

"I know," Lily admitted, cutting him off. "I figured it out."

"Lily, I don't think you know what I'm talking about," he said.

"You're Lord James Potter," she stated, "the Heir of Pottermore and future Duke."

James opened and closed his mouth a few times before he was finally able to form words. "How?"

"You and Sirius aren't the smoothest," she told him with a gentle smile. "I knew from the beginning there was something you weren't telling me. I overheard you talking with Sirius – at Minerva's house – about telling me the truth."

She paused for a moment. "I figured everything out this morning," she carried on. "There was an article in The Daily Prophet with a picture of your Great-Grandmother Harriette's charm bracelet." She held up the stag charm.

Flushing, James smiled. "I knew you were genius," he declared. "Can I kiss you?"

"Yes," Lily answered, leaning forward to James.

...

The arrangements were made quickly. Despite the late hour, everything was arranged and in place by midnight as the guests started to arrive.

Lily stood in a large bedroom, staring in the mirror. Since she lacked a wedding dress, it was decided she would wear her Silver Ball dress. In wizarding customs, it was typical for the bride to wear her family's colors. Must muggle-borns wore white or their future spouse's colors.

"Oh, I can't believe it," declared Minerva McGonagall as she entered the room. The Potters had arranged for an emergency portkey to bring Minerva back to England. She was going to walk the bride down the aisle.

Minerva walked forward, pulling Lily into a hug.

"Thanks for coming," Lily whispered, leaning into her friend's embrace.

"There's nowhere I would rather be," Minerva told her as they separated.

They shared a smile before Lily turned back to her reflection.

"You look beautiful," Minerva said with a smile. "James is a lucky man."

"And I'm a lucky woman," Lily added, turning to glance at her friend. "I need to thank you. It's because of you that I met James."

"Here," Minerva said, taking a sapphire bracelet out of her pocket as she presented it to her.

Lily took it, looking the bracelet over. "It's beautiful," she said. "Where did you get it?"

"Duchess, I mean Euphemia wants you to wear it," Minerva explained. "She said it's some kind of family tradition."

"Can you help me?" the redhead asked, holding the bracelet and her wrist out to Minerva.

The older woman took ahold of the bracelet, which she secured around Lily's wrist.

"Something borrowed," Lily muttered, fingering the bracelet then her dress. "Something new." She paused for a moment. "I just need something blue and something old."

"What are muttering about?" Minerva asked.

Blushing, Lily quickly explained, "It's a muggle superstition about good luck for the bride."

"How does it work?" questioned Minerva, curiosity.

"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe," Lily recited.

"What does that mean?"

"Something old item represents continuity," Lily explained. "Something new offers optimism for the future. Something borrowed is happiness, and something blue is purity, love, and fidelity. The silver sixpence is a wish for good fortune and prosperity."

"Let's work on the something blue," Minerva suggested. She knew from Lily's tone that this was important to her, regardless of her dismissal as a superstition.

Nodding, Lily motioned to her belongings, placed around the room.

The pair began their search. Within a few moments, Minerva found a hair comb. This hair comb had diamonds, sapphires, pearls, and silver designed in the shape of flowers along the top.

"Can you help me with my hair?" Lily asked, fingering her red locks.

"Luckily, I know just the spells," Minerva replied with a smile, pulling out her wand. "Sit down," she instructed to her friend.

Lily took a seat, watching in the mirror's reflection.

Minerva waved and twisted her wand, conducting Lily's hair through a series of curls and twists. In the end, Lily's hair was styled a wavy and messy bun, wrapped around the hair comb, with a few loose pieces framing her face.

"What's next?" Minerva asked, stepping back to admire her work.

It took Lily a few minutes to respond as she studied her reflection. "Something old," she answered with a frown. "Can you hand me the jewelry box?" she asked, pointing to a middle sized wooden box.

Minerva retrieved the jewelry box from the bedside table, placing it in front of Lily.

"Thank you," she muttered, opening the box as she started digging through it.

"I'll see if I can find that silver sixpence," Minerva announced before she left the room.

Inside of the jewelry box, Lily withdrew a pair of diamond earrings. These earrings belonged to her mother and they were left to Lily after her death.

...

At midnight, Lily left the bedroom she was given, following a house-elf that led her to the backyard, where the ceremony was taking place. She found Minerva waiting for a few feet outside the door.

The older woman was beaming, happy tears rolling down her cheeks. She wore a fancy set of emerald dress robes and her hair was styled in a loose bun.

"You look beautiful," Minerva whispered, offering Lily her arm.

Blushing, Lily took the arm, telling her friend, "You literally just saw ten minutes ago."

Minerva shrugged, squeezing her friend's arm.

A few minutes later, Lily and Minerva were walking down the aisle towards James, Sirius, and Lady Libra Black, James' godmother and Sirius' mother. As they started walking down the aisle, Lily could feel the people staring at her and she heard them whispering, but she caught her gaze fixed on James, taking in his expressions. James was beaming, looking like the happiest man in the world.

At the end of the aisle, they stopped, facing Libra.

"Magically beloved," Libra began, her dark eyes soft, "we are gathered here to day to witness the union of Lord James Potter and Miss Lily Evans. This is a union built on love and trust. Who presents the bride?"

"I, Minerva McGonagall, close friend and pseudo-sister," the Scottish woman answered, "hereby present Lily Evans, for marriage to James Potter." As she spoke, Minerva placed Lily's hand on top of James before stepping to the side.

Libra nodded before asking, "Wands?"

Minerva withdrew a silver Marriage Wand and handed it over to Libra. Sirius handed over a gold Marriage Wand. Marriage Wands were a special family heirloom used to strengthen the magical connection between a couple, making it harder to divorce. The female Marriage Wand was silver and the male was gold. Once the bond was formed, the Wands would light up, signifying their magic was merging together.

James and Lily were using the Marriage Wands of Harriette Delacour and Markus Potter, James' great-grandparents. Libra held the two Wands carefully.

"Are we ready?" she asked.

Lily and James shared a smile. "Yes," they replied in unison.

"In the name of Merlin's Holy Light," Libra began, "we are gathered here to bring bind these two together in a magical bond to become one."

James squeezed Lily's hand.

"In the spirits of all things good," Libra continued, "do you, James Charles Potter, promise to uphold all things scared and right by Lily Jane Evans until death?"

James looked directly into Lily's eyes. "I do," he vowed.

"Do you, Lily Jane Evans, promise to uphold all things scared and right by James Charles Potter until death?"

"I do," Lily whispered, smiling.

"Rings?" Libra asked, moving the Marriage Wands to one hand.

Minerva and Sirius both handed over a ring. Like the Marriage Wands, James selected his great-grandparents' rings for them.

"James, repeat after me: With this ring I bond with thee forevermore until the day we part or until death."

James rubbed his thumb over Lily's hand as he placed the platinum band with five diamonds on her finger. "With this ring, I bond with thee forevermore until the day we part or until death," he promised.

"Lily?" Libra said, prompting the redhead.

"With these ring I bond with thee forevermore until the day we part or until death," Lily vowed, sliding the ring onto James' ring. His ring had a platinum band with a single diamond.

"In the name of Merlin's Holy Light, I hereby pronounce James Charles Potter and Lily Jane Potter as one, bonded forevermore."

"You're stuck with me, now," James said, his tone teasing.

"Shut up and kiss me, Potter," Lily ordered, leaning towards her new husband.

James laughed, kissing his wife as ordered.

As they kissed, the Marriage Wands lifted up from Libra's hand. White and gold sparks erupted from the top, signifying the fleeting bond between James and Lily.

Behind them, the crowd cheered as James' parents beamed. Minerva wiped her tears away while Sirius left James' side to approach Remus.

...

After their wedding, James took Lily to Paris for a short honeymoon. They were due back for the Silver Ball, where James and Lily would officially be introduced to society and everyone. After the Silver Ball, James was planning to take Lily a longer honeymoon, somewhere tropical and sunny. It would be an excellent excuse to see his new wife in a bikini.

During their honeymoon in Paris, James took Lily to magical shopping district, where she was measured and fitted with a custom dress for the Silver Ball. Despite knowing about her husband's fortune, Lily's eyes widened at the price and she felt light-headed as she watched James leave a generous tip.

This new dress was periwinkle in color with a tight bodice with a decent neckline and halter-top. The straps of the halter top and the bodice were decorated with diamonds and rhinestones. From the bodice, the dress formed a loose and flowing skirt. To go with the dress, James ordered a pair of silver heels, and Lily selected a simple blue bracelet with matching earrings.

Most of the days, James was happy to follow Lily to some museum or another where they would hours before heading to a different museum or historical site. James loved watching the way Lily's eyes lit up as she learned something new.

In the evenings, James would escort Lily to a restaurant for dinner before they would stroll through the city. On their last night, they dined on the Eiffel Tower, watching the city around them.

...

With the honeymoon over, James and Lily returned to England, where they were thrusted head-first into the preparations and planning for the Silver Ball. Fleamont and Euphemia wanted everything to be perfect. This was a huge night for their family. They would be presenting James for the first time in years – since he was little boy – and this was Lily's introduction into society.

It was a night no one would soon forget.

As part of the host family, Lily was one of the first people to arrive. She sat with Remus and Minerva at a small table on the balcony, overlooking the neatly manicured lawns and gardens. Both Remus and Minerva were last minute additions, at the invitation of Lily. She wanted someone there to support her while James, Sirius, and their parents were busy mingling and greeting various guests.

From the moment the Silver Ball began at six o'clock, there was a steady flow of people arriving. There appeared to be some order and organization to the arrival patterns.

It sometime after nine when Lily ran into Headmistress Black and her niece, Bellatrix. Libra Black was introducing Remus to several relatives when the headmistress forced her way into the conversation.

"It's tragic," Walburga Black announced, a hand clutched against her chest as if she was trying to portray the appearance of sadness and sorrow, "how far the mighty House of Black has fallen."

"Walburga," Aries Black greeted with a forced smile. "It's a pleasure to see you, again."

"I know," Virgo Black Nott agreed, "it's a shame people like you are members of our family."

Around three cousins, their children and other relatives giggled.

Walburga's face twisted into a sneer. "At least my precious Bella has a good future," she said.

"How is the unlucky gentleman?" Libra asked.

"Why, none other than James Potter," Bellatrix Black answered with a wide smile.

Libra raised an eyebrow while her relatives exchanged looks and glanced in the direction of Lily, who was hanging off Remus' arm.

"Does James know of this?" Aries asked. As a close friend of Libra, she knew Walburga was full of delusions and herself.

"He will," Bellatrix answered, "by the end of the night."

"I have everything arranged," Walburga added.

"So, Remus, how did you meet Sirius?" Virgo asked, purposefully changing the topic.

"With someone like Bella by his side, James will lead the House of Potter and Black into greatness," Walburga stated.

"We met at Rosa Lee Teabag," Remus replied, blushing. "He and James are regulars."

Walburga's lips curled in disgust as she was forced to turn her attention to Remus. "What do you do?" she asked with a sneer.

"Currently, I'm employed at Rosa Lee," he answered with pride. "I'm saving up to pursue my Mastery in Defense."

"You're a commoner," Bellatrix said in disguise. "It is pitiful how the House of Black continues to fall."

"First Orion marries a muggle-lover from Huffelpuff," Walburga listed. "Then his sons attend Gryffindor – instead of Slytherin – and his daughters Hufflepuff."

"It's a disgrace to the proud family traditions," Bellatrix said, shaking her head.

"And, now, Sirius is entangled with a social climbing, gold digger male companion," Walburga finished with a dramatic sigh, shaking her head in shame.

"At least I know my son found a worthy and loving partner," Libra stated, crossing her arms. "He has made me and Orion proud."

"Don't forget, Sirius is best friends with James," added Vega Black, Libra's daughter. "And I'm Fleamont and Euphemia's goddaughter."

A sour expression formed on Bellatrix's face while Walburga offered the young girl a sneer.

"I guess you'll be the most excited for tonight's big announcement," Virgo said.

"Of course," Walburga nodded.

Bellatrix looked confused at the exchange.

A few people giggled, and Lily smiled.

Dark eyes glared at everyone around as Bellatrix looked over everyone. Her eyes fell on Lily, widening. "Mudblood," she hissed, catching her aunt's attention. Jealousy and envy flashed across her face as she took in Lily's appearance.

"Where?" Walburga demanded as she glanced over the crowd. She scowled at the sight of Lily, standing next to Remus. "Miss Evans, there you are. Your fiance has been most worried about you. Your sudden disappearance has had us all worried."

"No need to concern yourself," Lily said. "I've been with my family."

A nasty smile formed on Walburga's lips. "Then I will be sure to inform the Ministry," she offered. "You know it's against the law for an uneducated muggle-born witch to dwell with her family."

"I'm taking my NEWTs in two weeks," Lily stated. "I have every intention to finish my education."

"I didn't think your fiance approved of you furthering your education," Bellatrix taunted.

"I can't say," Lily responded with a shrug. "We didn't have a chance to discuss it. I'm sure we'll be talking tomorrow."

"No need," Walburga said. "I'll go find and retrieve Alfredas." Without another word, Walburga and Bellatrix turned to leave.

Once Walburga and Bellatrix left, Lily and Remus shared a smile before dissolving into laughter. People around them followed.

"You should go find James," Libra ordered with a fond smile.

Lily agreed before she turned to find her husband or his parents. Fleamont and Euphemia might know where their son was, and if they didn't, James would find them. The big announcement was schedule for ten o'clock, a little over an hour away. Lily hoped to spend that hour avoiding her former headmistress, Bellatrix, and the creep who thought he was her fiance.

...

Eventually, ten o'clock came. Lily stood beside James in a small antechamber connected to the ballroom. The antechamber led to an elevated area where James' parents stood, addressing their guests. Mindful of the time, Lily felt the pressure mounting. This was their public debut.

"I love you," she whispered as her husband took ahold of her left hand.

James kissed the back of her hand before lacing their fingers together. "And I you," he replied.

Lily relaxed, feeling some of the pressure vanish. She knew this was important, but she had James by her side. With James, Lily felt confident and this was something they would handle together.

"– and it is our great pleasure to present our son, Lord James Potter," Duke Fleamont Potter announced.

There was a polite applause.

"I'll see soon," James whispered, pressing a kiss to Lily's cheek. "You're do great." Turning, James left the antechamber to join his parents.

Left alone, Lily took a deep breath as she edged closer to the door. Despite standing next to the door, she had some difficulty hearing what James was saying.

"–thank everyone for attending," James said. "There was a slight mix up in the details. I will not be looking for a wife this season or ever since I am already married."

He paused for a moment. Lily was willing to guess there was some kind of displeasure going through the crowd.

"Please, allow me to introduce my wife," James continued.

Taking a deep breath, Lily placed her hand on the doorknob.

"Lady Lily Evans Potter," James finished as Lily opened the door. She stepped out, joining her husband and his parents in front of their guests.

As she stepped out, James held his hand out, which she took. Sharing a smile, Lily allowed James to guide her to his side. Standing next to James, Lily leaned against his side as she gazed out at their guests.


Words: ~18,400


This was written for ChocolateWonder in honor of Monthly One-Shot Exchange for July from Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges Forum.

Prompts: from ChocolateWonder: (Pairing) James/Lily; (Pairing) Remus/Sirius; (Genre) Friendship; (Genre) Romance; (Dialogue) "Shut up and kiss me."; (Color) Periwinkle; (Emotion) Greed; and (Song) "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson
Picked up extra prompts: (Weather) Snowy; and (Dialogue) "I love you." / "I know."


This was written in response to additional challenges from Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenge Forum:
(01) 100 Ways to Say I Love You Challenge – Dialogue 37: "Can I kiss you?"
(02) Alternate Universe Challenges – Four Schools: The Four Founders split apart before Hogwarts was built, and each founded their own magical school instead.
(03) Are You Crazy Enough to Do It Challenge – Prompt 150: (Color) Silver
(04) Build Your Cube Challenge – Green: (Dialogue) "I don't know what you mean."
(05) Colors of the Rainbow Challenge – Purple, Prompt 3: (Word) Gift
(06) Climb to the Top of Mount Potter Challenge – Prompt 06: (Word) Disaster
(07) Crayon Color Challenge – (Color) Lavender
(08) Disney Character Challenge – Prince Phillip: Write about James Potter.
(09) The FRIENDS Competition: The One With 472 Prompts – (Season One) TOW The Blackout: Write anything using the prompt "darkness."
(10) Shop for a Prompt Challenge – (Word) Cool
(11) The Ultimate Doctor Who Challenge – Jamie McCimmon: Write about a Scottish character. (Minerva McGonagall.)
(12) Ultimate Write Challenge – Write two het fics: One of two.


Alfredas Edmund Pyrites the Third: There is a canon character named Pyrites. He was a Death Eater, and he wore white silk gloves that were stained with blood. This character only appears in the early drafts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. When design this version of the character, I wanted to give him a ridiculous name to go with his massive ego and horrible personality.