"Tell me again why you're not shagging Evans in the bathroom stall of that bakery right now?" said Sirius as the two Marauders walked down Cokeworth's main drag.

"Excuse you?" James snapped, mustering an impressive amount of righteous indignation for someone who'd just screamed in the face of a girl he was half-in love with.

"Oh, sorry," Sirius oozed sarcasm from every pore. "Is that not what you're trying to do? I must've gotten the wrong impression when you dragged me to bloody hell-and-gone at nine in the morning."

James did not have an answer to this point. Or rather, he did, but it was a resounding 'yes, I am, and once I'm done shagging her I'm trying to hold her hand and kiss her on the forehead and never let her out of my arms again, but apparently I'm a Hufflepuff and don't have the stones to tell her,' which he was not about to say aloud, even though his best mate already knew it.

"You love Lily," he said instead. "Don't pretend you weren't happy to see her."

"'Course I love Lily. You know what else I love? My bed. My pillow. My deluxe silk sheets."

"My deluxe silk sheets, you bloody squatter."

"It was you that made a fortune off Sleakeazy then?"

James could not fight this point either, so he returned to his original one. "We both know you enjoyed yourself. Pissing off shit relatives is your kink."

Sirius ignored him. "You picked her up two different times in the course of twenty minutes, Prongs. That's two more times than any self-respecting bloke is ever allowed to pick up a woman who's not shagging him. They have rules about these things."

"What's their rule on hexing your best mate when he says crass things about the love of your life?"

"Firmly anti."

"Good thing I'm firmly anti rules." Sirius snorted.

Padfoot was right, James knew (about the picking her up, not the hexing. He deserved a Jelly-legs at least, and he'd bloody well get it as soon as there were no Muggles around to see). But he hadn't seen her in weeks, and then she'd hugged him, and she smelled—he'd really fucking wanted to hold her. Always wanted to. Wanted to right now, actually, and maybe he could've been if he hadn't acted such a bloody stupid twat.

James scrubbed a hand through his hair furiously. He pulled his glasses off his face, polished them, put them back on. No, not clean enough. He yanked them off again, but Sirius reached out and snatched them from his hands.

"Oi! I need those to see."

"You need your throat to breathe, and I was going to strangle you if you didn't stop fidgeting. So, you know, you're welcome for saving your life." James rolled his eyes. "Are we going to talk about what happened back there, or can I Apparate right back to bed?"

James shrugged helplessly. "I fucked up, that's what happened. I wasn't planning to ask her out—"

"Hah!"

"Or, fine, I was. But differently. Better. I had—there was a speech. But then—" but then her shirt had ridden up as they were playfighting, and he'd touched her bare stomach. "I forgot it all and I just asked like an idiot, and she didn't want to, and I—I freaked out."

"Who says she didn't want to?"

"Padfoot," His voice sounded whiny even to him, but he couldn't help it. "She said date like...like you'd say 'colonoscopy.'"

"Nah, she didn't." Sirius snorted. "Said it like somebody in the middle of getting a colonoscopy, maybe…"

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?" Still specless, James resorted to mussing up his hair again. Sirius rolled his eyes. Then— "Hang on, how do you even know what a colonoscopy is? You don't take Muggle Studies."

Sirius was suddenly extremely interested in a tree by the side of the road.

"Padfoot?"

"Oh, you know how you pick up bits of Muggle terminology… Beatles… airplanes… colonoscopy…"

"Padfoot."

"Let's just say I recommend against starting a prank war with Evans."

"Sirius."

Sirius smirked. "Fine. Remember that time over Easter hols that I got that pain in my bum and Lil took me to Mungo's?"

"Rings a bell."

"Yeah, we lied about that."

Apparently, during a prank war that had escalated from an innocent jinx over the course of two months, Sirius had almost gotten her trampled to death after a "very small misunderstanding" with a hippogriff. She'd retaliated by secretly hexing his arse black and blue, then suggesting a Muggle doctor ("It sounds like an adenoma. My family doc's brilliant with those and way cheaper than Mungo's. Just ask for a colonoscopy."). The bloke had ordered Sirius to drop his pants, and, not wanting to act suspicious if this was somehow part of the deal for Muggle healers, Sirius obeyed...

"...And that was the second worst thing that's ever happened to my bum," Sirius finished as James roared with laughter. "Wanna hear about the first?" he added, turning to smirk at James, but the expression slid off his face as soon as they made eye contact. "Oh, no."

"No, what?"

"No, you do not get to look at me like that. It's nauseating enough when you look at Evans like she's the Mona bloody Lisa, don't you dare start making eyes at me every time I say her name."

"Then stop telling me stories about how spectacular she is!" James muttered, face bright red.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Glad you enjoyed. My arse is grateful for your sincere concern."

"Your arse can get stuffed."

"My arse already did, remember. Do you listen when I talk?"

"Not if I can help it."

"Right, I'm going back to bed—"

"WHY did I ask her out?!" James seized Sirius's arm to stop him from Apparating, and his best mate sighed melodramatically and stopped walking, turning to glare at James.

"Because you're in bloody love with each other and you both know it, for Merlin's sake!" Sirius barked. "Because asking her out was the first sensible thing you've done in a year, and then she got a little nervous and squeaky and you cocked it up. So get back there, get down on your knees and tell her how sorry you are. And then"—he smirked—"if she doesn't believe you, you'll be in a very convenient position to prove it."

"Er," said James, and he stared very hard at a dead worm lying on the sidewalk before him to avoid conjuring any other images.

When he looked up, he realized that they had left Cokeworth behind without noticing. They found themselves approaching an old quarry where a few dozen children played, their parents watching from the edge. His eyes automatically followed a shock of red hair attached to a little girl in an even redder bathing costume. People who said redheads shouldn't wear red might have a point.

Lily popped into his head in a tiny cherry dress, tipsily grabbing his tie and crying, "It's all a conspiracy!"

"What rot are you talking, Evans?" he'd asked her, laughing, breathless, fingers touched his neck. "What conspiracy?"

She shook her head wildly, sending red tendrils spiraling every which way. "Redheads wearing red. Your hair's black, Potter. What if somebody said you couldn't wear black?" She trailed a hand down his chest, over the black dress robes he'd worn for this Slug Club party, the one he could've asked her to as a date but I'd rather go out with the giant squid and it had been a year but still he was scared. "That'd be a travesty."

"A travesty?" Heart in his throat. "Why's that, Evans?"

"Nuh-uh, no fishing." She pulled away—talk about a travesty—and twirled on her tiptoes. "Waddaya think, James? Am I hideous?"

People who said redheads shouldn't wear red were fucking idiots.

James shook himself, then turned away from the little girl and announced: "I have a plan!"

He pulled out his wand and turned Sirius's left shoe into a small and furious opossum.

"OI!" his best mate yelped, hopping on his right foot and swinging the other wildly, trying to dislodge the rodent that had now latched onto his toe. "AWOOGA! What the—BLEARGH!" with a final yell of rage, he sent the rodent soaring off his foot and into the air.

James, cackling, flicked his wand and the possum was a trainer again before it hit the ground.

"Take your plan," Sirius hissed, as he prodded the shoe gingerly with the injured toe, "and shove it up a hinkypunk's arsecrack."

"That was step one," said James, unperturbed. "Lily's not an object; stop being a prick. Now for step two…" he set off toward the redheaded kid, who was now holding hands with a girl around James's age, clearly her babysitter.

"Hullo," he said, smiling at the babysitter. "I'd like to borrow your ginge-let."

"Pardon?"

"You see, I'm in love with this other ginger, but she's mad at me right now so—"

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, shit, not like that! It's just that Evans has, er, a certain affinity for other gingers, so—"

"Ohmigod, what?!"

"And she really likes little girls—"

"If you don't leave right now—"

"Is this guy bothering you?" Sirius, who James had assumed was hanging back and laughing at his misfortune, had appeared by the babysitter's side, extending a hand and gazing very sincerely into her eyes.

"Oh," she said, lashes fluttering as she seized his hand and held on tightly. "Hi."

"You'll have to excuse my friend here," Sirius told her, bending his head towards her conspiratorially. "He gets nervous around incredibly gorgeous women."

As she giggled and preened, James marveled, not for the first time or the last, at Sirius's terrifying sexual magnetism. You're welcome, Sirius told him with a quick, sardonic glance. James sent back a nonverbal thank you heavily laced with profanity.

Five minutes later, the two boys were marching back toward the bakery, little redhead (Rosie, apparently) now in tow.

"How did you do that?"

"I'm magic," Sirius deadpanned.


She had let her hair down.

She had let her hair down, and her skirt was quite short.

She had let her hair down, and her skirt was quite short, and now she was bending over a table, back to the window from which the three of them watched.

James cleared his throat. Sirius, who knew him entirely too bloody well, snickered. James needed worse mates.

Ignoring Sirius, he turned to Rosie, pulled her back from the window where the three peeked in. He guided her into a small alley around the corner from the shop and squatted down to the little girl's eye-level.

"Did you see the pretty lady?"

She grinned, showing off a gap in her front teeth. "She's really pretty."

"Yeah. She's really sweet too. And really brave. And really funny."

"And he's really whipped."

"Shuddup, Sirius. I, er, I really like her."

"Does she like you?"

James laughed nervously. "Er, that's a good question, actually. I think—I think she does, yeah. But she hasn't said that to me."

Why not?"

"Well, because I used to be...not nice. And I kind of helped make her sad. Not—not on purpose, mind, and I'd never do it now, but I—there was this guy, and I was jealous—I was mean to him, and then he was mean to her—and, well, I think she's just nervous. She's not sure I wouldn't do that again."

"Then how do you know she likes you?"

James' laugh was strangled, this time. "Well I don't…know, exactly, but…"

How do you explain to a seven-year-old that they talked to each other like they were the only ones in the room, that they were constantly, needlessly touching each other everywhere, that her pupils dilated when she looked at him, that she hadn't spoken to him for a week after he went on that date with Susan Findlay—didn't she know he was just trying to make her jealous? Bloody impossible girl.

"My friends told me," he said instead, which was true. Also, her friends had told him. And their mutual acquaintances. And some of the house elves that cleaned Gryffindor tower. Hagrid. Professor Slughorn. Minnie had nearly throttled him over it, and Dumbledore had summoned James to his office to ask that James owl him if they got together over the summer because he had ten Galleons on July.

"Oh," said Rosie. "Okay, I'll tell her." And she made to march into the bakery.

"NO!" James yelped, grabbing her little arm and holding her back, "Nononononono. No."

"Ow."

"Sorry, sorry, sorry, I'm a twa—a jerk. Sorry. Didn't mean to hurt you, kid. It's just: I don't want you to tell her. I could tell her…"

"Hah!" said Sirius, who was ripe for another biting trainer.

"I could tell her; I don't need you for that," James repeated. "You're here for recon. Your job…and if you do it well, I'll buy you whatever you want in the bakery…is to go in there, start up a conversation about, I dunno, Disney princesses or something"—Sirius made a noise like a drowning man who had given up swimming and was just trying to suck more water in to shuffle off this mortal coil as fast as possible—"and then casually ask about her love life."

Rosie frowned. "You want me to lie?"

"It's not lying!" James said quickly, with a quelling look at Sirius to preclude another 'Hah'. "It's…creative nonfiction."

"Credating what?"

"Never mind. You don't have to lie, just…leave some stuff out. Like my existence.

"Hmm," said the little girl. "But why should I help you?"

"What?"

She folded her arms over her chest—like a miniature Lily, James noted against his will—and said, "Boys have cooties. Why should I help you give her your cooties?"

James blinked, almost laughed, and then, without quite knowing why, he told her.

For nearly twenty minutes, everything that he loved about Lily poured out of him in a rush so appallingly soppy that Sirius walked away two minutes in. Her kindness and her face her quips and her body"—ahem! I mean brain—" and her pranks and those tight little sanity-wrecking skirts she wore and how she'd figured out Remus's condition fourth year and never said a word and her blatant refusal to use feather quills or parchment rolls and her certainty that she was going to fight in the war and every other thought too poncy to say to the Marauders poured out of him in a rush as Rosie sat, wide-eyed and rapt.

It worked. When he was done, Rosie's hands were clasped under her chin as her eyes shone. "That's so romandic!" she cried, and patted him on the head.

Bloody hell, why was his head suddenly at six-year-old-pat height? When had he sat down on the sidewalk? James stood up abruptly, brushing off his bum.

"Great," he muttered. "I'm glad. So you'll do it?"

"Y….yes! Yes, I will. For a cupcake."

James whistled, long and low, and a moment later a great black dog appeared and became his best mate a split-second before Rosie turned to look at him.

James passed over two pound-notes and he and Sirius tucked themselves near an open window to watch and listen as Rosie marched into the bakery and up to the counter. Lily looked gorgeous. He wanted to play with her hair.

"Hi, Lily!" Hold your hippogriffs, when had he said her name?

"Rosie! Hon, I haven't seen you since last summer, when did you get so grown up? How's Aunt Jasmine?"

"Mummy got me a new dollhouse!"

James's jaw dropped. Aunt Jasmine. Mummy.

Lily. Petunia. Rose. Jasmine.

No.

Way.

Beside James, Sirius made a noise like a broken trombone and bent over at the waist, guffawing, but James was way too far gone to be upset about that. Forgetting all about the plan, he charged into the bakery and pointed a furious finger at the backstabbing little shit.

"You're cousins?!"

The little brat just grinned. "That's James. He wants to sit on you," she informed Lily serenely.

"What?" James and Lily said together.

"Like Mummies and Daddies! How sometimes at night after the kids go to bed, Mummies and Daddies sit on each other because of they love them." Lily and James must still have looked baffled, because Rose kept going. "I'm sorry, did you not know? I only finded out because I had a nightmare and I came in and they were doing sitting. But Mummy said not to talk about it so…" she looked thoroughly ashamed of herself now, "Sorry."

"Um," Lily said, "It's okay, love. But could we maybe circle back to, er—"

"Specsacles?"

"Yeah."

"He thinks you're the beautifulest girl in the whole world, and he wants to make babies on you."

"Oh," said Lily faintly. She was very pale. He wanted to hold her. "Well, if that's all, then…"

"And he says you're funny and brave and strong and you're nice to people even when they're not nice back because you're finnastick—I mean, fadastick—"

"Fantastic," James whispered. What? Why?! Why was he helping her spill his secrets instead of stuffing the horrible little brat into a burlap sack?

"Yes, fannastic! Like how you're nice to Toots!"

"Tuney," Lily corrected.

"Toots," the little girl answered, so severely that James would've laughed if he hadn't been two deep breaths from an aneurysm. "She gave me a dustpan for my birthday. She's Toots. But I'm talking about Specsacles, and he's sorry he was mean before like last year and also this morning, but he likes you a lot a lot a lot and it makes him into"—her eyes widened—"a T-W-A-T. So he's hoping maybe you could do a fannastick on him and be nice anyway."

For a moment, or ten minutes, or possibly several years, Lily didn't say or do anything at all.

"Lily, I…" James almost-whispered, when the suspense became unbearable.

"Before," she interrupted, searching his eyes behind his specs. "When I said 'Is this a date?' and you said, 'No' like the very idea disgusted you…"

He winced, half-stepped toward her, thought better of it. "I was scared," he said. "I'm terrified of you, Evans."

"Well, maybe I'm scared of you too, James. Maybe it didn't help when you squealed like a stuck pig at the thought of a date with me."

"I have no idea what a stuck pig is, but I'd stick a flaming hot poker up my bum for a shot at a date with you," he said fervently.

She almost smiled. He wanted to cheer. He wanted to snog the living daylights out of her.

"Well…" she broke eye contact finally, and picked Rosie up off the counter to set her on the ground. "We don't want that, do we, kiddo?"

"Ouch!" agreed the little girl.

"We don't…is that…Lily, is that a yes?"

She ignored him completely. "Now, Rosie Evans, what are you doing in this bakery today? I'd wager you're in the market for a cupcake, right?"

James did a passable imitation of said stuck pig, and Sirius again burst out laughing.

"Yes, Miss Lily!" said Rosie, with complete disregard for her cupcake benefactor's conniption fit behind her. "Chocolate, please. The sprinkley ones."

Lily slid behind the counter, pulled a chocolate cupcake out of the display, and slid it across the counter on a plate for the little girl. Rosie offered James's bill, but Lily pushed it away.

"Family eats free, silly. Even Tuney can't argue with that." She cast a sour look toward the back door behind which her sister presumably sat. Rosie smiled and tried to grab the plate, but Lily paused and tugged it back. "Well, not quite free…" she unwrapped one side of the cupcake and took a bite, winking at her little cousin when Rosie made a face. "Take notes, Rose: Any time you're going to kiss a boy, it's a good idea to eat something yummy first."

Did she…had she just…?

Yes. Yes, she had.

Bloody hell, he loved her.

"Thank you, Lily! It's delicious." The little girl sat down at a small table and began to unwrap the rest of her cupcake.

"Rosie," James said, his voice pained, "could you, er, maybe, eat at one of the outside tables?"

Rosie frowned. "But there's AC in here. And Lily!"

James closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Look, kid, if you leave right now, I'll give you…" Bloody hell, what was a normal amount of Muggle money? "twenty pounds." Judging by her dropped jaw, he had overshot slightly, but who cared? She bounced up immediately, cupcake in tow, and all but sprinted out of the shop.

One down, one to go.

"You. Out. Now," he said roughly, rounding on a manically grinning Sirius. The bastard loved nothing more than a good cockblock.

"No twenty quid for your poor disinherited best mate?"

"Out!"

"Fine, fine, no skin off my nose. Dumbledore owes me ten Galleons anyway." Padfoot strolled (deliberately slowly) to the door, still barking his laughter, and let it clang shut behind him.

They were alone. James looked at Lily.

Her huge green eyes were already on him. Her hair curled around her face in tendrils that begged for his fingers, and the corners of her perfect pink lips curved up in a tiny, tentative smile. Her skirt was so short, and her legs were so long, and her little hands trembled, just slightly, just enough that he knew his could stop them.

"Hi," James said, smiling crookedly at her.

"Hi," she said back, so sweetly.

She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, and he watched her, greedy, imagining her tongue running over it. His tongue. Him biting that lip like that. Then it slipped back out, pink and wet and full and shining and beautiful.

In three strides his body was flush against hers. He forgot how to breathe. He'd been pressed against her before, every time he hugged her—dozens, hundreds of times, as many as he could get—but this was different. He reached out tenderly, hands shaking like hers had done a minute before.

His fingers brushed her waist. Her eyelids fluttered, and she let out a little 'oh!' that he felt all over his body, and his lips dropped to hers.

He meant to be slow and tender, but he hadn't bargained on her perfect fucking mouth.

She did taste like chocolate, but that wasn't half of it. Her lips were soft and warm and made for him. She licked his bottom lip and he might've blacked out, and then he was tasting her and tilting his head as one of his hands slid up into her hair to cradle her heead. She tugged his bottom lip between her teeth, and he should've been embarrassed by the sound he made, but the emotion was nowhere to be found.

It could've been seconds, or minutes, or lifetimes, because her lips were soft and her tongue was magic, but suddenly he felt a bump and realized he'd pushed her up against the wall. She didn't seem to mind, because she slid her arms around his neck and tugged his hair hard, painfully, ohGodsuchfuckinggoodpain.

He wrapped big, calloused hands around her tiny waist and pulled her half-off her feet. Her thigh hitched up over his and he grabbed hold of it.

Fuck, that skirt was short, and his hand was underneath it now, gripping the soft, smooth skin of her thigh, fingers inches from...fuck.

James groaned his need into her mouth, and his hips thrust against her harder. She whimpered desperately in response, and his whole body tightened. It was the sexiest sound he'd ever heard.

He felt drunk, but kissing her was better than Firewhiskey. Better than flying, better than becoming Prongs. Nothing had ever felt like this.

He tore his lips from hers to run his tongue over her neck. She murmured—moaned—his name in his ear, and what idiot Muggle invented trousers? They hurt like the dickens. He bit her neck, hard, to punish her for being too gorgeous, turning him on too much, but she pulled on his hair and rolled her hips against his and, Merlin, had that backfired.

"Lily," he growled, low in his throat. He meant it as a warning to them both (We're moving too fast. I want you too badly. You're Lily and you're snogging me and it's all too much) but she gasped, and her thigh hitched farther up his, and all rational thought disappeared.

One hand cradling her head, one still on her thigh, he picked her up and slammed her against the wall. They knocked something down, possibly, because he heard a crash, but he could not have cared less. Her legs wrapped around his waist. Her little hand yanked his chin up and her mouth found his again, hot and open and wanting. You taste like the rest of my life, James thought, with an intensity that scared him, but not as much as it probably should have.

Then came a loud bang, and a louder shriek, and the bubble burst.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" shrieked a blonde lady.

James's brain was not moving very quickly. Was the blonde lady angry at him? That seemed unlikely. He was doing the only thing in the world any sensible person would ever want to do. And, actually, he thought he'd get back to it, if that was quite alright with Blonde Lady. He turned back to Lily and found to his glee that her lips were still swollen, her chest heaving, her whole body beautifully, spectacularly his—

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

Ah. Blonde Lady, James recalled with an unpleasant jolt, was Lily's shit sister.

"S-s-sorry," Lily said, and he knew then that would never again hear her apologize without thinking of it stuttered breathlessly through well-kissed lips as her lashes fluttered, and she didn't sound sorry, not in the slightest.

"Disgusting…perverted …this is a place of work! I've half a mind to fire you right now—"

"Would she get the rest of the day off?" James wanted to know.

"Tuney, come on…"

"No, I will not come on, Lily! Practically having sex on the floor, my God."

James was mildly offended. His first time with Lily was not going to be on the muddy floor of some Muggle bakery.

"We were just kissing!" Lily protested, but James found that offended him too.

"Just?"

"I mean…" she turned a glorious shade of pink.

James had done that. He made her blush.

"No," she whispered, squeezing his shoulders where her hands still rested. "Not just anything."

James grinned and leaned in to kiss her again, and Petunia did an impression of a small dog getting run over. It was rather a good impression, but as a soundtrack for romance, it left something to be desired.

"Boy. Out. Now." Petunia snarled. "Lily. Sell pastries. 'Til five. No more boys. Or you're fired."

Lily bit her lip, and James briefly considered Stunning Petunia and Side-Along Apparitioning Lily back to his house. But then he had a better idea.

"Or," he said, not taking his eyes off Lily, "How much would it take to clean this place out?"

"Pardon?"

"Lil's got to stay here to sell these pastries. Ergo, sell the pastries, she can go. Yes?"

"I—you're not—"

"Listen, Toots—can I call you Toots?"

"No, you may not!"

"Here's the thing, Toots. I've been in love with this girl for about three years now. And I've finally tricked her into thinking she likes me too, and I'd really like to spend every minute I can with her before she comes to her senses and realizes she can have any bloke in the bloody world. I'm also, as it happens, disgustingly rich. So…all your pastries? Now, preferably?"

Lily's eyes were wide and glowing, her skin flushed, her smile unmanageably wide, but when she spoke, her voice was firm. "James, I can't let you do that. And just, what, chuck them all in the bin?"

"Right you are, Evans," he agreed instantly, and kissed her nose. "It's a shit plan. How did I collect such a brilliant, planet-conscious girlfriend?"

"Must be all your philanthropic work saving the wolves," she said, and he chuckled, low and deep, in her ear.

"They're practically extinct," he told her seriously, "I swear, 27 days out of 28 you won't find a single one." She giggled and he squeezed her even tighter.

"Get out!" Lily's sister snarled, apparently fed up with inside jokes she didn't understand, "Get out, get out, get out of my store!" There were a sort of ridiculous number of people kicking each other out of this store today, James reflected with the tiny fraction of his brain that wasn't focused on Lily's flushed face.

He kissed her on both cheeks and then, very hard and long, on the mouth, then stepped back. Reluctantly, he let his hands slide off her back and down her arms. When he reached her hands, she caught his fingers in hers and he felt a thrill.

"You're going?" lips parted in disappointment, irresistible. He leaned back in and kissed her again.

"Got to, boss's orders!" he said with a huge wink. James headed for the exit, never taking his eyes off Lily. When he reached the door, he pushed it open with his backside, eyes still on hers.

"OI!" He yelled into the street, very uncouth, not at all British, couldn't care less. "Oi, COKEWORTH! Who wants a free pastry?"

Just about everyone in town, as it turned out.

At some point in the hour that followed, Sirius showed back up. Deeply amused, he whipped off his shirt to loll dramatically outside the bakery, harassing passersby or, in his words, "giving the people what they really want."

Meanwhile, James migrated behind the counter to help Lily deal with the influx of customers (Petunia had let out a shriek of rage and stomped back into the kitchen when it became clear that she was not going to be able to stop this train). Never having done manual labor in his life, James kept dropping pastries or forgetting to wear gloves to grab them, but both employees were curiously unconcerned about running through the stock too quickly.

All told, James probably slowed the operation down more than he sped it up, because every time their fingers brushed, both clerks became much less interested in pastries and much more interested in blushing and grinning and nudging each other like the infatuated ponces they were.

The first time Lily had to squeeze behind him in the small space behind the counter, she smacked his bum so quickly that he didn't have a chance to react.

The second time, he was ready, and he whirled around and pressed her against the wall in a deep, passionate kiss.

"Oi!" yelled someone in line after a few blissful moments, "No mackin' in front of the muffins!"

By half past eleven, every shelf in the shop was empty and James's pockets were noticeably lighter. Once they swept and mopped and scrubbed the counters, there was very little left for Petunia to do to keep them there, and James turned to Lily with a very soft smile.

"What do you say, Evans? Will you do a fannastic on the rest of my afternoon?"

She threw her arms around his neck and did a fannastic all over him.


A/N: Reviews are jily smooches and jammy pastries!

Also, just a fun tidbit that I couldn't work in directly but…in the universe of this fic, a few years later James proposed by asking "What do you say, Evans? Will you do a fannastic on the rest of my life?"