A/N: Hi guys! Sorry about the week of delay for this chappie, I had a few computer problems and my personal hiatus to deal with too; but to compensate for that (not really) this chapter is longer than the others XD. So anyway, thanks once more to SorchaSaoirse and Jazz E. Roisin for betaing this fic! (I'm shamelessly advertising their work too, which is awesome :D)
My other fic The Later Years's deadline for chapter 3 has also been moved - a week more max - because I'm pretty much overwhelmed with things lately… yes, I know, what's the point of having a deadline if you can move it uh? But well, some things are more important then my fics at times…
One more thing, if I go according to plans then the next chapter (#4) will be the final one… I might go up to number 5, but I don't think I will any further - unless I get begged to ;)
Enjoy and don't forget to leave a review (:
James, Sirius and Remus huddled down next to Tom, Dan and Sean as soon as they reached them, matching devilish grins on their faces.
Tom looked around at them. 'Come to help, have you?' he asked with a grin.
'That's for sure,' Sirius said, clapping Dan on the back forcefully. 'We figured you lads could use some help from a couple of master pranksters like myself and Potter here…'
Sean looked around to Remus with a slightly doubtful expression. 'And Mr. Prefect here, is he also up for a laugh? We could use his brains…'
Remus glared at Sean. 'All you want is my brains, uh Fawcett?' he said jokingly. 'Anyway, you better not break my newly-found mood. If I say I'm willing to help prank Peter, quite obviously I am up for a laugh. Although I don't deny it might be due to one Butterbeer too many…'
'All right then,' Tom said with a chuckle, motioning to the other boys to crouch down next to him.
'Operation Pranking Pettigrew is in order!' James exclaimed, thrusting his fist into the air and earning himself a few weird looks from the surrounding people.
'What?' James said sheepishly, glancing at Remus, who was looking at him with a slightly bemused expression. 'It's not my fault I get excited over such, umm, trivial things.'
Snickering, Tom beckoned them toward him once more.
'So,' he said, looking around at his five companions. 'Got any ideas? Or are you just planning to interfere loudly?' He cleared his throat, looking at James pointedly.
'Ideas?' Sirius repeated. 'What do you think we're here for if not that?' he asked indignantly.
'Then get on with it already!' Dan exclaimed, speaking for the first time. 'We haven't exactly got all term you know!'
Meanwhile, Loreen was catching Lily up with the events in the secret chamber.
'-and I just thought I was going to melt, you know,' Loreen was saying with a dreamy look in her eyes. Lily gave a non-committal nod, feeling an odd desire to laugh as she gazed at her usually very down-to-earth friend.
'So, are you two going to go out or something?' She asked curiously, bringing Loreen out of her daze.
'Yes, actually,' Loreen said happily. 'He asked me to go with him to the next Hogsmeade weekend… you know, the last one of the term in two weeks?'
'Cool!' Lily said sincerely, smiling at Loreen. 'Dream come true for you, uh?' she added with a slightly teasing grin.
'Pretty much,' Loreen answered, grinning.
Just then there was a great scuffling of feet as James, Remus and Sirius leapt up from their seats across the room and ran over to where Tom, Dan and Sean were sitting, crouched down together.
Loreen laughed, but Lily frowned lightly. 'I don't think they're exactly planning to convince Tom and co. to go easy on Peter… More likely, they'll just 'unite their forces' to make Peter's dare even more horrifyingly humiliating for the sole purpose of giving everyone a good laugh.'
Loreen chuckled, saying,
'Well, that's pretty much the point of 'truth or dare?' isn't it? Humiliating some, giving everyone a good laugh - and giving others a wonderful snogging session,' she finished with a mischievous grin.
'I guess… as long as they don't get everyone in trouble.'
'Yeah yeah, 'as a prefect it is your responsibility to restrain your fellow pupils from doing unruly things, Miss Evans,''' Loreen said in a perfect imitation of Professor McGonagall.
'Anyway, what about you?' Loreen asked suddenly, changing the subject at top speed.
'What about me?' Lily responded confusedly.
'Oh, you know what I mean.' She dropped her voice. 'Do you fancy a snogging session with Potter?'
Lily was about to protest but stopped. Maybe she was just being her usual stubborn self and making a stupid choice? After all, she did fancy Potter… Potter, who's mere smile made her heart flutter… Potter, who had been asking her out for the past couple of years… Potter, she remembered suddenly, who was an obnoxious git and never lost an opportunity to humiliate and hurt Severus. Severus, she thought furiously, who had called her a- a Mudblood. Severus, who hung out with all those dark-magic loving idiots Nott and Lestrange. Why should she care what Potter said to him? It wasn't like he cared about her, she thought sadly. She had tried to help him and he had done what? Called her a filthy Mudblood. What a wonderful demonstration of gratitude. Filthy Mudblood. Filthy Mudblood. So that was what she was to him? A meaningless, dirty muggle-born polluting the blood of his great pure-blood ancestors?
And who had stood up for her then? Potter. Potter, who's twinkling hazel eyes and ruffled hair made her melt. Potter, who was an intolerable show-off. Potter, who had made a point of sending her a box of chocolates and a Lilly on every Valentine's Day.
'Uh, Lil'?' Loreen said, poking her in the arm. 'You with me here?'
Lily jolted back to reality from her long internal ramble with a sigh. 'Yeah,' she said, turning back to Loreen while rubbing her aching forehead. 'Sorry. I just don't know what to do. It's so very confusing.'
Loreen looked at her sympathetically. 'Torn between two boys are you?' she asked, as if reading Lily's mind.
Lily nodded slowly, dropping her voice to confide in her friend. 'Well, yes. On one hand, if I do do - something - with Potter, that literally means the end of my friendship - or what's left of it - with Severus.'
Loreen frowned at the mention of Severus, who she had never really liked - understandably, as he and his cronies often tormented her for her muggle heritage.
'He called you a Mudblood, Lil'! How can you still want to be friends with him?'
Lily sighed again. 'I don't know. It's so frustrating. I don't want to throw away the friendship I've had with Severus for years, but on the other hand - there's Potter,' she said, throwing a dirty look at James as if it was his entire fault. 'But then, he calls all my friends Mudbloods. Why should I be any different?'
Loreen patted her on the back, obviously determined not to take sides, for which Lily was grateful. 'You'll be ok. Just do what your heart tells you to do. Don't over-analyze things. You'll cross the bridge when you get to it.'
Lily grinned affectionately at Loreen. 'Exactly how many cliché sentences have you used in one piece of advice Lor'?'
Loreen pretended to look offended. 'It's all true you know!'
'I know, I know,' Lily said. 'Well, just do whatever you want about the Potter situation. I'll deal with the consequences later. Frankly, I can't really think straight at the moment. If my brain explodes, just make sure Petunia doesn't get my bunny slippers ok?'
Loreen proceeded to look mischievously happy, crossing her legs and leaning back, glancing once more in the direction of Sirius.
A minute of Lily's daydreaming later, the group of boys plotting Peter's 'downfall' stood up, all grinning widely and ominously.
The noise, however, did not quiet down, and therefore Tom found himself obliged to bellow 'SILENCE!'
'Taking himself a bit too seriously, isn't he?' Lily muttered to Loreen as a few people started, looked around for the noise and they all quieted down gradually.
The other boys then came forward. 'Ok then!' James called, beckoning to Peter, who came towards them, shuffling his feet uncomfortably and looking quite terrified.
'Peter Pettigrew,' James started in a serious voice, 'after many long hours of counseling-', here there were a few snorts from the onlookers, 'we have finally reached the decision of what is to be your doom.'
Peter shivered awkwardly and there were a few cries of 'get on with it already, Potter!'
Passing a hand through his already messy jet-black hair, James allowed the grin to creep onto his face. 'Straight to the point then. Your dare, Mr. Pettigrew, is to run through the Hogwarts corridors with only your underpants on, and to prove that you have done so, bring back a pastry of your choice from the Hogwarts Kitchens.'
There was a mounting wave of gleeful cries, jeers, giggles and laughs as James finished his words, crossing his arms and looking self-contentedly down at Peter.
Peter, who's already normally bulging eyes had widened and widened as James got on with his tale, was now standing frozen to the spot, trembling quite comically, a splutter forming on his lips.
'B-but James!' He spluttered, looking around frantically. 'Remus!' he cried, spotting Remus, who was looking quite indifferently gleeful next to Sirius, he too grinning at the prospect. 'I-I can't d-do this!' Peter cried. 'What if I get c-caught by McGonagall, or F-Filch?!'
James was about to answer when he heard a disapproving 'hmph' from behind him. Turning around, he saw with a jolt a cross-looking Lily Evans, hands on hips. 'If he gets caught, we'll all be in trouble you know,' she said, looking accusingly at James.
James waved his hand carelessly. 'Another detention or too isn't going to make a difference'
'For you, maybe. But I'll be held personally responsible. I don't agree with this one bit. Can't you find something just as embarrassing that he can do without leaving the common room?'
'No,' James answered shortly, turning his back on Lily, who marched off irritatingly.
'You'll be fine, Wormtail,' Sirius said laughingly, clapping Peter forcefully on the back and making him lurch forward a bit. 'We'll be waiting here with a welcome worth of a hero when - sorry, if you come back.'
Surprisingly, Peter did not look at all comforted by Sirius's words and started turning aimlessly on the spot, at a loss for what to do.
'Common' then Peter!' Dan yelled, downing a bottle of Butterbeer. 'Show us what you've got.'
Peter creased his brow worriedly, murmuring something along the lines of 'got nothing at all'.
'Peter, Peter!' Remus started cheering jokingly, clapping his hands. He was soon joined by a few amused others; and Peter, looking a bit revived by the support he was so unused to, went towards the portrait hole, bulging out his chest a bit and making Sirius choke on his drink.
'Uh, Peter!' James called amusedly at Peter's retreating form. 'We said in your underpants, you know!'
Peter flushed a bit and whispered 'too many people.'
James was about to respond when Remus placed a hand on his arm. 'Leave it, Prongs. Poor kid's got enough to deal with as it is.'
James sighed. 'Ok then Peter,' he said. 'You can take off your clothes outside.'
Peter shuffled out. Remus, James, Sirius, Tom, Dan and Sean followed after a moment, the rest of the fifth years edging out behind them to see the running Peter.
As they came out of the portrait hole, a half-naked, chubby Peter was revealed, bright red and holding his hands over his front.
James looked around for a sign of Filch, but the dimly-lit stone corridors seemed quite deserted. 'Common Peter!' He whispered. 'Let's see you run.'
With a final terrified look around, Peter took off, running clumsily down the corridor. Half-way through, he tripped and almost fell down, letting out a scared squeal.
Stuffing his fist into his mouth so as not to laugh, James beckoned to the group of laughing Gryffindors and they climbed back through the portrait hole.
Back inside, they settled down once more. 'So,' Tom said, 'shall we continue or wait for Pettigrew?'
'Knowing him, it could be a while before he comes back,' Remus said.
'If he comes back,' Sirius reminded them cheerfully.
'On with the game then,' Tom said, placing his wand in the center of the ring once again.
There was a tense hush as the wand spun around. After a relatively silent minute, it came to a halt in front of a grinning Remus Lupin and a nervous Lily Evans.
'Truth or dare?' Remus asked Lily, smiling
Lily did a quick pro-con list in her mind. If she chose dare, no matter what her dare was - and she had quite a good idea of what it would involve - she could always blame the thing on the dare; meaning she didn't really have a choice and it was therefore not implicating her true feeling. If she chose truth however, there was nothing she could blame her answer on. If she got asked something embarrassing, the truth was, well, the truth, and she couldn't get away with it. That settled it.
Remus grinned at her, and Loreen jumped up from her seat, throwing Lily a wink and a smile before joining Remus.
Lily, wondering what she had got herself into, leaned against the nearest armchair with a defeated sigh.
Staring around the room pointlessly as she waited for her dare, she had the feeling someone was looking at her. She threw a searching look around and her eyes locked with a pair of hazel ones. Her heart did a back flip as for a few seconds she stared into the unusually serious eyes of James Potter. Tearing her gaze back, she looked without seeing at a nearby portrait of a few drunken men, her heart hammering in her chest.
A moment later, Remus lifted his head, Loreen having apparently finished talking to him.
He stood up, throwing a brief glance at James.
Lily felt an intense feeling of nervousness creeping over her. Her insides tightened and churned, and she suddenly wanted to be anywhere but there.
'Ok Lily,' Remus said, smiling gently at her, as if feeling her growing apprehension.
Lily took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, telling herself it was just a game, but her stomach wasn't cooperating.
'Your dare is-' Remus started and Lily was very aware of the pounding of her heart in her chest.
'-to kiss James Potter for 5 seconds in front of everyone!' Loreen broke in with a squeal.
Becca and Colette gasped as Remus threw an exasperated glance in Loreen's direction, gathering around a stock-still Lily, now unaware of the giggles, smirks and glares that had broken out around her.
The only thing standing out from the blurry crowd was a certain bespectacled boy, sitting quite calmly on the other side of the room. She felt her knees go weak as she though of what she had to do. Kiss him, she thought with another - not unpleasant - jolt of her stomach; in front of everyone. Her head ached.
Lily Evans was going to kiss him. In front of the entire Gryffindor 5th year. He was finally going to kiss Lily Evans. For 5 whole seconds.
He kept his eyes locked on hers. She was leaning against a nearby armchair, hands clasped, absently twirling a ring on her finger. He sighed deeply. Her emerald eyes, that he knew so well, looked troubled as she kept shifting her gaze hesitantly from him to random objects in the room. He felt a tremble of excitement pass through him as he imagined being close to her, touching her, her lips. Finally. Even if it was in front of everyone… that didn't matter. Much.
James heard Remus calling his name. 'You should probably stand up Prongs,' Remus said with a grin. James did so, a little shakily, coming forward a few paces, very aware of the stares around him. He saw Loreen give Lily a little nudge out of the corner of his eye.
'Lily!' Loreen whispered beside her, having come back to her spot. Lily turned to her, running her hand nervously through her fiery hair.
Loreen placed a hand on her arm soothingly. 'You'll be ok,' she said with a wink.
Lily nodded, smiling a bit and turning back towards the center of the circle to where James was now advancing.
'Common Evans!' a voice shouted from somewhere across the room, and a few cheers answered.
Lily, the gnawing feeling at the pit of her stomach intensifying, stepped forward.
Quite abruptly, all the noise and the faces around him were blotted out. The only person still existing was Lily Evans, in all her splendor, coming toward him uncertainly. He tried to reassure her with his eyes - he himself was not sure of what. It was bizarre really, he thought. All the hostility between them was gone all of a sudden. As if they were more mature now… All the useless squabbles and bickering were a thing of the past. Now, it was just Lily, advancing closer. She raised her gaze to his, and he was mesmerized by her beautiful green eyes, unable to look away.
He was coming closer, his hazel eyes serious. Weird really, how the petty fights now seemed blurry and long lost. She didn't feel annoyed or angry, just nervous and excited now. There were only 3 more feet separating them… and then…
Something like 2 more feet. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. Only her and him.She shivered, smoothing out a strand of hair. A few more steps…
This was it. He was officially closer to Lily Evans than he had ever been. He was going to kiss Lily Evans. Well, technically she was going to kiss him… shut up. Same difference, really.
He dropped his eyes to her lips for a moment. Her lips, gently parted, full, soft pink, tempting him.
She was nervous… She was going to kiss James Potter. This handsome, childish, sweet, obnoxious, funny guy. He was so close now… If she just lifted her hand she could touch his dark blue shirt.
He could smell her sweet, airy perfume now. It smelled of flowers. Of her. He breathed deeply, waiting. Her face was right in front of his now.
She tipped her head back a bit to look straight into his eyes. They were almost nose to nose. He had stopped moving. It was up to her now. She could just turn back or kiss him. A shiver passed through her as she moved her foot one last step and then, with a sudden surge of courage, she closed her eyes and pressed her lips against his.
He let out a barely audible moan. Her lips were so damn soft… He wanted to deepen the kiss, but was afraid she'd break away…
Her knees went weak as she pressed her lips gently against his. His lips were moist and warm, brushing against hers, sending waves of pleasurable tingles through her body.
3… He only had two more seconds to kiss her. Her chest bumped his gently as he moved his lips over hers tenderly. Merlin, was she sweet.
2… It was almost over. She forgot where she was, so wrapped in the kiss as she was. She wanted to wrap her arms around him.
1… He lifted his hand to put it in her hair, feeling the gentle pressure of her lips against his. Then, it was over.
0. Lily broke away quite reluctantly, her eyelids fluttering open, her heart hammering in her chest as if she had just run a mile.
She looked down at her feet awkwardly, lifting her eyes to his for a brief second and then turning around. She barely registered the death glare Rose Brown was throwing at her as she walked clumsily back to her seat.
He took in a deep breath, glanced once more at her retreating figure, the light from the candles reflecting in her hair, and then walked back to where his friends sat.
Sirius grinned widely at him as he approached and clapped him on the back. 'Some snog, Prongs.'
James smiled, his mind elsewhere.
Two hours later, an exhausted and cranky Lily Evans was left alone in the common room, having taken on - it was her duty after all - the unpleasant mission of cleaning the common room. She looked around dejectedly at the piles of sweets wrappers, empty bottles of Butterbeer, and glasses left discarded on the refreshments table - in the good case, and on the carpet - in the bad one.
Shoulders slumped, she started picking up trash, cursing the person who had given Remus (I took out the word 'his' here) 7 Butterbeers and made him go to bed early because of a headache. She looked disgustedly at the "potion" a few boys had taken to concocting, made of a number of foul Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, a mixture of Butterbeer, punch and ketchup, and what appeared to be mashed up potato chips. Very mature, she thought irritably.
A few minutes later she heard a cough behind her and almost jumped out of her skin.
James Potter was standing at the foot of the boy's staircase. She flushed. 'You scared the hell out of me Potter.'
'Sorry,' he said with a smile. 'Need some help with that?'
She nodded, the memory of their previous encounter still very fresh in her mind.
'So… had fun tonight Evans?'
He looked at her bemusedly. 'Sorry?'
Lily blushed. 'Sorry… a French word for 'kind of' my aunt taught me…'
James grinned. 'Ah.'
'Did you have fun?'
'Oh, yeah,' James answered. 'Interesting night.'
Lily, if it was possible, felt herself blushing even more and cursed her red-head tendencies. She seemed to be cursing a lot of things tonight.
'Here,' James said, handing her an empty garbage bag, noticing the bloated one in her hand.
'Thanks,' Lily said quietly, keeping her gaze downwards, trying to ignore the memory of his hazel eyes penetrating her a couple of hours ago.
They worked in silence for some time, each of them at some point opening their mouth as if to speak, but closing it dismally.
Only when the common room was spotlessly clean did they sink exhaustedly onto the couch.
'Phew,' James said, wiping his brow. 'You'd have been at it all night if I hadn't come along…'
'Thanks,' Lily said bitterly.
James snapped his head around. 'Oh no, no! I didn't mean it like that… I'm happy to help, just that I meant I'm glad I came down or it would have taken you all night…' his voice faded away into a whisper.
'Oh,' Lily said. 'Sorry.'
There was another awkward pause as they were each lost in their thoughts. After a few minutes Lily shook herself, sniffed her hands, made a face and headed for the small bathroom the common room possessed.
When she came back, she found half-happily that James was still there, drying his hands on his pants.
'Where'd you get the water from?' she asked, playing with the bottom of her sweater nervously.
James pointed to his wand with a grin. 'I am a wizard after all you know.'
Lily flushed. 'Oh, yeah… When I'm tired I sometimes forget that I can do magic,' she said, rolling her eyes.
After a minute of silence, James opened his mouth hesitantly. 'Uh, Lily?'
Lily looked around, coming out of her reverie. 'Yes?'
'I wanted to tell you something…'
Her stomach tightened. 'Um, go ahead then.'
James moved a few steps closer, looking a bit uncomfortable. 'Uh, well, the thing is…'
Lily waited. 'Hm?'
'I wanted to tell you that, er,' he took a breath. 'That was a pitiful excuse for a snog that was.'
Lily opened wide her eyes. 'Excuse me?'
James shrugged his shoulders, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards. 'Sorry, just thought you might want to know.'
Lily felt her anger coming back. She drew herself up to her full height, fuming. 'How dare you James Potter?!' She yelled. 'And here I was, thinking that you'd changed!'
James shrugged again. 'Thought wrong then, didn't you?'
Lily felt as if she was going to explode. Was this really the serious-eyed boy she had kissed earlier? 'You are an obnoxious, childish, idiotic, stupid, annoying, insufferable git James Potter!' she screeched.
James raised his shoulders would-be despairingly. 'That's me.'
Lily gritted her teeth. Was he trying to infuriate her? 'I hate you!' She bellowed.
'Feeling's mutual then.'
What? I thought he liked me.
'Y-Yeah? Well… well, good!' Lily said loudly, crossing her arms and turning around to march up to her dormitory. Suddenly she heard a laugh behind her. She snapped around. James Potter was bent over, hands on his stomach, laughing his head off. She felt dazed. What the hell was going on here?
'Potter?! Have you finally completely lost your mind!?'
James didn't answer her but kept on laughing hysterically, chocking back his snickers and wiping his eyes. 'Sorry,' he managed to choke through his hoots. '…so…funny…'
'May I ask what exactly?' Lily said, starting to feel seriously annoyed.
'…you…' James hiccupped.
James took deep gulps of air, straightening up and stuffing his fist into his mouth. Once he had calmed down he said, 'you're so easy to manipulate Evans. It's bloody hilarious…'
'What do you mean?' Lily asked, furrowing her brow and trying to process the events of the last minutes.
'It's quite amusing to see you get angry, frankly… Especially when I have to put so little effort in it in order to wind you up.'
There was a moment of silence. 'Argh!' Lily cried, stomping her feet. 'I don't understand this! You mean that you tried to annoy me on purpose?'
'That you purposely acted like an ass-hole?'
'That you don't really hate me?'
'No, I beg you to lie to me.'
'Ha-ha. So, um, no, of course I don't hate you.'
'You mean this whole thing was a joke?' Lily said, rubbing her forehead.
'And, er, you um, don't think that was a pitiful excuse for a snog?' Lily asked timidly, blushing furiously.
At this even James looked a bit embarrassed. 'Er- No, I don't.'
Lily was silent for a moment, thinking everything over. 'YOU ARE THE MOST INFURIATING PRAT I'VE EVER SEEN POTTER!' she bellowed suddenly, making James almost jump out of his skin.
'A-erm, s-sorry then, Evans.'
'Sorry?! Do you know what you made me go through tonight? After all these bloody O. I also need you to worry about now?!' Lily shouted at James. She continued to ramble on and on about how insufferably selfish he was, how he was so childish that she was surprised he'd ever made it from the Hogwarts Express to the castle without starting a mud-ball fight - at which James colored, thinking that it would be preferable not to mention that he had done that very same thing the year before - and she was so caught up in her rant, pacing and turning around that she started as she whipped around and found herself face to face with a smiling James Potter.
'Shut up.' At that, James brought his lips crashing to hers, wrapping his arms around her waist decidedly. Lily made a small noise of surprise into his mouth but after a second flung her arms around his neck, returning his kiss with enthusiasm. As James lifted her off her feet, she wrapped her legs around him and he started walking backwards, still glued at the lips, until his knees bumped into a nearby couch and they both toppled over onto the sofa, Lily letting out a little squeal as she found herself on top of him.
'Surname again, is it?'
'How the hell did we get to this?'
'I have no bloody idea. And frankly, I couldn't care less.'
Lily grinned and brought her lips to his again, kissing him softly as he ran his hands through her silky hair. This time it was her turn to moan as James ran his tongue over her lower lip, at the same time drawing little circles with his finger on her arm.
A minute of what Loreen would have agreed was 'a wonderful snogging session' later, they surfaced for breath, and James smiled a Lily, his hazel eyes crinkling.
'That was anything but a pitiful excuse for a snog.'