The Christmas Holidays had vanished far too quickly to the dismay of the student population. After an exhausting train journey back to school after an equally exhausting two and a half weeks, Lily had found herself kipping on a train bench with her cloak pulled over her because really, it was still dark outside and it was mid-afternoon. If that wasn't enough for a nap, she didn't know what was. Yawning as she pulled herself into one of the last carriages that already had some students in, she settled in for the ride.

"Lily? Did you have a good holiday?" The calm voice of Remus drifted to her and she opened her eyes properly. Noticing the others in the carriage properly for the first time, looking at her amusedly, she groaned.

"Yes, thanks Remus. Did you?" He smiled and nodded, and turned to give James a warning look that clearly meant 'The girl is tired, do not piss her off. Whatever you want to say, you can say it later.' James seemed to catch on, and he gave her a quick smile before turning his attention back to Sirius. This woke Lily up a little bit more. Turning her head back to look out the carriage, she the crease in between her eyebrows deepened and she bit her lip in confusion. That had never happened before. Normally when the boys tried to attempt to hold James back he ignored them even more and did his utmost best to get her attention. This was new, and a little unsettling.

NYL

Shrugging his cloak off his shoulders and dumping it on Peter's lap, James took the platter of sausages from Sirius and sat down quietly. The other boys shared a look and Sirius rolled his eyes.

"Mate... are you okay? You've barely said anything since the carriage, and I know you're excited about the Quidditch match next week so what's keeping you quiet?"

James looked up in surprise. "Yeah yeah, I'm fine. Honest. I just... did anyone notice that Lily was quiet in the carriage back? Like properly exhausted, as if she hadn't got a moment's peace in weeks?"

"But that's not surprising to us though, is it? I mean, what with her home life and all," Remus said hesitantly.

James' head whipped round to Remus so fast he almost gave himself whiplash: "What do you mean her home life? Isn't Miss Evans supposed to be practically perfect in every way?" he said, a tad bitterly. "No one can be good enough for Miss Evans."

Another look was shared amongst the three boys watching him spoon peas onto his plate almost viciously.

"You... you don't know? About her sister?" Remus queried. James raised his eyebrows and shook his head. "Basically, her sister is a nasty bitch who is jealous of Lily's magic. Muggle, you see. Doesn't understand what Lily has that she doesn't."

James rubbed his chin with the blunt end of his knife. "So she's miserable at home, and she's getting shit from the Slytherins at school? Why is Lily's sister still bitter though, after all this time? I mean, we've been here for years and –'' he cut off in confusion at the widening of their eyes and the shaking of their heads. "What? I'm just saying, Evans-"

"So this is what you talk about when you talk about me?" a voice said quietly behind him. James felt his heart sink and he dropped his cutlery quickly to turn around and explain. "No," she said, holding up her hand to silence him. "I don't want to hear it. You gossip about me behind my back, telling each other things that I told you in confidence-"

"Lily, please, we weren't gossiping, I was just explaining-'' Remus stopped at the cold look on her face.

"I don't want to hear your excuses, Lupin." He flinched at her icy tone. "Just don't talk to me." She turned on her heel and marched out the Hall and they could see her arms moving up to her face as if she was wiping away tears. There was a scraping of benches as her roommates stood up and glared at the four boys as they hurried out the hall after her.

Peter cleared his throat nervously. "I hate to, you know, say this, but technically Evans was right. We were gossiping, and about something that she's obviously quite sensitive about."

Remus sighed, and buried his face in his hands. Sirius practically inhaled a chicken drumstick. James frowned at Sirius' lack of sensitivity to the delicacy of the situation, and Peter sat there looking quite pleased with himself at having something relevant to say.

"Alright alright. We'll apologise to her tomorrow before Charms. No point in trying to get into that bloody dorm now, there's likely to be a human barricade of thirteen year olds desperate to defend Evans against the bastards at the top of the staircase." They agreed quickly with him with a nod of their heads, and Gryffindor was restored to a temporary sort of peace.

NYL

As it turns out, in fact, when Lily Evans really didn't want to be found, she was a bloody genius at it. Even with the Marauder's Map, there seemed to be some kind of secret system because any time they came even close to her, suddenly a girl would appear and distract them. Cottoning on after the first six days of this happening, James decided that this called for something drastic. Preparing for the Quidditch match the next day, he smiled as he suddenly knew how to corner Evans without her being able to get away. Why in a very public, in-front-of-the-whole-school kind of way, of course.

NYL

Wrapping her scarf around her neck and rolling her eyes at her roommate's excited squeals at the players walking on to the pitch, Lily also breathed a sigh of relief that once again, she could elude the four boys for another couple of hours. Remus wouldn't try and corner her without James, and James was very firmly on the pitch showing off his new broomstick and ruffling that stupid hair. The match began and she soon got bored but kept smiling and chatting with Alice about where Frank was taking her for their next date (they'd managed to make it to kissing without him tripping over something or accidentally headbutting her) and suddenly there was a huge bang from up in the air above the pitch.

"POTTER!" screamed McGonagall, "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?"

"Professor, that wasn't me!" James protested, with a grin on his face. Lily turned around to see Sirius sitting close by with a smirk on his face, and three frightened first years looking at him warily. Turning back to James a huge banner erupted out of the sparks which said 'SORRY FOR BEING GOBBY LITTLE SHITS, EVANS' scrawled across it. Burying her face in her hands, Lily thought she would rather like the ground to just swallow her up there and then. Getting up from her seat and hurrying out the stadium as quickly as possible, she missed James' crestfallen face at her exit.

NYL

One of the best things Lily loved most at winter was the cold, and with it, the lake freezing over. Charming it to ensure that it wouldn't crack under her weight, she transfigured her shoes into skates and began gliding. Lost in her spins and jumps, she almost tripped when she noticed someone standing by the trees at the edge of the lake. She watched as they transfigured their shoes into skates, and as they came closer she noticed the colour of the Gryffindor Quidditch robes. Groaning, she began skating away as quickly as she could. She could hear him following her, and she circled back and skated around him in circles as her stopped and watched her.

"Lily," James started hesitantly. "Please, just let me speak."

She slowed down and as gracefully as she could manage, stopped in front of him. She raised her eyebrows in indication to continue.

"I'm sorry. You really have no idea – Remus, he was just, he was explaining because you looked so tired on the carriage and you seemed upset and I didn't know if there was a way to help if I didn't know what was wrong but you weren't at dinner to ask and I really am sorry-'' he cut off midsentence for air as his rambling left him tongue tied.

Her eyes pierced him. "You know, if you want to know something, as much as I don't like the whole cocky arrogant flirty side, if you want to be a friend and help then just ask for goodness sake. If you're being genuine, I'll be able to tell. But I really don't appreciate being getting involved in my business if they're going to gossip about it with your little boy toys. You hurt me, James. You always seem to hurt me."

Cupping her chin in his mittened hand and looking into her eyes intently he searched for a sign of forgiveness. "I really truly am sorry."

She stared at him for what felt like hours but could only have been seconds. Her eyes scanned his face and lingered on his lips. He couldn't breathe, he felt like the air was being sucked out of his lungs and he steadily watched her eyes as they fluttered shut and her face turned upwards as she met him halfway in a kiss that tasted of pumpkin juice and strawberry jam and made her blood start rushing quickly and his heart pound in his ears. Brushing little kisses over the edges and corners of her lips she inhaled his scent and remained in their embrace after their first kiss slowed down. Pulling her face away to look at him properly she gave a small smile and took a deep breath.

"If there is any chance ever of this happening, then there are some things that need to happen first." James was about ready to sacrifice his soul for just one more of those kisses. He nodded in agreement so quickly he reminded her of a bobbing dog toy and her smile widened. "First, we are not dating. You are not my boyfriend, and according to anyone else we know this never happened." Watching his face fall slightly, she continued. "However, you are gaining my trust and friendship. I value those far more than rushing something, so you need to prove your worth with your actions just as much as your words. You are not mine, and I am not yours, but there is a smidgen of possibility. Don't mess this up, James. I'm counting on you reassuring me that changing my mind about giving you a real chance is the right thing to do." She touched her hand to his cheek, and smiled gently at him. "See you around, Potter." She glided away, and it took all James had for him not to do a backflip in his skates. Grinning broadly and trying not to let the flicker of hope in his heart get too ahead of his brain, he skated back to where he had left his Quidditch bag and trekked back to the castle, watching Lily ahead of him in the distance.

And behind the cluster of trees she had spotted him nearby earlier on, a figure crouched hidden as his eyes narrowed and his frown deepened at the scene on the lake they had just displayed.

A/N Genuinely, when this chapter started writing itself I had absolutely no idea that was going to happen. However, as they say in the movies, one thing led to another... and there we go. The first kiss! And hopefully, not the last. Thank you to everyone who's been favouriting and alerting and the small number reviewing other stories, and I would really appreciate some feedback on this. Please please read and review, and if you'd like me to I'll send you a snippet of the next chapter in advance.

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