1974


"It'll be fun. Plus, it's tradition. Everyone does it at least once," Sirius insisted.

Remus wanted to resist his friend's steering, but this was Sirius. Once Sirius got an idea in his head, there was little to be done but to ride the storm out and hope to survive it. Still, that didn't stop Remus's palms from sweating or his feet from catching on the slick floor. His shoes let out a sharp squeal of protest that seemed particularly loud inside the library. If his face hadn't already been flushed with embarrassment, it certainly would have heated then.

Thankfully, no one looked up to pay him any mind. Mostly because there was no one to pay him any mind; the Legal Section was suffering from its typical traffic. That is to say, it was empty.

"Then you've played it before?" Remus asked. But he already doubted it. In the four years Remus had known him, Sirius had most faithfully divulged every unwanted detail of his love life, which was particularly active for a sixteen-year-old. It was part of Sirius's charm. Which was why Remus was all but certain his friend had never had a rendezvous in the Legal Section before. "You've met someone? Here?"

"Oh, Merlin, no. Unlike you, mate, I have a reputation with the ladies to uphold. And you can get stuck with anyone playing this game. I mean, imagine! What if I walked back there and slimy Snivellus was laying in wait? …But don't worry, you should do fine. Hey, perhaps you'll even get a reputation yourself. Let's hope it's a good one, aye?"

Remus's eyes widened in terror. "Wait…Anyone? But what if -"

He never had a chance to finish as Sirius gave a final push. Remus stumbled forward, almost into the stone face of the back wall. Before he could turn around, he heard the book shelves flanking the aisle slide closed. Even though it was expected, he gulped.

If the 'spot' had closed itself off, that could only mean there was someone else there with him. After all, the game didn't begin until there were two players.

Remus closed his eyes, letting out a nervous breath and hoping he hadn't just been locked behind a wall of books with someone he detested.

"Remus? Remus Lupin?"

He knew that voice. His eyes shot open, as wide as tea saucers, and he raised a shaky hand, brushing the fringe off his brow. "Lily?"

Sure enough, when he dared to glance to his left, she was sitting there, at the square table for two in the hide-away corner of the library. Unlike him, she seemed perfectly put together, an amused grin on her face and a bit of surprise in her raised brow. In front of her sat an open book, her long red hair tickling one page.

"Uh…doing a bit of reading?" he asked.

She bit her bottom lip, hiding a smile, but her sparkling green eyes were answer enough. She was there for the game, too. Not by accident. "I would never have thought Remus Lupin, of all people, would be caught in this section. So, was it Sirius Black or James Potter who forced you into this? Unless you threw yourself through the stacks?"

Remus gave up on his excuse before it ever left his mouth, his shoulders slumping slightly as he stepped up to the table, taking the other seat. He dropped his book sack onto the floor at his feet. "Sirius," he admitted, with a slight frown. He let out a sigh. "Should we…uh…get this over with, then?"

Lily raised a brow. "You make it sound like torture. Is it really so horrible, the idea of kissing me?"

Remus blushed. "Oh no, that's not what I meant. It's not that bad…" He almost choked on his own words, suddenly feeling his heart speed up. "I mean to say, it's not bad at all. If I were going to play this stupid game with anyone, I'm glad it's someone I actually like."

"You like me then?"

"No! I mean…yes? But not…"

Remus hated himself just a little. But he hated Sirius even more at the moment. Currently, his will to survive was linked to throttling one of his best mates in the near future.

Lily laughed, raising a hand to put him out of his misery. "Sorry, Remus. I shouldn't tease. It's just a game, alright? It's just for fun…Calm down."

Remus nodded along, forcing a light laugh. It was silly, sure, but…This was Lily Evans. Surely she understood why he was so flustered. But, perhaps he was wrong… "Is there really no other way to open the shelves again?"

Lily tapped a finger against the table. Remus hadn't even noticed the words that appeared, as if burned into the wood surface:

Two have entered, the game begun.
As to the rules of the heart, there are none,
save that only with a kiss and these words spoken
can the round be done.

Remus swallow. "Ah."

"Have you never kissed a girl before?" Lily smiled softly at his frown. "Don't worry about it, Remus. It only needs to be a peck, if that's all you want to do." She tilted her head slightly, staring at him. "Though…if you'd rather try out -"

"I can't," he said, interrupting her. "I can't do that to…" He bit off the rest of the sentence.

Lily sat up a bit straighter. She reached out, catching his hand with hers. "It's just a kiss. And no one has to know it was a kiss with me. I won't tell, if you don't."

Remus glanced up. "Really?"

"Really." Lily smiled ruefully, then stood up, leaning over the table. Her voice softer, she added, "And I think I know whose name you were going to say just then…I know he's the real reason why you don't want to kiss me."

"You do?"

She was close enough for him to feel her breath on his chin, and Remus felt his palms sweat all over again. His knees shook slightly, but he stood to meet her lips. The kiss was soft and tasted as sweet as pumpkin juice. Remus wanted to reach out, touch her, but he knew he shouldn't. James, even though he was never quite as explicit as Sirius, had said enough…Remus knew his friend had feelings for Lily Evans, and if Remus did any more than kiss her, he knew he wouldn't be able to stand the guilt.

He pulled away and quickly whispered the poem to end the game. Behind him, he could hear the bookshelves sliding open. Lily walked around the table, patting him gently on the shoulder, as if to comfort him.

"…It's too bad I'm not telling anyone about this," she said, at a whisper. "I'm sure if Sirius knew what a good kisser you were, he'd be much more apt to join you next time."

Remus was still sucking his bottom lip, tasting the brief kiss, when she slipped past the stacks. Her words sunk in and he raised a brow. "Wait…what? I'm not...Damn."