This is the life, Lily Evans thought as she lay on the beach, basking in the Sun's rays. She had just finished her sixth year at Hogwarts, and had jetted off to the South of France with her parents and sister for two weeks. She put on her sunglasses and closed her eyes, resting her favourite book – Peter Pan – beside her. The rest of her family were off looking around the town, but she'd decided to stay put with their beach stuff.
“Well, well, look who it is. Lily Evans!” Lily sat up and removed her glasses, smiling up at the boy next to her.
“Remus Lupin! I'm surprised to see you here!” The sandy-haired boy lay down next to her, resting his arms behind his head. He was wearing khaki swimming trunks, whilst Lily was sporting a blue polka-dot bikini. His body was – naturally – littered with scars, and Lily could see his ribs. She reached over and patted his stomach lightly; since they had prefected together for a year, they had got pretty friendly. “You need to eat more, wolf-boy!”
Remus laughed, and pushed her hand off good-naturally. “Yeah, well, according to James, I eat like a wolf when I'm hungry! Anyway, I got away with the boys for a couple of weeks. Now that Sirius and I are both 17 and live together, it's a lot easier to do our own stuff.”
“So, James, Sirius and Peter are here? Where are they?” Lily asked, noticing with amusement that Remus had an incredible purple bruise on the side of his neck near his shoulder joint. Remus sat up and stared around, pushing his sunglasses on top of his head so he could see easier.
“You know, good question. I think... Yeah, there they are.” He pointed across the beach to about 40 metres away where said boys were frolicking in the water; James and Sirius were dunking Peter. “So, what brings you here?” he asked, whilst watching them.
“Oh, just a family holiday. My parents are in the town somewhere with Petunia. She seems so eager to avoid me...” Lily sighed, “It's been six years now, I wish... I wish that she could just get over it! Seriously... No pun intended,” she added, a smile playing on her lips. “How are you and Sirius?”
Remus laughed and rubbed his neck. “Good, good, yeah. Just about. Bless him, this was his idea. He paid for me to come, too; I feel so bad, but I couldn't afford it otherwise, now I've left home.” He sighed.
“Will you come down to the sea with us?” Remus asked, propping himself on one elbow, so he was facing her. Lily mimicked him.
“I can't leave my stuff, and James... Well...”
“I promise he won't annoy you,” Remus said softly, “You might decide you like him, you never know; he's grown up now the war's bigger. I guess he knows that this is our last chance to get away... Bring your stuff down and dump it with ours.”
“Okay, okay, fine, I will...”
Remus helped Lily to pack up her stuff so they could carry it, and chucked a bag over his back as they carried it down. Lily laid out her towel next to Remus'. The werewolf reached out his hand for hers; she took it gratefully, and they wandered down to the sea together. “Oi, Prongsy!” they heard Sirius yell. “Look what the cat dragged in!” He ran onto the beach and enveloped Remus into a wet hug, before holding out his arms to her.
“Like I'm gonna touch you, you mangy dog!” she laughed, before giving him a hug anyway.
“Hey, Lily!” James appeared in front of her, and Lily had to take a deep breath. In the three weeks that they had been apart, James had matured so much. It looked like he'd been working out, too. “You look nice,” he continued, smiling.
“Er, so do you,” she replied, noticing Remus and Sirius look at each other and grin, before running back in to the sea, cuddling when the water was up to their necks; Peter gave them a wide berth.
“Coming in?” James asked, turning to walk down to the sea. Lily followed him, speechless at how much he'd grown up in less than a month.
“So, what have you been up to for the last three weeks?” Lily asked, as they waded in up to their knees; the warm water shot sparks up Lily's legs and back, making her shiver.
“Oh, not much. I met up with Rem and Siri a few of times before we came away; they only live a few streets away from me, but I was busy doing family stuff too. What have you been doing, down South?”
“Not much, either!” Lily replied, dipping her hands in the water and swirling them around now that they were up to their waists. “Family stuff, like you. Although I wish I could avoid Petunia altogether sometimes... She just gets on my nerves, always making digs about Hogwarts, and you guys.”
James patted her shoulder – “She'll grow out of it, I promise,” - before diving into the water head first and popping up a few metres away. Where on Earth has this handsome beast come from? Wait, am I talking about James Potter?! Lily grinned before ducking her head under the water too, bobbing up next to him, laughing. They played for about an hour, before Lily spotted her parents and sister at the shore line. She rested her arm on Remus' shoulder.
“I have to go now – maybe I'll see you guys around town?” The others swam over to them.
“How about you come out with us tonight, if you can?” James smiled. “We're coming down to the beach for a barbecue.”
“Yeah, I'd love to!” Lily grinned back, “I'll have to ask my parents, but I'm sure it'll be fine!” She kissed Remus' cheek, punched Sirius' shoulder lightly, waved at Peter and came to a halt in front of James. He held out his arms awkwardly, and she squeezed her arms around his waist before pulling away quickly. “Er, see you then.”
“Yeah, see you,” James beamed, looking like he was on cloud nine. Lily turned away from them, making her way back to the shore, and had an internal argument -
You don't fancy him – don't you hate him?
But he's quite hot now! And he seems to have grown up. Maybe if he asks me out...
But maybe he's letting up on you because he's found someone else!
Naa, I mean, he's James. He followed me around for six years! I'm sure he hasn't...
But if he has...
- all the way to the beach, where her parents were waiting. “Having fun, honey?” Her mother smiled, passing Lily her towel.
“Yeah, thanks, mum! Hey, are we doing anything later?”
“The boys have asked me to go to a barbecue with them – can I?” Lily asked, grinning at her mum, who turned to Lily's dad; her dad nodded back. “Yay, thank you!” Lily cried, turning to give a thumbs-up to the boys behind her, who whooped with joy; Sirius chucked Remus into the air in celebration, then failed to catch him.
“Are they your friends from school?” Petunia sneered.
“Is that a problem?” Lily asked, stopping in her tracks and staring at her sister.
“Weird, you are. A freak!” Petunia turned on her heels and stomped off. Lily sighed, and slung her bag over her shoulder, her good mood burst like a balloon with a pin put through it.
Her dad patted her shoulder, like James had done. “She'll get over it soon, honey, I promise,” he said, wearily. Lily sighed again and nodded, waving at the boys before she followed the rest of her family up the beach. She couldn't wait to sink into a nice, warm bath back at the villa...
“Bye mum, dad! I'm off!” Lily called to her parents as she grabbed her bag and opened the door.
“Okay honey, don't be late home, don't get into any strange cars, and be careful!” her mum shouted back.
Lily rolled her eyes, and replied, “Okay, I will! See you!” She jumped out of the door, closing it behind her carefully. As she rounded the villa, she waved to Petunia who was sat on the sofa listening to the radio. Her sister just blanked her completely.
Five minutes later, Lily was slipping off her sandals as she neared the beach; she continued along the path bare-foot until she spotted the boys with their barbecue. Jumping off the ledge, she made her way over the sand, dumping her bag with theirs. The four of them were sat on camping chairs; Lily went up behind Remus and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hey, Lily!” Remus grinned. She grinned back, and walked in front of him; he held his arms out for her, and she sat on his lap. A chorus of “Hi!”'s and “Hey!”'s met her as she leant back into Remus' warmth, whilst his arms wrapped around her waist.
“Hey guys. What's for dinner?” She smiled at James who was manning the barbecue.
“Err, burgers, onions, bacon... A few sausages,” he winked. Lily laughed, amazingly at ease in his company.
“Hey, Pete, can I bury you?” Sirius asked out-of-the-blue from beside her. He obviously hadn't showered since that morning, and had sand and salt in his hair. Black held up a blue spade, and indicated to the sand in front of them. Lily felt Remus laugh from under her as Peter huffed, but got up and plonked himself down on the sand. Sirius punched the air and whooped; he climbed off his chair and started chucking sand on his friend.
Since the others were in swimming trunks, Lily stood up and took off her t-shirt and shorts, revealing a different red bikini, a tanned body and a toned stomach underneath, before she sat back on Remus, who 'oomphed' under her. James whistled and winked at her again; Lily found, to her surprise, that she didn't mind and winked easily back at him.
“So what are you guys doing after this? Not much?” she asked.
“Naa, not much,” James replied; Remus was too busy watching Sirius bury Peter. “What are you doing?” He left the barbecue to it's own doing, and sat back down on his chair next to Lily and Remus.
“Not much!” she laughed, smiling at James. The awkward stalemate soon passed. “Just spending time with you guys.”
“Yeah...” James sighed. “I mean, look at them! Could you spend two weeks with this lot?” Lily looked down, and saw what he meant; Sirius had given up burying Peter, and they were now rolling around on the sand having a play-fight. Lily thought that Sirius fitted his Animagus exactly; James, however, she wasn't so sure. With his Animagus form a stag, and her Patronus a doe, it had made things awkward around them, even if James didn't seem to have minded.
“Ahh, I'd have them well trained by the end of it!” Lily laughed. “Hey, Sirius!” The black-haired boy looked round.
“Sit!” All but Sirius laughed as he cocked his head in a very dog-like manner; he was crouched down, and Peter pulled him down onto his bum backwards. “Good dog!” Lily leaned forward to pat his head, laughing again when he swatted her hand away. Remus lifted her back towards him and she snuggled down into his warm grasp, warming up against his body from the sudden wind that had picked up.
Sand swirled around them, and they all held their hands to their faces to protect their eyes from the grains. “Hmm, lovely!” Remus said lightly, after the sand had settled.
“Something like that.” Sirius collapsed back into his chair.
“Okay, who wants dinner?” James asked, standing up and making his way over to the barbecue. “Err, you can just brush off the sand...” he muttered, grinning slightly. Lily rolled her eyes and grabbed a bread roll; James passed her a burger. She squirted in a splodge of ketchup onto it and waited until Remus had got his before sitting back on his lap.
“Isn't he mine?” Sirius raised his eyebrows at her and grinned.
“Oh, I've pinched him for now,” Lily smiled back.
“Do I get a say in this?!” Remus asked, indignantly. Lily reached back to pat his leg.
“Of course you don't honey.”
They finished their slightly burned food making light conversation; Lily enjoyed a hearty bit of banter between Sirius and James, before Remus started shifting his weight from one foot to the other under her. “Sorry,” he apologised, “my legs have just gone a bit numb. How about we go to our camp-fire spot?” he asked the other boys. They all nodded in approval, and James was soon packing up the barbecue with Peter's help. Sirius and Remus packed up the chairs whilst Lily looked on; they didn't seem to mind that she didn't help. Remus and Sirius lead the group up the hill behind the beach; Lily still had no idea where they were going.
They stepped over the top of the hill, and Lily gasped. On the other side where hundreds of twinkling camp-fires, which illuminated the faces of the people around them. Romantic... Lily couldn't help but think. The boys led her down to a special spot that had a sign in front of it which read -
The Marauders Gaff. Keep out!
Lily rolled her eyes at the craziness of her new companions. “Who thought up the name?” she asked James.
“Sirius and I,” he replied, “Obviously, did you even need to ask?!” Lily laughed, comfortable, for once, in his company.
They sat around the camp-fire; Sirius and Remus got it burning. Lily had her own chair this time; the 'canine couple' squashed together on the biggest camp-chair. James was sat quite close to her, the arms of their chairs touching. He kept leaning towards her; and this time, Lily didn't pull away. Remus noticed; he dragged Sirius and Peter away with the excuse that they 'needed more wood'. In fact, they had a pile to last them the week, but the other two followed on compliantly anyway.
“So,” James said awkwardly, “what now?” Lily shrugged.
“I think this is the moment that you put your last six years of failed attempts into one successful one,” she said quietly, after a few minutes of an awkward silence. She heard James' breath hitch beside her, and, in an instant, he was kneeling in front of her.
“Lily Evans,” he began.
“Don't interrupt,” he scolded.
“Sorry.” She bit her lip sheepishly.
“Lily Evans,” he started again, “On the first day I saw you, I thought 'damn, she's hot'. I was only a first year, and a bit dumb, but I was right. The next few days after that, I tried to talk to you, but Severus Snape kept me away. I left it. In our third year, you congratulated me on scoring the most goals ever seen in a Quidditch match. I began to notice you more and more again, noticing what you liked, disliked, what you did after lessons, what you ate for lunch-” He paused, seeing her wide-eyed expression, “No, I didn't mean stalkerish, just... You know, like that Muggle person... Sherdog Lomes?”
“Sherlock Holmes,” she grinned. “Go on, carry on, this is probably the best speech you've ever made.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, but continued anyway, taking her hand in his. She didn't pull away. “By the end of our forth year, I knew that I loved you. You're so perfect, in every way, like that witch... Marchy Progens?”
“Do you mean Mary Poppins?” He nodded. “Stop making references to Muggle people – it doesn't suit you.”
He rolled his eyes. “You're funny, and clever, and special. You always see the best in everyone, and I know you probably found it weird about my Animagus and your Patronus, but I thought that was... I don't know what I thought. Just... Amazing. Wicked.” He copied her favourite word of a whole term in forth year.
“When Snape called you a... That word, I saw your heart-broken face, and I just wanted to scoop you up, and cuddle you close; I wanted to take away all the pain you'd ever felt, from him, from your sister, from everything. And now? Now I want to take you to the stars, and stop in on the moon on the way.” He kissed her hand. “Lily Evans, I love you. Will you go out with me?”
With tears in her eyes, and a strange throbbing in her heart, Lily leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, whispering four words that made James' heart race - “I love you too.”