Between You And The Giant Squid
by Victoria P.

'I wouldn't go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant squid,' said Lily.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 28


Lily was sure Petunia's fussing had made them late for the train. She rushed ahead of her parents, alternating between glancing back over her shoulder to make sure they were keeping up, and keeping an eye out for Platform 9 3/4 , which she was sure existed, no matter what Petunia said.

Even Mum and Dad said the woman, Professor McGonagall, seemed legitimate; they wouldn't have spent the money to come to London and buy Lily's school supplies if she hadn't. Lily thought the mere existence of Diagon Alley should have proved the whole thing was real, but Petunia still sneered and mocked, until Lily couldn't bear to look at her anymore.

Search as she might, Lily couldn't find the platform. Her parents had begun to look concerned, and Petunia triumphant and smug, when Lily realized how it worked.

"Mum, Dad, look!" she said, pointing at the bored-looking black-haired boy who'd just pushed his trolley through the barrier between platforms nine and ten.

"I don't know," her mother said, exchanging a doubtful with her father, "it seems solid to me."

"You just have to take a run at it," said another man, accompanied by a woman and a boy about Lily's age. "James, why don't you and the young lady go through together?"

James grinned at her and Lily found herself grinning back. "C'mon," he said, "It's dead easy."

She hugged and kissed her parents again, in case they couldn't come through the barrier, and even gave Petunia, who now wore a nervous frown, a quick one-armed squeeze. Then Lily gripped the handlebar of her trolley tightly and took a deep breath.

"And, run!" James shouted.

The two of them raced at the barrier, and Lily felt as if her heart were going to burst from her chest, but instead of the monstrous clank and crash she expected, she found herself on another platform, packed with people. A sign overheard said Hogwarts Express, eleven o'clock, and there was a large, shining red train on the track.


James shrugged. "I'd rather take my broom--" He flushed. "Er, not that I have my broom with me or anything." Lily remembered the letter had said that first-years were not to have brooms.

"Are you a first-year then, too?" she asked.

"Yeah. James Potter." He stuck out his hand, and she took it.

"Lily Evans."

"Hey, Potter, did you see the Wasps signed Darius Thorpe?" A swarm of boys overtook them, and in a moment, Lily was standing by herself. James smiled back at her as he was swept away by friends.



Beneath their heavy robes, it was difficult to tell which girls had developed and which hadn't over the summer, but on the first Hogsmeade weekend of Lily's third year, Titania Faye wore a tight v-neck sweater that showed exactly how much growing up she'd done, and the boys of Hogwarts were mesmerized.

Lily looked down at her own chest, not even bumpy enough to merit the training bra Mum had bought her, and realized something would have to be done. She thought about charms, which she was good at, and transfiguration, which she was not, but in the end, she decided tissues were the safest way to enhance her bustline.

Each morning she rushed into the bathroom before the other girls so she could stuff the bra cups with tissues; she didn't make them big, just rounded enough to make her feel less self-conscious. And it worked. The boys paid more attention to her, and she liked that.

She shared her first kiss with James Potter, under the mistletoe that was scattered around the castle in the weeks leading up to Christmas, trapping the unwary. They'd had hot cocoa at the Three Broomsticks and held hands on the way back to school, away from his annoying friends. His mouth was wet and hot and tasted of chocolate, and even though it was a little sloppy, it was exciting, and she liked it.

She let him kiss her again that night before she went to bed, and again two days later, when they were alone in the common room. He pressed her back against the cushions on the sofa, his hand squeezing her tissue-enhanced breast before she realized the danger.

He pulled away, startled, then poked at her with his fingers. "What the hell? Why are they crinkling? India Morrison's don't feel like that." Lily blushed and slapped his hand away, jumping up off the couch. "Good lord, your tits are made of paper!"

"I swear, if you tell anyone, I'll hex you into next week," she said, crossing her arms over her chest and trembling with a combination of fear and embarrassment.

"I promise I won't," he said earnestly, and she wanted to believe him. "Really."

But she was too upset to let him kiss her again, and rushed off to her room to cry angry tears at her own stupidity.

The next morning, all of Gryffindor appeared to have come down with a cold, and she heard a great deal of sneezing on her way to the Great Hall. At breakfast, when she asked Sirius Black to pass the butter, he smirked at her and faked a sneeze. "Oi, Evans, got a tissue?"

Her face burned and she rounded on her now ex-boyfriend. "James? You promised you wouldn't tell."

"Aw, Evans, don't be mad," James said, glancing at Sirius, who shrugged. "He's my best mate."

"You promised!" she shouted. "And I hate you!" She grabbed her books and, in the process, knocked the pumpkin juice into his lap. She rushed off, but not before Professor McGonagall deducted five points from Gryffindor for behavior unbecoming.

By the beginning of class, it seemed everyone in school had heard the story, and was calling her "Tissue Tits." Lily felt her reputation would never recover, and she blamed James Potter.

She swore she'd never trust him again.



"I don't know why you won't go out with me," James said. Lily kept walking along her favorite path along the lake. He kept following. "I'm clever, funny, and popular," he continued, counting off on his fingers.

"You forgot conceited."

"I prefer to think of it as knowing my own value."

She turned to face him, showing him two fingers of her own. "I hate you, and you're going out with Isabella Taylor."

Undaunted, he said, "Only because you haven't said yes, yet."

"And I never will." She started walking again. It was a lovely autumn day, and he was ruining it with his irritating chatter.

"Never is a very long time, Evans. You know you like me. You used to let me kiss you."

"That was before I realized what a nasty little toerag you are."

"You're not still angry about the Tissue Tits thing, are you? That was such a long time ago. And it's not like you haven't filled out nicely since then."

She swung around to see him leering at her, and before she realized what she was doing, she'd placed her hands against his chest, and shoved him into the lake. He came up sputtering, clothes clinging to his lanky frame. His lips tightened, and for a moment, she thought she'd gone too far, knowing how ready he was to hex anyone who annoyed him.

But instead, he started laughing, which only infuriated her more.

"I'm going to marry you, Lily Evans," he shouted as she stomped away. "Just you wait."

"Never," she muttered. "Never."



Scrubbing bedpans without magic was quite possibly the worst detention Lily had ever served. Not that she'd served many, though there was that time in fourth year she'd pushed Potter into the lake. Every trophy she'd polished that week had been worth it.

Luckily, there hadn't been many students in the hospital wing when she'd arrived, and this was her last night, so she hoped Madam Pomfrey would let her go early.

She'd just settled into a good rhythm, humming softly as she scrubbed, when Potter burst in, dragging a limp Snape with him.

"Madam Pomfrey!"

"Potter! What is going on?"

Potter had a bloody nose, the red spill of it bright against his pale skin; his clothes were streaked with dirt, and his usually unruly hair was full of leaves. Snape looked to be in even worse shape -- he was unconscious, his robes were ripped and muddy, and blood streamed from a gash in his temple.

"The Whomping Willow," Potter panted, dumping Snape into the nearest bed.

"Oh, my God." Pomfrey's eyes widened as she examined Snape, healing his injuries and dosing him with something Lily couldn't see. "Was he--"

"No," Potter answered between huge gulps of air. "No. I got there in time. But I had to hex him to get him out of the tunnel, and then the Willow--"

"I see." Headmaster Dumbledore glided into the room, candlelight glinting off his half-moon glasses.

"Headmaster, I--" Potter began.

"Mr. Black has already been to see me. He's waiting in my office now." Dumbledore turned to Pomfrey. "How is Mr. Snape?"

"I've patched him up and given him a sleeping draught," she said. "As long as he wasn't bitten--"

"He wasn't," James interjected.

Pomfrey heaved a great sigh. "Then he should be fine."

"I will speak with him in the morning, then, Poppy. Though I'd suggest keeping him separate from Mr. Lupin."

Lily looked around, but Remus wasn't there. What were the idiots doing at the Whomping Willow, anyway? And what was this about a tunnel? She remained silent, though, not wanting to call attention to herself.

Dumbledore put a hand on Potter's shoulder. "You did a very brave thing tonight, Mr. Potter."

She expected him to puff out his chest and brag, but his shoulders sagged and he looked as though he wanted to cry.

"I've never felt more scared in my life," he mumbled.

"And you acted anyway, to save the life of someone you hate. That, Mr. Potter, is true courage."

"I was protecting M-- Remus. And Sirius, too."

"Even so. Fifty points to Gryffindor."


"It's not enough to make up what young Mr. Black has lost your house, but then, tonight I think you've both learned how unimportant house points are in the grand scheme of things." He patted Potter's shoulder again. "Now get some rest."

"Yes, sir."

"Poppy, if you please." Dumbledore indicated she should follow him.

The matron smiled at Potter and said, "Don't go anywhere just yet, James. I'll be back in a moment to give you something for that nose."

The adults left, and Potter sagged onto an empty bed. He took his glasses off and pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, and even from her spot tucked away behind a pile of bedpans, Lily could see his shoulders shake with suppressed sobs. His breakdown didn't last long, and when Pomfrey came back, he was composed, though his eyes were red-rimmed.

Pomfrey fussed over him as much as he'd let her, which was surprisingly little, and after she'd healed his nose and various other scrapes and bruises, he bounced anxiously as she tried to convince him to spend the night in the hospital wing.

"I can't," he said. "Sirius needs me. But I'll be back in the morning to see Remus." Again, Lily wondered why Remus wasn't here now, and why they all expected him to be in the morning.

Pomfrey nodded, pulled James into a hug that appeared to take both of them by surprise, and then patted him on the shoulder. "Get some rest, then, and I'll see you in the morning. If you can't sleep, you know where I'll be."

"Thank you," he replied, and left.

Lily went back to scrubbing bedpans; she thought tonight was quite possibly the first time she'd ever heard him sound sincere, and it required some rearranging of her perceptions of him.

"Oh! Lily," Madam Pomfrey interrupted her about ten minutes later, looking as if she'd forgotten Lily were there. "Please go back to your dormitory. No need to stay and finish these." With a flick of her wand and a muttered spell, the matron cleaned the pile of bedpans and sent Lily on her way. "Have a good night, dear."

Lily wasn't going to question her early release. She hurried out of the hospital wing, determined to discover what had happened between Potter and Snape, and pondering the new sides of Potter that had been revealed. Maybe he had some redeeming features after all.



Lily tried to stop her leg from bouncing as the Hogwarts Express began moving. She couldn't relax, worried about her first prefects' meeting as Head Girl, worried about who the Head Boy was going to be. She suspected it might be Remus Lupin, and that would be all right. Through him she might finally be able to bring Potter and Black into line, though they'd been remarkably subdued for a while last year after the incident with Snape and the Whomping Willow, the details of which she still hadn't discovered. She just hoped it wasn't Evan Rosier. To calm herself, she looked down at her notes, and felt a small thrill of excitement edged with anxiety. There was so much she wanted to accomplish this year.

The door clattered open and she turned to see --

"What the bloody hell are you doing here, Potter?"

He grinned insouciantly and flashed the golden Head Boy badge at her. "That's Head Boy Potter, though you may call me James," he said.

She wasn't sure whether to laugh or scream. "Dumbledore's gone completely round the twist if he's made you Head Boy," she muttered.

"Oi, Evans -- or may I call you Lily?"

"You may not," she said through gritted teeth.

He went on as if she hadn't spoken. "Show a little respect. Dumbledore's a great man. Knows talent and leadership when he sees it." He sat down and stretched long legs out in front of him. Before she could respond, the other prefects began arriving.

When they were all there, Potter looked them over and said, "All right, you lot, listen up. Evans and I have put our differences aside--" she bit her lip, resisting the urge to deny it-- "and we expect you to do the same. It's going to be a difficult year, but I think we can handle it. I'm sure Evans has lots of things she wants to tell you, so I'll let her get on with that." He and Lupin exchanged a quick glance. "I just want you to know that if I find out any of you is giving her trouble," his gaze lingered on the Slytherin prefects, "you'll be dealing with me. And I know all your secrets." She shot him a surprised and somewhat grateful look, and he shrugged one shoulder nearly imperceptibly in response. "They're all yours."

She looked down at her notes, and moistened her dry lips before speaking. "I just wanted to let you know that our first meeting will be this evening after the feast, in the staff room. Fifth-years, you'll lead the first-years to your respective dormitories and then join us. Seventh-years, it's your responsibility to make up your passwords. For now, just patrol the train in shifts," she handed them all copies of the timetable she'd made at home, "and report back if there are any problems."

They stood there for a few moments, crowded into the compartment, reading over the timetable, until James said, "That's enough to be going on with. Off with you."

They tumbled out into the corridor, talking amongst themselves, with much crinkling of paper, and Lily wondered if maybe the timetable had been too much, too soon. It was over and done with now, though, and no use worrying about it. She closed her eyes and heaved a great sigh of relief, relaxing against the seat and pulling her hair out of its ponytail so she could lay her head back.

"You have beautiful hair."

She jerked upright, eyes opening wide. "Potter. What are you still doing here?"

"Where else would I be?"

"With Black and Lupin and Pettigrew."

He looked down at the timetable crumpled in his hand. "You sent Lupin off to patrol the corridor with Honoria Wimple." He smiled. "I'm sure the other two will be along eventually."

She rolled her eyes. "Great."

He ignored that and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "Listen, Lily-- Evans--"

She looked down at her notes for a moment before saying, "Thank you for what you said."

"Well, it's true. You do have beautiful hair."

She huffed in exasperation. "That's not what I meant. I mean, thank you for the compliment," she did have manners after all, though she was sure he was just saying that to make her blush, "but I was talking about what you said in the meeting. I appreciate the support."

He nodded. "You're very welcome. Narcissa looked ready to spit nails when she saw you were Head Girl, and, well," he shrugged a shoulder, "Sirius and I will take care of her and Rosier, if there are any problems. I wanted to make that clear at the outset."

"I can take care of myself." And the last thing she needed was for the Head Boy to initiate a prank war on her behalf over some petty, pureblood slight.

"I know." He pushed his glasses up on his nose, and she was reminded of the night she'd seen him in the hospital wing. "I know you can," he repeated, "but we can all use help sometimes."

"Even you, Potter?" She almost regretted the sarcasm, and was surprised when he responded sincerely.

"Even me, Evans. Even me." He sighed and stood, running a hand through his rumpled hair, but for once it looked he wasn't trying to mess it more, he just wasn't sure what to do with his hands, and she certainly knew what that felt like. "I'm going to check in on Sirius and Peter. I reckon I'll be back later."

As he put his hand on the door to leave, she said, "Oh, and James," he looked up, startled, like a deer in the headlamps, at the sound of his name, "please call me Lily."


She wasn't sure how, exactly, it happened, but Lily found herself relying more and more on James as the weeks passed. He was good with the first-years, much better than she'd expected, though perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised, recalling their very first meeting at King's Cross. He never seemed to run out of patience when they whinged, and he somehow knew exactly the right thing to say whenever one of them stumbled into the common room complaining of nightmares. He was good at dealing with the disparate personalities amongst the prefects, knowing when to joke and when to be serious, and he had an almost effortless way of running meetings so they didn't bog down in bickering or tangential discussion. She supposed it came of being Quidditch captain, or perhaps years of experience pulling pranks with his friends, or, most likely, some combination of the two. Either way, she was grateful for it, because while she had many good ideas, and was more organized than most, she couldn't do it all by herself.

Lately, she found herself smiling at him more, and anticipating their weekly pre-meeting conferences. Once she'd even caught herself staring at his hands. He had nice hands -- they were large and strong, capable of catching a Snitch or putting a Quaffle through a hoop -- and she wondered what it might feel like to have those hands touch her. She recalled the sloppy kisses they'd exchanged in third year, but they'd both had a bit more practice since then. And she was no longer stuffing her bra with tissues. She forgave him for his part in her long-ago humiliation, finally able to laugh at her own foolishness, and to accept his almost pathological inability to keep secrets from Black.

She still caught him staring at her occasionally across the table at meals and in class, but instead of rolling her eyes and sucking her teeth in disdain, she found herself blushing and meeting his gaze for a few moments before turning away.

When the first Hogstmeade weekend of the year was announced, she fully expected him to ask her to go with him, the way he had for every Hogsmeade weekend since their third year. This time, she'd decided to say yes. She turned down all other offers, including one from the very attractive and not at all annoying Kingsley Shacklebolt, but James's habitual invitation never came.

On Saturday morning, Lily wandered the streets of Hogsmeade by herself, purposely having let her few also-unaccompanied friends slip away. She loved it here, especially in the autumn, when the air was crisp and the sky so blue it made her chest ache, and everything smelled of fallen leaves and woodsmoke.

"It's beautiful."

She turned to see James walking behind her, red and gold scarf looped carelessly around his neck, hands shoved deep in his pockets.

"Yes." She paused, waiting for him to catch up.

"Not as beautiful as you, though."

She laughed nervously, still uneasy with his fulsome compliments, unsure they were sincere and afraid of being mocked at if they weren't. "James, please."

"No, really. Your hair--" he stopped and frowned. "Ah, forget it. I'm sure you're tired of hearing it, especially from me." He kicked at the leaves covering the ground and turned to go.

"No, wait," she said, grabbing his arm.

"Lily?" Hope sparked in his hazel eyes, and she could see a faint echo of herself reflected in his glasses. She fought the urge to reach up a hand and run her fingers through his thick mop of hair.

"I understand that you are clever, funny and popular," she said, linking her arm through his.

He laughed, a low rumble that sent a thrill through her. "Where did you hear that?"

"I have my sources."

"Oh. Well." He stopped and turned to face her, still keeping hold of her hand, and cocked his head as if considering her words. "It's all true, you know. I am indeed popular, clever and funny, when I'm not being a nasty little toerag." But he was smiling as he said it, and she couldn't help but smile back.

With her other hand she cupped his cheek, his skin warming at the touch. "I think we can cure you of that," she replied, running her thumb over his bottom lip, surprised at her own boldness, and pleased at the way his Adam's apple bobbed when he swallowed.

He nodded and attempted to look serious. "A program of frequent snogging with the appropriate person has been known to work wonders, even in cases much worse than mine."

She raised an eyebrow. "We should get right on that, then. Wouldn't want to waste any more time. Your whole future could be at stake."

He leaned in, his warm, peppermint-scented breath soft against her skin, making her shiver. Just before their lips met, he said, "So the giant squid didn't work out, then?"

Lily would have laughed if James's kiss hadn't already stolen all the air from her lungs.


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