It is a truth universally acknowledged that a prince in possession of too many titles and a remarkable lack of responsibility must be in want of a pint. It was, therefore, no surprise that her path first crossed his at St Andrew’s annual Christmas Pub Crawl.
She had seen him around campus a few times, of course. Every young and eligible lady her age that paid attention to the wonders of nature - as Marlene would later argue - and that had a sister that read every Hello like it was the Bible, had most likely admired him from afar. Yet, she had never been in close proximity to him, which was no wonder, because - if you asked her - he was completely out of reach. So far even that she had never even entertained the idea or possibility of seeing his royal package - as Mary would later say - up close. Not even in her dirtiest, wildest dreams. (Not that she had had many of those, to be fair.)
One can, therefore, perhaps imagine how surprised she was to find out that she had been grouped with - amongst others - His Royal Highness Crown Prince James to take part in a pub crawl she had not even signed up for herself. Whichever higher entity decided these matters must not have been aware that she had been reluctant to join in in the first place. But now that she was to actively participate in this overly elaborate excuse of a drinking game with the - if she were to believe the papers - rather rebellious offspring of one of the most impressive women in the world, however, she felt even less inclined to join her friends on a night of mindless drinking.
“You can’t back out now, Lil,” said Mary, painting her toenails an electric blue. “This is a divine intervention. You have to make sure our future king doesn’t kill himself.”
“Besides,” argued Marlene in turn, “think of all the hard work MI6 put into this! It’s super difficult to find out which girls on campus are least likely to give the prince a terrible STD that will affect his ability to produce - Hmmph! Hey!”
“You are horrible!” she said, flushing. Her friend stuck out her tongue at her, throwing back the pillow that had just hit her in the face. Lily caught it and hugged it to her chest. “Seriously, though, what do I do?”
“Act like a normal human being,” Mary said.
“Agreed,” said Marlene. “Live a little, Lily. Have a pint with him and well, I don’t know, have fun!”
She wrinkled her nose at that. “I have plenty of fun,” she argued in turn, “I’d just rather not seem like an obsessive fangirl in the presence of a bloody prince.”
“You are the most calm and collected person, I know,” said Marlene with a shrug, “you’ll manage.”
Her friends were of no further help and with a heavy heart and a deep sigh, she let herself fall back on her pillow and attempted to calm herself by reciting all the knowledge she had on the royal family to herself. With Petunia Evans for a sister, self-proclaimed royalty and celebrity watcher and/or expert (it depended on the day), she contented herself with the realisation that her whole life had perhaps led up to this very moment: getting stupidly drunk with the Prince of Wales or something among those lines.
Yet, the prospect was especially daunting to a girl that had always admired Queen Euphemia and regarded the woman as a bit of a role model. She was the kind of woman every self-respecting, feminist and overly ambitious young woman would secretly like to be when she was all grown up.
For Queen Euphemia was eighteen years old when her father died of a heart attack. Panic arose, but the young princess surprised the government by telling the prime minister that she was determined to succeed her father without any delay. “The country must be ruled as well as governed, don’t you agree? I cannot allow you to singlehandedly ruin it.” These had been her exact words, according to Rita Skeeter, author of an unauthorised biography of the Queen that her sister had read a few years ago. While most of what her sister had told her about the biography sounded like absolute rubbish, she could just imagine the young and daring Queen express herself in such a way. She even liked to imagine the Queen to have raised her eyebrow in a challenge as she said the words that won over the entire British parliament.
Yet, while she had become Queen of the United Kingdom only a few months after her father’s untimely death, the Queen had not married until she was 35. She had been linked to many a prince and even to a young Donald Trump. (Although she found this one hard to believe.) Still, the young Queen did not appear to be in a rush to settle down. While others urged her to find a husband, the Queen prioritised her job. A real career woman, her father had said on many occasions and she had always admired the Queen for it.
In short, while the whole world begged her to, the Queen did not marry and seemed to follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth I. However, while the whole world obsessed over her single status, no one had noticed that she had fallen for the charms of her personal guard: Lord Fleamont of House Potter. He had been 43 by the time he married the Queen and even though people rejoiced that the Queen had found love at last, the fact that no heir had been produced three years later, led to criticism and vicious comments. “They must be unable,” people whispered. “Do you think it’s him? Or is it her?” The prime minister at the time was even said to have urged the Queen to conceive or else he would be forced to appoint an heir, but luckily no further action was needed for the Queen delivered a healthy prince five weeks before her 40th birthday. They named their son James Fleamont, after “the two men I love and admire most in this world” - her late father and her husband - the Queen revealed in an interview given shortly after the prince’s baptism.
The country had fallen in love with the tiny prince. His raven hair as messy as his father’s and his eyes as wise and hazel as his mother’s. Not to mention that he had his grandfather’s chin and the smile of his great uncle Alfred, who had been a notorious womanizer and had bedded over a thousand women if Rita Skeeter were to be believed. Prince James was the perfect heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, a delightful mix of his ancestors, carrying Welsh, French, English and Irish blood from his mother’s side and Scottish and Indian blood from his father’s side. He did everything right, he posed for pictures, he shook an infinite amount of hands and passed his GCSEs and A-Levels without any trouble at all.
But then he entered St Andrews to work on his degree in Political Science. The young prince’s antics - which had been deemed charming at Eton - suddenly got him in more trouble than he perhaps deserved. Newspapers criticised his lack of responsibility, magazines such as Hello spoke merely about his notorious partying habits and his peers - mostly female, but some male - spoke about his sexual prowess. It didn’t matter that his professors described him as a bright, enthusiastic student with a curiosity to know, the media had made him the ultimate Party Prince, the polar opposite of his dutiful and intimidatingly intelligent mother.
Taking all this into account. It was perhaps no wonder that a bright, vivacious, ambitious, intelligent, charming, feminist and remarkably kind 20-year-old girl such as Lily Evans was somewhat apprehensive to meet Prince James. For what did he have to offer a girl that prided herself on being fiercely independent?
(It would later turn out that he could offer her a great deal, but let’s not spoil the story too much.)
To her own great surprise, however, she found herself deeming all of her outfits inappropriate or unfit to wear in a prince’s presence two hours before she was set to meet him (and the rest of her group, of course). She had turned in her final paper that afternoon and pulled a face as she watched herself in the mirror. Her hair was tied messily together in what would have been a perfectly elegant messy bun if she had been Mary, but which made her resemble Princess Anna from Frozen in the scene in which she just woke up up (minus the dribble going down her chin). Moreover, a red spot she was sure she had not sported the day before had settled on the tip of her nose like a red flag asking for attention. In short, if she had had any (day)dreams of her and Prince James turning out to be star-crossed lovers - and who was she kidding, any girl would have had those and especially one with Petunia Evans for a sister - she was sure they would not come true today.
In the end she decided on dark grey jeans, which she wore over a pair of black tights. She was not one of those girls from Newcastle that wore short skirts and dresses in freezing temperatures. She did not deal well with the cold and since she was going to spend most of the evening outside, running from pub to pub and completing silly tasks in the meantime, she would rather dress sensibly. It was for this reason that she got out her favourite Christmas jumper - the one her dad had gotten her last Christmas - which read Winter is coming… and featured a knitted wolf. She was a fangirl and not afraid to admit it. Not even the prospect of meeting the heir to the throne would make her want to betray her everlasting love for the Starks. When she went outside and saw Mary’s eyes go wide, however, she started to doubt her decision slightly.
“What are you wearing?” The pretty blonde asked, wearing a fitted black dress herself paired with cute trainers and tiny Christmas trees dangling from her earlobes.
“Sensible clothing that is going to get me through the night,” she replied, fingering her emerald green scarf and the matching knitted hat on top of her auburn hair.
“You are going to spend the night with the bloody Prince of Wales,” she said, exasperated. “In which universe did you think this was what they meant with dress to impress?”
She very nearly pouted. “It’s cold, Mary! Practically freezing!”
Mary shook her head. “Well, at least you look cute with that hat. It makes your eyes pop.”
She frowned slightly as her friend pulled her with her. “I don’t get what the big deal is anyway,” she told Mary. “It’s not as if he’s going to be paying attention to me in a group of ten people.”
Mary grumbled something. “Not now that you’ve covered up practically all your good bits.”
“Well,” she argued, slightly annoyed, “I’m not here to look pretty.”
“You are, though!” Mary told her. “Even in this stupid jumper that makes you look like the world’s biggest nerd.”
“I’ll rephrase,” she said then. “I’m not here for Prince James to ogle me like I’m a piece of meat.”
“You probably succeeded in making sure the thought won’t cross his mind,” said Mary.
They reached a group of about fifty people and found Marlene without any trouble at all.
“For fuck’s sake,” Marlene said as she looked at her. “I’m not even going to say anything.”
She rolled her eyes at that and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Good!”
“She’s having one of her feminist moods,” Mary told Marlene as she applied some more lip-gloss.
“Perfect timing for that…” Marlene said sarcastically. “You were our one hope, Lil.”
She rolled her eyes at that, ignoring her friends and finding Frank Longbottom - who had organised this year’s Christmas Pub Crawl - instead. “Frank!” She exclaimed. “Where is my group?”
Frank was all smiles as he looked at her. “Rad jumper, Lily!” he said and Lily sent her friends a smug smile. She was met with an eye-roll from each. “Your group is on the right. Near the first bus.”
She didn’t know what she expected. Perhaps she had been watching too many romcoms - Mary was to blame - of late, but she certainly did not expect her first image of the prince to be the one she was treated to now. He was caught in a headlock, laughing and spluttering words she could not make out as two boys laughed at him, while the third held him in said headlock and put a red nose on his face to accompany the antlers on his head.
“Look at that,” Marlene said, “he looks even stupider than you do.”
“I think,” she informed her friends, “that might be blasphemy.” She sent her friends a smile, making peace with them. “I’ll see you over here when we get back?”
“Unless we’ve gotten a better offer,” Marlene said with a grin. “We’ll text anyway! Have fun!”
She turned around after blowing her friends a kiss to meet the supremely awkward group she was meant to join. Apart from the prince and his three friends, the others - three girls wearing next to nothing and two boys staring crossly ahead of them - appeared to be very unhappy.
She reached them and waved awkwardly. “Hi,” she said.
It was at that moment that she first locked eyes with Prince James. In hindsight, she perhaps could have expected the events that followed in the next few weeks from that one spark that his eyes seemed to ignite within her.
His eyes, filled with mirth, widened slightly and he shoved the friend holding him in a headlock, straightening himself and sending her a lopsided grin, his hand flew to his hair and bumped into the antlers that promptly fell off his head. He flushed as he reached down to grab them off the street.
She bit her lip to stop herself from laughing. She could not, however, stop herself from blurting out: “Rudolph, I assume?”
He looked up at her, a crease forming in his forehead and now it was her time to flush.
“The red-nosed reindeer?” She asked, pointing at her nose.
“Ah,” he said, his neck turning even redder, but he recovered and sent her a grin, holding out his hand for her to shake. “You may call me Prongs, though.”
“Prongs?” She asked.
He shook his head. “Long story. I’m afraid I would have to kill you if I told you.”
She smiled at that and was about to say something witty in reply when one of his friends cut in.
“All right, Casanova,” he said, bumping against his shoulder, “easy, reign it in. You don’t want to scare the pretty girl away.” He smirked as Prince James turned impossibly red and then turned to her. “Sirius Black, my lady,” he grabbed her hand and pressed his lips down gently, “at your service.”
“I like your jumper,” said another slightly chubby one and that was it. They had won her over and she had won over them, it seemed.
She laughed more than she could ever remember doing. She felt as though she floated among them, like a fairy brightening their path as they stuck to her all night. They drank a bit too much and Sirius Black’s jokes turned more obscene with the hour, but she liked them. She liked James especially. He had insisted she called him that and she had trouble remembering he was who he was. Certainly now that he was giving her a lift to her room, piggy-back, and she had wrapped her arms around his shoulders, listening to him rambling on and on about how he wanted to jump out of a plane, wearing a parachute, of course. He asked her if she wanted to join him. But she said no, telling him she would prefer a more glorious death, thank you very much and he asked: “What is more glorious than dying whilst you’re completely free?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “When you save someone?” She kicked against his sides as they neared her door. “This is me.”
“Oh,” he said, he sounded disappointed when he gently removed his hands from under her bum and she slid off his back. She made sure to press her breasts against his back, which was completely unnecessary and definitely out of character as well, but she didn’t really care. She had only had five pints, but she felt oddly liberated.
“So,” she said, taking her keys from her pocket and looking up at him through her eyelashes, “you realise I don’t normally do this, right? Invite a guy in when I’ve only just met him?”
“Yeah,” he said, looking adorably eager, “yeah, of course I know that.” (He would admit in a few weeks time that he would have said anything to get her naked. “Can you blame me? You’re incredibly fit! Ouch, woman, that was a compliment!”)
She smiled at him, but then looked to her right. Feeling slightly apprehensive all of a sudden. “He’s not going to stay, is he?”
He turned his head. “Kingsley?” he asked her, watching the man standing some distance away. “No, he’ll go once I tell him to.”
“Oh,” she said, biting her lip and then smiled. “Kingsley,” she giggled, “sounds an awful lot like Kingslayer.”
He chuckled, a crease forming between his eyebrows. “Are you telling me that you think Kingsley might murder me in my sleep?”
“No,” she said, her fingers toying with the hair at the back of his neck. He moved a bit closer, their noses nearly touching. “Like in Game of Thrones,” she told him. “Jaime Lannister.”
“That’s the show with the girl and her dragons, right?”
His lips that had brushed hers as he spoke now gently pressed down on hers, moving sweetly against hers as she hummed in agreement. Then he put some more effort in it and coaxed her into moving hers along with his. She didn’t know how long they stood there like that, their bodies fitting together like a puzzle, his fingers brushing against her cheek and she forgot it all for a moment. She forgot that he was a prince - the one and only - she forgot that she was being watched by Kingsley, that she really didn’t do this kind of thing, that this might be a one night only kind of thing… but then she remembered what truly mattered.
“Wait,” she said, frowning at him as she pressed her hands against his chest, firm, solid and muscled beneath her fingers, “you haven’t seen Game of Thrones?”
“No,” he said, brushing his nose against hers, “never got around to it.” He is about to lean in again, but she stops him.
“What do you mean you never got around to it?”
He chuckled. “Really?” He asked. “You want to do this now?”
She opened her mouth to tell him yes, but then she realised - to her own great surprise - that no, it wasn’t what she wanted to do now. She would much rather do, well, him.
“We’ll talk about it later,” she told him and turned around to open the door to her room.
He pulled her back against his chest, his hard body wrapping around hers and her stomach fluttered. “Excellent, I’ll let Kingsley go.”
She didn’t really recall how she ended up on her bed with him tugging down her skinny jeans minutes later, but she did remember his laugh, how he told her that he loved that she made it this hard for him to actually get her naked. “Tights, Evans?” He asked. “Are you here to torture me?”
She flushed. “Shut up! I just didn’t want you to let your mother know what a tart I am.”
“Why would I tell my mother about any of this?” He asked, scrunching up his face.
“You have Kingsleys following you around,” she said, helping him get rid of her tights and pulling up her jumper to reveal her bra. “You don’t know what they tell your mother.”
For a moment he is too preoccupied with staring at her breasts, but then he flashes her a smirk. “Believe me,” he said, “I’ve made sure they take some secrets with them to the grave.”
Then he unhooked her bra and she couldn't think properly anymore. It was only after she had caught her breath after a warm, glorious orgasm that had followed his going down on her that she turned her head to look him directly in the eyes again. He had a smug look on his face.
“See,” she told him, “this,” she pointed to his face with her hand, “is probably why I shouldn’t have let you inside.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” he said, his hand on her waist travelling further south.
“You’re a prince,” she said, “you probably don’t need another person telling you just how excellent you are.”
“Hmm,” he said, a shit-eating grin splitting his handsome face in two, “how about you show me then?” He pulled her against him, kissing her and moving to hover over her. “Condom?” He asked.
She thrust a crinkled wrapper against his chest and he put it between his teeth, tearing the foil as he wiggled his eyebrows.
She was in trouble and she loved it.
When she woke to find him pulling up his boxer shorts, she expected it to be awkward, but it wasn’t.
“Good morning,” he said, leaning down to press a swift kiss against her lips. He grinned down at her as he put his arms next to her face, his face floating above hers. “Sorry to wake you up,” he told her, “I tried to be quiet.”
“That’s okay,” she tells him sleepily. “What time is it?”
“Eight,” he replied, energy bounding off of him. “My parents are expecting me for lunch,” he went on to explain as he pushed himself off the bed and reached for his jeans. “What are your plans for Christmas? Going home?”
She sits up slowly, holding the sheets up to cover her naked form. “Yeah,” she told him, “I’m taking the train back to Cokeworth this afternoon.”
“Cokeworth,” he said buttoning his jeans, “don’t think I’ve ever been there.”
She snorted, pushing her hair back, suddenly aware that it probably looks like a bird’s nest and not in the effortless, charming and ridiculously attractive way his does. “Believe me, you haven’t missed much.”
He shrugged on his light blue button-up shirt that she had neatly placed on a chair only a few hours before. “I find all places have their own particular charm.”
“Spoken like a pure diplomat,” she said.
“It’s my upbringing,” he said, frowning as his fingers struggle to actually button up. He groaned softly, looking around. “I can’t see shit without my glasses.”
She reached for his glasses on the bedside table and sits up on her knees to gently push them on his face. He sent her a kind smile that grows wider when her hands move to the buttons of his shirt, deftly closing one after the other.
“Thanks,” he said softly, deeply, and he pressed a kiss just beneath her ear.
“No problem,” she replied, flushing as she sat back again.
“So…” he began, reaching for the antlers he had thrown on her desk a few hours ago, “I’ve got your number and added mine to your phone. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not,” she told him, watching his every move, memorizing him.
“You probably won’t hear from me in the first week,” he went on. “Family obligations and all that.”
“Sure,” she replied, “I’ll be busy too.” He smiled at her, taking a step closer. His hand reached out to brush some of her hair back. She blushed, knowing that she must have looked far messier than she had wanted to.
“Merry Christmas, Evans,” he said, his deep voice stirring something inside of her.
“You too,” she told him before he kissed her, deepening the kiss when she let out a satisfied sigh.
He stepped back after a few minutes and winked. “See you around, I’m sure,” he said, saluting her and then he left and she felt cold. Cold and stupid and annoyingly empty. She was sure she had seen the last of him.
(But, since you’ve gotten this far, you will realise that this was not the case.)
Home had never been the same since her mother passed away four years ago. She loved her father more than anything and even though her sister annoyed her to no end and did not seem to like her that very much at all, she loved her sister too.
When she had come home for her Christmas break, a mere 12 hours and 37 minutes after she had fallen into bed with the crown prince - but who was counting, really - her sister had immediately started on a familiar rant.
“Why is it that you have taken over this house already? You’ve only been here for like, twelve minutes.” Her sister also, clearly, had been counting.
“I just need to put a few things in the wash,” she said, sorting her clothes into different piles.
Her sister huffed. “Have you even considered that I might need the washing machine too?”
She turned around, facing her red-faced sister. “I’m terribly sorry, Tuney, did you need the washing machine?” She asked, a clear edge to her voice.
Petunia blinked at her, narrowing her eyes slightly. “What’s up with you?”
“What’s up with me?” She asked, exasperated. “You’re yelling at me for no reason whatsoever!”
Her sister eyed her a few seconds longer before turning around. “Just make sure I can use it tomorrow,” she said. “I have a date in two days and need to wash the dress I plan on wearing.”
She was tempted to stick out her tongue at her sister, but her father had then poked his head around the corner, smiling wide: “Just like the old days,” he said happily. “I’ve missed the sound of your arguments.”
Now, two days later, her sister was indeed on a date with a mysterious young man she was not even allowed to look up on Facebook and her father was finishing up on some things at work before he would take off three days for Christmas. Lily, in the meantime, had travelled to Manchester to meet up with Mary and Marlene.
“You know what?” said Mary after they had been handed the tea and scones they ordered, “I don’t think you ever told us what happened during the pub crawl.”
She busied herself with swirling her tea around in her cup. “I didn’t?” she asked, hoping to sound uncaring, casual and completely uninteresting.
“Nope,” said Marlene, “and don’t act like there was nothing to spill! You seemed to be having a grand old time with the prince and his buddies within five seconds.”
She shrugged at that, taking a sip of her tea. “They were nice, that’s all.”
“They were nice?” Mary spluttered. “Come on, Lil, spill! I just told you all the terrible details of my night with Amos the Dick.”
“It’s your own fault that you jumped into bed with him,” said Marlene. “I told you he wasn’t that great before.”
“But you didn’t tell me he finished within three minutes and fell asleep on top of you!” Mary said, groaning. “I’m honestly traumatised. He didn’t even touch my tits or anything and I have amazing boobs, right?”
Marlene patted Mary’s arm in sympathy and then turned to her again. She had just taken a bite of her scone. “Make Mary feel better with your boring tales of the night, Lily,” she said. “What is our future king like?”
She was certain that she had turned a bright red. “I told you already,” she said, “he was fine. Very nice. A bit of a dork, really, but mostly fine and very nice.” She got rid off a few crumbs on her hands and then looked up at her friends. “That’s it.”
Marlene and Mary stared at her and she still does not understand how they knew - although the fact that she used ‘fine’ and ‘nice too often might have been a clue - but they did.
“Oh my God,” said Mary, her mouth dropping open.
“You didn’t,” exclaimed Marlene, her eyes twinkling and a wide smirk replacing her earlier shock. “Oh my God, you totally did!”
“Shut up,” she said, shushing her friends. She had turned a bright, bright red.
“I will not!” Marlene said, leaning forward. “This is priceless! You shagged him?!”
“I had a bit too much to drink,” she justifies herself, but her friends wouldn’t settle for such a brief explanation. “I let my guard down a bit too much.”
“Who cares?” Mary said, having forgotten all about her own disappointment. “Was he any good?”
Marlene scoffed. “Of course he bloody was!”
“Looks don’t always guarantee that, Marls,” Mary answered. “Look at Amos…”
“Don’t remind me,” said Marlene shuddering. “I know he was good, because of Lily’s face.”
“What about my face?”
“Those gooey eyes,” Marlene said teasingly, “that love-struck look…”
“I’m not in love,” she protested.
“Of course not,” Marlene scoffed, “I didn’t say that. You just look like you’ve been fucked really, really well.”
“All right,” she said, giving up. “He definitely knew what he was doing.”
“Ha!” Marlene let out, her arms going up in triumph as if she had just won an Olympic medal.
“He was really good,” she continued, blushing slightly, “I don’t know, he… he was really into it and so was I and that just made it practically perfect.”
Mary let out a sigh. “This is better than anything I’ve seen in films recently.”
“So, what did he do? Did he eat you out?” she wiggled her eyebrows.
“Valid question, Mare,” she held up her hands and turned back to Lily. “Did he?” She could only nod and Marlene made a sound of approval. “And he was okay using a condom?”
“Yes, Marley, we had safe sex.”
She seemed satisfied, eyeing her up and down. “Well played, Evans, well played.”
Mary grabbed her hand. “Do you think you’ll see him again?”
“I don’t think so,” she answered, but Marlene scoffed. “What? I don’t!”
“He was into it, right? He’ll definitely want to do it again. Men are pigs like that. Want to show they’re Alpha males and everything. He’ll want to stake his claim.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “This isn’t the Middle Ages, Marlene.”
“Mark my words,” said Marlene. “He’ll message you before the year is over.
It was Boxing Day and she had just spent the day before eating so much that she felt bloated and disgusting today. She felt satisfied, though. Her aunt’s cooking made it all worth it, even though she had trouble reaching her iPad on the coffee table. But that might have everything to do with laziness and very little with the state of her stomach.
She had just decided that she was going to get up, so she could actually watch Netflix instead of think about it when her phone buzzed and lit up with a message. She fully expected it to be Mary, who had messaged her non-stop to ask if Prince James had texted her yet. As she looked at the screen now, though, she sat up, startled and shocked.
HisRoyalHotness - happy boxing day, Evans
She nearly dropped her phone in shock, but managed to hold it as a second message arrived.
HisRoyalHotness - this is James, by the way. not that the name I put my number under was in any way unclear or ambiguous.
She bit her lip, feeling giddy all of a sudden as her fingers moved - seemingly - of their own accord.
Evans - Thank you for the clarification. I thought my dreams just came true and Jon Snow messaged me. (Game of Thrones reference, by the way. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”)
It took three nerve-wrecking minutes for him to respond.
HisRoyalHotness - just looked him up. nothing to worry about.
She snorted and was about to type a response when her sister came into the living room, carrying the latest copy of Hello in her hands. She let herself fall into their father’s chair, wearing her favourite pink pyjamas and opened the magazine for her to reveal the cover of the Christmas issue. A smiling Prince James greeted her, walking arm in arm with his mother on his father’s family estate it seemed. She stared at the picture for a few minutes, only to be forced to look at her phone again when it buzzed in her hand.
HisRoyalHotness - so, when will you be back at st andrews?
“Can you put that thing on silent,” her sister asked, sounding thoroughly annoyed. “The buzzing gives me headaches.”
She rolled her eyes at that. “You’ve literally been here for five seconds.” At that her phone buzzed again.
“And yet your phone keeps buzzing,” her sister said. “Tell those friends of yours to shut up.”
She bit her tongue, putting her phone on silent and looking at his latest message.
HisRoyalHotness - up for watching GOT with me when you get back?
She smiled brightly, butterflies erupting in the pit of her stomach. She even let out a bit of a squeal, earning another glare from her sister, which she ignored. She typed a quick and short message back before turning to her sister.
“So, tell me,” she began, “what have the royals been up to this week?”
Her sister sat up at that, pleased to be asked a question on a topic she knew everything about. She listened intently, eager to please and - all right - perhaps doing some research of her own. It wouldn’t hurt to know what he’d been up to before she saw him again, right?
If someone were to ask her how it all happened, she wasn’t sure if she could give a sensible answer for it didn't really make all that much sense to her. One moment she was a high-achieving, ambitious student studying until she couldn’t see straight and another she found herself in bed with a prince, his arms wrapped around her waist as he patiently watched an episode of Game of Thrones every night they would spend together and as it turned out, they did so quite regularly.
It would always start with a message, asking if she was free and - even if she wasn’t - she found herself dropping her things and making her way to the house he shared with his friends, who were most often not there. He would open the door for her, they would go up to his room, they would sometimes chat for a bit, but it always ended up with them naked in bed.
He was terribly sweet. Not that she was supposed to tell anyone, because when she had told him she thought so, he had groaned and begged her not to. (“Don’t emasculate me, Evans. I have a reputation to uphold. I’m a fierce and brutal warrior prince.”) He would always ask her for permission, he made sure to tell her he thought she was beautiful and he allowed her to talk about Game of Thrones for hours, even if he was too tired to really pay attention and didn’t always care about the tiny details she would consider hugely important.
But he was also insatiable. He would touch her constantly, but she loved it. He told her that fucking her was his favourite thing in the whole wide world and, honestly, she loved it when he did that to her too. She loved riding him, she loved feeling him inside of her, she loved how much he wanted her, how sexy he made her feel even if she was wearing a pair of skinny jeans and a simple black t-shirt… he never seemed to get tired of her and she lusted after him, ached for him. Sometimes he would look at her like she was his whole world and she would melt.
They hadn’t really agreed on anything. She didn’t really know what they were. She didn’t think he knew, but Sirius called her the girlfriend and she supposed that she was. She was the prince’s girlfriend. The whole world might as well have gone to shambles. Luckily, though, no one knew about it outside their close circle of friends.
He was careful not to meet up with her in public. Everything they did had to stay indoors, but she didn’t really mind and it made Remus, Sirius and Peter like her better. Remus had told her that James’ previous conquests had always wanted to show him off, as if he was a prize to be won. He was, of course, but not because he was a prince. He was a precious dork that loved watching Netflix and introduced her to The 100. (“If I’m spending hours on your show, you better do the same for me.”) She thought his character crush on Bellamy Blake was adorable.
Before long, she had grown attached. She spoke to him all the time through text when she wasn’t with him and when her birthday arrived, he bought her leather-bound versions of several of the classics she had obsessed over for weeks. She had been incredibly grateful, she had declared him mad - “I met you six weeks ago!” - but he had grinned and pulled her in for a hug, telling her he was glad she liked it this much. (She had generously and thoroughly thanked him in bed later, of course, and he had happily declared that he would get her presents every day if this was the treatment he could expect after. He got drunk on her sometimes.)
Then when his birthday arrived two months later, he had to go to London to celebrate with his parents, hundreds of guests and a parade in his honour. She watched him on the tele and bought her own edition of Hello on which he featured on the cover, hiding it under her bed to avoid his knowing smirk. Then she called Marlene and Mary over and panicked over what she should give him. Marlene suggested kinky sex, while Mary suggested lingerie for him to rip up. Both suggestions were met with embarrassment and were definitely not her style, but her friends couldn’t do much else after the two bottles of wine they had emptied amongst the two of them.
Finally, after lying awake and browsing the web all night, she thought of the perfect gift - it was so obvious that she was embarrassed not to have thought of it before - and when he came back from London, she was waiting for him in his kitchen - Remus had let her in - with a homemade chocolate fudge cake and a shirt with Bob Morley’s face on it for him to unwrap.
When Remus had later caught them snogging in the kitchen he had begged them to go up and James had loved the white, lace lingerie she had bought and worn for the occasion. (He did not ask to rip it and she would have hit him if he had.)
Before she knew it, she ended up in a serious relationship with the Prince of Wales. A secret one, a private one and one that was theirs and theirs alone. She started to care for him in a way she had never cared for anyone else. He gave her butterflies, made her skin tingle and she had never felt more alive. But one thing remained: in the back of her mind, she knew that this wouldn’t last. It was a university romance and it would all end in a few months’ time. They were finishing their Bachelor’s degrees and she was looking for an internship at a charity organisation in London, while he would go straight into military service. It would be fun while it lasted, but she would inevitably end up with a broken heart.
(However much you might think she was definitely wrong in thinking just that, her heart would break. Perhaps just not in the way she thought it would. But more on that a bit later, unfortunately.)
She was still glowing and couldn’t feel her legs or any other part of her body when he sat up, reaching for his phone. His naked back was strong and the tan skin - due possibly to his partly Indian heritage from his father’s side - moved over the taut muscles underneath. She couldn’t resist, sitting up and pressing her front against his back. She would definitely be up for a second round and maybe a third or a fourth.
He let out a groan, throwing his phone on the bed and turning around, pushing her on the bed as his head moved down to take one of her nipples into his mouth. He sucked it gently and then moved up to catch her lips with his, his hips settling between her legs as she wrapped her thighs around him on instinct, lining herself up perfectly for him to have his way with her.
“You’re going to be the death of me,” he said between kisses.
“I plan on it.” She felt herself smirk and grabbed the back of his neck, deepening the kiss and licking the inside of his mouth. Her hands moved down his shoulders, holding on to him tight as he entered her in a swift and practiced movement. She gasped before pressing her mouth harder against his and he started to move steadily, grabbing her bum with one hand and squeezing her breast with the other.
The slapping of skin against skin, the heavy breathing, the low guttural sounds he made and her high-pitched gasps mixed in a beautiful rhythm made for and by the two of them. Their kisses became sloppier by the second, his cock entered her faster and deeper, slamming harder and harder inside of her and she squeezed him as hard as she could, her walls closing around him and making him swear loudly time and time again, louder and louder as they both went higher and higher. Their sweat mingled, her hands grabbed his ass to urge him on some more and he went so deep that she nearly bit his tongue in surprise and delight.
And that’s when it happened. She thought to herself that this, this was it. That this was what she wanted for the rest of her life. That she wanted him forever and that she was so lucky to have found him, her soulmate, her partner in crime, her everything and then, as he hit that spot, the one that made her see stars, she cried out and suddenly tears started to roll down her cheeks and she sobbed as he took her over the edge and he followed her, slamming into her a final time and cursing as he released himself inside of her, pressing kisses against her mouth in a quick succession and she thought he must have felt the same, because she could have sworn he told her he loved her, but she couldn’t respond, because she was numb and so alive at the same time. He had taken her to another world, another dimension and there she wanted to stay, because she knew that - in a normal world, in their world - this was not likely to last and she wanted it to. So desperately.
“Hey,” he said, pulling her out of her dream world. His eyes kind, gentle and concerned. “I didn’t hurt you did I?”
She shook her head, lifting it slightly and pressing her lips against his. “No,” she said, “that was perfect. Just perfect.”
He nodded, grinning stupidly before pressing a kiss against her sweaty forehead. “Good,” he said.
She kept her distance after that. It was becoming too much. She was becoming too attached.
He didn’t catch the memo at first, but after a while he accepted that she said no and started to hang out with his friends more. She knew it annoyed him, she knew he wanted to argue with her, but he also wanted to keep doing what they had been doing - even if it wasn’t as often as he’d want - and maybe that’s why he chose to ignore it or perhaps he just thought she was stressing out over exams, which wasn’t too far from the truth, because she was.
It was clear that things had changed and that in their final months at uni they were preparing to part. Still, when he asked her and her friends to join him and his friends for drinks at the pub to celebrate the end of exams, she couldn’t say no. Or rather: Mary and Marlene - who thought she was being stupid - forbade her to. Mary also did not allow Lily to wear anything but a dress and she felt stupidly self-conscious as she entered the pub, although the look that James gave her might have boosted her confidence just a tiny bit.
James and Marlene went to get drinks, Mary started giggling with Peter and Remus and Sirius made room for her to sit down.
“You know what,” said Sirius, smirk in place, “I can just see it, can’t you, Remus?”
“Oh, absolutely,” said Remus, eyes twinkling as he sipped from his bottle of beer. He winked at her.
“See what?” she asked.
“You,” said Sirius, “gliding down the altar.”
“Meeting heads of state, shaking hands, cutting ribbons, addressing the people…”
“Don’t be stupid,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“You look damn hot in a dress, Evans,” Sirius shrugged, “that’s all I’m saying.”
“And James noticed too.”
“Well,” she began, “you need a bit more than the ability to look nice in a dress to rule a country.”
“But James would do the ruling,” Sirius said. “You would just need to pop out an heir and with the way the two of you go at it…”
She glared at Sirius and Remus intervened. “I’m sure Fleamont would have a different point of view, Sirius.”
“Dear old Fleamont,” said Sirius.
“You are his favourite,” Remus told his friend.
“And he is mine, but don’t let James know,” he said and then he leaned towards Lily. “He gets jealous, you know.”
She let out a laugh. Actually, she did know that. He complained for hours after Lily admitted to being attracted to not just Kit Harington, but Richard Madden too. (“You wound me, Evans. Are you implying I need to get a furry cloak too? Will you love me then?” She had kissed his pout away.)
Sirius regarded her with a strange smile. “Don’t you think Euphemia will love her, Remus?”
Remus smiled. “Fleamont will want to pinch her cheeks.”
She felt herself flush and looked around to see where James was. He was talking to Marlene, but he must have sensed her eyes on him for he turned and grinned lopsidedly. He was wearing his Bob Morley-shirt.
“Face it, Evans,” Sirius said, “the prince is smitten.”
“The question is,” Remus continued, “what about you?”
And suddenly she understood, her mouth formed an ‘o’ as she looked at the two boys. She detected worry in their eyes, their expressions solemn and completely serious. A rarity for the both of them.
The moment was broken when James slid in beside her, casually wrapping his arm around her shoulders - he wouldn’t go further than that in public, worries about the press as he was - and handed her a beer. She smiled at him, taking a sip of the cold, foamy liquid. When her eyes turned back to Remus and Sirius she found that they were debating with Marlene now.
“You okay?” asked James, brushing his fingers against her bare shoulder. She sent him a smile.
“Finishing up my dissertation,” he said. “Preparing for military service.”
“Not particularly,” he responded. “I’ve grown rather fond of some of the people here.”
“I’m sure Rosmerta will give you her number if you ask.”
He chuckled, shaking his head as he took a sip of his own pint. “Not who I meant, but, yes, I’m sure she would.”
“You should ask for her number now.” She ran her finger along the rum of her glass.
“Would you want me to?” he asked, stretching his arms over his head. She felt cold now that his arm had left her shoulder.
“I want you to do what you want.”
“Fine,” he said, sounding somewhat cross. “Maybe I will then.”
But he didn’t leave the table and he didn’t ask Rosmerta - the barmaid that always flirted up a storm with him - for her number. He did not speak to her for half an hour, but then he warmed up to her again and started joking around with everyone at their table.
And when they left, he dared press a kiss to her lips when their friends blocked them from view and he asked her to come home with him and she did. She held his hand as they walked the short distance between the pub and his house. His friends trying to coax Kingsley into talking. James trying to stop his friends from harassing “a man with the most tedious job in the world” and Kingsley flashing a smile at that, which caused the boys to roar and Sirius jumped on James’ back. She laughed as she let go of James’ hand, took out her phone and snapped a picture of the five of them. “You all look gorgeous,” she informed them.
Sirius jumped off James’ back when they got to the house, pulling Remus and Peter with him into the living room to watch a film. “You’ve got just over two hours!” he told them, winking.
James grabbed her hand, guided her up the stairs she knew as well as the one at her house and kissed her passionately as soon as they entered his bedroom. He sat down on the edge of his bed, pulled off his shirt and kicked off his shoes while she pushed the dress down her hips, stepped out of her heels and then moved to straddle him, her hands on his shoulders as they made out until she could no longer feel her lips.
She was cuddled up against him, his fingers playing with her hair and her hand on his chest as the boys went upstairs. Sirius tutted loudly, a wolfish grin on his face, as he passed James’ open bedroom door, kicking it shut.
They hadn’t really spoken all that much. Their lips had been otherwise preoccupied, but now she looked up at him, her lips briefly meeting his cheek, capturing his attention. She smiled at him.
“I’m sorry about earlier,” she told him. His eyes softened.
“Nah,” he said, “I was just a bit stressed. Overreacted a bit, probably.”
“Maybe,” she said, “but I wasn’t very considerate.”
He shrugged, dropping a kiss in her forehead. “I just… it’s all ending so soon, you know.”
“I know,” she replied, placing her head in the crook of his neck. “With our final exams coming up, finishing our degrees and then no holidays for you, because you’re going straight to Langley.”
He let out a bitter-sounding chuckle. “Yeah, I wish that kept me up at night.”
She frowned at that, looking up at him. He was avoiding her eyes, scowling. “What?” she asked him, sitting up now. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said, running a hand through his hair, distancing himself from her and cursing. “Fuck, this went way better when I practiced with Remus.”
“I have no clue what you’re on about.”
“I’m talking about you!” His frustration showed. “I’m bloody talking about you and me. I don’t want this to end.”
Her heart stopped beating and she stared at him, shock etched on her face.
“Sorry,” he groaned, burying his face in his hands, “I shouldn’t have thrown this at you like this. I was supposed to phrase this better. Remus told me this was way harder for you than for me.”
She still gaped at him, at an utter loss for words. She then turned around, reaching for his Bob Morley-shirt and pulling it on.
“Where are you going?” he asked, panic in his voice and she very nearly kissed him, but they needed to talk. They didn’t talk enough.
“Nowhere,” she reassured him. “I just thought this conversation shouldn’t be had while I’m completely naked. It might mess things up.”
“My head, yes,” he reached out to brush a finger against her cheek. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to do this tonight.”
“Then when?” she asked him.
“I don’t know? Never?” He sighed. “I was planning on wallowing in silence.”
She shook her head at him. “At least I understand why Remus and Sirius were talking about how my wearing a dress proved that I was meant to be with you.”
“They what?” He frowned.
“Okay, not exactly that, but it started with my dress and ended with them telling me your parents would love me.”
He laughed, running his hand through his hair again. “In all fairness, when you entered the pub in that dress I was ready to pick you up and carry you here bridal style.”
She grinned slyly. “I know, your eyes bulged.”
“Your tits were practically in my face.”
“Mary picked it.”
“She’s got excellent taste.”
Somehow he had gotten closer to her in the past few seconds. His hands were on her waist, toying with the hem of his shirt (on her) and his teeth nipped at her neck, the tip of his tongue soothing the skin gently.
“James,” she said, laughing before she pushed him away. “We were talking.”
“Pretty sure that was foreplay.”
“We’re not getting anywhere if this keeps happening,” she told him.
He sighed, wrapping his arms around her waist. “But that’s what I want,” he told her, pecking her lips, “for this to keep happening. I don’t want it to stop just because I’m joining the military and you’re moving to London.”
She bit her lip, her fingers drumming against his shoulders. “How did you imagine this was going to go?” she asked him. “It’s not as if we’d be able to see each other much.”
“I don’t know,” he sighed, “but I do know that I care about you and that I don’t want to give you up.”
She found herself smiling fondly. “I care about you too,” she told him. “It’s just that… I don’t know… what are we even? We never even talked about that.”
“Didn’t know you needed me to clarify things.”
“I think you’re doing that now,” she said.
He let out a deep breath. “Look,” he said, “ I know it might sometimes seem like this is all about…”
“That,” he said, his cheeks colouring slightly. “And to be fair, this all started, because I’m insanely attracted to you,” she rolled her eyes at that. “I seriously am! You’re all my wet dreams in one.” She hit him lightly on the chest and he grinned. “Face it, Evans, you’re beautiful.”
“This all started out so promising,” she said, sending him a mock glare, “but clearly you’re just blinded by lust.”
His eyes softened at that. “You know that’s not true,” he said, then he chuckled. “I’ve seen you at your dorkiest, Lil. You quote Game of Thrones whenever you can, you freak out over cat or dog videos, you read way too many books and start to blow when I ask you what the book you’re reading now is about…”
“You like it!” She told him, crossing her arms in defiance and cocking one of her eyebrows.
“I love it,” he said calmly.
“Because you’re a nerd too.”
He rolled his eyes, but nodded. “All right, maybe that’s true. But don’t reveal all of my secrets, please.”
“I think you outed yourself by wearing this shirt,” she pointed to Bob Morley’s face, “in public tonight.”
He blushed adorably. “Actually, I did that to make a point.”
“What was your point, exactly?”
“That you like me?”
She laughed. “Why the questioning tone?”
“Well,” he began, “you did turn me down quite a bit in the last few weeks.”
“I think I did enough to make your head grow to enormous proportions already.”
“You said you would rather date that giant squid when we were watching Pirates once.”
“You were annoying me,” she said. “Plus, it’s called the Kraken.”
“When it walks like a duck, quaks like a duck…”
“James,” she said, eyeing him seriously now, “I like you, I care about you. I really do.”
He smiled goofily at that. “Brilliant,” he said, pecking her lips. “Does that also mean you are not going to break up with me after graduation?”
She snorted. “As if I would have the strength to deal with your tear-filled Bambi eyes.”
“Bambi!” he exclaimed.
“Remember that you did wear antlers when we first met, my deer…”
“You hang around Sirius too much,” he said, rolling his eyes, but then he leaned down to kiss her again. “Just to be completely clear,” he started, “you are my girlfriend.”
“Okay,” she said, one of her hands started to play with the hair at the back of his neck, “let’s see where this goes.”
“Yeah,” he said, pressing his forehead against hers. “Don’t worry, though, we’ll just keep this between us, okay? No pressure, no parents, no media…”
“We’re just figuring out if we would work outside of uni.”
“Exactly,” he said, his eyes warm.
“We might implode.”
But something told her that she was royally screwed. No pun intended.
A lot of hard work, late nights spent writing their dissertations and about a hundred cups of tea later, they graduated.
His graduation was front page news. He would leave for military service soon, she would head home in a week and with all the media circling around St Andrews and his house, it was very nearly impossible to meet up with him.
“I’m sorry, Lil,” he had told her over the phone. “It’s insane.”
“Don’t worry,” she had replied, but deep down she had been disappointed and she had thought: ‘This is what it’s like, dating a prince. You won’t ever have him to yourself.’ She didn’t tell him, though, and she told herself it was okay.
But she missed him and she thought it was mad. She supposed, however, that this was what happened when you spent five weeks in his presence, finishing your work for uni. She missed how he would look up at her every once in a while, not saying anything, but grinning widely. She missed how he would randomly cite facts to her that alerted her to the fact that he had not been writing his dissertation, but that he had been browsing the web. (“Yes, mum,” he rolled his eyes, “I’ll go back to studying.”) She missed the boys too. How they would pop up at random times to - in Sirius’ case - annoy them.
It had been a whole week of mere texting back and forth when he told her about the interview he would be giving.
“It’s for the BBC,” he said, sounding apprehensive.
“It might be good,” she told him. “Maybe the media storm will die down a bit?”
“Yeah,” he said and then - after a moment of silence - “they sent me their questions. They’ll be asking me about my time at St Andrews and my plans after mostly, but…”
“What?” she asked.
“There is one question about my love life.”
“Oh,” she answered. She could tell he ran his hand through his hair, even over the phone.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked, her heart started to beat rapidly inside of her throat.
“I –” she started, closing her eyes briefly. “I mean… we haven’t exactly told anyone yet…”
It was quiet for a few seconds too long and she wondered what he was thinking. “Yeah,” he said then, clearing his throat, “right. Of course. It would be stupid to just… out ourselves.”
“It’s just… what about your parents? What about my dad and sister?”
He was quick to answer. “No, Lil, it’s okay. You’re right. I just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t freak out if I didn’t say anything. I mean… whatever I might say doesn’t mean that I don’t care.”
She smiled at that. “I know, James. Don’t worry about me.”
“Okay,” he told her, “glad we cleared this up.”
“Me too,” she said and after an awkward goodbye on his part and nervous stumbling on hers, she let herself fall on her bed, wondering why she felt strangely unsettled about this all.
The day of the interview came. She told herself she wasn’t going to watch it, but she found herself opening a livestream of the interview on her iPad as soon as the clock struck eight – the time the interview was said to take place. It was a live interview on his father’s family estate and butterflies fluttered around in her stomach as soon as she saw him appear on the screen, suited up and lopsided grin in place. He looked absolutely gorgeous.
He answered each question that was fired at him eagerly and with a grace that surprised her slightly. He had clearly rehearsed what he was going to say and she could just imagine him sitting in his kitchen, Remus at his side, because he was James’ go-to-friend-in-need. Yet, his answers were genuine and his eyes twinkled.
But then the question she had dreaded the whole evening came and her heart stopped. He faltered, he blushed and he looked away from the camera.
“My love life?” he asked, chuckling nervously. Although, she was certain people who didn’t know him wouldn’t pick up on that. “A rather personal question, don’t you agree?”
The interviewer – a certain Magnolia Brown – bared her teeth. It was clear that she could smell blood and Lily found herself wanting to stop watching, but she also couldn’t.
“A very personal question, your highness,” said Brown, “but you must realise your people are merely curious. No harm is meant.” James looked down, his hand running through his hair and Brown asked: “What is her name?”
She grabbed a pillow, hugging it to her chest as James – flustered – started to speak again. “No, no name,” he began, flushed, “absolutely no name. I –” she could tell that he was beating himself up over this “– I am very young still. I don’t intend to marry anytime soon.”
“But there is a special lady in your life at the moment?”
She wanted to punch Magnolia Brown.
James sat up a bit. “Honestly?” he asked. “Yes.” She closed her eyes at that. “She might murder me for admitting this, but I ruined it anyway. I’m sorry!” She opened her eyes again to find him looking right at the camera, smiling a sheepish smile that was clearly meant for her. “I would, however,” he continued, “appreciate some privacy. I don’t feel the need to share more.”
As soon as the moment was over – this part of the interview couldn’t have taken more than three minutes – her phone started to ring. She picked up.
“Oh my God,” said Mary, sounding breathless.
“I know,” she said, feeling slightly light-headed. “I can’t believe he just froze up.”
“He is so in love with you,” gushed Mary. “Did you see him blush?”
“I saw it all, Mare,” she said with a deep sigh. “He’s going to beat himself up over this.”
“As long as you don’t do it for him,” her friend told her and then continued to chatter about how adorable he had been and had he told her he loved her yet? Or better yet: had he proposed already? She had told Mary she would hang up if she didn’t stop spouting such nonsense, but her friend had only laughed, saying that she was absolutely delusional.
It was an hour later – the interview had finished half an hour ago – when her phone rang again. She checked the caller-ID and picked it up, pulling her knees up against her chest.
“Hi,” she said, biting her lip.
“Fuck!” He cursed and then: “Did you watch?”
“I did,” she told him.
“How mad are you?” he asked, sounding strangely vulnerable and she frowned at that.
“James…” she began, but he interrupted.
“Because you have every right to be, but I just really need you to know that I don’t know why I screwed up and that I’m very sorry.”
“James,” she started over, “it’s okay. It happened and the only thing that people now know is that you have a girlfriend.”
He let out a breath he had clearly been holding. “You do realise what the press will do now?”
She nodded. “They’ll not let you out of their sight for at least the next few weeks.”
“I know… fuck!”
She let out a soft laugh. “You just realised what that meant, right?”
“I won’t see you before I go on leave.” He was quiet for a bit, but then spoke again. “I should be able to figure something out.”
“I’m heading to Cokeworth tomorrow,” she told him and he let out another sigh.
“Right…” he said, “I knew that.”
They were quiet for a bit, but then she spoke up.
“We’ll text,” she told him, “and I’ll see you when you’re on leave, right?”
“Of course,” he replied.
She bit her lip, staring out of the window. Then: “Lily?”
“Yes?” she asked.
“I never hated being a prince as much as I do now.”
“Yeah,” she very nearly whispered, “me too.”
The newspapers, Hello magazine and every other news outlet obsessed over the identity of the prince’s girlfriends for weeks. James had gone to Langley, where he would spend the next few months in military training. Lily, on the other hand, was in Cokeworth, bored out of her mind and getting ready for the new season of Game of Thrones to start.
Her sister now had a boyfriend, named Vernon Dursley. He was – as her sister liked to remind her every day – heading towards a successful career in drilling. Lily thought of the jokes James would make if he were to hear about it from her and it made her giggle as she lay in bed. Her sister’s new relationship, however, hadn’t stopped her from obsessing over the royal family or other celebrities.
“Lily,” her sister said one afternoon while she had been preparing a sandwich, “you don’t happen to know who the prince is dating?”
She nearly dropped the plate she had been holding, eyes going wide as she looked up at her sister. “Excuse me?” she asked.
Her sister didn’t pay attention to her as she pulled a jar of Marmite out of the cupboard. “You did go to university with him,” she said, “you must have heard something.”
She felt instantly relieved, although guilt gnawed at her insides when she told her sister that she had no clue. “I barely even saw him anyway,” she said.
Her sister snorted. “I know that,” she said. “Freaks like you don’t get invited to the right parties.”
She frowned at that. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Her sister cocked an eyebrow. “Look at you,” she gestured, “jeans and a t-shirt? Not exactly the kind of girl a prince should be seen with, right?”
Her insides froze as she looked down at her attire. It was true that she hadn’t been paying any particular attention to what she was wearing, not ever to be honest. She liked to be comfortable and she felt at ease in a pair of jeans – whether blue, grey or black – and a t-shirt.
“It’s not about how you dress,” she argued, but her sister shrugged.
“Whatever you say,” she said, “but if I were a prince I wouldn’t want to be seen in public with you.”
She wanted to tell her sister the truth. She wanted to tell her just how wrong she was and how much James seemed to like her, but – in all honesty – she said something that she had been thinking herself for a long time. She was the prince’s girlfriend. Yes, she was his secret girlfriend, but where would that lead? What if she and James didn’t break up? What if they’d end up staying together? It couldn’t be a secret for the rest of their lives.
Yet, she forgot about it for a while, remembering that the new season of Game of Thrones would start that evening. Or, perhaps, she just forced herself not to think about it any longer. Therefore, when it was nearly nine o’clock, she sat down on the couch and pulled her hair up as the opening credits to Game of Thrones started to play. “Dad!” she yelled. “Hurry! Winter is coming!”
Her father walked in, throwing a packet of crisps her way. “Did anyone die already?” he asked.
She threw her father a glare as she popped a crisp in her mouth. “Just shut up and watch already!”
“All right,” her father said, settling himself in his favourite chair and propping his feet up on the table. Then – after Arya Stark had revealed herself – he looked at her smugly. “I called it,” he said, “multiple deaths in the first few minutes. It’s like I wrote the show.”
She stuck out her tongue and shushed him.
She was ten minutes in the episode when her phone lit up with a text message.
HisRoyalHotness - you were better prepared for winter than Jon Snow in his fluffy winter cloak…
Her face split with a smile, her eyes briefly flitting back to the screen as the music took on a haunting quality. She quickly typed a reply.
Evans - Is this your horrible attempt at sexting?
He replied within an instant.
HisRoyalHotness - it turns you on and you know it.
The awful truth was that it did. However terrible that line just was, it did take her back to the events that took place after the pub crawl. It was that stupid sweater she had worn, all right? Her tighs wrapping securely around his waist as he pressed kisses down her neck. Her legs working to pull him closer, deeper, letting him know by the press of her heels in his bum and urging him on to move faster, faster, faster, yet slower, slower, slower all at once… She shook her head, focussing on the screen before typing a quick response. She knew he was waiting for one.
Evans - Maybe if my FAVOURITE show wasn’t on!
She sent it just in time for Sansa, her queen and absolute favourite, to make it on the screen. She felt a satisfied smile slip on her face. Yet, when her phone buzzed again, she couldn’t stop herself from looking down.
HisRoyalHotness - right… I should have known better than to disturb you while sansa is being badass
Her smile brightened and her cheeks hurt because of it. He knew her so well. She bit her lip to contain her smile as she typed:
Evans - I love that you’re actually watching the show.
He was quick to reply.
HisRoyalHotness - you would murder me if I didn’t
She let out a snort at that, thinking back to the time he had actually fallen asleep as they watched the Red Wedding episode. She had not forgiven him for two weeks. James had been most repentant, although she figured it had to do more with the fact that she didn’t shag him out of spite until he told her he had watched the episode again on his own and understood her anger and begged her on his knees to let him in. (In her room, that is. Although, he did get to enter her a mere twenty minutes later as well).
Evans - Don’t worry, I’d make it a quick death.
Her eyes were glued to the screen once more and it took her a few minutes to realise he had sent a message in return.
HisRoyalHotness - within the first 5 seconds of an episode?
She rolled her eyes.
Evans - I said it would be quick. Not without glory.
HisRoyalHotness - you know me too well
She did. She could honestly say she knew him better than most people. More intimately than she had ever gotten to know anyone else. He had told her about his dream growing up - “I want to fly, Evans, it’s all I’ve ever wanted.” - and she had told him everything she had felt and thought after the loss of her mother, how she ached to be with her again, how she could not wait to meet her again after this life and they had both understood one another. He got her and she got him. Nothing needed to be explained and she thought everything about him was interesting or endearing, including his complete and utter hatred of mushrooms.
It went beyond feelings of lust, even though, yes, she craved his touch sometimes and longed for him to be inside her. He knew just how to hit that particular spot and she loved that he made it his mission to make her squirm underneath him every single time and that - when she was on top - he would watch her and swear over and over again - “Fuck, Evans, fuck. Fuck, you’re beautiful.” - making her feel like she was all he had ever wanted.
Her skin started to tingle, her mouth started to water and that familiar pulsing between her legs warned her to stop thinking about him, to stop thinking about how his hands would… No!
Her hands reached for her phone and she typed a clear and final message.
Evans - Now let me watch the episode in peace!
It was quiet for some time and she contented herself in watching the episode. She had finished her packet of crisps and her father was clearly fighting to stay awake.
“Can’t believe you are having trouble to stay awake,” she told him, softly kicking the side of his shin.
Her father was quick to reply. “Can’t believe you’ve been texting during our show!”
She blushed at that. “I was texting Marlene,” she said quickly. “About the episode.”
Her father let out a sigh as he stood up. “I’m getting myself a beer. You want one too?”
She shook her head and as he left the living room, her phone lit up again.
HisRoyalHotness - for the record, your tits are better than danaerys’…
Her hand flew to her mouth, stiffling a laugh. Her father entered the living room again, beer in hand and a question in his eyes. She sent him an apologetic smile.
“Sorry, Marlene said something really funny.”
Her father regarded her a bit longer than was necessary, but nodded slowly. “Tell Marlene I said hi.”
She told him yes, quickly sending James a message in reply.
Evans - That was the worst sext ever. Besides… still watching the episode.
He didn’t waste a second.
HisRoyalHotness - you can pretend all you want but I know that made you smile
She rolled her eyes at that, even though he was right. She put her phone away again, but her eyes kept flicking back to it, even though she really ought to pay attention to Cersei as she laid out her plans to rule all of the Seven Kingdoms. Therefore, as his next two massages arrived, her stomach fluttered, while her father expressed his outrage at something Cersei said.
HisRoyalHotness - wish you were here
HisRoyalHotness - I love you more than Cersei wants that iron throne… ❤
That final text made her pause. Sure, it wasn’t the first time he said that, but she had never seen it in writing before. Normally, he would mumble it against her skin, pressing kisses against the nearest part of her body he could find and she would laugh and shove him away. Then he would grin, telling her he was high on her and he would either move in for a cuddle or he would start the process all over again and pull her on top of him, waiting for her to take the lead (that she loved more than anything).
She, therefore, didn’t hesitate to answer him.
Evans - Shut up!
HisRoyalHotness - knew you couldn’t resist that one
HisRoyalHotness - in all fairness, I love you more than Bellamy loves his princess
Now her heart skipped a few beats. He definitely wasn’t drunk, she thought. He was on duty, he had been training all day, there was no way he had been allowed out.
She bit her lip, her thumbs hovering over her phone’s key pad. What was she supposed to say? Did he mean it? Was he serious? Was he trying to provoke a response? Or was he joking? His sense of humour sometimes did catch her off guard.
So what if they’d watched all of The 100 together and he had become invested in Clarke and Bellamy? So what if he kept saying that “they should just go off and have sex somewhere” whenever the tension between the two - according to him that happened during every interaction they had - was becoming too much? So what if he had nearly broken her iPad in the final minutes of the finale of season four? So what if he had exclaimed “now, that’s true love” after a three minute silence after the end of the episode?
That didn’t mean anything, right? It didn’t mean that he was being serious. It didn’t mean that he loved her. It definitely didn’t mean that he even remembered saying that Bellamy and Clarke were meant to be…
Besides, yes, he had told her that he cared about her and that he wanted to stay with her after graduation, but that didn’t mean he was in love with her.
She decided to keep her cool and typed a cheeky, lighthearted message in return.
Evans- You’re such a nerd! How long have you been waiting to use that one?
She bit her lip, waiting for his reply to arrive.
HisRoyalHotness - I was saving it for tonight, actually
She let out a deep breath. Crisis averted, she thought. It didn’t leave her feeling completely secure, however, and she decided to end the conversation.
Evans - Still don’t want to spend my time sexting. Drooling over Kit Harington…
That would definitely annoy him. He had gotten insanely jealous the first time she admitted to having a bit of a celebrity crush on the actor that played Jon Snow.
“What about me? I’m a celebrity!”
“You’re in a league of your own. You’re royalty.”
“Yes, but objectively… if you did put me in the celebrity category… would I be first?”
“You’re not in that category.”
“Yes, but if I were, would I be your ultimate crush?”
He was not fooled this time around, though.
HisRoyalHotness - ha! caught you. he was not in even in that scene. watching a documentary on me instead?
She rolled her eyes and typed a quick message in turn.
Evans - You have a serious need for attention. Go bother Sirius!
She threw her phone to the other side of the couch and watched the final fifteen minutes of the episode in peace.
Finally, when the end credits stopped playing and after Danaerys’ final words had stopped echoing through her head, she let out a deep sigh, sinking back into the pillows of the couch. Her dad snored in the chair beside her. She regarded him fondly and was just about to pick up her phone to see if James had texted her some more when it started buzzing.
Alarmed, she stood up, looked at her dad over her shoulder - fast asleep still, bless him - and hurried into the kitchen before picking up.
“I thought you weren’t allowed to make phone calls.”
He chuckled. “What are they going to do? Kick me out?”
She rolled her eyes at that. “You can’t take advantage of your position. You’re a trainee. Just like the others.”
He let out a huff of air. She could tell that he was running his hand through his hair. “It’s just a phone call, Evans,” he told her. “Others make them all the time.”
“I just worry about you.”
“You don’t have to.”
“But I do,” she replied, picking at a previously unspotted stain on her t-shirt. Was it spaghetti sauce? “I know this isn’t what you want, but it is what is expected of you.”
“Actually, it’s not too bad,” he said, the ghost of a smile in his voice. “Except for the part that I don’t get to watch Game of Thrones with you.”
She scoffed at that. “I’m sure that’s what you want to be doing with me all the time, yes.”
He let out a laugh, voice getting deeper and lowering his volume as he said: “All right, I really miss sex.”
She felt her lips break into a smile. “With me, right?”
“I thought that was a given.”
“True.” She leaned against their kitchen table. “So, you just called me to bother me some more, huh?”
He chuckled, sounding a bit strange. “Surprisingly,” he said, “no.” He took a deep breath then. “I just wanted to make sure you knew that I wasn't dicking around earlier.”
She was quiet for a second, thinking of a witty reply, something to lighten up the serious tone he had taken on. “So, what? You don’t think my tits are better than the Mother of Dragons’?”
He laughed at that and then: “Shut up, Evans, I’m trying to declare my undying love for you here.” She inhaled sharply at that, but he didn’t seem to notice. “I do love you, you know,” he said, sounding uncharacteristically shy and serious. “More than you want me to probably.”
She closed her eyes. “James…”
“And I know I wasn't supposed to fall in love with you. I know you want so much more in life. God… you deserve so much more… but I love you and I wanted to tell you in person, but who knows when I see you again, right?”
She had trouble to voice the thoughts running through her mind. She swayed on the spot.
“Evans?” He asks.
“Inspired by The 100, are you?” She heard herself saying, having found her voice again. “Still frustrated that they didn’t say ‘I love you’ before they were separated?”
“Yeah,” he said, chuckling, “I will never get over that.” He was quiet for a bit. “Just like I’ll never get over you.”
“I –” she began, but she didn’t know what else to say.
“Lil,” he sounded gentle, “I know it’s a lot and that if we were to go the distance, I would be asking far too much of you. But… but it is my intention…”
“… to love me as much as Cersei wants that iron throne,” she finished for him.
“Right,” he said, sarcasm lacing his voice before he turned solemn again. “I - look, before you say no, and I’m fully aware that may be what I get… promise to think about it?”
She feels confused. “Think about what?”
“About us. Our future. About staying with me for a while longer.”
She bites her lip. “That would include letting everyone know, right?”
“Eventually, yes,” he said.
She nods before realising he can’t see it. “All right,” she told him, “I’ll think about it.”
He exhaled and her heart swelled at his apparent relief. “That’s all I wanted.” Then, after a moment of silence: “I should probably go. I asked the guys to leave our room for this.”
She gasped. “James! You didn't!”
“I said it was a matter of state,” he replied, obviously smiling.
“I forbid you to call me again!”
“I’ll stick to my miserable attempts at sexting then,” he said. “I just came up with a real good one, by the way.”
“Go on then,” she said, rolling her eyes with a smile on her face. “Send it just before I go to sleep.”
“Will do,” he said, chuckling, and then: “I love you, Lily.”
She hesitated, but then told him the truth. “I love you too, James,” she said. “That I don’t have to think about.” Then, before he could reply, she hung up, put her phone down on the table and put the kettle on. She ignored her phone’s incessant buzzing and instead walked to the living room to find her father watch the tele intently.
She crossed her arms across her chest. “Any chance you didn’t just eavesdrop on my conversation?” She asked him, feeling her cheeks flush.
Her father sent her a wide, guilty smile. “Any chance you believe me when I tell you I didn’t?” She groaned and her father laughed. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, I don’t know who he is, do I?”
She bit her lip, feeling her face heat up some more. “No,” she said, “you definitely don’t. Tea?” Her father hummed in agreement and she walked towards the kitchen, muttering to herself: “At least, you’ll never guess who he is.”
She prepared a cup of tea and noticed that her phone lit up with a message from James. She had received several in a row.
HisRoyalHotness - you cannot hang up on me like that!
HisRoyalHotness - Evans, pick up the phone!
HisRoyalHotness - I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.
HisRoyalHotness - shit. that won’t convince you.
HisRoyalHotness - okay, guys are back in the room. won’t call you.
HisRoyalHotness - please just reply?
HisRoyalHotness - you’re as cruel as melisandre.
HisRoyalHotness - as heartless as the hypothetical offspring of joffrey and that bolton bloke
HisRoyalHotness - but I love you anyway.
She moved to London at the end of August. She found an apartment in Woolwich and would start an internship at a charity for homeless teenagers. She would keep up their social media accounts and would organise events to raise money. She was excited to start her new life and eagerly started to decorate her apartment.
James sent her flowers on the first day in her new apartment and she phoned him, thanking him profusely. “It’s just flowers,” he told her. “But I love them,” she replied. “I love you!”
She had started her internship and had gotten to know the area she lived in, when – in September – a political storm set London on fire. Tom Riddle, radical right-wing politician, left the Conservatives to form his own political party. Britain First was an instantaneous hit with all those who hated immigration and believed that the United Kingdom belonged to the white. By the end of September, two racial riots – instigated by Riddle’s followers (also known as the Death Eaters) – had shocked the core of the capital city and people were advised not to leave their homes after eight o’clock at night.
Yet, while Riddle was a firm believer in the fact that he could make Britain great again, he did not support the royal family.
“Our very own crown prince,” he had said in an interview, “is not even British. How can we expect a foreigner to rule our country?”
His words were met with outrage by the public – James was only a quarter Indian, after all – but the Death Eaters embraced Riddle’s words and soon James’ security had to be upped.
“It’ll blow over,” James had said over the phone. “He’s obviously psycho.”
“So are the Death Eaters,” she told him.
“Don’t worry about me,” he chuckled, clearly trying to make her feel better. “I’m better protected than the crown jewels at the Tower of London.”
She didn’t want to worry about him, but experiencing the influence of Riddle and his Death Eaters on everyday London life first-hand, she couldn’t help it. Yet, even though she despised Riddle and his followers, their ideas didn’t affect her directly until one early October evening.
She was in the supermarket, trying to decide what to eat when a throat was cleared beside her. She looked up and froze.
“Lily,” he said, his long, black hair reaching his chin. His face was pale and hollow and he wore a black coat under which she could see a black t-shirt with the emblem of Riddle’s party on it: a skull and a snake.
She gaped at him. “Severus,” she said coldly, turning her head away from him.
“How are you?” he asked. “You look well.” She didn’t respond. “I didn’t know you were in London.”
She shook her head, feeling anger start to boil inside of her. “I didn’t know you were a Death Eater.” He placed his hand on her arm, but she shrugged it off. “Don’t you dare!” she exclaimed, furious. “How can you support a man like him?”
Severus seemed shocked for a second, but he recovered, his eyes turning cold. “My choices are none of your business,” he answered and then: “You’ll see the light. You’ll see the error of your ways.”
“The error of my ways?” she asked him, incredulously. “God, Sev,” she said, shaking her head and walking around him, “I can’t believe we used to be best friends.”
She hadn’t thought about him in years. She hadn’t allowed herself to worry about him as she had done throughout the first eighteen years of her life and seeing him now, supporting a political party that she hated, that segregated, that started riots, that posed a direct threat to James… she couldn’t stomach seeing him.
“Lily,” he began, following her, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“You didn’t mean it like that?” she asked him, turning on him. “So, were you one of those masked monsters that caused hundreds of people to end up at the hospital after those riots?” His lips thinned and he didn’t say anything. She glared at him. “If you were, I was right to cut you off… or, better yet, if you were, you should be in jail.”
She walked away from him again, leaving the supermarket without any groceries she only noticed when she got home again.
Two weeks after her run-in with Severus, she found herself leaving her office as her phone rang. She smiled when James’ name flashed up on her screen.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hello beautiful,” he replied.
She rolled her eyes at that. “You’re getting cheesier every day,” she informed him.
“It’s the withdrawal symptoms,” he answered. “I haven’t seen you in over three months.”
She sighed. “Yeah,” she said, “I can’t believe you’re not on leave yet.”
“Do you miss me, Evans?”
“You know I do,” she told him. “Although I don’t know why I keep reminding you. Your head gets bigger and bigger every day.”
“How do you know? You haven’t seen me in weeks.”
“Ha, ha…” she said, waiting at the traffic lights.
“Hey, Evans,” he said, somewhat amused, “I can’t believe you’re wearing a skirt and heels.”
“It’s professional!” she exclaimed, but then she froze. “Wait, how…?”
“Straight ahead, Evans,” he answered, a smile evident in his voice now. “Get in the car. Kingsley will open the door for you.”
She looked up to find Kingsley Shacklebolt leaning against a black car with tinted windows. He wore sunglasses, but the corners of his mouth betrayed amusement as she let out a surprised laugh.
“You’re not… you’re here?!”
“Hurry up,” he said before breaking the connection.
The traffic lights turned green and she very nearly tripped as she ran over in her heels. She greeted Kingsley with a kiss on his cheek before ducking into the car and throwing herself at James. He groaned on impact, but didn’t get to do much else before her lips covered his.
“You are such an arrogant toerag,” she told him between kisses.
“What?” he asked, laughing as Kingsley started to drive.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I’m rambling, but…” she shook her head. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you were on leave!”
He smiled at her, his hand reaching out to brush against her cheek. “I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, it worked.”
“Good surprise?” he asked, leaning closer.
“The best,” she said and then his lips covered hers and she had no more time – or air – to speak. He pulled her in his lap, his hands grabbing her bum and pressing him against her as close as he possibly could.
Her hands moved to his hair, mussing it up and revelling in the feel of it between her fingers. It was soft and he smirked up at her. “You really missed me, huh?”
“Shut up,” she told him.
“Nah,” he told her, kissing her and leaning his forehead against hers, “this is a personal victory. I think you’re more excited to see me than when you will be when you find out when Season 8 of Game of Thrones will air.”
“That remains to be seen,” she argued with him and he laughed.
“I’m feeling pretty confident here.”
She sighed, cuddling against him. “Where are you taking me anyway?"
“Kensington Palace,” he told her. “Home.”
They talked for the rest of the ride and when they arrived at Kensington Palace, he grabbed her hand and pulled her up the stairs. She stopped him to step out of her heels and he held them for her as they ran to – what she would find out – was his bedroom.
He kissed her gently at first, lifting her up in his arms to set her down on his bed. He smiles at her, his eyes full of something she hadn’t seen in him before and she reaches up to pull him down with her. He hovers over her, grinning, before he leans down and kisses her hard. His body pushes hers into the mattress and she melts against him, wrapping her arms around his neck, brushing her nose against his.
“I love you,” he told her and she smiled.
“I love you too.”
“I still maintain that I have a right to know how you turned up looking like this,” she told him, taking a bite out of her slice of pizza.
He shook his head, laughing. “I’m in the army,” he told her. “What did you expect?”
“To look less like a god?” she asked him. “Seriously, I feel like I’m slacking off here. You’re looking insanely good at the moment.”
He grabbed her chin, pecking her lips. “You’re gorgeous.”
She grinned at that, taking another bite of her pizza. “Good,” she told him, “because I’m planning on having a food baby.”
“We’ll burn the calories off in an hour or so,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Someone,” she teased, “is feeling presumptuous.”
“Someone didn’t even want to stop for food earlier.”
She took another bite, leaning against one of his many fluffy pillows. She was wearing her bra and panties, having decided she needed to wear something while she was eating, even though James protested when he came back with two pizza boxes, clad in only boxers himself.
“You know,” she said, “this room is almost too clean. Are you sure this apartment is yours?”
“My mum decorated it,” he answered.
She admired the room, grabbing another slice of pizza. “Were your parents happy to see you?”
He shrugged. “I haven’t seen them yet.”
“What?” she asked, bewildered. “How?”
He cocked an eyebrow. “I’ve been pretty busy, Evans,” he said. “Packing my things, driving from Langley to London, picking my girlfriend up from work, fucking her into oblivion – thrice, may I add.”
She blushed heavily. “You came straight to the office?”
“Of course,” he said, mouth full of pizza, “I haven’t seen you in three bloody months.”
“But your parents…” she started.
“… will be over the moon to see me tomorrow morning,” he finished. “I’m their favourite child, you know.”
“Their only child.”
“A matter of perspective,” he said. “I’m still their favourite.”
She rolled her eyes at that and then shook her head. “I can’t believe you didn’t go see your parents.”
“Should I go over my very good reasons to see you first?” he asked her. “Because I made a list.”
She scoffed. “I can make that list for you,” she told him. “One: I get to shag my girlfriend. Two: I get to shag my girlfriend. Three: I get to shag my girlfriend. Four: I get to –”
He interrupted her, sending her a mock glare. “I know you are shallow, Evans, but my list involved a lot of other reasons. The most important one being that I love my girlfriend.”
“Aww,” she said, placing a hand over her heart, “you’re a catch. A real prince charming.”
“You know it,” he said, winking at her. He leaned forward to grab his final slice of pizza when he casually asked: “By the way, did you want to come with? To my parents?”
She froze at that, stared at him for a second. He took a bite of his pizza, avoiding her gaze and acting as though he didn’t just drop a bomb on her.
“You want me to meet your parents?” she asked him slowly.
“Mum has been asking me to bring my girlfriend ever since that stupid interview,” he told her. “She will probably be more excited to see you than she is to see me.”
She buried her face in her hands, her fingers trembling. Then she feels his hands on her shoulders. “Lily,” he said gently.
She shook her head. “No, give me a minute.” He let his hands fall from her shoulders and she took a deep breath, looking up at him again. “I will have to go back to my apartment,” she told him, making up her mind, “I have nothing to wear.”
His face lit up with a smile and she smiled back at him, albeit nervously.
Her hands shook as they sat on the sofa in the living room of what James referred to as his parents’ living quarters. James grabbed her hand, giving her a stern look.
“Stop it,” he told her. “You’re driving me mad.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m not just meeting your parents,” she informed him. “I’m also meeting the queen and her husband.”
He was about to say something else when his mother – the queen – entered, followed by her husband. She wore a bright smile and James stood, pulling Lily up with him.
“Mum,” he said and she wrapped her arms around him.
“Look at him, Fleamont,” she said, looking at her son. “Doesn’t he look handsome?” She pinched one of his cheeks, raising one of her eyebrows. “I have it on very good authority you were supposed to arrive yesterday, young man.”
“Don’t tease him, Euphemia,” said the queen’s husband, patting his son on the shoulder.
“Of course,” said the queen, letting go of her son. “I would hate to embarrass him in front of this beautiful young lady here.” She turned towards Lily, her smile blinding her and her arms open in a welcoming gesture.
“Mum, dad,” James said, “this is Lily.”
The queen bombarded her with questions, pulling her down on the sofa next to her as she ordered tea with a mere wave of her hand. Lily had trouble keeping up with the queen as question after question was fired at her.
“Mum,” James said, shaking his head with a smile, “take a breath, all right? I intend on keeping her a bit longer. No reason for you to scare her away.” He took her hand in his, entangling their fingers.
She didn’t know how it all happened, but they stayed for lunch and then for dinner. They withstood everything, including the awkward questions that were fired at them: “How did you meet?” the queen had asked.
“Pub crawl,” James had answered, taking a sip of his wine.
“Oh no,” she said, shaking her head, “that won’t do. You need a different story for the people.”
“We don’t need a different story,” James insisted. “They don’t need to know.”
The queen scoffed. “Need I remind you of your interview, James? You practically told the whole nation that Lily here existed.” She raised a challenging eyebrow over her raised glass of wine and then turned to Lily. “Tell me, dear. Did you at least give him a good scolding over it?”
They left just before midnight, albeit the queen let them go reluctantly. “I expect more phone calls this time, James Fleamont,” she said and then – with a smile to Lily – “and, darling, do stop by for tea every once in a while. Perhaps you can report on my son’s progress.”
When Kingsley drove away from Buckingham Palace, James grabbed her neck and kissed her hard.
“They love you,” he said.
She smiled, feeling perfectly at easy, fully at peace.
(However, the peace would not last particularly long.)
It was early December and terribly cold. After putting on her gloves, she pulled open the door, ready to get on the tube and to head to work, when cameras flashed and microphones were pressed under her nose.
“Lily Evans, how long have you been dating Prince James?”
“Look this way, sweetheart. We need the perfect shot.”
“Is it true that you seduced him on a pub crawl?”
She panicked, ducked her head and pushed through the crowd with difficulty. They followed her into the tube station, some followed her on the tube and when she emerged outside of her office, even more members of the press awaited her. She was ushered inside the building by one of her colleagues and found herself shaking as she picked up her phone to send James a message.
Evans – They know. I was just ambushed at my apartment.
Everyone in the office stared at her, although they tried their very best to hide it. She felt completely awful and when she opened the homepage of the BBC she felt even worse. Her own face – utterly shell-shocked – as she left her apartment greeted her.
She stood up, leaving her desk to find an empty spot in the corridor, picking up her phone and dialled the first number that sprung to mind.
“Dad?” she asked, close to tears.
“Dad, check the news,” she told him.
He didn’t question her and she could hear him turn on the tele. He was quiet for a bit.
“Dad?” she asked again.
“Huh,” he answered.
She waited for more, but nothing came. “Dad, please.”
He cleared his throat. “Well,” he began, “you were always my little princess when growing up.”
She spoke to him for about five more minutes before calming down enough to return to her desk. Before she made it, however, her phone rang and she picked up.
“Lil?” he asked, sounding worried. “I’m sending over Kingsley straight away, all right? You don’t get to leave the office until he has arrived. I’ve called Remus and you can stay with him and Sirius for now, okay? Peter is heading to your apartment to get some of your things.”
She doesn’t really remember much, just that she was hauled out of the office by Kingsley about an hour later and that they left through a back door with the help with one of her supervisors. They drove to Remus’ and Sirius’ apartment and Remus waited for her with a cup of tea.
“Take some chocolate,” he said. “I find that it always helps in the worst of situations.”
She nibbled on some chocolate as Sirius came in, swearing loudly.
“Fuck them, Evans,” he exclaimed, plopping himself down on the couch next to her. “Fuck them and everything they will dig up.”
She stayed with them for three days until her new home was discovered and she was moved to Kensington Palace where she might as well have been locked up. She had to phone in to work to let them know that she couldn’t possibly come to work and they understood.
The press did their research, writing about each and every previously unimportant detail of her life. She couldn’t turn on the television or the internet without hearing or reading something about herself. They interviewed people from Cokeworth – ones she barely knew – and watched how her father was ambushed by a number of journalists as he tried to get to his car to go grocery shopping.
Articles appeared online with several sources claiming she had only gone to St Andrews to meet Prince James. “She has always been absolutely obsessed with him.” She was described as a calculated, cold-hearted bitch that only wanted to be with him for fame and glory and that was before her connection to one of Riddle’s Death Eaters was even discovered.
She was working on the batter for a cake – there was not much else she could do – when Sirius, who stepped by nearly every day, cursed loudly. “For fuck’s sake,” he groaned.
“What?” she asked.
He sighed, rubbing his hands over his face before answering him. “Apparently, you’re best friends with a Death Eater now.”
Childhood pictures of her and Severus popped up out of nowhere. She was smiling up at the camera, her arm wrapped around Severus’ shoulder. Not one media outlet mentioned that she had fallen out with him. Rather, they focussed on the scandalous side of it all. “Is the prince’s girlfriend trying to kill him?” a talk show host questioned. “She might be an infiltrating Death Eater herself.”
James called her every day, hating that he couldn’t be there for her. She understood, she really, really did, but she also really, really needed him. She needed him to tell her that it was all going to be all right, that he knew everything that was being written about her was absolute crap, that he loved her and that nothing could ever change that.
She hated it all. She just wanted to go back to the very start. She wished they were still at St Andrews, hidden in his bedroom, covered by his sheets and nothing else. Everything was perfect then.
He came back home for Christmas. He walked straight in, throwing his bag on the floor and wrapping his arms around her, pulling her in for a hug.
“I’m so sorry, Lil,” he whispered in her ear as her arms went around his waist. “I fucking hate them, all of them.”
She buried her head in his neck, breathing in his scent and she instantly felt her muscles relax. “It’s okay,” she told him. “They’ll forget about it all soon, right?”
They celebrated Christmas with his parents, Remus and Sirius. Peter had gone home to celebrate with his mother. She phoned her dad on Christmas morning, but her sister picked up.
“Tuney?” she asked.
Her sister replied, stiffly and coldly: “I assume you want to talk to dad?”
She bit her lip. “Tuney, listen,” she said, “I know you’re probably upset.”
“We’ve gone through hell too, Lily,” she said angrily. “Don’t expect me to feel bad for you. You should have told us.”
She wanted her sister to be wrong, but she realised that she was very probably right about some things. She had talked to her father regularly and she knew he was tired of having to fight off the press, of not being able to leave the house without being photographed, filmed or questioned.
Her dad, however, did not blame her.
“Sweetheart,” he said when he came to the phone. “Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas, dad,” she said, feeling her eyes start to burn.
“Are you at the palace?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said, fingering a strand of her auburn hair.
“That’s one special Christmas you’re having this year.”
She nodded, but didn’t smile. “I wish I could come see you.”
“Me too, sweetheart,” he said, “me too. But we’ll see each other again soon, okay? Just stay put for a while. It’ll all blow over.”
She let out a shaky breath, tears burning in her eyes. “They hate me, dad,” she said. “They don’t even know me, but they hate me.”
“It’ll be fine, Lily,” he replied calmly. “Just you wait and see.”
They gathered around the Christmas tree in his parents’ private living quarters that afternoon. What seemed like a million of colourful wrapped packages were assembled at the foot of it and they spent hours unwrapping presents. Especially, at the pace Remus would unwrap a present, careful not to tear any of the paper and folding it before even turning his attention to a present.
“Oi!” Sirius yelled, after Remus repeated this process a third time. “Can you be a bit less OCD, please?”
When she unwrapped Sirius’ present, she laughed loudly. It was a mask of Jon Snow’s head.
“Put it on James’ head,” he said, smirking at his friend, “and you can pretend like you have an actual king for a boyfriend.”
James wrestled Sirius to the floor for that as his mother seemed terribly confused. Fleamont, however, explained that it was a character from a TV show and Euphemia then smiled. “Well, he is fetching, my dear,” she told Lily, which earned her a protest from her son.
When she opened her final present, she gasped, staring up at James, who smiled sheepishly.
“Go on,” he told her.
She lifted the necklace from the box. It was silver with an emerald pendant. “I can’t possibly –” she started, but James took the necklace from her hands and sat behind her, fastening it around her neck.
“It’s lovely,” said the queen with a bright smile. “You have impeccable taste, James.”
They ate dinner, watched Home Alone 1 and 2 – “It is tradition, Evans,” Sirius told her. – and went to bed just after midnight. She put on her pyjamas and stared at herself in the mirror, the emerald sitting between her breasts.
James came to stand behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on top of her head. “I know it’s late,” he began, “but happy anniversary.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “I think you’re early, actually,” she told him. “We didn’t really start dating until after the Christmas break.”
He smiled. “I disagree,” he said, “I knew I wanted to be with you the moment you came up to us, wearing that sweater, scarf and hat.”
She rolled her eyes at that, turning in his arms to face him. “I’m sure,” she said, “you stared at me like I was a fish out of water.”
“I’m pretty sure I was just struggling to keep my cool,” he argued.
“Whatever you say, your highness,” she told him, pressing a kiss against his lips. “You really shouldn’t have gotten me something as ridiculously expensive as this necklace.” He chose not to comment, merely brushing his fingers against her cheek and closing his eyes as he pressed his forehead against hers.
“Come to bed,” he muttered, tugging at her waist and she followed him.
The necklace was the only piece of clothing that he didn’t remove as he showered her body in kisses before they made love.
It was February and, luckily, the press had decided that – for a prince’s girlfriend – she was rather boring. She would sometimes be followed around as she went grocery shopping and she noticed that people looked at her differently on the tube, but she learned to ignore the glances and the hushed: “It’s Lily Evans, the prince’s girlfriend.”
She went back to work as well and her supervisors were immensely pleased with her. “I know it probably caused you a lot of trouble,” one of them told her, “but the prince’s connection to you and your connection to us has really made a difference.”
She had smiled wryly at that, thinking that she really didn’t feel comfortable knowing that, even if she was happy that something good came out of her relationship with James.
He had gone back to training the first week of January and she had left Kensington Palace – much to his chagrin – three weeks after. “I can’t keep living there, James,” she had told him. “It’s your apartment.”
“And you are my girlfriend,” he had answered. “It’s your apartment too, you know.”
“It’s your family’s property,” she had answered and he had sighed.
“At least take Kingsley then.”
Kingsley Shacklebolt had thus become her own personal guard. He would follow her everywhere, expect inside her apartment. When she had invited him in for a slice of cake on her birthday, he had politely declined at first, but after she had told him she wanted all of her friends there a third time, he had reluctantly followed her. Remus, Sirius and Peter had made him wear a stupid paper hat and had taken a picture of him, sending it to James.
He had even driven her to Cokeworth to visit her father and sister. Her dad had taken an immediate liking to him, inviting him in for a beer, but her sister had eyed him warily.
“He follows you everywhere?” she asked as they did the dishes together. She was determined to show her sister that not all that much had changed and that she didn’t mind getting her hands dirty.
“James insists,” she answered.
Her sister had nodded and then, after a short pause: “It’s the strangest thing, you know, to see you on the cover of Hello.”
She nodded. “They follow me everywhere,” she told her sister.
“Last week they wrote an entire piece about your sense of fashion,” her sister said, rolling her eyes and then – it even shocked Lily – a smile played at her lips. “Isn’t it baffling that they think you even have one?”
She had gasped at that and hit her sister with the towel. Petunia had splashed some water at her face in return and before she knew it they were both soaking wet and laughing their heads off. They hadn’t done that since she was eleven years old, since their mother was first diagnosed and hospitalised.
Needless to say, things seemed to be looking up. She grew more confident again, felt less intimidated by the press and when James came home from Langley in early March, she was so happy she thought she would burst. That is also when the first picture of the two of them together emerged. It was a picture of them wandering around the gardens of Kensington Palace, they were holding hands and smiling. She loved it and she thought, as she looked at it, that everyone would understand now. She knew that they fit, that she was meant to have him in her life, but now everyone else could see that too and she secretly started to prepare herself, she started to make plans for the next five years and all of them included James.
(Maybe that’s why it shocked her to the core when the end did come.)
She set down her groceries as she reached for her keys. Kingsley stood a distance away, having taken out his phone as he spoke in hushed tones with his sister. He had asked for her permission to phone her as it was his sister’s thirtieth birthday. She had told him to stop acting as though she paid him to be around her and he had bared his teeth in a blinding smile.
She felt perfectly at ease when – suddenly – a figure stood beside her.
“Lily,” he said and she dropped her keys. Before she could reach down, he had, holding her keys in his hands. She quickly snatched them from him.
“Go away,” she told him. “My guard is here too.”
“Your guard,” he said, his expression pained.
“Unfortunately,” she said, “I need protection from people like you.”
“People like me?” he scoffed.
“Yes,” she answered, “from Death Eaters.”
His dark eyes stared her down. “It’s your boyfriend that needs to be protected. Not you.” He said the word ‘boyfriend’ as though it was the dirtiest word he had ever taken into his mouth.
She was about to say something when she felt Kingsley’s soothing pressure behind her.
“Everything all right, Miss Evans?”
She shook her head. “Could you please ask him to leave?”
Kingsley stepped in front of her, his large form blocking Severus Snape from view. “Excuse me, sir,” he said, his voice calm, “would you please leave Miss Evans alone?”
She froze when Severus spoke up again. “As if I’m going to let an immigrant tell me what to do.”
She didn’t see it happen, but Kingsley doubled over, letting out a pained groan and she looked up in time to see Severus running off, dropping a knife beside him.
“Kingsley!” she exclaimed, dropping to her knees beside him. His eyes rolled back in his head. “Stay awake,” she said, taking out her phone, her eyes never leaving him. “Seriously, Kingsley, don’t fall asleep on me here.”
She waited at the hospital, pacing the corridor as she waited for news, but nothing came. “He’s in surgery,” was the only thing they told her.
Remus and Sirius rushed in about half an hour after she phoned him. “James is on his way,” they said and she nodded.
They sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours when James walked in, his face tensed as he walked up to her, wrapping her up in his arms. “Did the police come to talk to you yet?” he asked.
“They did,” she told him.
“Good,” he said, pressing a kiss on her forehead.
About then minutes after James arrived, a doctor came in, stumbling over his words in praise of the prince, but James was having none of it. “How is he?” he demanded.
The doctor nodded. “The wound wasn’t fatal,” he said, “but it did hit some vital organs and…”
Her head started to spin and she buried her face in her hands. She started to tremble all over, unable to listen to what the doctor was saying, even though she heard things such as “rehabilitation” and “it might take months for him to get back to his normal condition”.
They went home to Kensington Palace early in the morning. James was eerily quiet on the ride back and so was she. When they arrived at his apartment, she headed straight for the bedroom, closing the door firmly behind her. James did not follow.
She woke a few hours later and was ready to get out of the bedroom, but stopped when she heard James’ voice.
“… protection! I can’t go without knowing she is safe, without knowing that piece of scum is behind bars and never bothers her again.”
It hit her then, fully and completely, that her life would always be like this. She would always need protection, she would never be free again, she could never be normal and it hurt to breathe. She saw stars and she sat down, her back against the wall as tears started to roll down her cheeks.
“I need you to assure me that something like this isn’t going to happen again,” she heard James say.
About ten minutes later, he ended his phone call and she stood, wiping the tears from her cheeks as she entered the living room. James sat on the couch, his hands buried in his hair, but looked up swiftly when he heard the door open. His eyes went wide as he saw her face.
“Lil,” he began, standing up, but she shook her head.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she told him and he looked as though she had slapped him.
“What?” he asked.
“It’s all my fault,” she said. “If I hadn’t asked Kingsley to step in…”
“It’s his job,” said James then, walking up to her and pulling her against him. “He would have done it anyway.”
“But who am I?” she asked him. “Seriously, James, I’m not worth it.”
“Yes, you are,” he muttered, nosing her cheek.
“No,” she said, shaking her head and pushing him away from her, “you are worth it. You’re the crown prince. I’m just a girl you’re dating.”
“You are the woman I love,” he said. “Regardless of that, everyone is worth it. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone deserves to be able to cross the street without getting in harm’s way!”
“But, you see, no one else is getting this special treatment!”
“It’s not special treatment!”
“It fucking is!” she shouted, breathing hard. “And I hate it, James, I bloody hate it and I can’t do it anymore. I want out.” He stared at her and she could see that she had hurt him. She could see that she might as well have sliced him open with those words.
“You want out,” he said, sounding hoarse. “Out of what?”
“I think you know,” she told him, avoiding his eyes, “I don’t want to spell it out for you.”
“Well, tough shit!” he said, anger now lacing his voice. “If you’re going to do it, you might as well say it, Evans.”
She bit her lip, fighting the tears that were threatening to escape her eyes. She didn’t want to say it, because it would become real the second she spoke those words. He would be so hurt that there was no turning back, she understood perfectly well what she was about to do. What the consequences would be and she was not sure if she wanted to face those. If it would solve anything at all or if it would break more than she intended.
“Lily,” he said, softly, gently and she could feel him approach her again.
She made up her mind, stopping him. “No,” she said, “you want me to say it and I will.” She looked up at him, defiant, trying to hide her trembling hands. “I think we should break up.”
He looked away from her. “Don’t,” he said, shaking his head, “you don’t mean it. You’re in shock.”
“I think we should end this before it becomes too difficult.”
James let out a scoff. “I think it’s too late for that, Evans,” he said venom, lacing his words. “I introduced you to my parents, I made it very clear where I stood in all of this.” Then he looked at her again. “I love you, Lily. I can’t let you do this to us.”
“We’re 22,” she argued in turn. “We have no way of knowing this will last.”
His face scrunched up in pain. “You don’t mean it,” he said. “I know what you’re doing.” He started to pace, his hands buried and balled in his pockets. “You think I’ll give in when you hurt me too much, but you know what? I won’t. I bloody won’t!”
Her heart broke for him. Or maybe it broke for her too. It hurt a bit too much to really tell.
“Have you ever thought about what this all would mean for me?” she asked him, sounding small. “I won’t have a normal life,” she started, “no freedom. The press has been following me for months now, I need a guard who gets stabbed, because of my connection to you.” She takes in a shaky breath. “I’m not going to wait around for you to get hurt too.”
“Be assured,” he said, sounding furious, “that you’ve done enough damage already.”
It was quiet then. The silence thickening and oppressing her. It seemed as though something pressed down on her lungs. James stood in front of the window, staring out when he suddenly turned around.
“I think we need some distance,” he said, although it felt as though he mostly said that to himself. “I’ll go to my parents and I’ll be back in the morning. We’ll talk then.”
She stared as he walked out and waited at the door, his hand on the handle. His shoulders were tensed and she knew that he was waiting for her to stop him, that he was hoping that she would tell him she had been so, so wrong, but she couldn’t and she wouldn’t.
He opened the door forcefully and slammed it behind him, leaving her alone.
She stood there for a while – five, ten, thirty minutes? – but then she went into his bedroom, opening the closet and swiftly taking the limited items that belonged to her out of it. She threw them on the bed and then busied herself finding a plastic bag to throw them all in. When she had done all of that, she stopped in front of the mirror to stare down at her necklace. She hesitated for just a second, but then her hands unclasped it and she placed it gently on his bedside table.
She left, plastic bag in hand. She was going home.
He had called her several times over the last week, but she had ignored her phone every single time it rang. She did read his messages in which he begged her to pick up, telling her he loved her and that he had to talk to her. Today, however, he had sent her a short message with an air of finality to it.
HisRoyalHotness – kingsley is okay. he’ll be as good as new in no time.
She had read it, hovered over the delete button, but she kept it, like she had done with all of his messages.
The day after she arrived home, she had quit her internship, deciding she would never return to London. “I just can’t do it anymore, dad,” she told him.
Her father understood, but she did notice that he shook his head when she turned away from him. He had always been remarkable supportive of all of the choices she had made, but when she came home, bag in hand, to announce that she was coming back home she had seen the disappointment in his eyes. She would – perhaps – have been more susceptible to his opinion had her heart not ached this much already.
She spent the first few weeks wallowing. She had given up on her tears a week after James had sent that final message and had decided that – if he was ready to move on with his life – so was she. Not that it worked that way, of course. She found herself wanting to talk to him, she dreamed about him, she ached for his presence, but she told herself she would be okay. It would be a matter of a few months and she would be able to move on. She was certain of it.
She found a job at the local animal shelter. It was temporary, but it gave her something to do. She even adopted a cat, naming him Jon Snow, because his furry white skin and the black spot over his eye made her think of him straight away. Then – a few weeks after – another kitten, black and messy, stole her heart. She named him Bob Morley. Her dad had shaken his head when she brought the kittens home, but accepted that it was – perhaps – part of her new job.
She loved Bob and Jon, letting them sleep at her feet and in July – as the young cats played in their garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon – she let out a satisfied sigh. She was about to put some sun cream on when her sister came outside, her mouth pinched.
“Lily,” she said, holding a copy of Hello.
“What?” she asked, looking at her sister over her sunglasses.
Her sister hesitated. “Perhaps you should see it for yourself.” Petunia handed her the copy of Hello and as soon as she saw the cover, her heart stopped.
James was kissing a pretty blonde on a yacht. She wore a revealing bikini and one of his hands was on her bum as the other was tangled in her hair. She felt tears burn in her eyes.
“I’m sure it’s nothing serious,” said Petunia. “She’s a Dutch supermodel, apparently.”
She handed the magazine back to her sister, thankful for the sunglasses that covered her eyes.
“It’s been three months,” she said. “It was to be expected.” Then, after a short pause: “He finished his training at Langley then?”
“He did,” her sister answered, sitting down in a chair next to her. “Lily…”
“Stop,” she interrupted her sister. “I broke up with him, remember? He has every right to move on.”
Her sister’s nostrils flared for a second before she stood up again. “For what it’s worth,” she said, “she’s far too skinny.”
She tried not to think about it too much, but she found herself Googling the Dutch supermodel he was now apparently dating. She was tall – 1.85 – and had done fashion shows for Gucci, Armani, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. She also famously starred in Calvin Klein’s campaigns, wearing next to nothing. She shouldn’t have looked up those final images, to be honest, because now she couldn’t stop imagining her and James in his bed in Kensington Palace.
Four days after the pictures emerged, Lily found photographers following her on her way to the animal shelter. She tried to hide her face behind a curtain of her auburn hair, but – on seeing the images – she decided it was perhaps not the best course of action to take.
LILY EVANS HEARTBROKEN AFTER BEING ROYALLY SLUSHED, the headlines read the next day and she had to admit that she did look rather pale. In the meantime, more pictures of James on the yacht, surrounded by multiple supermodels – not just the Dutch one – emerged.
“I can’t bloody believe him,” said Mary through the phone one night. “What is he doing with those bloody tarts?”
She snorted. “They’re supermodels, Mary,” she answered. “Besides, the picture don’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. I think it’s pretty clear what he’s doing with them.”
“Eww,” she said, “no offence, but I hope he catches a horrible disease.”
“Mary!” she exclaimed.
Her friend had sighed. “Seriously, he’s an ass,” she said resolutely. “Good riddance, Lil.”
Marlene had been equally furious. “I’ll bloody kill him next time I see him!” she had told Lily through the phone. “No, better yet, I’ll castrate him. That will make him bloody useless.”
The media storm she had thought she had left behind in London returned in full force. Articles appeared in the newspapers, linking her to Kingsley Shacklebolt’s stabbing – “She must have had something to do with it,” one of the BBC’s news anchors concluded. “It was her best friend who stabbed him.” – and stating that the prince was better off without her. She could deal with it all, but when Rita Skeeter wrote a nasty article on her, she couldn’t help but cry herself to sleep.
She was working at the animal shelter a few days later when her phone rang. She picked up without checking the caller ID.
“Evans?” She froze when she recognised Sirius’ voice. “Bloody hell, you actually picked up.”
She was tempted to hang up, but answered him anyway. “Hi Sirius,” she said, feeling uncertain of herself, “how are you?”
“Me?” he asked. “How are you?
“I get by,” she told him.
“Bloody awful then,” Sirius translated.
“All right,” she sighed, “not feeling too great, no.”
Sirius grunted. “He’s a bloody idiot, you know,” he told her.
“He seems to be having fun,” she tried to sound casual, but judging by Sirius’s bitter laugh, she did not succeed.
“That’s a pile of shit and you know it,” he argued. “He’s bloody miserable and trying to hide it by shagging whoever is interested.”
Her heart ached at his words. She knew he had been doing just that, of course, but hearing it from Sirius made it more real. She bit her lip, leaning against the desk in the shelter’s office. “I hope he feels better soon,” she said, not really knowing what else to say.
“You know what would make him feel better,” said Sirius. “But never mind that, because he’s being a dick. You should definitely not be talking to him right now.” She nearly let out a laugh at that, but Sirius luckily interrupted. “I’m calling to let you know that Euphemia has taken care of the press. She has been talking to parliament for the past few weeks and managed to install a ban on the press writing anything about you effective today.”
“What?” she asked, baffled.
“We’re not going to let them talk trash about you, Evans,” he said gently. “You’re one of us.”
“Thank her for me,” she said after a momentary silence. “I honestly don’t deserve it.”
“Of course, you do!” exclaimed Sirius. “Plus, she’s mighty pissed at James. You should hear her at the dinner table. He could be getting any or all of them pregnant for all we know and who has to clean up the mess he made?”
She felt sick to her stomach and Sirius cursed. “Fuck, Evans,” he said apologetically, “that is not going to make you feel better, is it?”
“That’s okay,” she said, swallowing hard. “It’s not as if I haven’t been thinking about it.”
She held the phone against her ear, listening to Sirius’s breathing. She heard him take in a deep breath. “Listen, Evans,” he began, “he really does love you, you know. It messed him up when you left and, honestly, leaving that necklace and not answering any of his calls was a pretty shitty thing to do.”
“I know,” she mumbled, her hand going to her neck that still felt empty without the necklace and the emerald dangling from it.
“He’s pretty hurt, right now,” said Sirius then. “But he’ll see the error of his ways. I can promise you that.”
“Okay,” she said and then: “Sirius, I need to go. I have work to do.”
“All right,” he said, “hang in there, Evans.”
She stared at her phone for a couple of minutes before she put it on the desk and left the office.
Rumour had it that Prince James was dragged back by his ears in early August, which ended the young prince’s dallying on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. The Dutch supermodel he had kissed had already been spotted with Leonardo DiCaprio and the prince’s regressions were – surprisingly – forgotten by the media come September.
She had been forgotten too. She had found a job as a personal assistant at a Publishing Firm and spent her day making phone calls, writing emails and making sure her boss’ agenda didn’t overflow. She enjoyed doing what she did and happily came to the conclusion that things were looking up again.
She was not over James by any means. She eagerly scanned her sister’s copies of Hello of any news on him, but most of the time nothing appeared. She knew he had gone back to Langley and that he was fulfilling his dream of flying. She sometimes lay awake at night, thinking about him and wondering whether he ever thought of her still.
September turned into October. The leaves turned a deep red and glistening gold and Lily was sent an invitation to attend Remus’ birthday bash. Sirius had scrawled a personal message to accompany it. Don’t be a stranger, Evans. We miss you.
She didn’t particularly look forward to going back to London, but decided to take the train anyway. Her stomach fluttered as she knocked on the boys’ door, music booming and she was greeted by a grinning Sirius Black, who wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her in for a hug.
She saw plenty of faces that night, but James’ wasn’t among them. Remus told her that he was training somewhere at an undisclosed location. “Somewhere in the Middle East, apparently,” he had said with an apologetic smile. “He will be sorry to have missed you.”
She wanted to say that she was glad not to have seen him, that she had hoped he wouldn’t be there, but she could feel the disappoint start to gnaw at her.
She found herself going to London on weekends more often after that, joining the boys on movie nights and having lunch with them on the Sundays at whichever venue Peter picked out for them.
On the weekends that James would return, however, she would stay in Cokeworth, much to the boys’ dismay. She wasn’t sure if the boys told James about their weekends with Lily, but when Christmas neared, she found herself sitting in Peter’s apartment again, eating a pasta Remus had made and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
It wasn’t until Peter stood up that she realised someone had knocked on the door and she didn’t even really pay attention to the person that entered the apartment until he stood there, looking sheepish and utterly uncomfortable.
“Look at what the cat dragged in,” said Sirius, patting the empty spot on the couch next to him.
She was determined not to stare at him, instead taking a bite of the pasta and paying attention to Jake Peralta on the screen. She could feel his eyes on her, though, burning through her and she chanced a look out of the corner of her eyes.
He looked brilliant, his shoulders filling his shirt nicely, looking lean and in shape. His hair was a complete and utter mess, but she liked it that way and his glasses – had had changed them since the last time she saw him, since they broke up – suited him very well. Remus handed him a plate of pasta and his eyes tore away from her, thanking Remus with a smile.
The silence was driving her mad. His presence had completely transformed the atmosphere or perhaps it wasn’t his presence, maybe it was the fact that they were in a room together again.
After watching two episodes in complete silence, Sirius coughed loudly. “So…” he began, “how’ve you been Jamie?”
“Fine,” said James, sounding hoarse, looking at his hands.
“Flying high, huh?”
“Something like that.”
Remus then stood up, seemingly out of nowhere, muttering something about wine. Sirius followed him, saying that he would bring some glasses and Peter – after some confusion on his part – was dragged with him. James and Lily were left alone in the living room.
After a while, James chuckled softly.
“Not exactly smooth, are they?” he asked, his eyes warm behind his glasses.
She looked at him a bit too long before answering. “It’s not their strongest suit,” she replied.
He nodded, his eyes roaming over her and she let him, flushing slightly. “You look good,” he said in the end, smiling. “Brilliant, even.” And then: “I like your hair.”
She had cut it to fall in waves to her shoulders a month ago. “Thanks,” she told him, “you look great too.”
They smiled at one another and they might have exchanged some more words, but the boys came in, carrying two bottles of wine.
“So… who needs a drink?”
Both Lily and James gulped down the glasses they were handed.
She woke the next morning in a room that smelled like home. She opened her eyes, becoming increasingly aware of the presence of his warm, lean body pressed up against her back. She watched his hand, the familiar calluses still there, that rested on hers, their fingers entangled.
Images of the night before flashed before her eyes. How he had offered to give her a ride to the hotel, how they had started kissing the moment Kingsley – who had smiled brightly at her – closed the car door behind them, how he had let his fingers trail over every inch of her body and how he had kissed her sweetly as he wrapped her legs around his waist, positioning himself just right.
Her legs felt heavy, her whole body did and she was torn, utterly conflicted. Should she feel bad about this? Should she be ecstatic?
He woke up then, rolling away from her and yawning loudly. She didn’t move, not daring to and hoping that he would think she was still asleep. He got up – stark naked – and found his way to the bathroom. As he did so, she sat up quickly, wrapping his sheets around her before getting up from the bed and reaching for her clothes that had been neatly folded on the chair near the window. She figured he must have done that a few hours ago, when she was still fast asleep.
She had just started to wiggle her bum in order to get her jeans on properly when James returned from the bathroom – still as naked as a baby – and stared at her from the door opening, leaning against it casually.
“Leaving?” he asked her. His voice betrayed nothing.
“Yeah,” she said, flushing, “I told my dad I’d visit him today.”
“Back to Cokeworth, huh.”
“Yep.” She closed the button on her jeans, avoiding to look at him and grabbed her purse from his nightstand. For a moment, she stood there and she heard him move and then the snapping of his boxers against his skin. She looked up at him to find him wearing a pair of black Calvin Klein boxers. An image of him kissing the Dutch supermodel appeared before her eyes and she was nearly out the door when he stopped her, his hand on her elbow.
“Lily,” he said and her eyes met his, he leaned down to kiss her softly, almost as if she would break underneath his touch.
“I should go,” she said when his lips left hers and he nodded.
“Okay,” his hand left her elbow, “get home safely.”
She left Kensington Palace, ignoring the eyes of the guards she felt prickle on her back – whoever said guards didn’t listen in on conversations or didn’t care about the business of their bosses was very wrong – and took the tube back to Victoria Station where she took the train back to Cokeworth.
She spent Christmas with her father, sister and Vernon. Vernon and Petunia got engaged over Christmas and Lily pretended to be over the moon for her sister’s sake. She thought Vernon wasn’t good enough for her, but she imagined that perhaps this was something that sisters always thought of their sister’s husbands-to-be.
They went to church, she visited her mother’s grave, leaving a red rose, and ate a full Christmas dinner she had prepared herself with the help of the internet.
She dreamed of James that night, waking up sticky, sweaty and flushed and deciding to take a cold shower at six in the morning, much to her father’s chagrin.
On New Year’s Eve, she found herself taking the train back to London. Sirius had kindly warned her that James would attend his New Year’s party, but she had told herself that she was an adult and that she would be okay.
She had not imagined that she would be riding James an hour before the party even began. She had arrived early at Victoria Station – perhaps intentionally so, but she would not admit that to herself – and she had found herself dialling James’ number to confirm that he was at Kensington Palace.
Now she sat on top of him, her hand on his lean chest as their hips rolled in unison, her thighs holding him tight between her as she met his every thrust and grinned like a maniac as his fingers pressed into her bum, certainly leaving marks.
They took a shower after, making out and hands wandering before they turned up at the party together. None of their friends said anything, she liked to think that no one noticed, but that was quite possibly wishful thinking.
When they left at two o’clock, they held hands and when they arrived at Kensington Palace this time, he went down on her before they actually did the deed, insisting that she needed a happy start of the year.
They fell into a rhythm afterwards. He would text her when he would be in London for the weekend and she would go there, bag packed, on the Friday evening before he would arrive on Saturday morning. Before long, her clothes were in his wardrobe again and her things were scattered around his apartment.
Much like at the start of their relationship, they didn’t talk much. Perhaps the wounds were still too fresh, too much unhealed and both of them were scared to peel at the scab that had barely formed over them.
Therefore, when she found herself in his bed again, his thrusts sharp and frantic, making her head spin and causing her to see stars, she expected nothing but a lazy day of mindless fucking and as she told him to go faster and that – “Yes, yes, right there!” – is where she wanted him, she felt herself come hard after a few final, blissful strokes inside of her and as her walls trembled around him, he filled her with his warmth. What she didn’t expect, however, was for him to say – voice incredibly deep – “I love you, Evans. Fuck, I love you!”
They both froze at that. His muscles tensed as he stayed where he was, buried inside of her. Her hands held his shoulders in a vice-like grip and they stared at one another, eyes wide.
One would think that the admission shouldn’t be that shocking, but to the both of them it was.
After what felt like minutes he rolled off of her, grabbed his boxers and walked to the bathroom where she heard him start up the shower and she waited, staring up at the ceiling, for him to return, her head spinning and going in circles.
When he returned, showered and a towel wrapped around his waist, she eyed him as he reached for a clean pair of boxers and started to put on a suit. She blinked at him, confused.
“Where are you going?” she asked him, leaning up on her forearms.
“State banquet,” he told her, buttoning up his shirt. “I’ll be back later tonight.”
Her mouth formed a perfect ‘oh’ as she watched him work on his bowtie.
He stopped in the doorway, turning his head slightly, but he didn’t look her in the eyes. “I’ll see you later?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she told him, baffled, “of course.” Then: “Or do you want me to go?”
“Whatever the hell you want, Evans,” he said and then he left the room. She heard the door to his apartment slam behind him and she suddenly felt embarrassed, completely used and, yet, he had told her he loved her and he had loved her before, so did that mean what she hoped it meant?
She hadn’t wanted to think about it. She hadn’t wanted to let herself hope that he would possibly love her again. Not after the way she had broken his heart last time.
She got up, took a shower and decided to wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, while she made herself some dinner. She then sat on his couch, watching a BBC period drama and waited for him to return.
He came back around eleven at night and seemed startled to find her sitting on his couch. She smiled sheepishly at him.
“I figured I’d stay,” she told him, tucking her hair behind her ears. “You’re not going back to Langley until tomorrow afternoon, right?”
“Right,” he said, closing the door behind him. She watched him as he walked to the fridge, opening it to pull out a beer. He popped the bottle open and took a sip.
“So,” she began, “how was the dinner?”
“Same old,” he answered.
“Sit next to anyone interesting?”
He put his beer bottle down a bit too loudly, looking up at her. He seemed utterly conflicted.
“I can’t ignore it, Lily,” he said, voice strangled. “I’ve been thinking about it all night and I just can’t play any more games.”
“What games?” she asked, frowning slightly.
He let out a shaky breath. “Either we do this, we date for a while, go the distance, get married, have children or,” he pauses, “or we stop it right now.”
She nodded, thinking about it for a second. “That’s not really a choice, is it?”
He grunted, leaning against the kitchen counter. “I know,” he said, nodding to himself. “I know, I… look, you can stay here, I’ll take the couch and you can sleep in my bed.”
“James,” she interrupted him and he looked at her, pained expression on his face. “That’s not the choice I made. I want the first option.”
He stared at her for a moment before running one of his hands through his hair. “Shit,” he muttered to himself. “Fuck… really, Evans?”
She blushed, startled at his response. “Yeah,” she said, “if you meant it, I would much rather be serious about this.”
The smile on his face was so bright that it made her stomach flutter. He rushed toward her, picked her up and pun her around in a circle. “Are you sure?” he asked.
She grinned. “Yeah,” she told him softly, “I might as well face the facts. I’m just too in love with you anyway.”
He kissed her nose, her cheeks, her eyelashes… anything he could reach and she floated.
They married three years later, on July 26th. She had wanted to get married in December, but – while the idea was very romantic in practice (they did meet just before Christmas, after all) – Queen Euphemia pointed out it might just be a bit too cold for the people to wait outside of Westminster Abbey for hours during a chilly, British winter. To compensate, their wedding had a special theme: Christmas in July and Lily found herself admiring the winter castle the Queen had asked to be built in her back garden. The banner over the door – which read: “Winter is coming.” – was her favourite thing about her wedding. (Aside from actually getting to marry her husband, of course.)
The media loved her. Wherever she went, they would write about her, photographs were taken and her sister would give her weekly updates on the articles that appeared in Hello about her. “This one says you’re three months pregnant,” her sister had said, only two months after the wedding. “Are you?”
She ended up getting pregnant in October. They hadn’t planned it, but Sirius had raised his eyebrow at them when they had told him. “Honestly, what did you expect?” They told Euphemia and Fleamont over Christmas and the pair was absolutely delighted, the queen even wiped a few tears off her cheek.
Their son – Prince Harry James – was born on the 31st of July, just over a year after their wedding. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen and they adored him. He was so much like his dad that people wondered whether she had been involved in actually birthing him, but his eyes were as green as hers, much to James’ delight.
They were blissfully happy, madly in love and they imagined their life would go on like this forever. James worked for the air force, a job he thoroughly enjoyed, while he prepared to one day take over his mother’s job. Lily spent her day running from charity to charity, meeting to meeting, while carrying her son on her hip.
How the story ends, will be left up to you. James and Lily had every intention to grow old together and you might decide that they did. Or perhaps, you don’t like to deviate from the original story too much. It’s your choice. Make it a good one.