He’s written the spoiler right on the first page, like a shit, and he’s ghastly. He really is. Only- of course he isn’t. Quite the opposite. She uses the book to hit him in the chest. He laughs.
You’re the worst gift giver in the world, she informs him. He waggles his eyebrows, and she’d kiss him if Sirius wasn’t here. You two should kiss, Sirius says through a mouthful of crisps, looking on with mild interest. James shoves him sideways and then does, in fact, kiss her. He tastes like tea and mint.
The boys wear party hats all round London. Remus has five coffees, Peter loses his scarf to the wind and Sirius throws away a twenty pound note because he thought it was a very poorly made napkin. It might just be the best birthday she’s ever had.
Naturally she can never tell James this because he’ll just be unbearably smug, as opposed to the bearable level of smug he is normally. He buys her an ice block and then precedes to rip into her for picking lemonade flavor, which he has been told by Remus is the ‘most basic’.
Pathetic Lily, truly embarrassing, he says, and she reaches up and snaps the string of his party hat. Being eighteen feels no different to being seventeen, still being told by a choking James that she’d just ‘broken his throat’, still laughing when Remus says that it’s probably a blessing, still liking them all an inordinate amount.
Afterwards they go home, the two of them, back to the tiny apartment where they eat and sleep and make breakfast. When they’d moved in she’d used James’ wand to flick all the dead moths off the windowsill and to get her back he froze hers in ice. Sometimes when she can’t sleep and her brain is a blank wall she’ll get up, walk around, breathe. She can look at any surface of their place and think here. I kissed you here. I loved you here.
She goes through the door and there is a cake on their bench. The top slants to the left, lopsided, and the icing has melted all down the sides. She freezes, staring. James bounds past her and tries to prop up a drooping candle. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to ice it while it was still hot, he confesses, guiltily.
She keeps staring. You made me a cake. She says, fumbling around the words. I don’t know if you can still call it that, he says, distracted, trying to even out the slanting top by shifting the icing. She cannot believe him- waking up early just to make her a cake. Her heart is swollen. She could break a rib.
Happy birthday Li- he starts, but she has surged forward and is kissing him instead. His hands are sticky from icing, on her face and jaw and neck and he made her a cake. In this kitchen, in this apartment, in her space, he was here. There has never been a better boy than hers, and here. She loves him here.