James Potter raced down one of the many, seemingly endless corridors in Hogwarts, his arms full of food. He swung around a corner, pounded past a group of startled first years, ripped through a tapestry, jumped down the flight of stairs concealed behind it, and flew out the bottom, straight into a warm thing that squealed.
“Oomph,” he grunted as he hit the floor. How embarrassing.
Mind you, that had sounded like a girl, so as an impressive way to get up, he whipped out his wand, he pointed it at himself, and shouted “Volo!” He rose off the ground about three feet until “Finite incantatem!” and he dropped lightly to the floor.
He turned to see who he’d run into, and almost wished he hadn’t.
Lily Evans was looking at him quizzically from the floor.
“Made that charm up yourself, did you?” she asked, getting to her feet and straightening her hair.
“No, Remus has to take the credit for inventing that one, and in our first term, no less. He said he’d been studying Latin at his Muggle school. He also mentioned he was better at it than everyone else. I guess it just goes to show he’s not above boasting, doesn’t it?”
He cringed. He’d been chattering; sounding dorky. Remus hadn’t even said that, he’d said he was good, not the best. Not being able to talk to her was just one of the reasons she hadn’t noticed him properly yet. Except for that incident in their fifth year… but he didn’t like to think about that.
But she wasn’t looking like she was trying not to laugh in his face, just thoughtful.
“Interesting… it means ‘I fly’, right? No need for a broomstick anymore…well, except for speed, of course.”
“Speaking of broomsticks, did you see the match on Saturday? We won, three hundred and ninety to twenty.”
“I know. I was there. And don’t start telling me how you personally scored twelve of those goals and set up all the rest. You didn’t do all of it. It was only five goals and three set-ups.”
He tried to look shocked, but he failed. “How did you know that’s what I’ve been saying? And I’ve never seen you at a Quidditch match!”
“I do watch, you know,” she said tartly. “And I do support Gryffindor. I mean, just because one player is a numbskull doesn’t mean all of them are…and I overheard you telling Rosie about your Quidditch triumphs. And Harriet, and Mandy, and Hillary, and…”
“Okay, okay, I’ll shut up about it.”
He grinned, wishing he could have done better than that.
Without thinking, they’d been walking as they talked, and they had now arrived at his original destination: the hospital wing.
“Do you want to come in with me? I’m going in to see Remus; he’s had a tussle with the Whooping Willow.”
“The Whomping Willow? Ooh, that sounds serious, and Madam Pomfrey only lets best friends in for serious cases. That’s why you were coming from the kitchens with your arms full of food, I suppose? Did you notice you’d dropped it?” She grinned mischievously at him.
“That? Easy,” he said, summoning his stack of food, using the Accio charm. “You can carry half and come in with me, seeing you were kind enough to point out that I’d lost it.”
“Blast, now I’ve got an excuse to go in. Can’t though, I’ve got Transfiguration. And I don’t want to be on McGonagall’s bad side.”
“Ah well. But Lily, you know how there’s a Hogsmeade visit this weekend? Well I was just wondering…maybe we could…go together?” Did that sound bad? I think that sounded bad…
“Now why would I want to do that?” she teased. Oh heck, it sounded bad all right!
“Ahhhh…well, I thought we could go to The Three Broomsticks. I’d pay,” he added hastily, wishing he’d gone into the hospital wing when he had the chance.
“Now, Potter, I’ve been turning you down for seven years, why would I break a long-standing tradition like that?
“I don’t know, but would you?” James muttered.
“Well… I might just think about it. If I don’t get a better offer, that is. Bye!” she said heading off to her class.
Now James was feeling stupid. Why had he just asked her out like that? Oh well, he’d go in and ask Remus what he’d done wrong.
* * *
Remus’ head snapped around. “Oh, hi Prongs. Why are you acting like that?”
“Acting like what?” asked a bemused James
“Too perky. You just came from History of Magic. You should be almost asleep. Why are you so perky?”
“Hmm…possibly something you’ll never know, possibly something you will know.”
“So…are you going to tell me?”
“Obviously.” James related what had happened outside. When he got to the part where he had asked Lily out, Remus snorted half the glass of pumpkin juice Madam Pomfrey had left.
“You did what?”
“I asked her to come with me to Hogsmeade.”
“Prongs, Prongs, Prongs, PRONGS! Bumbling around might be cute in the eyes of some girls, but I don’t think Lily Evans is one of them. She won’t go for cute; she’ll go for smart, sensitive and slightly romantic. Just remember the three Ss and it just might work.”
“Great, good advice, but what I need you to tell me is if she’s actually going to go to Hogsmeade with me!”
“Of course she is. She was fooling with you. Tonight in the common room, walk up to her, and ask again. Look serious. These are the words you have to say: ‘So you’re going with me to Hogsmeade?’ She says ‘yes,’ you plan where you meet up beforehand. Nothing to it.”
* * *
Mud. It was all over the place. Most of it was on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
James still hadn’t approached Lily. He’d been too embarrassed. When he arrived in the common room, after talking to Remus about a lot of other unrelated things, she’d been sitting with friends, doing homework. He could have gone over to sit with her, but that would mean sitting with all her friends as well. And they’d giggle. And James hated sitting with giggly girls. So he’d gone over to the other side of the room, to sit with Sirius and Peter, to pretend to do his own homework and wait for an opportunity.
It never came; they all finished their homework at the same time. Then they went up to the dormitory. He considered waiting until everyone was gone, and then summoning Lily from her dormitory. But he figured that would be idiocy. She’d be asleep, or if not, she’d be talking to her friends, and they’d be very surprised to see her fly out the door. Not good.
Every time he’d seen her the next day, other girls had surrounded her. This pattern continued for the rest of the week, leaving him now, on Friday night, desperate. Quidditch practice was only just over, and he was trying as hard as he could to figure out a smart, sweet and slightly romantic way to talk to her.
* * *
Remus walked out of his dormitory, going down to the common room, planning to do his Arithmancy homework. Halfway down the stairs, he came across James, who was repeatedly banging his head on the wall, muttering, “Think. Think. Think.”
“Think about what?”
“Some triple-s way to talk to her.”
“You mean you haven’t even spoken to her yet?”
“How do you get that? Well… no.”
“Oh for… come with me. Do your homework, while we wait for your opportunity.”
* * *
Lily was doing her homework, setting an example to the younger kids. As a prefect, she had to. She saw James come out of the boy’s dormitory with Remus. They set up their homework on an adjacent table next to Sirius and Peter, but they didn’t actually seem to be doing much work; rather, they were looking more at her than their homework, and they kept whispering to each other.
She stifled a giggle. Remus was giving James girl advice. She was sure of it. This could be fun….