Chapter 1 : Perfect Disaster
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Damn James Potter in every way and to every place he can be damned.
Damn his perfectly messy hair. Damn his hypnotizing eyes. But most of all, damn his ability to make my knees tremble whenever he comes near.
When did my trembling knee problem arise, you ask?
It couldn't have been first year, when, upon our first meeting, Potter tripped me unceremoniously.
It couldn't have been in my second year, when he got into the ridiculous and annoying habit of yanking my long, red pigtails.
And it definitely couldn't have been third year, when he dropped eleven water balloons on my head and then proceeded to ask me out.
Maybe it was last year or even the year before when my trembling knees began. Maybe I've always had it. Or maybe, even, Potter isn't the cause.
Why should he be, when it was he who Confunded my first boyfriend, making me think that the poor guy was an idiot?
He got two weeks detention for that. But you can't get detention for getting someone to agree to go out with you.
Which is why I'm standing her now, in front of my dormitory's mirror, preparing for what will inevitably be the worst night of my life.
As I smooth down the front of my plain white tee-shirt, my best friend Kate comes in and raises her eyebrows at me. I know what she is thinking: Why Potter, of all people?
She doesn't trust him, and I know I shouldn't either. It's easier for her, though. She is blonde and pretty, and she knows the dating world well. She has had her fair share of choice boyfriends before she began to go steady with Amos Diggory.
I, on the other hand, have only had a grand total of two and a half boyfriends. I can say half, because he chickened out before our first date. It's reasonable for me to suspect that my lack of experience in the relationship area is thanks to Potter; he's probably chased away every boy that's ever been interested in me.
But here I am, ready to take the first real leap into dating, with the very boy who had stopped me before, and my hair will not lie flat.
"You're trying to look good," says Kate matter-of-factly.
"Well, a bit," I say truthfully, tugging a bit more at my hair.
"It's only supposed to be this one chance for him," she says, adjusting her oval glasses in the mirror, above my shoulder. "He's going to screw it up."
"I know," I say. "But I still want to look good."
I can't answer her question. I don't even know the answer anymore.
"I'm late," I say hurriedly, dropping my brush and dashing out the door.
I know Kate is angry with me for giving Potter this chance, since he is a big-headed prig. She fails to remember that her boyfriend is, as well.
But it doesn't matter what she thinks, because Potter is waiting for me at the bottom of the steps. He is looking at his gold watch, and he has the expression of someone about to open a rather large Christmas present.
Arrogant git, is my involuntary thought, as my foot catches on the third lowest step.
I trip and fall forward down the stairs, only to be caught by a pair of rather strong arms. "Watch the steps, Lily," James says, thought I can tell he is trying not to laugh.
"And you watch where your hands are going, Potter," I say grumpily, pushing him away.
His brow furrows at the use of his surname. I know he hates that nowadays, so I immediately feel guilty. "Well, let's get this over with," I say, with a big sigh. "James."
I can tell that he's please to hear me calling him by his first name, not to mention to be leading me out of the common room. We both know that every eye in on us and that every mind is thinking that Lily Evans has finally given in to James Potter's wonderful good looks and legendary charm.
But I haven't. And this has to go perfectly if he even wants to ask for a second one.
He tries to make small talk as we walk - about school, Quidditch, what they served for dinner last night, Quidditch, whether or not I thought that Professor Chanko's hair was real, and more Quidditch.
That boy really varies his topics.
"So are you excited for the match next Saturday," he asks casually.
I can tell that he really wants me to be, but old habits die hard.
"I'm not sure if I want to go," I say shortly. He seems so taken aback that I almost laugh. "I don't really care for Quidditch."
He is stunned for a moment, but, as usual, recovers quickly. "And what do you care for, Miss Lily?" he asks.
I can tell that it is a sincere question, and so I decide to give him a fair answer. "I liked your flowers," I say, looking sideways at him as we walk.
The corners of his mouth twitch into a smile. It is not his usual smirk but a gentle smile. I like this smile on him, and it makes me wonder if I'm going to have to disappoint Kate by actually enjoying myself.
"We're almost there," he says after a moment.
'There' means a nice little checkered blanket and a picnic basket on the far side of the lawn. It is far too romantic for someone like Potter to come up with, so I assume that he consulted Remus on how to impress me.
Unfortunately, it's working.
He sits down, looking rather pleased with himself, and pats a spot next to him. I shake my head and plop down across from him. Before he can get too confused, I say, "I like to face a person when I speak to them."
He nice smile appears again, and he reaches in to the basket. He pulls out so many things that I can't help but laugh. "What's so funny?" he asks.
"You've packed enough food to feed us and the Giant Squid," I giggle.
"Sirius says you can never have enough food," he says, almost defensively.
"So this is all Sirius's idea?" I tease.
"No!" he cries and then looks down at the sandwich in his hand. He takes a bite before muttering, "Remus's."
This really sets me off laughing. "I knew it!"
"Hey, his plan would be nothing without my charming disposition," he says, grinning at me.
"Because you're terribly attractive with mayo all over your face," I say sarcastically.
Before I know what I'm doing, I reach over and wipe the sauce off of his face. He looks just as surprised as I feel by my affectionate gesture. To cover up my sudden awkwardness, I take a bite of a sandwich and ask, "What else did Remus tell you to do?"
"Well, he told me first off to tell you how beautiful you look," he said thoughtfully.
"You didn't do that," I reply.
"I didn't think I had to," he says, his lovely hazel eyes gazing directly into mine. "You know that I always think you're beautiful."
Oh, he's good, I think, scratching my neck.
"But don't you go thinking that I need Moony to give me dating advice," he says, stretching out his legs. "I've got everything under control."
"What are you going to do?" I ask. "Pull my pigtails?"
He frowns at me. "I have grown up a little, you know," he says seriously. "I stopped hexing Snivellus for you."
"I've noticed," I reply, not commenting on the use of Snape's terrible nickname. "But that doesn't make up for the sore scalp I had all of second year."
"Fine," he sighs. "Will it make you feel better if I let you pull my hair?"
I burst into laughter at his suggestion and look fondly at the dark mess on top of his head. "I wouldn't know which direction to pull."
He looks indignantly at me before breaking into a chuckle. "You were the only girl who ever had the guts to make fun of me," he says, shaking his head and smiling.
"To your face," I respond cheekily.
"Touche," he says. "Hey, are you alright? You look a little red."
"I'm probably just too warm," I say, looking up at the darkening sky. "Humidity and all. It looks like it'll rain soon."
"We'll be fine," he says, waving his hand. "I would hate to cut this short."
"Well, you're doing fairly well for your one and only chance," I say, taking another bite of my sandwich. That's when I taste it.
"Am I?" he says interestedly, before noticing my distressed expression. "What's wrong?"
"James, what is in this sandwich?" I ask, becoming more and more aware of how much my face itches.
"It's a BLT with peanut butter," he says, in confusion. "What's the-"
"What?" I cry, even though I already knew the problem. "Who the hell makes a sandwich like that?"
"Padfoot," he says, sounding as alarmed as I feel. "If you don't like it, you don't have to-"
"I'm allergic to peanut butter!" I say, trying not to scratch my face. "It makes me break out in hives!"
My sentence is punctuated by a loud clap of thunder, and, almost immediately, a downpour starts. "Oh, Godric," says James, as he begins to get drenched. He looks back at my face and starts to laugh.
"What are you laughing at?" I shout angrily, trying to cover my head with my arms.
It's no use. In a matter of minutes, we are both completely soaked, and James is still laughing like a madman.
"Will you cut it out?" I snap, walloping him in the chest.
I know I must look a fright. My face is probably pink and puffy, my hair is dripping, and my clothes are wet. It is then that he says it.
He puts his hands on my arms and pulls me closer to him. "If I told you now that I have never seen you look more beautiful, would you believe me?" he asks softly.
I want to say 'no', but I know he's being dead serious. I nod, and he smiles sweetly. He kisses my forehead gently, and I shiver a little. He must think it's from the rain, because he says, "Let's get you inside, marshmallow woman."
For once, I just laugh.
I know we look a wreck as we walk through the castle and to the common room. Everyone stares again, but this time for much different reasons. James squeezes my hand and whispers, "Thank you", before heading over to his friends.
Kate rushes over, looking bewildered. "Well, what happened?" she asks. "How was it?"
"It was a disaster," I say. My eyes meet James's from across the room, and he smiles his secret smile. "But it was perfect."
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