“Potter, are you even listening to me?”
James Potter started, coming out of a daze. He was currently sitting in the Gryffindor common room, attempting – and failing – to focus on writing his Herbology essay. He was rather surprised when he saw that Lily Evans was looking down at him, her arms crossed over her chest and her frown disapproving.
“Evans!” James said, subconsciously reaching up to ruffle his already messy hair. “Er, have a seat.”
Lily rolled her eyes, but sat in the proffered chair. “You may want to work on increasing your attention span. I was talking to you for nearly five minutes.”
James waiting a couple heartbeats before replying, “I’m sorry, what was that? I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Prat,” Lily said, rolling her eyes once more, though James could detect a hint of a smile playing about her lips. He tried not to feel smug about it.
“You wanted something, Evans?” James asked.
“Did I?” she asked sarcastically. “Why, whatever makes you say that?”
James grinned. “It’s just a feeling I got. A premonition, if you will. I always knew I should have kept taking Divination.”
Lily scoffed. “That class was complete rubbish. I should have dropped it after the first week. It’s a joke, honestly.”
“Too right you are,” James agreed. “Muggle Studies, though, that’s a fascinating class.”
“You take Muggle Studies?” Lily asked in surprise.
“Sure. It’s one of my favorites. Sometimes I think everyone who didn’t grow up exposed to the Muggle world should take it. Wizards take too much for granted, don’t you think?”
Lily was looking at James as though she’d never quite seen anything like him before. “Yeah… I agree. Is… is that why you take Muggle Studies?”
“Part of the reason.” James looked down at his partially written Herbology essay. He decided not to tell her the main reason for his interest in Muggles. He figured it might scare her off a bit if he told her he was taking the class because he wanted to understand her life better.
“I see.” Lily’s eyes were unfathomable and she bit her lip, looking troubled.
“You had wanted to talk to me about something?” James hedged. He wasn’t used to feeling awkward like this. He and Lily could be many, many things, but awkward normally wasn’t one of them.
“Right,” she agreed, shaking her head slightly. “I wanted to ask you about the patrol schedule for this week. I know you and I are supposed to do rounds on Tuesday night, but do you think we could switch it? I know you have Quidditch on Wednesday and Friday, so does Thursday work all right?”
“You know my Quidditch schedule?” James asked.
“I know everyone’s Quidditch schedule,” Lily said impatiently. “So do you. We kind of have to. I don’t get why that’s a big deal.”
“I just… never mind. It’s nothing. Thursday is fine. But did that really take you five minutes to say, and without noticing that I wasn’t paying an ounce of attention either?”
“It’s called exaggeration, Potter. A hyperbole, if you will. Besides, when you didn’t answer right away, I may have, uh, started to ramble a bit. It was actually quite embarrassing, so I’m glad you weren’t listening,” Lily said, flushing slightly.
“Rambling?” James raised his eyebrows. “You? But Evans, you’re usually so eloquent. That doesn’t sound like you at all.”
She bit her lip. “I got a little bit nervous, if I’m going to be honest. I thought you might be upset with me or something.”
James gave her a quizzical look. “Why would I be upset?”
“You might not have wanted to change the day. Or maybe you weren’t able to patrol Thursday and was trying to figure out a way to tell me. I’m not sure, Potter, clearly my mind wasn’t in a rational place,” Lily said, looking adorably flustered.
“So you’re saying that,” James leaned in close to Lily’s ear and she went still, “you have difficulty thinking around me? I make you nervous? Was your heart racing? Did your palms get sweaty?”
“Sod off, you git,” Lily told him, though the usual fire wasn’t in the words. In fact, her voice sounded a bit shaky. James tried not to feel too pleased with himself, but failed miserably.
“Problem, Evans?” he asked, smirking.
Lily pushed on his shoulder. “You’re a smug tosser, you know that?”
“It’s my niche,” he replied breezily.
“And you fill it so well,” Lily said under her breath.
James raised an eyebrow at her. “Are you calling me fat? That’s very rude.”
With a loud laugh, she pushed him again. “You are utterly ridiculous.”
James felt a soaring in his stomach. He couldn’t believe the conversation was going so well. Taking in Lily’s flushed cheeks and bright eyes, he couldn’t quite quell his feelings of victory. ”If you don’t mind me asking, what are you doing on Tuesday night that’s keeping you from rounds?”
“I’m tutoring a third year in Potions at Slughorn’s request,” she explained, a slightly exasperated look crossing her face. “I don’t really have time for it in my schedule, but I told Slughorn I’d find the time.”
“Of course you did,” James muttered, more to himself than Lily, a small smile forming on his face.
She raised an eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked coolly.
“Just that you’re too nice for your own good,” James replied off-handedly. “You can’t ever say no to people.”
“That’s rich, coming from you. I think you know better than anyone that I can say no just fine, thank you,” Lily said, sounding almost amused, though there was a hesitation in her eyes, as if she were afraid of offending him.
James grinned. “Touché, Evans. I like to think that I’m your one special exception, though. I am rather exceptional, after all.”
Lily laughed, getting up out of her seat. “Sure, Potter, if that’s what you want to think. Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
“I can think of a few ways you could help me sleep at night,” James told her suggestively, winking.
“Goodbye, Potter,” Lily said, turning to walk away, but not before James caught the smirk on her face.
James turned back to his Herbology once more, resisting the urge to cheer and dance around in celebration.
“I think I might be in love with Lily.”
It was later that same day, and James was currently lounging up in his dormitory, seated on his bed. He kept playing back his earlier conversation with Lily over and over in his head. It had gone very well, he thought. Very well indeed. They’d been friendly, bantered. One might even say they’d been flirting.
James wasn’t sure why he was so fixated on that one, little conversation. But then again, he wasn’t sure about a lot of things when it came to Lily Evans. She was baffling, to say the least.
James’s best mate, Sirius Black, didn’t look up from the house of cards he was building. A wise decision, considering he was using a pack of Exploding Snap cards. James watched him. “Well? Aren’t you going to say something?”
Sirius’s eyes didn’t stray from his work, his attention focused. “I won't say anything, I will merely offer you a facial expression which suggests you've gone insane."
“You’re not looking at me,” James pointed out.
“That’s true, but the sentiment is still there,” Sirius replied, throwing his arms over his face as the card house exploded.
“I’m serious,” James said.
“No, actually, I am.”
James dropped his head into his palms. “Really, mate? That joke got old back in second year.”
“Yeah, but every now and then I just can’t resist throwing it out there,” Sirius said, finally looking up and grinning.
James tossed a pillow at him. “Prat. But anyways… what do you think?”
“Honestly Prongs?” Sirius said. “You’re 17. Evans is 17. Hell, I’m 17. What are we supposed to know about love? Are you sure you’re not just jumping the gun or something?”
“I don’t think so,” James said. “I mean, c’mon. I’ve fancied her for how long now? If it wasn’t love, don’t you think it might’ve gone away by now? I’ve gotten my perverse enjoyment out of pissing her off, but I’m done with that. I’m not done with her, though. Can you blame me for thinking it might be something more?”
Sirius shrugged. “I’m hardly an expert on love, Prongs. If you don’t know, then why would I?”
“Just forget it then,” James grumbled, sprawling back on his bed. “You’re useless. I should have gone to Moony.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Sirius said. “Evans is a great girl and all, but I’ve never really seen why you’ve been fascinated with her for all these years. Don’t get me wrong, I like her and all – not like you do of course – but I guess I don’t understand the draw.”
“I don’t get it either,” James admitted. “There’s just… something about her.”
Sirius grinned wickedly. “You sure it isn’t some things about her, mate? Two things, specifically, right around her chest area…”
“Fuck you,” James said, throwing another pillow.
“No thanks, save it for Evans,” Sirius shot back, lobbing both pillows at James.
James stared up at the ceiling, frowning pensively. “She’s just something else, Padfoot. She always has been.”
“I’m not questioning it, mate,” Sirius said. “I think you may be a bit hasty in your declarations of love, but you’d be the one to know.”
James groaned and rolled over onto his stomach, his face pressed into the scarlet blanket of his bed. “Shouldn’t this be easier? I thought that when you fall in love the earth is supposed to move or some shit like that? Isn’t that what all those rubbish romance novels girls like to read say?”
“Well, since I’m not a girl…” Sirius said with a snort.
“Tell that to your hair.”
“Fine then, I guess I won’t help you,” he sniffed.
James pushed his face further into the bed, his glasses beginning to dig into the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry, but in what world would what you’ve said be considered helpful?”
“Look, Prongs, just listen.” Sirius paused. “Are you listening? James?”
A large weight crashed down on top of James and with a loud snap, his glasses broke in two.
“What the hell, Padfoot?” James shouted, shoving his friend off of him and flipping over once more. “What was that for?”
“I didn’t know if you were listening or not,” Sirius explained simply.
James glared, grabbing his wand to fix his glasses. “I’m buying you a leash for Christmas.”
“Do you want to hear what I have to say or not?” Sirius asked.
“Right now, I’m leaning towards ‘not.’”
Both boys were quiet for several moments. Sirius was lazily examining his fingernails while James stared at him in exasperation. “Would you just get on with it?” James burst out impatiently.
Sirius grinned. “I thought you didn’t want to hear it?”
“I’m buying you a muzzle, too.”
“Well then I guess you’ll never hear what I have to say.”
James groaned. “Just spit it out before I hex you.”
Sirius let out a loud, bark-like laugh, but sobered up rather quickly. “All right, so I think… I need to know what you think, Prongs.”
James stared at his best mate, unblinking. “Brilliant,” he deadpanned. “Just brilliant. Yeah, that’s really helpful, Padfoot. Just tell you what I think. If I knew what I thought, then why the hell would I be asking you for help?”
“Patience really isn’t one of your strong points, is it?” Sirius remarked.
For the third time that evening, a pillow went flying at Sirius’s head, which he promptly dodged. “But apparently violence is.”
“That’s it! I’m going to find Moony! He and Wormtail have detention with Slughorn tonight, right?” James got off his bed, running his hand through his hair in exasperation.
“Hold on, Prongs, don’t be hasty. And yeah, they are. I still think it’s amazing that they got blamed for the prank and you and I got off scott-free,” Sirius chuckled and James cracked a grin.
“In Slughorn’s defense, you and I were over at the storage cupboard, completely on the opposite side of the room,” James said, barely suppressing a snicker.
“Doesn’t mean you and I still weren’t involved in making Snivellus’s cauldron explode,” Sirius said. “Honestly, I just can’t believe Remus and Pete just took the fall. You know detention would have been more fun with the four of us.”
James snorted. “There’s no way Slughorn would have put us all together after what happened the last time. We had to use a different classroom for Potions for almost two weeks because of what we did to it.”
“That’s right!” Sirius said, with another peal of laughter. “I forgot about that. He should have known better than to leave us in detention unattended for that long. It’s his own fault, really. He shouldn’t have tempted fate.”
“Yeah,” James sighed. “Right, well I’m off to get Moony. I should have given him the mirror.”
“No, no, no!” Jumping up, Sirius ran across the room and threw himself in front of the door.
James raised an eyebrow. “Padfoot. Move.”
“You asked for my advice, so I’m going to give it!”
“I mean it. Move.”
“Just hear me out.”
“But I have a good idea!” he whined.
“The last time you said that, we ended up in two weeks of detention.” Sirius pouted and James resisted the urge to grab a fourth pillow. He should have picked a less irritating person to be his mate. “Fine then.”
“Good! I want you to tell me what it is, exactly, that makes you go all mental over Evans. Then I’ll tell you if you’re in love or not,” Sirius said promptly.
James looked at him skeptically. “Do you really think it’ll be that easy?”
“Have I ever led you astray before?” James opened his mouth to reply, but Sirius cut him off. “Don’t answer that. Now come.”
Sirius sat down onto his own bed with an exaggerated elegance and then patted the spot next to him. “Come tell me what’s on your mind.”
“I’m not getting on that bed with you.”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
“You’re off your rocker, you know that?” James said, bypassing the proffered spot on Sirius’s bed in favor of his own.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Are you going fawn over Evans to me or not?”
“Sod off, git,”James said.
He took a moment to collect his thoughts. What was it that he liked about Evans?
“Like I said, mate, I don’t really know why I fancy her so much. There’s just always been something about her. At first, I just thought she looked cute when she was angry. There was just something so satisfying about seeing her face turn as red as her hair and she would give me that really scary glare…”
“Masochist,” Sirius muttered.
“But I think I realized that I actually liked her, and not just making her mad,” James continued, ignoring Sirius, “in third year. We were in Divination and trying to figure out what we supposed to do with those bloody tea leaves, remember? And our table was right behind Lily’s. She went off on that huge rant about what a rubbish subject Divination was and how it was the stupidest bloody thing she’d ever heard of. That was the first time I’d ever her seen her angry about something that didn’t have to do with me. And I dunno… it all just clicked.”
“I do remember that,” Sirius said thoughtfully. “That was bloody hilarious, that was. I’d never thought I’d see the day that Lily Evans, of all people, would have mouthed off to a teacher like that. You were in this odd sort of daze for the rest of the class, weren’t you? “
James nodded. “Yeah. Then we ended up in detention together.”
“You never told me that!” Sirius exclaimed.
James grimaced. “I did that on purpose. It… wasn’t my finest moment.”
“I may have tried to kiss her,” James admitted sheepishly. “She punched me. It was all a big misunderstanding, really.”
“I’m sure it was,” Sirius said, the corners of his mouth twitching as he tried to hold back laughter. “But go on. What else do you like about Lily?”
“Well for one, she’s got a mean right hook,” James said ruefully. “But there’s just… I don’t think there are words for it, Padfoot. When I look at her, I just want her to be happy, you know? And I want to be the one making her happy. But even if I wasn’t, even if the only way for her to be happy was for me to leave her alone… I think I might do it. I think she’s worth it. I’d give up what I want for her.”
James frowned thoughtfully, falling silent. Both boys sat quietly for several long moments. James seemed utterly lost in thought and Sirius had gone back to lazily examining his fingernails. After a while, James looked back over at his friend. “So what do you think? Am I in love with her?”
“Huh?” Sirius said, looking confused. “Oh. Beats me, mate. I told you before, what do I know about love?”
James began to splutter indignantly. “What – but you just – what d’you mean – oh, screw you Padfoot! Forget what you say, I am in love with her!”
James paused. “I’m in love with her,” he said much more quietly. “Bloody hell, I really am.”
“Yes!” Sirius shouted. “My plan worked!”
“Your plan?” James asked incredulously. “What – no it didn’t! You didn’t help me at all!”
Sirius grinned impishly. “Didn’t I? You figured it out, didn’t you? I mean, yeah, I had no idea if you were in love Evans or not, but I figured if you really gave it some thought, you’d find out for yourself. And you did. Therefore, I am a genius.”
James couldn’t do anything but stare. “I hate to say it, but that was brilliant, mate. You’re a prat, but that was brilliant.”
“I know,” Sirius replied haughtily, shaking his hair out of his eyes.
A pillow collided with his head.
Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be working on Choices. Oops. I wrote this instead.
The line “I won’t say anything, I will merely offer you a facial expression which suggests you’ve gone insane” is from the t.v. show, The Big Bang Theory (created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady) and uttered by one Sheldon Cooper. TBBT is seriously one of the funniest shows I’ve seen and comes with highest recommendations. Plus, it satisfies my nerdy side.