It was with a rapidly beating heart that James waited for Lily to return to the common room. He’d arranged for a house-elf to politely ask Lily to go to the common room instead of going down for dinner, made sure that the room could deal with his request, and had asked Alice if she’d look after Al for him.
Oh, and he’d changed his clothes and attempted to flatten his hair.
All in all, he was pretty happy with how things had gone so far.
But now came the hard part.
He felt his heart skip a beat as Lily came through the portrait hole, her pretty face tarnished with a look of confusion.
When she saw James standing there, looking unusually smart, she frowned.
“Where are you going?” she asked suspiciously, eyeing his purple shirt and flattened hair.
“Um,” he began nervously, twisting his hands, which he’d placed behind his back, together. “To the Room of Requirement. With you.”
Lily looked confused again.
“But why are you so dressed up?” she asked shrewdly.
“Erm,” coughed James, feeling his face starting to turn red. “I just thought it’d be, erm… that it’d be nice to wear something that wasn’t school robes or jeans for a change.”
Lily raised an eyebrow.
James nodded, too nervous to say anymore.
Lily regarded him for a moment, and then said, “Ok. If that’s how you want to play it. Where’ve you put the baby?”
“Do you mean Al?” he croaked.
“Al. I named the baby after that famous actor you like. Alan someone? Last name begins with an R, I think.”
“Oh, him,” said Lily, a dreamy expression crossing her face.
James felt slightly disgruntled.
“Yeah, him. But if you don’t like it, we-”
“Oh, no, Al’s perfect,” she smiled. “So, where is he?”
“I asked Alice to look after him for the evening. Give us time to properly discuss Head duties, and stuff. And for me to apologise,” he added quickly.
“For you to what?” She wasn’t sure if she’d heard him correctly.
“To, um, apologise,” he mumbled, staring at his feet. “For being such a git earlier.”
He looked up to see a slightly stunned expression on Lily’s face.
“If that’s alright with you,” he said hurriedly .
To his surprise, Lily burst out laughing.
“‘If that’s alright with you’,” she repeated, laughing even harder at the worried look on James’ face. “James, you don’t ask if it’s ok to apologise to someone!”
James really couldn’t tell if the laughing was a good or a bad thing.
“Are you mad?” he asked uncertainly, eyeing Lily anxiously.
“No!” she spluttered, shaking her head, and wiping her eyes. “I just think you’re a bit of an idiot sometimes!”
Not at all reassured, James looked to one of the portraits on the wall, who shook their head, and said, “Just lead her to the room. Otherwise she’ll never go.”
So James walked forward, gently took hold of one of Lily’s arms, and steered her out through the portrait hole.
And his biggest surprise?
She let him do it.
Lily watched as the stone wall in front of her moved to become a doorway, on which the letters ‘RR’ had been ornately carved.
“Very nice,” nodded Lily appreciatively. “Normally when I ask for the room the door is just your bog-standard kind. Did you ask for something more specific?”
“Uh, yeah,” said James gruffly, feeling himself turning pink again. “After you, then.”
Lily looked at him oddly, and then proceeded to open the door.
As soon as she saw inside, she gasped, “Woah!”
Before her was a candle-lit table, set for two, a gift-wrapped item in the middle. Soft, romantic music was playing, and she could see just over to her far right that there was a dance floor, decked out with lights and spinning-decks.
“Oh, wow,” she breathed, staring round at James, who had been watching nervously for her reaction. “Did you ask it for all of this?”
James blushed a deep red.
“Um, yeah, I did,” he muttered, feeling embarrassed. “I just thought it’d be nice to, you know, enjoy ourselves in a meeting, for once.”
“Ok then. Are you going to lead me to my seat or do I have to choose one for myself?”
James hastened to show her to the seat furthest away from them.
“Um, I have a surprise, but you need to be facing this way to see it,” he told her, as he tucked the chair in beneath her as she sat down.
Lily looked slightly bemused but nodded nonetheless.
“Fine with me. I like surprises. Perhaps I should fight with you more often,” she teased.
James laughed nervously.
“I hope not. I like being friends with you,” he said, cursing himself for turning red for the hundredth time that day.
“Snap. In fact, with this set-up, you could almost say we were on a date…”
James choked on the pumpkin juice, which had just appeared in front of them, he was drinking, and hastily tried to deny that this wasn’t a date, he was just being friendly.
“…And I mean, there’s no pressure, right? It’s just a friends-thing and-”
“James!” cried Lily calmly, watching him with amusement. “I was joking! This doesn’t have to be a date. Well, unless you want it to be?”
James nearly fell of his chair in shock.
“What?!” he gasped, sure he’d heard her wrong.
“A date?” smiled Lily. “Surely you know what one of them is, right?”
“No-I mean, of course I do. But I thought you just wanted to be friends?! I mean, I’d love for it to be a date, but-”
“James, do you want it to be a date or not?” asked Lily, almost sternly (although she wasn’t mad in the slightest).
James gaped at her for a few seconds, during which time she began to panic that she’d just made a complete fool of herself by suggesting that they should count this as a date, and wondered whether this was what she really wanted.
Finally, James made his decision.
“Yes, you want this to be a date?” Lily checked.
“Yes, I want this to be a date,” he responded, grinning now.
Suddenly all his nerves were gone and he felt back to his old self.
Oh, thank you, thank you, God, he thought silently.
Perhaps all those daydreams might come true after all…
“One thing I would like to know, Mr Date-Man” Lily was saying now, staring at him intently, “Is why, if you weren’t counting this as a date, you went to so much trouble?”
“Well,” grinned James, “I was thinking of flying up to your dorm window and serenading you like that guy did in that play where they both killed themselves in the end, but I decided I’d probably end up flying to the wrong window and find Snape in his underwear or something.”
“Severus is in Slytherin; they sleep in the dungeons,” Lily pointed out.
“Stranger things have happened,” replied James, in all seriousness.
“So,” she asked, looking at the present in the middle of the table, “What’s in the package?”
James resisted interpreting her question as something inappropriate and instead said, “Open it up, and find out.”
“It’s actually for me?” she said, in some surprise.
“Well, yeah…” laughed James, shaking his head. “I certainly don’t want what’s inside it!”
Lily looked at him suspiciously, then reached forward and took the present.
Feeling it slightly, she began to unwrap it slowly, glancing all the while at James for any sign that this was all just an elaborate joke.
A moment later, though, she did not believe it was.
“Oh my god!” she squealed in delight, pulling out the object from the wrapping paper. “Oh, James! How did you know this was what I wanted?!”
“Um, because of all the posters you have up around your room, and-”
“How do you know I’ve got posters up in my room?”
“It’s not what you think! I haven’t been spying, I just saw a photo of you and your friends, and they were all up in the background-”
“I’m kidding!” laughed Lily, once again enjoying James’ panic. “I don’t care how you know; I’m just pleased at how thoughtful you are!”
James smiled with relief.
“Oh, good,” he laughed, feeling his heart, which had sped up rapidly at Lily’s accusatory question, slow back down to normal speed. “I didn’t want to ruin this date before it had even properly started!”
“Me neither,” smiled Lily.
James felt his heart give a little jolt.
I love her, he thought, as he found himself drowning in her emerald green eyes, which were focused on the Complete Guide to AR – A Fan’s Ultimate Resource.
I think I’m really starting to fall for him, thought Lily, as she put down the book and watched as James thanked the House-elf who had just bought them their starters (Spiced Potato Soup, her favourite).
Little did they know how much that first date would change the rest of the world…
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