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“It’s great to see you too, Hermione!” he said sarcastically. She laughed, and punched him playfully in the arm. At this moment, a sudden sound from the girl’s staircase made them all turn around. Lily had slipped on the bottom step, and was getting up slowly, her face a brilliant red. “Alright, Lily?” asked James quickly. He strode over to help her, and in doing so, got a bit of mud on her robes. He winced. “Oops…sorry…” he said apologetically, then closed his eyes as if ready for her to start yelling at him. But all Lily said was “That’s quite alright” before walking to a nearby table and burying herself in a book. James shot a confused glance at Sirius, who just shrugged. The two of them looked at Hermione. She was carefully playing with a loose thread on the hem of her robes. “Hermione…what do you know about this…change of heart?” asked James lowly. Hermione looked up in mock innocence. “Me? Oh, nothing!” she said lightly, turning back to her book. James rolled his eyes. “I’ll talk to you later…after I’ve taken your advice about the showers, that is,” he told her, before heading up the boy’s staircase. Hermione smiled at page 302 of “Arithmancy and its Origins”. If she got her way, Lily would have a date for Valentines Day before the evening was dead. **** “So. What were you saying earlier about knowing “nothing” about Lily?” James asked, eyebrows raised. He sat down in a chair facing Hermione's. He held a towel in his hand that he had just been drying his hair with. Hermione smiled. “Well, I know a BIT. But…I promised I wouldn’t tell…” she said despairingly. James frowned. “Oh come on…please tell me? Just a hint!” he begged. Hermione smiled wryly. “Oh, I suppose a hint wouldn’t hurt…” she said with a sigh. “All I’ll say is that Lily would be very happy if she was asked to go to Hogsmeade on Valentines Day.” “By me?” “Did I say that? But I suppose that might work…” she said, letting her sentence trail off. James put his face in his hands in frustration. “Come ON Hermione! Does she like me, or not?” he asked urgently. Hermione looked at him in feigned surprise. “Why would you care?” James looked at her as though she was mad. “Oh come on, you MUST know by now that I like her?” he asked incredulously. Hermione frowned. “Well, I rather THOUGHT that at first…but lately I haven’t been sure. And neither has Lily.” She added, as an afterthought. James looked thoroughly surprised. “Well, I can’t let THAT stand!” he said, and stood up forcibly. He made his way over to where Lily was reading, and in a loud, firm voice he asked; “Lily Evans, would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me on Valentines Day?” Lily tried not to look too excited. “Oh…well…yes, I suppose so!” she said breathlessly, trying and failing to sound as though it was of no matter to her. James turned around and grinned at Hermione. Hermione sighed. “Guys are so easy to manipulate…” she muttered to herself. “What was that?” Hermione jumped, and whirled around in her seat to see Sirius leaning on the back of her chair. He grinned. “I thought I heard something about guys, and how easy they are to manipulate…but surely, I was mistaken…?” he said sarcastically. Hermione laughed. “Well, I’m sorry, but it’s true! I don’t hold it against you, though, you can’t help that you haven’t got very large brains…” she told him reassuringly. Sirius pretended to be affronted. “How dare you insult males in such a manner!” he said loudly. “Ssh, people are staring…” “Well, Miss “I’m so much smarter than boys”, I guess if you think we are so un-intellectual, you won’t be needing a date for Hogsmeade!” he said, watching for her response. “I mean, I WAS going to ask you…but seeing as you think I am so stupid…I suppose I wouldn’t be very good company, would I?” Hermione looked at him, shocked. Had Sirius just asked her to be his Valentines date? “Sirius…wait! I guess I was being a BIT harsh…besides, even great minds sometimes need the company of someone simpler,” she said, not being able to resist a final jab. He grinned widely at her. “Well, that’s settled then! You get the pleasure of going to Hogsmeade with perfection itself…(Hermione snorted)…And I get the pleasure of going with one of Hogwarts geniuses” he said with a wink. “You’ll have to forgive me if I can’t keep up with your intelligent conversation, though…” Hermione laughed, and turned back to her book as he walked away. She felt flushed, and her heart was beating rather fast. She’d never had a Valentines Day date before, and it felt rather nice.

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