"Don't do it, James . . ."

"You are going to regret this . . ."

"Don't you remember what happened last time, Potter?!"

James Potter ignored his best friends in the whole, wide world and took a few steps forward. He put a hand over his wand-pocket instinctively and ran a finger through his hair out of habit. He took a deep breath and haltingly bent over the sleeping form of Lily Evans. He put a hand on her shoulder and shook her gently.

"Mmmm," she mumbled in her sleep and flipped over on the couch. James looked up helplessly at his friends, but they just shook their heads sadly. He shook the sleeping girl again.

"Evans!" He whispered, shaking her a bit harder. "Evans, wake up!" the first-year redhead did not oblige, but mumbled again in her sleep and curled into a ball. James sighed, and went to remove his hand from her shoulder.

Her hand shot out and grabbed it before it could move. He stared at it, bewildered, and lifted his eyes for help. What the hell? he mouthed to his three best friends. They looked at one another, wide-eyed.

I don't know, Remus mouthed back.

Got me beat, mate, affirmed Sirius.

Peter allowed himself a small snort. You're asking me about girls?

James winced as he eyes his situation. He was literally afraid of what Lily Evans might do to him if he woke her up in anything less than a strictly platonic manner, but he couldn't exactly remove his hand without moving her. He'd seen what she had done to a Slytherin sixth-year after the girl had taunted her about being a muggle-born. And she had not been impressed by his thirteen-year-old Quidditch talents.

He sighed inwardly. She was pretty, he was willing to admit, but he didn't care all that much about it. He thought she would make a great Marauder, and that was what was important. He could see the wheels in her mind turning as she did her homework, her tongue was sharper than some of the older girl's nails, she was brave, and she was loyal to her friends.

James couldn't really find much wrong with her.

His mind returned to the situation at hand. Last time he had woken her up, she had jumped off of the Common Room couch, startled, and hexed him into oblivion. He winced as he remembered all of the warts and boils that had spouted up on his arms and face. He gently tried to tug his hand away, but she tightened her grip and rolled over on her side.

She pulled him as well, and soon he was bent over her, his hand surrounded by both of hers. He looked up, desperately mouthing, Help me!!

Sirius's eyes darted from Peter to Remus and he made a face that read I-don't-know-how! Peter cocked his head to the side, evaluation the conversation, and Remus winced for James, knowing he was doomed.

Wake her up, then, Peter mouthed.

Are you nuts?! James asked silently, incredulous. She'll eat me alive!

Peter shrugged. She'll eat you alive anyway, mate. James cringed and tried once more, fruitlessly, to wrench his hand away. Her hold was firm.

Well, you guys go on upstairs then, he told them sadly, not making a sound. They sent him sympathetic looks and nodded, hurrying up to the dormitory. He glanced around and strained far enough to drag a chair next to the couch. He sat down. "Evans?" He whispered, hoping that she would wake up and afraid that she would. "You in there?"

"Mmmm," she moaned.

He sighed. "Thought not," he murmured. "Can you let my hand go, please?" She flipped over so that she was facing him, but still held his hand. He winced. "Guess not. So . . . Evans . . ."

He felt suddenly awkward, although he didn't really know why. It wasn't like she actually knew he was there. "You're funny, you know that? Yeah. Funny. I mean, you're not like any of the other chicks in this place. You've got more on your brain than just . . . like . . . girl stuff."

"Frmangr . . ." she mumbled, bringing his hand up to rest under her cheek. He felt a strange sort of electricity jolt up his arm, as her lips were pressed gently against his skin.

"I wish you wouldn't be such a goody-goody, though," he added regretfully. "I mean, if you would just be willing to break some rules, you'd be . . . I dunno. But it would be cool. Really cool. I'll bet you could get any bloke in the whole school to go out with you."

He made a face. "Can you believe that Remus had a girlfriend? Remus! I mean, it's not that girls are, you know, gross or whatever, but I just can't see Remus having one. He's normally so shy around girls."

He paused thoughtfully. "I wonder if you would go out with me if I asked you. Not that I like you or anything," he added hastily, as though she would reprimand him, "But just out of curiosity. If I had to go out with someone, I'd probably choose someone a bit less . . . James-Potter-hating. I mean, you're cool and all, Evans, but I don't think you like me very much."

He sighed absently and ran his free-hand through his hair. Evans nestled against his hand, her lips brushing back and forth across his skin. He shivered. "You know what?" He asked softly, grinning as only a boy with the thought of a girl in his head can, "I don't mind when you do that."

James laughed softly. "I think I might have developed a fancy to you, Evans," he said decidedly. He cocked his head. It felt completely . . . right, her had in his. Or rather, mine in hers, he said mentally, grinning to himself. "You're pretty enough, I suppose. I mean, your eyes are wicked. And your hair, too. It's really . . . unique."

The boy trailed off, thinking. "I wish you liked Quidditch, though. I mean, how awesome would it be to be able to talk to my girlfriend about sports?" He sighed as though it were a lovely dream. Evans stirred and he braced himself for an explanation. But she settled down again and he couldn't help but feel glad.

"I can never actually talk to you," he whined. "You're always insulting me or something. I guess I'll just have to wait until you get a little less conceited."

The irony was, of course, ridiculous. But James didn't know that. "Your hands are soft." He stated, just to fill the silence as his eyes roved the walls.

"Thank you, but why are you holding them?" His eyes snapped back to her and he grimaced at her piercing glare.

"I wasn't," he said hastily. She cocked an eyebrow. "I mean, yes, I was, but it was just because I was trying to wake you up and then you just sort of . . . grabbed it and wouldn't let go—and I didn't want to wake you up, so I . . ."

She snorted. "So let me get this straight. You were trying to wake me up, but when I just randomly grabbed your hand and you didn't?"

He blushed. "Yeah, that's sort of it. But it sounds a lot different when you say it."

"Hm." She nodded once in an almost sarcastic way and stood up. "Well, then, Potter, I guess I'll just let the matter rest since you seem to be telling the truth about it."

He cocked his head, amazed. "So even though it sounds sort of stalker-esque, you're just going to let it drop?"

She shrugged. "Would you like me to get angry?" He shook his head hurriedly, hastily getting out of his chair. She smiled in a business-like manner and turned to leave. He watched her get to the door, going over his little monologue in his head and abruptly remembered that he had meant to ask her out.

"Oi! Evans!"

She turned, her hand on the doorknob. "Would you like to go out with me?"

She gaped at him, and then snorted. "Not particularly, no."

He was taken aback. "You don't?" He repeated. She looked slightly amused as she affirmed, "No, I don't. Is that a surprise to you?" He could only gape for a minute and then shrugged nonchalantly.

"A little bit, yes," he admitted carelessly. She narrowed her eyes and muttered something that sounded like, "Ridiculously vain little big-head." She opened the door and went out, slamming it behind her.

James cocked his head to the side, finding a silly grin on his face. "Well, will you look at that," he said musingly to himself. "She turned me down."

His grin widened as he leapt up the stairs to the dormitory. "That's my kind of girl."

And so it began . . .