Title: Six Hundred and Thirty-Four
Author: juxtaposed (aka jennuine on LJ)
Pairing: James/Lily, mild Remus/Sirius
Notes: Yep, more crack!fic from me.
The first time James asks Lily out, it is on a sunny Thursday morning in their Second Year.
They had just come from Charms, where Lily had stunned even Professor Flitwick with the perfection of her Accio, done on her first try. ("How exciting!" the professor had squeaked out, bouncing on his heels. "And it's an Advanced spell, too! Twenty points to Gryffindor!") To be honest, James had never paid any attention to Lily - or any other girl - before; he only remembered her as that girl with appropriate hair to match her House and temper.
But the fierce sparkle in Lily's eyes, the sharp angle of her lifted chin, the strength in her voice and pose as she had cast the charm - that caught James' attention, and suddenly he realized that aside from her talent she was pretty and clever, and he had practically stumbled over his feet as he approached her after class, ducking his head and ruffling his hair nervously.
"So, uh, Evans, that was some spell in there."
She narrows her eyes suspiciously, because James is already famous for pranking and bullying. But she has been raised to be courteous, so she mutters a stiff, "Thank you."
He grins, and she tries not to notice how nice he looks when he does that. "More than welcome. So, er, I was just wondering - would you like to go out sometime?"
She stares at him, completely baffled. "Excuse me?" Before he can repeat his question, she realises that if he did, she might consider it, so she quickly cuts him off. "I don't think so."
The stunned look on his face makes her glad that she said no; he had obviously been expecting her to say yes, the nerve! And it probably was a prank after all, and though she feels bad for whichever girl is going to get humiliated, she refuses to be a martyr.
She turns away and walks off without another word, not seeing the slow smile that crosses James' face, and not hearing his announcement to his best friends - "Mates, I think I just fell in love.".
James waits three days and nine hours before he tries his luck again - this time at dinner, after telling her how pretty she looked with her new hair ribbon, and how he liked a girl who could stomach seven bowls of pudding.
Lily frowns, wondering just how elaborate a prank this is, and surreptitiously casts a Silencio before continuing her eighth pudding. When she gets up to leave, James is still sitting beside her, surprisingly grinning cheerfully. Her mouth twists, and she says dryly, "That would be a 'No', Potter. Good night."
Later, Dumbledore removes the spell from James (it had been too strong for even Sirius to break, and McGonagall would probably have left him that way), who nods when James thanks him, and smiles. "Gryffindor women are notoriously hard to tame, my boy, but in time you'll succeed."
James shrugs easily. "I know I will. Thanks again Professor, and, uh -"
"You may return the next time Ms Evans feels fit to make her point."
James fails again four days later. (Remus, sighing as they made their way to Dumbledore, told him it was his horrible mangling of phrases. "Honestly, James, what on earth possessed you to say 'Oh, Lily, you know they say third time's the charm? How would you like to charm me?' It doesn't even make sense. If you ask me, you almost deserve the spell she cast.")
James hoots an insult at his friend, and flaps his wings agitatedly to express his displeasure.
The next fourty-seven failures span up until Easter break of Third Year. Lily's temper gets shorter and shorter each time, and her hexes become more and more complicated. James steadily convinces himself she is on her way to breaking down and saying 'Yes' just to get him to stop asking, ignoring Remus' supposed logic that that wouldn't mean anything, so why would he want that?
"Hey Lily, you're looking beautiful as usual today," he begins at lunchtime. She groans heavily and drops her face into her plate of sandwiches, simultaneously raising her wand. James smiles beatifically. "So, did you know, this is the fiftieth time I've asked you out? Don't you think it's about time you admitted your feelings and just said yes?"
Lily lifts her head, and snarls at James when he plucks a glob of tuna from her fiery hair. Her face is expressionless as she asks in a strangled voice, "You've asked me out fifty times? And kept count ?"
James beams in pride.
"You need a life, Potter. One that is very, very, very far away from me. Maybe in Burma."
"We can go there on our honeymoon," James offers.
Lily blinks at him, then drops her face back into her squished sandwiches. "Please go away, Potter," she mumbles through bread and fish. "I am losing all will to live. I don't even have the energy to hex you."
"So, you are warming up to me! Very well then, perhaps on the hundredth time." James whistles jauntily as he heads over to his usual seat, leaving his friends and Lily's staring at him in abject fear.
Lily whimpers into her lunch. In an uncharacteristic show of empathy, Sirius pats her on the back.
James, in an inspired moment of brilliance, decides that since Lily has practically agreed to date him upon the one hundredth time (she just didn't want to come across too easy, he thinks fondly), he ought to speed up the process. No more waiting days or a week in between his attempts. Why not, he thinks with maniacal glee, ask her fifty more times at once? His mad giggling disturbs the peace of the Gryffindor boys' dorm at 5 am on a Saturday morning, and even Peter chucks a shoe at his head and tells him to shut his yapper or Bad Things Will Happen.
He ignores his traitorous friends, instead leaping to his feet and prancing around the room in joy. And realizing suddenly that he is wating precious time, he hurries down to the Common Room to look for Lily.
She isn't there, but he settles himself down to wait, she is probably just making sure she looks gorgeous as ever for him; she must surely know his ingenious plan.
Sirius, Remus and Peter wake up five hours later and troop down to the Common Room, plotting to just heave James' body into the Willow and be done with it. The sight that greets them makes them reconsider. Perhaps, Peter suggests, they should tie him to Severus Snape and drown them both in the lake. Sirius nods thoughtfully, and Remus feels bad for the Squid. He isn't a trash receptacle, after all.
James is dodging hexes left and right, courtesy of Lily's wand casually flicking at him.
"Are you sure you won't reconsider?" James yells over the hubbub of things breaking.
Lily scowls and casts a Bat-Bogey Hex.
"Ah well, it's only the ninety-sixth time! Four more goes, eh? I admire you sticking to your principles, but I won't think you're easy if you say yes! No one will!" James' hair is matted to his face from sweating as he leaps about, and his voice is worryingly hoarse. "So, will you go out with me?"
Lily sets the edge of his robes on fire.
Before the entire Common Room can be completely destroyed, Sirius, Remus and Peter look at each other in resignation, and move in to haul James away.
"Give it up, Jamesie," Sirius says soothingly as he tugs on one arm.
"No!" he shouts defiantly and struggles out of their grip. "I'm - almost - there! Lily, go out with me!"
"Lily, aim carefully," Remus sighs, as he pulls James along by the other arm and the light of a hex whizzes past, barely avoiding his elbow.
"Go out with meeee," James howls.
Peter claps his hand over James' mouth. "You're embarassing all of us," he says sadly.
"Thshbthcnchr!" mumbles James, his eyes wide and terrifyingly convinced of this fact.
Peter wisely does not lift his hand; they all have had enough experience to understand James. "No, no clincher. She's not going to say yes, just because its the hundredth time."
He and Sirius pull James out of the room, in the direction of the lake. Remus stays behind to speak to Lily.
"Sorry we didnt stop this sooner, Lily," Remus apologizes. "We were all still sleeping."
Lily looks exhausted as she waves it off. "Just...get rid of him. Permanently, if you can." Her face lights up at the thought. "I'll even cover for you with McGonagall if you do."
Suddenly there is a loud cussing from outside the portrait, which becomes clearer as it swings open.
"- the FUCK, James, your teeth? Oh shit, warn Lily!"
It's too late, a wild-eyed and wild-haired James bursts into the room and throws his arms out. "Lily, this is one hundred, will you go out with me?"
"Oh dear," Remus murmurs in anticipation.
Lily does not disappoint. "Petrificus Totalus! " she growls, and James snaps straight. Lily looks at Sirius. "Black, I will let you get away with pranks for as long as you keep him away from me," she offers desperately. "I'll even help you with Charmwork for them, if you want."
Sirius looks mightily tempted. "Well, we were going to feed him to the Squid..."
"Brilliant idea! Let's get going!"
Despite the enthusiasm of all present, this does not come to pass, as McGonagall, upon noticing the sudden peace, arrives about two minutes too early. (It had taken fifteen tries before the Squid would even wrap a tentacle around James, and he had only done so upon the wrath of Lily.)
Un-petrifying a soggy James, she tells them all regretfully, "Not during term; we don't want to tarnish the school's reputation."
Somehow, for the rest of Third and all through Fourth Year, James manages to escape certain death another two hundred and fourty-one times.
"Honestly, mate," Sirius sighs as he escorts James to Dumbledore's office. "Are you suicidal or just masochistic?"
He deflects the flame that escapes James' mouth, and carefully steps aside as one of the pustules burst, and a purple tentacle sprouts.
Even James' mum hesitates to hug him when they arrive at Platform 9 3/4.
James, Sirius and Peter have achieved their Animagi transformation by the time winter rolls around. James, buoyed by the success, takes it as his cue to try for the three hundred and sixteenth, three hundred and seventeeth, and three hundred and eighteenth times, but remains unsuccessful.
After their first full moon, despite his fatigue, he makes it to three hundred and twenty-five attempts.
Lily rejects him for the three hundred and twenty-fifth time.
Somewhere between his three hundred and sixty-third time and his three hundred and ninety-secondth, James starts to notice that Remus and Sirius disappear together an awful lot. Upon failed attempt number four hundred and thirty-nine, they have been snogging for two months.
James almost contemplates giving up at that point, because what is the point of pursuing a girl, if a mate is so much easier to snag, eh Pete?
He announces it at breakfast.
Lily looks like she might cry in happiness.
Peter looks terrified.
James comes back to his senses, and gets on his knees. "No! I was struck by madness, but I am returned! Do not fear, sweet Lily. I am only for women - no, only for you!"
Lily shrinks his pants as vengeance for giving her false hope.
After kicking off Sixth Year with number five hundred and twenty-six, carrying on fifty-four more times until January, there is suddenly a whole six weeks, going into March, that James halts his attempts. Spending individual time with Remus and Sirius is both too time-consuming and distracting.
Finally, they make up, and for a bizzarre moment he walks straight past Lily without even acknowledging her. She hopefully asks Remus if James has finally gotten over his delusions, and this stuns him into action.
Five hundred and eighty-one brings him antlers.
Convinced it is fate, he keeps it for three days until the House Elves refuse to replace his bedsheets and curtains.
Seven weeks before the year ends (six hundred and thirty-four), Lily aims her wand at James' throat. "If you stop, I'll let you buy me a Butterbeer next Hogsmeade outing. If you stop."
James' antlers sprout from his head before he manages to stop the Transformation.
Lily gives him a strange look and leaves, stopping only to raise an eyebrow at Sirius, who sneaks a small pouch into her hand. Remus hides his copy of How To Create A Highly Potent, Terribly Illegal And Nigh Impossible To Obtain Without The Darkest Of Magic Charms Amplifier.
James sinks down to the ground in wonder, before leaping up again in ecstasy. "Hah, I knew I'd win her over!"