For Kate, Happy (belated) 16th Birthday, from vea and ghostofbambi.
Conversation in C Minor
"I'm so clever," said James Potter, letting out an elitist laugh. "No one else would ever have thought of this ingenious plan." He rocked his chair back onto two legs, and almost fell, but didn't.
Lily Evans, who was sitting beside him, rolled her eyes and looked longingly at her normal seat at the front of the classroom. "If you're trying to get me to ask you about your 'ingenious plan', I'm not going to, so you're wasting your time. Do shut up."
"Aw, come on, Lily, you know you're interested." He winked at her. "I can see it in your lovely eyes."
"How can you? I'm not even looking at you," she replied, pointedly looking in the opposite direction. "And I don't care about you, or any of your, quite frankly, idiotic ideas."
"At this stage, I don't need to actually see you. I've got used to telling your moods from a distance." He nodded. "Quite frankly, if I hadn't picked that up, I'm sure I'd be missing a limb or two at this stage."
She turned her eyes upon him, nodding in agreement. "And you have no idea how much discomfort that information causes me. You are possibly the only person on earth who could forge a bond with someone who doesn't want anything to do with you, and for that, you have my pity." She gave him a tight, fake smile.
"I find it interesting that you pity me at all because that implies that you've thought about me, and that only makes me happier." He mirrored her smile.
"I have nothing to hide. I'll admit that I think of you more than one normally would think about somebody they dislike, but then, you are constantly pestering me. You play on my mind like a piece of homework I've forgotten or an argument with a friend. It's not pleasant. And I pity you because you persist in trying to woo someone who has no romantic interest in you whatsoever. It's very sad." She flipped her hair over her shoulder and jotted down a few points that Flitwick had just written down. "You know, being forced to sit in the back has some advantages, mainly the fact that Professor Flitwick doesn't have very good hearing. Pity about the company."
"That's all right," James said, twirling his quill around his fingers. "The mere fact that you not only think about me more than other people, but also that you're willing to admit it, means we're making progress. So, really, it's just a matter of time before I wear away at you enough."
Flitwick paused in his lecture, and so did James. When the professor started up again, James continued, "Not to insult you, but how did it take you seven years to realize that he has bad hearing? I've been holding many the philosophical conversation in class, and he's yet to catch me. I am a master," he declared.
Lily laughed quietly. "I've been sitting in the front seat for six and a half, not seven, years, James. I assure you that you're not a master of holding secret, philosophical conversations. You get caught in Transfiguration and Arithmancy practically all the time. And again, I pity your false front of bravado. My thoughts of you are never pleasant, unless you count the ones that involve homicide." She looked away again, smiling to herself.
"You can play all the semantic games you'd like, but I'm prepared to defend my bravado. There's no difference between six and a half and seven in the long run, and I never claimed to be a master during other classes that have professors with some modicum of hearing; my assertion was only meant for Charms." He scribbled something down, humming softly.
"What exactly were you hoping to gain from starting this conversation?" said Lily, who was facing Flitwick but peering curiously at James from behind her hair. "Would you rather I just asked you what your apparently outstanding plan entails?"
"Well, that was why I initially brought it up. Contrary to popular belief, I don't talk just to hear the sound of my magnificent voice."
"Hmm, I'd describe your voice as grating and irksome, rather than magnificent, and I am very surprised to hear you say that. Next you'll be telling me that you don't swoon at the sight of your own reflection, which is surely the sexiest thing ever, isn't it?"
James stroked his chin with the feathered end of his quill. "If I hadn't got used to the image of myself over the years, I'm sure I would swoon. As it is…" He quirked his eyebrows.
Lily let out a snort of laughter. "Well, you're certainly witty, I'll give you that."
"And we make yet another step towards the eventuality of dating." He smirked.
"You know, James," said Lily, once again scribbling in her Muggle notebook. "I can't imagine why, but there are quite a few girls around who actually are quite taken with you. Why don't you date one of them?"
James grimaced. "They can't keep up their end of the banter. Have you ever tried with someone else? It's a disaster."
"Actually, I know quite a few people who can keep up their end. And that's really romantic. Now that I know that you like me solely for my conversation, I'm sure to fall for you, you sex god, you." She made a tutting sound. "Men," she muttered, smiling to herself once again.
"I can't believe you just said that," James said, shaking his head. "What better reason to fall for a girl? Would you rather I dated you because you've a nice chest?"
"I'd rather you dated me because of a combination of a lot of different things you liked about me, not just one in- I'd rather you didn't date me! There are plenty of intelligent, witty girls about the school. Go date one of them. Hopefully she'll have a nice chest and all," she hissed, looking slightly put out. "I need to concentrate."
"You're such a liar." James poked her in the side. "Even if you didn't already know all this, if you needed to pay attention, you wouldn't've spent the past ten minutes talking to me about fuck all," he whispered. "Haven't I explained to you that there aren't any better girls in the school? I've looked, believe me, and you've got everything. As I am the perfect man, we'd make the perfect match. We already have matching titles, I might point out."
She blushed slightly, but hid, once again, behind her abundant hair. "Perfection doesn't exist, particularly when it comes to you. You have a moderate amount of talent on the Quidditch pitch, an aptitude for Transfiguration, a good head of hair and the ability to be charming when it suits you. There, I've just listed every single good thing about you. Also, you've just established that I'm a liar, which is a pretty good reason to pursue somebody else."
James gave her a wide grin. "See? I knew you liked me more than you let on. I don't think I've ever heard you say so many nice things… ever. I could list your good points for a good ten minutes, probably, and you're lucky – I consider being an effectual liar to be a virtue. How many other blokes would say that?" He ruffled his hair with his hand.
She looked at him and was unable to not smile back, even though her pink cheeks were clearly bothering her. "You've heard me say lots of nice things before, just not about you."
He rolled his eyes. "Back to the semantics, are we? And we were doing so well, too. Yes, we've made plenty of progress today. In fact, I think you should sit back here with me every day. You're more fun to talk to than Peter is, that's for sure, and you can't tell me you'll be able to go back to the boring front after this."
"You have no idea how awful it is to admit that I like the idea, so I'm not going to. I shall return to the front on Thursday as always. You will have your hair and your own jarring voice to keep you company. I'm sure that it will be more satisfying than mine."
"Don't slag yourself off like that," James said. "While I am fantastic, I'm even better when you're around, and that's saying something." He gave her a sideways glance. "Think how dull it would be if you moved back to the front. You'd have to listen to Flitwick, and he's better than Binns, but I know you know this material. You'd be bored to tears up there. At least back here you can insult me. You do so enjoy doing that."
Lily said nothing, but merely looked at him with a strange, amused expression, before shaking her head and smiling. She looked down at her parchment and drew a cloud in the corner.
Checking to make sure Flitwick wasn't looking, James reached over and sketched two eyes and a smiling mouth in the cloud. "Come on, at least one more day. It'll be fun. We can draw an entire scene out, and if you want, you can draw me with my head removed."
She tapped on the desk a couple of times before looking at him again. "Can I ask you a somewhat personal question? There's something I'm not sure about."
"Well, you see," she began, stealing a quick glance at Flitwick, who was engrossed in preventing the rather rapid growth of his own foot. "The thing is, because I'm not sure if you actually are that arrogant, or if it's…well, something different. If I-" She looked around again. "If I told you that I actually do think that you're…quite attractive, would you be surprised?"
"Would I be surprised if you thought that? No." He paused and leaned against the back of his chair. "Would I be surprised if you told me that? Mildly."
"So…you think that I find you attractive?" she said, looking him squarely in the eye. "Why would that be?"
"Well, you did already tell me that you liked my hair."
"You do not consist of your hair, James. I meant attractive in general. I don't just mean physically either."
"My hair is, however, my best feature." He reached over and drew a sun next to the cloud. "Again, I think there were minor hints that you thought I was at least a basically decent person, if not better."
"So are you saying that you wouldn't be surprised? And incidentally, I always thought that your hair and your eyes were pretty much on par, but each to their own."
"I said I would be mildly surprised if you told me as much." James removed his glasses and cleaned them with a quick spell. "I did not know you liked my eyes. I've always thought girls were too distracted by the glasses."
"Your glasses suit you," said Lily, drawing stars around the sun and the smiling cloud. "And your eyes are a rather unusual shade of hazel. Nice, though. I would have liked to have eyes of that color. Hmm, that star looks rather messy." She erased the offending scribble with her wand and started over.
James gave her an incredulous look. "You'd choose my boring brown eyes over yours?" He held in a laugh. "If you think mine are unusual, you should look in a mirror. You're known for your eyes."
"My darling sister," she began, scribbling over her new star, "has always told me that only jealous, selfish people have green eyes, and while I can freely admit to being guilty of both, her repeated assurances that I was a horrible person can sting at the best of times. Your eyes are not boring, either, or brown, for that matter. They're more like a mixture of brown and green and gold."
"You've clearly spent some time considering the matter of my eyes," he said, half-smiling. "Also, your sister's a bigger idiot than I am. Insulting someone because of their eye color of all things… One of you is jealous and selfish, and I'll give you a hint: it isn't you."
"Oh, but I am, very much so. At least I can admit it, which is more than I can say for Petunia." She drew her initials beside the spoiled star. "And she doesn't just insult me because of my eyes, you'll be happy to know. There's my hair, too, and my being a witch, of course. And my terrible taste in the opposite sex, something she wouldn't know if she didn't insist upon coming to King's Cross every September to sneer at my friends and listening in on my conversations with my mother. She's a dear, really."
"This sister of yours…" James sketched his initials next to Lily's. "Does she really have nothing better to do with her time than to insult things that are beyond your control? Except the part about the opposite sex, of course," he amended. "You could do better – you could date me, and then I could go and curse her mute. I think I'd actually be doing more than just you a favor."
"Actually, the part about my taste in the opposite sex is out of my control, too." She let out a small sigh and circled their initials. "I really did pick the worst possible person to have a crush on."
He inhaled sharply. "Oh, no, please don't tell me you fancy Snivellus. That would be unbearable, and I would have to kill myself. After I killed him, though."
She laughed softly and started to trace over the letter J. "You know who I have a crush on, Potter, and so does everybody else."
He smirked. "I might have an idea or two. Only ideas, mind you, but ideas nonetheless."
"You've cracked it," she said sadly. "And you see my problem. Sirius doesn't like dating, does he?"
"He really doesn't." James shook his head. "Believe me, it's better for everyone that way. Can you imagine the chaos that would come about if he did?"
"That is a pity." Lily drew another star within the circle. "What would he do with his extra free time if I started dating his best friend?"
He traced over Lily's stars. "Oh, I'm sure he'd find something to do. He might accidentally burn down half the school, but that's a risk his best friend would be willing to take."
"Surely Sirius is more intelligent than that, flattering as it is to know that his best friend would be willing to allow him to burn down half of the school, or the whole school, if he's feeling particularly adventurous, just to date me." She drew a smiley face, with the tongue sticking out.
"Intelligence has nothing to do with impulsivity, as it happens." Grinning, he added flames to the smiley face. "But yes, he would be willing to lose the whole of Hogwarts for a date."
"Yes, but would I? What do you think?" She drew water droplets above the fire.
"I think you would." He outlined an umbrella below the rain. "You seem to have taken quite the liking to his best friend, and if you were dating him, you'd have more opportunities to prevent the destruction of Hogwarts since you'd see him more often."
"You know, I think you might be right." Smiling, she drew another face, this one sporting messy hair and glasses. "I think that class will be ending, any second now."
"Probably." He drew a pair of antlers on the head. "I'm proud of you – you managed to go the entire class period without asking what my plan was."
"I was just thinking about that actually." Just as she had predicted, the bell rang, signaling the end of class and the start of break. She gathered up her parchment and folded it neatly in her Charms book, before packing up her satchel. She stood up and shook her hair out of her eyes. "What was it?"
Shoving his quill and sparse Charms notes in his bag, he asked, "Would you go with me on the next Hogsmeade trip?"
She considered it for a moment before swinging her bag over her shoulder. "Well, wait. That was your plan? Asking me out? You do that all the time."
"I do ask you all the time, yes, but this is the first time I've spent an entire class talking to you and convincing you that you actually want to go on a date with me." He pulled his bag onto his shoulder. "It was ingenious, I know."
"Aren't you clever?" she said, throwing a scrap piece of parchment at him. "Then I'm afraid that I'll have to answer in the affirmative. Now Sirius will be lonely. I hope you can live with that." She walked towards the door. "Now, I don't know what you were planning to do, but I'm going to lunch. You can join me if you like, unless you think you won't be able to stand all of the inevitable pointing and whispering that will come our way." She stopped at the doorway and turned to wait for him. "Well?"
"Please," he said, moving to join her and grinning wildly. "I get whispers and stares as it is. I'd prefer to get them because of something like this."