Lily Evans was about to drive herself batty and the sole reason was currently sitting beside her doing nothing but trying. Charms just really wasn't the poor boy's thing, but Lily had been sentenced by McGonagall to help her peer raise is charms mark. She made a mental note to make sure she understood who she was helping from now on.
"Potter, no, you're doing it wrong."
James Potter sighed, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. He'd originally been excited about this deal. He got to work with Lily Evans, the girl who he'd been crushing on for his six years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But he'd also made a deal with his Head of House to bring his charm mark up or he'd be off the quidditch team.
The fact that he needed charms as an auror was sitting in the back of his mind too.
"How am I doing it wrong?"
Lily started racking her brain, trying to come up with a way to make charms and the intricate wand waving involved make sense to a jock like James Potter. How on earth did she teach a womanizing jock about the correct wrist movement for charms. Potter understood women and understood quidditch. He was smart, she knew that. Even as Head Girl and someone who was always generally annoyed by the pranks he and his friends pulled, she had to admit that most of them were highly intelligent pranks.
That was it!
"Charms is a delicate subject. It's like a good prank that involves a whole bunch of intricacies and obstacles. You know you have to get the order of the spells completely correct or the prank could end up killing someone instead of coming off as humorous," she began to explain. "And there's a ton of charms that are useful in pranks."
He looked skeptical.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Think about it. Wingardium leviosa, the first charm you learn in first year, is one that you guys use all the time. Think of the pranks you'd be able to come up with if you could concentrate and listen."
When she glanced at him she could tell he was now seriously concentrating on what she was saying. A thrill ran up her spine at the intense look on his face.
"There are charms we can use as pranks?"
"Definitely," Lily said with a blinding smile. "Pie-in-the-face charms, banana-peel charms… the stuff from Zonko's is all done by charms and some transfiguration."
"We're going to have to start at the bottom and work our way up," she warned him. "I'm not going to start right off with the good stuff."
With his new found focus, Lily found two things occurring simultaneously as she continued her tutoring session. His intense focus was attracting and Lily – though she hated him, she kept telling herself – found herself wondering what that focus would be like if it was turned on her.
More than that, she was surprised that he wasn't the perfect Potter that she'd seen on the outside, that she saw walking through school, that had women hanging off of him every day and when broke up with them still had them hanging off of him the next day. This was where she saw his frustration at not doing something right and his glee when he finally got the charm to work the three time she required before they moved on.
Suddenly, he was partially human and just another struggling student she had to teach. A student that was, surprisingly, succeeding and succeeding fast. It gave her the usual thrill up her spine when one of her "tutees" was doing well.
Before she knew it, it was bordering midnight on a Wednesday and not only had they both missed their patrols, but they both had class tomorrow. They had laughed throughout the night, something that surprised Lily a little bit, and most importantly, he hadn't asked her out. It had been the status quo and he had not done it though the last four hours they'd been sitting in the library.
"How did you know that?"
Lily looked up in surprise at the question, blushing a light pink. "I… I heard it somewhere." She should have known he'd ask about how she knew some of the most intricate offensive charms that she knew he would find useful for his mischief.
James raised an eyebrow. "You heard it?"
Lily grinned as she started packing up her books. "A girl's got to keep some mystery Potter," she sassed as she hoisted her books into her arms. She was a few steps away when he called her back.
She turned to face him, adjusting her bag on her shoulder, a curious look on her face.
"Go out with me?"
He expected her to hit him, to throw a hex at him, for her face to fall in disappointment. He knew it was a gamble, asking such an over-asked question, but he thought he'd ask anyway and if he got hexed, he would learn his lesson.
Instead, she smiled and shook her head.
But it didn't matter. Because she'd called him James.