Wow. Two in one week? After none in two years? Huh. I'm a paradox.

I like this one. I'm just saying!

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Disclaimer: I definitely don't own anything, not even James's clock.

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Kaleidoscope

The clock was anxiously ticking the time away.

Er, that is, if clocks could tick anxiously. But James Potter was definitely sure this one could. He could hear the panic in its ticks with every movement of the second hand, with every chime of the hour. The clock was waiting, the clock was counting on him, he couldn't let it down—

Oh! What was he rambling on about? James shook his head, muttering to himself. The clock didn't have some great unfulfilled destiny, or anything, and it certainly did not care whether or not he successfully won Lily Evans's heart after six and a half years of disastrous attempts. Anxious ticking be damned.

And yet…

James sighed hopelessly, checking the clock on his dormitory wall for what was probably the thirty-seven thousandth time that evening. The hour hand hung languidly between roman numerals nine and ten, unaware of the second hand's ever increasing alarm. (No pun intended.)

So it was nine-thirty on a Friday evening. But not just any Friday evening, James thought. Oho, most certainly not!

It was, James reminded himself with a nervous look at his bedside calendar—a gift from his mum, obviously, what kind of sissy man bought himself a bedside calendar with dancing snitches?—the Friday, the last Friday before the last visit to Hogsmeade for the whole year. Forever, in fact, because this was James's last year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ever, and any future visits to the village would happen far outside the realm of NEWTs and school Quidditch games.

This was his last chance to oh, so casually walk up to Lily and cordially invite her to visit Hogsmeade with him without it actually constituting stalking.

Nerve-wracking, huh?

He sighed, nervously running his hand through his hair, now feeling about as anxious as the poor clock did. The time was now nine-thirty-three, and James knew for a fact that Lily—so beautiful and young and full of life, but with a bedtime earlier than his grandmother—liked to go to bed promptly at ten o'clock.

It was now or never, and frankly, never was looking very tempting. After all, James had successfully avoided getting his heart ruthlessly squished by his darling Lily the entire time they had been in school this year. Why mess with a good thing?

James seriously considered making a pro-con list, in order to fully weigh the miraculous outcomes versus the disastrous consequences of asking Lily Evans out on a date. In fact, he had already thought out, Pro: She might say yes, leading to our inevitable lifelong, bliss-filled marriage; Con: She might castrate me, before dismissing the idea entirely.

Lists weren't manly. (Plus, Sirius had borrowed his last spare bit of parchment, and he didn't feel like digging around in Moony's bag to get something to write on. But come to think of it, they really weren't manly, so he didn't feel quite so lazy about it.)

James sighed, then scowled. When did he become such a—such a girl? After all, what's the worst thing that she could say? No? Pah! He was James Potter. James Potter! He was incredibly—albeit a tad bit awkwardly—handsome, in a tall, lean, lanky sort of way. He was pretty loaded, financially. And let's face it, his personality was aaa-mazing. Why would she say no?

As if reading his mind, the second hand quivered once more with fear, before ticking endlessly on towards ten.

James's mental bravado faded quickly. Incredibly handsome? His knobby knees, stringy biceps, and glasses disagreed. Financially well-to-do? Well, yes, but that was only because of his parents, and as far as he knew Lily didn't care about money. An amazing personality?

James allowed himself a grin. He did have a nice personality.

And yet, Lily had always said no before. Every time, every year, without fail, she refused, sometimes adding colorful swear words to her rejection, depending on how the offer was presented. James pouted. She had undoubtedly been relieved that he had stopped asking. It was April, and he hadn't asked her out once, not even in a subtle, it's-not-really-a-date-it's-just-casually-hanging-out-with-friends sort of way. He wondered if she had even noticed…

Sometimes, though, when she didn't think he would notice, James caught Lily looking at him. They didn't talk much, they said polite hellos, good-byes, "Excuse me," and that was about it. She placidly existed in a separate world, avoiding most casual interaction with him.

But she stared. She did stare, he knew she did, he couldn't have just imagined it! Sometimes her looks were curious, sometimes expressionless, sometimes—well, sometimes it seemed almost as if she felt what he felt, she wanted what he wanted, she fancied him, too.

He couldn't really believe that, though. As much as he wanted it—and Merlin, did he want it—he couldn't bring himself to do what he hadn't done all year. He couldn't, just couldn't, walk up to her, run a hand through his already messy hair, and say, "Hey, Evans. Want to go with me to Hogsmeade?"

James did, after all, fear rejection. (He also secretly feared garden gnomes, but that was for a completely different reason.)

He looked at the clock again—thirty-seven thousand and one. It was nine-forty-one.

At that moment, the dormitory door swung open excitedly—why all the dormitory things suddenly had feeling, he didn't know, but he was suddenly worried he was going piss the mattress off if he kept sitting on it—and Sirius Black walked through the door. Sirius grinned at him.

"Oy, Prongs! Don't you know what time it is?"

James shrugged. "Er—nine-forty-one?"

Sirius nodded his head, striding over and yanking him by the shoulders off the bed. "Nineteen minutes and counting, mate! Why are you just sitting around?"

"Well," James said slowly, looking casually up at the ceiling so as to avoid eye contact, "I, er, changed my mind, I don't think I'm going to—"

Sirius groaned. "Pathetic, Prongs. Absolutely pathetic."

James looked back down at him, clearly affronted. "Pathetic?" At Sirius's affirming nod, he said, "No, I'm not being pathetic, Padfoot—I changed my mind, that's all! What's so special about Lily Evans?" The moment these words were out, a stream of colors ran through his head, dark red, bottle green, softest pink…

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Very convincing, James," he said sarcastically. "Six and a half years of nonstop Lily, and all of a sudden you're asking me what's so bloody special about her?"

James flushed, and Sirius sighed. "Listen, you're my best mate in the universe, and you're like a brother to me. But you're an idiot, and if you back out of this now, you're going to regret it."

The clock nervously ticked its disagreement, and James suddenly shouted, "Shut up, you little bugger!"

Sirius's eyes narrowed. "Oh, I'm a bugger, am I?"

James was torn between telling him about the clock's rather annoying anxiety issues, and saying yes simply to avoid admitting that he had just talked to a clock. In the end, he settled for weakly saying, "So, er, I guess I'm going to leave now? To, er, ask…out…Evans?"

Sirius punched his right arm. Hard. "Damn right, you are."

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The Gryffindor common room was packed full of students of all ages, and the air was rampant with friendly banner, study questions, and—who could really expect otherwise with a room full of teenagers?—sexual tension. James fidgeted uncomfortable, attempting to ignore the rather noticeable stares from his friends. James gulped, and tried to look around subtly for the source of his discomfort.

Well, I don't see her. Oh, well, at least I tried

James was suddenly startled by a light tap on his shoulder. Without turning to look, he said irritably, "Bugger off, Sirius, I'm looking for her, alright?"

A small, soft sound of feminine surprise answered him, and James twirled on spot, quite like he would to Apparate. Lily Evans was scowling at him with a mildly insulted look on her face. "Excuse me, Potter?"

James felt a hot tide of embarrassment flush his face. "Oh! Er, um, hello." She quirked a shapely red eyebrow at him, and he grinned self-consciously. "Thought you were Sirius," he hastily explained. "You, er, don't have to bugger off, or anything."

Lily smirked. "Thanks for your permission, Potter," she said dryly. "I was unsure for a moment."

When James didn't respond to her witticism, Lily bit her lip nervously. Nervously? Why was she nervous? She looked rather cute like that, though, and James had to fight the urge to mirror her action.

He suddenly realized that he hadn't fought the urge well, because he was suddenly biting his own lip and noticing that, unbeknownst to him, Lily had begun talking in the middle of his reflections. Oops.

Her lips—so soft looking and such a pretty shade of pink—had stopped moving suddenly, and she was looking at him expectantly. Was he supposed to be saying something?

"Huh?"

Lily looked torn between exasperation and amusement, and repeated herself. "I asked if I could talk to you for a moment, Potter. Maybe," she looked around the crowded common room, "Privately?"

A sensation like a hundred butterflies—no wait, butterflies weren't manly—erupted suddenly in his stomach, and a warm anticipation heated his entire body. Wordlessly, he nodded, following Lily out of the portrait hole and into the deserted hallway.

Lily abruptly turned to face him, wringing her hands anxiously. "Well, Potter," she said after taking a deep breath, rather like jumping off a diving board, "I've been avoiding this for a while now, but I realize that the end of the year is approaching rather quickly and we're running out of time."

James realized with a sudden stab of clarity that she was about to ask him out. His toes suddenly felt feather light, and a kaleidoscope of images began to whirl through his head, pleasant images of dates, introducing Lily to his parents—

"I really have no choice but to ask you if—"

—a crisp tuxedo, getting down on one knee, a small house with jewel bright shutters and a tree in the yard—

"—have given any thought whatsoever to the last Prefects meeting of the year? I'm completely out of ideas, I really think we need to end our term with a bang, you know, but I don't have much flair for things like that, and you—"

James's toes turned to stone, and the kaleidoscope colors bled together to make an ugly brown color. The butterflies in his stomach keeled over unhappily.

Lily was still rambling about the meeting, but James—after six and a half bloody years of waiting, hoping, daydreaming about her, while all she seemed to be concerned about was 'going out with a BANG'—could take it no longer.

"WHAT?"

Lily jumped at his exclamation, startled in to sudden silence. Her green eyes were wide with surprise—and something else? James, who had always paid such attention to these previously precious details—no matter how many times Sirius called him a ponce—was suddenly much too furious to contemplate this other emotion.

The Fat Lady coughed, obviously curious. "Are you two going to give me the password?"

James ignored her, looking only at Lily. "I don't mean to overreact," he said, forcing himself to be calm, "but did you really ask me out here to ask me about the PREFECT'S MEETING?"

Lily nodded, hesitantly, feebly. James exploded.

"SEVEN YEARS! I have fancied you for SEVEN BLOODY YEARS, Lily, and all you have to say to me at the end of it is 'what shall we do about the FINAL PREFECT'S MEETING?' Merlin! You are so frustrating! I stopped hexing people because of you, I stopped sneaking into Hogsmeade because of you," well, mostly anyway, enough for the purpose of throwing it in her face, "I—I bought a comb because of you, Lily! I combed my hair, every day this year, because you thought I looked like too much of a showoff! And, after all of that, the only thing that you have to say, is—"

"You've been combing your hair?" Lily suddenly interrupted him, a curious look on her face. Officially too frustrated to continue, James settled for a wordless nod. "Hm," she said, stepping closer—so much closer that he could count the number of freckles and fully appreciate how many shades of green her eyes had—and ran her fingers gently through his hair…

…and suddenly they were kissing, his hands holding her face, both her hands in his hair, so close that James could smell her shampoo, and the kaleidoscope had started up again, but the images were going by so quickly that the only colors he could really see were dark red, bottle green, softest pink…

They broke apart several breathless—but, oh, if he never breathed again that was fine—moments later, and James had to poke himself very hard to make sure it had really happened.

"S-so," he said a moment later, "about the meeting, maybe we could—?"

Lily made a derisive sound, and James grinned. They stared at each other for a few minutes, and Lily, still breathing a little heavily, smiled embarrassedly and said, "Er, it's probably after ten now, so I should probably—"

He laughed, and as she turned around said, "Oy, Evans!"

She whirled around, confused. "Yes?" she asked unsurely.

Breezily, he asked, "Fancy going to Hogsmeade with me tomorrow?"

She blushed a rosy pink, nodding. "Well, er—g'night, then."

They both climbed in. As Lily rushed to the staircase, James walked over to Sirius, Remus, and Peter. The fire crackled merrily in the grate—again with the personification!—and they all stared at him.

"So," Sirius began, smirking, "I take it that you and Evans—"

"Good night," James suddenly declared, turning abruptly around and heading in to the dormitory.

He shook his head, sitting down on his bed. "Some things don't need to be shared," he mused aloud.

The clock ticked its agreement.

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Er...please review?