"She's the one," he slurred, taking another sip of firewhiskey. James Potter sat haphazardly upon a barstool at the Three Broomsticks, running his free hand through his jet black hair. The Valentine's Day decorations floated around the room, sending kisses and free drinks from table to table. Finally, seventh year, James was spending a Valentine's Day alone. Getting very drunk.
"I love her, I think. I mean, I think I know I do, you know? But you can't be sure until they love you back, can you?" He was addressing the bartender, the woman next to him, and his glass simultaneously.
"She's gorgeous. So pretty. Her red hair... I just want to run my hands through it, you know? Just want to touch it. I just want to touch her. Not dirty... Well, not yet. I mean, I just want to put my hand on her arm without her sitting stiffer and moving away. Just want to run my thumb over her freckles... I like her freckles..." James smiled into the glass.
Usually, this would be when Prongs was dragged off to bed by Moony or Padfoot, taking pity on his pathetic drunk ass. They, on this particular holiday, already had dates.
"They're probably off snogging..." James muttered. A certain unnoticed red-haired woman a few stools away turned to eye him questioningly. Wormtail even had a date. Well, he was off somewhere anyway, which probably meant he had a date.
"God, everyone has dates," he said, turning bitter. "Everyone but ruddy James Potter, Quidditch Captain, Head Boy, fairly handsome man. No, he sits around thinking of his Lily. I can't even date them anymore! She's gotten so into my head that I don't even want to snog someone else."
He leaned over to the brunette sitting one stool over. "Is that sad?"
"Um, excuse me?" She apparently hadn't been listening as well as his glass.
"Is it sad? That I think of Evans so much I don't even want to snog other girls?" he repeated slowly, trying to ensure she understood despite his drunken slurs.
She adjusted in her seat uncomfortably. "Um, no, I suppose not."
James smiled. "Tha's good. I told you she's the one. Yup. She's the one."
He stopped, looking pensively into the clear liquid. He ran his pointer finger along the bottom of the glass, his eyes filling with sadness. His lip protruded into a slight pout, which normally would have caused sighs throughout the room.
"But what happens when your one doesn't agree?"
Lily Evans sat quietly five stools down. Her view of the scene was blocked by a rather chubby wizard she'd strategically placed between James and herself. She stiffened at his words. She sympathized, finally, with his emotions. For once, she thought that she may not be a joke to him after all.
"Answer me!" James became desperate. "Do I try to stop thinking about her? Because I've tried that. Do I move on, in hopes that I'll stop eventually? Or to make her jealous? I don't think it'd work... She'd probably be happy to be rid of me." A melancholy smile slipped onto his lips. His eyes were still filled with sadness. He was almost out of whiskey.
"Or do I give up, knowing she has my heart but I won't have hers, and just... live with that fact." He was no longer asking. He knew. He sighed.
Downing the last sip of firewhiskey, James nodded to the bartender and placed a few knuts on his napkin.
"Happy Valentine's Day... woman," he slurred to the unnamed brunette, also trying to nod politely before getting a killer headache. He squinted his eyes in pain, holding onto his head as to keep it in place as he ventured away from his stool. Dizzy, he made his way through the crowded room of blurs, convinced everyone needed to stop spinning.
"Stop spinning," he drunkenly commanded, only loudly enough for a few witches in his vicinity to hear. He reached out for the wooden post for support. Widening his eyes was too difficult, so the blurs remained unclear.
"I almost hate you for this, Evans," he mumbled to himself, convinced he'd return to the head dormitories despite the impeding darkness. The dark swelled around him. He felt a small arm around his back, helping him stand.
"About time, Moony," he whispered before blacking out.
James groaned, his eyes detesting the bright, bright light that filled his room. "Damn sun," he managed, before he regretted making a sound. Closing his eyes and opening them again a few times, he noticed a hangover potion on the table. He grabbed for it, trying to remember if he'd been smart enough to plan ahead like this.
Coddling the precious glass of vile but necessary substance, he noticed a foreign object on the table in its former place. It appeared to be a pink coaster. He wrinkled his forehead in confusion. Evans?, he wondered. How did she know? Had he said or done something when he got back? He was fairly certain Moony had returned him to his bed, knowing the password to the head's dorms, but certainly his friend was manly enough to not bother with coasters... It had been Remus, hadn't it?
James made a pained face. Thinking hurt.
Waiting about fifteen minutes for the potion to kick in, James removed himself from his sheets and got dressed. The throbbing had almost ceased, and he had the sickening feeling there were some head duties he ought to be tending to. Lily would not be pleased.
To be safe, he walked quietly down the stairs to the common room. "Good morning, Evans," he greeted without the normal over-excitement in his voice.
"Good morning, Potter," she replied, keeping her eyes on her scroll.
He cleared his throat, adjusting his position against the wall for optimum escape routes. "Uh, Evans? Could you remind me what we need to do today? I, uh... I wasn't in my right state last night, and I've... well, I've forgotten." He blushed sheepishly.
She answered coolly, "Only a prefects meeting today, Potter. At ten."
He wondered at her lack of reprimanding. "Oh," he said dumbly. She looked beautiful sitting there.
After conjuring a cup of coffee, he sat on the couch beside her. This garnered him less of a response than usual. The lack of scooting away and distasteful glances only served to pique his curiosity. Finally, she looked over at him, eying the mug.
"Oh! Sorry, do you want one?" James asked hurriedly, cursing his manners.
"No, thanks. I was just... I was just impressed that you could conjure both the cup and the coffee with one spell." Lily turned back to her essay, hiding her face slightly with her long red locks. James watched her for a moment.
"Um, thanks." He was nervous. Had he really said or done anything stupid last night? He couldn't remember. He probably wasn't going to either. Should he ask her? God, no. He mentally changed the subject and audibly cleared his throat. "Uh, what's your essay for?" he asked, leaning over her shoulder.
He put one hand on her shoulder, getting a closer look.
She didn't flinch, or move away. He breathed in the intoxicating scent of vanilla, possibly from her shampoo. James nudged ever so slightly closer.
He let his thumb run over the freckles on her arm. The soft skin made his lips twitch into a smile. She was letting him touch her. Just a little.
Moments from the night before reeled through his mind, and he smirked. He couldn't give up on her yet; she was the one. And she had just let James Potter get a little bit closer.
"I'm going to go prepare for the meeting. Let me know if you need anything, Lily," he said, walking back up to his room. She straightened again at the use of her first name.
"Sure. Thank you, Potter." She moved her smooth red hair to one shoulder, turning back to her essay.
So she wasn't in love with him yet. But coasters and freckles were a start.