It was nearly five o'clock in the morning when James got back to the deserted Gryffindor Common Room. It was a Wednesday morning, so he figured that there were still at least two hours before any sane person would be up. Still, James took care to walk as quickly and as quietly as he could up to his dormitory. He approached his bed, looking forward to spending the next two hours totally unconscious. But when he pulled back the curtains (which he hadn't remembered shutting the night before) it was to find his bed already occupied. James blinked back the sleep from his eyes, surprised.
Well, this was unexpected.
On two previous occasions James Potter had come up to his dormitory to find his bed already occupied by a sleeping Lily Evans. This time was no different, except for the fact that…well, it just was. The other two times this situation had occurred, Lily had come up to talk to Remus, and had ended up falling asleep on the bed situated next to the sandy-haired boy's. But Remus wasn't here tonight; in fact, save for Lily, James was the only person in the dorm.
And so, the question remained: Why was Lily Evans sleeping in his bed?
It could be that she felt the presence of another person, or perhaps she was some sort of Seer and just knew that someone was watching her, or maybe she was simply used to getting up at such an ungodly hour of the morning. Whatever the reason, though, before James could even begin thinking of how to handle the current situation, Lily began to stir and finally opened her eyes to meet his confused gaze.
"'Morning, James." Lily said with a yawn.
James didn't say a word and merely stared at her as if she'd gone mad.
"Is something wrong?" She asked, sitting up, looking at him with concern.
"You're in my bed." James finally said, causing Lily to look at him with some confusion.
"I—" She abruptly stopped speaking and glanced around herself, quickly coming to the obvious realization that she wasn't in her own bed. "Oh no, I fell asleep! I didn't mean to fall back to sleep. I'm so sorry, James! I should probably get back to my own dorm before everyone wakes up."
She threw the blanket off of her and swung her legs over the side of the bed, but just as she was about to stand up, James stopped her.
"It's alright." James said, sitting next to her on the bed hesitantly. "But…why are you here?"
"Well…I…erm, you see—it's like this…I-I…" She stuttered, avoiding eye contact with him. "I…uh, wanted to…come talk to you. But there was no one here, where was everyone?" She glanced quickly around the deserted room, still avoiding James. "Where is everyone?"
"Full moon last night." James replied by way of explanation. "Padfoot and Wormtail went down to the kitchens to beg an early breakfast off of the house elves. What did you want to talk about?"
"I…er, nothing in particular." Lily said slowly, picking at the blanket beside her absentmindedly.
James eyed the pajama-clad girl dubiously. "You came up here in the middle of the night to tell me 'nothing in particular' and when you found the dorm totally deserted, you opted to stay here?"
James raised an eyebrow at her. "That's not a very good example for the Head Girl to be setting."
"Shut up." Lily responded, knocking her shoulder against his lightly. "Sneaking out of the castle in the middle of the night isn't a good example for the Head Boy to be setting, either, is it?"
"You wound me, Lils." James informed her dramatically, one hand over his heart. "I thought we were friends, now?"
Lily rolled her eyes, but her lips curved up in a small smile.
"Well," Lily began suddenly, "I should be getting back to my dorm; it's about time to get ready for classes."
She attempted to stand up, but James grabbed her wrist, and pulled her back down next to him, then intertwined his fingers with hers.
"Lily," he began softly, "Just tell me what's going on."
"I hate you, Potter." Lily stated with a groan, falling back onto James's bed so that she was lying across it horizontally with her legs hanging over the edge.
"You've been saying that for years," James began, lying down next to her after only the briefest moment of hesitation, "But somehow I just don't believe you. For example, you do realize that this is my bed you were sleeping in, don't you?"
Lily frowned slightly and took a moment to respond, "What did you do those times I came up here to talk to Remus and fell asleep?"
"Stole Sirius's bed." James replied with a shrug as if this was the obvious answer. "And stop avoiding the question."
Lily sighed. "I had a nightmare." She finally said in a small voice.
"So you came up here to find me?" James clarified, still slightly confused.
"Yeah…you were kind of part of the nightmare." James turned his head to face her and saw that she was staring resolutely at the scarlet cloth above them.
"Must have been a memory, then." James commented lightly. "I'm thinking…the time third year that I turned your hair purple…well, the first time I did that, anyway. Purple really was a good color on you."
"I wanted to make sure you were alright." Lily said in such a soft whisper that for a moment James thought he had only imagined her speaking. Then he gave the hand still intertwined with his a light squeeze.
"It was just a dream, Lils." James said comfortingly, all joking abandoned. "It wasn't real."
Lily finally turned to face him. "I'm sorry."
"You can't control your dreams, Lily." James told her rationally.
"I wasn't talking about that." Lily said with another roll of her eyes. "I meant I'm sorry for stealing your bed those other times. But, mostly, I'm sorry that I'm such an idiot."
"I'm…confused." James said finally. "Did I miss something?"
"Well, 'idiot' might be wording it the wrong way…" Lily contemplated, her gaze drifting momentarily before settling on James once more. "I suppose you could say I was blind, for a very long time."
"I'm still confused." James informed her.
"I'm sorry. Again." Lily said with a deep sigh. "It's just…I've been thinking a lot, lately."
"About?" James prompted when she didn't continue.
"I'm kind of glad I didn't meet you until we were eleven," Lily confessed, "I'd hate to see what you were like as a child with nothing but free time on your hands."
"I feel as if I should be insulted by that comment," James replied, "But since I've already caused you to have such a trying night, I'll let that one pass."
"Thanks for the consideration." Lily said dryly. "Anyway, I just think I should let you know that I'm sorry it took this long for us to actually get to know each other. My nightmare…I guess it put things in perspective for me."
"What was it about?" James questioned when she didn't continue.
Lily was suddenly avoiding his gaze again.
"There were Death Eaters," She finally whispered to the scarlet cloth above them. "They were everywhere. I kept trying to get away from them, but they were following me. I-I tried looking for you…but I couldn't find you anywhere. I heard one of them shoot some kind of spell at me and that's when I woke up. I was just lying there when all of a sudden I realized…well, I realized how important you are to me and that you'd do anything for me. I was such an idiot for years thinking that you asking me out constantly was some kind of joke to you. When you weren't there in my dream, I realized that that would never happen in real life, and…I don't want you to not be there for me, if that makes sense. Getting to know you this year has been great, but I don't want to lose you to anyone for any reason."
She was silent for a moment and James was speechless.
"That's when I came to find you." Lily concluded, still staring at the ceiling.
James couldn't immediately think of a response to what she was telling him. He had literally dreamed of being with her for years, but she had constantly rejected him. At the end of his sixth year, just a few months previously, James had given up on Lily ever feeling the same way about him that he felt about her. And so he had stopped asking her out and had instead become her friend, in time. And now Lily was as good as saying that he was wrong to ever think that they could only ever be friends. James had given up hope that that would ever happen.
There was only one course of action to take now.
"Lily," James began tentatively, gripping her hand tighter, "What would you say if I asked you to go to Hogsmeade with me next weekend?"
She didn't answer immediately, and James was worried that he had somehow misinterpreted what she had been saying. But then she turned to face him with a mischievous grin upon her face.
"I'd say it's about time we went on a date after all of the times I've slept in your bed."