Author's Notes: Written for the 2011 lilyjames_fest's first drabble round on livejournal.
In the end, they settle on twelve separate blooms.
James finds reasons to second-guess each flower by turn, doubting this one, then that, but Professor Sprout—having recovered quite nicely from the surprise that the cryptic note she'd received this morning from the Head Boy was actually a desperate plea for aid in florigraphy—stands firmly by their bunch.
"She'll love them," she says, handing over the finished bouquet. "They're just right."
Now, however, standing before Lily in the middle of breakfast, thrusting the bouquet of clashing flowers blindly beneath her nose, James reckons it's his sanity that needs second-guessing.
"Oh." Lily blinks, staring blankly at the bouquet. Slowly, she takes them from him. "How...eclectic."
"They're meaningful," James says, flushing.
He nods, babbling uncontrollably. "That one there—er, gladiolus, it's called. It means respect. Because I respect you. And that one, the daisy. It means patience, which…well, you are. With me. And that yellow one there—can't remember what it's called—but it's the flower of friendship. Which I'm glad we are. And the orchid, that means beauty, and those little blue ones mean 'thank you'—"
"As in, 'Thank you for the snog. Here are some flowers. Let's do it again?'" Lily asks.
James chokes. "What? No! No, I—well, I mean, yes. But, no! That's not…Shit." He swears desperately, sensing that she could just as easily slap him as snog him now and he hasn't the faintest which one she's presently leaning towards. He considers swearing again. A shaky hand fists his hair. He's such a wanker. But what else was he supposed to do? You don't spend the evening ravishing the witch of your dreams, then just wake up the next morning and go eat porridge. He wanted to do something special. Something meaningful.
But now Lily thinks he's mental, he's not certain she's wrong, and he's almost positive Sirius just flipped him off behind Lily's shoulder which means the others have told him about last night and now he's in trouble. The whole morning's a cock-up.
James sighs, wilting visibly. He's on the verge of apologising—what for, he's not certain, but it seems the thing to do—when suddenly, Lily speaks.
"What about this one?" she asks, pointing. "This red one. What does it mean?"
She's asking about the red carnation, the one James knows quite well means romance and passion—his favourite—but he answers, "Don't remember."
Lily hums noncommittally. "Well. Thank you for the flowers." Abruptly, she thrusts her hand into the bouquet. She grips the little blue flowers from the bunch, pulling out the stalk and passing it over to him. "They're beautiful"—she does the same with the orchid, hands it to him—"I respect you, too"—the gladiolus—"and while I'm glad we're friends"—the unnamed yellow—"I'm actually not that patient"—the daisy—"and would rather be more"—the carnation—"so just ask me out, all right?"
She turns easily, leaving him there, taking his heart with her.