Just One Date
"Hey, Lily, I was wondering if you wanted to go on a date with me this Saturday," he spat out really fast, his shoulders hunched nervously as he waited for my response.
I beamed up at him.
"I would love to, Mark," I said, my stomach erupting with butterflies as he grinned hugely at me, ". . . but I can't."
His smile faded and he raised an eyebrow at me, looking confused and hurt.
"But I thought you said you wanted to . . ." he said, trailing off.
"Oh, I would love to go with you, but there's a problem," I said, and then beckoned him closer. He hunched down to where we were face level. "James Potter," I whispered as quietly as I could, yet, somehow - and I will never know quite how he did it - James heard me and perked up, looking down the table at me expectantly.
"Talking about me, love?" he asked, grinning lazily (yet, somehow, charmingly; another thing about James Potter that I will never understand. How could one be lazy and charming at the same time?) at me as he walked over to me, pushing some Second Year girl sitting near me over a few feet so he could take the seat next to mine. Right next to mine. As in our-thighs-were-pressed-up-against-each-other next to mine. I glared at the offending limb before turning my animosity towards his annoying, handsome face.
"No, I wasn't actually," I lied smoothly, turning away from him and back to Mark. I gave him a small smile, "I think it's kind of self-explanatory, really," I finished, giving him a nod.
Realization dawned on Mark's face as he looked between me and James.
"Ah," he said, nodding his head. "How long have you two been together?"
I choked on my own spit, while James beamed at him proudly.
"Four years," he said, throwing an arm around my shoulders and scooting even closer to me. I hadn't even known he could get closer.
I shrugged his shoulder off and gave him a death glare,
"We aren't going out, Mark," I snipped coldly, trying my best to shoo Potter away with my eyes. If he noticed, he ignored me.
Mark raised an eyebrow.
"I'm kind of confused," he said finally, staring at James. "He says yes, but you say no."
I gave a small, humorless laugh.
"You just described our whole relationship."
James smiled at my joke. (At least he appreciates my wit!) Mark looked even more confused.
"I'm not really sure I understand it, myself," James said, grinning at me charmingly, but I could see the glint in his eye, telling me he was enjoying this far too much. "I just know it's love."
I turned away from James and gagged, making loud, over-exaggerated strangled noises. James shook his head at me sympathetically, and I immediately began regretting whatever he was going to say next. There was a spark in his eye that had me worried.
"Her Dad left her when she was really little, so she doesn't really believe in love anymore," James explained to Mark in a loud whisper, acting as if I couldn't hear them when I was less than a foot away. Mark raised an eyebrow, looking at me in pity. "She tries to cover it up by being distant and cold towards those who she cares the most for - I try my best not to take it personally," James finished sadly, giving a little defeated shrug.
I almost snorted, but instead looked at Mark and said, quite seriously,
"None of that is true."
"She tries to cover it up by pretending it didn't happen," James said, making a small, sobbing sound in the back of his throat and covering his head with his hands, "but I think she just doesn't know how to deal with that. And who does, really? I mean, I try to be a good boyfriend and try to be there for her when she needs me. What else can I do?"
Mark put a hand on James shoulder sympathetically. I'm fairly certain I almost died of horror.
"I know how you feel, mate, but stick around: she's worth it." he said, "and I'm sorry to hear about your father, Lily, no one deserves to go through that," he finished, giving me one last sad look before walking back to the Hufflepuff table.
As soon as he was out of ear-shot, James spun around and burst into quiet laughter.
"I can't believe he bought that!"
I glared at James furiously, elbowing him in the stomach. He didn't really seem to notice, while my elbow ached. James Potter had rock hard abs - who knew?
"I cannot believe you just did that, James Charlus Potter! What is wrong with you? Could you not tell that I liked him?"
James gave me a disbelieving look while still grinning like a fool,
"Come on, Lily, you can't seriously like him. He's a pansy!"
I blushed to the roots of my hair, pouring myself some pumpkin juice and avoiding his eyes.
"He is not a pansy, and don't say that word so loud. It's mean."
James snorted. "Sure it is, Lily," he said, "You and Matt-"
"Mark," I corrected him.
He ignored me, continuing as if I hadn't spoken.
"-wouldn't have gotten along, anyway. He's a Hufflepuff and you're a Gryffindor."
"What's wrong with dating a Hufflepuff? There is no rivalry between Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, you know," I reminded him, taking a sip of my drink and looking over at Mark regretfully. "It really is too bad," I said under my breath, "he's just so cute and sweet."
"I'm cute and sweet!" James exclaimed, putting his face in front of mine and forcing me to look at him. I scowled and looked down at my empty plate. "And there's nothing wrong with dating a Hufflepuff, but it's better to date a Gryffindor. That way you're more likely to have Gryffindor babies," he finished with a wide grin, waggling his eyebrows up and down.
"That's not even true," I said. "Children are all born with their own traits - it has nothing to do with the parents. Just because I'm a Gryffindor, doesn't mean my child will be in Gryffindor."
"All of my family has been in Gryffindor, so I'm fairly certain it makes a difference," James said.
"That's just your opinion," I snapped, collecting my bag and throwing it over my shoulder.
"Which I'm entitled to," James retorted, standing up at the same time I did.
I glared at him for a moment before spinning on my heel and hurrying towards the doors.
James grinned, falling into step beside me as I exited the Great Hall.
"So, since we've officially had a civilized conversation, can we go on a date now?"
I looked at him in disbelief.
"This was not a civilized conversation! You sent a potential date away and then we fought about opinions and children - that is not civilized."
"Well, no one went to the Hospital Wing," James said, "So that's a win in my book."
I almost smiled.
"I will not go on a date with you, Potter."
"How about tomorrow?"
"Sunday, then," he pressed.
"Potter," I hissed, turning on him angrily. "I will not go out with you. Stop asking." I turned on my heel and stormed off quickly. James quickened his stride and kept up easily.
"Please, Lily, just give me one chance. One. Just one! Go on one date for me, give this relationship a proper chance, and if it doesn't work out, I'll never ask you out again."
I paused in my step and tapped my foot the stone floor slowly. I had an idea in mind, but I wasn't sure if it would work. I turned towards him slowly.
James eyes lit up hopefully as he nodded eagerly.
"Yes. Just one date. And if it doesn't go well, I won't ever ask you out again."
"And you'll just accept that? You won't ever bother me again? Just like that?"
James hesitated, looking away and then looking back. He took a deep breath before saying,
"Sure. Yeah. Just like that."
"I mean it, Potter," I continued, needing to make sure. "You won't flirt with me or ask me out ever again?"
He nodded once, his face a mask so I couldn't read his expression. It was weird to see him so guarded when he was normally so open with me.
"Not unless you ask me to."
I scoffed, but tried to cover it up with a cough. He didn't look convinced.
"Okay, then. Potter. One date. Don't screw up."
James pumped his fist in the air once, and did some sort of happy dance. I would have laughed had I not realized what I had just agreed to.
A date. With James Potter. And me. Alone. Oh, and did I happen to mention it's a DATE? What in Merlin's name was I thinking?
"Is this Saturday at eleven okay for you? If it's not, we can pick a different day," James offered, grinning widely at me.
"Erm. . ." I couldn't think straight. Firstly because I had just agreed to a date with James Potter, and secondly because he was being nice about his victory. "Umm... um..."
James grinned crookedly at me, putting a hand on my arm.
"Why don't you let me know tomorrow? It's okay if you have plans with your friends or something. I understand."
Merlin, that's honestly one of the sweetest things any boy has ever said to me.
And I really didn't just think that about James Potter.
"No!" I exclaimed loudly, finally finding my voice. James looked surprised at my outburst. "I mean," I said, more quietly, "I mean, no, that's fine. I don't have any plans until the evening - Marlene and I are studying after dinner ... so as long as I'm back before then..."
If possible, James's grin widened.
"Brilliant. I'll see you on Saturday, then."
I waved dreamily as he walked off, back towards Gryffindor Tower to find his mates, presumably. Or to gloat to the entire school that he had finally got Lily Evans to go out with him.
I groaned, sliding down the wall and pulling my knees up to my chest.
What had I just agreed to?
I expected everyone to stare at me the next day. I expected everyone to congratulate James on finally getting a yes to his long asked question. I expected the professors to look at me like I had lost it. I expected my friends to give me the longest talk of my life. What I didn't expect was to wake up the next day and have everything the exact same as always.
No one stared, no one said anything out of the ordinary to James, and none of the professors paid me any bother at breakfast. My friends treated me the same, even the Marauders talked to me in the same manner that they usually did - getting my usual greeting from everyone single one of them, screamed loudly to me from across the hall - although there was a glint in the boys eyes that told me they knew.
Absolutely everything was the same, but, at the same time, absolutely everything had changed.
I was going on a date with James Potter. I was going to give him a shot - just to get the bloke off my back, but still, I was going to try. What was wrong with me?
The date would most likely be a flop, anyway. James and I won't ever fit together well - we're too different. We just don't work and if I have to spend all day on a boring date with him to make him realize it, then that's what I would do.
After that, I would be forever free of him asking me out. Unless, of course, I asked him to ask me out. Which I would never do, because I don't like him . . . honest.
"There you are!"
I looked up from my sneakers to see James standing there, grinning at me widely.
"I wasn't actually sure if you were going to show up," he admitted, his smile turning sheepish. I blinked widely at him, surprise written all over my face. Was this his interpretation of me? I had never stood anyone up in my life!
"I told you I would come," I said, once I found my voice again. "I don't skip out."
"I knew there was a reason I liked you so much."
I couldn't help but roll my eyes slightly at that comment.
"So where are we going? I wasn't sure how to dress because you didn't really give me any details..."
"You're perfect," James assured me, before blushing as he realized what he had said. I felt my cheeks heat up at his words, and brought my hands up to cover the flaming color.
"Um, thanks," I said, awkwardly staring down at my red PF Flyers. They were covered in scuff marks from years of use, and had some flecks of paint, but they had to be the most comfortable shoes I had ever worn. James reached out to touch my hand gently. I froze at the contact.
"You look beautiful," he said once my eyes looked up to meet his. I never noticed the slight blue tint to his brown eyes. I held his eyes for a moment before smiling softly, looking away. James sighed quietly, "Anyway, it's a surprise where we're going."
I wrinkled my nose at that.
"I've never liked surprises."
"I know," James said, his eyes shining in amusement. I looked at him in surprise. "I'm going to convert you."
I couldn't help but laugh at his enthusiasm.
"I wish you luck, then, Potter."
James shook his head at me.
"Uh-uh. While on this date you must call me James. I would never date someone who called me Potter all the time."
"Then why did you try to hard to get me to date you?" I asked curiously, my eyes rolling. 'I always call you Potter."
"Only because we've never dated before," he said, taking my hand softly and pulling me out the main doors and down towards the path to Hogsmeade. I stared down at our hands, slinking my fingers through his. It felt strange to hold his hand, but not in a bad way. It was almost nice.
Shaking these thoughts away, I hurried my feet to keep up with his long legs. I had just realized a rather big flaw in his intended plan.
"Um, Pot- err, James." I cleared my throat, the name sounding weird coming from my mouth. Out of the corner of my eye I saw James' mouth lift into a smile. "It's not a Hogsmeade weekend - we can't go to the village."
James turned and sent me a smirk.
"Who said we were going to the village?"
"But we're-" I cut off, realizing it was fruitless. James was nothing if not stubborn, and I knew if he truly wanted to surprise me he wouldn't give up any hints. Pressing my lips into a thin line, I tried my best to keep in the questions that were burning in my throat.
"I started the essay for Slughorn a couple of days ago," James started, his words casual. His step had a bounce in it, however, and his voice was too happy for someone who was discussing schoolwork. "But I've hit a wall - Potions has never been one of my strong subjects, you know, but I haven't been able to find any books on the effects of frog brains in The Draught of Living Death."
My eyebrows were furrowed tightly together as I thought. The topic of schoolwork had a very calming effect on me, and I could feel the stress of this date melting away as I gave my response.
"Well, I know the answer, but I won't tell you. It will stick with you far better if you study it yourself, so I will tell you where to find the book."
James chuckled at my answer.
"You sound just like Remus. That would be brilliant if you could help me find it, I hardly ever go in the Library and therefore don't really know where the sections are located."
He colored slightly as he said this, and I smiled a little. So the mighty James Potter had admitted to a fault - although not really a fault, but the closest I had ever heard - I honestly never thought this day would come. He was surprising me today in more ways than one.
"Lucky for you, I do know where the Potions section is and would be happy to point you in the right direction. Provided you don't piss me off during this date, that is."
James gave me a disapproving, almost sad look. He stopped walking, pulling his hand out of mine and turning so he was facing me head on. His eyes had lost their glint, and his voice no longer held that happy charm.
"You agreed you'd give this date a proper chance, and you obviously aren't keeping your word if you're saying stuff like that. If you're not going to at least try then we're both wasting our time here. I really like you, Lily, but if you won't give me a chance to prove that, to prove that we could be good together, then I'd really like to skip the heart trampling and just end this date here."
I was fairly certain my mouth was hanging open, but I was too stunned to care. He was right, of course, I had just been waiting for the moment he was going to mess up, and I felt my cheeks burn as I realized how unfair that was of me. It took me a moment, but I finally found my voice.
"I'm sorry, Po - James," I whispered, my eyes staring without blinking into his hazel orbs. "You're right, I'm being a real bitch. I just - I didn't know what to expect today and it's put me on edge. I won't make anymore comments like that... and I'll give this a proper shot - like I promised."
James stared at me thoughtfully for a moment.
"Thank you," he finally said, giving me a crooked grin before walking on. I stared after him for a moment, too shocked to move, before I hurried to catch up. We were well past anything I recognized on the grounds, and I took a quick peek over my shoulder and saw that the castle was disappearing over a hill I hadn't realized we had been walking over. I turned back around and stopped in shock as I saw what James had prepared for me.
It was a playground.
A proper Muggle playground with swings and a merry-go-round. My mouth dropped open and I stepped onto the sand floor, my sneakers burying themselves in the grain. I stared around for a moment, unable to process what was before me. Playgrounds had always been my favorite place in the world, ever since I was small and spent everyday there with Petunia. I had told close to no one that fact, so the fact that James knew...
After a moment, I walked slowly over and climbed the ladder, twirling around the jungle gym in a daze, and walked straight for the slide, a wide smile spreading over my face. It was fleeting, but the wind whipped my hair back as I slid the short distance to the ground.
When my feet were one again in the sand I remembered I wasn't alone and turned towards James, who was standing off to the side with a small smile on his face. I sent him a brilliant grin in return before standing up and launching myself into his arms. He staggered back, but caught me, his arms wrapping around my waist tightly.
"How did you know?" I asked, my voice just barely a whisper and full of emotion. Normally I would have been embarrassed by my actions, but right now I couldn't bring myself to care.
"I asked Alice and Marlene," he said, his voice just as quiet as mine. "I wasn't sure what to do today, but I wanted it to be special, and so I thought; who knows you better than your best friends?"
I felt tears gather in my eyes. No boy had ever gone to so much trouble for me, and even though I knew it was silly I couldn't stop as the tears pooled out of my eyes and streamed down my face.
"Are you crying?" James asked, pulling away from me as I sniffed quietly. I shook my head, running my palms across my face to sloppily wipe away the drops.
"No," I said, feeling mortified when my voice cracked. I cleared my throat and James laughed softly, reaching out to wipe away a few stray tears with the pad of his thumb.
"I wasn't expecting you to cry," he said, his voice impossibly soft. "Please don't cry."
I laughed at his words, before taking a deep breath to steady myself.
"I'm sorry, I just . . . no one has ever done anything like this before, and it's so incredibly sweet of you, and I . . . I suppose I'm just in shock."
There was a moment of silence as James simply smiled down at me, before he said,
"You're worth it, Lily. This and so much more."
I was truly touched by his words, but didn't know what to say in return. I finally got out a quiet 'thanks.' He was being so sweet, and I didn't know how to respond . . . this James Potter was so different to the one he portrayed to the school.
"You're different than I thought you would be," I said before I could stop myself.
James' forehead scrunched up a bit.
"Is that a good thing?"
I twisted my nose in a way that I had learned from years of watching my mother.
"I'll let you know."
"Well then, Miss Evans, would you care to join me for a picnic?"
He waved his hand behind me and I spun around to see a blanket and picnic basket. My mouth dropped open.
"Where did all that come from?" I would swear anything that it wasn't there a moment ago.
James full out laughed now.
"You go to a school of magic, Lily. Making things appear out of thin air is kind of what we do."
I immediately blushed. He was right, of course, things like this happened all the time. I rubbed my hands across my cheeks, feeling embarrassed.
"Right," I said, trying to cover up my mistake by walking over and opening the basket. "What have we got?"
James took a seat beside me, reaching into the basket and pulling out a plate of sandwiches.
"Ham and cheese," he said with appraisal in his voice.
"And strawberries," I said, a grin lighting my face as I pulled out a bowl of the delicious fruit.
James laughed at my expression. I blushed a light pink, but my embarrassment soon faded as we started eating.
Chatting with James was easy - much easier than I expected it to be. We kept up a light conversation through lunch, and I was surprised (and pleased) when he didn't once try to feed me. I know it's normally considered romantic, but there was nothing that irked me more than being fed like I was some incompetent toddler. I was glad James seemed to understand this.
After we were done eating, we played on the playground. For once I was glad that James wasn't stuffy and sophisticated, because no other boy I dated would race me down the slide, or push me so high on the swing set that I felt I was going to roll over the top, or chase me around the playground and help me across the Monkey Bars. It was the best date I had ever been on, and I was disappointed when it ended.
"Dinner is over in ten minutes," James said. We had left the sandy playground area and were sprawled out on the grass, looking up at the clouds.
I looked over at him before returning my gaze to the baby blue sky. I sighed. "I don't want to go back," I admitted, meaning it. I wanted to stay here, with James, forever. I can't even remember the last time I had been this blissfully happy.
James stood up beside me, sending me down a smile and a hand to help me up. I accepted it, letting him pull me to my feet. "Come on, Marlene will be waiting for you."
I smiled at him. I had almost forgotten about my study date with Marlene. With a flick of his wand, the playground disappeared and I sighed, leaning down to pick up the picnic basket, the blanket folded neatly over the top. James held out a hand to me and I slipped my fingers through his, bumping my shoulder against his as we walked.
He walked me to the Library, summoning my bag from Gryffindor Tower for me. When we stopped in front of the doors, I looked over at James nervously. I wasn't sure exactly what to say, but it seemed it didn't matter.
"Thanks for coming with me today," James said, sending me an adorable grin. "I had a really good time."
"Me too," I said, blushing a bit as I continued with, "That's the best date I've ever been on. It was . . . perfect."
James nodded his head, smiling. "I'm glad you . . . uh, enjoyed yourself," he said, cheeks tinged red.
I nodded as we fell into an awkward silence. Finally, I jumped up on my tiptoes and kissed his cheek. "Let's do it again sometime, yeah?" I said, giving him one more smile before reaching out to open the Library doors.
James reached out a hand to stop me, and I turned back towards him, almost laughing at his shocked expression.
"Really?" he asked, eyes practically popping out of his sockets.
I giggled a little. "Yes, James, I would love to go out with you again," I said, meaning every word.
James stared at me for a few moments before twirling in a really fast circle, his hands going to his hair as he let out an excited cry. He took a few steps backwards, away from me before lurching forward and grabbing me around the middle, twirling me in a circle as my legs lifted off the ground. I yelped a bit, but soon I was giggling, wrapping my arms around my neck.
When James finally stopped spinning he looked at me, eyes burning. "Can I kiss you?"
I let out another giggle before saying, "I will hex you if you don't."
James needed no further encouragement, pressing his lips against mine and pulling me into the best kiss of my life.
Why the hell had I not let him do this before?
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. I own nothing that you recognize.
Author's Note: Holy goodness, finally! I've been working on this piece for MONTHS, and finally finished it and decided to post it. I have absolutely no idea what inspired it, I just sat down at the computer one day and started writing . . . the plot really wrote itself. I had no idea what it was going to be about when I started, I just let the characters form and I think it turned out okay. My fingers definitely surprised me, though. Some of the conversations they got into I had no idea how to finish, and it was all a very confusing process. I hope you all like it, though, I'm quite fond of it.
Huge thank you to slenderpanda597 for being my Beta for this piece. You really helped me a lot, and added so much to the story, so thank you!
Oh! Also, I'm dying for some new Lily/James or Draco/Hermione stories to read, so if anyone has any good suggestions please let me know. Thanks!