"Because you're a pompous, egotistical, conceited, vain, snot-nosed toerag," Lily finished, realizing as she did so that her voice had gone up in both pitch and volume. She was so loud, in fact, that she blushed slightly, glancing around the common room to see if the other students were paying attention. Fortunately for her, the vast majority of Gryffindor was so used to this behavior that almost everyone was still engaged in previous activities; only a few first years were staring, mouths open, at the sound of the Head Girl calling the Head Boy a toerag.
James merely blinked.
"That's not a reason not to go out with me, Evans . . ." he started.
Lily heaved the sigh of the long persecuted and dropped into the armchair across from him. "Actually, I think that's about five reasons, Potter," she said.
He shook his head. "At most, it's one. Pompous, egotistical, conceited, and vain are all synonyms."
At that, Sirius Black, who was sprawled on the other side of the sofa from James with his Transfigurations text, successfully made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a snort. "Snot-nosed and toerag are different, however," he said.
James threw Sirius a glare that would have made even a well-placed Incendio spell look less deadly. Sirius only smirked and brought his book back up near his face.
"Those words are not synonymous," Lily plowed ahead.
"They all get at the same general idea, though," James said.
"That you're a pompous, egotistical, conceited, vain, snot-nosed little toerag?" Sirius asked from behind his textbook.
James chucked his Advanced Potions text at Sirius' head. "She didn't say 'little', tosser," he said. Sirius ducked easily while Lily sighed.
"This is exactly what I mean," Lily said.
James returned his attention to Lily after Summoning his book back. "What?"
She made a waving, encompassing gesture with her hands at James and Sirius. "This," she said. "This . . . idiocy."
"C'mon, Evans. We're only taking the mickey," Sirius answered on James' behalf.
"Problem is, that's all you ever do, isn't it?" Lily said, crossing her arms over her chest.
"That's not true!" James protested.
"Prove it," Lily said smugly.
James thought for a moment. "Fine. But I won't prove it – you will."
"Prove it. Come up with twenty good reasons not to go out with me, and I'll quit asking you. If you can't, you'll come to Hogsmeade with me Saturday."
Lily closed her eyes. "Five."
"Deal," Lily said. "But that means you don't ever get to ask me out again. Ever."
For a moment, James looked a bit worried, and it didn't escape Lily's notice that Sirius was once again eyeing them from over his book. Then the worry on James' face erupted into a broad, full-of-himself grin.
"You're on," he said. "Let's settle the terms." He leaned forward eagerly. "Today's Monday. Hogsmeade is Saturday. You have to turn the list in to me – I want to see this in writing – by midnight on Friday, ten reasons on it, or we're going out on Saturday."
Lily thought it over. "Fine," she said. "But I don't trust you to judge the list; what if you say they aren't good reasons and try to squirm out of it?"
"What if you make up ten silly things and try to say they're good enough to pass? And that egotistical and pompous thing can only count as one," James added.
They stopped, stymied for the moment. "You'll need an impartial third-party judge," Sirius said, eyes still on his text.
"Who could we get to do that?" Lily asked. "Not one of your friends."
James made an offended face. "Not one of yours then, either."
At just that moment, the Fat Lady swung open and Remus Lupin climbed in through the portrait hole.
James beamed, and Lily smiled.
"Friday at midnight, Evans."
"I'll have the parchment on your plate at breakfast," Lily said.
Remus walked up to the group, adjusting the heavy satchel on his shoulder. He took in their expressions, including Sirius' nearly maniacal grin, and said, "What?"
As it turned out, Lily did not have the list ready by breakfast the next morning.
In fact, she only had three items:
Ten of the Most Important and Relevant Reasons Not to Go Out with James Potter
1. He's a pompous, egotistical, conceited, vain, snot-nosed toerag.
2. He's a bully.
3. My sister would hate him.
Truthfully, Lily wasn't certain the third one really mattered anymore, since Petunia hated almost everything that had to do with Lily now, and had for quite some time. Probably the only thing that Lily could do to come close to pleasing Petunia would be to quit magic, marry a Muggle stockbroker, and settle down in a nice suburb somewhere.
As if that was going to happen.
Still, she was Lily's sister, and she would hate James, so Lily thought it was a valid point.
Lily had thought about adding the fact that James smelled badly to the list, but the truth is he really didn't; he usually smelled quite nice, actually, clean like soap and mint toothpaste, not that Lily was prone to noticing how James Potter smelled. In any case, putting that on the list would be lying, and Lily Evans would not lie to complete the list. She wouldn't have to, she was sure.
So she left the bit about James having an odor off the list.
Tuesday morning meant double Transfiguration. McGonagall had already started putting them through the paces for their N.E.W.T.s, and they were on their third day of practice for a conjuring spell intended to make objects appear where there had been none before. They had started out conjuring quills, then shoes, and today the students who had previously mastered the first two objects were now working on conjuring chairs.
Twenty-five minutes into the first hour, McGonagall was walking up and down the aisles, correcting wand technique or spell pronunciation where needed. Lily had so far conjured a small cushioned footstool, and Remus had managed a very gaudy, very plushy cushion that had made him wince before he made it vanish. Lily was about to attempt the spell again when she heard McGonagall's voice behind her.
"Well now, Mr. Potter, what do we have here?" she said sharply.
Lily couldn't help but turn at the noise and look, as there had been something off in McGonagall's tone, but then so had nearly the entire rest of the class.
Lily bit down her surprise at the fact that James Potter had a straight-backed wooden chair, a soft armchair, and an exact replica of McGonagall's desk chair surrounding him at all points. A couple of the Hufflepuffs actually made small gasping noises.
"I've conjured some chairs, Professor," said James, never one to pass up the opportunity to point out the obvious.
McGonagall raised her eyebrows. "I can see that, Mr. Potter. I was wondering if you could demonstrate your technique for me." McGonagall waved her wand and all three chairs around James disappeared.
"Of course, Professor McGonagall," James answered, smiling.
Lily, on principle, rolled her eyes. But she watched carefully as James said the incantation and flicked his wand, causing a Gryffindor red armchair to appear beside him. Hmmmm. Less swish to the wand, Lily thought.
McGonagall's lips twitched with what, in other circumstances, might have been the beginning of a proud smile. "When you apply yourself Mr. Potter, you have excellent timing with your wand and perform meticulous spell work. I'd like to see more of it. Ten points to Gryffindor. Please continue to practice the spell for another half an hour; with the time remaining in the period after that I'd like six inches of parchment on the importance of accurate visualization when using this incantation."
"Yes, Professor," James answered respectfully, and made the armchair vanish.
McGonagall was almost halfway down the nearby aisle when she turned back with a small billow to her robes. "The same instructions apply to you, Mr. Black. And for Merlin's sake, put all of those chair legs back on the floor before you lose your balance and split your head open in the middle of my classroom," she said, before moving over to see how Alice was progressing with the spell.
The front two legs of the heavy wooden chair Sirius had conjured hit the floor with a remarkably loud thud. "Yes, Professor," he said, twirling his wand in his fingers and then shooting a wink at Lily, who was still watching.
Lily sighed and exchanged a look with Remus, who smiled. They went back to practicing the spell, and Lily found that when she held her wand straight and did not loosen her wrist too much on a swish, she was able to produce a rather elegant rocking chair.
By Wednesday night, Lily was able to add the following to the list:
4. He's too obsessed with Quidditch.
5. He's possibly in love with his best friend, Sirius Black.
She wished she could take comfort in the fact that she was halfway there, but she wasn't sure that number five would pass inspection.
Lily returned to the common room after midnight to fetch the hand-knit sweater she had been wearing that evening and found James kneeling in front of a first-year before fireplace. It looked as if James was holding his wand in one hand and the boy's nose in the other; another boy was standing nearby, his face clearly frightened, even in the dim light of the fire.
"Hold still," James said. "Squirming won't do you any good."
Lily felt her face heat up with a flush of anger, and before she was even off the stairs she was nearly shouting. "Leave the boy alone, Potter! I'd expect that even you would find it beneath you to beat up first-years."
James looked up from where he was holding the boy's nose with one hand, the fire reflecting off the surface of his spectacles. "Lily, you've got it all wrong . . . I'm not hurting him . . ."
"OW!" the boy shouted.
James turned back to him. "You're not helping!"
"Potter . . ."
James ignored Lily for a moment, which was no mean feat considering she'd stalked up to within a few inches of him. "I know it hurts. That's what happens when you roughhouse with your best mate and smash your nose into your trunk." He sighed and pulled his hand away from the boy's nose, where he had been trying to staunch the blood flow. James prodded the nose gently, and the boy yelped again.
"It doesn't hurt that much."
Lily glared at him.
"Well, it doesn't!" James protested, turning to look at her. "I don't think it's broken. And look – " he held his hand up for both Lily and the boy's inspection. "It's not even bleeding anymore." Sure enough, James' hand was clean.
James put his hands on the boy's shoulders and made sure they made eye contact. "It'll be fine, yeah? You might have a bruise, and it'll be a little sore for a few days, but nothing else. You don't have to see Madame Pomfrey."
The boy looked dubious. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. I used to wrestle with my friends all the time, and got banged up loads of times. It's not too bad."
"Will you have to write to my parents?"
James looked like he was considering the question, but Lily knew him well enough to see that he was only putting on a show. "Hmmm . . . I don't think so. As long as you and your friends –" this with a significant glare of the other boy, who winced – "promise to be more careful."
Promises of "we will" rang through the Gryffindor common room as James got to his feet. "Right, then," he said. "Off to bed now; it's late."
The boys gratefully took off up the stairs to the dormitory, leaving James and Lily looking at each other.
"That was . . . good, Potter," Lily said.
James shrugged. "Nearly woke up the entire boys' dorm with their racket. Had to do something."
"Still . . . you were good with them." Lily saw James blush even in the dimness of the room. "I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions like that," she said. James blushed even more, if that was possible, and shrugged again, which Lily realized was a gesture of embarrassment.
"Yeah . . . you'd be surprised at how much first aid I know. We really did used to bang each other up; learned loads of stuff trying to patch ourselves up before McGonagall could catch us." James grinned.
Lily laughed a bit. "I can only imagine," she said.
"Hmm." James grinned wider at a memory. "Really did break Sirius' nose once. Got a howler from his mum. Merlin, was she angry."
"The one with the green sparks that set the tablecloth on fire?" Lily asked.
"That's the one. Pomfrey got the nose exactly back to the way it was before, but his mum still always insisted that it wasn't the same. That I'd ruined the eldest Black heir's good-looks and future fortune." James shook his head.
"I don't think Sirius has suffered much for it," Lily said.
For a moment, James looked pensive. "Not because of the nose, no," he said, then shook his head again. He grinned. "He's still a vain wanker."
Lily rolled her eyes, but smiled. "You can say that again."
"Can, but won't," James laughed. "I'm going to head off to bed, too, unless there's something you need . . . I mean, it's late, but I can stay . . . ."
"No, I'm fine," Lily answered. James nodded and headed off toward the stairs.
"Good night, Lily."
"Good night, Potter."
"Your sweater's on the chair by the window," James called down softly behind him.
Sure enough, it was.
6. He's arrogant; he thinks he's better than everyone else.
Lily looked at the parchment, and frowned.
Lily found Remus in the library the following afternoon. Remus was at his favorite table near the Restricted Section, a pile of books around him, scribbling furiously in a bound Muggle notebook. When she pulled up the chair next to him to sit, she realized he had a small smudge of ink on his nose.
"Defence?" she asked.
Remus shook his head. "Charms. We have that essay on voice capturing charms due tomorrow."
"I know. I finished it yesterday."
Remus stopped writing and looked up at her hopefully.
Lily smiled. "I'll help you with the Charms essay if you work with me on the Patronus Charm. I'm positive they'll want us to produce a corporeal Patronus for our N.E.W.T., and I'm still at a vapor."
"Defence help for Charms help? I'm sold," Remus said, tapping his quill in the margin of his notebook.
"I can't help you with your list for James, you know," Remus said.
Lily put her head in her hands. "C'mon, Remus. Why not?"
Lily looked up in time to see Remus smile. "First of all, I'm supposed to be the impartial third party judge."
"Yeah, but you're Potter's friend."
"I'm your friend, too, which is why the two of you picked me in the first place. I just want you both to be happy."
"Do you honestly think I'd be happy with him?"
Remus raised an eyebrow, and shrugged.
"He's a good bloke, Lily."
Lily snorted. Remus' face took on a slightly hurt expression, and Lily immediately felt sorry. James was his friend. She sighed.
"If you could just tell me some things . . ." she started. "More like, help me brainstorm, really . . . ."
Remus grinned. "You don't have ten reasons yet, do you?"
Lily bit her lip, and Remus laughed.
"Can't do it, Lily."
Remus suddenly looked serious. "Because he's done more for me than . . . than almost anyone I know."
"Like what?" Lily asked, suddenly curious.
"Like getting me through my Potions O.W.L."
"Remus . . ."
"I'm serious! There's a reason I'm not taking N.E.W.T. level Potions."
"But . . ."
"I even got an E on it," Remus said.
Lily sighed. "Lupin . . ."
"Honestly, Lily. There's more to James than just what outsiders see. He's . . . he's been really good to me. A really good friend. I can't go back on that, especially for a silly wager."
Lily looked at Remus. She'd never understood why Remus had the friends he did, what he saw in them when they acted like spoiled children most of the time. She never thought before that Remus might have his own reasons why he kept his friends, and now that she was getting a glimpse of those qualities, it made her own chest slightly fluttery.
"Okay, Remus. I won't ask you." She paused, and Remus looked relieved. "Unless you can tell me something small, like, I don't know . . . does he leave his toenail clippings about on the floor?"
Remus laughed. "The secrets of room six of the seventh year boys' dorm shall remain secrets."
Lily sighed dramatically. "Fine."
Remus tilted his head to one side. "But . . . maybe if you showed me what you have already, I could see if you're on the right track?"
"You are a god among men, Remus Lupin," Lily said, digging into her school satchel.
"Just remember that when you're naming your first child," Remus said, taking the proffered piece of parchment from Lily.
Remus spent a couple of minutes reading the parchment, then picked up his quill and started writing briefly.
"What are you doing, marking it?" Lily asked.
Remus smiled. "Not at all. Just making a few notes."
When he handed the list back to her, Lily saw he'd crossed out numbers five and six, and written a note beside number two. Lily looked up.
"You don't think he's a bully?" she asked.
"It says, 'I don't think he's much of a bully anymore'," Remus corrected.
"I'm sure that makes Severus feel a lot better," Lily retorted.
"Snape . . . has his own issues," Remus said. "Which doesn't make it right, what James and Sirius used to do," he hastened to add when Lily opened her mouth. "I'm just saying . . . have you seen them do anything in the last year? To Snape? To anyone? Especially James."
Lily thought back. "No," she admitted. "No."
"Okay, then," Remus said.
"But he was really out of order," Lily protested.
"Yeah," Remus admitted. "Yeah, he was. Him and Sirius both."
"But people grow up, Lily. Give them a little credit."
"So suddenly Potter and Black are all grown-up and mature?"
Remus shrugged. "More mature. People grow, Lily. Things change you . . . especially things you can't take back."
Lily wondered again what Remus knew that she did not, but she knew Remus well enough not ask.
"Well . . . maybe."
"You don't think he's arrogant, either?" Lily asked, scanning the list.
"Er . . . I don't think he was ever arrogant so much as he was spoiled."
Lily thought about that. "Does that mean I can add spoiled to the list?"
Remus laughed. "Only if I get to write a note next to it," he said.
"James' parents are pretty elderly, Lily. They had him late in life; he's very special to them. I think sometimes . . . well, I think they probably gave him a bit too much of what he wanted, you know? Wanted him to be happy. Couldn't help but go to his head a little. He's outgrown it, mostly, especially now that his parents sort of need him more than he needs them; they're not very well, and James is responsible for arranging most of their care, since he can't be there when he's at school."
"Oh," Lily said. "I didn't know about his parents. Thanks, Remus." She considered things for a moment, and there was silence for a minute. "You still didn't cross out egotistical, though," she said.
"Some things you're just born with," Remus answered, laughing. "It's James' burden to bear."
"You crossed out number five, too. I know it's mostly a rumor, Remus . . ."
"It's not true," Remus said, a bit too sharply.
"They're awfully attached to one another . . ."
"They're just good friends, that's all."
"C'mon. They live together in that tiny dorm, can you really tell me – not that I go around doing that with my girl friends, but James and Sirius are so close -- "
"I know, okay, Lily? I know." Remus ducked his head.
Lily looked at him hard for a moment. "Remus? Remus Lupin. Are you getting off with Sirius Black?"
Remus went scarlet to the roots of his hair, and didn't look at her.
"Oh my God! I was just kidding, but you are. You are. Jesus, Remus . . ." Lily trailed off.
"Is it that horrifying?" Remus asked the table.
"No. No! I . . . of course not! Shag whomever you like. But Sirius Black?"
Remus finally looked up. "A little louder, Lily – I don't think they heard you down in the dungeon," he hissed.
"Sorry! Sorry! I'm just . . . surprised. Why didn't you tell me?"
Remus gave her a look that said this is why I didn't tell you.
"Huh. Sirius. Okay." Lily looked at him. "How long has this been going on?"
Remus mumbled, "Since the summer after fifth year."
Remus nearly gave himself whiplash from craning his head around the library to make sure no one was looking. "Christ, Lily," he whispered.
"I said the summer after."
"Okay. Fine. Right. Summer after."
"Are you okay?" Remus asked.
"Yes. I'm fine. Really."
Remus looked doubtful.
"Yes. I'm . . . happy for you? If you're happy, that is."
"Yeah, I am. Mostly. He's not perfect."
"You said it, not me."
Remus smiled wryly. "Believe me, I know."
"It's not just the shagging, is it?" Lily asked.
Remus shook his head. "It's . . . more than the shagging."
"Good God. Sirius Black, of all people."
"Lily . . ."
"I'm kidding, Remus."
"That's okay, too," Remus said.
"Okay." Lily paused. "I guess I can definitely cross number five off the list," she said.
Lily picked up Remus' quill, and made a second line through the reason, just for good measure.
By the time Potions let out early Friday afternoon, Lily was back down to four items on her list:
1. He's a pompous, egotistical, conceited, vain, snot-nosed toerag.
2. He used to be a bully. (Past tense. According to Remus Lupin.)
3. My sister would hate him.
4. He's obsessed with Quidditch.
All told, she was losing ground fast, and she knew it.
So when she saw James and Simon Knott whispering together fiercely on their way back up from the dungeons, she couldn't help but tail them, wondering what they might be planning. She was even more surprised when James suddenly grabbed the front of Knott's robes and jerked him roughly a halfway hidden corner near the top of the stairs. By standing to the right of the little alcove, Lily could both see and hear what was going on, aided by James' increasingly loud – and angry – voice.
What surprised Lily the most, though, was that Knott was laughing.
"You stupid little blood-traitor," Knott said, his face growing serious.
"That the best you can do?" James asked, sneering.
"You'll be sorry when the Dark Lord finally takes control – " Knott started.
"Yeah, yeah, I'll be herded up with all the rest of the blood-traitors, Muggle lovers, Mudbloods, half-breeds and Dark Creatures and loaded onto trains to Siberia, where we'll be forced to mine coal as fuel for Voldemort's secret potions laboratory. Or he could just kill me, which would certainly be faster."
"Why kill you when he can use you under Imperius? I'm sure you'd be useful for all kinds of functions, Potter."
"I'd rather kill myself," James said.
Knott shrugged as much as he could under James' grip. "Suit yourself. But the Dark Lord is right, and when he's in power, things will be as they should."
"Right. Because none of his followers are greedy, power-hungry, deviant miscreants just yearning for a taste of power they can't have, and not at all liable to turn on Voldemort at any moment. I can't imagine what's wrong with that plan. After which, if by that time the Dark Arts haven't rotted everyone from the inside out, two generations of inbreeding will have left wizarding families so diseased and abnormal that we'll just end up dying out, and wizarding society will cease to exist. Yes, how could I be wrong? That's a brilliant plan."
Knott actually sneered. "Better that than polluting ourselves with Muggle blood." He spat, his saliva landing in a puddle near James' left shoe.
"Magical people are magical no matter who their parents are. And wizards are no better than anyone else, just different."
"Where did you get that tripe, Potter? From your half-blood friend Lupin? Or that crazy Sirius Black? Maybe that Mudblood you fancy so much?"
James' grip on Knott's robes tightened so much that Lily could see even from where she was that his knuckles had gone white. "You leave them out of this."
Knott laughed again. "Black's such a blood traitor his mother disowned him and threw him out of her house. Muggle fucker."
"I told you to leave Sirius out of this."
"'Course, he told you he ran away, but Regulus says . . ."
"Regulus talks about a lot of things he knows nothing about," James snapped.
"Like the fact Black is also a poof to boot?" Knott grinned.
James stepped forward a fraction of an inch, enough to bring him nose to nose with Knott. "This isn't about Sirius, or Remus, or Lily, or what Regulus spreads around the dungeons to make himself feel important. This is about the fact that Voldemort wants all the pure bloods on his side that he can get, and that the Potter name would make him look especially credible. Since he can't go after my dad because Dad is too ill, he's sending you after me, like some well-trained kneazel. I'm not interested."
"The Dark Lord knows power you do not."
James suddenly let go of Knott's robes, and Knott stumbled a little from the shift in balance. "I don't want to know it," James said.
"You'll be sorry you didn't join him when you had the chance," Knott said, stepping away.
James shrugged. "I doubt it."
"I don't," Knott said, dusting off his robes and walking away.
Lily ducked back down the stairs so that Knott wouldn't see her as he started off toward the Great Hall. When she got back to the top step, James was still standing in the alcove, his face sheet white and pensive. Lily almost went up to him, but stopped when she saw Peter Pettigrew come around the corner.
Peter saw James as he passed by, and turned around to poke his head into the corner where James stood.
"Alright, Prongs?" Peter asked, his round face becoming worried.
"Yeah. Not to worry, Wormtail." James smiled, but it looked forced to Lily.
"I've got Herbology next . . . want to walk with me?" Peter said.
"Sure. I've got a free period, but I could use a trip across the grounds." James adjusted his school bag and came out into the hall with Peter.
Peter saw her first, and waved. "Hi, Lily."
"Hello, Peter." She looked at James' face, which was still a bit pale. "Potter."
James inclined his head. "Evans."
"We were just going out to the greenhouses, you want to come?" Peter asked.
Lily shook her head. "I have a bit of work to do in the library. But thanks."
"Er . . . sure. See you later," Peter said.
"Yeah. Have a good class."
Peter nodded and started off, James following suit.
He didn't even mention the list to her.
When Lily came down to the common room around nine o'clock Friday night, James and Peter were playing Exploding Snap on the floor next to Remus and Sirius, who were playing chess by the fire. As she approached, Lily could hear one of Remus' pieces jeering at Sirius, who had apparently just made a rather stupid move.
Remus looked up at Lily's approach and smiled, and Peter got so nervous when she sat on the couch that he put down a card especially hard and it started to smoke, sending the smell of sulfur around the immediate area.
With great, mostly faked, casualness, James shifted toward the couch and craned his neck to look up at Lily. "Well, Evans. Do you have the list?"
Lily shook her head. "No, I don't have the list, Potter."
"I suppose you do have until midnight. Though if you're having that much trouble we can just go ahead and decide on a time to meet tomorrow . . ." James started.
"I mean, I don't have the list at all, Potter. There won't be a list; I'm not doing one," Lily qualified.
James' face fell. Peter and Remus exchanged a nervous glance, and Sirius looked on the edge of outrage, his eyebrows forming a tight furrow.
"Oi! You and James had a deal, Evans!" Sirius said, either ignoring Remus' determined head shaking, or oblivious to it.
"For Merlin's sake, Black – "
"Sirius, shut up," James said, sharp enough that Sirius did, indeed, close his mouth. He shrugged. "It's just a stupid bet; Evans doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to."
Still looking furious, Sirius folded his arms across his chest, clearly indicating he wasn't finished with the matter.
"What I mean is, if you'll let me have a chance to speak here," Lily started with looks at both Sirius and James, "is that there's not a list because . . . well, because I was having trouble making one, so I decided not to make one at all. That is . . . er. So, actually, you win, Potter. I couldn't come up with ten reasons not to go out with you."
"Oh, well. Huh," James said articulately.
Remus, who had been looking between James and Lily, made a motion to stand up. He tilted his head toward the stairs. "C'mon, Sirius. We should maybe go finish our Runes homework . . ."
Peter picked up on the cue. "You know, I did promise Shelly I'd meet her outside of the Hufflepuff common room right about now," he said, standing up.
"But it's just getting good now, Moony," Sirius objected.
Remus looked for the entire world like he was restraining himself from slapping a palm to his forehead. James snickered, and Peter mumbled a hasty "Good night, everyone," before beating a path to the portrait hole.
"Padfoot . . . if we finish with Runes before tomorrow, we won't have to worry about doing any homework on the Hogsmeade day," Remus said, standing.
Sirius finally looked up at Remus, and away from Lily and James. "But we don't have any Runes homework this weekend," he protested.
James began to shake with suppressed laughter, and even Lily smiled as Remus' eyebrows shot upwards. "Yes, we do," Remus gritted out.
"But Moony . . ." Sirius stopped. "Oh. You mean Runes," he said.
Remus nodded. Vigorously.
"Right. Runes." Sirius stood up, too. "Well, best of luck to you, Prongs. Evans," he said, before picking a path through the other students toward the stairs. Remus shot James and Lily a wry look before following.
James laughed outright, and even Lily joined in. "Runes isn't code for something . . . unspeakable, is it?" she laughed.
"They usually use 'Astronomy' as code for the . . . unspeakable . . . stuff. But I still probably won't go up there for at least another forty-five minutes." James looked thoughtful. "Maybe an hour. We really don't have Runes homework this weekend."
Lily laughed again.
James adjusted his glasses, and cleared his throat. "So . . . can I ask you something, Evans?"
"Why did you decide to not to make a list? I'm sure you could find ten reasons not to go out with me."
"Because . . ." Lily paused. "Well, it was harder than I thought it would be. Maybe not as hard as you might think it would be," she added. James smiled. "And I did have a couple of good reasons."
"Like pompous, egotistical, conceited, vain, snot-nosed toerag?"
"Like that," Lily agreed. "But then I thought, well . . . if someone was making a list of the worst things about me, how would I feel about that? And what would it say?" Lily pulled a stray thread from her skirt.
"Aww, Evans. I don't think it would say anything . . ."
Lily shrugged. "I don't know. I think 'stubborn'. And maybe 'judgmental.'"
James opened his mouth again, but Lily put up a hand to stop him. "Anyway. I just thought . . . maybe a list like that isn't the greatest way to think about a person, you know?"
James looked thoughtful for a minute, but he didn't say anything.
"Besides," Lily said. "It's just one date. What could one date lead to?"
James grinned that pompous, egotistical, conceited, and vain grin he had.
"You never know, Lily. You never know."