"Will you go out with me?"
James Potter must have asked this question a million times since the first time he asked Lily Evans in their third year, nearly four years ago. Their next trip to Hogsmeade was coming up, and he'd asked her to go with him. Thinking he was joking, she had laughed in his face.
"Do you know what the definition of insanity is, Potter? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results," she replied. "The answer is still no."
The fact that she said no, again, didn't seem to faze James. He just went back to talking with his three best friends. Lily turned back to her friends as they giggled over a glossy magazine featuring a young, good looking pop star.
"I don't get it," James said. "How can she say no?"
Remus Lupin didn't even look up from his textbook as James sat down on the couch next to Peter Pettigrew. Sirius Black was sprawled on the Common Room floor, lying on his back. It looked almost as if he were sleeping, but the three of them knew he wasn't.
"Pretty easily, it seems," Sirus said. "What's this, rejection number 200?"
"332," Lupin corrected, without lifting his gaze.
"Yeah, you really should focus on someone else, mate," Sirius said. "That blonde Hufflepuff in year six seems pretty keen on dating you."
"I can't explain it," James explained. "Maybe it's because she keeps turning me down, but I'm drawn to her." No one said anything for a few moments. James appeared lost in thought, Pettigrew very unsure, Lupin busy studying, and Sirius just enjoying the quiet.
"I'm going to go take a walk in the snow," James announced, standing again. "I'll see you guys at dinner." None of the three boys followed him as he exited the Common Room and went out of view. Sirius, however, sat up.
"It's sad how James keeps getting rejected," Sirus said. "We need to fix this somehow. Snap him out of this fixation he has on Lily."
"I don't think he needs to give up on her," Lupin said, finally putting down his textbook. "Just change his approach."
"Flowers, maybe?" Peter suggested.
"Too simple," Sirius said.
"Well, whatever he does, he needs to show her he's actually matured some," Remus added. "Maybe we should tell him to get her something for Christmas."
Sirius paused in thought for a moment. To everyone's surprise, he got up and walked over to Lily on the other side of the room.
"Hi Evans," he said.
"Hi creep," she responded. "What do you want?"
"Just thought you might want to know, James is actually pretty glad you said no this time," he told her. She took on an indignant look.
"And just why is that, Black?" she asked sharply.
"Because now he can pick out your Christmas present," Sirius said in very matter-of-fact voice. This seemed to catch Lily off guard. A pretty brunette, Mary, giggled, and Sirius shot her a 100-watt smile. She looked like she could have just swooned right there.
"Focus, Black," Lily said, and he snapped his attention away from the giggling girl.
"Why is James getting me a present?"
"Are you sure you don't go miraculously deaf every time he asks you out?" he asked. "He wants to show you that he cares."
Lily didn't respond. She didn't know what to say. James Potter had always been a little annoying, and very immature. Maybe it was true that Potter was growing up and, just maybe, he was starting to be less self centered.
"Just thought you should know," Sirius said, and, giving the brunette a wink before turning around, he walked back to his friends. "And that is how it's done, gentlemen,"
"How what's done?" Remus asked. "Lying to a-"
"It wasn't lying. I was just stretching the truth, for now," Sirius corrected. "James'll get her a gift, and then he's practically in." Remus rolled his eyes at him.
"Right, silly me," he said, picking up his textbook again.
On the other side of the room, however, Lily was pondering the idea that James might actually have started maturing.
"It's not like it's out of the blue," Mary said. "He asks you out nearly every day."
"That's true," Lily said quietly. Her blonde friend, Elizabeth frowned deeply. Lily knew she did not like James and his stupid antics.
"I think you should get him something in return," Marry suggested. "Maybe try to let him get to know you."
"I wouldn't know where to start," Lily's said, "I don't know him at all."
"Well, Quidditch, to start," Mary reminded her. "He's Chaser for Gryffindor."
"I think I'll head down to the library," Lily told her friends. "I need a book for the Transfiguration essay. I'll see you guys at dinner."
She exited the common room, and took the long way to the library. While she walked, she thought about the idea of getting James a present for Christmas. The thought distracted her as she found the book she was looking for, and started on her essay. She was so lost in her own thoughts when she left the library to head towards the Great Hall, that she almost didn't notice James Potter coming in from the cold. White snow flecked his black hair, even though it wasn't actively snowing out. Without giving herself time to hesitate or think too much about it, she walked over to him.
"Hi Po-" stopping herself, "James," she finished.
"Hi Lily," he responded, shaking the snow out of his hair, "Did-"
"Ask me out, and I'm walking away and never talking to you again," she warned.
James shut his mouth, and raised his eyebrows at her.
"So what do you want?" he asked.
"I thought, maybe," she paused, feeling very self-conscious and awkward, "I could get to know you better."
James smiled. "Bet or dare?" he asked.
"Excuse me?" she said a little sharply.
"Face it, Evans, you wouldn't even give me the time of day before now. Is it on a bet, or a dare?"
Lily went very red in face. "Neither, Potter. I was just trying to be nice." She turned to storm away, but James caught her wrist. Not forcefully, but tightly enough to get her attention back towards him. She paused and looked at him expectantly.
"I'm glad," he said. "That you want to get to know me." He looked her in the eyes, and smiled. Lily found herself blushing in response to his charm. "And I'm really glad it's not a bet or something. The last thing I want is to end up in pig's blood." Lily looked horrified.
"Pig's blood?" she repeated.
"I need to learn to stop referencing muggle books at Hogwarts," James told her. "It's in a horror novel by-"
"Wait, you read? Books?" she said. "Muggle books?" she added, a little surprised.
"Yeah, my cousin's obsessed with them, so I end up with the one's she's done with," he explained. "Hey, why don't we talk over dinner?" Lily realized just then exactly where she had been going before she stopped to talk to James.
"That sounds good," she said. She couldn't help the smile that was forming on her face.