It seemed like the whole Great Hall, at least the seventh year class, was talking about the Charming Potter boy and how he finally got Lily Evans to talk to him. James, however, didn't notice any of it. He simply sat with the girl he'd fancied for years and talked to her.
"So tell me something I don't know yet," Lily asked.
"Okay, but you have to tell me something too," he warned her. She nodded, and he thought for a second. "I can't lie." This caused Lily to pause for a moment.
"You can't lie?" she repeated. He nodded.
"Partially because I'm terrible at it, and partially because of my honor code," he said. "You can ask McGonagall. Every time she catches me and Sirius pulling a prank, I 'fess up and accept my week of detention." This impressed Lily, but she tried not to let on.
"You have an honor code?" she said. "I find that hard to believe."
"You're confusing me with Sirius," he told her. "He's the one with no morals." She laughed a little. "It's your turn to tell me something," he gently reminded her.
"Okay," she said, "but you can't tell anyone this. Not even Sirius."
"I will never tell a soul for as long as I live," James responded, with his hand on his heart. Lily giggled at how dramatic and silly he looked.
"Seriously, though. I don't really want anyone to know," she said.
"You have my word," he said, more sincerely this time.
"I don't actually like Potions," she said. "I only went on with them because I need it to get into healer training."
"But you're so good at them," he said.
"I know, I have a talent for them. Professor Slughorn will never let me forget that," she said.
"What are you getting me for Christmas?" she asked. He was so off guard for the question, he almost choked on the food in his mouth. He stammered for a moment, unsure of what to say. Lily laughed again. James was so different from the incredibly charming man she'd seen earlier. She found this side of him so endearing.
"It's okay, you don't have to tell me," she said. "I'll figure it out on Christmas." James pondered over her question. Why had she thought he was getting her a present? He also kicked himself mentally for not thinking of getting her a present earlier.
By the end of dinner, they were sitting at the table with empty plates, and glasses of pumpkin juice being filled every so often. James had just told a joke involving a Hippogriff, a vampire and a hag, and Lily was cracking up over it. James couldn't help but smile at how beautiful her laugh was.
"So I was thinking we could head back up to the common room?" James suggested. As they got up from the table, Lily was telling James about her trouble with a certain Defense spell she was having trouble with in class.
"Which spell?" he inquired. "Defense happens to be my strong suit."
"The Patronus," she told him. "Mine always comes out as a wisp, and I need it to get an O on my owl."
"I could help you," he told her.
"No, really," she said. "You can produce a Patronus?"
"Yeah, I learned in sixth year during Defense Club," he told her.
"What form does yours take?" she asked.
"A stag," he answered, a little unsure. Lily wasn't sure if she heard apprehension in his voice, but decided to ignore it.
"Well I'd appreciate the help," she replied to his offer. "Maybe on Sunday?"
"Quidditch all day on Sunday," he answered. "But, I'd love it if you came to watch me play. We're against Slytherin."
"Well, I-" she started, but was cut off by a male voice from behind them.
"There you two love birds are!" Sirius called. The two turned to see him with Remus and Peter, just coming out of the dining hall. Lily turned bright red.
"I'd better be going," she said. "I'm sure my friends are worried about me." Before anyone could say anything, she dashed away towards Gryffindor Tower. The boys started to make their way up to the Tower as well.
"What was that about?" Sirius asked.
"You scared her off," Remus answered.
"Why'd you do that, Padfoot?" James asked. They tried to only use their nicknames when no one was around.
"I didn't think she'd run away," Sirius defended.
"So how was the date?" Remus asked.
"Don't tell her it was a date, she might run away again," James commented. Sirius snorted, and took on a conniving grin as he walked behind James.
"She fancies you, mate," he told his friend.
"How do you know?" he asked.
"I heard her taking to her friends in the common room earlier after you left," Sirius said, "She was talking about what she might be getting you for Christmas." James eyes went wide, thinking back to the most confusing part of his conversation with Lily.
"She asked me during dinner what I was getting her for Christmas," he told his friends. "I should have known it was a hint she was getting one for me." He stopped short, and Sirius, who wasn't paying attention, promptly ran into him, nearly causing both boys to crash to the floor.
"Oi, mate, why'd you stop?" Sirius said. "That was not my fault."
"I have no idea what to get for her," he said, with a great amount of fear in his voice. "Oh, god, what if I get her something she hates? Then I'll never have a chance with her."
"Relax," Remus said, "Get her jewelry or something. I think it's scientifically proven that girls love shiny things."
James didn't say anything for the rest of their walk up. Sirius prattled on about the game against Slytherin this Sunday, while Remus seemed to be off in his own thoughts. Peter listened with rapt attention to what Sirius was saying, as though he'd have to take a test on it.