Today's the day.
Today's the day that James Potter finally asks out the girl of his dreams - for real this time.
Because yeah, he's technically asked her out loads before this, but those were all half-joking, and James never expected a yes from any of those.
But this time… well, this time, he and Lily are actually friends, and they've been hanging out together a lot more, and he's pretty sure she's been blatantly flirting with him on more than one occasion.
Like last week, for example. They had lunch together at the Three Broomsticks - and most of the conversation wasn't even related to Heads' business like it was meant to be - and at the end of it, she'd kissed him on the cheek.
That's an obvious sign that she likes him, right?
Yet despite that evidence, James has still concocted at least fifty different potential scenarios for how asking this question could turn out. Approximately ten of them involve someone ending up in Azkaban, but he thinks those versions might be a little overdramatic.
He takes a comb to his hair (something he never does, which is probably a testament to how much he's freaking out about this), doing his best to make it lay flat - although that's a hopeless cause, really. His hair has always had a mind of its own; Lily once told him it looked like he'd stuck his finger in an 'electricity socket,' whatever that is, and she'd giggled even more when he admitted he had no idea what that was.
They've got plans today - James is off to knick some food from the house elves (although it's not really stealing, they're more than happy to give him all sorts of treats for no other reason than that he asks them nicely) and they're going to have lunch by the Black Lake.
It's the perfect moment to ask her out, really. Although hopefully she doesn't compare him to the Giant Squid this time around - although he's thought through that possibility as well.
Maybe she'll elope with the Squid right then and there, just to rub it in his face.
The much more logical side of his brain reminds him yet again that she's most likely going to say yes given all the evidence, but his more imaginative side is still clearly having a heyday with all of this.
With one last attempt to tame his hair with the comb - it looks no different than it did before, really, and this whole pursuit was hopeless - he leaves the empty boys' dormitory, Map in hand.
He probably could've told Sirius and Remus and Peter about his plans to ask Lily out today, but he'd made the executive decision to stop talking about Lily around them about a month ago, because they'd all taken to rolling their eyes at him any time he asked them if they thought she fancied him now.
He's still really not sure how to interpret that one.
The house elves are more than helpful, giving him way more food than he and Lily could ever possibly eat on their own and even going so far as to conjure a basket for him to carry it all in.
When he gets out to the Lake, Lily's already there, sitting on a blanket that she'd either nicked from the Common Room or just conjured herself.
"You took awhile," she comments when he sits down next to her, but the way she's smiling at him suggests she's more teasing him than actually annoyed about it.
And then she leans over and kisses him on the cheek again, and dammit, she shouldn't make him feel things like this with such an innocent gesture.
"Yeah, the house elves just wanted to make sure we were fully stocked," he replies, trying to pretend like his cheeks aren't turning pink.
He's dark enough that a flush on him isn't as obvious as when Lily blushes, but it's still somewhat noticeable nonetheless.
Lily doesn't seem to think much of it though, and instead starts digging through the picnic basket. "A whole treacle tart? Really, James?"
James just shrugs. "I told Frolly I only needed a few slices, and she insisted I take the whole thing."
"That's because Frolly thinks you're the single greatest wizard to walk the earth," she answers.
"Maybe I am the single greatest wizard to walk the earth," he shoots back, smirking a little.
Those same sorts of comments used to only serve to make Lily cross with him, but now, she just smiles and rolls her eyes at him. "Sure you are."
They both end up with a sandwich and a packet of crisps, and as they both eat, Lily's telling him some story about Marlene's cat and James is trying to think about the best way to bridge this conversation into what he's really here for.
Not that he doesn't like hearing Lily's stories, or that he thinks they're not worth listening to… but it's kind of hard to concentrate on them with this important task hanging over his head.
But eventually, it becomes clear that there's no easy connection from a cat ending up inside of Mary's trunk to asking her out, so he gives up on the smooth transition idea entirely and just blurts it out.
"Lily, will you go out with me?"
There's a little crease that forms between Lily's eyebrows as she looks at him. "What did you just ask me?"
Merlin, she's going to make him say it again?
"Will you go out with me?" he repeats, hoping for a better reaction this time around.
But despite how many potential scenarios James had created in his own head about how this moment could possibly go, he most certainly hadn't prepared for this one.
Lily starts laughing.
And not pity-laughing or mean-laughing, but laughing. Honest-to-god, full-on laughing.
Unconsciously, one of James' hands flies up to run through his hair - any progress made on his hair by combing it is probably done for by now. "Er, Lily?" he says after the strongest of Lily's laughing fit has subsided. "What's so funny?"
"You have got to be - " she replies, still giggling and out of breath, "the most oblivious bloke - on the planet."
He doesn't appreciate that insult much, especially because she still hasn't answered his question. "What?"
"James, what the hell do you think we've been doing for the past few weeks? Hell, what do you think we're doing right now?"
He just looks at her, wide-eyed. "I - er - "
"Because I don't know what you get up to with Sirius and Remus and Peter, but I definitely don't go on romantic picnics with my friends," she says, giggling again. "This is most definitely a date."
"How was I supposed to know that?" he asks, entirely bewildered by this whole chain of events.
"James, I literally referred to you as my boyfriend in the middle of breakfast last week," Lily replies slowly, as if she's explaining something to a toddler. "How could that possibly have led to you thinking we weren't going out already?"
"I thought you were just calling me your boy friend - as in, two separate words," he defends, realising how stupid it sounds almost as soon as the words are out of his mouth. "Like, 'oh, that's James, he's my friend who just so happens to by a boy.' "
"And last week at Hogsmeade?"
"It was to discuss Heads' business - you even said that yourself!"
She had actually said that, he remembers that detail clearly. They'd been in the Gryffindor Common Room, and she'd said, word for word, 'We're going to Hogsmeade together, yeah? We've got Heads' business to discuss, after all.'
Although, she had winked at him after that. Maybe that should've been a sign.
"That was most definitely sarcastic, James," she tells him. "Merlin, for someone who's top of the class in Transfiguration, you really are an idiot. You're lucky you're cute."
She reaches over and pats him on the cheek, and he can only blink at her for a few moments. "So… you're my girlfriend now?"
"Have been for a while now, as we've already established," she replies. "But yes."
"So I psyched myself out over asking you out for no good reason?"
She raises her eyebrows at him. "You psyched yourself out over asking me out? If I recall correctly, you asked me out no fewer than forty-seven times in fifth year - this shouldn't be a new concept for you."
"Yeah, well I knew I didn't have a chance with you back then," he says. "And also I was a cocky git."
"You're still a cocky git."
"You know what I mean," he responds, giving her a half-hearted dirty look. "There was actually a chance you'd say 'yes' this time, and that… raised the stakes somewhat."
Lily just laughs, and Merlin does he love that sound. Which is probably what causes him to blurt out what he does next. "I mean, I'd even thought through one potential scenario where you set the Giant Squid on me and Sirius - being the best friend that he is - had to avenge my death and ended up in Azkaban."
At that, Lily's mouth actually falls open, before she starts laughing again and shaking her head at him. "I can't believe I'm dating you."
"Well, as we've seen, I can't really believe it either."
And then James thinks of something. "So, if we're dating, does that mean I'm allowed to kiss you?"
"That's typically how relationships work, James," she replies. "You should know, you've been in more than a few."
He almost argues that point with her, because those were little dumb flings that didn't mean much - and she means everything, so the game is different with her - but he keeps his mouth shut. He's got other things he'd much rather be doing with his mouth right now.
And so he moves closer to her and reaches up to push a strand of her auburn hair behind her ears. "You're an absolutely brilliant girlfriend, you know that?"
To be honest, he just likes saying that word. He's probably going to be saying it over and over for the next few days, just because of how fun calling Lily Evans his girlfriend is.
"And you're an absolute dumbarse of a boyfriend, but somehow I fancy you anyways."
That's good enough for him.
He closes the space between them, pressing his lips to hers and letting the hand still lingering by her face make its way into her hair.
The actual picnic part of their rendezvous - or date, apparently - is quickly abandoned in favour of much more enjoyable activities. Kissing Lily is so much sweeter than treacle tart, anyways.
Eventually James finds himself with his head in Lily's lap as she toys with his hair, still kind of in awe of how they even got to this situation in the first place.
Although, now that he thinks about it, this does kind of explain why his friends have been rolling their eyes at him every time he's brought up Lily - they must've thought he was just asking them what she thought of him for the hell of it, purely for the satisfaction of hearing confirmation of something he supposedly already knew.
Which he… absolutely didn't. Until now, at least.
And fuck, they're absolutely never going to let him live this one down if they ever find out. And he'd quite like his friends not to have yet another reason to take the mickey out of him.
"Lily, we don't have to, er, tell anyone that I only just figured out we were dating, yeah?"
She continues carding her fingers through his hair, and gives him a very un-reassuring response. "Hm, perhaps."
(The next morning at breakfast, Sirius greets him with a knowing smirk and a 'Good morning, friend that is a boy,' and Lily is bright red in the face trying to contain her laughter.
His girlfriend is most definitely going to be the death of him, but he's so damn happy about being able to call her his girlfriend that, all things considered, he thinks that'd be a pretty damn good way to go.)