Chapter 3 : Winter Wonderland
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“Let’s go outside.”
Lily looked up from her Potions assignment at James. He should, theoretically, have been working on the same essay, but he’d been glancing longingly out the window at the flurries all day.
“I should finish this essay,” she said, trying not to let her disappointment show on her face.
It had snowed all through the night, and when Lily had looked out the window before going downstairs for breakfast, her first thought had been that she was very, very glad that it was a Saturday and that she would not have to trudge through it to get to Herbology or Care of Magical Creatures. However, as the day had gone on and the snow had turned into large, puffy flurries, she’d felt the pull of the grounds.
It was really a mark of how much James liked her that he’d decided to stay back when Sirius, Remus, and Peter had trooped outside with Jane and Sarah an hour after breakfast. Lily had no delusions that he’d passed up the chance to spend time with his friends because he cared about his Potions essay.
He clearly sensed her hesitation, because his lips curved up into a small smile. “Come on,” he said, giving her his most winning smile, and despite herself, she could feel her resolve waver. “You can finish up Potions tomorrow.”
“We can also go outside tomorrow,” she pointed out half-heartedly. He didn’t say anything else, but the look in his eyes said it all. After a moment, she decided that she couldn’t take it anymore, and threw down her quill. “All right.”
His face brightened, and he got up to lean across the table to kiss her. “Be down in a few minutes,” he said, grabbing his books and heading for the stairs to the boys dormitories.
Lily watched him go, a small smile on her face. Asking him out in September had definitely been a bit brutal, but since then, she’d been grateful every day that she’d swallowed her nervousness and managed it anyway.
After he’d disappeared up the staircase, she gathered up her things as well and made her way across the common room and up the stairs to her dormitory. Once she got up there, she dumped her school supplies unceremoniously onto her bed and pulled a warmer jumper out of her trunk. When she’d exchanged it for the thinner jumper she was already wearing, she grabbed her coat off the nail she’d hammered into the bed post. She pulled her scarf, gloves, and hat out of left sleeve and wrapped the coat tightly around herself before starting back down the stairs. When she reemerged into the common room, she was just pulling her lumpy purple hat onto her head. It was bitter out there, and she had the feeling that James would insist on staying out for a long time. Not that she was opposed to that.
James was already there.
“Sorry,” she said breathlessly, leaning up to brush her lips against his. “Let’s go. I’m overheating.”
He grinned as he took her hand, and they made their way toward the portrait hole.
Unlike her, James had clearly not dressed with great concern for warmth. He was wearing his coat, but she could see the same thin red sweater he’d been wearing all day peeking out from underneath it. Although he had on a scarf, he hadn’t bothered to put it on in a particularly effective manner: the ends both hung free, rather than being tucked inside his coat as Lily’s were.
He was wearing gloves, but Lily suspected that all the gloves were an indication that he was intending to throw snow at her and didn’t want his hands to get too chapped.
After all, that might interfere with his process on the Quidditch pitch, and James Potter couldn’t have that.
As they made their way down the stairs, Lily moved closer to him, pulling her hand free to put his behind her back. He glanced down at her, and she smiled.
The “I love you” was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t quite say it. They’d only been going out for a few months. What if he didn’t feel the same way? What if he felt obligated to say it just because she had?
Sarah told her that she was being insane, and that of course he felt the same way, he’d only liked her for years. Logically, Lily knew that Sarah was probably right, but it was really rather astonishing how little that helped.
James hugged her close. “You’re amazing,” he said, kissing the top of her hat.
He’d been saying that, or things along that line, quite a lot lately. That gave Lily hope; it felt almost like he was trying to find something to fill the void of “I love you,” which he was too nervous to actually say.
“So are you.” A smile spread across his face, and she pressed her cheek against the sleeve of his jacket.
They reached the doors leading outside. The floor around them was slushy and dirty. The caretaker, who had been scrubbing the floor clean when they’d gone down to the Great Hall for lunch, had evidently decided that it wasn’t worth it to continue to clean up the mess students kept tracking in as they returned from their adventures outside.
Lily pulled her hat more firmly onto her head, and she and James ventured out into the cold.
Just as they reached the bottom of the steps, she heard someone call, “Hey! Prongs!”
James turned toward the lake and was immediately hit with a snowball squarely in the face. Lily let out a loud giggle before she could help herself at his expression. As he wiped off his face, Lily looked over at the perpetrator.
“Hi, Sirius,” she said.
Sirius grinned at her. “Hey, Lily.” He stepped past her to James and clapped him on the back. “You know—” James cut him off by grabbing his shoulders. “Hey!”
As her boyfriend wrestled his best friend onto the ground – presumably to rub snow in Sirius’s face – Lily looked over at Jane, Sarah, Remus, and Peter, who were approaching at a more subdued pace. “Heading in?” she asked.
Jane smiled. There were chunks of snow caught in her long dark hair, which was neatly braided, and her cheeks were bright and rosy. “It’s too cold out here,” she said, hugging herself. “It’s been fun, but I’m ready to go in.”
“Should we— er— stop them?” Peter asked, looking at James and Sirius uncertainly.
“Nah, they’ll get done with it soon enough,” Jane said carelessly.
As if on cue, James won the battle, and Sirius yelped at he plunged face-first into a large pile of snow. James backed off, looking pleased with himself, and Lily went over to join him as Sirius pushed himself out of the snow, wiping it off his face. When he looked around for James, James did the most courageous, chivalrous thing he could have possibly done in that situation.
He hid behind Lily.
“Come on,” he said as Sirius advanced. “Sirius, you can’t go after Lily, she didn’t do anything.”
“I don’t plan to,” Sirius said as he began to pack the snow in his hands together. “Not if she gets out of the way.”
“Gladly.” However, when Lily tried to step aside, James seized her around the waist. “James!” She tried to struggle free, and managed to shake his balance. Instead of letting her go, he tightened his grip, and she fell into the snow with him.
Sirius snorted and tossed the snowball to land a few feet from where they were sprawled. “You’re pathetic,” he told James, a grin on his face. “Hiding behind your girlfriend. You should be ashamed.”
James leaned over to place a very loud kiss on Lily’s cheek. “But I’m not,” he said.
Sirius rolled his eyes and turned away. “I’ll see you back inside later,” he called over his shoulder as he hurried after their friends, who had apparently tired of his antics and continued on up the castle without him.
“Hey, James,” Lily said softly, gathering up some snow in her left hand. He looked down at her, and she slid her right arm around the back of his neck. He smiled and leaned down again. Just as their lips were about to touch, she brought her other hand up and rubbed the snow into his hair.
He jerked back as some of the snow fell down the side of his face. “Lily!”
She scrambled away from him, grinning, and she could hear his footsteps chasing after her. As she neared the lake, a strong wind blowing across the icy water knocked her off-balance, and James took advantage of her brief moment of being wrong-footed to tackle her. They tumbled into a snow bank together.
Despite the cold snow making its way inside of her scarf, Lily couldn’t stop laughing. She heard James chuckling next to her, and propped herself up on her elbow to look at him.
He grinned up at her. “Caught you.”
She bent down to brush her lips against his. “You did,” she agreed. As she tried to push herself into a sitting position, he wrapped one arm around her waist again, pulling her back down.
“I need to tell you something,” he said hesitantly.
Her heart stopped. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” he said, running a snow-covered glove over the back of his hair and making a face as some of it dripped down the back of his neck. “I just wanted to tell you…” he paused for a moment. “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” His face was bright red, and Lily somehow did not think that it was just from the cold.
Thankfully, she’d been thinking about saying those exact words to him so much lately that her reply was immediate and instinctive. “I love you, too, James.”
His face relaxed, and he leaned over to kiss her.
As his lips met hers, Lily felt her stomach give an excited leap. She didn’t think that she would ever look at snow the same way again.
I'm actually really proud of this chapter, and I hope that you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you'd like to leave me a review telling me what you think, it would be greatly appreciated! :)
Thanks for reading!
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