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26. James Potter looks at me differently.
I guess I’d never considered that me dating James Potter was going to be such a big deal to other
Monday morning, James and I were walking towards breakfast, hand-in-hand, when Charlotte slid out in front of us, blocking our path.
“Morning, lovebirds!” she chirped, her face positively aglow with a wide smile as she turned her blue eyes on James. “I’m awfully sorry, Potter, but I’m going to have to steal Lily away for a quick moment.” Charlotte winked at me, her nose crinkling. “Girl stuff.”
I rolled my eyes. James laughed. “If you must,” he told Charlotte, looking at me. “Just don’t keep her long. I wouldn’t want her changing her mind about em or anything.” His hazel eyes, as arresting as ever, sparkled.
On cue, I melted.
…I really need to control that particular reaction.
“Oh, it won’t take long.” Charlotte assured him. “She’ll be back before your fingers get cold.”
I didn’t even have a chance to contemplate how to say goodbye, because before I knew it, James’ hand was on my cheek, his lips on mine. His mouth felt softer than I’d remembered, and I didn’t want to break the contact, so I kissed right back.
Soon enough Charlotte’s whiny protests forced James to pull away, and he afforded me one last smile and squeeze of his fingers before walking off towards the Great Hall. I looked after him, probably acquiring a horribly enamored look, because Charlotte threw back her head in laughter. “What?”
“Oh, minx, minx, minx,” She said affectionately, linking her arm through mine and spinning me around to walk in the opposite direction. “You are surprising me with every move you make.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” I asked, amazingly not annoyed that she’d activated my terrible nickname. I owed the fact to James’ lingering kiss.
“Well, you voluntarily
began to date James Potter last night.” Charlotte began, her golden curls bouncing as we walked. “And as surprising as it may seem, the fact has rather shocked the entire school.”
“Oh, come on.” I guffawed. “People are much too focused on their own dramatic lives.”
Charlotte smiled sardonically. “Trust me, Lily. This is affecting the entire
“Oh really?” I rolled my eyes. (Have you noticed I seem to do that a lot around Charlotte?)
My friend smirked. “This morning, before I found you, Bella Dangerfield ran straight up to me, positively in tears, blubbering something to the extent of: ‘Charlotte! Is it true?’” Charlotte assumed a frazzled look, effectively emulating the brunette seventh year. “‘Oh, is it really true? Are they really dating?’”
I laughed at her dramatic re-enactment. Her imitation was spot on.
“And I told her ‘Yes, it’s true. Weren’t you at the Ball last night?’ And she says- get this- ‘Yes, but I simply couldn’t stand believing he would date her.
I thought he still loved me
!’” Charlotte laughed her twinkly, silvery laugh, and it echoed through the hallway.
I didn’t reply for a moment. “They did
date,” I told her, a bit anxiously.
Charlotte stopped walking and looked at me. “So?”
“So why would she say something like that if it wasn’t true?” I asked her, an ounce of panic in my voice.
“Lily,” Charlotte cautioned, knowing that my rampant logic was about to get the best of me.
She couldn’t have been more right. Dread immediately set in. “But what if he really still loves her? What if I’ve just been fooling myself? Oh, Merlin, what have I gotten myself into? What if he-”
“Lily!” Charlotte interjected, grabbing me by my upper arms and looking me sternly in the eyes. “Listen to me.” She voice became maternal, a tone I knew all too well. “Bella Dangerfield, though I’m sure well-intentioned, is an attention magnet, and will probably do anything to relive the fifteen minutes of fame she got when she dated James.”
She released my arms, sighing. “And Lily, I wish I could explain what I see when James looks at you.” She looked away. “It’s like he never wants to look away- like if does, he might never have the chance to look back.” She glanced at me again. “And he’s been looking at you that way a long time, not just lately.”
I considered her words. Perhaps I needed to pay more attention when he looked at me next. “Okay.”
Charlotte smiled, and hooked her arm through mine once more, resuming our walk down the hallway. “Besides,” she said. “Bella Dangerfield is just plain melodramatic.”
“Well, they did kiss,” I mentioned quietly.
“Lily!” Charlotte scolded.
I shook my head. “I know, I know. I’ll stop. I’m just being stupid.”
Charlotte snorted. “So nothing new, right?” she teased.
I laughed. “My thoughts exactly.”
27. Charlotte was right.
Not only about me and James, mind you.
I suppose I had the gall to think that though the entire student population knew about it, professors probably wouldn’t find out about James and I, let alone concern themselves with it. I mean, under any normal circumstances, they wouldn’t pay any attention to the student gossip mill.
Apparently, these aren’t normal circumstances. On Monday alone, three professors recognized my relationship with James in one way or another.
It was weird.
Professor Merrythought positively giggled when I sat down next to James in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Her confusing outburst sent a tremor of alike reactions through the classroom and an unnatural pink hue across my cheeks. James coughed to hide his laughter. I could’ve hit him.
During Potions, Professor Slughorn showed no obvious shame in coming straight up to James and shaking his hand heartily, an enormous smile on his bulbous cheeks.
“Good riddance, my boy!” He boomed. James smiled back unsteadily, glancing at me uneasily out of the corner of his eye. It was my turn to hold back laughter. “You’ve got yourself a fine girl, and a talented potion-maker, at that!” He winked at me, his chest vibrating with chuckles all the way back to his desk. The class, apparently never tiring of the news, erupted into whispered conversations.
The most surprising, however, was Professor Vector. I was about to leave the Arithmancy classroom when she tapped me on the shoulder. “Ms. Evans, I hate to be a gossip, but I couldn’t help but overhear the news.”
She blushed, a look I’d never expected to see on the strict, solemn teacher. “And I, well, it’s just-” She sighed, laughing quietly. “I can’t help but be happy for you and Mr. Potter. I am a bit ashamed to admit I’ve rather been pining for the pair of you for many years now. I hope you’ll forgive my personal intrusion to wish you happiness.”
“Oh, of course, thank you,” I breathed, outrageously surprised. Been pining after the pair of us for years? A teacher who’d never even had James as a student?
It was quite a Monday.
?” James asked, astounded, after I’d told him what she’d said. He was sitting next to me at dinner, loading his plate with potatoes. “Isn’t she the one that threatened to get a student expelled for subtracting incorrectly?”
“Oh yes, that was her,” laughed Charlotte, who sat across the table from us buttering a scone. “But that dolt deserved it. Any common three-year-old could’ve subtracted three from five. ”
“Actually,” Sirius interjected from next to her. “Professor Vector is the one with gorgeous legs.” He smiling smugly, picking an apple from a bowl on the table and shining it on his sweater. “What I’d do to need an Arithmancy tutor.”
“Please,” James grimaced. “Spare us your fantasies.”
“Oh, c’mon, James boy, it’s perfectly natural.” Sirius chuckled. He suddenly acquired a pondering expression. “Why, haven’t you told Lily here about that particular library scene you’re always telling me about?”
I raised my eyebrows and looked at James, who immediately glared at his best friend. “No, actually, I haven’t.”
“Well, what a better time than now? We can have a nice little discussion!” Sirius suggested enthusiastically, as if it was the grandest idea he’d ever known. He winked at Charlotte. “Maybe then I’d tell you how splendid a pair Professor Vector and I would be.”
Charlotte gave him a disgusted look and slid away from him on the bench. “Um, that’s vulgar,” she mentioned, nose wrinkling. “Considering she’s forty
Sirius shot the blonde a critical look. “Well gosh, who died and gave you permission to judge me, Flynn?”
“Merlin himself,” Charlotte replied knowingly. Then she laughed. “As if those last comments you made didn’t warrant any righteous judgment.”
Sirius rolled his eyes and noisily sunk his teeth into the apple in his hand. Charlotte returned her attention to buttering the scone.
I can’t help but wonder if they’re secretly in love with each other.
After dinner was over, James and I bid the happy couple farewell and headed back to our dormitory.
“I’m sorry what happened back there,” James said, reaching out to grasp my fingers. Shivers tingled up my spine. “You know how Sirius is.”
At that point, I didn’t feel it was ]appropriate to mention that Sirius’ comment had sent my mind on a mad rampage of thought, neurons speeding back and forth like hummingbirds, trying to connect the dots and discover exactly what sort of library fantasy James held in his mind.
And, disturbingly, creating one of my own.
“It’s alright.” I assured him. “I usually just try to ignore what Sirius says, anyways.”
“Good.”James smiled, seeming relieved that the subject could be dropped without harm. “How about today? I’ve never gotten so much positive attention from professors.”
“While I can’t say I haven’t
,” I responded, smiling. “But it was rather odd. I didn’t think people thought too much about…” I looked down at our hands. “Us.”
James looked at our hands, too, and it was silent for a few beats.
“That sounds nice,” he finally said, quietly. “Us.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
28. James Potter is a poet and a therapist.
Wednesday night marked the monthly Heads and Prefect meeting. Such gatherings mostly consist of discussing any changes in rules and regulations, notes from the Headmaster or issues in the system that need addressing. Sometimes they’re solely to reprimand lazy Prefects for shirking their duties or taking advantage of their privileges. In fact, just last month James and I held a meeting dedicated to explaining why having steamy couplings in the prefects bathrooms and having the indecency to leave the door unlocked was not only disgusting but against the rules.
I mean, really? If you’re going to take advantage of your already dismal privileges, at least lock the door.
I’m usually not prone to nervousness before such meetings, but during all previous meetings, the whole entire school, professors included, wasn’t in an uproar over my relationship with James. So this one would be different and uncomfortable- and I knew it.
Wednesday night at 6:50 James and I headed towards the Ravenclaw common room, where the meeting would take place. The location of the meeting rotated between the four house common rooms each month. As we approached the common room, nervousness twisted through my veins and my mind absolutely refused to shut up.
This is going to be disastrous. I’m never going to get out of this alive. I should have quit while I was ahead. I should have never become Head Girl. Actually, scratch that. I should have never become James Potter’s girlfriend. Why on earth did I decide to date James Potter in the first place?
A few paces away from the entrance to the common room, I stopped in my tracks, my thoughts pulling me backwards. “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Do what?” James’ eyebrows instantly knitted with confusion. He rested his hand gently on the small of my back and examined my face worriedly. “What’s wrong?”
“I…” I looked at him, feeling stupid and yet indignant. “We’re going to be…they’re going to…it’s going to be…they’re going to…talk!” I finished, frustrated that I couldn't find the words.
“What?” James asked again. But then he paused, and smiled. “Wait a second. Are you worried about their comments on this?” He gestured between our bodies, symbolizing my thoughts exactly.
He laughed for a second, and then shook his head. “Lily, look at me.” He stepped in front of me, placing his hands softly on my shoulders. I turned my face towards his.
“I should’ve considered this more, and I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it bothered you.” He examined my eyes closely, searchingly. “But does it really matter what they think? Or what they say?”
“No, of course not,” I told him honestly. “Nothing they say could change the way I feel.”
James smiled, and it lit up his eyes, which glimmered even in the dim hallway. “So just ignore the comments. They’re not that bad, after all.” He rubbed his hands over my shoulders comfortingly.
His words and touch worked magic on my stress. It dissolved completely. “I guess I’m just overreacting. Or over-thinking.” I sighed. Then smiled. “Or both.”
“No, you’re just being Lily,” James slipped his arms around my back and hugged me to his chest. I followed suite, snuggling against his solidity. “And it’s okay, because I love you no matter what.”
My entire body liquefied at his words, and I squeezed my eyes shut, willing time to let me hang on to the moment.
Inside my head, I thought, So this why I decided to date James Potter. He’s a poet and a therapist, too. And he loves me.
And I think I might love him, too.
28. Perhaps even I can be...Charm-ing.
It’s really pathetic how much I’m realizing that Jefferson Cornwall did me absolutely no good. Besides the fact that I’m awful at playing ‘girlfriend’ thanks to him, my ‘when-to-kiss-or-hug-or-be-generally-affectionate-towards-significant-other’ radar is completely nonexistent and my cognitive thought has decided taken an extended leave of absence.
And don’t even get me started on the heart-beating, pulse-racing thing.
Last night, James and I studied for a Charms exam for three straight hours.
And you’re dying to know- how did I concentrate sitting next to him for three hours? Well, I didn’t. Not really.
In all truth, I knew the material like the back of my hand. I could do silencing charms and cheering charms in my sleep. I could write ten feet about the fidelius charm in less than ten minutes. I could argue the advantages of banning hexes altogether with my hands tied behind my back.
But unfortunately for him, James had not been gifted with a particular aptitude for Charms. So we studied.
I helped him as best I could. We sat, kneeled and lounged on the floor of the Heads common room, attempting spell after spell, repeating incantation after incantation. At the end of the first hour, he’d improved considerably with his flame-freezing charms, though we’d burned through nearly twenty candles. And over the final two, he got a steady hold on color-changing and growth Charms, and even managed to perfect the fairly complex levitation charm.
I gave him a lot of credit. Whatever previous myths I’ve held of his study habits have been torn down- and replaced with an awareness of the strange work ethic I never expected him to possess. Contrary to my previous thoughts, he was surprisingly serious about improving and eagerly accepted my assistance.
And may I just point this out? He’s adorable.
The way his forehead would cave in when he was particularly concentrated made me smile like a fool. And when he asked me why I was smiling, I replied that I was happy with his progress. At this response he narrowed his eyes because he knew I was lying, and that made me laugh, because he had to know how adorable he was.
Adorableness aside, at the end of the night James had transformed from a mediocre Charms student into a startlingly prepared test-taker. And I was ridiculously proud of his improvement.
“Hey,” I said, ruffling my hand through his hair. “You’re not so bad at this after all.”
James smiled at me widely, falling back onto the floor and stretching out on the carpet. He folded his arms behind his head and rested his head against them as a pillow. “Well it’s a lucky thing I’ve got such a fantastic teacher.”
I blushed. I looked away from him and into the fire, trying to ignore the fact that my skin tingled just from the way he was staring.
But I couldn’t ignore his gaze; couldn't resist it. I looked back at his contagious, imploring smile and returned it shyly. I suddenly noticed how his shirt had become un-tucked the slightest bit, how the flames in the fire place glinted off his glasses. He sat up and became a silhouette outlined against the burning behind him. His eyes were dark but glowing.
The hazel engulfed me. Their intensity surprised me, but warmed me. If it was possible, my body temperature hiked a degree higher; my hair suddenly felt heavy against my neck. I became aware of how shallow my breath had become, and something else, inside of me. The steady thump-thump
of my heart pumped a slightly unfamiliar emotion through my veins; an emotion that burned, but also seemed slowed things down. My thoughts felt sluggish, as if the cells were wading through molasses.
What may have been several light years later, I connected the dots, and I knew what I was suddenly feeling.
It shocked me only minimally. And although the word was unfamiliar to me, and even a little scary, I couldn’t deny it. The feeling fluttered through me un-convinced, a stranger in a foreign land. Eager to learn; eager to grow.
The eyes caught in my own pulled me back to reality, and I rubbed my lips together, realizing with a start that we were much closer than we’d been a few seconds ago. I was in a new position, my knees tucked beneath me, my fingers resting against James’ on the floor. It was as if I’d been drawn to him subconsciously. Like a magnet.
Fortunately, my mind was already handicapped from rational thought. Which naturally gave me permission to proceed with whatever it was this new, strange desire
was leading me to do.
Ever so slowly, my free hand rose to touch his shoulder, trailing gently towards his neck. I traced the side of his neck, slowly the pace further when I reached his subtly rough cheek, finally lingering tentatively on his lips. James remained absolutely still, regarding me with an expression I thought I’d heard someone explain to me in the past.
I wondered vaguely that I should kiss him before my heart absolutely exploded, so I retracted my fingers and leaned forward, letting my instincts lead me. James remained a statue. I flickered my eyes towards his as I hovered a fraction of an inch from lips, and I felt his fingers tighten on mine.
Once, quietly, I brushed my lips across his. I felt him suck in a breath and saw his eyes shut.
Emboldened by his reaction, I met his mouth once more, tasting unhurriedly. I ran my tongue across his lower lip, trying to taunt, then repeated the action across the top. I continued the ritual for a few slow moments.
But in-security suddenly got the best of me and I pulled away from the kiss, unsure if I was getting anything right. I was new to the whole desire thing.
James opened his eyes the moment I’d retreated, eyebrows creasing.
“Beautiful.” James interjected, his voice low and enthralling. He reached his hand to cup my cheek, fingers probing against my jaw. The caress seared my skin, which was already simmering, as his gaze burned straight to my heart; he was looking at me as if he'd never seen me before. “And perfect. Kiss me again?”
I had no words. I simply leaned forward and our lips met in the middle.
So maybe I’m not all wrong, after all,
I thought distantly.
My new acquaintance, desire
, seemed to roll its eyes. If only you’d trust me.
James looked at me after a few soft kisses and stroked my cheek again, his eyes droplets of liquid gold. Finally he sunk his fingers backwards into my hair, pulled me back towards him, and captured my mouth once again.
I realized (subconsciously, of course) that I’d just taken our relationship a step further, establishing a trust we hadn’t previously held. A connection we hadn’t made. It felt…wonderful.
At the same moment I also realized that I’d neglected to do my Herbology homework.
But lost in all that was James, I wasn’t feeling regretful in the least.