James was lucky enough to wake up before Vi and stash all of his family pictures (which happened to move in their frames). Once he was sure the previous night hadn’t been a dream he didn’t want to risk her discovering the truth about him on accident. He wanted to tell her himself, he wanted it to be deliberate. He would have told her that morning, but his hangover got the better of him.
The more he put it off the more difficult it became to say out loud. He practiced when they were apart, Teddy even convinced him to practice his speech with him, but when he looked Vi in her blue eyes he couldn’t say it. He couldn’t bare the thought of her looking at him with fear or disgust, so his secret stayed with him. What did it really matter anyways? He would tell her before things became serious. They’d only known each other for three weeks, sure he liked her-but he wasn’t going to marry the girl. But three weeks turned into four weeks, which turned into a month and before long James and Vi had been dating for over three months.
Vi was glad to hear that James had figured out what he wanted to pursue, but couldn’t deny that she was going to miss seeing him as much. When he went to work, so did she. She reorganized the sections, fixed all of the broken bindings; researched new books to purchase and even read a few. She managed the store easy enough, but it was getting harder and harder to convince herself that she wanted to do it for the rest of her life. With James encouraging her to pursue writing-and seeing him pursue his own dreams- she was feeling inspired. She applied to more schools, ones not in the area, just in case she decided to go after it. It had only been three months, but Vivian couldn’t deny she was falling hard and fast for that mysterious man who found her in a thunderstorm.
“Just trust me. This is going to be worth it.”
James encouraged as he finished the last step of the fire escape and stepped onto the roof of the bookshop. He turned back around and held his hand out to help Vivian clear the last step. They both stared out at the cityscape, all of the lights creating a mosaic in the night.
Vi said softly as she felt James’s hand wrap around her waist. She felt suddenly safer when he held her.
“City’s got nothing on you.”
He whispered into her ear and Vi couldn’t hide her smile as his lips pressed against her blushing cheek. Vi leaned back into James’ chest as he rested his chin on the top of her head, wrapping both arms around Vi’s waist. They stood in silence just taking in the moment.
“What are you thinking about?”
Vi answered honestly, her answer making James smirk. He loved flying; his broom was one of his most prized possessions. Flying was an escape from the craziness of the ground, it could take him anywhere, and it could take him to peace and quiet when nothing else could. James nuzzled Vi’s neck and his hands wrapped around her fingers, outstretching both of their arms as if they were pretending to be birds.
“Where are we flying tonight?”
Vivian smiled, though her initial thoughts were disappointed that this is the closest to the sky she’ll ever get, James had made it the closest she ever needed.
She cooed as James’ lips kissed the nape of her neck. This was it. This was when she told him about her family, about herself, it was the perfect opportunity. But that was the problem-this night was too perfect.
He couldn’t ruin it with his secret. He couldn’t taint the memory of this rooftop with scaring her off. No, tonight would be one that made him smile when he remembered it.
Not all of their nights together were as romantic as that rooftop, which is why their relationship worked so well. Vi felt so relaxed around James, she could just be herself. James felt the same way, with a few exceptions. Every time she mentioned his work he felt guilty. For a while he didn’t know what to tell her- there wasn’t exactly a Muggle equivalent for Potions Master, or potions’ master in training. His Aunt Hermione suggested Chemist was a good cover. She had been right of course. Not only did Vi accept it, but she didn’t ask much about it.
“Science has always been over my head. The only books I don’t enjoy reading.”
She responded when he told her. James breathed a sigh of relief once that was over. Before he had been omitting facts, not lying, just not divulging everything…this was different to him-this was an outright lie.
“Work was tiring, coworkers giving me a rough go of it.”
James replied when asked the daunting question. He started to chug his pint, trying to swallow the bitter emotion with the alcohol.
“Oy…it really was a rough day eh?”
Vi asked with her brow furrowed. James was usually a timid drinker around her, but something was eating at him tonight. She had noticed it earlier in the week, seeing the signs. James was keeping a secret. About his past, his family, his job-she couldn’t be sure which, but there was something he kept from her. But who was she to prod at him? Wasn’t she doing the same thing?
“I thought I saw Trouble walk in here.”
Vi was pulled from her thoughts when Decklin Finchley started walking towards her. She stood to great him with a hug.
“I told you that was private property, you’re the one that insisted we venture on.”
She teased back before pulling away and turning towards James who seemed to choke on his drink when his eyes met Decklin’s.
James saw the look in Decklin’s eyes when he recognized him and quickly waved him off. Taking advantage of Vivian’s back turned to convince his mate not to mention magic.
“Decklin, and you are?”
He spoke picking up on James’ hints.
He replied extending his hand to shake. Decklin looked between his two friends before James finally spoke again.
“I’m going to need another drink…Decklin was it? You wanna head to the bar with me?”
Decklin nodded and grabbed the half-full glasses from the table. Both boys smiled at Vi before turning their backs.
“Bloody hell Potter, what game are you playing?”
Decklin asked as they approached the bar and hailed the barkeep. Decklin had always been immersed in the Muggle world-his parents’ insistence. His parents were friends with the Woods, even more so when Vi didn’t get her Hogwarts letter. Decklin was one of her only magical friends. He couldn’t imagine what Vivian would go through, but he knew she’d need someone and he was always there when she did.
“I’m not playing around Deck, I really like this girl.”
“How do you even know this girl?! Oy….Were there not enough skirts at the Cauldron you’ve got to mess with Muggles?”
“She’s not a Muggle”
James spat in a hushed tone as the barkeep brought them filled mugs. Decklin’s eyes widened.
James had started to walk back to the table, but Deck’s question stopped him.
“What about Vi?”
James asked, which caused Decklin to look back at the table where Vi sat alone waiting for them to return.
“What about Vi?”
Decklin repeated and James furrowed his eyebrows, his mate wasn’t making any sense. James shook his head as they started walking again.
“All I meant was that she’s not just a Muggle to me Deck. I’m not messing around with her, I mean it.”
Decklin hoped James really did mean it, because from what he understood-James was in for a surprise that Decklin wasn’t sure he’d be able to handle.
Decklin gave Vivian a hug before he left the pub, having been on his way out anyways. There was an awkward pause before Vivian spoke again.
“He didn’t threaten you did he? Deck sometimes forgets I can handle myself.”
“No, he was a good enough bloke. Just wanted to make sure my intentions were honorable.”
“Well you’re still able to walk, so I suppose you answered correctly.”
James shook his head back and forth.
“I’m just a really good liar.”
He smiled widely as Vivian kicked him under the table, causing him to spill some of his beer. Both of them seemed to look at the floor for a moment after that comment, but then their eyes met and any insecurity were forgotten.
They stayed at the bar to finish their round talking about anything and everything they could think of. When it came time to leave, neither one stumbled or even felt off balance-not because of the alcohol anyways, Vivian couldn’t deny her knees feeling a little week when James wrapped his arm around her waist while they followed the cobblestone path to his flat. Not much talking occurred once they made it inside, but instead they found an alternate use of their lips. What started in the hallway found it’s way to James’ bed quickly.
James’ lips traced a line from Vivian’s cheek to her collarbone as Vivian whispered into his ear.
“I thought you had honorable intentions.”
James smirked before stopping his exploration to look up at Vivian, his hair going in every direction possible.
“Overall they are…but I must admit my intentions are currently a little more devious.”
He winked at her before their lips crashed together. It wasn’t new for James and Vivian to make-out; it wasn’t strange for them to get carried away with it, but it never led to anything but a disappointed James. Vivian was set in her ways and she would not sleep with someone she didn’t love. Being four months in they’d had this conversation before, but there was something different about this night. She hadn’t said anything different than normal, she used the same tone that James was used to, but he couldn’t help but feel hurt. For the first time he took her ‘No’ to mean that she didn’t love him and that implication left the pit of his stomach turned upside down and his chest tightened. His breathing was ragged, and admittedly his mind wasn’t exactly where the blood was rushing so the words just slipped out. He hadn’t meant to say them, but looking down into her perfect blue eyes he couldn’t stop them.
“I love you Vi.”
Vivian responded completely shocked.
“Oy, that was all wrong…I didn’t just say that so you’ll sleep with me Vi, I respect you way more than that, you don’t have to sleep with me…ever…I just…I thought about what you said about shagging and I just…”
James’s rambling ceased for a moment as he focused on something else,
“You what? That’s your response to I love you?”
Vivian pushed James away and began pacing back and forth next to his bed as she spoke.
“I think under the circumstances it was a reasonable response…I mean James those are big words to just throw at someone.”
“I meant it Vivian. I love you, everything about you.”
He stood from the bed and stopped her pacing. James traced small circles on Vivian’s arms, which were folded in front of her chest.
“I don’t need you to say it back...but can you at least throw me a lifevest? Am I bedlam for feeling this way?”
Vivian looked at the ceiling to avoid James’s eyes. It didn’t matter what she felt, she couldn’t be in love with someone if she wasn’t willing to tell him the truth.
“You’re not crazy James.”
Vivian finally spoke; she could feel tears starting to work their way up to her eyes. She wasn’t ready for this; she wasn’t prepared to have so many emotions when this day actually came. Her eyes traced the floorboards as she spoke again.
“But you’re not in love with me either.”
James scoffed and lifted Vi’s chin to look him in the eye.
“We’re keeping secrets from one another James. Is that how you treat someone you love?”
James took a step back from Vivian. How did she know he was keeping secrets? Did she know what his secret was? Wait…had she just said that she was keeping secrets?
James thought over his next words carefully.
“I’ll tell you my secrets Vivian…anything you want to know I’ll tell you. I’m not foolish when I tell you how I feel. Vivian Wood, I’m a-“
Vivian said quickly, closing the gap between them again and holding her hand over James’s mouth.
“I believe you James, I trust that you want to do right by me, but…”
James reached up and intertwined his fingers with Vivian’s bringing her hand away from his mouth.
“You’re not there yet.”
“I’m really close.”
She said with hope in her voice. How was she supposed to explain her life to him? To tell a Muggle magic is one thing, but Vivian couldn’t prove it. She couldn’t whip out her wand and do a charm to prove she wasn’t mental. And what was she supposed to say once that conversation was over? Oh, but don’t worry about any of that because I’m not actually a witch. This whole world of magic exists, but neither of us can be apart of it.
James brought Vivian’s hands back up to his mouth and kissed them gently.
“It won’t hurt my feelings if you head home.”
“I’m not ready to leave either.”
Vivian admitted, to which James smirked. She was easily the most complicated woman he had ever met, and he loved that about her. They laid back down, James’s arm wrapped around her waist, her head nuzzled on his chest. Vivian couldn’t tell him what she was-it was a disgrace. She wasn’t like him, normal. She wasn’t even magical. She didn’t belong anywhere. But as James’s breathing slowed into a sleeping rhythm she could feel her own heart beat starting to fall in pace with his. Maybe she did belong somewhere; maybe she was exactly where she was supposed to be.
“I love you James.”
She whispered in a barley audible tone before closing her eyes and falling asleep in the arms of the one person she thought could handle who she really was, the one person she could let herself love.
A/N: They're so close to perfect happiness and bliss!!!! Which is why the next chapter is going to seriously break your heart....but it's all worth it in the end I promise!!!! Spoiler Alert: Next chapter is Titled "Realizations"