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James tensely felt the last days of November slip by, waiting for the rumors to begin. Whoever was going to use that information (certainly not Emma, he thought, she was a Gryffindor and all, she wouldn’t spread stuff as serious as this!) hadn’t spoken a word yet, and James decided it would be best not to confront Lily about leaking the secret until something did happen. Lily apprehended him first, however. “James, we need to talk.” Lily said one evening in the common room, as they watched the heavy December snow fall through the window. “Why have you been avoiding me?” she asked as James sighed, and turned to face her, but he was startled to see tears forming in her eyes. “Lily! I haven’t been!” James said quickly, trying to console her with this lie, afraid to share his passionate feelings about her. She would think he is a stalker or something, obsessing over her day and night. With Quidditch practice no longer a viable excuse, he had been serving “detention” in the evenings, although really just flying around the grounds till late in the night. “Yes you have! At least tell me why you don’t want to be together anymore!” Lily whimpered, trying not to have a total break down in front of the whole common room. She had really really really begun to like him, and she thought he had felt the same way. It was really hurting her that he rarely talked to her anymore, never sat with her, was always rushing off. If he would only give her a reason for this avoidance, she would understand, anything was better than being left in the dark like this. James pulled her aside and began to tell her how he had been under a lot of stress lately, with being Quidditch Captain, his school work, and stuff like that. Lily didn’t buy it. “You wanted me to be honest with you, and I was. Now I want you to be honest with me.” Lily interrupted him, in the middle of a longwinded recital of his poor Charms grades that he was working on. “You know me too well. It’s not Quidditch that’s bothering me, or school, or anything like that. It’s you, Lily, you’re driving me crazy! In a good way, of course!!!” He added quickly, realizing too late that crazy might not have been the best way to describe it. “You’re all I ever think about anymore! And I love thinking about you, but it’s like an obsession.” He continued, but unable to look at her when he spoke. “I have feelings for you that I know I shouldn’t be having so soon, but I can’t help it. I was trying to clear my head by avoiding you, but that only made me long for you even more.” Lily just stared at him, or more so at the side of his face, as he was no longer speaking directly to her. She felt kind of odd that someone was obsessing over her, but at the same time relieved that James was not angry with her. “I’m sorry Lily. I know you must think I’m queer or something, and really bothered by me now.” he said sadly. “Why would I feel bothered that you like me? I thought that it was okay for people to like each other, and I thought you knew that I like you too.” Lily reassured him, still feeling slightly odd. “So, you’re not afraid that I’m some psycho stalker now?” “Of course not!” Lily laughed, now able to look directly at his face, as he had turned. “Do you want me to change or spend less time together or something?” “NO! I like you just the way you are! As long as you’re okay with me being totally crazy about you… I was hoping we could spend more time together. Being apart from you was torture!” James was smiling now, feeling that he had been foolish to get scared over his feelings like that. December was always a short month at Hogwarts, as the Christmas Holidays took up the last two weeks of the month. Of course this really just meant that the teachers tried to cram twice as much than usual in half the amount of time before the end of the term. And once again, even in the snow, Quidditch practices were daily for the Gryffindor team. James was tutoring Crystal in Transfiguration on the weekends, and she was greatly improving. The match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff was the first weekend of December, and despite the frigid weather and the blizzard conditions, the whole school would of course be there. The morning of the match Lily woke up very early. This was unusual, as she liked to sleep late on the weekends, but for some reason she woke up and could not fall back to sleep. She hated when that happened, but decided it was useless to lie there for another hour before the other girls got up. She quickly dressed and went down to the common room to work on her muggle studies project. Her friends had signed up to take the class to learn more about where Lily had come from, and Lily took it with them as well. Needless to say it was a very easy grade for her, and she rather enjoyed hearing the wizard point of view on muggles. She was just putting the finishing touches on her poster (The Muggle Mania of Football!) when Crystal came downstairs. “Ready for the big game?” Lily asked her, as she did a little charm to make the letters sparkle with iridescent glitter. “I ‘spose.” Crystal said through a heavy yawn. “Promise you won’t stuff another muffin down my throat if I eat some toast on my own free will?” “As long as you eat something!” Lily laughed, remembering the last game. When the rest of the castle had awoken, everyone bundled up to brave the cold and headed for the stands. Lily could barely move because of her many layers, and Tracy teased her, calling her the abominable snow beast, and Lily had to agree that she wasn’t far from the truth. The wind whipped through the stadium, causing the eyes of the spectators to water with the combined pain of the snow blowing into them and the force of the gusts. Lily, Tracy, and Erica huddled together, waiting for the start of the game. The announcer’s voice boomed out over the snow, but it was apparent that his teeth were chattering in the cold, and he sounded very funny. “The G-G-G-Gryffindor t-t-t-team takes the field, P-p-p-potter, Black-k-k-k, Bell, Royster-r-r-r, Flanagan, Knightly, and T-t-t-turner! And here comes Hufflepuff! D-d-d-diggory, Macmillan, Abbot-t-t-t, Dawson, Kirkpatrick-k-k-k, Lumsden, and F-f-f-foley!” The announcer managed to stutter out, though his words were barely heard over the whistling of the wind. The players were visibly shivering in their thin robes, as wearing cloaks would slow their flying down. “And the Q-q-q-quaffle is released and taken by someone, c-c-c-can’t really see through the s-s-s-snow!” This was very true, the snow was coming down so fast and swirling so much, red and yellow looked very nearly the same. “H-h-h-hufflepuff sc-sc-scores! T-t-ten to z-z-z-zero, Hufflepuff!” called the announcer, and the Gryffindors groaned, although very few in the stands had seen the score. “Where is C-c-c-crystal? Do you s-s-s-see her?” Erica mumbled after a few more minutes of freezing cold. “How c-c-c-can you even tell b-b-b-between the t-t-t-teams?” Lily replied, shaking violently with coldness. “T-t-t-turner nearly scores, stopped by a B-b-b-bludger!” and with this they were able to locate her, the smallest player on the field, soaked to the bone, her blonde ponytail frozen solid. “Q-q-q-quaffle picked up by Black, passed b-b-b-back to Turner, passes it t-t-t-to Bell. He’s g-g-g-going! Going! Almost there! G-g-g-gryffindor scores! T-t-t-tie game!” The Gryffindors tried to cheer enthusiastically, but as they were shivering too much, very little cheering was actually done. It probably wouldn’t have made a difference, as the snow silenced just about anything, but this didn’t stop the announcer from trying to be heard. Whether the weather made the match seem to go on forever, or the seekers just couldn’t see anything out there, the game felt extremely drawn out to Lily. Just then a loud CRACK echoed through the stadium, audible even through the blizzard, and a red player began to fall from the sky. “Oh my gosh! It’s C-c-c-crystal!” Tracy tried to scream as the trio watched in horror as their friend plummeted towards the ground at an alarming rate. The stands were silent, watching the fall. Just then out of nowhere James (Lily thought it was James, at least, recognizing the untidy hair) pelted after Crystal and dived below her. “C-c-c-catch her! Oh James!” Lily wailed, now shaking from fear. A fall from that far up would surely be serious. James caught Crystal tightly in both hands, managing to stay on his broom, about 5 feet above the snow covered ground. He did not stop flying however, and shot off in the complete opposite direction. Near the Hufflepuff goalposts, Diggory had gone into a dive, and would surely get there first. James flew through the air at a tremendous speed, no hands on the broom, still cradling an unconscious-looking Crystal. It looked impossible for the Gryffindors, with Diggory already closing in. James was flying so fast that the two seekers were amazingly almost neck and neck, with James getting closer by the second. The stands were shouting even in the cold, for the excitement of who would get there first was invigorating. Diggory stretched out his hand, reaching for the tiny snitch, although completely invisible to the crowd through the snow. James shifted Crystal to his left quickly, and swiped with his right. What happened next no one in the stands could see, as the seekers reached for the snitch. James brought his hand back quickly to reabsorb Crystal’s weight and swiftly landed on the ground, carrying her over to Madam Hooch. “Oh, Diggory got it!” Tracy cried disappointedly. But Lily continued to watch him. “Did he? James wouldn’t have given up that easily.” The crowds watched Diggory, his arm still outstretched. He too looked confused by James’s sudden withdrawal, and it took him a moment to realize that the snitch was gone. “D-d-d-does Diggory have the snitch?” The announcer called out. Then Diggory dropped his arm and also landed on the ground, and held out his empty hands to the crowd. “Where’s the snitch?” The announcer voiced the question on everyone’s mind. “Did it get away?” Madam Pomfrey and Madam Hooch were tending to Crystal. James walked out to the middle of the field and held up his hand. He had the snitch! The stands, or at least the Gryffindor supporters, erupted. He had snatched it right under Diggory so quickly that Diggory himself hadn’t even noticed. While he did his victory lap of honor, Tracy, Erica, and Lily hurried down to the field to check on Crystal. “What do you think happened to her?” Lily asked urgently. “I d-d-d-didn’t see anything, only her fall!” Erica replied, very worried. “What a great catch though, first C-c-c-crystal and then the snitch!” Tracy added fervently, and they all agreed, it had been a great catch.

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