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No way!

Do you reckon it’s a boy or a girl?

Jessica told me that Bryan said that Charity said that Violet said it was a boy!

I heard it was twins.

Wait, I thought it was triplets?

The whispers around me got more and more distorted as I walked along, the next one even more embellished than the last. I don’t even think they were trying to keep their mutterings quiet anymore, they didn’t care if I heard. I had been hearing different versions of these accusations all morning, none of them even remotely close to the truth.

I kept my head down and kept walking down the cold corridor, avoiding looking at any of the people clustered together in groups. I could feel them all watching me as I went past, I could hear them all talking. I had set my mind to keep my eyes on the floor and ignore them, but all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like lying down and overlooking their idle gossip any longer. Just before rounding the corner, I stopped and turned back to look at my fellow students.

“Actually, guys, I’m having quintuplets, hadn’t you heard?” I shot all of their shocked faces a double thumbs up and walked on, holding my head high. Now that would give them something to talk about.

Suddenly, I felt a pressure on my right hand as someone grasped it. I looked upwards to see James’ smiling face. “Well, that sure was something.” He grinned, intertwining his fingers with mine.

I laughed nervously. “You saw that?” We continued walking along the corridor, heading for the moving staircases.

I looked at James out of the corner of my eye as he smirked at me. "It was kind of hard to miss," the smirk expanded into a full goofy grin that took over his entire face, his dimple sinking deeper into the flesh of his cheek. I pursed my lip playfully and nudged him with my elbow.

"You would do the same thing if you had to listen to all that crap all day." I rolled my eyes.

James shrugged his shoulders. "I've been getting it too," he stroked the inside of my palm with his thumb as we stepped onto one of the staircases. "But then again, mine have been more congratulatory that critical."

I huffed out a breath at the idea of him getting praised for something I was so heavily judged for. "Just because you're a guy, you get the high fives. But since I'm a girl, I get to be called a slut." I frowned and puffed out my bottom lip. "Double standards."

James clicked his tongue in annoyance and pulled me by the hand to stop me from continuing to climb the stairs. He walked down to one step below me so we were almost eye level.

"Violet Iphigenia Beale." My frown deepened at his use of my horrible middle name. "No matter what anyone is saying, no matter how horrible they are being, they don't know what they are talking about." He indicated between us. "What happened between us was nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, maybe we weren't the smartest about how we... did it." I blushed awkwardly, breaking eye contact and looking at the ground.

"But that does not mean we have to apologetic about the result." He rested his hand against my stomach. "And if anyone has anything of the contrary to say, they're idiots. They don't know what happened, and they don't need to know. Because we do." He leaned into me, tipping my chin upwards to look him in the eye. "And I wouldn't change a thing." His soft smile took my breath away. "Don't listen to what they say." He whispered, reaching up to run his thumb over the frown line in between my eyebrows.

I sighed. He was right, of course. The frivolous gossip being spread about me wasn't worth my time. Soon I wouldn't even be attending Hogwarts, and this would all just be a distant memory.

"You're right." I said. "but if you ever use my middle name again, I will not hesitate to punch you right in that pretty face of yours."

He chuckled and wrapped an arm around my shoulder and we continued up the stairs, which were now anchored to the landing. "Pretty, huh? Thanks." He puffed out his chest in mock arrogance. wiggling his eyebrows. I rolled my eyes once again, deciding to not to retort to his witty remarks.

"Hey." James said suddenly. "Where are we going?"

"I was just following you." I paused. "Shit, I'm supposed to be in Ancient Runes!" I added, wondering how I could have forgotten my intended destination.

"Why not just skip it?" James suggested, leading me back down the stairs. "Come for a walk with me."

"Don't you have a class now too?" I asked, pulling my hand back and raising an eyebrow.

He waved his hand dismissively. "Missing one divination class won't hurt." I snorted at his rationalisation of the many classes of divination I was sure he had missed.

"Come on," he smiled, grabbing my hand again. "You know, you're allowed to break the rules every once and a while."

I stuck out my chin defiantly. "I break the rules."

"Oh yeah?" James asked, "What rules have you broken, eating an After Eight at seven?"

I wrinkled my nose in frustration. I'd show him and his shitty attempt at reverse psychology. I can break the rules, and I can enjoy myself while doing it too.

"Okay then. Let's go."

Together, we strolled across the grass beside the Great Lake. The weather was surprisingly beautiful for a January afternoon, the sun shining down in that lovely way that makes everything warm and bright. There was a soft breeze blowing the grass lightly around our ankles and swaying the leaves on the trees. I smiled up at the sky, glad to see the weather was beginning to turn around. Maybe this was a sign that things in all aspects of my life would start to improve. I hoped so.

"Here?" James asked quickly, gesturing for us to sit on the ground underneath our feet. I nodded my consent, and James sat down on the warm grass, offering his hand to help me sit down between his legs. The butterflies kicked it up a gear, from faint fluttering to a full-fledged fiesta in my stomach. No matter how often he touched me, I couldn't ever imagine this feeling stopping.

I leaned back against his hard chest and breathed a deep sigh. The mix of the fresh air and James' distinct smell that was just him was perfection. I don't think I would mind skipping another class if it meant I could stay like this all day.

I could feel James take a deep breath in like he was about to say something, but he paused. I waited, pretending I didn't know. He breathed in once more, but stopped once again.

"Spit it out, Potter." I said jokingly. I twisted my head and looked up to see his face. He smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. I frowned, pulling away from his chest and turning around on my bum so we were face to face. I scooted forward, kicking my legs behind him so we were closer.

"What's wrong?" I asked seriously, reaching my hands up to hold the front of his jumper.

He shook his head, looking downwards to avoid my eyes. He seemed... nervous?

"James? Look at me."

I smiled when his familiar hazel eyes met mine. "What's wrong?" I repeated.

He moved his jaw from side to side. "I was thinking." He said, lifting his hand to place over mine on his chest. "That maybe... since we're doing this whole 'couple' thing..." He paused, shaking his head.

"People are going to expect certain things. I- it just seems like... Oh, bollocks."

He looked down again, but I stayed quiet, letting him finish.

"I just think that since we'll be convincing people we are happy couple in love, that we should be, y'know... doing things couples do and whatnot."

I looked at him questioningly. "I'm not sure I know what you mean." I stated worriedly. What exactly was he asking me here?

He met my gaze. "In order to make this believable, we'll probably have to... kiss." He said. "In front of people." He watched me, awaiting my response.

Of course I had considered this (and imagined it over and over in my head, so sue me) and I knew it would probably have to happen. I mean, I was happy (ecstatic) to get the opportunity to kiss James, but I didn't want to introduce the topic for fear he wouldn't want the same.

James spoke up again, "So maybe we should... practice."

My heart thumped faster at the suggestion.

"Just so things aren't awkward when we have to do it in front of people. Only if you want to though, and purely for practice purposes. Just for the sake of preparation." He rushed to explain himself. "Feel free to say no, honestly, I won't mind."

"Well," I said slowly, "preparation is key."

James nodded, his eyes falling down to my lips. I quickly peeked my tongue out and licked my bottom lip, and his eyes returned to mine in a flash.

I could see the hunger growing in his eyes, an expression I am sure was reflected in my own.

"Practice makes perfect and all that." I breathed, scooted myself closer to James, running my right hand up his chest to his neck. I was close enough to him to see the freckles splattered across his cheeks and his jealousy-inducing long eyelashes. I lightly ran my index finger along his jaw as I breathed him in.

The corner of his mouth turned up as he brushed a loose strand of hair behind my ear. He leaned in slowly, too slowly. He brushed his thumb along my jaw and used his soft grip to lead my mouth up to his. I took a final deep breath.

And then, our lips finally touched.

The electricity exploded the same as it had before, if not, then even stronger. His lips were impossibly soft as they moved with mine, slowly at first, his hand moving softly to hold the back of my neck. I was surprised to find our compatibility in this area had not changed. Our lips fit perfectly together as they moved in synchronisation, brushing off one another lightly.

I had a desperate need for more. This wasn't enough. I needed to taste him. I opened my mouth slightly, and he reciprocated immediately. I gasped at the feeling that came with the taste of his breath. His hand slid down to hold the back of my waist, and he roughly pulled me closer to him. I wrapped my arms around his neck just as he hesitantly slid his tongue to touch my bottom lip. I met him instantly, smiling as our tongues lightly traced one another.

I ran my fingers through the hair and the nape of his neck and tugged on it gently. He groaned, tightening his grip on my waist. I let out a whimper when he captured my bottom lip between his and sucked on it. Our lips moved with more urgency now, moving against each other feverishly.

I never wanted this to stop.

But... it had to.

There was no use in kidding myself.

All of this was for show, and the more distanced I made myself, the less it would hurt later.

I moved my hands to lay flat against his chest and opened my eyes as I pulled away. James leaned forward after me, his eyes closed, searching for my lips. When he didn't find them, his eyes opened. He blinked deliberately, looking down at me through heavy lids. He blinked again. "Oh." He cleared his throat. "Right."

I placed a closed-mouth forced smile on my face and moved away from him and turned back around.

"Like riding a broom." He joked, "You never forget."

I forced a laugh as I lay back against his chest.

Things were about to get very complicated.

Ah! They kissed! Finally, am I right?

Thanks again to everyone who reviewed the last chapter. I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things, but hopefully this chapter will tide you guys over until the next one.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to review!

~yerawizard27 x

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