Prongs was taking forever, and it was annoying me and his parents. We were all ready to leave, and he kept yelling ‘just a minute’ from upstairs even though it’d been more like 10. What was taking him this long, I didn’t know. It’s not like he had to do his hair or anything. It was untamable; he knew it, I knew it, the entire world knew it.
“James, darling, we are going to be late” Euphemia said. She looked at me “Why is he taking so long, dear?”
“I think this girl he likes will be at the party” I said, shrugging.
“Oh, is this that redhead… mmm, Evans, is it?” asked Fleamont.
“No, he’s given up on that one”
“Stop giving my parents information about my love life!” Prongs complained, finally making his way down the stairs.
“What love life?” I joked. He made a rude gesture.
“James!” his mother squeaked. We laughed.
“Sirius was telling us you have your eye on a young lady that’s attending the ball tonight” said Fleamont wiggling his eyebrows at Prongs. He rolled his eyes.
“That is absolutely none of your business” he said. “How are we getting there, again?”
“Portkey. I refuse to use a chimney; my dress would be ruined” Euphemia said.
We all gathered around a small flowerpot that had been enchanted to take us to the ball. I wasn’t a big fan of portkeys, so I took a deep breath and shut my eyes firmly.
I had to blink a couple of times to help my eyes adjust to the light when we landed. I couldn’t believe this was the same house I’d visited only last week. Mrs. Silverway had truly outdone herself, the place looked incredible. Every bit of decoration was made out of shimmering glass, enchanted so that it caught the light, creating an illusion like the entire place was covered by a silver glow. It was actually really cool.
“Wow, Leonor has really blown it out of the park” Fleamont said. We all nodded in agreement and started walking towards the door.
“Did you attend this thing last year?” I asked James quietly.
“Nope. First time”
“I didn’t feel like it. Thought it’d be boring. There aren’t many people our age” he shrugged.
“I’m curious, Prongs. Your parents and Jocelyn’s parents are very close, you could have been pretty much like cousins for real. Why aren’t you?” I asked him.
“Because I’m an idiot, basically” he said. I raised my eyebrow and waited for him to elaborate.
“We were close when we were little, like, I remember her fifth birthday party in particular. We gave chase to garden gnomes for hours. And, she gave me a super cool enchanted toy broom for my ninth birthday. I promised her I’d be Quidditch captain at school, and that I’d get her on my team. She told me she was sure I would, and that she wouldn’t complain much when I bossed her around” he sighed.
“But then we got the letter. It was happening for real. We were going to Hogwarts and I knew she was going to be in the same year as me, and I panicked. I kept thinking ‘what if the other kinds think it’s weird that I’m such good friends with a girl’”
I had to laugh at that. I remember what it was like being ten and eleven years old. Girls were almost as scary as dementors. We reached the front door but indicated to his parents we were going to wait outside for a bit. I wanted to hear this story. They nodded and went ahead without us.
He carried on. “And, the other thing is, her birthday is in August so even though we are in the same year, she is like what, five months younger than me? She’s almost a year younger than you, too. So, I freaked out. I thought it would be best to pretend I didn’t know her.”
“How did that go down?”
“Well, you can imagine. I stopped replying to letters and I stopped coming over when my parents visited. I also hid in my room when they came to our place, until she got the message and stopped coming, too. Then, the first time at King’s Cross, I didn’t even say hi to her” I could tell he wasn’t proud of himself for this. I felt really bad for Jocelyn. No wonder the girl had been so introverted and quiet all these years. I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like for her.
“She probably thought I was embarrassed of her. I never told her I was actually scared everyone would think she was way cooler than I was, despite the fact that she was younger and a girl. I thought she was, why wouldn’t everyone else?” Prongs finished.
“I think you should tell her that, you know” I said. He looked at me wide-eyed.
“Yeah, I don’t think she wants to hear it, Padfoot. Maybe she’s forgotten?”
“No way in hell someone forgets something like that, Prongs. But it does say a lot about her character that she is still willing to try being friends with you after that. I don’t think I would, mate” I told him. I knew he didn’t want to hear it, but that’s what friends are for.
“I don’t even know how to bring it up. ‘Hey, remember when we were thick as thieves and I decided to be a complete asshole and pretend I didn’t even know you because you were too cool and I wanted to be popular in school?’” he rolled his eyes.
“Well, maybe not like that, but if I were you, I’d say something” I shrugged, and motioned for him to follow me inside. It was freezing, and I had lost feeling in my hands.
We walked inside just in time to see Leonor and Edward walk down the stairs and start greeting guests. I scanned the crowd, looking for Jocelyn, but couldn’t find her. I was starting to worry she had decided to celebrate with that boyfriend of hers instead of coming to this party. If she had done that, I’d be pissed off. She was the only reason Prongs and I were wearing these stupid tuxedos.
“Holy crap” James whispered. I turned to look at whatever had made Prongs’ eyes to bulge like they were going to pop out of his head.
It felt like the air was knocked out of me. Jocelyn was hurrying down the stairs, completely oblivious to the murmurs and whispers spreading through the room like wildfire. She was wearing a dress that looked as if it had been made with the night sky, quite literally. It was the exact same colour of the night sky, that indigo blue which is almost black, but not quite. It had tiny crystals embedded in it, reminding me of blinking starts. Her hair was pulled back in some sort of complicated do and adorned with the same crystals on her dress. She was a vision. I didn’t think I had ever seen anyone or anything more breathtaking. For a brief moment, my heart felt like it had been pierced, and it was Jocelyn wielding the blade.
I could tell Padfoot was scanning the room trying to find her. I found it strange that Sirius was so keen on a friendship with a girl. He had never before shown any interest in getting to know a girl that he wasn’t going to sleep with. He had even gone as far as saying he didn’t really think boys and girls could be friends. I had to check if he had revisited his thoughts on that area based on his behaviour around Jocelyn. I had to give it to him, he was also quite invested in making things work out with Lily and Alice, but I suspected he thought he was doing Moony and I a favour there.
I looked for Jocelyn myself, but couldn’t find her straight away. She was either late to her own party or off somewhere, maybe getting a drink. I was a bit nervous about tonight, but I wasn’t too sure why. Perhaps it was that I had never fancied anyone that wasn’t Lily Evans. Not really. I had hooked up with a couple of girls, but only dated them very briefly, and I had never gone all the way. It just didn’t feel right. Jocelyn had taken me by surprise. I had never really seen her as a girl in that way because I had practically grown up with her, but I guess when you pretend you don’t know someone for a full five years, those rules stop applying.
Telling Padfoot the truth had been a smart move. It felt like lifting a weight off my shoulders. I had been feeling a bit crushed by my guilt for ages, and it was like I finally had room to breathe again. He was right, I should tell her. I had to explain and apologise for being such an idiot. I looked around once more, my eyes dwelling on the staircase. We used to jump from the steps, daring each other to jump for a higher one every time until one of us chickened out. I was chuckling quietly to myself when I saw her on those very same steps, coming down towards the crowd.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. This… this goddess couldn’t be the same little Jocelyn I was just thinking about. She wasn’t trying to make an entrance at all. If anything, she looked mildly mortified that she was late and was hurrying down the steps. Well, she was hurrying as much as her dress allowed her to. But, even though she wasn’t trying, she filled the room with her presence. How someone so small and delicate looking could have such power over a crowd was beyond me, but she did. And she didn’t even know it.
She made it to the bottom of the stairs and quickly dashed towards one of the bars. I tapped Padfoot on the shoulder and took off in the same direction. We found her politely listening to an older wizard by the bar. She was clearly annoyed that he was keeping her from her drink, but was too polite to do anything about it. Lucky for her, I wasn’t.
“Excuse me, sir, I need to steal her away for a moment” I swooped in. The wizard looked at me like I was an insect and walked away.
“Thank you” she smiled.
“I am guessing you need a drink” Padfoot said.
We turned towards the bar and asked the house elf for firewhisky, but Jocelyn shook her head.
“Laly, serve them the same I got” she said.
“Should we be worried?” Padfoot asked, faking concern.
“If you don’t like it, I’ll have it and you can order your firewhiskey” she dismissed him. The elf gave us three glasses.
“What is it?” I asked her.
“Muggle whiskey. I think it’s better than ours, but let me know what you think” she explained. I took a sip. It was actually really good.
“How did you discover this? Max?”
“Black, it really is not funny” she said, looking away. “And, if you must know, yes, he introduced me to it”
“He’s got good taste” I muttered. She looked at me and smiled.
“There’s something I want to say” Padfoot announced. We both looked at him like he’d sprouted a second head. It was unlike him to be serious – no pun intended.
“Go on, then” she said, bored (or pretending to be, I wasn’t sure).
“You really, really need to stop calling us by our last names. It is not cool. We’re on the same team. You are the only team member Pro… James calls by the last name. It freaks me out” he said. Oh. I actually agreed with that. Wholeheartedly. I wanted to hear her say ‘James’ again. Repeatedly, if possible.
“I actually agree with him” I chimed in. She looked at us and stayed quiet for a while.
“All right…” she nodded, slowly. Then, she looked at me. Okay, fine, let’s just do it.
“So, Jocelyn, can I speak to you for a second?” I gave Padfoot a look and he graciously vanished in the crowd. She glanced his way with confusion, but then shrugged and turned to me again.
“I… well… there’s no easy way of doing this, but I guess I’ll start by saying I’m sorry” I gave her my best puppy eyes, hoping to awaken some pity in her.
“Why are you sorry? What have you done?” she looked alarmed.
“What? Nothing! Well, nothing new” I cleared my throat. “I want to apologise because eleven-year-old me was a gigantic moron and you didn’t deserve what I did to you”
She looked beyond shocked at that. I gave her a moment to process before continuing.
“I just wanted to say that I was afraid. I thought people would like you more than me, and that I would be picked on for having a best friend that was a girl, and I didn’t even think that it would upset you that much. I told myself you’d make other friends, and you’d be fine, because well, you were you, and cool, and awesome. But I felt shitty about it, I really did. I was just too cowardly to admit it to you”
“It’s okay, James” she said, averting her eyes. Was she going to cry? She wasn’t, was she? Oh Merlin, I was not prepared for this.
“Right, well… I didn’t mean to kill the party mood, so, ehm…”
“Why now?” she interrupted me. She looked straight into my eyes, and I found it really hard to form a coherent thought.
“Mmm… well, you know… this year I have realised that I messed up big time. I mean, I used to think you were the coolest kid on the block when we were little and turns out that you still are. And, well, Sirius pointed out that we could never really be friends until I came clean” her perfect lips opened in surprise at that.
“You told Black?”
“Only just. I told him very recently. Like, half an hour ago recently” I admitted.
“Tell me something, James” she asked, moving closer to me. She was really not making this easy. The closer she got, the more distracting she became.
“Yes?” I was nervous. I felt like I was fourteen again and I was getting ready for my first kiss. How ridiculous.
“Promise me you will never do that again. I like being around you, and your friends, I really do. I love the Quidditch team, and spending time playing explosive snap in the common room. I even love going to the Three Broomsticks, even though I despise butter beer” she took a deep breath, then continued. “Promise me you won’t shun me again. I don’t deserve it”
“You don’t. You didn’t. I shouldn’t have done it when we were eleven, I can’t fix that now, but trust me, we like having you around too. You are smart, and witty, and funny. We want to be friends, all of us, not just me. And, even though we will probably get into a fight or argument at some point because someone will do something stupid – it’s bound to happen – we’ll solve it. All of us, together” I told her. She looked into my eyes again, and I took the opportunity to add a last line. “I won’t ever hurt you again, Josie”
“Oh my god! I didn’t think you remembered that” she said, smiling. I winked at her and we both laughed.
After James’ little confession I felt like a weight I didn’t know I was carrying was lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I was now truly free to explore our new friendship, I felt like I could trust them. There was a whole new world of opportunity out there for me, and it was mine for the taking.
I was definitely starting to feel the whiskey. We had had three drinks, or so, and were currently waiting patiently for Laly to serve us a fourth one. There was an annoying little voice in the back of my head telling me that getting drunk with Sirius Black and James Potter was never a good idea, but I was stubbornly ignoring it.
I had not been prepared for the sight of these two wearing tuxedos. I mean, you can make any average looking guy sexy by dressing him up in a black tie. I don’t need to tell you what Sirius and James looked like. It was all I could do not to drool. Every time one of them smiled a me, I was brutally reminded of just how handsome they were.
“I’ll be right back guys” said James, disappearing in the direction of the restrooms. Sirius and I nodded.
“So, Jocelyn, how do you feel about tequila?” he asked, with a casual smirk. Sweet Merlin, he had to stop looking at me like that or I would lose it.
“Are you trying to get me drunk?” I joked.
“Maybe I am” he wiggled his eyebrows at me, but his eyes were intensely boring into mine. I could almost feel them on my skin. He was a bit too close for comfort, and I suddenly felt like I had to break eye contact, or I might do something very stupid.
“I doubt you can keep up with me” I turned to Laly. “Two shots, please”
“Someone’s feeling feisty”
“You have no idea” he made a funny face at that. Oops, maybe I should think before I spoke.
“Won’t your boyfriend mind you’re getting drunk with me instead of him tonight?” he said, moving closer to grab the little shot glass Laly had placed on the table. He offered me mine.
“Ready?” I said, ignoring his comment. He nodded. “So, you have to tap it on the bar first, and then we have to look into each other’s eyes and down it”
“What’s with the tapping?”
“Stupid muggle superstition, but I am not taking any chances” I said.
He shrugged and did as instructed. The tequila burnt my throat and sent my already tipsy mind spinning even further out of control. I could feel my self-control and general ability to think about consequences and bad choices slipping through my fingers.
“Tell me” he said, nodding towards the now empty shot glasses. When had he gotten so close to me?
“They say if you don’t tap you don’t shag” I replied, casually giving him a side glance. He choked on the whiskey he was sipping, and his reaction sent me into a laughing fit.
“Who are you and where is Jocelyn?” he joked.
“Ah, don’t even try to act surprised. Just because I don’t go around sleeping with half the school doesn’t mean I’m innocent” I shrugged. He looked a bit taken aback.
“It’s not like…”
“What have I missed?!” James joined us, cutting Sirius off. He eyed the empty shot glasses and gave us an accusatory look. I took what I hoped was an inconspicuous step to the side to put some space between myself and Sirius.
“You did shots without me?” he made a face. “Unacceptable behaviour. Betrayal, mutiny!”
“Don’t worry James, there’s plenty of time for more” I said. He checked the clock and nodded. “It’s only eleven. We have another hour before countdown”
“Are you going to stay until after?” Sirius asked me.
“Of course, it’s my house” I was slightly confused by his question.
“I thought maybe you’d go see your muggle for the countdown” he shrugged. “Laly, please, can we have three of those tequila shots?”
“Ah… yeah, well, about that… we broke up” I said. They exchanged a quick glance that I didn’t know how to interpret.
“Oh, I’m sorry” I could feel Sirius smirking before he turned to me and made a face. “I am very sorry” he repeated, now with a small smile on his lips.
“You are so not. Like, at all” I shook my head.
“Hey, you can’t blame me. I wouldn’t wish a long-distance relationship with a muggle on anyone. It’s not personal” he said, passing me the shot glass, then one to James.
“Are you okay?” James asked me.
“I am. It was the best for both of us. It was sad breaking up, but it was kind of friendly. No yelling or name calling or anything like that” I smiled at both of them. “Enough of that, I don’t want to think about it. This is a New Year’s Eve party, that’s what we’re focusing on”
“That’s what the tequila is for” James said, grinning.
“Okay, ready?” I said. Sirius held up his free hand.
“Are you not going to tell him?” he asked.
I could see the glint of mischief in his eyes, but I wasn’t sure what was causing it. Suddenly flustered, I decided I didn’t want to have an inside joke with Sirius Black that included the word ‘shag’ in it, because I wasn’t sure my sanity could handle it, so I turned to James.
“Right, yes, of course. James, rules are you have to tap the shot glass on the bar before drinking, and we have to look at each other. Though, with three people it’s a little awkward”
“You don’t tap, you don’t shag!” Sirius beamed. James looked at him like he was insane.
“It’s his new favourite saying” I said.
“You taught him that?” he looked mildly alarmed. I simply shrugged and signaled to them.
“Right, three, two, one… tap and…” Merlin’s pants. This tequila was stroooooong.
After a couple of shots, we all decided to dance. We claimed a small area at the edge of the dance floor and just swayed and danced to whatever was playing, without paying much attention to anything. It was so liberating and fun. Time flew by and, before I knew it, everyone was getting ready for the countdown. I stood between James and Sirius, well aware that if anyone had told me a year ago about this, I would have thought them in desperate need of a visit to St. Mungo’s psychiatric ward.
As people started whispering excitedly, I felt James’ arm around my waist. The countdown began. His hand was firm on my hip. I could feel his warmth through the fabric of my dress.
I looked at up at him.
“James, what are you doing?” I whispered.
I noticed Sirius shuffle and fidget on the other side of me.
He looked at me and pulled me a bit closer to his side.
“James, what are you doing?” I asked again.
“I just don’t think…
… that a girl as amazing as you…
… should have no one at all…
… to give her a kiss when the clock strikes”
MIDNIGHT – Happy New Year Everyone!
And then, James Potter brought his lips to my mouth.
I thought Jax was a good kisser. I really, really did. I wasn’t wrong, but he had absolutely nothing on James. Holy Molly. He started sweetly, just gently pressing his lips against mine to give me time to pull away if I wanted to. When I didn’t move, he slowly pushed my lips open and sensually explored my mouth with his. It was so different to Jax. I definitely liked that he tasted like whiskey and tequila, with no traces of tobacco.
His arm, still around my waist, held me firmly against him. His other hand cupped the back of my head. My mind was going a million miles per hour. What the hell was happening? I had no idea, at all, that James felt this way about me. Did I feel this way about him? I didn’t know. I was definitely attracted to him, I mean who wasn’t, but I had just broken up with Jax literally a few hours ago. I didn’t think I was ready for anything. But, James wasn’t exactly known for having serious relationships anyway. Maybe I was getting ahead of myself. In a moment of lucid thinking amidst the alcohol haze and shock at the unexpected kiss, I made the decision to just go with it and stop over thinking everything just for once.
My mind shut down quickly after that, and my body and instincts took over. I was feeling things I had never felt before, and it was both scary and exciting. James kept kissing me, and I him, and I swear to Merlin I wouldn’t have stopped, like ever, if Sirius hadn’t started making strange noises next to us. James broke the kiss and looked at him, visibly annoyed.
“Your parents are coming. All four of them” he said. Oh. Oh, crap.
“Quick!” I grabbed them both by their hands and guided across the hall as fast as my dress and the crowd would allow me.
We made it to the garden and I guided them to my favourite spot, the bench nearest to the fountain. It was freezing, but I thought the cold air would help us sober up a little. I was reeling from the kiss and buzzing with adrenaline.
“So, happy new year guys” said Sirius, smiling innocently at us.
“Yes, happy new year!” I clapped my hands happily. This was by far the best New Year’s Eve I had ever had.
“I’ll give you two a moment, but it’s freezing and I have nowhere to go or anyone to talk to, so be quick” he said, heading towards the other end of the garden.
“I wasn’t expecting that” I muttered to James as soon as Sirius had walked away.
“It wasn’t planned. I just… I don’t know, spur of the moment thing” he said. I had never, ever, seen James Potter be shy about anything in his entire life. He wasn’t even fussed when Lily told him… oh. Fuck. Would Lily be bothered by this? She had always denied that she liked him, and she was super into Cal, but I had to tell her immediately.
“Sorry, yes, all the tequila makes it a bit hard to think” I joked. “I… I don’t really know what to say, James. I…”
“How about we don’t say anything? We don’t need to. I mean, it happened, it was great, but that’s it. Let’s keep hanging out with everyone else and, if anything happens, it happens”
“I… just so you know, I don’t usually kiss people like that. It’s not…”
“Hey, even if you did, it’s not my place to judge. It’s not like I haven’t hooked up with people. And, by the way, my best friend is a womanizer, so, really, I couldn’t judge anyone even if I wanted to” he held his hands up in a ‘not guilty’ kind of way. I smiled.
“Okay, cool. Yeah, that sounds good” he nodded, and turned towards Sirius to wave him over.
“So, when’s the wedding?” he said. I rolled my eyes.
“Very funny, Black”
“Oi! Not fair, I heard you call him James” he protested.
“I’ll remember to use your name, someday” I said, smirking at him.
“You are so cruel”
“Karma is a bitch” I said. James laughed, hard. Sirius just hung his head in resignation.
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