Chapter 24: Scolding and a Kiss
As they were trudging through the snow toward the horseless carriages, Lily paused.
"What about him?" James asked. He was slightly preoccupied, trying to imagine what it would be like to meet Adele. He was determined to hate her, and was already certain he'd keep Lily close at all times. He didn't want to be alone with Adele or his mum for one second.
"He's not staying with you for Christmas?"
"Why? Is it—oh, it's full moon, isn't it?"
"Wha—oh." James had forgotten for a moment that Lily knew about Remus, and was relieved that he didn't have to lie to her about it.
"Yeah. I wanted to invite him, but…" he trailed off.
"When's the full moon, exactly?"
"The actual day?"
"Oh, poor Remus." Lily said, looking sad. Unconsciously, James put an arm around her, not realizing that he'd done so until she put an arm around his waist. They began to walk again, just like that.
"How about Peter?" she asked.
"Going home. His mum makes him come home for every holiday. She gets upset when he's away too long."
She was quiet for a moment, before she said,
"I'm really happy Sirius offered me his flat. It's really, really nice of him."
"Mm. Yeah." There was no way in hell James would tell her the struggle Sirius had put up. Even yesterday, Sirius had begged James to just have her in his house.
"I forgot, I was going to have a giant party at my house, I don't think she'd like it if she was there." He'd said at the time.
James had known Sirius was lying, and wondered at how the same person who had suggested he snog Lily to get his mum off his back couldn't stand the thought of her staying in his flat.
"Jamie!" came a call from far behind him, "Jamie, darling, wait for me!"
James froze. Though he knew that falsetto voice anywhere, he was disturbed at how much it also sounded like his mother. Lily smiled when she heard it.
"Jamie." She muttered under her breath, as though testing it out. From the wicked grin on her face, James could only guess she enjoyed saying it a good deal.
"Jamie!" came the voice again. A second later, he had a hand messing up his hair that was most certainly not Lily's.
"Sirius." James said, "What the hell d'you think you're playing at?"
"Jamie, what do you think you're playing at? I'm hurt. Yo-Lily, do you see how he talks to me?"
Lily raised her eyebrows at being addressed by him, though she said coolly,
"Yes, I know. Most uncivil."
James rounded on her.
"What? You're siding with him?"
Lily smiled, but didn't say anything.
"See James? No matter how hard you work a few words from me and she's mine. Not even your bloody love letters can compete with the Black charm."
"Love letters?" James asked, just as Lily asked him, "You wrote love letters?"
"Yes, dear, he has." Sirius said to Lily, "Poor bugger, he's a lost cause."
"I did not!"
"At least not yet. Lily'll find them stuffed under her pillow any day now."
Lily shook her head at both of them.
"You're both ridiculous." She said, "I'm going to share a carriage with Marlene. See you on the train, Jamie." She gave James a hug and a quick peck on the cheek, then gave Sirius a friendly wave before seeking out the other girl. Sirius shivered.
"That's the girl who shagged Peter, isn't it? Marlene?"
"I still don't get it. I can't believe it." Sirius and James exchanged matching looks. Neither of them had dared approach Peter about it—as long as they didn't, they could pretend it wasn't true. They had come to this decision by a silent agreement.
"Poor Remmy." Sirius sighed, "All alone on Christmas."
"You did not just call him Remmy."
"Why not? I call you Jamie. Which apparently turns your girlfriend on."
"You have no idea what turns my girlfriend on." James said, blushing. It just sounded odd to him to be discussing such a thing, especially with Sirius.
"Like you do?"
"Look, can we not talk about this?"
"Well, Jimmy, what would you like to talk about?" Sirius's voice was mockingly interested, as though anything that James said would be brilliant.
"How about you and Lily?"
"Pish posh. Our love is deep and complicated, and at the same so very simple that it's—"
"Stuff it." They both climbed into their carriage. "One minute you're calling her Yoko, the next you're going on about how she ought to be pregnant by now." It was something that James had wondered for a while. He didn't really understand what Sirius's motives were, which confused him because Sirius was like a part of him, his brother. It bothered him, but from Sirius's expression, he was the only one who was concerned. Sirius laughed and said,
"Are you upset because she called you uncivil? I think that's what it is."
"I don't give a rat's arse if she calls me uncivil."
"McKinnon likes rat's arses."
"Sirius, shut up!" James said, kicking him, "D'you have to be so disgusting?"
"Not my fault. They're the disgusting ones."
"Whatever. Do you like Lily or not?"
"What is this like Lily business? What does it matter if I like her? You're the one who has to deal with her."
"I have to deal with you too."
"Fat lot of good you do. All you do is talk about her."
"Sirius, you're not—you're not jealous, are you?" It sounded so stupid that it was exactly the sort of thing Sirius would do. Sirius rolled his eyes.
"God, James, I'm not in love with you!" Though he looked flippant, something in his voice was annoyed, as though he was frustrated that James couldn't figure out what the real reason for his resentment was. This in turn made James frustrated.
"Then stop acting like a jealous girlfriend, eh?"
James could see that this had been the wrong thing to say. Sirius's eyes flashed, and he said darkly,
"You bastard, you think you're so bloody special that I'd be jealous that you got a girlfriend?"
"You don't—holy hell, you don't fancy Lily, do you?" It was the first time that James had seriously considered it, and it caused all the muscles in his body to clench. If Sirius said yes, his world would shatter. He just wouldn't be able to handle it.
"Hell, no!" Sirius said loudly, and James let out a sigh he hadn't known he'd been holding.
"Well, then—" But James never got to finish his sentence, because at that moment they reached the train station.
"Mate, I don't fancy your girlfriend." Sirius reassured him more nicely, as though the carriage's stop had sent a jolt of kindness through him, "I don't want to see you hurt when you realize she's not all sunshine and unicorns, is all."
"I don't think she's sunshine and unicorns." James said, frowning. Sirius rolled his eyes.
"Whatever you say, Jim. Oh, God." Sirius had carelessly glance out the window and was now staring out through the glass transfixed. James followed his gaze and recoiled. Marlene and Peter were snogging, and it looked extremely uncomfortable, perhaps because she was at least three inches taller than him.
"Enough is enough." Sirius muttered, "I'm saying something. Are you coming?"
"Yeah, sure." James didn't want to say anything. He just wanted them to stop. He clambered out of the carriage after Sirius and trailed after him.
Peter hastily broke away from Marlene, turning red.
"Oh. Hi, Sirius." He looked nervous, and James noticed that Marlene was now stroking his hand comfortingly, as though she knew what he was in for and hoped to make it easier for him.
"Oh. Hi, Peter." Sirius mimicked, glaring, "When exactly did you intend to tell us you'd gotten yourself a shagging mate?"
James thought this was harsh, especially since Marlene was standing right there. He was about to say something, and Peter looked like he was going to as well, but it was Marlene herself who spoke up first.
"Excuse me?" she asked, "Where do you get off, calling me a shagging mate? Last time I checked, you were shagging fifth years."
James felt his jaw drop, and he could have sworn almost everyone who was watching did the same. Marlene had always seemed shy and meek, even by her best friend Hestia's account. Now, however, she looked extremely intimidating.
"I—I—" Sirius was clearly surprised as well, and Marlene continued before he could gather his thoughts.
"I'm tired of you picking on Peter." She said, "You're terrible to him, and he always puts up with it because he thinks you're his friends. You're the most terrible friends I've ever heard of! Who in their right minds talks to someone like you talk to Peter?"
James was surprised that she referred to 'friends' instead of 'friend'—surely she was only talking about Sirius? But then she rounded on James, and he knew he was in for it.
"I'm especially surprised at you, James." She said, "You're always so nice to me, and you're wonderful to Lily. But as a friend to Peter, you're just pathetic. If I were you, I'd dump this loser and gain a spine." She pointed at Sirius to show who she meant when she said 'this loser'. At this point, Peter grabbed her hand and whispered something in her ear. She nodded and, after a contemptuous look at both of them, she turned on her heel and trailed behind Peter.
"I—what the hell." Sirius sputtered. James could tell by his expression that he was conflicted, wrought with anger and guilt and surprise all at once. He felt something similar, but he couldn't help thinking that perhaps she was right. He felt someone take his hand, and he looked down at Lily.
"Did you hear what she said?" he asked her.
"Yes, and I'm not going to say a word about it."
James nodded, feeling even guiltier. He took the hand that Lily casually held out to him and looked at Sirius. Sirius still looked shocked, but he numbly walked alongside them. Finally, once they had found an empty compartment, he said,
"Sort of funny how Peter's girlfriend has to stand up for him, isn't it? I mean, where does she get off, saying—"
"But it's not funny." Lily said matter-of-factly, "She's only saying what Peter's been saying to her for weeks."
Sirius looked pissed, but he didn't say anything else.
Whenthe train pulled into the station, Sirius stood up.
"Come on." He said heavily, "Let's fetch Wormtail and his spokeswoman, shall we?"
James watched Sirius wearily, but he stood up, Lily following suit. They found Peter and Marlene, thankfully not in a compromising situation, and they headed toward the exit.
"James." Lily whispered, "Hold on a second."
James did, and Sirius, Peter, and Marlene were so immersed in themselves and their awkwardness that they didn't notice. James saw that Lily looked nervous, and since she had seemed almost at ease on the way to King's Cross Station, he was confused as to what could suddenly be bothering her. They went into Peter and Marlene's compartment, and he watched as she wrung her hands and looked up at him despairingly.
"What is it?" he asked. He, too, was feeling nervous—after all, in a few minutes he'd come face to face with his intended fiancée and his mother who he'd later openly defy in front of the whole wizarding world, or at least everyone in the wizarding world who kept up with gossip. Though he knew it was right and he was completely willing to do it, it was still nerve-wracking.
"Er—um." James didn't think he'd seen Lily so awkward in a long time. She reminded him of himself and how he often felt when he spoke to her, and he felt an outpouring of warmth toward her.
"If it's about my mum, it's alright, I—"
"No, it's not—well, it is, but—er—" Suddenly, her arms were around his neck and her lips pressed hastily to his. His eyes widened, and for a moment he couldn't move, as a curious nervous, excited sensation ran through his fingers and up through his arms, seizing control of his stomach. Her lips stayed firmly on his for a quick moment, and by the time his mind regained some function, she had pulled back, blushing.
"I just…" she smiled sheepishly at him and said, "I wanted my first kiss to happen before we were trying to…I didn't want our first kiss to be to spite your mum."
James's mind was a blur, and he couldn't think of anything to say. He opened his mouth and some words came out that didn't seem to him to make a logical sentence, but Lily nodded and put a hand on his face.
"I'm sorry." She said softly, "I should have asked you, or at least warned you that I was going to—goodness James, you aren't upset are you?"
"Upset?" James asked in a strangled voice. He blinked once, twice, then grasped her shoulders.
"Did you want to do that again?" he asked her. Her eyes widened.
"Again. I was floundering about like an idiot and I want another shot at it."
She smiled, and he smiled back, and then she did it again. And James knew that this time, he wasn't floundering about at all.
Adele was beautiful and petite and could not speak a word of English.
James stared, not quite sure what to do. He and Lily had reluctantly parted, both of them pointedly ignoring how his mother was glaring at them, and now he was stuck with a girl who had said "'Allo" then promptly shut her mouth.
"So how was school, Jimmy?" his mother said, as though he came home from it every day. He rolled his eyes and said churlishly,
Adele began to wring her hands awkwardly not unlike how Lily had a few minutes earlier, and James felt bad for her. He wasn't about to be nice to her—that would only encourage his mother—but he decided to try and save the brunt of his rudeness for his mother.
"Where's Sirius?" his mother asked, pulling out her wand in preparation for disapparating. Sirius was helping Lily get to his flat, which was in London, but James didn't want to mention Lily to his mother until she couldn't do anything about her coming to the Christmas Ball. So he said, nonchalantly,
"He's dropping some things off at his flat." He turned away from his mother and saw that Adele had turned a peculiar shade of red.
"Sirius?" she whispered confidentially to him when his mother had disapparated, "Il est tres beau!"
James didn't know much French, but he knew when someone liked Sirius more than him. For once, he couldn't have been happier about it.
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