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"... surpassing any previous records. The young wizard - born in France - has managed to score more goals than any other Quidditch player. He is also particularly adept at the Na Pleu Feint - having invented it himself. This difficult tactic involves confusing the Keeper for a sufficient length of time to slip the Quaffle past him or her. However, many good Keepers are able to recognise the Feint moments before it is performed by the necessary listing of the Chaser's broom towards the ground and the desired hoop. What makes the Feint particularly ingenious, however, is that-"
I stopped reading, and rubbed my eyes. I knew this book back to front, having read it so many times. Yawning I put it to one side and stretched my arms.
I didn't feel like reading. In fact, I didn't feel like doing anything. All I wanted to do was curl up beneath the covers and be left alone.
I heard the Hospital Wing door open, but remained below the covers. If it was Madam Pomfrey, my pretending to be asleep wouldn't do any good. But if it was someone else, I was sure they would take the hint and leave me. So I stayed where I was for a few minutes, and though I didn't hear the door again, I decided that whoever it was must have left.
So I pushed the covers aside, raised my head and looked around me.
I was startled to see someone standing only a few metres away. It was a moment before I realised who it was, and so I quickly scrambled up in bed and made sure I wasn't too dishevelled. I tried to straighten my hair, but it was an impossible task. It wouldn't lie still.
She was looking down towards the floor, hands curled into small fists in front of her. There was silence for a moment. I didn't know what to say. After all, I had said everything yesterday night; there wasn't anything left to express.
"I... James..." she whispered, biting her lower lip, looking so vulnerable and innocent that I couldn't look away.
And finally, she raised here eyes. Those exquisite, emerald eyes - the stuff of my dreams and desires. She raised them and looked straight at me. And before I could say anything, she had run forward towards me and was standing so near to the bed that I could feel her breath over my face.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, anxiety obvious in her voice.
"I... I'm fine," I murmured.
"I heard this morning that you were... were..." her lower lip trembled.
"Lily...?" My tone was inquiring, curious.
"Was it because of me?" she asked.
"No… I just didn't feel too well." I reassured. My voice however, betrayed the truth.
She moaned gently, and before I could register anything else, she had thrown herself on the bed.
"Oof!" I gasped, as for the second time in as many days, I had the air knocked out of me.
"Sorry," she breathed, her head nestled in my shoulder.
I didn't know what to do. I barely moved. If I wrapped my arms around her, maybe she would react like she had done that fateful night when I had kissed her? And if one thing led to another, I knew I was finished. So for the moment, I didn't move a muscle.
She must have sensed my tense body because she whispered: "What's the matter, James?"
Hearing her say my name made a wave of warmth sweep through me. Give it time... Dumbledore had said. As usual, he had been right.
"Lily... have you... I mean..." I trailed off hopelessly.
She looked up at me, her face inches from my own. I could see myself reflected in her large eyes; myself appearing wide-eyed and delighted. I could feel her breath wash over my face. Moist and warm. Sweet smelling. Close up, I could tell that she was as close to perfect as it was possible to be. There wasn't a blemish or a scar on her face. Her lips were soft and crimson. I imagined that she never more any makeup. She didn't need to.
And I imagined how I must look to her. Tired, untidy - my hair a mess. I imagined she must be repulsed by my appearance; by my glasses, and the single scar I had on my left cheek because of a Quidditch accident. I was sure she could feel my heart thumping through the thin bed covers. I could feel hers. I could feel the warmth from her body as well.
I wondered how we would look at that moment if someone were to walk in. There was me, beneath the covers, with this delightful girl half-sitting, half-lying beside me and on top of me. I wouldn't change it for the world.
I was brought out of my reverie when she touched a finger to my face. She traced its outline, the eyebrows, the lips. Every contact sent shivers up and down my spine. My breathing became faster.
And finally - after realising the inquiring look in my eyes - she spoke. "James, I'm sorry." Her voice was barely, audible, a gentle whispering murmur.
I was puzzled. "What for? I should be the one saying sorry."
She shook her head. "No."
There was a silence for a moment.
"Can I hold you Lily?" I whispered.
She smiled, a dimple appearing on the left side of her lips. A blush arose on her cheek, and she lowered her eyes again, biting her lower lip, reddening it further. I gulped. She nodded.
Without further ado, I put my arms around her and held her tightly, burying my head in the mane of her red hair. I inhaled deeply, wanting to drink her sweet scent.
It was bliss. I felt content. I could feel her heart, reassuringly regular, beating against mine.
"I'm sorry James," she repeated, her voice muffled again.
I remained silent, gently stroking her back.
"I'm... I'm scared James. I'm scared of making friends."
I nodded. "I know."
She paused. "You do"
"Yes. You feel scared of getting too close to a person. You're afraid you'll get hurt."
I could feel her nod. "It's true. All my life, I've always been walking alone. I never realised how having a true friend was like."
"Lily, you're an amazing person. You shouldn't feel worried about friends hurting you. Whoever hurt you would have to be mental!" There was an indignant tone in my voice, and I imagined that she smiled.
"The last few weeks have been amazing James. But you shouldn't have done what you did. It was too soon."
I felt sad. This was it. She would tell me that we could only be friends. I breathed to calm myself. It was better to be just her friend than to be ignored by her, I thought.
"I know I shouldn't have done it Lily. I felt like an idiot afterwards. But... I couldn't help myself..." My voice trailed off.
"Because, Miss Evans..." I lowered my head and brought my lips to her ears. "You are the most wonderful woman I have ever met and will ever meet."
She raised her head and looked at me again. I could feel her eyes gazing into mine, probing my face.
"It's true," I said, smiling gently. "I saw you sway and I felt... panic that something might be happening to you. So I rushed towards you and before I could think about what I was doing, something snapped, and... and I found myself just.. you know."
She was still looking at me, and I saw something flicker in her eyes.
"What are you thinking of Lily?" I asked, looking at her anxiously.
"I'm thinking why."
"Why when I look at you I feel something strange. Something I've never felt before," she was absent-minded, murmuring - it seemed - almost to herself.
"Perhaps it's because I'm the most handsome person you've ever seen?" I asked teasingly, raising an eyebrow.
She smiled again. "Perhaps," she replied with equal levity.
I brought my face closer to hers, until our noses were perhaps half an inch apart. Raising a hand, I gently brushed aside a soft strand of hair, and muttered: "And admit it. That was the best kiss you ever had."
For a moment, something clouded her expression, and I was alarmed that I had said something wrong. But only a moment later, that genuine smile returned to her face.
"Perhaps," she repeated, almost seductively, flushing gently.
I raised my eyebrow again. "Why Miss Evans... one could almost imagine you were blushing."
The colour in her cheeks deepened. Being this close to her, I could see a faint freckle - almost invisible - on the exact centre of her nose.
And before I knew what was happening, she had raised her face and her lips met mine. There was an explosion of delight in my navel; I felt shivers travelling throughout my body. Goosebumps rose on my arms, but almost instantly went away.
This was better than it had been before. This was a hundred times better, because I knew that this time, she wanted it. She had started it.
So I did the only thing I could think of. I held her in my arms, and traced one finger down her cheek and I met her advances with fervour many times her own. Oh, for how long I had wanted this!
Truth be told, I didn't want to let her go... ever. She was safe in my arms. I would die - quite willingly - before letting any harm befall her, and I didn't want her to leave. Besides, where else was her place if not by my side or in my arms. I didn't want the soft - yet firm at the same time - contact of our lips to end.
I could feel her breath on my nose; one hand on my neck - the other on my chest, twisting the fabric of my nightshirt with one slender finger.
Her heart was beating faster and the colour in her face had become deeper as well. I could feel the wonderful heat from her radiating over me. She pulled me to her, gently pushing her tongue into my mouth. I met her willingly; our tongues gently touching each other - twisting, sliding, curling. It was passionate; I shall give you that, but not out of control. She tasted almost like strawberries. It was gentle, it was seductive, it was... love.
I don't know what might have happened if we hadn't heard the approaching footsteps. Because it was rather obvious we both wanted more. I held her hand beneath the covers as we turned together to face Madam Pomfrey.
"Stopped pretending to be asleep, Potter?"
I cleared my throat in embarrassment.
"I'll keep you one more night to see if anything happens, but I think you're fine. It's just stress and weariness getting to you. Eat a slice of chocolate every hour and I won't get angry." With that she went away.
I felt a deep longing to embrace Lily again, and judging by her flushed look, I guessed she wanted the same, but now wasn't the time. We were lucky that nobody had seen us.
She turned towards me again.
"So I take it you have forgiven me?" I whispered.
She laughed softly. "I suppose I have James. Why? Couldn't live without me?"
I sobered. "No I can't."
She squeezed my hand.
"What made you change your mind?" I asked.
There was a twinkle in her eyes that reminded me strangely of Dumbledore. "That information, Potter, is for me to know and you to not. Let's just say that I decided that you were telling the truth after all. I realised that you had changed."
I sighed in relief, much more happy than I could ever have anticipated.
"So what are we Lily? Friends...?" I asked gently, leaving the second half of the question unsaid. We both knew what it was. Friends... or more
She thought for a while. "Friends, James. Maybe more - definitely more, but I need time."
I nodded. "Of course, whatever you say."
Lily smiled again. She leaned down and looked me in the eyes. "Don't ever hurt me James."
I knelt up on my bed - so I was at the same level as her - and held her face in my hands, gently, caressing her with my fingers. "I won't, Lily… I can't."