So all that junk about growing up from my last author's note? Total joke. In the last few weeks I've really regressed...all the way back to my 13 year old fangirly tendencies. And you know what? I think that's okay. Maybe that's the cool part about growing up. You can still choose to be a kid sometimes. With graduation approaching at the end of this school year, I keep thinking about who I was when I first started writing this, years and years ago. Time has flown by, and I barely recognize that little girl. But it's nice to know that through it all, HP has been there, this story has been there, and that you guys have been there. And it's pretty cool that in just seven ridiculously fast months that little girl who has sort of/maybe/but not quite grown up will have a Bachelors degree. Insanity.
I know we're all aware of CRAZY AMAZING thing happening next week. I know I've have little else beside Harry Potter on the brain for the last week so I figured now was the perfect time to upload the next chapter. I hope you enjoy. I took a few liberties with this one, but it was just so much fun I couldn't help myself.
"Everything is gonna change, everything is gonna change...for the good." - Paint & Picture, Jonezetta (Ironically, that song actually just starting playing on my itunes as I typed the Author's Note)
Chapter 8: Truth Potions and Control Issues
"Oh, Lily?" James called. "Thanks for the dance."
She gulped. "Anytime."
James watched the pair walk away from him, eyes narrowed on the way Charles casually slipped his hand around Lily's waist as they went to put the drink on the table. Charles had said something to her, but it seemed she was too distracted to notice. She kept playing with her necklace nervously and looking around the room. She's so cute when she's embarrassed, he thought to himself.
She turned to Charles suddenly, apparently remembering his presence, and smiled when he told her something. It didn't quite meet her eyes though, James was happy to notice, though Charles clearly didn't know the difference.
Disposing of his own drink, James tore his eyes away and barely restrained a chuckle. It wasn't that he wanted Lily to have a bad time, but he couldn't help enjoying the fact that she obviously had more fun with him. He set off to find Ophelia, feeling he had neglected his date long enough. He barely made it three feet away, however, before he was intercepted by a hand grabbing at his forearm.
"James!" Sophie squealed, dragging a boy behind her. "I have been looking for you everywhere!"
He recognized her date as Jacob McLaughlin, a fellow seventh year on the Ravenclaw quidditch team who always offered a relatively decent competition.
James gave the other boy an odd look which he responded to with a sheepish smile. "She's a little enthusiastic."
"Stop talking about me as if I'm not here," she interrupted. "Jacob? Be a dear and get us some drinks?"
She held out her glass to him and James chuckled. "Err, Sophie, how many of those have you had?"
She shrugged. "A few. They're quite tasty."
"I thought as much. So what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?"
Shooting him an incredulous look she said, "I don't want to say in front of Jacob."
Jacob, for his part, didn't seem to be offended but instead laughed heartily and kissed her on the forehead. "My Sophie. What a character. I'll see you on the quidditch pitch, James."
She rolled her eyes when he left. "Anyway. I want to know what's going on with you and Lily. And skip the part where you pretend like you have no idea what I'm talking about and go straight to part where you spill your guts."
He appraised her quickly before deciding what to say. "I have absolutely no idea," he answered honestly.
"I am so tired of hearing that," she sighed. "I saw you two dancing. I've seen you two talking. I've seen you looking at her at meals when you think no one else notices. It always looks the same, like you're two seconds away from grabbing each other and going at it."
"I really don't think you should have any more of that punch."
"Never mind the punch. But James, do you know how frustrating this is? Talking to her and then talking to you and never getting a straight answer? Ugh!"
His ears perked up. "What do you mean by that? What has she said to you?" Perhaps questioning a girl who had just been drinking copious amounts of truth potion was a bit morally unjust but he hadn't sought her out, had he? Sophie had come to him, and it wasn't as though Sirius had put too much in the punch…
"It doesn't matter. Actually, it does, but I don't want to tell you. I will say, however, that sitting around and hoping one of you two ninnies wakes up is getting increasingly boring. You had better make a move. And," her voice dropped down to a whisper and she beckoned him to lean in closer, "and it had better be a good one."
James grinned. "Don't worry. It will be."
"Fanbloodytastic!" She looked instantly cheered. "I'm going to find my date now. I quite fancy a snog. Have a good night!"
He was still laughing to himself when he reached the table where his friends were sitting. What a ragtag crew this group made. Ophelia was leaning across the wall of "snow" that served as a partition between the tables and the dance floor. She said nothing when he approached them and put his arm across her shoulders, but raised an eyebrow at him, putting her own arm around his hips. Remus had pulled his chair right next to his date, Iris Eridani, and was playing with her hair. Peter was next to them, along with his own date, Olive Cadagon, who looked very uncomfortable and spent most of the time staring at her fingernails. Sirius was sitting with his date, Aurelia, plopped across his lap. She had one arm slung across his neck and he had one at her waist as the other wagged a finger at Peter.
"Wormtail, you weren't actually supposed to drink that one! That defeats the purpose entirely."
"Aw, lay off, Padfoot," Remus interjected. "It doesn't really matter because your potions work is such rubbish. It probably doesn't even work right."
"I'll give you rubbish!"
"Now children," placated Ophelia, "if you're going to fight I have to suggest you take off robes while you do so. At least this way it can be entertaining for us all."
The twins laughed hysterically while Olive giggled. "Better watch your girl, Prongs," Sirius said grinning. "Ignore her anymore, and she may just run off on you."
"Nah, she's mad about me. She'd never walk off." He winked at her and she shoved him off, laughing.
"Keep talking and I'll walk off right now."
James barely heard her response; he had just spotted Charles twirling Lily around the floor, the smarmy git. Did he really have to put his hands all over her?
"Speaking of walking…do you want to take a stroll around the garden, Jamie?"
He looked back to his friends only to see the three boys snickering at him, the girls giving him confused looks, and Ophelia staring at him all too knowingly. He was grateful that she didn't give him away and just nodded. "Sounds like a good idea."
He grabbed her hand as they walked through the doors that led to the heated garden and stopped her before she walked too far. "You know they think we're going out here to snog, right?"
"You mean we're not?" she asked innocently before smirking. "Relax, I plan on keeping my hands – and lips – to myself."
She rolled her eyes and tugged on his hand, leading him to one of the most secluded spots under the rosebushes. Perching on a low bench, she looked up at him expectantly and waited for him to speak. When he didn't say anything she spoke up.
"Jamie, are you trying to make me jealous?" Ophelia peeked up at him through wide eyes and smiled demurely from her seat.
"Always," he replied instantaneously. "Why do you ask?"
"Well I couldn't help but accidentally watch you like a hawk all night, and I also couldn't help but accidentally notice that you were doing the same with a certain Head Girl."
He shrugged and stuck his hands in his pockets. "So?"
"Well, a guy only pays so much attention to one girl when he's with another for two reasons: either he's trying to make the girl he's with jealous, or he's just plain old interested in the other girl. So, have you changed everything I've known about you and suddenly become interested in playing games to make me a jealous?"
It was clear what she was getting at and James resisted a smile as he answered. "No."
Ophelia's eyes widened. "You really do fancy her, don't you?"
He joined her in perching on the bench. "I really think I do, yeah."
"Well isn't that just adorable," she cooed.
"Yes. James Potter and the Head Girl? It's so…precious."
"Why do you say it that way? I am Head Boy, you know. It's not that strange."
"Yes, but Lily's…well, she's a real Head Girl. You don't care about any of this stuff."
"No, but she does-"
"And you care about her," Ophelia finished. "That's what makes it so cute."
"Why do I get that feeling that you're mocking me?"
"I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to. It's just not every day that James Potter falls for the unattainable Head Girl -"
"Unattainable?" he interrupted. "My dear Lia, I assure you, that this is not one sided."
"Told you that has she?"
"Then you don't know for a fact, do you?"
He grinned wolfishly. "I know she wants me to touch her."
Ophelia's eyebrows rose past her hairline. "Been reading her diary, Jamie?" she said with a laugh.
"No, of course not. She told me," he said almost proudly.
"Why on Earth would she say that? Oh no, has she gotten into the spiked punch?"
"No. She's gotten into James Potter."
She rolled her eyes.
"Just trust me, Lia. I know she's got something for me. She's not in love or anything, but there's something."
She waited a while before responding, choosing her words carefully. "Be smart about this, Jamie. Lily's different. She's much more cautious, much more sensible. She doesn't jump into things the way you do. She's not like –"
"Not like you? I know, Lia."
She glared at him and stood up. "No, James. She's not like you. I know how you work and you can't just rush in on some grand romantic whim without thinking about it. You can't get carried away on emotions alone."
He stood as well, instantly on alert. "Just what are you talking about here, Ophelia? Lily and me? Or you and me?"
"You and…me and….What?" she sputtered before huffing out a breath and storming down the garden. She seemed to change her mind halfway through and came barreling back, her face a mess of anger and frustration.
"You know what your problem is?" she began. "You feel so needlessly guilty about what happened with us that you think every word I say is some veiled reference to our relationship, like every conversation is some metaphor for the past. Well it's not! I'm trying to help you! I'm only trying to prevent you from getting hurt again, not berating you for anything. All I am saying is that with Lily, you will have to approach things differently, and if you would stop being such an ass for a minute, you'd admit I was right.
"I have been patient with you all night. You showed up and basically off the bat rambled about helping Lily, and that was fine. We got to the dance and you went mad over her, and that was fine. You left me with your friends to go find her, and even that was fine. But now you're insulting me and there's no reason for it. So," she growled, "I am going back in there to enjoy what is left of the dance. Find me when you're ready to apologize."
With that she stomped off, startling a couple that was otherwise occupied a few bushes near by. James cursed and kicked the bench in anger - a stupid move because now his foot hurt on top of everything else.
Ophelia was right. Of course she was right; she was always right. He was being a complete git and it was getting ridiculous. Lia was a terrific friend and it wasn't right to take out his frustrations on her. Just because she was able to tap into him in a way that few others could didn't make it okay. This was how things went south the first time, and he'd be damned if he let that happen again.
Lily had her great night, had her great date, had her Charles. She was completely taken care of and he needed to stop worrying about her. Now, all he had to do was make it up to Ophelia.
"Thank you for a wonderful right," I told Charles as we reached the statue of Sally the Sober later that evening…or was it technically morning by now? I had no idea. I lost any knowledge of time hours ago. Not too long after James left I'd made sure to replace the punch so as to prevent any regrettable accidents. Unfortunately, I remembered to do this only after consuming a few too many cups of it myself though luckily I managed not to embarrass myself in front of Charles or say anything I shouldn't. Now the dance was over, everyone had made it back to their common rooms, and Charles and I were quite possibly the only two people awake in the whole school.
"I assure you, the pleasure was all mine."
"You didn't have to walk me back though. I don't want you going back to your common room all alone."
He smiled the dashing grin I was slowly becoming accustomed to. "I won't be alone. I'll have you in my thoughts."
"You're too sweet."
"I really did have a great time, Lily," he said in a low voice, taking a step closer and grabbing my hand. He raised it to his mouth and gently kissed it. He held it up between us as he spoke. "Good night. I hope you have pleasant dreams. I know I will."
"Good night," I replied, head swimming.
He stepped away and dropped my hand, waiting until I safely stepped around the statue and into my room before he walked away. I soared up the stairs in a daze with a dreamy smile plastered on my face. I paused at the mirror above my dresser and appraised my appearance. My hair was slowly falling out of its elegant twist, the knot hanging limply at my neck. My dress robes were more than a bit wrinkly after the hours of moving. My skin was flushed to a pale red that clashed horribly with my hair. But I didn't care.
I let out a hysterical giggle. If I had any voice at all I would have been singing. I practically floated into the bathroom where I proceeded to rinse out all traces of the Sleekeazy's in my hair. The shower did nothing to soothe my remaining excitement as I hoped it would and so, hours later, I found myself lying on my bed, absentmindedly twirling a piece of hair. I tried reading, but for once, nothing kept my interest. I couldn't even be productive by doing schoolwork either since finals were over. I'd already packed everything I would need to take with me while on holiday. So really, there was nothing to do.
At some point around 2 am I decided to set a charm on the ceiling similar to (but nowhere near as intricate as) the one in the Great Hall. If I was too jittery and excited to sleep at least I'd have something pretty to look at. I turned to look at my clock. "Way too late to still be awake" it said.
I even considered waking up James, but he wasn't back yet. I tried not to let it bother me that wherever he was, whatever he was doing, he didn't invite me. But maybe he wasn't with his friends, maybe he was with Ophelia. Maybe they were – I shook my head at the thought. No way was I going to think about James and Ophelia like…that.
Of course, the world was cruel and the more you didn't want to think about something, the more you did. I could stop thinking of him with Ophelia...James's hand on her back, his lips on her neck, his fingers threading through her long red hair… Wait, no, Ophelia had blond hair, not red. Ophelia was with James right now probably doing whatever they were doing and it was fine and I couldn't care less, really, because I'd had a fantastic time with Charles and that should have been enough. But it wasn't. Ever since that stupid dance I couldn't focus fully on anything else. All I could think about were James' arms and his smile and his completely straightforward words. He had told me I was beautiful. He told me he couldn't keep his hands off me. He had called me his Lily. But how could I possibly be his anything if he was off God knows where doing I-couldn't-stop-imagining what?
"UGH!" I groaned aloud. This was hopeless. I needed to sleep and get this out of my system. It was past 2 in the morning. So where the hell was James?
James was currently on his third Firewhisky, laughing as he held it above his head in a toast. "To Lia!" he called as the rest of the occupants cheered. "To Lia, who is always putting up with my crap and looks absolutely smashing in blue."
He downed his drink and slung his arm around Ophelia's shoulders. "Tell me I'm forgiven now."
She looked up at him seriously. "Jamie, you snuck into the Three Broomsticks and paid for a round of drinks for everyone. You recited a sonnet about "fair, forgiving Ophelia" which by the way, did not rhyme, and you did the can-can dance with Remus. You've publicly humiliated yourself for the last two and a half hours. Of course I've forgiven you. I wasn't even mad enough to warrant it."
"Don't forget that I helped Sirius come up with the Ophelia Bailey Drinking Game. Which reminds me - you spoke so everyone should take a SHOT!"
The crowd cheered again and Ophelia staggered into him as Peter wobbled into her, his drink sloshing slightly.
"Sorry!" he apologized quickly. "Blimey, I've never seen the Three Broomsticks so crowded."
"And a good thing it is," said James. "Otherwise Rosmerta might notice the number of underage students here."
"As if I haven't already charmed the pants off her," said Sirius, joining the group with Remus and a fresh round of drinks.
"And he means that quite literally," Remus said wryly.
Sirius smacked him on the back of his head. "Oy, I have a date here somewhere who doesn't need to know these things. Speaking of which – let's go find the twins, eh?"
"I should find Olive, too," said Peter. "She went off to the loo a while ago."
James smirked once they were out of earshot. "You know they just want to go find dark corners to snog in, don't you? The tossers."
She looked at him closely. "Jamie, are you…jealous?"
"Jealous? Why would I be jealous?"
"Because you want to snog in a dark corner too. Only the person you want to do that with isn't here."
She didn't let up her intense stare. "Is it? Why didn't you invite Lily?"
"Because this isn't about her. And I really didn't want to see her with stupid bloody Charles anymore than I have to."
"Merlin, I've literally never seen you this jealous."
"I'm not jealous. Really. I don't want to see them together because it bothers me how right she thinks he is for her. But Lily and I…we – I'm sorry, I shouldn't be talking about this."
Ophelia regarded him carefully. Too carefully. He suddenly realized what she was doing. "What the - Lia, are you bloody reading me?"
"Sorry, Jamie." She said, her face automatically relaxing. "I was curious and my guard is always down more when I drink. I'm blocking you now, I swear."
"That's an abuse of power."
She smirked. "What are you going to do? Tell on me?"
"Very funny," he said, taking a gulp of Firewhisky. "So…what's the diagnosis?"
"You want me to tell you what I felt off you?"
Her eyes twinkled as she touched his arm. "Now that would be an abuse of power. Besides, you're drunk. It's almost too muddled to tell. But what's with all the sugar cravings?"
James furrowed his brows in confusion. "Sugar craving? What are you talking about?"
"I don't know…I kept getting these waves of thoughts…about Honeydukes. What's so important at Honeydukes?"
"Sugar quills," he answered with a smile. "I always get some for Lily when I'm in Hogsmeade."
"So let's go get her some."
"I'm confused. I thought you said this was a bad idea."
She shook her head. "No, I said rushing into it was a bad idea. I said jumping head first was a bad idea. You have to be cautious; you don't want to scare her off. You should go for it, but you should introduce us first."
"Aw, do you need to make sure she's good enough for me?"
Ophelia laughed before dragging him into the dancing crowd. "No, I need to make sure that she is even a tiny bit as crazy about you as you are about her. Before this all blows up in your face."
I was finally close to drifting off when I heard a small clatter in the hall outside my room.
"James?" I questioned, sitting up.
He poked his head into my room. "Lily? Why are you still awake?"
"I couldn't sleep. Too much excitement tonight, I guess. You're just getting in? Did you knock something over?"
"No, something knocked into me. And yeah, I'm just getting in. We went to the Three Broomsticks after the dance. Nice jammies." He walked in, shaking some snow out of his hair, which was as messy as I'd ever seen it. The cold air outside left a pink twinge to his cheeks that I was startled to discover I thought was adorable. But there were more pressing matters to discuss, namely, why in the hell did his walk seem more like a stumble as he came into the room?
I stared at him in frustration and disappointment. "James, are you…drunk?"
His eyes widened almost comically. "No. No. Definitely not. Not at all. Why would you even think that? Okay, maybe a tiny bit."
"You can't be serious. Do you know how dangerous, not to mention stupid, it is to walk back onto the grounds at this hour in the first place? And to be intoxicated on top of that? If anyone saw you –"
"Relax, love, no one saw us. And I'm really okay. Promise. I'm only very slightly tipsy. Barely even that. Don't be cross with me; you can't go to the Three Broomsticks without having a bit of something."
"But…how did you manage that? It's not even a Hogsmeade weekend."
"I have my ways."
"It's not like you can just walk off the grounds," I continued, "and even if you could, it's not like you can just waltz back through the gates."
"Maybe we all apparated," James said grinning.
I shook my head. "No, you can't apparate or dissapparate on Hogwarts grounds." I sat back for a minute, thinking. "You know what? I don't want to know because I'm sure it's breaking countless rules that as Head Boy you should be aware of."
"Oh Lily, what good is knowing the rules if you can't break them every now and then?" He stepped closer and leaned in. "Besides, you can't be mad. I brought you something." James brought the hand from behind his back and produced yet another sugar quill. He looked all too pleased with himself.
I smiled broadly in response. "You're going to give me cavities, you know."
He stopped himself from putting the candy on my nightstand and laughed. "Should I keep it for myself then?"
I tried to grab it just as he moved it out of my reach and my fingers ended up only brushing his hand. I'm not sure what to name how I felt but all I knew was that I enjoyed it when James responded by wrapping his fingers around mine. It was stupid to feel tingly, wasn't it? No one actually ever felt tingly from so small a touch, did they? I squeezed his hand and a slight flush set across my body when he smiled at me warmly, eyes somewhat darkening.
What was I doing? How long could I play this off as being very friendly or just being tired or getting caught up in a moment? Why were the moments always happening? Why was I breaking out in goose bumps while he stepped even closer still, why was I leaning towards him? Why did I practically have to force my hands to stay at my sides?
His free hand swept my hair back behind my ear. This was too familiar, only this time I wasn't going to be stupid. I wasn't going to blurt out something about Dumbledore. I wasn't going to run away. I wasn't going to stop him at all. His eyes were roving across my face and though I didn't know what he was looking for, I wanted to reassure him anyway.
Slowly, I rose to my knees on the bed so that my face was level with his. Dragging my hands from his, I ran them up his arms and rested them on his shoulders. He seemed to have stopped breathing. That was a good sign, wasn't it?
"It's okay," I whispered, sliding one hand behind his neck. Why was he the one hesitating?
"I think…we should…"
"James, I want you to."
He let out a strangled breath and dropped his head to my shoulder. "Lily, we can't," he whispered against my neck before placing a kiss there. But his arms were around my waist, keeping me flush against him; his lips were moving against my skin. Now I was the one who couldn't breathe. I shivered every time his lips made contact with my skin. I titled my head to give him better access and wished I'd had the foresight to wear a thin tank top or pretty pajamas and not the loose t-shirt I was currently wearing.
James seemed to find it as irritating as I did as his mouth moved across the neckline, attempting to pull it lower. He sucked slightly on my skin and part of me was afraid he'd leave a mark, while the other part hoped he would. Heat surged through my body at the thought of there being a spot where his mouth had been, a reminder in the morning of what he had been doing the night before. His hand slipped under the shirt and ran up my back, curving my upper body into his while his mouth slipped as low as it possibly could within the confines of my shirt. I groaned part in pleasure, part in frustration. I hated that damn shirt right now.
"Take it off," I breathed out. "Please, just…"
"What?" James asked, startled, breaking away to look at me. He was breathing hard as I was, I was delighted to note, and his shocked eyes were black. That was funny; weren't his eyes really brown? That must mean…I giggled at the thought. He wanted me. James Potter wanted me. Why was I ever worried before? This was amazing.
I brought the hands that had slipped away from me back to the hemline of what was now my most hated possession. "Take it off," I repeated.
His hands were shaking. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but no, Lily. I can't do that."
I didn't bother to hide the hurt in my voice. "Why not?"
"Shit. Shit. Lily, I'm still a little drunk and you definitely had more of that punch than I thought and you're saying things you normally wouldn't and we can't –"
"But you want me. Don't you?"
He placed a rough kiss to my forehead before leaning his own against it. "Yes, yes, of course I do."
"So that's all that matters, isn't it?" I asked, attempting to bring my lips to his.
He placed his hands gently on my face and looked at me with such raw hunger I nearly collapsed. But instead of dragging me to him like I wanted he carefully pushed me down so I was sitting back on my haunches, gazing up at him with a confused expression on my face. "Lily, you are so…" He let out a heavy breath before continuing. "I might regret walking away from you in the morning. Hell, I'm already kicking myself for not just…kissing the hell out of you. But it's nothing compared to how much you might regret this tomorrow. And that I can't handle."
I shook my head and grabbed his hand. "You don't know that I'd regret it."
"True. But I don't know that you wouldn't. And I'm not prepared to take that kind of gamble with you. Merlin, why did you have so much of that damn punch?"
"I was thirsty."
He laughed. "I thought once I told you what Sirius put in it you would replace it."
"I did. I just…had some of it myself before I remembered to."
"How could you possibly forget that?"
I bit my lip and peered up at him from under my lashes. I couldn't remember the last time I had been so bold. In fact, I could never remember being so bold. "I was thinking about you…about dancing with you. And when I think about you, I sometimes forget about everything else."
His expression was warm, soft. His words came out in a hurried rush. "I was thinking about you too. The second you walked away, I wanted to drag you back."
"I wish you would have. Why didn't you?"
"You were with Charles. I thought you'd find it rude if I interrupted."
"You know, I wasn't even thinking about going with him until he asked me so nicely. I actually wanted to go with you. I thought we would have fun."
James closed his eyes and stepped away from me yet again, running a hand through his hair. He picked up the sugar quill from where it had fallen on the floor before placing it on my nightstand. "I wish you would stop saying all of this."
"Why? Don't you believe in speaking your mind?"
"Yes, and under any other circumstance I would love this. But it feels wrong. You wouldn't be saying this normally and I feel like I'm taking advantage or something. I don't want you to hate me when this wears off."
"I could never hate you."
"I…I should probably let you go to bed. It's been a long day; I'm sure you're tired."
"No," I said instantly. "Stay. I like talking to you. Things have been so busy lately I feel like we haven't had the chance. I miss it."
He smiled and took off his glasses. "I miss it too. But if I stay you'll have to budge up on that bed. I'm knackered. I need to lie down."
I moved over as he climbed in next to me, lying down while I sat up, knees brought up into my chest, hopefully muffling the sound of my pounding heart. He squinted up at the ceiling.
"Is it just my bad eyesight or is that the sky where your ceiling should be?"
"I charmed it. I was getting bored and couldn't fall asleep and wanted something pretty to look at."
"It's amazing. Seriously, this is really complicated charm work. I'm impressed."
"You sound surprised," I scoffed.
"No, I mean, I always knew you were brilliant. But this is…really incredible."
"I'm glad you like it."
"I really do. Do you know what this looks like?"
Was he serious? "The sky? It's sort of supposed to."
He swatted at my arm playfully. "Well obviously. It's just so close…" He pulled on my arm slightly, dragging me down. "Come here, you have to see it from this angle." I settled down against him, the side of his leg touching mine, my head level to his against the pillow. "It's like...the sky is right there, you know? This is exactly what it looks like when I fly. When I tilt my head up, I swear this is exactly what it feels like."
I was looking at him as he talked, completely mesmerized. I'd never really studied his face before, especially not this close, but I decided very quickly that I liked it. The line of his jaw, the curve of his nose, the shape of his lips…it was all so appealing. It distracted me and I almost missed what he was saying. "I wouldn't know. I don't really fly."
"I'll have to take you sometime." His eyes never left the ceiling, roving across the night sky.
My eyes never left his. His eyes…they were so intoxicating. Dizzying. Had they always been that way? "What?" he whispered when he found me staring at him.
I was too transfixed by his eyes, unencumbered by glasses, to be embarrassed at being caught. "Your eyes…they're just so…pretty. I never really noticed before."
"My eyes are pretty?"
I nodded, unable to tear away.
James chuckled. "Thanks, love. Yours aren't so bad either."
"Oh you're fantastic with compliments. Is this how you reel in all the girls?"
He turned his head to face me and rolled his eyes. "Come on. You know how gorgeous I think you are."
"Actually I don't."
"You're kidding right? Did you forget about everything I told you? Or have you not noticed the way I've been looking at you? Merlin, the second I saw you in the Great Hall…"
"Well that doesn't really count does it?" I interrupted. "It's all well and good to look at me like that when I'm done up and fancy."
James tucked his finger under my chin, a gesture of his I was already beginning to love. "Lily," he started quietly. "I always look at you like that. I looked at you like that when we tried to sneak into the kitchens, I looked at you like that the first time I saw you wander into the bathroom in the morning, I looked at you like that when I caught you reading those books, I looked at you like that every time you came down for breakfast in the Great Hall, and I'm looking at you like that right now."
My breath caught in my throat and my reply came out more like a croak than a human voice. "I really want you to kiss me right now."
He leaned in but instead of pressing his lips to mine like he knew I wanted he placed them at the top of my head. "I want to; you have no idea how much. But when you haven't had any truth potion, tell me to do it and I promise I'll kiss you so much you'll be begging me to stop."
I embarrassingly let out a bit of a whimper. "James, are you…are you still drunk at all?"
I felt him shake his head on top of my mine. "No. I don't need any help to say this to you." His arms went around me and held me to his body as his hands ran up and down my back. I sighed and leaned my head over his chest, delighted to find that his heart was beating just as quickly as mine was. But he wasn't done talking. "I almost wish you would tell me to leave. It's really hard to do the right thing at this second."
"I don't want you to leave."
"I won't. But you have to try not to be so inviting, okay?"
I giggled into his chest. I was inviting. James wanted me so much he had to make a conscious effort to control himself. Brilliant. "I'm not usually like this, you know."
He laughed deeply. "Oh believe me, I know. And I am still thoroughly enjoying this, even if it's driving me crazy."
"It's not very gentlemanly of you to enjoy this," I teased.
"I never said I was a gentleman. I'll leave that bit to Charles, who, by the way, is currently asleep and alone, while I get to be with his girl."
"I'm not his girl."
"Well thank Merlin for that."
I thought for a second before I asked, but went ahead anyway. "Would it stop you if I was?"
"Honestly? I don't think so. You're the kind of girl a bloke should fight for, you know?"
I didn't have any response to this apart from the gigantic smile spreading across my face that I knew he couldn't see. We laid in silence for a while, staring up at the stars and clouds spread along my ceiling.
"James, can I ask you something?" I was afraid to break the moment but I had to know.
"It's just…this has been bothering me for a little while…" I took a deep breath before continuing. "Why did you lie about having detention with McGonagall?" I blurted out.
He turned his head, looking confused. "What?"
"Before the dance," I explained. "When we had to reset the charms on the Great Hall and you said you couldn't help because you had a detention. You lied. Why?"
"What makes you think I lied?"
"I know you lied because McGonagall came downstairs and had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned it. So I just want to know why. Because in the beginning of the year, you promised me that you weren't going to bail on me, and that's kind of what you did."
"I know, Lil," he said, turning away to stare at the ceiling again. "I'm sorry, honestly."
"I just don't know why you had to lie about it."
He let out a sigh and ran a hand through his hair. "I felt bad running out on you, but this whole Head Boy thing…it's really not for me. I mean, I'm proud to have it and all, but I really don't care about things like school dances and decorations."
"But," I said quietly, looking at my feet, feeling incredibly stupid. I loved that stuff. "You went to talk to the band for me."
"How did you know about that too?"
I shrugged. "You're not the only with secrets. I have my ways, too. But you're avoiding the subject. If you don't care about any of this, why would you do it?"
James gave me a small smile. "I may not care about that stuff, but I care about you."
"So is that what you were doing, when you lied about detention? Talking to the band?"
"Err…no. I spoke to them that morning before the dance, when I left you that note." He chuckled. "Actually, I woke them up, introduced them to their hangovers. They weren't exactly thrilled."
"So then what were you doing?"
His expression looked almost pained for a minute. "I was…just…helping someone out."
I bit my lip and tried to shut myself up before I said something stupid but it didn't help. "Were you with Ophelia?"
"What?" he looked genuinely confused. "No. Why would you think…" he trailed off and looked at me closely. "We're not together or anything like that. I thought Sirius told you."
"Oh, so you already know about that."
"Of course I know."
I turned on my side as I mumbled. "Are you mad?"
"No. Well, I was a bit a first. It wasn't his place to tell you anything –"
"I know," I rushed out, "I'm sorry. He really didn't say anything too much, I swear. I was just really confused, and wanted to know what was going on."
"I know. And anyway, I wasn't mad at you. I'm actually a bit glad Sirius told you. I didn't like feeling like I was keeping something from you."
I smiled. "So why are doing that now? Why don't you tell me?"
The pained look was back on his face. "I can't, Lily. Don't you think I would if I could?"
"You've said that to me before – that time you tried to sneak with me to the kitchens. Was that the same thing you couldn't tell me about?"
"Your memory is uncanny."
"It helps me when people lie to me. Don't avoid the question."
"Yes…the two are related." He grabbed my hand. "Lily, I swear I would tell you if I could."
I looked down at his hand briefly before bringing my eyes to his. "Don't try to distract me by touching me."
He grinned. "Does my touch distract you?"
"Yes. Stop avoiding the subject. How many rules is it breaking?"
I barely suppressed the urge to roll my eyes. "I'm serious."
"So am I. I don't know how many rules, but I'm sure it's too many."
I nodded. "And can I assume it's dangerous?"
I breathed in quickly. Of course it was dangerous. James Potter couldn't be hiding a secret girlfriend, because that would be safe. "And why are you doing it?"
"To help a friend, and I'm not telling you who so don't even ask."
"Is it worth it?" I asked. "I mean, if you get caught, will it be worth it to help this friend?"
"Yes," he said fiercely, immediately. "It is worth it."
"Okay." I paused again before asking what I really wanted to know. "Do you think you could ever tell me?"
"I don't know. Maybe. I'd like to."
"How do you think I'll react?"
He studied my face for a moment as if the answer was written there. "I think you'll be worried. Maybe you'll be a little scared, but not too much. I think you're tough enough to handle it. And I think, despite your reservations, a part of you is going to be really impressed."
"Well I can't wait to hear it then."
"Are you done with your twenty questions yet?"
I grinned. "No, just one more. Did you have fun tonight?"
"Yes. But I'm enjoying myself now much more than I did tonight," he answered instead.
"Me too," I whispered, eyes closing despite myself. It was so late, and I was finally starting to feel tired. I kept my eyes closed, counting to ten…after ten I would open them again…one…two…thr- I jumped awake, not even realizing I fell asleep to discover James had been saying something to me. "I'm sorry," I said immediately, "I must have dozed off. What were you saying?"
He laughed, "Nothing important, don't worry. You were only out for a minute or two. Do you want me to leave?"
"If you want to sleep…should I leave?"
"Do you want to?"
"I asked you first." His voice wasn't teasing at all, despite the statement. I realized he needed to make sure that it was okay, that I was okay with it.
"No. Stay. I want you to stay. As long as you want to."
"I want to. But you need to sleep. You can barely keep your eyes open, love, and I'm nearly there myself."
"So stay here," I whispered.
He studied my face. "Do you think that's a good idea?"
I moved into him, tilting my face up to meet his. "Knowing you has taught me that the ideas I think are the worst generally turn out to be the best. So yeah, it's probably a terrible idea. But I want you to stay."
He kissed my forehead, lips lingering a few seconds more than was necessary, before wrapping his arms around me and resting his head over mine. "Alright then. Goodnight, Lily."
"Night. And James?"
"Thank you for the sugar quill."
It was the soft breath on his neck that woke James up much earlier than he hoped. Reluctantly opening his eyes against the harsh morning light that filtered into the room he looked to the reason for his disturbance and smiled. Lily was facing him, cheek squashed against her pillow, face level with his neck. He could feel her tiny little breaths on his skin where they mixed with the red strands of her hair that fell about them. Her eyelashes fluttered just slightly and she made a small sound of contentment, burrowing herself further into the pillow.
She was all together too adorable and he was exceedingly happy that he had woken up before her. He hoped she would stay asleep for a longer time still; he didn't want to be interrupted ogling her. On the other hand, maybe it was better she woke up now so he could stop leering at her like a pervert. The last thing he wanted was for her to wake up uncomfortable – he might never get to do this again, if that happened. And falling asleep with Lily was an occurrence he definitely wanted to repeat.
This was different from that night a week ago. For one, they were in Lily's warm and cozy bed and not on a cold floor. But more than that, she felt different. That first night she was stiff and on edge, far beyond a restless sleeper should be. The multiple kicks to his legs proved that. But he hadn't known what to do to make her more comfortable. The closer he moved to her the more she seemed to tense up, but the further away he was, the more upset she seemed to be, and when he had offered to go upstairs and forget it entirely, she protested. He knew he probably shouldn't have asked her at all in the first place but he couldn't resist, just as he couldn't resist it now. It seemed there was nothing about this girl he could resist.
And therein was the problem, because, with the glorious exception of last night, Lily was able to resist him all too well. He wasn't blind or stupid, and even without the brilliant help of Veritaserum he knew she was attracted to him. He had his suspicions in the corridor a month ago, when she first kissed his neck. Yet the more she seemed to realize it, the more she pushed away… Except when she didn't. Like when she leaned into him as they were dancing and when she had reached for his hand that night. Like when she blurted things out about him touching her and when she asked him to take off her clothes and when she told him she wanted him. Veritaserum didn't lie, even the home brewed kind. And though he wanted to kill Sirius for inadvertently putting her in such a compromising position, he also knew his friend was partially responsible for the events of the previous night.
But no matter, there was no way he could honestly consider the things Lily did or said while under the influence of a truth potion as much as the things she did or said daily. But that didn't mean he couldn't think about them over and over. Constantly. James didn't think there was any way he could forget her breathlessly giving him permission to kiss her, and the memory of the feel of her skin under his mouth wasn't liable to go away any time soon. He had almost lost control, very nearly leaving a mark, the idea that anyone, including stupid bloody Charles could see it, could know that Lily had been with him nearly drove him mad. But if Charles was able to see it, that would mean others would be able to as well, and with the holidays coming up, James didn't think it was a good thing for, say, Lily's parents to know what she had been up to.
Still, he could barely understand how he had gotten himself to stop at all, and he could not fathom what to do from here. He desperately wanted to pick up exactly where he had ended things last night but there was no way Lily would be okay with that. Once she woke up and remembered her actions, she'd be mortified. What was he going to do?
James knew Lia was right as usual. This would have to be approached differently. He couldn't go in – how had she described it? – Ah, on some grand romantic notion. He'd have to be more careful about it. He'd have to think things through, plan things out, take his time. Merlin, he didn't want to. He wanted to dive in, in a heady overwhelming rush. Could he control that urge? He would have to, if he wanted her enough. But did he?
She made that small noise again and pressed into him in the tiniest way.
Oh yes. He did.
He really was a bloody fool. Everything Lily was doing drove him crazy. He wondered if waking her up with a morning snog was moving too quickly. Hmm, perhaps she wouldn't appreciate it as much as he would.
Oh bugger, I hope she didn't catch me staring at her. But she was yawning and stretching her arms over her head, eyes closed. Her shirt rose up a little bit as she did so and he became intensely focused on the floral bed pattern until she settled back down.
"Good morning. Sleep well?"
She nodded and smiled. "Yes, very well. What about you? I didn't kick you again, did I?"
He grinned at her worried expression. "No, you were fine, don't worry."
"How long have you been awake?"
Long enough to wish you were awake so we could make better use of this bed. "A little while."
"Oh, I'm sorry I was still asleep. What've you been doing all this time?"
"Looking at you."
He didn't have to see her to know that she'd be blushing. "Do I have something on my face? Oh, it's my hair isn't it? It always looks like a birds nest in the morning."
"It looks fine," he said, tucking a few strands behind her ear. Was all girls' hair this soft? "That's what I was thinking about actually."
"Well not just your hair. How adorable you look in the morning."
"Yes. And it suits you well."
Lily didn't respond and he wondered if he said too much. She wasn't shoving him away, but she wasn't exactly throwing herself into his arms, either. Instead she lay there, biting her lip and staring at a point on his chest. He wasn't used to being so careful; old habits die hard, after all.
"Maybe we should get up."
He reached for her arm. "No! Let's stay here…at least for a few more minutes anyway. Please?"
She didn't respond again but this time he knew he convinced her. "Okay. Maybe just for a little while. We can't spend all day in bed."
James bit back his retort that yes, they bloody well could and wound his arms around her instead without realizing what he was doing. Oh, now she was going to kill him. She wasn't under any influence and neither was he. This was too much. He tried to turn his movements into a hug but when he went to pull away, she grabbed him and tucked her head under his. He grinned. Maybe it wasn't too much after all. He kissed the top of her head and she responded by squeezing him a little tighter, pressing herself into him.
Merlin, she was going to be the death of him. Now it was too much; she just felt too bloody good. He had to get up. But how could he tear himself away from a beautiful girl who, for the time being, was not restraining herself around him? Her foot slid against his and he nearly buckled against her. Was she even aware she was doing this? He felt rather than heard her soft giggle against his chest. Oh, the little chit…she knew exactly what she was doing to him. And she was enjoying it. Well, two could play that game.
Slowly he moved his hand so it brushed away her hair and stroked the side of her neck with his knuckles. She arched her neck to give him better access and her eyes closed. Grinning, he moved his fingers to the nape of her neck and ran his fingers back and forth. Had her skin always felt this smooth?
"You don't play fair," she mumbled almost incoherently into his chest. Perhaps the Veritaserum hadn't fully worn off, after all.
He leaned down to her ear and felt her shiver underneath him. Fighting to keep his hormones in check he placed a soft kiss to the back of her ear. When she arched into him he was ready for it, grabbing a hold of her hip to keep her in place.
"I'm not playing," he whispered harshly.
She froze, but the hand that was still on his back trembled.
"I think I should probably go now," he said.
"Oh. Okay." He wasn't imagining the disappointment and confusion in her voice.
"It's not because I want to," James assured her. "But if I don't leave right now I won't be able to control myself. I can hardly do it now."
Lily squeezed her eyes shut tighter and let out a sexy little breath. "That's probably…wise."
He untangled himself from her arms even as his body screamed at him in protest. She opened her eyes slowly and he cupped her face in his hand. She really was too beautiful for her own damn good. He leaned down with every intention to kiss her cheek, but his mouth apparently had a mind of its own as it touched the very corner of her lips instead. Lily whimpered and clenched her hand into a fist on the sheets.
He had to get out of there before he embarrassed himself.
Reluctantly, he got off the bed. Was it just him or did the room seem colder when he wasn't lying in bed with her? Perhaps for the sake of warmth he should get back in. No, at the moment he needed cold, and lots of it. Perhaps an icy shower while he was at it. Yes, that was more sensible. It was a lot easier to think now that he wasn't in touching distance of her creamy skin.
"I'm supposed to go meet the guys…in a little bit, so I should go get ready." Was his voice hoarse? Did she notice? He hadn't felt so awkward and unsure of himself in ages.
"Yeah, yeah, me too," Lily said hurriedly, sitting up. "Sophie. I'm meeting Sophie."
"Cool. Have fun, I'll see you later."
He walked all the way to the door before he turned around saw her sitting on her bed, knees pulled up to her chest, one hand touching her lips. He couldn't resist.
"Lily? Try not to be so tempting next time. I can't always promise to control myself."
She looked him square in the eye. "Good. I can't always promise I'll want you to."
He all but ran for the shower.
Teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I don't know about you but I am a HUGE of fan of those moments when a lot of things happen, even though few things happen. As always, feedback of any kind is appreciated. The only writing of mine that people read anymore (or that I even write anymore) is just paper upon paper upon paper. This was a lovely break.
I don't think I've mentioned this but we're actually fairly close to the end of the story. In fact, there will be only be 1 - 2 more chapters. Never fear, though, I planned a little while ago to go further into this universe and make it a small trilogy of sorts. (There's something so pretentious about calling it a trilogy, no?) Anyway, the next story will be entitled Fair Maiden, will feature a LOT of James' PoV, and will pick up exactly where Prince Charming leaves off. But that's still anywhere between 1 and 2 chapters away, depending on how long chapter 9 will be once I finally finish it. I just wanted to keep you all posted, since I received a few emails asking if I could keep in touch more.
I hope you're all as excited for Deathly Hallows part 1 as I am. I'll be there at midnight of course, freaking out (but trying to keep calm) - it's gonna be totally awesome! ;-)