How I Came to Love Him
by Crystallic Rain

Notes: As always, enjoy.

Chapter Three: The Kiss

The end of September came quickly. I was so busy, between Head Girl duties and homework, not to mention studying for my N.E.W.T.s, that it took me by surprise when I realized it was already October. Natalie and I spent long afternoons outside, writing essays, drawing diagrams, doing worksheets, and memorizing terms, spells, and dates. James and I spent late nights in the common room, drawing up schedules for prefects' duties and organizing and scheduling events. Occasionally, Nat would stay up with us, practicing Charms (which was not her strong suit – she was much better with Care of Magical Creatures class) while I gave her pointers. Usually, though, she'd run off with some cute boy – most commonly Sirius – and snog him in a broom closet, though she often denied this.

I didn't feel so uncomfortable around James anymore, so it didn't bother me so much when Natalie ran off. In fact, I liked it better without Natalie. Don't get me wrong, Nat was my best friend in the entire world and always would be, but James was different. James had the ability to make me smile just by being there. The way he sucked on sugar quills, obviously bored by the fact that we had to do tedious things such as drawing up schedules for prefects, but enjoying the idea that he was doing it with me. Then there was the way he sat sideways in his chair, occasionally dozing off when he was extremely tired, and the way he always seemed to convince me to give Remus the least amount of prefect duty (because, as James said, he deserved a break), but the Slytherins the most, at the worst, earliest hours (just to annoy them).

I found myself spending a lot of time in the common room or outside, always thinking. I spent time laying on the grass by the lake, or sitting in an armchair near the fire, thinking about James. I thought about how he had changed – how I had changed. I used to hate James, but that feeling seemed so distant, now.

October passed quickly, and on Halloween, I found myself back in Hogsmeade. It was, once again, pouring rain. I was all alone this time, though; Natalie and some of our other friends had to finish a few essays and study. I had already done my homework earlier that week during free periods, so I figured that I might as well go to Hogsmeade. I felt vaguely miserable, though, being all alone. I decided to get some butterbeer and warm up.

I took a sip of butterbeer and looked around the Three Broomsticks. I wished that someone, just about anyone, would come and sit with me, or at least talk to me, so I would be less lonely. This thought had just occurred when James got up from his table.

I finished my drink, then stared down at the table for a moment, until I heard James say, "Hey, Lily. Where's Natalie?"

"Studying," I sighed, looking up at him.

"Ahhh…" He casually put his hands in his pockets.

"I was just going to go down to the book shop. Would you like to come with me?"

"Sure," he responded.

We made our way toward the door and walked outside, and I put up my umbrella up over our heads.

I felt James's hand brush against mine. I looked at him and saw him blushing slightly, turned the other way, determinedly not looking at my face. I smiled and, before I could stop myself, I grabbed his hand, my cheeks turning pink. I glanced over at James, and he looked up at me and grinned.

We began walking down the street toward the bookstore.

That was how I had always imagined love: walking hand in hand with the person you cared about most in the world. Just wanting to be with that person, no matter what, no matter when, no matter where you were. It just felt so right to be with James… Was I really in love? And of all people, was I in love with James Potter, the boy I had hated for six years? No, I couldn't be…

We walked in silence down to the store. James opened the door to the bookshop and I entered, putting down my umbrella. He followed me into the shop.

The store wasn't anywhere near as big as Flourish and Blotts in Diagon Alley, but it was nice and cozy, more like a library than a shop. It had a table or two at the far end for reading, and a small counter in the back with a very kind witch behind it.

I looked around for a new Arithmancy book for class, while James wandered about, looking at all the different sections. I was really happy, quite a contrast of how I had felt about fifteen minutes prior to my trip to the bookstore.

After paying for my book and finding James, we left the bookstore. We saw many students returning to Hogwarts, their hopes for an enjoyable Hogsmeade trip drowned in the rain. Other more hopeful students were still sitting in the Three Broomsticks to wait for the minute the rain might clear up. I asked James if we should just head back to Hogwarts.

"We might as well," he said, "I really doubt this storm will clear up any time soon."

So we headed back towards the school. When we arrived, students were sitting in the Great Hall for an early dinner. I wasn't very hungry though, so I figured I'd head back to the common room to sit with Natalie for a while, maybe read a bit of my new book, and warm up by the fire.

James turned to me, about to kiss me on the cheek as he had on the previous trip, but I turned quickly and put my hand on his shoulder, so we instead kissed on the lips. A real kiss. This time, I had left him stunned. I told him that I would see him later before walking rather quickly to the common room. It took a lot of effort to restrain myself from skipping.

I entered the Common Room nearly ten minutes later to find it about half full. Mostly there were students who were either too young to visit Hogsmeade or those fifth and seventh years who had stayed all day to study. I quickly spotted Nat, who was leaning over a piece of parchment, absent-mindedly scratching her chin with the end of her quill. When I sat next to her, grinning, she looked up at me.

"What on earth are you so happy about?" Natalie asked curiously.

"Oh, I… erm…" I bit my lip. How was I supposed to tell Natalie that I had just kissed my supposed worst enemy? I turned it over in my mind. It truly didn't seem like the James Potter I had just spent the day with was the same James I had met on the train seven years ago, or even the same James from last year, who pulled ridiculous stunts to try and get me to date him.

"Well?" Nat pressed on, eyebrows raised, bringing me out of my thoughts.

'I might as well tell the truth,' I thought to myself. 'I'll just tell her exactly how it happened.'

"Well, you see…" I began quietly. I most certainly did not want people to overhear. "I… well, I was sitting at the Three Broomsticks…"

Natalie leaned back in her chair to sit more comfortably. She obviously could tell that it would be a long story. I told my tale and watched as her mouth opened wider with every sentence I spoke. I could tell that she hardly believed a single word of it.

"You kissed him?" Nat asked.

I nodded, guiltily. Nat was giggling by now, and I found it very hard to not join in. I was so happy. Even the dismal weather could not bring my spirits down.

I was now not so confused, but happy; I felt happier than I had felt in ages.

I was amazed at how my thoughts about James Potter had changed so dramatically over the past two months, but I was very glad that they had…