Chapter Twelve-The Party

The night has finally arrived. The day we've been planning for two months. The night James Potter has been waiting for all six years of Hogwarts. He's finally gone and made me say yes. Tonight… the inevitable date. The Halloween Party…

To say the least… I'm a tad bit nervous. Bloody brilliant of me, honestly. I said yes to a date with my crush… that I publicly despise. What have I gotten myself into? The only good part I can see about this little fiesta is our costumes…

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Ahh, here I am moments from descending that dreaded stair case, where my lovely date awaits me. I chance one last glance in the mirror before heading towards those bloody stairs. Instead of my normal red locks, something completely shocking reaches my eyes… I never realized… how well strict I could look. I only hope James has had as much success with his own costume.

Okay… just breathe in and out… one step at a time. Down one… 20 more to go… 19… Okay I cannot count steps. In a few hours it will all be over, and I won't have to worry about James for awhile… hopefully.

"You look… erm… I can't truthfully say gorgeous, so I'll settle with interesting" James's voice pulls me out of my subconscious thoughts. I suppose I reached the bottom of the stairway…

"Wow James… you look… interesting as well. I never realized we'd have this much success with our costumes. Well shall we?" I answer holding out my arm. He ignores my outstretched arm and firmly places his arm around my waist. I suppose the date gives him any excuse he can get to touch me.

"We shall."

I see our friends waiting at the Fat Lady as we approach from the Head Dorms. Immediately they recognize our costumes and all snort dismissively.

"Flower… McGonagall? Did you have to ruin your gorgeous self with that costume… But hey I feel bad for James… If he ever gets the opportunity to kiss you the first thing that's going to pop in to his mind is his bloody Transfiguration teacher… You know… what with James as Dumbledore and you as McGonagall… it'll be as if our Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress snogging… What a joke!!" Sirius laughs at the 'outrageous' thought.

A secret glance exchanges between James and I as the others all assume matching faces of disgust at the image Sirius has just given us. Oh if they only knew…

"Thanks Padfoot… I wasn't quite picturing kissing Lily like that, but I suppose now I probably will."

"Hey Prongs, what are mates for if they can't tease mercilessly?"

"Okay children," Alexis cuts in, "Shall we join the party, our stand right outside it like a bunch of gits?"

Miss Sensible seems to have paired up with Remus… finally…And seems to be enjoying the looks Remus is throwing her way. She's not being too coy about glancing at Ol' Moony either…

"Alright Miss Capulet, after you… C'mon Romeo, get Juliet into the common room before she has a fit." I reply to Alexis's impatience. Who would have thought they'd make such a great Romeo and Juliet? Sirius and Ashley also step in to our little queue at the Fat Lady. There costumes are also very fitting those trouble makers- Bonnie and Clyde. Honestly… of course Sirius and Ashley would dress as bloody American bank robbers…

We all file into the common room, and after an appraising glance at our hard work, we join in on the fun. Potter's games seem to be finding success. From apple bobbing to pumpkin pitching, Gryffindors crowd around all the games eager to win the prizes James has set out. In the center of the room some of the braver of the brave have started the dancing, not caring a wit about the several people staring at them.

Of course, Sirius's food can not be neglected. Piles upon piles of licorice wands, enough butterbeer to get even US intoxicated… (and that's saying something because it takes quite a few bottles for those house elves to feel the effects), Cauldron Cakes, Chocolate Frogs, Ice Mice, Jelly Slugs, Pepper Imps, Sugar Quills and Fizzing Whizbees all stacked a kilometer high line the walls of the common room. Not only are there magical sweets, but Sirius has also thought to include Muggle Halloween sweets like candy corn, caramel covered apples, pumpkin pie, and more sweets I can't even recognize. When he does something… he does it big.

After taking in our surroundings, we all spread off into our respective groups of two. James and I head over to the games to see what all he has set up. We both turn towards the apple bobbing eager to try the game. Together we dunk our heads into the large cauldron, searching for apples hidden in the water. After a few moments my teeth catch on an apple… only there's already someone on the other end of it… we both bring our heads out of the water and in just the moment it takes to realize James is on the other side of the apple I'm holding in my mouth, I blush a deep red in embarrassment. The apple drops out of our mouths simultaneously, and I break the moment quickly.

"So err… want to go grab a butterbeer?"

Looking a bit downfallen that our faces are no longer in that close proximity, James nods and leads me over to the monstrous tables of food and beverages. As he hands me a bottle of warm butterbeer, I glance around the room, and I notice him doing the same. In one corner I see Sirius and Ashley joined in a thrilling three-legged race. My eyes scan the rest of the room, resting on a couple wrapped in each others arms on the dance floor. I catch Remus's eye and give a little wink of approval. He just continues to stare off with a silly grin plastered across his face.

"Wannadance?" I blurt out without even considering the proposition.

"Really? You'll dance with me?"

"No James, could you find Peter so I can dance with him?" His face falls a little with my words. "C'mon 'Prongs' get your arse up so we can dance." The smile returns and he rises from the armchair as I lead him towards the dance floor. After a few dances, we return to the games eager to try out all activities we have planned.

What seems like just a few moments later, but really is closer to 4 hours, James asks if I'd like to take a walk around Hogwarts. Since I'm having such a splendid time, I agree. What harm can a little walk cause?

On our way out the common room, I give one more glance over the room. There Sirius and Ashley are again, only they're snogging… I'll have to remember to tease her mercilessly. And there are Remus and Alexis, in what seems to be an enriching discussion. Probably about the Charms homework…

In no hurry to return, we slowly pace through the empty corridors chatting about nothing, but enjoying ourselves nonetheless.

Abruptly, he turns to me. And as he turns to me I take in everything about him. The messy black locks, the inches he towers over me, and that determined look he gets in his eyes when he is pursuing me. Uh oh… so much for a harmless walk.

I break in before he has the chance to utter even a syllable, "James not now. We were having such a great time… I've told you I'm not ready for this sort of thing. Remember we agreed on friends?"

"I can't help it Lils. Every time I see you, I'm not seeing you as only a friend. If that's all we can be I suppose I can settle. But I need you to know- I'm not giving up. I won't quit until you admit there is more to this 'friendship'."

My heart flutters at his words, but not enough to damage my resolve. I can't do it. Not yet. I'm not ready. "No James," I answer quietly "We can't do this. We're friends. Anything more you see is just a crush. Just a school boy crush."

"How can you say that Lily? How can you say what I feel is just a crush? Do you know what I think about before I go to sleep? Hell, do you know what I stay up half the night thinking about?"

His words crash over me like waves of an angry ocean. He can't- I mean he barely even knows me!

"I'm telling you James- What you're thinking is not true. It's just a crush."

"Damn it Lily! How can you try and tell me you know what I'm feeling? I love you! I bloody love you. How can it be that you are the ONLY one who doesn't see this?"

Love? He can't possibly… I mean… I can't be wrong about this. Can I?

Although it is just above a whisper, my voice fills the empty hallway, "You don't love me James. You can't you don't even know much about me…"

"Lily! Open your eyes! Do you think I need to know what your favourite color is? Or perhaps how you like your coffee in the morning to love you? I don't think that's important in the big scheme of things! Love isn't about knowing every little fact about you. It's about knowing you would do anything for that person. It's about wanting to wake up beside that person every morning, and go to bed next to you every night. It's about knowing you'd lay your life on the line just so you wouldn't have to live one day without that person." His voice drops a few decibels as his tirade continues. "I know what love is Lily… what does it mean to you?"

Now what in the world am I supposed to say to that!! Honestly, the boy confesses his love… yes I suppose it is love and not just some crush like I had thought, and he expects me to answer??

We stand in silence as he looks over me, waiting for the inevitable blood shed he expects or some such thing. I, however, have no such thing in mind. Racing through MY mind are images of him and I… as a couple. Can I do it? Can I actually put aside my pride and admit I was wrong?

Does he really love me? Do I love him? Can I grow to love him? He's obviously thought this through and not rushed into this… I can't just shatter his heart by committing if I don't love him. Time. Time is what I need. Time helps everything. Right?

"Time." I whisper a little more strongly than before. A confused hazel eyed gaze reaches my eyes. "I need time to sort through my feelings James." Understanding fills those determined eyes. Not only do I see the understanding there, I see something else. Hope. The boy has hope now. I haven't said no. I've said maybe. And that's definitely an improvement.

We walk silently back to our own common room, not bothering with goodnights to our friends who are still blissfully unaware of our problem.