A/N: For those of you waiting patiently for Lily to pull herself together in Quiet Summer, here's a little something to hold you over until then. I really like this, and I hope you guys do, too. Readers, reviewers, Lily and James fans everywhere: this is for us :)
"Loving you isn't really something I should do
Shouldn't wanna spend my time with you
That I should try to be strong
But baby you're the right kind of wrong
Yeah baby you're the right kind of wrong"
- LeAnn Rimes, "Right Kind of Wrong"
The fire's low and the back of the couch is pressing against my shoulder blades and my skirt is kind of riding up my stomach, showing a bit more thigh than is uniform, but the after-dinner haze and the quiet murmurings of students milling around the common room is like a lullaby. I feel my eyes droop and close, and it's a couple of long seconds before I can open them again. Winter in Gryffindor is the perfect kind of night.
I kick my shoes off, stretching my legs languorously towards the fire. My friends are in our dorm and the Marauders are nowhere to be found – the ideal time of day to sit by the fire and just breathe. Classes have been hectic lately and Head Girl duties have been making my head spin; I haven't had a chance to let myself sit and not think of anything at all. It's nice to let my brain free for a while. It's been working on all cylinders for the past week, pulling more all-nighters than is healthy, and while I thrive on the sense of purpose and success I get when I can keep myself awake to finish that one last paper and complete that one last task and read that one last chapter, it's Friday, and I'll be damned if I'm waking up before noon tomorrow.
I think I doze off for a few minutes when a body thumps to the floor beside me. A leg brushes against mine, making the rug scratch unpleasantly on the back of my thighs, but I don't need to open my eyes to see who it is.
The arm inside his sleeve is white-hot when it presses against mine, and I feel a jolt straight up through my shoulder, warming my chest and expanding, growing, intensifying. He shuffles around a little; I can see him behind my eyelids like a moving photograph, pulling off that gray sweater, unbuttoning the top button of his pressed oxford shirt, loosening his tie. His hair is definitely mussed, his glasses a bit crooked, a little flush in his cheeks from the fire and a dark hue under his eyes from the successive late nights that he's pulled, too.
All this information – the fact that I know all this, that I can see it happening even when my eyes are closed, that I haven't moved away from his leg against mine or his arm against mine or his shoulder against mine – it's all so, so wrong.
His exhale, right as he stops moving, is deep and tired. I still haven't opened my eyes. Recently, having had to be close to him for long periods of time, I've found that it's easier to deal with him when I don't have to focus on everything at once. It's overwhelming and confusing and, really, I should have better control over myself, but God, he's… he's charming. And right now, he smells a little like pine from the forest and potatoes from dinner and it's hard to think of absolutely nothing like I want to when all I can seem to focus on is him.
"Long day, yeah?"
I can feel him looking at me. I nod.
He continues. "Minnie is trying to murder us with all those essays. And then Dumbledore and all those ridiculous Head duties and that Slytherin mess on Wednesday and the team not showing up at practice on time, Merlin help me, I'm going to be dead before graduation."
I laugh, hiding a tremble at the rough timbre of his voice. "That'll be a disappointment. I'll have to do all this by myself, then."
"You'd miss me," he says, and the confidence in his voice is stronger than it should be.
It's wrong. It's so, so very wrong, but suddenly his words are the truth and it hits me out of nowhere while my mind finally goes blank, that little phrase like neon lights inside the darkness of my vision. I'd miss him. I'd miss this, the way we're both leaning against the red velvet couch; the way our Head Badges are probably glinting against the fire, his discarded along with his sweater and robes and mine gleaming dully on my chest; the way I can feel the muscles in his calf contract as he taps his foot to an unheard beat in his head. I'd miss his slow gazes and his wide smile and the lilt of his laugh, constant and oddly comforting. I'd miss the way he makes me feel sometimes, intelligent and strong and beautiful, timid and jittery and mystified. I'd miss the way his gaze brings color to my face, even when my eyes are shut and he could be looking at anyone, anything else.
But he's looking at me, I can feel it, and when I finally open my eyes, his face is right there. Right there.
"I'd miss you," I say, and the confidence in my voice is stronger than it should be.
He closes his eyes. I know what he's seeing – those neon lights, that blackness, the faint outlines of my own face – and it's wrong, but I want to reach up and touch his eyelids, to feel what he's seeing, to trace the lines in the corners of his eyes.
It's like watching myself from another corner of the room when my arm lifts of its own volition, my hand and my fingers conspiring against me as they push his glasses up onto his head, his hair disturbed at this unexpected turn of events. My fingers linger there for a second, excited at this new sensation, but my brain, the damn turncoat that it is, tells them to move on to better things.
It's wrong, but I give up. I haven't slept in two days and my brain is obviously delirious, so I release hold of it and it clicks off like a light switch. Nox.
His eyes are still closed, but his foot stops moving and I know he's just as surprised as I am. Gently I brush my fingertips across the sensitive skin of his eyelids. I can feel his breath hot against my wrist and the fire hot against my feet. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. It's wrong. But he doesn't move, lets me explore, and it's actually kind of nice, the pounding of my pulse loud in my ears.
His hair is really, really soft. I can see why he'd run his hands through it so much; it's like a dawning discovery, my past annoyance turned to understanding. My hand snakes around his jaw to the skin behind his ear, finding its place, nice and comfortable, on the back of his neck.
"Lily," he murmurs.
And holy Merlin in heaven I do not know what comes over me, but his hand is resting on his thigh and I take it up in mine. It's hot and a little clammy, a little calloused, a little too big for mine – I've never done this with him before, any of this with him before, and he knows it. So when he adjusts his hand so that our fingers are reordered – his, mine, his, mine, his – it feels like an encouragement: it's okay.
It's not, though. It's wrong. His eyes finally open, and as I'm staring at him, into him, through him, I can see what he's been trying to tell me all along. Okay, I think. Okay.
My heart pauses, anxious, as I lean forward and press my lips against his, my one hand against his neck and the other, laced with his, sitting in my lap. I wait there for a second, marveling in this, what this means, what will come after. This is a kiss. This isn't a row or a glare or a roll of the eyes; this is a kiss. His lips are soft underneath mine and I can feel his heart rate jump in his neck and I angle my head, just a little, because apparently I'm masochistic and just need a little bit more.
He smiles against my mouth, and as he leans back to give me a chance to just breathe, cupping my face in his too big hands, our noses kind of sitting together, waiting, I murmur a "James" right back at him. Where his "Lily" was a question, my "James" is a statement, a go-ahead, an affirmation. Lumos.
This time, he pulls me forward and kisses me. The fact that I let him, the fact that my brain has woken up and is watching this all without passing out, the fact that, you know, I'm smack in the middle of kissing James Potter in the middle of the common room in the middle of the night, it's wrong.
But, oh, it's exactly the right kind of wrong.