Author's Notes: This darling bit of fluff was written in honor of The Unknowable Room's third anniversary, which is coming up on Halloween. I thought it deserved to be celebrated via fic. At first, I thought to do something *about* three year anniversaries, but quickly tossed that rather cliché idea aside and decided instead to see how many times I could manage to legitimately say, reference, associate, or abstractly refer to the word 'three' in a fic. It turned out to be quite a bit of fun, actually. You should all try. An extremely large amount of thanks goes to Anne, who with superhuman speed and talent, helped to edit out all my mistakes. I hope you all enjoy, and happy 3rd birthday, UR. *grin*
Try, Trial, and Try Again
Blue light erupted inside the dimly lit classroom, and a small, momentary brightness filled the air before quickly extinguishing again. The old Charms classroom was mostly cleared, all desks save one having been pushed against the far walls in order to create a large amount of empty space inside the normally cluttered room. Standing in the middle of that space, Lily didn't so much as squint as she stood before the spot where the blue light had just come and gone, wand out, arm extended, a very weary sigh escaping her lips.
"Well," she muttered flatly, dropping her arm back down to her side and glancing tiredly over her shoulder. "At least that was better than trial thirty-three, right?"
From behind the singular desk left off the wall, James lifted his head from his writing and removed his lab glasses, tossing them down upon the messy desktop. He shot Lily a withering glare.
"Are we honestly bringing that up again?" he asked pointedly, narrowing his eyes as Lily let out a small laugh. He scowled at her."I thought we agreed that we weren't ever mentioning trial thirty-three again? What happened to that plan, traitor?"
"Failure is expected in spell engineering," Lily quipped dutifully, repeating the phrase that they had heard over and over since this dratted project had begun. She grinned foolishly. "Do not get discouraged. Try, trial, and try again."
James was not amused.
"Thirty-three was not a failure," he declared dryly, leaning back in his chair and stretching out his arms and legs. He grimaced slightly as his joints let off a few scattered cracks. "It doesn't have enough dignity to be called a failure. I don't think there's even a word for what thirty-three was—they haven't managed to communicate that sort of pathetic yet. I've never waved a wand and had nothing happen before—not even a bloody spark." He nodded his head towards Lily. "This was a failure," he decided. "Thirty-three was...an unmentionable travesty."
Lily cracked a smile, not offended in the least by the labeling of her blue light as a failure. Honestly, it was. Shaking her head, she slowly began to make her way back towards the desk. James merely shuddered dramatically.
They had been at this for hours. Inside this same classroom, with their same wands, using the same "One...two...three!" countdown to start each attempt, they had tirelessly been conducting trial after trial for longer than Lily cared to think about. She was exhausted. Her brain hurt. Though after—what was it now?—fifty-two trials, she supposed that was natural. James wasn't looking much better, despite the fact that he had spent the last thirteen trials recording data behind the desk, still recovering from the shame the "unmentionable travesty" that trial thirty-three had brought down upon his ego. Lily supposed it was rather wicked of her to keep bringing that fluke up, but a girl had to get her amusement where she could.
They had been given the assignment a little over a month ago, one that every 7th-Year Charms student had to complete. The task seemed simple enough—implement the skills and spell engineering work they had been going over in class to attempt to engineer a spell of their own. Each student had been paired with another and every team had received free reign in the sort of spell they could create. The hope was that by the time holidays rolled around, each pair will have successfully engineered their own spell.
Lily had been excited about the project right from the very start. It was a chance to do something she had never done before, something that would really test the limit of her magical abilities. All her N.E.W.T. level courses were difficult, of course, but this was on another level. To create her own spell...it was a sort of power she had been itching to dive into. She couldn't wait to begin.
It was funny, but the only thing she now managed to remember from the blurry past three weeks as vividly as the moment when Flitwick had first told them about the project was the moment in which he'd told her that James Potter would be her partner. Lily glanced at James now, watching as his dark head bent over the desk, his hand moving to grab his quill as he quickly jotted something down upon the piles and piles of research and data they had littered across the desktop. She smiled a bit to herself.
He was something. She'd known that, even then. The previous three months working with him as her fellow Head had taught her that. James had always had a sort of charisma, an undeniable power of command and energy that had defined him, but before this year, Lily never would have believed that he could harness that into something productive. However, he had been nothing short of a wonderful Head Boy, despite the fact that he still managed to break as many rules as he enforced (Lily had all but given up trying to reform him in that regard). He was different this year. He had always been that clever little fool who bothered her incessantly, an idiot who didn't take anything seriously and yet still managed to succeed. Yet now...
He was something.
That's all she could think to call it.
That afternoon when the two of them had been paired together, Lily could still remember the hitch that had pulled inside of her chest, the way her excitement had taken an instant nosedive, quickly being replaced with keen disappointment. Despite what she had learned and experienced of James the past three months, she was afraid he might not take this project seriously. It was bad enough that the assignment was counting for thirty percent of their grade, but it concerned Lily more that he would ruin this for her.
But all of Lily's worries had been for naught. It was clear from the very beginning that James was as serious about this project as she was—if not even more so. She probably would never forget what he'd said to her that first day, just after Flitwick had announced the pairs and told them to meet and confer, while she was still trying to keep the distress off her face. James had strode right up, thrown himself down in the seat next to hers, and had given her such a serious look, Lily had almost reeled back.
"Let's leave the bullshit for the rest of the class," he'd said, leaning in close. "You and me, we're going to make something happen. Let's show them what we've got, Evans."
And as it turned out—together—they had quite a bit.
The idea had been mostly James's, the research mostly Lily's. They could have chosen anything, but James had come up with an idea that very first day and refused to let it go. Many of their classmates had chosen to work with Shielding Charms, attempting to make them larger or stronger, a relatively simple task when one thought about it. James had instantly declared that far too mundane.
He wanted to break through the Shield Charms.
Lily had politely told him he was mad.
But after a night spent bickering about it over a dinner they'd smuggled from the kitchens into their Head Common Room, Lily had agreed to look into James's insane theories, ones he claimed were absolutely possible despite what it may seem. She had gone into the library that night expecting to instantly be able to refute James's claims, but after many hours spent researching the concepts and mechanics of the idea, Lily was shocked to find that James had actually been right—his mad idea could work.
And now, countless hours later, that mad idea of his had turned into a reality. Lily had to admit, she was wildly proud of it.
The fleshed-out plan became essentially to engineer a more complex Disarming Spell, one that could breach through the barriers of a Shield Charm. It was possible—their research had proven that, in theory, it should work—but only when met with a Shield Charm of a certain strength. Still, even if the spell met a much stronger Shield than it could properly cross, the spell should have nevertheless been able to at least twitch the Shielder's wand in another direction, something that could save a life when it counted.
Professor Flitwick had been skeptical about the spell at first, believing as Lily had that it wasn't possible, but after ample explanations about the theories and mechanics behind their idea, the professor had agreed to let them continue, progressively growing excited about the possibility of such a thing as the days wore on. Now, three weeks later, James and Lily had grown notorious for their idea. All their classmates and professors would ask about it—even Professor Dumbledore had found them one evening to inquire about their progress—but both Head students had agreed to remain closed-mouthed about their work. If they managed it, everyone would find out at the same time, the day of the project presentations.
Lily sighed again, shaking herself out of her thoughts as she fell into the empty chair next to James. They still had two weeks, but so far, all they'd managed was some slight wand twitching, even through the simplest of Shield Charms. They were both determined, but it was long days like these and trials like thirty-three that made the whole experience rather disheartening.
Lily took off her own lab glasses, throwing them down along with her wand next to James's. Folding her arms on top of the desk, she let her head droop tiredly, burying her face in her forearms. From her collapsed position, she turned her head slightly, peeking up at James with one eye.
"Do you know what my mates are doing right now?" she asked him tiredly, trying not to sound too whiny. "Do you have any idea?"
James glanced down at her briefly, the tiniest of smiles creeping onto his face.
"No, what?" he asked.
"They're making a Cheering Charm," she replied simply, and this time she knew she was whining. James only cocked an eyebrow, but Lily went on, ranting freely. "Seriously, James. They're making a Cheering Charm. They started last night. The last time I spoke to them, they had progressed rather nicely—already managed to create a spell that produced more false euphoria than a normal Cheering Charm. They should be done by tomorrow. Isn't that just smashing?"
James smiled widely, listening to her droning with amusement. Lily figured he was used to it by now.
"That's terrific, Lil," was all he said, not pausing in his writing. "Really brill."
Lily scowled, sulking some more.
"I hate us," she muttered crossly.
"I know," James replied.
"We'll never get this."
"No one else is torturing themselves this way."
"Masochists, both of us."
James finally stopped writing, glancing down at her. "Yeah, probably," he said, grinning.
There was nothing left for Lily to do but grin along, even as she turned her head back into her arms, groaning loudly. James only laughed.
It was one of the things she liked about James, she suddenly decided. The bloke could take her complaining and still manage to chuckle and grin. It was a talent.
"What angle was that at again?" the talented fellow in question asked, causing Lily to prop up her head once more. She grabbed blindly for her wand. Squinting slightly, she checked the spell engineering protractor attached there, noting the angle at which she'd held her wand for the last trial.
"Twenty-three degrees," she muttered, then tossed the thing back down on the desk as she buried her head back in her arms. "Twenty-stupid-bloody-three degrees. Curse them all."
James began writing again. "All right, then," he said. "Trial fifty-two, twenty-three degrees, swish and jab...fail."
"Major fail. Again."
"Try, trial, and try again, Evans." Lily could practically hear the smirk in his voice. She let out a dismissive snort. James clicked his tongue at her. "What's with all the pessimism, anyway?" he asked, dropping a hand onto her head and ruffling her hair a bit. "Who spit in your soup?"
She lifted her head to shoot him a glare. "No one spit in my soup, thank you very much. Unless you've got something to tell me."
James tapped absently at his chin, appearing to think about that. "Not me," he finally answered. His smirk took on a wicked edge. "Though I'll gladly admit that I'm all for my spit in your mouth, I'm much more about the direct method, you know."
Oh, dear. Lily groaned internally, throwing James a dirty look and efficiently ignoring his foolish grin. She wanted to hit him. She wanted to hit him really hard. And then she wanted to...well, she wanted to...
Focus, Evans! Lily chided herself, snapping herself out of those sorts of thoughts. So not the time. So not the time.
But even as Lily scolded herself repeatedly, she couldn't help but admit how fairly often those sorts of thoughts had to be repressed lately.
It was worrying, to say the least.
"Shut up," Lily forced out, though the order sounded less-than-convincing, even to her own ears. She let her anger over that rather disconcerting fact cover for the severe lack of it produced from James's comment. She frowned bitterly. "What's the number one rule in Lily and James spending inordinate amounts of time together?"
"No hexing innocents in the corridors," James answered automatically.
"No," she said.
"No parties in the Head rooms," James tried next. Lily gritted her teeth.
"No miscalculating house points accidentally-on-purpose."
"No harassing or flirting!" Lily snapped, throwing her hands up in frustration.
James smacked a hand to his forehead, throwing her a mocking wince. "You know, I always forget that one."
Lily shot him a withering stare, fighting back the urge to let a rather telling, "Yes, I know," escape from her lips. James only grinned, that familiar one of his that quirked up at the sides of his mouth and made his eyes appear extra bright. Lily bit her lip in annoyance, cursing herself for noticing these things, even as she watched for the small dimple that would undoubtedly appear at the corner of his lips any second.
Ah, there it was.
Bugger it all, Lily swore.
It had been like this for weeks. Lily chose to ignore it—after all, if it wasn't acknowledged, it practically didn't exist, right?—but lately, ignoring James Potter and the things he did to her had become increasingly difficult. Perhaps it wouldn't be so hard if they weren't constantly together, or if he would just stop flirting and propositioning her for a single day, or if he would just quit being so...so James. She'd lost count of the number of times she'd caught herself blushing at things he said, or doing that nervous hair-twirling thing she did when she was accidently preening whenever he was near, or how often she found herself thinking about...well, thinking about things Lily Evans should really not be thinking about in regards to James Potter—or anyone with any sense of a moral code, really.
She was starting to fear for her sanity. Really, she was.
And James wasn't making it any damned easier.
Lily refused to look at him until she was sure that that bloody dimple was gone, refusing to give into its deadly trap. She had work to do. She couldn't be bothered by stupid dimples or stupid alluring Head Boys, or stupid attractions that shouldn't be there.
"Let's just get on with it," Lily said, grabbing her lab glasses off the desktop and settling them back over her eyes. She grabbed for her wand, as well, lifting it off the desk and going instantly for the protractor, beginning to adjust. "Are we going up to thirty degrees now?"
When James didn't immediately answer, she turned to look at him, only to find him staring rather intensely at her, the strangest sort of expression resting on his face. Lily shifted uncomfortably under his penetrating gaze.
"What?" she snapped.
James's eyes continued to slowly scan her face. "Interesting," was all he said.
Lily's eyes narrowed.
"What's interesting?" she demanded.
James's gaze didn't move.
"You're blushing," he informed her simply.
Lily instantly let out an offended huff.
"I am not!" she cried, though if her face hadn't been holding a certain crimson tint to it before (which, to be perfectly honest, she was pretty sure wasn't true), it certainly was now.
"Interesting," James repeated, and suddenly the deadly dimple was right there again, screaming its presence inside Lily's head. She could feel her heart clamoring abruptly against her chest.
"I was not blushing," she said again, this time a little more weakly than the last. "I wasn't."
James hummed an absent consent, but Lily didn't fail to notice that the dimple still did not disappear.
Lily didn't know what she would have said after that if it hadn't been for the fact that James suddenly sprang up from his seat, grabbing his wand and seeming to move to the opposite side of the desk in one, fluid movement. Lily stared after him, blinking rapidly.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
James sent her a quick glance over his shoulder. "Trying, trialing and trying again," he informed her, already looking back down at his wand as he began fiddling with the protractor hanging there. "Did you think I was going to let you have all the fun forever? It's my turn to face down the Headless Wandsman."
The Headless Wandsman was the name that they—and by they, Lily really meant James—had given to the wand-holding dummy they'd created to help with their experiment. The dummy stood at the far side of the room, a broken, old wand they'd written to Mr. Ollivander in Diagon Alley for carefully placed in its extended "hand". Because the Headless Wandsman clearly could not cast his own Shielding Charm, James had set up a sort ward around it, one that was identical to the Shield Charm they were attempting to break through.
Lily nodded, even though James wasn't looking at her any longer. She wondered why he had dropped the subject of her blushing so quickly. She was thankful for it, certainly, but that wasn't like him.
"All right," James said, getting into a ready stance as he sent one more brief glance back at Lily. "Ready for this one? Sixty-three degrees, swish, jab, and I'm adding in a half-turn left at the end—"
"What?" Lily stood up, startled. "What are you talking about, James? We're supposed to be at thirty degrees—you've doubled that! And why are you adding on a half-turn? And for Merlin's sake, get your bloody lab glasses back on, you prat!"
James sighed loudly, pulling a face as he turned around to look at her. "We're getting nowhere," he declared, rolling his eyes. "Do you want to keep failing trial by trial, or do you want to try something new and see where that takes us? I've been working on it back there. I think this might work. And in case you haven't noticed," James added, lifting a finger to his own glasses, "I've already got my own sort of protection, thanks."
"Humour me," Lily replied, grabbing James's lab glasses and holding them out to him. He rolled his eyes again, but took them. Lily crossed her arms over her chest as she watched him slip the larger glasses over his normal pair. "Are you sure about this?" she asked uncertainly, pulling nervously at the ends of her hair. "Sixty-three seems a bit much. And maybe you should make it a third-of-a-turn—"
"Lily," James interrupted, giving her a look. "Just trust me, all right? If it doesn't work, we can go right back to your orderly failures, I promise."
Lily still wasn't sure. The whole idea seemed rather shady to her. But James wouldn't stop giving her a look that had her squirming at her own cowardice.
"Fine," she finally relented, but she didn't like it. She slowly sat back down in her seat. "Just...be careful. All right, go."
Something flashed across James's face at her words, but as quickly as it was there, it was gone, long before Lily had a chance to really look. Then he was turned away from her once more, wand held at the ready, back straight, legs braced against the stone floors.
"All right," he said, letting out a small breath. He paused briefly. "What number trial are we on, exactly? Three-thousand?"
"Close," Lily replied, lifting a quill and pausing with it just above their half-filled data sheet. "Fifty-three."
"Right," James said, giving her a nod. His arm lifted a bit higher. "Trial fifty-three, sixty-three degrees, swish, jab, half-turn left. On the count of one...two...three!"
A blinding flash of white exploded in the room.
Lily was out of her chair in a second, blinking rapidly as her vision slowly recovered from the blinding light.
James was on the floor.
He wasn't moving.
Lily sprinted around the desk, skidding to a stop and dropping to her knees as soon as she reached James's fallen form. Both pairs of glasses had come off during his fall and there was a cut that was already beginning to bleed sliced horizontally across the right side of his forehead. His eyes were closed and his face was turned to the side, with the rest of his body lying limp against the hard ground. His wand laid a few feet to his left.
"James!" Lily cried, bringing her hands to his face and gently trying to shake him out of unconsciousness. "James, answer me! Open your eyes! James, open your eyes!"
James still didn't move. Lily felt her blood run cold, panic already starting to strangle her. She shook him some more, biting her lip so hard it hurt, unsuccessfully trying to calm her racing heart.
"Oh, Merlin, oh, Merlin, oh, Merlin," she whispered, her breathing coming in short, shallow pants. She leaned in close, moving her hands over James's face again, searching for any sort of response. "Please open your eyes," she begged, startled to find the heavy pressure of tears pressing against the back of her eyelids. "Oh, god, please open your eyes, James. Please—James!"
His soft groan was the first thing she heard, the pained moan followed quickly by the slow movement of his arms and legs and then by the slight tilt of his head. Lily waited with halted breath as almost in slow motion, his eyes fluttered open.
Oh, Merlin, she was going to cry.
"Arghh," he gargled, his hazy eyes squinting open and closed quickly. It took a second for him to register her face hanging just over his, but when he finally did, he did a bit of a double take. He blinked rapidly once more. "Hey," he rasped.
"You're okay," Lily whispered, the heavy relief filling her voice completely. She took a deep breath, finally able to breathe properly. Her hands still rested against James's cheeks. "You're alive. You're okay."
"Mmm," James hummed softly, wincing deeply as he slowly attempted to raise himself up. Lily instantly yelled in objection.
"Don't move!" she shouted, all but shoving him back down on the ground. "Are you stupid? You probably have a concussion! Something could be broken! Stay right where you are, you big idiot!"
"Lily," James started, attempting to speak.
"I should go get Pomfrey," Lily fretted on, completely ignoring James. "The Hospital Wing's not that far. Doesn't every second count with these things? I can run and fetch her. Except you can't fall asleep. You have to stay conscious or else you'll never wake up again. So I'll just—"
"I don't need Pomfrey," James said, a surly tone entering his voice. "I've got a bloody headache, Lily, not a fatal disease. Get me my glasses, will you? I can't see a ruddy thing."
Just happy to be of help, Lily instantly turned about, scrambling on her hands and knees until she spotted James glasses just a few feet away from the Headless Wandsman. She grabbed for them, glad they were still intact. By the time she turned back around to hand them over to James, he was already sitting up, grimacing and rubbing slowly at the back of his head.
"I told you not to get up!" she snapped, handing James his glasses and considering whether shoving him back down on the ground would be a help or a hindrance at this point. She watched him slip the glasses back on to his face and stuck him with a glare. "You're hurt, you prat! You shouldn't have moved!"
"I'm fine," James insisted, finally dropping his hand down from his hair. He winced slightly. "Just got the wind knocked out of me. It's a bit of a bump. It's fine, Lil."
"You can't know that," Lily instantly contested, shaking her head. "You...you fell really hard, and you're bleeding, and you've probably jostled something you shouldn't have—"
"I'm fine," James said again, and Lily supposed that something had to be said for a bloke who could be knocked unconscious one moment, and be laughing the next. He chuckled lightly. "Really, Evans, I didn't know you cared that much."
Lily wasn't sure what it was that made her say what she did next. She was still disoriented and her heart hadn't yet managed to return to a proper pulse, so she supposed that had something to do with it, but whatever the reason, she somehow found her face softening, her voice growing quiet.
"Don't say that," she said, looking at him carefully. "Of course, I care. You could have been really hurt, James. You could have...of course, I care. You're my friend."
"Friend?" James repeated, and for some reason, the word seemed to fall heavily from his lips. He gazed hard at her. "Is that what we are?" he asked. "Friends?"
Lily shifted uncomfortably on her knees, wondering why words were suddenly becoming so hard to get out. She grabbed for the ends of her hair again, twirling them about in her fingers self-consciously.
"Well, yeah," she replied, finally able to force something out. "I mean, of course."
James didn't respond to that, only nodded and looked a bit pensive. Lily wanted to chalk that up to his recent fall, but she couldn't quite help but wonder if it was simply because he had never thought of them as friends. That seemed silly. Of course, they were friends. Just look at them—they were practically the only company each other had these days! And they talked all the time, and not even just about the project or Head Duties, either. They shared meals and jokes and—if perhaps they didn't always agree—at least they had interesting arguments. That was the very definition of friendship, wasn't it?
They were friends. Of course, they were friends.
And Lily liked that.
By the time Lily was done sorting through all these muddled thoughts, James had already lifted himself to his feet, swaying slightly, but nonetheless keeping his balance as he stumbled over towards the desk. Lily followed after him, rushing up to place a supporting hand against his back, just in case he needed it. James shot her a small smile in thanks, turning to look at her as he reached the desk, remaining on his feet as he leaned back against the sturdy furniture.
"All right?" Lily questioned, watching him carefully as he seemed to be slowly readjusting to life in consciousness. He looked peculiar. Lily couldn't figure out why. "I can still get Pomfrey," she said, not able to stop worrying. "Just to check you out. It's not a big deal."
"It's fine," James said one more time, glancing over at her with that strange look still shining through his eyes. "Just give me a moment," he said. "I'm...thinking."
Lily cracked a small grin. "Well, it's good you can still do that," she teased. "Must mean things are all right."
James grinned back at her, but it was...not half-hearted, exactly, but something was certainly off. Lily didn't know why he was behaving so strangely. She supposed it could be because he was still recovering, but something just seemed...she couldn't put her finger on it. It wasn't that. She was sure of it.
Lily wasn't sure what exactly she was supposed to do now. She couldn't stand to stare at James, who in turn was staring at her with that strange look, for much longer. She turned away, her eyes absently scanning the classroom. Almost as an afterthought, her eyes focused in on James's wand, which still lay abandoned on the stone floor.
"Oh," she said, speaking to James, though she still refused to look at him. "Your wand. Hold on, I'll go get it."
She crossed the necessary space slowly, lagging for some reason she couldn't quite name. When she reached the spot where the wand had fallen, she bent down slowly, grasping the thin piece of wood in her hand. She stared blankly at it.
"That was so strange," she said, still staring down at the wand, her back to James. "I wonder why it reacted like that. Perhaps it was the—oomph!"
Lily didn't know how he did it. One second, she was standing on one side of the room, glancing at his wand and wondering just what had caused the explosion and the next, she somehow found herself plastered up against James, her backside touching his front, his arms clamped firmly around her middle.
"James, what are you—?"
"I'm done thinking," James said, his voice coming out soft and hot against her ear. Lily shivered involuntarily, her heart fluttering madly against her chest.
"Done?" she gasped quietly, her voice rather breathless. "After three seconds?"
James chuckled quietly.
"Quick thinker," he said, and Lily might have been imagining it, but did he...had he nuzzled against her ear? "I've had a bit of an epiphany, you see."
Lily swallowed hard. She was starting to feel dizzy. "A three second epiphany," was all she could get out, the statement coming out as more of a question. James laughed again.
"Indeed," he said, and Lily felt his arms tighten around her. "You know, boom, fall, bang your head—it comes with the territory. Would you like to hear about it?"
In the long run of things, Lily knew this was probably not a good idea. The fact of the matter was, one could only refuse to acknowledge so much when that which is trying to be ignored is holding you against him and whispering against your ear. Lily closed her eyes, sure now that James had just pressed his lips against the upper curve of her earlobe.
What game was he playing at? What was he doing—or rather, Lily knew what he was doing, but why in the hell was he doing it now?
"James," she breathed, barely even getting his name out. "I don't know what you think you're doing, but—"
"Practical application," James instantly declared, somehow managing to quickly turn her about in his arms, leaving them face to face, but no less trapped in place. James was smiling, a few wisps of his dark hair falling into his face as he gazed down at her, the small, bleeding cut still prominent on his forehead. Lily wasn't sure what she wanted to do more—brush those strands of hair off his face, or clean the wound that had damaged him.
"What?" she asked dumbly.
James's grin only widened.
"Try, trial, and try again," he explained, moving his head closer to hers. One of his hands lifted, pushing a stray piece of red hair behind her ear. "I've decided it works in life. Practical application. And you're going to be my experiment."
Lily held her breath, sure now that her heart was going to beat itself right out of her chest. She remained silent as James went on, moving closer with each second.
"What I'm going to attempt to do now, I've done twice before, you see," he went on, his voice still soft, but strong. "Two trials. The first time—quite like our friend trial fifty-three here—rather exploded in my face. The second—a trial thirty-three—was merely met with complete apathy, a wounding blow to my ego, you know. But this time," he said, and by this time, his face was mere centimeters away from hers, and Lily had stopped breathing completely, "I'm thinking that the third time is the charm. And I reckon it's time to try again."
Lily could feel his breath against hers, mingling closely, practically one. She wasn't strong enough to delude herself—she knew exactly what James was about to do. And though she had been trying to stop this moment from occurring for weeks now—for months, even—now that it was finally here…well, Lily found herself embracing it whole-heartedly.
She was sick of all this rubbish.
If he didn't kiss her soon, damn it all, she was going to kiss him.
And she meant to tell him that, as well.
"James," she started, but it took all of a moment for James to cut her off.
But she soon found that she didn't mind all that much.
"I don't want to be your friend, Lily," he whispered forcefully, his hazel eyes blazing fire into her own. "Never have. And for once—finally—I don't think you want to be my friend either."
Then his lips crushed down upon hers.
Lily nearly sighed in relief.
Lily clung helplessly to him, lifting herself up into the kiss as James pushed down, the pressure of their lips melding together in delicious sensations that sent shivers of delight up and down her spine. One kiss blended into a second, a second into a third, a third into...perfection, sweeping through Lily in sudden jolts, catching her breath. James's lips moved smoothly along hers, even as he pushed harder, deeper, achingly slick and drugging. Lily grew hot, dizzy, losing track of time and reality, focusing only on James and the feel of him against her, with her. It was electrifying.
Lily never wanted to stop, never wanted to let go, but soon the need for air became imperative and there was nothing left to do but pause, pulling away from James with the saddest sort of moan. She kept her eyes closed, her head spinning as she dropped it quickly against James's heaving shoulder. She tried to catch her breath, tried to make sense of her thoughts, but where there should have been something tangible, there was nothing but the feel of James against her.
Holy hell, she gasped, breathing in time with her drumming heart. Holy bloody hell.
James seemed equally as mindless as she, and by the way she could feel his heart thudding in time with hers, she knew he was equally as affected. However, where Lily couldn't so much as form a coherent thought yet, James somehow managed to speak, his words coming out against Lily's ear once more.
"I don't care if we ever get this," he said, pressing another kiss to Lily's temple, gripping her tighter. "I don't even bloody care."
"What?" Lily asked dumbly, lifting her head from his shoulder. She didn't understand. James took a deep breath before speaking again.
"The spell," he said, slipped a finger under her chin and tilting her face up to his. "I don't care if we ever figure out how to get that stupid wand to move. It doesn't matter, anymore."
Lily stared at him blankly, still not seeing what he was getting at.
"Why?" she asked.
James grinned widely, his eyes shining as he looked at her. He leaned in again, pressing one more long kiss against her lips.
"Because," he said, pulling her close. "I already broke through the shield I wanted to."