Previously on Boyfriend:
"Oh, just kiss me already."
He laughed, and I felt his chest hum with vibrations against mine. Our lips met, and I allowed my fingers to caress the muscle in his arm where his shirt ended.
Ahh, that had been taunting me all day.
"Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping." - Bo Derek
What the bloody hell?
Almost alert, I sat up in my bed and looked around. Fire? No, I didn't feel hot. Five more minutes. The flames wouldn't be too high by then. I could still get out.
Where was that coming from?
Merlin, that was getting annoying. I was trying to sleep! Why wasn't I ever allowed to just sleep?
B—There! In the corner, an alarm clock! Since when did I have an alarm clock? I thought I had implemented a strict ban on them in my room four Christmases ago. I reached out for my wand, and my fingers fumbled around on my nightstand until they grasped the hard wood. Success!
I pointed my wand at the offending demon clock and muttered a charm to get it to stop. Perhaps I should have Avada Kedavraed it. Anything that woke me up deserved the death penalty, as far as I was concerned. The clock stopped abruptly.
I lowered my wand and then snuggled back into my pillow. Ahh, sleep.
"Lily!" I heard coming shrilly from outside my room. "Get up!"
I groaned. Mum. Honestly, if that woman hadn't gone through the horrible pain of giving birth to me…bleh, stork!
I pulled my covers over my head to get back into the dark where it was nice and quiet and sleepy…
I stumbled downstairs and into the kitchen. I needed coffee and perhaps a few less family members. I fingered my wand underneath James's jersey. No, that would be bad. I'd regret it later when I wasn't so tired and grouchy. Still, maybe Tuney…
I looked up at the clock. 7:21 A.M.
Oh, you had got to be bloody killing me!
"Bollocks!" I shrieked as I spun around to go right back upstairs. No way in Merlin's underpants was I going to wake up.
"Lily? Where are you going?" Mum called as she walked into the kitchen.
"Upstairs!" I grumbled as I climbed up the first stair.
"No, you are not. Get back down here, young lady," she said sternly.
I groaned. Mum always meant business when she started with the "young lady" talk. The last time she had used that phrase, I had turned her favorite sweater into a frog-on accident, of course. Sighing at my inevitable demise, I shuffled petulantly back into the kitchen.
"There you are," said Mum as she poured herself some cereal into a bowl.
I pointed and the clock and grunted some sort of response back at her.
"I know it's a tad early, but I had to get going," she replied. Apparently Mum had been taking classes in troll.
"A tad early?" I echoed. "The sun isn't even bloody out yet!" I complained irritably.
Mum rolled her eyes as she munched on her cereal. "Yes, it is. It comes out much earlier than this."
I pulled a chair out from underneath the kitchen table. "Yeah, well," I quipped lamely.
"I have to go into school early today for orientation. The school is having a special day for the newcomers and their parents to get better acquainted with the classroom environment before term actually begins. It doesn't really apply to me, but all the teachers are required to go. I'll probably be able to catch up on some paperwork or maybe set the desks up in the best way. Each year I can never decide what's better: all of the desks facing the front or the students facing each other. I like changing it through the year, but it's always important to get it right the first day. Besides, my little ones usually enjoy the stability. For some reason, changing their desk location is detrimental to their anxiety levels. Maybe this year I should go with groups. I suppose that would help with cooperation, but perhaps that would lead to too much chatter…Hmm, Lily are you paying attention?"
I blinked. "What?"
"Are you paying attention?"
No, not really. I had been tuning her out about seven thought processes ago. "Make them all sit on the floor," I told her.
Mum frowned at me. "You're so cross in the mornings, Lily. I'm surprised that James puts up with your tetchy mood swings."
I shrugged. "Yeah, well, he's a Lily masochist. Bloke can't live without me," I replied as I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand.
She laughed and then took the final swig of her cranberry juice. "I must be going."
I groaned. "You woke me up just to tell me you're going to leave? Couldn't you have just left a note?"
Mum grabbed her briefcase. I eyed her outfit. She was wearing a pretty knee-length skirt with a lilac short-sleeved blouse. She never dressed up for me. What? Was I not special enough?
Merlin, I was cross in the mornings. It was too bloody early.
"No, that's what I've been trying to tell you. With you leaving so soon, your father and I won't be able to get off work to take you to Diagon Alley. I'm really sorry, Lily, but usually your letter comes earlier, and we have more time to plan. Now, I don't want you to obsess about all the meanings of this. Your father and I, as much as we hate to see you leave, love going to pick out your school supplies with you. You know how your dad nearly pees himself when we pass that store with all the broomsticks. It's just the logistics this year aren't working out. Neither of us can get off work before you leave on Wednesday, and the weekend just won't do. So stop your mind from reeling before it even starts."
I frowned. My mum thought she knew everything. I mean, she did, but still. "What does that have to do with me waking up early?" I croaked.
"I thought maybe if I got you to wake up early, I could convince your sister to go with you-you know how prissy she gets when she has to wait for something. It's almost as bad as you in the mornings. But, unfortunately, she said she already has plans."
I could tell by the way she said it that Petunia just didn't want to go. It was nice of Mum to try and hide it. Still, I could have told her last night that Tuney wouldn't go. Why was I the victim in all of this? It was bloody seven in the bloody morning!
"That's fine, I'll just go with James," I said.
Mum's forehead crinkled in worry. "Are you sure? You two are still only seventeen. I don't want you to get lost. What if something happens?"
I rolled my eyes. "Mum, we'll be fine. James and I can do magic. How much trouble can we get into? Besides, he's known he was a wizard all of his life. He'll be loads more help than Tuney could ever be."
Mum fidgeted with her skirt. "I don't know, Lily."
"Mum, you have to leave for work or you'll be late. Just go on and don't worry about us."
She eyed me wearily before sighing. "Oh, all right. Just be careful, Lily," she acquiesced before kissing my forehead. "Be good," she told me.
"Always am," I replied back cheekily. "Oh, and Mum?"
"Can I have some money?"
With some fresh bills lying on the table for me, I dragged my carcass back up the stairs. Seven in the morning, Vermin's gross mustache. I was going back to sleep. At least, I was until I felt a pain in my stomach. My bladder worked in mysterious ways. I trudged into the bathroom to find blood in my underwear. Bloody perfect! As if my morning couldn't get any worse. Grumbling all sorts of obscenities, I took care of the blood rushing out of my vagina like a ruddy waterfall and then got back into my bed.
Four glorious hours of R.E.M. later, I crawled out of bed. I went into the bathroom and scrubbed my mouth vigorously with my toothbrush until my teeth sparkled like that new bloke who was on the cover of all those witches' magazines. I flicked some water into my hair to get the frizziness to die down and then flounced downstairs. Petunia was sipping coffee at the kitchen table.
I grabbed my own mug and then joined her-at the farthest available seat. I busied myself with my coffee and then purposefully avoided looking in her direction. She scanned the local newspaper for several minutes of extremely palpable, awkward silence. Finally, I heard the papers rustle against the table as I saw her put it down out of the corner of my eye.
"Mum said that I have to apologize to you," she told me curtly.
And good morning to you too, Tuney. Feeling slaphappy today, were we?
"That's great," I grunted back.
"So you can tell her that I said I was sorry and we can both smile until you leave again so she can get off my back."
My eyes widened in shock. I always thought Mum would just yell at me for these things. Still, that didn't make it okay.
"Do you even know what you're sorry for?"
Petunia frowned. "For not going to your stupid dinner last night. Apparently, it was very rude," she sneered.
The anger began to flow again, but I toned it back. "Yeah," I told her. "It was. Merlin, Petunia, it was a big deal for me, and you just ignored it. I know you don't like the fact that I'm so different, but you could at least be happy for me when something good happens."
Tuney played with the handle of her cup. "Go, Lily," she cheered monotonously.
I rolled my eyes. "Wow, enthusiastic."
"Well, it's not like this is anything new," she snapped, her fingers leaving the cup to brace the table. "All the good stuff happens to you. The perfect grades and the perfect boyfriend and the perfect magic tricks."
Seriously? Since when had I become perfect? Was there some gin mixed in there with her coffee?
"My life is not perfect," I told her. "Far from it."
"Well, it doesn't seem like it," replied Petunia bitterly. "You just go off and leave for nine months without a look back. You're mad because I didn't go to one dinner for you? What about all the times something happens to me during the school year and you aren't there? Do you have any idea what it's like to live with Mum and Dad all year as they rave about your latest letter? 'Oh, Lily is just so talented. We're so proud of her. It's so Goddamn wonderful to have a witch in the family,'" Petunia imitated icily.
I swallowed. To be honest, I rarely thought about what it was like for Petunia to be stuck home with them for nine months out of the year. It would have driven me crazy. No wonder she had to turn to Vernon. Any company would do at this point-even rodent.
"So, yes, Lily, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I didn't make it to your fancy dinner, but rest assured, I know what it's like to have your sister not be there."
She finished her speech with a dramatic clink of her coffee cup.
I sighed, and we were both quiet for a moment. "Do you want to come to Diagon Alley with me today?" I asked in a feeble attempt at reconciliation.
She scoffed and flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder. "Yeah, right. I'd rather make paper airplane models with Dad," she deadpanned as she got up from the table.
I grinned. "I miss you when I'm not home, too, Tuney," I admitted truthfully.
I saw the corners of her mouth twitch upwards, but she shook her head and crossed her arms across her chest. "Yeah, well, whatever."
I sniggered into my coffee and nibbled on a bit of toast she had left behind as I listened to the sound of her heels become quieter and quieter until it disappeared altogether.
"Gah!" I exclaimed as I jerked backwards and away from the boy in front of me. My coffee mug clanked onto the table, but it didn't break. Hmm, that Chinese craftsmanship was even better than the goblin stuff.
"James? How did you get here so fast?"
He grinned boyishly as he ruffled his hair and stepped backwards to give me some room. "I apparated, silly," he told me.
"Couldn't you have just walked down the stairs like a normal person?" I grumbled at him.
"But I wanted to surprise you," he crooned.
I rolled my eyes.
James seemed to sense my annoyance with him so he leaned in to kiss me and distract me from my anger. It worked. It always bloody worked.
He hummed softly as his lips left mine. "You remembered today," he whispered as his lips pulled away from mine-after a fashion.
"Huh?" I asked stupidly.
He ruffled my hair and released his hold on my waist. "Nevermind. Go upstairs and get dressed. We have a lot to do today! The school supplies won't buy themselves, and your mum gave me strict orders not to leave your side all day," he added cheerfully.
"Oh, goody," I growled.
"C'mon, love!" he urged me. "Let's get cracking."
"I hate morning people," I told him grumpily.
"Well, it's a good thing it's almost the afternoon then," he replied back jovially.
Feeling like a lone Slytherin in a compartment full of bloody Hufflepuffs, I trudged back up the stairs and wondered what my mother would get James to do if I never got out of bed. Oh, gross. Weird images. Now, I really needed to shower. Or possibly, I could rip my uterus out of my body. I didn't really need that anyway, right?
I took a long shower and then went into my room to get dressed. As much as I wanted to just throw on some sweatpants and curl up on the couch to watch old movies, I dutifully pulled out a pair of black stretchy capris and an oversized gray t-shirt. My outfit said, "Don't mess with me. I'm menstruating."
I put on some makeup to make myself seem a tad more presentable and then pulled my damp hair back into a ponytail. I stuffed my feet into a pair of trainers and then grabbed a purse, into which I threw in a bunch of tampons and my money bag.
James was waiting for me downstairs with an eager smile. I tried to grin back as brightly as I could. Don't be a bitch. Don't be a bitch. Don't be a bitch.
After trying to be as patient as possible-which really involved annoying pacing, while I stuffed the last bit of my sandwich into my mouth, James walked over to me.
"Ready?" he asked. "I grabbed our letters, and your mum told me to remind you to bring this," he said as he handed me the money from the table. "I'm under strict rules to not buy you anything," he told me.
I rolled my eyes. "Mum," I muttered. I eyed his outfit. He looked about the exact polar opposite from me. His pale yellow shirt and bright blue shorts were too cheerful for my eyes. "How did you want to get there?"
James ruffled his hair. "I was thinking we could apparate."
I nodded but didn't say anything.
"If you don't want to, we can always floo there," he backtracked. "I have some powder in the guest room. I'd even go the muggle way if you prefer. It's just that you slept rather late this morning, and we don't have much time."
I put my hand on his arm to reassure and silence him. "Apparating's fine," I said. Hell, maybe I'd even splinch myself and leave a part of my stupid anatomy behind.
He smiled warmly at me as he pulled out his wand. Adjusting my purse so that it rested more firmly on my shoulder, I stepped backwards and did the same.
"Let's go," said James, winking at me before spinning in place.
I did the same and felt the immediate uncomfortable pull at my navel, which, frankly, was already suffering enough. My surroundings blurred and spiraled around me as I became disoriented. I pinched my eyes shut and waited for it to be over. I felt my feet land on the ground, and I stumbled backwards in surprise. My back hit a hard surface, and I felt warm arms wrap around my waist. I opened my eyes.
"Careful, love," said James as he took advantage of our position to nestle his face into my neck.
Still dizzy and confused, I let out a very quiet moan as his lips grazed the sensitive skin right underneath my earlobe. Seconds later, we were snogging.
"Oi! We're trying to walk here!" I heard a disgruntled man shout in a thick accent. "Take that somewhere else."
Blushing, I squirmed out of James's arms and fixed my purse, which was falling off my shoulder. "Sorry!" I called out to the guy's back.
James laughed and kissed my cheek. He grabbed my hand, and we entered the Leaky Cauldron together.
Inside, it was dark and dirty. It needed a whole day's worth of dusting. Petunia would have freaked out and left. I loved it. James's hand roamed up to my shoulder. "Can I interest you in a drink?" he asked as we weaved through the tables.
I laughed and glanced at his watch. "It's a tad early for drinks," I told him.
He sighed and swore under his breath.
"Why? Am I ruining your plans?"
He smiled at me. "Plans?" he asked innocently. "Who? Me?"
I rolled my eyes.
"So how about that drink?"
"James, are you trying to get me drunk?" I asked in a scandalized voice.
He grinned shiftily at me as we passed Tom, the barkeep, who waved at us. "Nope, just tipsy enough that I suddenly become irresistible to you."
I scoffed. "Like you'd need alcohol to seduce me," I grumbled.
James's head perked up, and his eyes shone with mischief. "Really?" he asked brightly.
I opened the door to the courtyard behind the pub and dragged him with me. "Let's go shopping, James, before your head gets too big for me to snog."
"But there will be snogging later, right?"
Honestly, the boy was a hormone-obsessed toddler. Rolling my eyes, I took out my wand and raised it in front of the brick wall in front of us. My arm faltered as I tried to remember the exact pattern.
"Three up, two across," James reminded me.
"I know," I seethed defensively as I did as he said. Bloody pureblood who thought he knew everything.
The bricks began to move, and we were suddenly standing at the entrance of Diagon Alley. My eyes followed the hustle and bustle of people moving from shop to shop. I eagerly took a step forward, but James held me back with a tug on my arm.
"Lily, are you okay?" he asked, his eyebrows crinkling in concern. He wasn't gazing at the streets of magic but at me. He was more accustomed to the life of magic than I was.
I sighed. "I'm fine, James," I promised.
"Are you sure?" he pressed. "You've been acting strangely all day."
"It's nothing," I assured him, plastering a smile to my face. "I've just been feeling a tad drained this morning, is all," I said with an ironic chuckle. "Nothing that can't be cured with a bit of shopping."
"And fine company," he added as he threw his arm over my shoulder.
"Mmm, can I get that here, as well?" I teased, looking around.
James laughed loudly. "Bloody wench," he mumbled.
I grinned widely at him.
"Let's go give the goblins hell," he announced.
Gringotts was an experience. The oily goblins nearly tripped over themselves to help us out as soon as the word "Potter" left James's lips. I had a sneaking suspicion that one of the more malevolent looking ones named Gloin was going to lock us up and steal James's money-because he did have a lot of money. James's hand was permanently attached to his hair as he tried to block out the enormous piles of gold, bronze, and silver from my view as he filled up his bag.
Money was such an odd subject. If you had it, it defined you, and if you didn't, people knew and it defined you, too. My family wasn't poor, but we weren't rich either. I remembered watching my father crunching numbers on his brick of a calculator when Petunia first enrolled into university and him spouting off things like "Oh, God" every once in a while. Yet, we had always lived comfortably. Sure, I had worn some of Petunia's hand-me-downs, but that wasn't necessary thrifty, it was more common sense. It was good for the environment!
Looking at James as he brought his bulging money bag back into the cart was strange. I had never really thought about it before, but James was rich. He came from old money. He was a Potter. He probably lived in a fancy house that made mine look like a tiny shack. He was used to stately dinners prepared by eager house-elves and parents willing to indulge their only son's every whim. What did he think of me? I had spent so many years at Hogwarts denying his good qualities, but what could I really offer James? I was a muggleborn nobody with no connections and clashing features. James was a Potter.
No wonder the goblins all wanted to gut him.
Merlin, that was awful of me. I immediately felt bad for having been so close-minded and prejudiced about the goblins. It wasn't their fault they had pointy ears and crooked teeth anymore than it was my fault for being born from muggle parents. That did not make them undeserving or inferior in any way. Goblins were just fine.
However, it was James's fault for purposely rocking the cart so that I had to cling onto him to just stay inside. He laughed as I ducked my head into his chest for safety. I kicked him in the shin, and that only made him laugh harder. That bloody git. He was lucky I hadn't tossed him out to go make friends with the dragons rumored to reside deep within the vaults.
With both of our money bags full and, in my case, wobbly knees, we left Gringotts. I inhaled deeply and savored the feeling of polluted city air after the dark, dank, endless tunnels. James stuffed his money bag into his pocket with some slight difficulty that was rather humorous to behold and then turned to me. "Where would you like to go first, Miss Evans?"
I bit my lip as I considered the many options before me, not able to narrow it down to just one. "Whatever strikes our fancy, I suppose," I said finally.
He grinned and grabbed my hand again. Eeylops Owl Emporium was down the street so we stopped there to get Callie some owl treats for Hogwarts -mice flavored. Then, we strolled into the apothecary to replenish our Potions' supply, and James garbled the entire time about how Potions was a rubbish subject and how prospective aurors didn't really need it. I laughed, thinking of how James hated that Severus Snape beat him on nearly every potion and was accepted into the Slug Club before he was. James was such a transparent sore loser. Nevertheless, his whining did make buying beetles more amusing.
Diagon Alley was rather full today, and we had to wait in line for ages to get James a new set of robes, for he had grown too tall for his old pair. As we waited, I watched harrowed-looking witches, genial wizard businessman, frantic mothers, and devious little kids walk through the streets. It was fascinating to see so many of my kind, but I much preferred the quiet and familiarity of my own home in the suburbs. James, however, seemed to be in his element as he weaved through the crowds and rubbed elbows with the many seemingly important people we encountered.
"You're next, Sir," Madam Malkin addressed to James.
James strode over, and she began to take his measurements. Madam Malkin could not have been over thirty with dark hair that curled down her back and full, red lips. She had curvy hips that swayed a bit as she moved around James. It was obvious that she found him attractive. Most people with eyes did.
Still, I didn't miss the way her fingers hesitated a bit too long across his chest, and I narrowed my eyes at her and coughed loudly. She looked over at me, and I shot her withering glare back. Her hands kept to themselves for the rest of the transaction. I smirked at her when James wrapped his arm around my waist and led us out of the store. Take that in, Malkin.
Merlin, cramps made me act funky and vindictive. Maybe I should find some tonic, or something. Which store sold a hormone stabilizer for crazy, uterus wall tearing teens?
We reached Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, and I knew exactly what I needed to cure my womanly problems: chocolate.
James turned to me with a knowing smile on his face. "How about we skip dinner and go straight for dessert?"
"Sounds lovely," I told him.
We went up to the counter, and Florean clapped James on the back and told us funny stories as he filled our orders. Then, James and I found an empty table with a bright red umbrella outside the shop and sat down with our ice cream. While James had chosen a strawberry ice cream cone with nuts, I had gone all out and ordered a massive hot fudge sundae. I licked my spoon as the warm, thick fudge trailed down my throat. It was divine.
"Mmm," I moaned as I licked my lips.
"Good?" James asked with a suggestive smirk.
I grinned and let him have his silly fantasies. "Good," I told him as I dug in for more.
We sat in comfortable silence as we ate our ice cream. Well, James ate his. I inhaled mine. Finally finished with my monster sundae, I threw my spoon down triumphantly. I felt pleasantly nauseous. It was perfect.
James smirked at me. "You have chocolate on your face," he said.
My face heated up as I grabbed a napkin and frantically brushed it across my mouth. "Is it gone?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Nope."
I raised the napkin, but he placed his hand on mine to stop me. "I got it," he offered.
Only, instead of wiping it off, he kissed me. His mouth tasted like strawberries. Eagerly, I kissed him back and opened my lips for him to deepen the kiss. My eyes fluttered close, and I enjoyed the way our cold tongues danced together. James brought his hands to rest on my hips, and I allowed mine to play with the hair at the nape of his neck.
My fingernail accidentally grazed the skin there, and he hissed, pulling me impossibly closer to him. I smiled into his lips, and we continued to kiss deeply for what felt like hours. Then, we started to slow down, and his lips grew more tender and soft against my own. I sucked on his lower lip as he hummed softly against me. James pulled back and pecked my lips once, twice, three times before pulling away.
"Got it," he told me huskily.
Shakily, I pulled myself away since I had been embarrassingly close to sitting on his lap. "You sure?" I asked him.
"Well," he teased as he leaned into kiss me again.
After another whirlwind round of snogging, during which, I decided that ice cream was the best invention of all time, we finally left our table and walked back into the streets. We did have a few more things to buy. Unfortunately.
We arrived at the entrance to Flourish and Blotts, and I eagerly pulled James into the store, nearly skipping with enthusiasm. "Come on!"
James laughed as he trailed behind me. "How come you never get this excited to see me?"
"You're not that interesting, Potter," I told him with just a hint of a smile.
He cocked an eyebrow at me and then pulled me into his chest. "Really?" he asked as his lips grazed my ear.
I shoved him away. "Not now," I reprimanded. "We have books to buy," I said as I eagerly scanned the store.
I fished my booklist out of my purse, careful as to not let James see any of the other items, and looked it over. "I only need two books this year," I told him. After you made it to the N.E.W.T. level, textbooks pretty much stayed the same.
"How about we get those first, and then you can raid the store afterwards?" James offered.
I grinned widely at him and then headed for the Charms section to get my last copy of Standard Book of Spells. James grabbed the first one he saw, but I perused the pile until I found the perfect copy with just the right spine. Then, we changed course to grab the new Transfiguration book Professor McGonagall wanted to try this year.
James's sigh was highly audible as I put back the fourth rejected copy of the textbook in search for one with the best smell. "Merlin, Lily, they're all the same. Just pick one already," he told me irately.
I frowned as I clutched a new copy to my chest. "They're not all the same, James."
"Well, do they have all the same title?"
"And the same text?"
"And the same author?"
"So they're all the same!"
"No," I corrected him obviously.
He groaned in frustration and pulled at his rumpled black hair.
I tapped his shoulder lightly to get him to calm down. "I'm going to be in here awhile. Why don't you go browse some shops without me? Then, I can come collect you when I'm done," I suggested.
Still abusing his hair, James took a deep breath and nodded. "I'll probably be in-"
"Quality Quidditch Supplies, I know," I finished for him. "Go look at brooms and find your happy place."
James grinned at me crookedly. "Thanks, Lily. I was going crazy in here."
I rolled my eyes. "Really? I hadn't noticed," I deadpanned.
He grabbed his books and mine, as well. "I'll just pay for these and then leave before the books attack me."
I grabbed his hand back. "James, you don't have to pay for mine."
"Trust me, love, it's worth it just to get out of here," he told me. Then, with a quick kiss on the cheek, he left me in the aisle to smell as many books as I wanted to.
I headed straight for the fiction section. Having grown up reading muggle books about spells and dragons, it was kind of nifty to read books that made things so much more realistic because magic really existed. Plus, it was always a hoot to read what wizards thought of muggles. I'd never met anyone that dull-well, excepting Vermin, of course.
I chose a book about a girl who slayed vampires and sat down to read a bit of it. The pages smelled clean and crisp, and they felt smooth as I turned them with the very tip of my index finger to continue the story.
Now, this was the only blood I wanted to think about today.
My heart nearly flew out of my chest as I jumped into the air.
"Oh, Lily, I'm sorry. I hadn't meant to frighten you."
I put the book down and looked up at the offending figure looming over me. "Alice Prewett?" I asked gleefully.
"Well, Longbottom now, but yes," she said with a blush.
"Eee!" I squealed as I stood up to give her a hug. As I pulled back, I discerned the slight changes in her appearance since she had graduated three years ago. Her long light brown hair had been cut to her shoulders, her figure had grown more mature, and she had finally given up on her old, decrepit trainers in favor of a pair of flats. Looking at Alice reminded me of how she had brought me under her wing as a young Prefect and showed me what to do to impress the professors to get myself noticed in a positive way. Alice had almost been like an older sister to me when I had needed one who wasn't Tuney.
"You married Frank?" I asked excitedly.
She chuckled. "Yes," answered Alice, her face widening into a glorious smile.
"That's fantastic!" I told her, really meaning it.
She grinned impossibly wider. "We'd been together for so long that it just felt right to make it official."
"What's that like?" I asked her.
Alice laughed. "A lot like taking care of a toddler, really," she told me. "Boys are so clueless. Though, there are perks," she told me with a scandalous smile.
We both giggled together. "I can't believe it."
"Me neither some days, to be honest," Alice told me.
"What are you doing in Diagon Alley?" I asked her.
"Wishing I was going back to Hogwarts, mostly," she said wistfully. "It was much more fun than Auror training. Plus, the food's loads better. You'll never truly appreciate a house-elf until you've gone an entire year without proper pudding."
I smiled. "Still, being an Auror must be awfully exciting."
She looked over her shoulder. "Can you keep a secret?" she asked me in a hushed voice.
Anxiously, I nodded.
"It is," she whispered conspiratorially. "Oh, Lily, it's ruddy fantastic. You would love it. Going on missions gives you such a rush. Plus, our trainer Moody is a genius. He's annoying as hell, but he's taught me so many things about defense. I'll hope you'll consider joining next year. We could use another Gryffindor girl on the team," she said with a sly smile.
I grinned as images of me fighting men in dark cloaks raced through my mind-for some reason, all bad guys always wore dark cloaks. I hadn't decided what I wanted to be after graduation, so I had taken extra N.E.W.T. classes to keep my options open. I loved Charms, but I was also very good at Potions. I supposed I could be a healer, but I wasn't sure if I could deal with all the slippery organs. But an Auror, me? I felt chills go down my spine. I liked the way it sounded.
"Of course, the main downside is that Frank flutters around trying to protect me, when really he's only putting himself in danger. He's always been an adorable little twat," she said fondly.
I grinned. "I remember. You guys were the perfect couple, Head Boy and Girl."
Alice's eyes widened. "Speaking of which, did you find out yet?"
"I got it!" I told her excitedly.
Alice pulled me into a hug. "Oh, that's wonderful, Lily! Any news about who's going to be the Head Boy?"
I bit my lip. "I, um, haven't found out yet," I told her.
"I wouldn't have known either if it had been anyone except for Frank. I hate how everything in that school has to be such a bloody secret. Still, I suppose it could only be a few blokes. Isn't Remus Lupin in your year? He had such dreamy blue eyes. If he had been a couple years older, I would have dated him. Don't tell Frank that," she told me with a wink.
I nodded dumbly, but I really hadn't been listening. I was more shocked that I had lied. There had been no reason for it. I should have just told her it was James. Only, I didn't want her to ask questions. I wasn't ready for anyone besides my family to know about James and me yet. Hell, I hadn't even told Hestia! I bit my lip. What if someone had seen us shopping together? Suddenly, even the bookstore didn't make me feel serene anymore.
"Lily?" asked Alice, looking concerned.
I blinked and then plastered a smile to my face. "Sorry, Alice, I'm just a tad distracted, is all. What time is it?"
She glanced down at her watch. "9:42," she answered.
"Oh, damn, I should be going. I've spent far too much time in here already."
"Okay, well, it was very nice to see you, Lily."
"You too, Alice," I told her truthfully. "Say 'hi' to Frank for me."
She grinned. "Will do. You make sure to give Remus the ol' hairy eyeball for me."
I laughed. "Well, bye, Alice."
"Hope to see you soon, Lily," she said to me.
"You too," I called over my shoulder. Then, with a final wave, I exited the store and entered the streets of Diagon Alley.
Quality Quidditch Supplies wasn't too far away, but it was easy to find because of all the young boys fogging up the store windows as they practically salivated over the newest broomstick. I squeezed past them, earning myself several lustful stares from the prepubescent boys, and walked into the store. After a little bit of navigating through the tight aisles, I found James, immersed in a conversation with one of the store workers.
"But the Silver Arrow is so slow!" I heard James argue. "And it has a weight issue in the handle that's a clear flaw in the design. You can never dive perfectly straight on one unless you compensate for the curve."
"Still, it beats these new Nimbuses by a landslide," the wizened old clerk replied right back with a thick Irish accent. What was left of his hair was jutting out of his head in white puffs, and his hands trembled as he spoke. "They're too flashy. I bet after a few years they'll break and you won't have anything to ride. But the Silver Arrows, my boy, they'll be yours for life."
"If I wanted to fly like an old geezer!" said James hotly.
"You'll get old too, someday, lad, and understand," he promised.
James scoffed, and his eyes found me. "Lily!" he exclaimed brightly as his eyes lit up.
"Hey, James," I greeted him.
"Old Jim and I were just talking about brooms."
"I could see that," I told him.
"Who's this, James?" Jim asked.
"This is my—um, well, this is Lily," said James.
I noticed the fumbling, but I didn't say anything. I wasn't sure what the protocol was anymore for us. Was I his girlfriend? I mean, we had acknowledged that we had feelings for each other, but nothing was really set in stone.
I bit my lip and then realized that no one was saying anything. James's hand went straight for his hair. I put my arm out. "It's nice to meet you," I told Jim.
He grasped my hand and shook it hardily. "Same here," he told me with a goofy smile. "So how long have you known James for?" he asked me.
"Too long," I answered with a teasing smile at James.
"I know what you mean, lass," he told me. "Still, he's a good boy."
"I know what you mean," I echoed him.
"So where are your parents hiding, James, m'boy? Your dad's just as big of a nut as you are about those Nimbuses. I don't reckon that man ever stops smiling when you two are in here together."
James smiled poignantly, but then shook his head. "The parents are spending a little time together alone. I guess I was just too much for them. Today, it's just Lily and me," he finished as he threw his arm over my shoulder.
Jim threw me a wink. "Well, I better be getting back to the front. See you soon, kid," he said with a kindhearted slap on James's shoulder. "And you, Lily."
"Bye, Jim!" James called before turning to me.
"Bye!" I echoed.
Jim waved at us from over his shoulder before disappearing behind the front desk.
"Do you know everyone?" I asked.
James grinned. "More or less," he answered. "Where are your books?" asked James, noticing my empty hands for the first time. "You didn't buy anything after all that time? Or, did you just read all the books already?"
"Haha," I grumbled. "Are you ready to leave? I'm not really feeling so well. I'd like to go home."
James's eyes softened with concern. "Did something happen?"
Yes. I ran into Alice Prewett who was now Alice Longbottom. I lied to her about knowing who the Head Boy was and then realized that anyone could have seen us together all day. Plus, we spent a lot of the day snogging. Anyone from school could have just walked by and saw us! And then, you just almost called me your girlfriend. Yes, something had happened.
"Cramps!" I blurted out impulsively. "I have cramps!"
James's whole body immediately stiffened, and his face turned a little green. "Oh," he choked out.
"Really bad cramps that make me feel like crap," I reiterated. "I'm an estrogen nightmare," I added.
James let go of my hand as I watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed. He reached up to grab his hair. "Umm," he stuttered.
"And I really think we should go home."
"Right," said James, his voice sounding forced. "Let's get you home."
We didn't talk the entire way through Diagon Alley and into the Leaky Cauldron. As it was dark out, James guided me through the crowds, his hand resting gently on the small of my back. His posture was rigid, and he still looked a bit like a male who had just learned far more than he had ever wanted. I, for a plethora of reasons, felt like crap.
Once we reached the streets of London, James pulled us behind a building and looked over his shoulder. "No one's nearby. Ready?"
I nodded and took out my wand. I spun on my heel and shut my eyes. When I opened them, we were both standing on my front porch. "Good aim," I commented causally.
He smirked. "I try," he replied.
I fished through my bag until I found my keys, and then I let us inside. My dad was waiting for us at the kitchen table. "Hey, baby girl," he greeted me as I walked over to him.
"Hey, Daddy," I responded as I kissed his cheek. "Why are you still up?" I asked as I sat down and looked over at the clock. It was nearly eleven now, and he had to wake up early for work.
"Your mum passed out on me a little bit ago, but I decided to wait up for you two. I wanted to make sure you got home safe," he told me. "Thank you for that, James," he said with a quick glance at him and one of those nods that only males understand.
"My pleasure, Mr. Evans," replied James, sitting down next to me and then wrapping his arm around my shoulder.
I rolled my eyes. I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself.
"Did you get everything you needed, Lils?" Dad asked me.
I nodded. "I'm all ready for school."
"You're sure you want to go? I can take some time off work this year and we can go on fishing trips. I'll even let you drive," he offered lightly.
"Daddy," I reprimanded.
"I know, education," Dad whined with a sigh.
I chuckled. "Goodnight, Daddy," I said before kissing his temple. "You should go to bed soon, too. You're talking crazy."
I silently questioned James, but he straightened up. "I thought I'd have a quick chat with your dad."
I quirked my eyebrow at him, but James just smiled reassuringly.
"We'll talk later?" asked James meaningfully with the slightest head tilt towards the backyard.
I nodded and then waved at them. "Night, boys."
I went up to my room and threw my bags onto my bed before falling onto it face first. Eventually, and with much determination, I dragged myself up and let Calypso out of her cage. "Hey, girl," I greeted her. She hooted softly at me, and for a few minutes, allowed me to trace the feathers of her wings before flying out the window. Taking that as my leave to do the same, I silently exited my room and tiptoed outside.
Like most nights, James was waiting for me at his swing. His head shot up when he heard me approach.
"Are you feeling better?" he asked cautiously. "I mean, you're not still, um, well,-yeah," he finished lamely, the tips of his ears going pink as his hand flew to his hair.
My face turned bright red as I tried to sputter out something coherent. "Yeah, I'm fine. Don't worry about it. Sorry about before. I kind of made you leave," I apologized.
"Oh! That's not even an issue, Lily," James assured me quickly. "It was late anyway, and it's not like it was under your control."
"So little things are," I mumbled under my breath. I cocked my head to the side as I scanned his profile.
Wanting to ease the awkwardness of the situation, I let myself crack a joke. "So what were you talking to my father about, Potter? Arranging coffin sizes for when he kills you?"
James rolled his eyes and shoved my arm so that my swing pushed forward. "Not likely, Evans. I won't make that mistake twice."
"So what did you talk about?"
"I was just asking for his input on something," James said enigmatically.
"You know that's not an answer to my question, right?"
He grinned. "Oh, I know," he assured me.
I crossed my arms and pouted.
When he saw my expression, James laughed. "Well, how about I ask you one. Would you like to have dinner with me tomorrow?"
"We have dinner together every day," I reminded him obviously.
He chuckled and pulled at his hair. "I know we do, but I wanted to see if you'd like to go out on a date with me tomorrow night."
I bit my lip. "Is that what you asked my dad about?"
James shook his head. "No. Nobody knows about this. You are free to decide on your own without any complications on our cover."
"A date between me and you?" I asked.
"For real?" I pressed.
"I'd like it to be," said James softly.
I bit my lip and shut my eyes. Did I really want to do this? This would complicate things even further.
"Okay," I breathed.
James's smile was so beautiful that my heart seemed to beat erratically at the sight of it. He leaned over to kiss me, and I closed my eyes and let it happen.
A/N: hello, my stunningly beautiful readers! today, we went out to lunch at a local restaurant before my older brother leaves for law school. because he was running late, my little brother wore two different types of shoes in order to get in the car on time. oh, brother. ;D
okay, well, i sincerely hope you enjoyed the chapter. i feel a bit iffy about it, but that's how i feel about every chapter. i think too much. anyways, i want to thank those of you who nominated this story for a dobby award. shucks, i'm touched. i could not be more grateful nor more humbled by your praise. thank you.
oh! and i made one of those meet the author pages in case you guys want to check that out! i'm finally figuring out the forums a bit (hey sreduaram!)
have a fantastic week everybody!
Modern Molly Update: i apologize profusely for my slight delay. i was having intense technical difficulties. please accept my sincerest regrets. happy first day of spring! i hope your day is going better than mine is.