The Trouble With Lifts
Summary: "I should have known that a magical lift was a sign of trouble. And here I thought that an inanimate object couldn't pose a threat to my sanity - which was a ridiculous assumption. Obviously."
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, sadly. Everything Harry Potter is JK Rowling's, and the song lyrics are properly accredited to their creators. Wait, I guess I own the sketchy plot. Huzzah!
A/N: I'm sorry this has taken me such a long time to finish and post. I had half of it written, and then my holidays ended and I had to go to work (blargh) and my parents were all "Wash your truck! It's filthy!" and I was all like "Ugh, Gunter Gunter prefers festering in his own filth!" to which they glared, and I spent the morning of my day off washing and waxing my truck. Ugh. But now I'm here. Posting. Enjoy!
Also, thanks so much for all the lovely reviews! You guys are totally awesome!
Chapter Five: We've Got Something.
"My heart's smiling, 'cause it's knows. You've got something, and it shows.
I've got something, you've got something - we've got something.
Oh, we've got nothing here to show.
We have nothing, but we know - I've got something, you've got something - we've got something."
We've Got Something by Adeline
James Potter was not pleased – that much I knew for certain.
I seriously debated running away for the first few seconds that we stood there, staring each other down.
"If you run," he said, his voice dangerously low, "I will run after you and pin you to the floor if I have to."
I made a noise in the back of my throat, making a face as if to say 'Me? Run? Pft. Never.' James didn't smile, he only waited. With a sigh and a fleeting prayer that I would make it out of this alive and perhaps with a scrap of dignity, I stepped into the lift. I stood next to him, both of us leaning against the back rail, facing outward and gazing into the corridor. We said nothing. I glanced at him briefly to see that he was frowning at the floor, his arms still crossed, his long fingers digging into the wiry muscle of his arms. When he shifted his weight and opened his mouth to speak, I averted my gaze back to the corridor.
"Head's common," he said softly. The lift doors slid shut, and the elevator shifted around us, heading upward. The lights flickered. I frowned, looking up at the lights hidden behind an opalescent screen. They flickered again.
"James?" I asked softly. He shushed me, uncrossing his arms and moving to place a hand on the door. It rattled underneath his fingers. He frowned at it and then stepped back, readjusting his glasses and looking up at the flickering lights in the ceiling. As the lift lurched to the left to take us to the Heads Common room it slowed for a moment before finally shuddering to a stop. We stood still, hoping the doors would open, but they didn't. Instead, the lights flickered one more time before going out altogether. We were thrown into complete darkness.
"Lumos," James said, his wand casting an eerie glow in the silent lift. He looked at me, taking in what I'm sure was the panicked expression on my face. I saw a smirk threatening to make an appearance.
"Well, it looks like you won't be running off anytime soon, poppet."
I rolled my eyes at the nickname and moved to the door, tracing the edges. I squeezed my fingers in between the edges of the door frame and the door and attempted to pry it open. I let out a very un-lady like grunt as I managed to pull it open a few inches. All I could see was solid stone wall.
I turned to look at James. "This isn't good."
"Really? I thought it rather splendid."
"Don't be a prat," I muttered, moving back to my spot beside him. I slid down the wall, sinking to the floor. I hugged my knees to my chest. A moment later James sat beside me.
"Can we at least make use of this time by talking?" he asked, peering at me sideway.
"Depends. When you say 'talking' do you actually mean talking, or do you mean yelling?"
He chuckled, but it sounded hollow. "I can't make any promises."
I snorted, and then gestured for him to get on with it with a wave of my hand.
"I want to know why you keep running from me."
I sighed, staring at my feet. "I don't know."
"Do you fancy me?"
My head snapped to him. "Excuse me?"
"It's a simple question," he said.
"No. It's not."
"It's not. We have too much…history for anything between us to ever be simple," I told him.
He turned to face me fully. His hand reached out for mine. "I don't care about back then, I care about now," he whispered. He played with my fingers, traced the lines on my palm. "How do I make you feel, Lily?"
"Confused," I muttered, pulling my hand from his, turning away from him. My heart was thudding in my chest. This was it, there was no time like the present. I had to do it now, finally explain myself, tell him how I felt. No more mad running about. But it was always easier said than done.
"Why?" His question was barbed, sharp, shot straight at my heart. I turned to him, feeling torn inside. Torn between believing everything could be as wonderful as I hoped, and feeling like I had my head placed under a guillotine. I would always be waiting for the other shoe to drop where James Potter was concerned, no matter how much I fancied him.
"I…I don't know if I can trust you," I told him softly. "I'm scared."
He went quiet and I saw the pain flash across his features. "You can trust me," he whispered. "I'd never let anyone hurt you."
"It's not the other people I'm worried about," I said, finally meeting his gaze as I spoke. I had never quite put it that way before, but the words felt right and honest. He opened his mouth to speak – to undoubtedly assure me that he would never hurt me – but I stopped him, placing a hand to his mouth.
"No," I said. "Listen."
He nodded, and I withdrew my hand with a breath. I dredged up the words I'd been searching for.
"I'm not afraid of many things, James. Spiders, certainly. Good ol' muggleborn hater Moldy-shorts, maybe. " His lips quirked at the nickname.
"Despite all that, there's one thing that terrifies me beyond all reason," I continued softly, "and that's you."
"But-" he protested.
"No. Shut it. I'm speaking," I told him sternly, giving him a glare. After he sighed, ran a hand through his hair and nodded, I continued.
"You…you bloody unhinge me, Potter," I said, staring at him earnestly, willing him to understand. "I haven't been able to think straight lately. I…I'm thinking things I'm not supposed to think. I'm feeling things I was never supposed to feel for you. And for you to have that sort of power over me," I whispered, "it bloody terrifies me - because you could hurt me so easily, James."
His hand reached up to touch my cheek, his gaze soft. "Lily, I would never."
"So you say," I whispered, caught up in the roughness of his skin against mine.
"Lily, I…" then he faltered and shook his head, his hand falling away from me. "I don't know how to explain this to you without sounding absolutely mad."
I smiled bitterly. "I've been the authority on mad lately. Try me."
He sighed, moving to push his hand through his hair, but I caught his hand in mine. I craved the contact, and found that my fingers threaded through his of their own volition. He stared at our entwined hands, lost in thought.
"James?" I prodded gently.
"It's always been you," he said, looking up at me. "It will always be you. I'll never leave you, not willingly." He then sighed, looking back at our hands. "There was a moment, years ago when I could have let you go. I could have backed down and just said to hell with it, because you hated me, and I was…well I wasn't the sort of person who deserved you. But Lily," he said, looking up at me, his other hand caressing my face. "I'm in much too deep now."
We were silent, staring, eyes locked together, hearts hammering in our chests, pulses racing. I felt the heat flood my body, the sparks race across my skin with each breath. I felt the pull, magnetic and powerful – something like magic and something entirely different. I felt the fear crawling up my throat, the ice seeping through me as I longed for the freedom I'd felt when I'd had the firewhisky - that foggy conviction that everything would work out just fine.
I leaned away from him, breaking my fingers from his grasp. I scrambled to my feet, turned away from him. I heard him curse, leap up and kick the wall.
"Dammit, Lily!" he shouted. "Why do you have to keep doing that?"
I whirled around. I didn't step back when I realized he was right there, barely even an inch away. I stared up at his face, my voice low and deadly as I spoke, "Because you always push - Push, push, push! It's never enough for you!"
"Because you never just jump!" James growled. "It's always two steps forward, one step back with you. You can never just trust in this, Lily," he said, taking my hand and placing it on his chest, right over his heart. "Just have faith for once."
I ripped my hand out of his, suddenly furious with him. "You're such an arrogant prat!"
"You're a prickly little coward!" he shouted back at me.
I glared at him, my fingers itching to slap him right across the face. He let out a half snarl before he grabbed hold of me, shoved me against the wall and snogged me.
It was different from the time before, when I'd been drunk. It was rougher, more pleading and more demanding simultaneously. His hands were in my hair, on my face, my neck, my waist, his fingers burning my skin as they traced patterns. I kissed him back, giving just as much as I was taking. We rolled, moving from me pressed against the wall to him and back again. Our breath came in pants and groans, the occasional growl. This kiss was an argument too, but what it was that we were fighting about at that point, I wasn't entirely sure.
Until coherent thought seemed to come back to me, and I shoved him away. "Bloody hell!" I yelled at him. "No!"
He seemed disoriented at first, but a moment later his face broke into a scowl. "And why not? You seemed to be enjoying it."
"That's…That's not the point!" I was floundering, and he could sense it. I was losing my grasp on why we couldn't just snog in the lift. Why we couldn't be together. My reasons seemed stupid when all I could really comprehend was how much I missed the heat of his body pressed against mine. The sweetness of his lips, and the deliciousness of his kisses.
I shifted away from him, my hands held up in front of me as a barrier. My mind wouldn't settle, flicking from his eyes to his hands to his mouth. I felt warm, uncomfortable, wound tighter than a spring. James moved closer to me, his hands catching mine and sweeping them out to the sides. He stepped right up to me, using our connected hands to tilt my face up to his. He stared at me, his glasses askew again, his gaze searing mine.
Smouldering, was the word that came to mind as I felt something coil in my stomach. He leaned in, slower this time. His hand dropped mine in favour of caressing my jaw. He moved ever closer, his lips gently brushing against mine, nothing but a whisper of the kiss before. He kept it slow, patient, teasing. Alluring. Infuriating. I felt like I was caught, feeling like I was about to fly apart but forced to stand still, desperately trying to keep myself whole. But James persisted with his slow, tantalising pace, and I tried to resist. I couldn't bring myself to push him away, but I could try not to engage him.
But my resolve was wavering with each teasing nip and gentle caress, and then it was me who snapped, pressing myself against him, throwing us both into the opposite wall as my fingers twisted the collar of his shirt, dragging him closer. We were heat and passion and frantic kisses, touches and tugs. I could feel him smiling against my lips, and I smiled in return, but it only lasted a moment before we were lost in the fray again, a moan escaping me as a shiver ran up my spine.
And then it slowed, became more lasting, smooth. His fingers seared pictures on my skin, my fingers tugged at his hair. The overpowering need didn't wane, but it seemed to settle within me, relaxing for the moment. He slowed, placed a last, chaste kiss against my lips and drew away. I didn't mean to lean after him, missing the contact already. He smiled, his hazel eyes dancing in the dim light. He leaned in and kissed me once more, slow and deliberate. After, I placed my head on his chest, unwilling to leave his warm, comforting embrace. I willed myself not to think, to only hold onto the feeling that swam inside me, floated in my heart, and not to question it.
"Well, then," James said with a deep chuckle. His laugh vibrated in his chest, and I tried to memorize the lovely, deep, rumbling sound. I'd always loved the sound of his laugh. His large hands stroked my hair away from my face. I couldn't see him, choosing instead to keep my eyes shut and simply feel, but I could tell he was smiling. I could feel myself smile in response, could feel my heart tap out a light, happy beat, trying to match the steady bass rhythm of his. My whole body yearned to fall into sync with him. To never lose this feeling of being so close to another person.
He looked down at me, his gaze soft, affectionate.
"Would you go to Hogsmeade with me?"
I hesitated, probably longer than I should have. But this was it. This was the moment to jump. A leap of faith.
"Okay, James," I whispered.
It was then that the lights flickered back on and the lift doors slid open. My head snapped around to stare . There were several people crowded around the opening, including Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, and Dumbledore, not to mention Sirius, Remus, Peter and last but certainly not least, Chelsea.
I froze, still pressed up against James. His hands stilled on my back. I didn't dare look at him, instead, my gaze landed on Chelsea. She looked like the cat who ate the canary.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, "Mr Potter, Miss Evans, if you would so kindly… disengage yourselves, you may leave the lift now."
I stepped away from James, cool air rushing to replace the warmth of his touch. I didn't look at him as I swiftly moved out of the lift and into the classroom. I took my place next to Chelsea, who continued to grin at me. Sirius was chuckling to himself, muttering something to Remus about a bet. Peter looked rather amused, giving James a thumbs up. I allowed myself to look at James for only a second, afraid of what I would feel. It felt different - being here, out of the lift, part of the real world once again and away from the cocoon of just the two of us.
He was watching me with guarded hazel eyes, and it hurt - oh how it hurt - to see the wary way he regarded me. It was if he knew that outside, away from his convincing embrace, I was vulnerable, more likely to change my mind, take a step back, chicken out like I had every other time.
I was aware that McGonagall was arguing with Flitwick about something. I was aware that Dumbledore was surveying all of us through his half-moon spectacles. I was aware that James was moving slowly as he stepped out of the lift, his eyes on mine, watching me, testing the waters, gauging my next move. And most painfully, I was aware of the way my heart was hammering in my chest, and the sudden need that curled inside of me - to be close to him again.
He seemed determined not to show anything on his face, determined to appear aloof and unaffected as he made to brush past me, to join his friends. But he faltered when my hand caught his, tugging him next to me. He stared at our hands, like he had earlier in the lift, an odd expression on his face. Disbelieving, hopeful.
"Alright there, James?" I asked softly, a smirk quirking my lips. I could feel something bubbling inside of me. Excitement, happiness. He paused, then looked down at me. He smiled after a moment, more brilliantly than I'd seen in the past few days.
"Absolutely spiffing, love," he said, squeezing my hand. I smiled at him, jumping when a voice spoke in my ear.
"'Atta girl, Lily-kins," whispered Chelsea, winking at me when I turned to look at her. "Accosting him in the lift again. Very classy."
I rolled my eyes and elbowed her in the side. She winced, but didn't stop laughing. I looked back at James, who was chuckling at the two of us. I couldn't help but smile at him, watching the way a dimple appeared in his left cheek when he smiled back. I listened to my heart beat that same, trilling rhythm as it had in the lift. It seemed to keep the unease away. All those worries, all the hesitation, seemed to disappear. Suddenly, everything felt like it might work out okay. It felt right, his hand in mine.
I looked back at the lift, feeling a little sentimental and begrudgingly thankful to the inanimate object. Flitwick was gesturing wildly, arguing with McGonagall about how it had been fine at the beginning of the term.
"I checked it several times, Minerva!" he squeaked. He was a tiny man, but he glared up at McGonagall with all the bravado and confidence of a man who was seven feet tall. McGonagall fixed him with the glare she usually reserved for Sirius when he was being particularly bothersome.
"Obviously not, Filius, otherwise our Head students wouldn't have been trapped inside of it for two hours!" she snapped, a bit of her hair falling away from her severe bun. "We may never have found them!"
"They might not have minded," piped up Sirius, giving James and I a conspiratorial wink. James laughed as I glared half-heartedly, breaking into another smile a moment later. I couldn't seem to help it.
Dumbledore took that moment to move behind James and I, placing a hand on each of our shoulders.
"Ah, Filius, don't fret, old friend," he said, his blue eyes twinkling. "I'm sure you did a wonderful job of fixing it, but it seems to have a mind of it's own. That's the trouble with lifts, I'm afraid. Lemon drop?"
A/N: So, this wasn't originally the end…but it ended up feeling sort of…end-ish. I had a bunch of other plot points but I might just save them for another story and finish this one here. I think I do better with shorter stories, anyways. Let me know what you think, and I apologize for the last line. Dumbledore and knowing lines coupled with the mention of lemon drops makes me giggle incessantly. Sigh.
Please review and thanks for reading!