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Chapter 27: Almost
“How on earth did you convince me to come with you guys today?” Emilie grumbled, pulling her cloak tighter around her shoulders. A particularly strong gust of cold wind blew around us as we walked quickly towards Hogsmeade and we all huddled closer for warmth.
“Because you love us, that’s how,” Pippa snapped, ducking her head lower against the wind.
“We haven’t had Clique time in forever,” Marley said, linking her arms through mine and Emilie’s. “Where do you guys want to go first?”
“Wherever is warmest,” I shivered.
We slipped inside the closest shop, Zonko’s, and were immediately greeted by a rush of warm air. Most students had opted not to brave the cold weather and stayed at the castle so most of the shops were relatively empty. It was a nice change from the usual swarm of students crowding all of the shops.
“Pip, are things still ok with Adrian?” I asked as we wandered around the shop. “I haven’t heard you mention him lately.”
“Things are fine,” she said lightly, turning her face away from the rest of us.
“Really?” I asked doubtfully. I recognized the same stiffness in her voice as when people asked me about Chris. She wasn’t telling the whole truth.
“Sure,” Pippa shrugged, busying herself with the joke wands. “I’m meeting up with him here later. We’re going to Madame Puddifoots.”
“Are you still upset about that confession that he was kissing another girl?” I asked hesitantly. Since it had been published, she’s suddenly put a hold on any Adrian talk.
“I was never upset about it,” Pippa said sharply, turning away from me towards the love potions. “We’ve both just been busy and haven’t hung out much lately. It’s no big deal. I’m seeing him today, aren’t I?”
“Fine,” I said, noticing how defensive she was getting.
“So you and Chris are good? Marley said you guys were getting drinks with her and Liam at the Three Broomsticks later.” Emilie said.
“Yeah, we are. Things are good with Chris, though,” I said, putting obvious emphasis into the “good” part while flashing Pippa a look.
“Em, what are you gonna do when we all go off later? Do you have any plans to meet up with someone?” Marley asked as we all walked out of the shop and back onto the cold street, searching for our next stop.
“I think I might try to find Remus and them to hang out for a bit,” Emilie said quietly, ducking her head slightly.
“Remus isn’t here today. He’s sick, didn’t you know?” Marley asked, pulling Emilie closer to her for warmth.
“He is?” She asked, sounding concerned.
“Peter told me earlier that he’s been in bed all weekend with a fever,” Marley told her.
“Poor Remus,” Pippa shook her head. “That’s like, the third time he’s been sick this year.”
“Really? That much?” Emilie asked, seeming perplexed. “I don’t remember him missing class that often.”
“He’s in class,” I chimed in. “But haven’t you noticed when he looks so tired in class sometimes? Like he’d gotten no sleep the night before.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” Emilie trailed off, lost in her own thoughts.
Pippa steered us into another shop just as a cold wind kicked up again and we gladly retreated into the warm confines of Honeydukes.
* * * *
279. I’ve learned that if I pretend to be stupid, I can get away with a lot more.
280. Who’s hotter: Katie Stone or Pippa Birch?
281. I’m waiting for the day when I ask you “what are you thinking about?” and you answer with one word… “You”.
282. I secretly hate my friends, its hard having friends half your size.
283. I know we hurt each other, but I now we would take each other back in a heartbeat. I still love you.
“I can’t believe you brought your book with you today,” I chuckled as Marley and I hunched closer over her little black book.
“I figured we might get bored at some point,” she laughed and she turned the page to more secrets.
“I keep thinking we should try to do something about these names,” I said seriously, as we read more confessions. I was getting tired of seeing Pippa’s name shooting up everywhere in the book. It wasn’t even bad things, but come on, there are other hot girls in Hogwarts beside her. Not that I wanted to see my own name in there ever again, but still…
“We’ve been over this, though. What can we do without lifting one of the charms temporarily to delete it? That could cause chaos. It’s best to just not think about it,” Marley suggested. She glanced up towards to door to see if Liam or Chris had arrived yet, but no luck.
“You seem to be spending a lot of time with Liam lately,” I said lightly, glancing up at Marley to see that she was blushing. “Things must be going well?”
“Very well,” Marley said in a small voice as she tried to keep her composure.
“Spill, Mar,” I said, poking her in the ribs.
“He’s absolutely wonderful, Lily. I’ve never met anyone like him in my entire life,” Marley gushed in one breath, turning towards me in the booth and grabbing my hands. “We have so much in common and he’s just so nice and doesn’t pressure me to do anything I don’t want to.”
“That’s great,” I said, squeezing her hand.
“So, you and Chris are really ok?” Marley asked, giving me one of her penetrating stares. There was no use lying to Marley.
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully for the first time.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, her brown eyes wide and attentive.
“I can’t really put my finger on it,” I said, breaking her gaze. “I keep thinking that the only reason we’re back together is because I was trying to make Potter jealous.”
“That’s still going on? I thought you were over him,” Marley wrinkled her brow slightly.
“Not quite,” I admitted. “But he’s still with Holly, isn’t he? I really did try to get over him. But I can’t seem to get him out of my head.”
“Well, maybe that’s a sign that you shouldn’t try to get him out of your head,” Marley said softly.
“What do you mean?” I asked, looking up to see that she was smiling slightly.
“He liked you for so long, Lily,” Marley urged gently. “You don’t just get over that kind of thing right away. Even if he’s not showing it, he still has feelings for you. Listen to what you just said: as hard as you try, you can’t get him out of your head. The same thing’s probably happening for him, too.”
“We barely even talk anymore, though,” I said discouragingly.
“That doesn’t matter,” Marley said brushing it off. “What matters is that now that you’re back with Chris, Potter probably thinks there’s zero possibility of getting with you. Did you ever think that maybe he started dating Holly to make you jealous? You guys really aren’t so different, you know.”
I was silent for a moment as I thought that over. Maybe Marley had a point…
“If you really want to be with Potter, maybe what you should be thinking about is what to do about Chris,” Marley said hesitantly. I could tell she wasn’t trying to convince me either way, just giving me food for thought. What I had to figure out what whether I thought she was right or not….and it was pretty that I thought she was right. But where to go from there? How do I fix things with Potter? How do I get out of things with Chris? This could only end badly…
I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Chris had arrived and I excused myself to go greet him.
“Hey, love,” Chris beamed at me, pecking me on the cheek. I cringed internally at the words. I was back to where I was before, hurting him unintentionally. I was hurting him even now just by still having feelings for Potter. I couldn’t keep him hanging on when I wasn’t fully committed to him. But how could I let him down again after getting his hopes up?
He noticed my solemn face. “Are you ok, Lily?” He asked soothingly, brushing the stray hair away from my face and looking me deep in the eyes.
“You can tell me anything, you know that right?” Chris said earnestly.
“I know that,” I agreed, still feeling rotten inside.
“If things are going to work with us again, we can’t have secrets,” Chris laced his fingers through mine, pulling me closer to him. “I really think things can be even better than before, we just have to be honest.”
Can’t have secrets. Be honest. Tell me anything. Those were such tall orders for me. Even if I wanted to, could I possibly ever make it work with him knowing what I know? Having kissed Potter last year while we were still dating? With this affair of emotions I was having right at this very moment? I could never let myself be entirely Chris’s, and as cruel as it seemed in my head maybe the best way to let him down was to admit to all of this. It could absolutely crush him, but at least I would be honest.
“Lily, please just tell me? You’re starting to worry me,” Chris urged, squeezing my hand.
“There’s something you should know,” I said carefully, lifting my eyes to meet his gaze. My stomach flipped in my stomach as I thought over what I was about to say.
Chris’s face visibly dropped as he noticed my solemn tone. His eyes became cold and distant and I suspected that he knew what I was about to do.
“Do you remember how I went to that party with the Marauders and the Clique in my dorm the night before we left for summer last year?” I started in a low, steady voice.
Chris nodded, keeping his steely eyes on me.
“Well, that night James Potter and I kind of….kissed,” I choked out, bracing myself for Chris’s reaction.
“What?” Chris said through his teeth, his eyes narrowing as he drew in a deep breath. “Potter came onto you?”
“Not exactly,” I tried to explain but Chris cut me off.
“I always knew he had a thing for you, but I figured he’d at least leave you alone while you were dating me,” Chris seethed. His grip on my hands tightened and I tried to break away form it.
“Damn it, Lily!” Chris burst angrily, and I stepped back from him, slipping my hands from his. I hadn’t expected him to react quite this violently.
“Chris, calm down,” I urged him, glancing around to see that his angry outburst had attracted some attention.
“Calm down?” Chris shot an angry look at me, his eyes burning with accusations. He reached behind him to the bar and grabbed an empty glass, knocking it to the ground. The glass shattered around my feet, causing me to jump as shards sprayed all around us.
“You and I, we’re over,” I said forcefully, taking another step away from him.
“You’re damn right we’re over,” Chris yelled, knocking another glass to the ground next to me.
“Lily, let’s go,” a voice hissed in my ear and I recognized it as Marley. She tugged vigorously on my cloak, pulling me towards the door. I noticed Liam trying carefully to approach Chris as he knocked more bar glasses to the floor.
“Liam, leave him,” Marley pleaded, pulling me harder towards the door. All I could do was stare as I watched Chris’s rage take over him.
The cold November air hit me hard as we stumbled out onto the street, Marley still clinging desperately to me.
“Are you ok?” She asked, worry seeping into every word.
“I’m fine,” I breathed, shaking my head as I tried to rid myself of those last images of Chris.
* * * *
I sat nervously in the common room, changing my position every few minutes. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. Every time I settled into a new position, images of Chris flooded my vision.
A fire was roaring in the stone fireplace, but I still felt cold. I hopped off the couch and sat on the flat stones right in front of the fire hoping that would warm me.
As awful as everything had been I couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved. Getting back with Chris had been a huge mistake, but it was rectified now, even if somewhat violently. I could only hope that he kept his composure in class.
The portrait hole opened, making me jump. I caught my balance before I toppled into the fireplace and saw Potter wander into the common room, looking distracted. There was no doubt he’d heard what happened by now. The entire school had heard. It was all over the confessionals. There was nothing about me admitting to my kiss with Potter, just that I broke up with Chris and he didn’t take it so well.
Potter startled slightly when he noticed me by the fire and stared at me strangely.
“Why are you sitting so close to the fire?” he asked, his hazel eyes narrowing.
“I was cold,” I said quietly, my eyes locking with his.
“Listen, Lily,” Potter dropped his eyes and sat down in the armchair closest to my place on the floor. “I heard what happened at the Three Broomsticks. I know we’re not…we’re not really…. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”
I turned my back to him and stared into the flames of the fire.
“It was just so stupid, getting back with Chris,” I sighed, shaking my head. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“Well, you guys have a history. You seem to have a connection with him,” I heard Potter say in a somewhat strained voice.
“Not anymore,” I said flatly, throwing a stray piece of burnt wood back into the flames.
I could feel Potter’s eyes on my back as a thousand different thoughts flew through my head. I could tell him. I could tell him everything right now. How I broke up with Chris to be with him. How I got back with Chris to make him jealous. How I can’t stop thinking about him no matter how hard I try. But what would he say? That he thinks about me too and if I say the word he’ll run off and break up with Holly to be with me? I doubt it.
“You don’t seem sad,” Potter observed, phrasing it more as a question.
“I’m not,” I agreed, turning around to face him in the chair.
“Well, I guess that’s….good?” Potter ran a distracted hand through his messy hair.
“Look, I hate not being friends with you,” I admitted bluntly, tilting my head upwards to meet his eyes again.
Potter took a deep breath in and broke my gaze, staring into the fire. What was he thinking about? What I wouldn’t give to know what was going on in his head right now…
“Just…it’s weird, you know? Not talking at all,” I said, my breath catching in my throat. “I mean, I know we weren’t exactly best friends before but we are Head Boy and Girl and I think that it would just be easier if we were friends again…”
“Is that the only reason you want to be friends? Because it would be easier as Head Boy and Girl?” Potter asked, his hazel eyes flitting back to mine. It suddenly felt a million degrees in the room when he locked eyes with me. It was as if he knew what I wanted to say, that I had fallen for him after all these years. He was waiting for me to say it. All I had to do was say it, why couldn’t I open my mouth? Wasn’t this what I had been waiting for, this opportunity?
“Not, that’s not the only reason,” I finally confessed tugging nervously on a lock of red hair while maintaining eye contact. “James, I—“
“Jamie, it’s time for rounds,” Holly’s piercing voice combined with the portrait hole banging open jolted me out of my thoughts. I lost my balance on the floor, nearly toppling into the fire but luckily I caught myself on my hands, almost burning my fingertips as I touched the hot stones near the fire.
I saw Potter’s gaze jerk away from me as he focused on Holly’s advancing figure.
“What are you guys talking about?” Holly’s gaze became accusatory as she noted Potter leaning forward in his chair towards me while I was sprawled on the floor by the fire.
I couldn’t form words as I could only concentrate on what I had almost just said to Potter. Luckily he thought more quickly than I did.
“We were discussing things for the Snow Angel Ball,” Potter said calmly, his eyes flitting to my face briefly.
“Well, come on, you don’t want to be late for rounds,” Holly pulled him out of the chair as I watched them disappear through the portrait hole along with what could have been my only chance to finally tell him how I feel.
A/N: SOMUCH DRAMA. what did you think? You won't even believe what's going to happen next ;) I love keeping you guys hanging.
So a bit of other news, I'm thinking about changing the banner. I made a new one, a bit more quality, etc. Any thoughts on that? I don't wanna throw you guys off when you see a different banner, so just a heads up!