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Chapter 7: Day Seven
My Lips Are Sealed
“He lost.” The words were spoken dully as Lily came back to her dorm room, walking slowly and deliberately to her bed before throwing the letter on her red and gold comforter halfheartedly. Ambivalence all but radiated off of her body as her mouth narrowed into a thin line and her normally tense shoulders slumped.
“What?” Evelyn asked quickly from her own bed where she had been reading, looking to her friend with wide eyes and eyebrows raised.
“He spoke. He lost.” Lily shrugged and sat down on her bed, eyes trained on the ground as Madeleine and Evelyn stared at her. She couldn’t bear to look back at the letter that was lying half crumpled behind her.
“I don’t understand. I thought winning wasn’t the point anymore…” Madeleine ventured charily and Lily closed her eyes suddenly, letting out a slow, disheartening breath.
“I know…” she murmured with a shake of her head, either unable or unwilling to continue.
“What happened?” Evelyn asked almost inaudibly, unsure of whether her friend would blow up or break down or something in between.
“I was afraid… And I read his letter…” She paused, realizing that her friends hadn’t seen or read the letter and she subsequently backtracked to catch them up. “He told me all the things he admires about me and explained to me why he tried so hard… And I was afraid and so I found him and I told him that I wasn’t the person he thought I was and that I didn’t understand how he could care so much about someone like me…And he told me he loved me.” Lily raised her eyes to look at her friends who didn’t respond before she reluctantly continued. “And I was even more afraid of that and so I told him I couldn’t date him and I said it was because I was afraid of what people would say and…When he kept trying to convince me that it would be alright, I did the cowardly thing to do and told him that he had lost because he had spoken. And I walked out.” Lily frowned deeply, searching for some kind of reaction from her friends. “You can yell at me now, Madeleine…” she said without anger or spite.
“I’m not going to yell at you,” Madeleine said delicately, releasing a long sigh as well. “I know I’ve been hard on you, but… It’s your life. If this is what you want to do, then I certainly shouldn’t be the one to tell you otherwise. You know what I think, but it’s not my place to tell you to go back there and change your mind. Whatever you do, it has to be your decision, because you’re the one that has to live with it, not me.” Just as Lily had spoken without anger, Madeleine had spoken without malice or ridicule, but rather with deep concern and apprehension lining every word.
“But what am I supposed to do?” Lily asked, a rather mystified look appearing on her face as she looked to her friends for some easy solution that she knew could never exist.
“Do you like him or not?” Evelyn asked cautiously after a moment.
“I don’t know!” Lily burst out, putting her head in her hands dejectedly and rubbing at her temples in joylessness.
“Well, you’re going to have to figure that one out on your own,” Madeleine told her sympathetically, offering a smile despite the fact that Lily was not looking towards her.
“Sleep on it. See how you feel tomorrow. There’s nothing more to be done tonight,” Evelyn said as she sat down next to Lily on her bed, placing a hand gently on her back.
“I have a Head meeting with him tomorrow, you know…” Lily told Evelyn glumly, lifting her head to look over at her friend.
“Don’t worry about that now.”
And with that word of advice, Lily got ready for bed quickly and flopped down on her bed in hopes of surrendering to sleep. Despite this, she lay there for what seemed like hours, staring up at the ceiling of her four-poster bed as thoughts raced through her mind before she finally slipped into a dreamless slumber.
The next morning at breakfast, Lily and her friends sat a considerable distance away from the Marauders. It was for the best, she knew, though she had enjoyed their meal together regardless of her previous inhibitions. James looked rather emotionless, or rather, he neither looked happy nor sad. When one of his friends would say something particularly funny, he would crack a smile before returning to his food and his impassive expression. There were moments when he would stop eating and she could tell he was not listening to his friends. He seemed to be thinking of something, pondering something or another, before he would realize with a jolt that he had been in a trance and would continue eating.
Lily wasn’t quite sure whether this was what she had expected or not. Sure, she didn’t expect him to come in looking extremely upset, nor did she think he would come in overly jubilant. After all, if there was one thing she knew about humans, it was that they could veil their emotions incredibly well. The moment people were put into social situations, a mask came up that blocked true sentiments, or at least muted them greatly. But she knew this mask was for the good—she could barely fathom how chaotic the world would be if we did not have such barriers!
Lily knew these barriers perhaps better than anyone else she was acquainted with. She was the master of cloaking emotions and hiding feelings that she felt were socially unacceptable. Every time she felt attraction to a boy, she kept it locked within herself and before long, even she forgot about said attraction. She usually only confided in her friends for extreme situations, and even then, she found herself only being half candid. There was always a disingenuous layer that obscured the truth that she simply could not strip away. In fact, the situation with James and the subsequent confiding was likely the most honest she had ever been with her friends.
As she ate (was she even eating anymore? No, she had forgotten about her eggs) she hoped that he would look up for just a moment so that she could read his eyes. She wanted to know if he was angry at her, angry at himself, indifferent to the situation, or embarrassed. Or perhaps he felt sympathy for her, or resented her, or thought her selfish, or was ashamed of her behavior. She had to know whether or not he blamed her and if he would only look at her once, she could find out.
But he did not. No, he seemed to not even notice that she was there. Pity.
With that thought, Lily realized that she had been staring at him for quite some time now. Not only that, but her friends had long since noticed and were watching her with quite a bit of interest.
“I’ve been staring at him for five minutes now, haven’t I,” Lily said plainly, flushing as she turned to look at Madeleine and Evelyn.
“It’s been at least ten,” Evelyn corrected with a chuckle to which Madeleine nodded fervently.
Without any cue or prompting, a look of understanding came to Lily’s eyes and she began to speak. “I know what I have to do,” Lily said quite abruptly, setting down her fork firmly.
“You do?” Madeleine asked, surprised by her outburst and conviction.
“Yes. Yes, I do.” Lily stood up and without another word to her friends and without any thought of her breakfast, she walked with extreme assurance out of the Great Hall, an impenetrable smile on her face.
James was already in the otherwise empty classroom when Lily arrived, seated at a table and looking at a few papers that were scattered in front of him. He looked up when he saw her come in and smiled halfheartedly before revisiting the papers. Lily returned the smile and pulled a chair up to the table he was sitting at, seating herself across from him quietly.
“What’ve you got there?” she asked politely, eyeing the papers in interest as she held her hands neatly in her lap.
“Just a few notes I wrote up. A couple of Prefects came to me asking to change their patrolling hours and I was just trying to work out the switches. I can figure this out later, though,” he said, pulling the papers together and setting them to the side before looking back to her expectantly.
“Right…” she said slowly, a bit surprised at his preparedness. “Anyways, I thought we’d discuss this Christmas Ball a bit. There are a few arrangements that will have to be made quite a bit in advance which I’d like to figure out in the next few weeks.” She reached in her bag and pulled out some parchment along with a quill and a pot of ink.
“I was thinking about the ball… I know that you didn’t want one for Christmas, and if you still think that would be better, I’d be fine with waiting until the Spring to plan something.” She glanced up at him, observing his pleasant expression with hesitance. She watched him for a few seconds before she began talking quickly, unable to bear the silence.
“No, I think a Christmas Ball would be nice, now that I think about it. I mean, if you still think so, that is…” She looked down at her papers diffidently, blushing a bit to herself as she moved to open the ink pot.
“I think the students would enjoy it,” James said, watching her closely as she refused to meet his eyes. She seemed completely unable to open the pot of ink that she had retrieved and after several seconds of struggling, set it down loudly and hastily. “Is everything okay?” he asked her slowly, furrowing his brow. She stood up quickly, gulping as she moved away from the table in order to collect herself.
“I just had something I wanted to ask you, but…” She stopped suddenly, fiddling with her tie idly, biting down on her lower lip nervously. This had been far easier when she had rehearsed it in her room…
“Go ahead,” he urged her, standing up as well and taking a step towards her despite the fact that she was turned away from him.
“Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about it… And I am kind of nervous… And you know how bad I am at these things…” she stuttered with evident anxiety, thankful that he could not see her face.
“At what things?” he questioned, taking another step towards her.
Suddenly, she turned around, letting out a small gasp when she saw how close he was to her. She gulped again, her eyes widening slightly before she finally spit out what she had been trying to say with so much difficulty. “I was wondering if you would come to Hogsmeade with me this weekend,” she said rapidly, hoping he could understand her hurried speech. Lily held her breath as she saw his eyebrows shoot up quickly, confusion written on his face. Her stomach knotted uncomfortably, fearing that this meant imminent rejection which she wasn’t sure she could endure.
“I thought I had lost. I thought the deal was…” He began, but she put a hand up and interrupted him before he could finish.
“The deal was that you couldn’t ask me out,” she corrected, a somewhat sly look suddenly coming to her eyes as her confidence began to reappear. “There was nothing in there about me asking you out.” She smiled uncertainly before letting out a long breath of relief wherein he laughed cheerfully. That had to be a good sign…
“You’re not joking, are you?” he asked, smiling widely as she shook her head quickly. “How could I pass up that offer?” he asked with another laugh, a hint of shock still written on his face.
Lily let out a long breath of alleviation. “I was a bit worried that you would say no just to spite me. You know, show me how it feels and everything,” she said, but he immediately shook his head.
“I couldn’t bear to do that.” He paused for a moment, about to say something more. When he hesitated, she gave him a look to urge him on. “What made you change your mind?” he finally said, cocking his head to the side slightly. “Aren’t you still worried that people will talk?”
Lily looked down at her hands for a moment, ruminating to herself. “Yes,” she told him, looking back up with a small smile. “But I figured out…No, someone told me that there was something else more important than pride that could come of this… And I decided that it was worth a try…Because they’re just people, and who really cares what they think?” The words were slow and calculated as she gradually thought through what truly had driven her to ask him out.
“Truer words have never been spoken,” he said proudly, all but beaming at her. He was silent for another moment before he let out a laugh and continued. “You know, I don’t think you could ever keep me silent for that long ever again,” he told her jovially, shaking his head with disbelief.
Spontaneity overtook her as she spoke. “I think I know one way,” she said simply, and before he could question her, she leaned forward and allowed their lips to meet momentarily while her hand came up and touched his jaw gently. After a moment, she drew back and looked at him with bright eyes, her cheeks slightly flushed, and his grin widened.
“Well, that’ll work.”
And there you go! I hope you enjoyed My Lips Are Sealed. As I said in a previous chapter, I already have another story in the works so there will be more to come. Thank you all for reading and thank you to every reviewer. I greatly appreciated your feedback!
Until next time,