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Chapter 27: Herbology
To sing well and to dance
is to be well educated.
“Remus, are you sure you should attend to any more classes today?” I watched him from across the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.
He looked peaky, and he had started getting dark areas around his blue eyes. It was full moon tonight. I saw him continue to eat his lunch stubbornly, but he seemed weak at the same time.
“Yes, Lily, stop pretending to be my mum!” he said hotly.
I rose, looking over to him. “Sorry, but I care about you a lot.. You’re one of my best friends and I know you’re tired. Have the day off,” I told him through clenched teeth.
I walked out of the Great Hall, heading for Herbology together with the Hufflepuffs.
‘Remus doesn’t know what’s for his own good,’ I hissed to myself. I slipped down onto the bench in the theory-room next to the Greenhouse we would be in, looking around. I was the first to come. I opened my bag and pulled out my Herbology-book, scanning through some parts of chapter seven.
As I went on, I noticed something lying in between the pages. It was a photograph of me and James, taken the week after the show. It always made me laugh… It was of me sitting in the common room, reading Witch Weekly. Then James came into view from behind, snapping it out of my hands and sticking out his tongue playfully at me. We were both smiling happily… Sirius had taken it. He had named the photo “James and Lily flirting” which stood in black curly letters on the back.
I stopped up reading completely, watching the photo move again and again with a little smile on my face.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and I noticed the person lying it there sitting down next to me. I closed the book with the photograph in with a slam, getting slightly nervous. I let a graceful hand slip the wild strands of dark red hair behind my ears, setting up an embarrassed smile as I looked to the person next to me.
“Hi, Lily, how are you doing?” Bryn Johnson smiled charmingly at me.
A little bit surprised, I let my hands tightened the grip on the book in my lap.
“Just fine,” I said firmly, but kind. “It’s so early, I didn’t think anyone would be here..”
“Well, Herbology is my favourite subject, so I always come before everyone else. Sometimes I even help professor Sprout with the plants.”
“That’s really kind of you,” I smiled, seeing him drop his gaze.
“Lily? I was wondering if you could do me a favour?” he then said unsteadily after a break.
“Sure, what would that be?” I asked.
“I was wondering if you could help me with some Charms-work,” he said quietly.
I laughed a little at the humble way he spoke.
“Charms isn’t the strongest subject of the Johnson-family, is it?”
“Why d’you say that?” Bryn defended himself, rising an eyebrow.
He had never been good at receiving criticism, so I wasn’t surprised by his reaction. On the other hand, he had probably spent some time managing to get himself together to ask me that. Bryn had never been a man to admit his faults.
“It’s just that I helped your brother Mark with Charms only a few days ago,” I smiled. “I’d be happy to give you some help too if you’d like me to.”
Then I noticed he had stopped up completely. It was as if he had frozen in that moment. He just gazed at me in a relaxing way, not saying anything. I lowered my own eyes as I felt his look starting to hold on tighter to me, just like James’s had the night in the corridor.
‘Don’t think about that,’ I blushed at my own thoughts.
Bryn finally let out a cough before getting back to me.
“What about Wednesday? Around six or seven?” he said automatically.
“Six is fine with me,” I confirmed.
He then flashed a smile back at me, and I think his eyes rested by my lips for a split second, but it could have been my imagination.
“So, did you read the chapter for this lesson?” he said brightly.
“Yes I did, but there was one paragraph that didn’t really make sense…” I frowned, opening my herbology-book without thinking.
The book opened automatically at the page with the photograph.. I inhaled some air and tried to turn the pages. But Bryn had already snapped the photo, and was playing with it between his fingers.
“You and Potter, is it?” he said faintly.
“Yes, that’s James and me,” I answered somewhat hardly. I somehow didn’t like his tone as he said that. I tried taking it back, but I didn’t succeed.
“The two of you are going out, right?” Bryn said, looking from the photo and expectantly over to me.
I gave him a confused stare.
“No… Why did you think we were?” I said quizzically.
He answered my question with a question.
“Really? I would think so after the kiss he gave you?”
I felt my cheeks go dangerously hot.
“What kiss?” I said, my voice shaking slightly.
“The one in the hall a couple of weeks ago,” Bryn clarified.
“How do you know?” I said defensively, lowering my voice, even though we were the only ones in the room.
“Both Potter and I play Quidditch, right? Huffelpuff was training down at the pitch one night when he came down. I think he was checking on some equipment. Anyway, he told me he kissed you.”
‘I didn’t believe my own ears …’
“What?” I let out, a little louder than I had intended.
“He sounded satisfied about it, so I thought that would lead to something more. You weren’t interested?”
I shook my head slightly to try and get that straight. To Bryn it might look like I meant I hadn’t been interested in James, but that was really Bryn’s problem and not mine.
“He hasn’t mentioned it,” I said shakily, almost breaking down again. I took the photo from Bryn, looking at it with sad eyes. “Nothing has changed.. I thought he meant something by it.”
‘Lily, what are you doing? You’re not going to open up to Bryn Johnson, are you?’ I thought desperately.
“Lily, I thought you were different,” Bryn finally said after a long break.
I broke my eyes away from James and me on the piece of paper in my fingers, meeting his blue eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve let yourself get played by the number one player in school. Can you honestly say you didn’t see that coming?” he explained.
‘I had, actually,’ I admitted to myself. ‘But it just happened. It wasn’t like I planned it or something!’
I nodded shortly, lying the photo back into the book.
“You’re too special to end up with a jerk like James Potter, Lily…”
I felt my heart beat faster. I just couldn’t handle it when he said that. Bryn and I were over for good, so why would he? Even if he meant it, he could have kept it to himself.
“Don’t mention it to him. Don’t let him know he hurt you. Just pretend it didn't happen. Apparently that’s what he does,” Bryn finished.
I couldn’t prevent it, tears started pushing their way out of my green eyes. They ran down my red embarrassed cheeks.
“I was so hurt, Bryn,” I cried. “Why did he do that to me?”
He let his hand stroke my hair gently, and I didn’t care if it felt strange and unnatural. As he started moving his hands down to dry my cheeks, I stopped him, though.
“No…” I whispered.
“Why not?” Bryn said tenderly.
“You hurt me too. You know we’re over… I’m not in any position to try again.” I muttered.
“I understand,” he smiled. “It wasn’t like I wanted to make that suggestion, or anything… Maybe we should go inside? People are coming for the lesson soon, you know…”
I nodded, wiping away the tears Bryn had wanted to remove. I put the book back in my bag and did the spell James had taught me that removed red and wet eyes.
As his name appeared in my head, I closed my eyes in pain and love.
We walked inside, Bryn even had his hand over my shoulders. Like James, Sirius and Remus used to… And I knew he shouldn’t have. No matter how hard he tried, he would never replace any of them. Professor Sprout stood by the plants, which looked red and fierce. I removed Bryn’s hand, walking over to her. I wanted to get some distance from him.
‘But you have that extra lesson with him on Wednesday…’ the voice in my head reminded me.
I looked over at Lily as professor Sprout explained how to take care of flesh eating Trifides. She looked shaken, naturally, which I knew she was. I had hit her vulnerable spot..
Even though she had half rejected me, I was at least many steps ahead of Potter. When I confirmed that the kiss with “Potter” had really happened, she felt even more hurt and angry towards him. I had put him in such a bad light she would never get together with him now.
Not even consider it.
My plan was working perfectly. Lily got closer to me and further away from James Potter. Finally I’d have something he didn’t… The beautiful and talented Lily Evans. When we got closer, she’d forget all about what happened late in sixth year. All of that would be washed away.
I tried to listen to professor Sprout, but it was close to impossible. My own voice was mixed with James’s and Bryn’s inside my head. I was the one who should stay away from classes today… along with Remus, who fought his way through lesson after lesson.
I didn’t dare to look up from where I stood, afraid I’d meet James’s eyes somewhere.
My hands were shaking.
Then and there I decided once and for all: I had to stand up. I had to stand tall, and stay there. And there was only one way to do that, and that was by getting over the kiss. It would consume me if I didn’t.
I lifted my eyes, and I felt weak as I saw James treating his plant, concentration written all over his face.
‘James… Why did you do that to me? Why did you brag about it to the other players? Why did you pretend it never happened? How can you be such a jerk, but still manage to cling onto my mind no matter what?’