Chapter 1 : once upon a valentine's day
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My name’s Lizzie. Not Elizabeth, not Liz, just Lizzie. Its not short for anything; my mother decided she like the name Lizzie and put it on my birth certificate. I love it.
I’m a sixth year at Hogwarts, and near the top of the class academically. Socially, forget it. I’m not an outcast, but I’m not with the “in” crowd either. I’m one of those girls that blends into the background, though I wish every day that just once I could stand out. Especially around the one person I want to notice me: Harry Potter. But I’m average in every way: my hair is an ordinary blond/brown mix (though it does look a funky golden color in the sun, which I think is cool), my skin pale as a peach (no tanning for me; I just burn the color of a cherry tomato if I get too much sun exposure without sun-block). My eyes are the only distinguishing characteristic of mine: they are a pale violet color. It’s a family trait that I get from my mother’s side. I think it’s cool, and my best friend, Hermione Granger, thinks so too.
The only other way I sort of stand out is I’m on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I’m not especially athletic, but somehow, that first year here when I took flying lessons from Madam Hooch, that was it. I was hooked. Something clicked in my subconscious and I took to flying like a bird does to the sky. It’s the one time I feel free from the social confines of my day to day life. Quidditch is cool too. I’m a chaser, which means I get to be right in the middle of the action, stealing the quaffle and hurtling it towards the goal hoop. Unfortunately, it also usually gets me lost in the limelight of the seeker, who actually wins the game nine and a half times out of ten: Harry Potter once more, folks. I know that I’ll never get him to think of me as more than just another teammate…but a girl can hope, can’t she?
Today’s the worst day of the year, second only to the day they discovered the plague. Valentine’s Day. The stupidest day in the entirety of humanity’s existence, dedicated to celebrating relationships or selling chocolates, candy and flowers—depending upon how cynical you want to be about it. I hate it. Every stinking year I get reminded not-so-subtly that I don’t have someone to spend the day with, no “special someone” to get a fluffy gift for. If I ever do get a boyfriend, I hope he agrees with me that it’s a stupid holiday and spends the day with me boycotting the whole thing.
I came down to breakfast this morning to the usual displays of adolescent affection. Hermione was sitting with her newly found boyfriend (and best friend of five years, going on six) Ron Weasley. Of all the people to institute PDA (public displays of affection) I won’t begrudge Hermione and Ron theirs too much. Like every other inhabitant of Gryffindor, I’ve been waiting for the two of them to get off their high horses and admit to being crazy about each other since at least fourth year, if not before. I sat down across from them and smiled at Hermione. Despite the holiday, it was a gorgeous day outside, and I planned on getting in some extra Quidditch practice time this afternoon.
“Good morning,” I said, not entirely expecting Hermione to tear herself from the affectionate glances of her dear boyfriend Ron.
Surprisingly, she did, and returned my smile. “Good morning, Lizzie,” she said pleasantly. “How are you?”
“As well as can be expected,” I replied, making a face. “It’s the worst day of the year,” I added in an undertone. Unfortunately, Ron, who was sitting next to Hermione obviously eavesdropping on the conversation, caught it and put in his two knuts about it.
“Why’s that?” he asked.
I mock-glared at him. “Because, today is Valentine’s Day,” I said contemptuously. “Which is second only to the Black Plague.”
Ron looked taken aback, and his eyes widened a little at my harsh statement. He opened his mouth to say something further, but someone else spoke before he could continue.
“That’s rather harsh,” said a voice beside me.
I turned to see who’d just spoken, and saw to my further annoyance, Harry Potter.
“It’s the truth,” I countered. “Today’s just an excuse for the candy and card companies of the world to make a quick galleon on the romantic ridiculousness of the world.”
Harry laughed as he sat down to my left; he actually laughed. I suppose it was the alliteration I just used—“romantic ridiculousness”—but you never can tell about these things.
“You have a point there,” he conceded, reaching for a platter of pancakes. “I’m not all that fond of the holiday either,” he added. I looked at him, surprised.
”Really?” I never would have guessed, after fifth year, I added silently.
He nodded. “Yeah,” he said around a mouth full of pancakes and syrup, “Its really overrated.”
It was nice to have someone agree with me about this for once. I said so. “Thanks, Harry,” I said. “But,” I pointed at Hermione and Ron, “they are never going to admit this, you know.”
Harry shrugged, and I noticed his hazel eyes sparkle a little with amusement. “Probably not,” he agreed. I laughed. “You have a nice laugh,” he said, and I felt my face turn slightly pink.
“Thanks,” I repeated, not knowing what else to say. This was the first time I’d ever had a conversation with him that didn’t immediately involve a Quidditch match, and it was kind of nice. ‘Maybe…Oh, stop it, Lizzie, you know he’s just being nice.’ I turned my attention back to my food.
“So what are you up to today?” asked Hermione. I glanced up at her, swallowed the piece of French toast in my mouth, and replied.
“Not a whole lot,” I said. “I thought I might get in some practice on the Quidditch pitch. Every little bit helps, and it’s a beautiful day, so might as well take advantage of the nice weather.” Though it was only February, it was unseasonably warm today; in the sixties probably outside, at least in the sun.
“Mind if I join you?” Harry asked.
The question caught me off guard. I stared at him for a second, comprehension of the English language failing me, but only for a second. I recovered myself and nodded. “Sure,” I found myself saying. “Why not?” ‘What are you saying?’ I thought frantically. ‘This isn’t a good idea—you were going to spend this afternoon trying to drive him from your mind, not bring him back into it! Retreat! Retreat!’ But it was too late.
“Great,” said Harry, smiling at me. “Meet you on the pitch at ten?”
I nodded numbly, still refusing to believe I was actually hearing this. Harry? Helping me practice? What was the world coming to?
”Ten it is.”
At ten o’clock, I was rushing around my room, trying frantically to find my other glove. I had the right one in my hand, and knew for sure that the left was somewhere in the black hole called my trunk. I threw things unceremoniously onto the floor, knowing that I had booked the pitch for ten till eleven and did not want some stupid Slytherin *cough, Malfoy, cough,* finding that there’s no one on it and taking it for their own use. I was already dressed in my practice outfit, which was a pair of black warm-up pants and my Gryffindor Quidditch team t-shirt; I even had my boots on. If only I could find…there it was! I shoved a maroon sweater out of the way and grabbed the lost glove holding it triumphantly in my fist. “Ha, I have you now!” I announced to no one in particular. I was alone in the girls’ dormitory for once—since every one of them managed to get a date for V-day except me, I could get away with the ridiculous display of disorganization. Grabbing my broom, which was resting patiently on my bed, I raced down the stairs and out, making it to the pitch in record time. I glanced at my watch: ten o-five. Perfect.
“There you are,” said a voice. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but when Harry came into view with a smirk on his face that suggested he was only kidding, I managed a laugh then a smile.
“I lost a glove,” I said, holding up the offending object. “Took me a good ten minutes to find it too.”
Harry nodded. “I’m glad you found it,” he said. He motioned to the pitch that we stood on. “Care to begin?”
“Of course,” I said, tearing my gaze away from his eyes. They sparkled in the sunlight, complimenting his jet black hair nicely… ‘stop it, Lizzie.’
We mounted our brooms, his a Firebolt, mine an older model Nimbus 2001, but I was still proud of the thing, and were launched into the air. I closed my eyes for a moment, enjoying the sensation of the wind rushing past me, breathing in its sweet scent. I was careful to keep my hands gripping the handle of my broom, though I wished I could spread my arms wide like an eagle’s wings and fly away. For now, by broom would have to do, at least until I figure out how to turn into a bird. I opened my eyes, and saw Harry was already at the other end of the pitch by the goal posts. I sped towards him, stopping ten feet before the tip of his broom. He tossed the quaffle at me, and I caught it deftly with one hand.
“You ready to play?” I said, smiling mischievously.
He narrowed his eyes, and grinned. “Bring it on, Lizzie.”
Harry played keeper, trying to defend the posts against my chaser skills. It was an enjoyable morning, actually, though I wished it could have lasted longer. But no, lunch beckoned and before I knew it, my watch alarm was going off, reminding me of the time in the same moment that I felt my stomach grumble.
I landed on the ground after signaling to Harry to do the same, and absently wiped the sweat from my brow. It may have been only in the sixties, but the exercise and the sun had taken their toll and sweat poured down my back and all down my face. I hated it, but the exhilaration of playing a game I loved took away any embarrassment I might have felt otherwise.
“Good game, Harry,” I said, smiling at him.
He smiled back. “You too, Lizzie,” he replied. “You did good out there.”
“Thanks.” I felt a new kind of heat rise onto my face, this time not from the exercise. I tried not to care, but it was too late. I looked away from him, and started to walk rather briskly toward the locker rooms. I had to get far away from him before I blurted out something stupid. I had let my guard fall while we played, but I needed it back up now. ‘He doesn’t like you like that, Lizzie, just let it go.’ I could feel the familiar tears starting to form at this realization; it hurt every time I thought about it, but deep down I knew it was the truth.
“Lizzie, are you okay?”
I heard his voice calling after me, and though I didn’t want to acknowledge it, I forced myself to turn around and face him. ‘Darn it, I was almost safe.’ The locker room was only a few feet away by the time I heard him. “I’m fine,” I lied. He wasn’t going to hear the truth, not unless… ‘oh stop it, Lizzie.’ “Why?” I added, wiping the evidence of impending tears from my eyes with my fingers.
He comes up to me, broom in his right hand, beautiful black hair even more messed up than usual. His face was flushed red from running to meet me.
“You seem upset,” he said tentatively.
“I’m just…” I stopped, and started again, trying for another tactic. “Ever been upset over impossible dreams?” I asked. “Ever found yourself dwelling on it even though there’s no hope of the object of your dream ever returning what you feel?” I was hoping this sounded as ambiguous out loud as it did in my head. It seemed to work just fine, and Harry nodded.
“Yes,” he said, frowning slightly. “Is that what you’re upset about?”
I nodded. “Pretty much.” I started to walk away again, feeling the tears threatening to reemerge. ‘I can’t believe I’m telling him all this. He asked, but you didn’t have to answer…’
“That’s it? You’re not going to tell me what it is?”
I whirled on him, a little bit of indignation creeping through. “Like that’ll help!” I spat out. “This guy won’t even acknowledge me if I tried, and believe me, bucko, I’ve tried! It’s a guy—I’m upset over a guy! Happy now?”
Harry didn’t back down from the force of my outburst, though I could tell it startled him.
“Is it anyone I know? Can I help?” he said, unperturbed.
I wanted to laugh. ‘Anyone you know, right,’ I thought, ‘Its you, you moron!’ “Yes it’s someone you know,” I said, calming myself down just a tad so the sentence didn’t come out sounding like a threat. “No, you can’t help.”
That was it, I let him have it. Might as well get misery over with right off the bat, no use dragging out the inevitable.
“Because,” I nearly shouted, “Its you! I’m upset over you! Now,” I added, my face burning and my flight instinct screaming at me, “I am going to go bury myself in a deep, dark hole and hope to high heaven that I can manage to disappear.”
I tried to retreat for the third time to retreat into the locker rooms, but apparently they were not to be graced with my presence today, as Harry stopped me once again before I could get more than two feet away.
He grasped my arm firmly enough to keep me from moving, but not so hard it hurt, thus making me meet his gaze. He seemed to be searching for something in my face, and it annoyed me suddenly that the object of my affection was looking at me at all, let alone like that.
“What are you doing? Let me go,” I protested.
“Is it true? What you just said?” he asked, ignoring my demands.
Reluctantly, I nodded. “Yes,” I said, my voice no louder than a whisper. Somehow I couldn’t manage to speak any louder than that. My throat had gone dry and I felt tears starting to flow down my cheeks.
I expected him to let go so I could run, or perhaps run away himself, but he did neither. Instead, he pulled me closer to himself, so close I could smell his cologne. ‘He smells good,’ I thought absently. He searched my eyes for another moment, perhaps trying to ascertain the truth in my confession, then without a word, leaned forward and kissed me. It was a sweet kiss, and filled with emotion. Startled, I fought the impulse to push him away, even though this is what I wanted for a long time, and finally let myself lean into it, even let him tilt his head so he could deepen the kiss.
Finally I couldn't take the suspense any longer. I pulled away from him, and tried to ignore the confused look on his face long enough to ask an important question.
"What'd you do that for?" I asked, noting that this was a silly question for an intelligent mind, but I'm good at academics, not social dynamics.
"Because, I like you too," he said, then smiled. "Besides, it was the only way I could think of to make you smile. I like it when you smile."
Yet another furious blush claimed my cheeks; poor things will never be pale again. "You do?" I said, still hesitant.
"Yes," he said, his lovely green eyes sparkling. "I do. Feel better now that you know?"
I nodded. "Absolutely."
* okay, fluffiness aside, what do you think? I tried to write a mixture of semi-realism and sappiness, and this is what came out...after writing two ten page papers in one week for finals its a miracle i managed a coherent sentence (laughs) okay, i'm done now. REVIEW-LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! THANKS!
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