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Chapter 18 : Desperate Times
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Months passed without any hesitation. The spring weather was a release for the students, allowing them to take walks along the lake and enjoy the fresh air. Lily and James maintained their friendship, learning more and more about one another.
Lily talked to him about her father, something she didn’t like to bring up. James talked to her about his parents, their line of work, and what it was like being an only child. Lily had often imagined James as a pampered child, receiving everything and anything he wanted. She quickly learned that he often felt alone in his house, separated from the outside world. Only when Sirius started visiting did he really enjoy his time away from Hogwarts.
Leah and Sirius were blossoming into what many would call, “a serious couple”. They had little spats here or there, but resolved it with a little trip to the broom closet. Erin enjoyed taking first years under her wing and teaching them the ropes. Ruby was still coping with the trauma her mother had caused, but Remus was there, reassuring as ever. Vita had started cramming for NEWT’s already, something that had completely slipped Lily’s mind.
“Now, I know what you’re going to say about this,” Erin said hesitantly as the girls paced their dorms before a weekend trip to Hogsmeade. “Blind dates are usually a no-go. This one happens to be very nice and very good looking.”
Lily looked at her friend in bewilderment.
“What are you getting at?” Lily asked, running a brush through her red curls.
“His name is Simon Hall. He’s a shy, seventh year Hufflepuff. He’s very cute,” Leah informed her. “I had a little trouble getting you this date, but once I dropped your name, he was willing.”
The trouble she had experienced had mainly been due to Sirius. Sirius didn’t want Lily to get set up, but Leah insisted that she needed to be. So, Sirius had told Simon that Lily was a nutcase who babbled on about inappropriate topics all through meals. This had earned him a slap on the head from Leah, but it had almost worked nonetheless.
“I’m not ready to go on a date,” Lily panicked, now searching through clothes.
“You have no choice,” Ruby told her. “He’s going to meet you outside of the Three Broomsticks and you’re going to go have a butter beer. It’s all set up.”
“I thought we didn’t date Hufflepuffs,” Lily reminded Leah. Leah turned, her strawberry blonde curls following. She had placed them into a neat ponytail and was still awaiting what to wear.
“I don’t,” she said simply. “But you’re going to.”
Lily sighed, knowing it was best not to argue with her friends. It had been awhile since her last date. She might as well give Simon Hall a chance.
As Lily stood outside of the Three Broomsticks with her friends, she shivered a little. Her hands were getting cold and her cheeks were bright red from the wind. Erin had let her borrow a stylish scarf and Ruby had done her hair. Vita had painted her nails and Leah had done her makeup. All in all, Lily felt pretty good about herself.
That is, until he came. Sure enough, James walked up to the Three Broomsticks with his friends. Sirius winked at Leah and escorted her inside the pub. James stood there, grinning at the sight of her.
“You look nice,” he commented. “Hot date?”
Lily felt her cheeks burn bright red. She looked up at him nervously and saw that he was staring at his feet now.
“This is awkward,” he said aloud. “It shouldn’t have to be like this. Hey, we’re just friends. Friends talk about these sort of things. It shouldn’t be awkward, should it?”
“James,” she said softly. “You better go sit with your friends.”
He nodded and waved goodbye. She could feel his eyes on her as she sat down with Simon Hall, who happened to be very nice.
All through that date, she couldn’t help but wonder what James was thinking. She had no idea why it mattered to her so much.
“I don’t think it’s working,” Sirius mumbled to Erin and Leah. The three of them had volunteered to go get the drinks and they were now watching Lily very closely.
“She’s laughing,” Erin mused. “That is never a good sign. Why’d you have to pick someone so perfect?”
“So that Lily could recognize all the flaws James has,” Leah said in an obvious tone.
“Aren’t we trying to steer her clear of that?” Sirius asked, turning to look at Leah. “She’s not going to realize she’s madly in love with him if this bloke appears to be so much better.”
“What was I thinking?” Leah mumbled. “Simon is perfect! Poor James. I thought this was a full proof plan.”
“Nothing’s full proof,” Erin reminded her friend wisely. Her celery green eyes were focused on Lily’s. “She loves him, I know it.”
“How was it?” Vita asked, looking up from her study guide as Lily walked into the room.
“He was great,” Lily said sadly. “Absolutely wonderful. He is smart, handsome, plays Quidditch, enjoys reading. He’s everything a girl would hope for.”
“But..?” Vita questioned, raising an eyebrow.
But he’s not James, Lily thought inside her head.
“Nothing,” she mumbled. “But nothing.”
“Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” Leah asked Sirius and Erin as they set up the trap.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Sirius assured his girlfriend.
“If they love each other as much as I know they do, they’ll work out all their problems and live happily ever after,” Erin said, setting a charm on the door.
“James should be returning from Quidditch any second,” Sirius said, checking the clock on the wall. “Me and Leah will use the cloak and you’ll scream. Lily should be turning the corner with that book you asked for, and then we’ll push her in as well.”
“Got it,” Erin said. As she heard footsteps, she began screaming. They sounded heavier and sloppier, so she assumed it was James. Sure enough, his raven colored hair turned the corner, his body following.
“James! It was Snape! He hit me and now he’s in there,” Erin screamed. “I don’t know what to do.”
James’ eye grew wide and his wand was taken from his pocket. He opened the door and stepped inside.
“Hey,” James protested. “He’s not in here.”
Quickly, Leah, Sirius, and Erin closed the door and locked it, disarming James’ wand before he could do anything about it. Footsteps rushed down from the stairs and Leah and Sirius ducked under the invisibility cloak. Lily had a book in her hand and was looking down at her friend confused.
“I thought I heard screaming,” Lily said, looking at Erin suspiciously.
“It was Snape,” Erin assured her friend. “I trapped him inside this broom closet. You’re Head Girl, you should know what to do with him.”
Lily was about to open the door when Erin tore her wand out of her friends hand. Sirius and Leah opened the door and pushed Lily in, now locking it securely.
Lily had closed her eyes and was now breathing heavily. She only opened her eyes when she heard another person breathing beside her. She carefully looked up and saw James.
“What are you doing in here?” she questioned, anger building.
He must have been in on this, she thought to herself.
“Sirius pushed me in here,” James said, plopping angrily onto the ground. “Stupid prat put a sticking spell on the door. Can’t even push my way out.”
“So we’re stuck in here until they get us out?” Lily asked.
“Unfortunately,” James grumbled. It seemed to Lily that he didn’t want to be stuck in a broom closet anymore than she did. So, she sat down next to him and started banging her head against the wall.
“I am going to kill Erin and Leah once I get out of here,” Lily whispered quietly.
They sat in awkward silence for what felt like forever. More than anything, Lily wanted to grab a hold of James’ hand. He smelled so good, fresh out of the showers after Quidditch practice. She was humbled by that smell, his smell. He looked so shy and sad, almost like a little kid, as they sat in that closet.
“Lily,” he said softly all of a sudden. She turned her head to look at him. “Did you like Simon Hall better than me?”
So it had bothered him. She saw him looking at the ground sadly. It was depressing to think that she kept hurting him.
“No,” she whispered. “I didn’t.”
“Why not?” he asked almost immediately. “He’s perfect for you. He likes Charms, he’s smart, he’s not arrogant in the least. He doesn’t bully anyone. He’s not looking for forever. It’s right down your alley.”
“He’s perfect,” she said. James nodded. He obviously thought so as well. “He’s too perfect. I’m not looking for perfect.”
“You should be with him,” James said after a moment. “You deserve someone like that.”
“Maybe I do deserve him,” Lily commented. “But I don’t deserve you.”
This caused him to turn his head. He looked surprised.
“James,” she said quietly. “There is so much wrong with me. I’m a mess. Yet, I have a heart. It’s slowly breaking as the days go on. I find myself waking up crying at night. It used to be because I missed my dad. Now, it’s because I miss you.”
“You don’t want me though,” James reminded her. “We’re not right for each other. It would never work.”
“If we think that, then it never will,” Lily voiced. “Like I said, I’m not looking for perfect. I’m not perfect and you’re not perfect. I think that makes us perfect for each other.”
“You think so?” he questioned.
“I know so,” she whispered. “I know it because I love you.”
A/N: Sorry it was short, but hey! It was eventful. Please review.
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