Chapter 1 : First Kiss
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[LAST ONE, I PROMISE: Please please read, I KNOW it starts out slow, but it gets better, I PROMISE!!]
April opened the door.
James beamed at her and stepped in. Lily smiled shyly and held back.
Sarah lurched forward.
"So you're James? Brilliant! I'm Sarah! I've heard a lot about you! Have you heard about me from April?"
"No." Sarah ignored that.
"Here, I can take your things. Have you seen Psycho? We're watching that tonight. It's really scary. I'm probably going to need someone to curl up with."
Lily's smile disappeared. She looked at Sarah, her face falling.
James waited for her to stop rambling, and then said, "Er. . . . Nice to meet you." Then he spotted April's cat across the sitting room and rushed past Sarah. "A cat! Oh, hello, cutie! Want a smoochie?" he cooed. "I bet he does, yes, he's a smoochies kitty . . ." Lily burst out laughing.
"Lily!" James spotted her. "Hi! What's this cat's name?"
"Fuzzy," Lily replied.
"You're kidding." James looked at April
April grinned. "You know me."
James turned to Lily. "So your Mum gave in."
"Peachy." James grinned at her as he patted Fuzzy's head. Sarah glowered. April glanced between Sarah, James, and Lily nervously.
"Well!" she said brightly. "Sirius is in the basement. James why don't you take your stuff down there?"
"Okay. Is that where we're sleeping?"
"'Course. That's where the telly is."
"Oh, right . . ." James looked confused. Lily could tell he wasn't sure what a 'telly' was, but didn't want to mention that in front of Sarah, as she was Muggle. "I'll be right back."
James thudded down the stairs with his bag over his shoulder.
April noticed both Lily and Sarah were staring after James with dreamy expressions. Her heart was sinking.
"He is so hot," Sarah murmured. April raised an eyebrow at her. "You didn't tell me he was hot. Are we playing spin-the-bottle tonight?"
Lily looked at her feet. April didn't say anything.
~* Later that night, the James, Sirius, Sarah, April, and Lily were sitting in a circle on their sleeping bags in the middle of the floor, in that order. Lily had her knees pulled up to her chest and was staring at her stockinged feet thoughtfully. She couldn't say that she'd had a particularly nice time. Having a Muggle there greatly restricted their choices of activities. Plus, Sarah was continuously being disgustingly sweet to James. She was good at flirting, and Lily couldn't tell if James was taking it or not. He certainly was nice to her, but then again, he was nice to most people.
"Well, I think since it's April's birthday party, we should let her best friend go first," Sarah was saying. Lily looked up in surprise.
"Huh? Go what? Where?" Everyone looked at her. Sarah indicated a little plastic bottle sitting in the middle of their circle of sleeping bags. "Ohhh . . . no, thanks, I don't want to play."
But April, determined for somebody to have some fun of some form, exclaimed, "Excellent! Come on, Lily . . ."
Lily buried her face in her hands. "Nooo." James smiled at her slightly.
Sarah scorned in delight, "I've bet you've never even been kissed before, have you?"
"Oh, lay off," James said to her, momentarily forsaking his good manners.
Then Sirius reached over and spun the bottle. Everyone turned their attention to it. It stopped at Lily, who looked amused.
"Hm," she said.
"Fate, I guess," said Sarah.
"Go on, kiss her," April said unexcitedly. "James, you're next."
But James wasn't listening. He watched Sirius get up and lean over to Lily. Their lips touched for a nanosecond, and Sirius sat back down. Lily blushed furiously. James narrowed his eyes at Sirius.
"Oh! That was so sweet!" Sarah said overenthusiastically. "You guys are just perfect for each other!"
Lily, James, and Sirius stared at Sarah in disbelief. April coughed. James, shaking his head, reached over reluctantly and spun the bottle. It stopped at Sarah, who giggled. James looked at her and sighed.
"Lucky me," said Sarah, still giggling.
James got up and kissed Sarah on the cheek. Sarah continued to giggle. James rolled his eyes when his back was turned to her as he sat down.
"Your turn, Lily. It's lucky we haven't had any gay kisses yet. Go ahead."
Lily felt a little bit more comfortable now that some of the others had gone first. She spun the bottle and closed her eyes, thinking to herself Muggles think of the stupidest games.
It stopped at James. James looked at Lily, who still had her eyes closed.
"Yes!" April said triumphantly.
"Hm," James said, amused. Lily peeked her eyes open.
She and James looked at each other. They were already sitting next to each other. James moved slightly closer to her. Lily blushed and brushed her hair back from her face. James, looking nervous, leaned toward her slightly. April watched, hardly breathing. Sirius watched, his eyes wide as dinner plates. Lily thought in a rush, Is this happening? Are we actually going to kiss?
Sarah, bored, inspected her fingernails. Lily and James parted their lips as their heads came slowly closer . . .
Are we --
Their lips met. They pulled away slowly, about a quarter of an inch, and looked into each other's eyes.
"Well! --" Sarah said loudly. But Lily and James closed their eyes again, and their lips closed on each other again. They kissed like that for a moment, until Lily reached up a hand and lay it against James's cheek as he kissed her -- not very serious or passionate, but sweet and intense. James moved his lips slightly against hers.
April was grinning uncontrollably and she looked away. Sirius, too, realized the intimacy of the moment and turned away.
Sarah said nastily, "Hey, if you guys need a closet or something . . ."
James and Lily pulled away slowly, for real this time, Lily's hand sliding from his cheek. They looked at each other, stunned.
"Ack," James said, breaking the silence. He fell back onto his sleeping bag. Lily smiled silently at her hands in her lap.
"That is a kiss not to be competed for," April said sincerely, happy that her best friend -- Lily, not Sarah -- was happy.
"Kind of makes the game lose its touch," Sirius agreed. "Shall we do something else now?"
~* April woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a door shutting, and decided to get a drink of water. Groggily she got up and dragged herself upstairs, past the kitchen, into the den, and then, remembering what she had come up for, backtracked into the kitchen. Once she had gotten a glass of water and had returned to the basement, April was conscious enough to see that three of the five sleeping bags on the floor were empty. One was hers, of course, but the others must be . . .
Recalling the sound that had woken her, she crossed the room to the French doors that led out to the back porch. James and Lily were sitting on the swing set in the western corner of the fenced yard.
April went back and woke up Sirius.
"Come on, you've got to see this!" she whispered, shaking him violently. He moaned and muttered some incoherent words followed by, "That's what the giraffe said . . ."
"Oh, you're hopeless," April sighed, then went over to the French doors to peep at them.
For a moment after sitting down on the swings, there was an uncomfortable silence.
"It's a cool night," Lily said finally. She knew it sounded lame, but it was better than the silence.
"Are you cold?" James asked, beginning to take off his sweater.
"Oh, no - no, I'm fine," she said quickly, then regretted it, thinking that wearing his sweater would be nice.
Another silence. James broke it this time.
"Do you like Sarah?" he asked curiously.
"Yes. I think. I mean . . . she's nice."
"I sensed jealousy on her part."
"Jealousy? Of whom?"
James looked at her. "You."
Lily thought about that. It was ironic -- for she had been extremely jealous of Sarah when they first met that afternoon. She was so pretty . . . she figured James would be interested in Sarah more than herself.
"Why would she be jealous of me?" Lily wondered aloud.
"Because I . . ." James began, then stopped. "That is -- she used to be April's best friend, and now you've taken her place. That can't feel good."
"Do you like her?" Lily asked.
"To tell you the truth . . . no."
Lily looked surprised. James clarified: "She's really pretty and all that, but . . . besides her physical appearance, there's . . . not much there."
"Oh," was all Lily could say.
"I think the insides of a person matter more than the outsides," James said.
"You're one of the very few people I know who really believe in that," Lily said proudly.
"It's like . . ."James looked up at the black trees stretching above their heads, searching for words. "It's like a cheesburger . . ."
Lily did not know whether to say "Huh?" or laugh; then couldn't help doing both.
"A cheesburger. I once saw a picture of a huge juicy cheeseburger in one of my Dad's Muggle newspapers, and it looked so good I begged him to get me one -- I was six, by the way. One day he brought one to me after work; but it was all squished and really small and so sad looking I didn't want to eat it, I was so disappointed. But sincce he spent money on it, Dad made me try it, and I found that I liked it. Even if it wasn't as nice-looking as the one in the paper."
Lily was laughing so hard it made James laugh, too.
"So that's what you think of Sarah? A pretty cheeseburger?"
"Well, yes I bet the cheeseburger in that advertisement was plastic. Just for show -- now you on the other hand --"
Lily started laughing again uncontrollably.
"Oh, not that you're a nasty-looking cheesburger!" James said animatedly over Lily's giggled. He felt so happy to make her laugh.
"Alright, what am I, then?" she asked.
"An apple," James answered instantly, without a thought.
"Yes. A nice red apple. 'Cause -- your hair, and all that. And -- I don't know, you just have an apple-sort of aura."
That sounded lovely. Lily had never been so pleased with being associated with fruit.
"The thing with apples," James said, his voice now quiet and serious, "is that they have really tough skin. It's sometimes hard to get through . . . but, once you do, it's worth it . . . it tastes good."
Lily knew James was looking at her, but was much to terrified to meet his gaze as she sorted out his metaphors. This was deep. She could hardly grasp what he was saying -- did he really think all that about her? Shy, silent little Lily?
"Penny," James said after a while. Lily was torn out of her thoughts.
"For your thoughts."
"Oh--" Lily blushed. "I was just thinking -- you're the wisest person I know."
A smile spread across his face.
"I think so."
"Wow." He looked proud. "Coming from the girl who scored 106% on the Potions exam last term, that's . . . that's a heavy compliment."
"You got 107% on the Transfiguration."
"Yes, but McGonagall's a sensible person -- I mean, she doesn't try and fail people. Vindictus does, yet he couldn't seem to find a way to bring you down."
Now they were silent again -- but, for the first time, Lily felt comfortable. Happy, peaceful, as though she were a child wrapped up in warm fleece blankets. Only she wasn't in a soft blanket, she was rocking bacck and forth slightly in a hard wooden swing.. James, next to her, rocking a bit too, was her warm fleece blanket.
"Oh -- I almost forgot," James said suddenly. He dug into his pocket and pulled out a penny and gave it to her.
"James, it's a figure of speech," Lily said, looking at it.
"I know," he replied. His voice was muffled, because he was searching around in his pockets again. "I'd give you more, but that's -- oh, wait, here's a Sickle." He held it out to her.
"Don't be ridiculous, you can't give me your money!"
"Why would you?"
"It's a thank-you."
"For talking with me."
"The penny's a thank-you, thank you."
"You mean, 'You're welcome.'"
"Alright, you're welcome."
"For saying I'm welcome."
Lily chose this time to put the Sickle in James's lap.
"Thank you anyway," she said.
"You're welcome. And thank you." He looked at the Sickle.
"You're wel-- are you trying to make my brain explode?"
The laughter which they had both been holding back during this confusing conversation escaped them both, and when they had stopped, Lily yawned.
"A little." She put her head against the swing's chain.
"Maybe we should go in," he suggested.
"Yeah," Lily agreed.
Neither moved. Silence and the warm fleece blanket spread over them again, and Lily wanted to stay there with him all night.
But then a noise cut through the silence -- a twig snapping behind them, making them both jump. James and Lily glanced around through the black night, then looked at each other.
"Did you hear that?" James whispered. Lily nodded and got up to go to the fence and investigate. James follwed. They stood by the fence silently, straining their ears.
"Must have been a raccoon or something," James said.
"Then how come we didn't hear it scurry away?"
"A stealthy raccoon -- oh, wow."
Lily looked up from the bushed and saw what he was wowing.
There was an opening in the trees above where they were standing. A perfect view of the sky stretched over them -- a deep infinite black, dotted with stars -- thousands of them, so late at night, unshaded by light pollution.
"Do you see any constellations? I don't know stars."
Lily loved Astronomy, and James knew it. He was touching something deep inside of her, by looking at stars with her and asking her about them.
"Let's see . . . April -- about midnight, so -- there! That's Orion's belt, those three stars there -- that's the easiest one to spot, everyone knows it, and you can spot others, then, in comparison with its position. To the north of it is a star called Capella, the really bright one. Over there's Draco . . . of course, the Big Dipper right there, near 'Ursa Major' if you want to know -- you can see a lot of those Zodiac constellations -- Leo, Gemini, Cancer, Taurus . . . and there's Sirius. The brightest star in the night sky. Also called the Dog Star -- it's where you get the term 'Dog Days of summer', I think."
All this time, while Lily was studying the sky and point, James studied Lily. Her green eyes were all lit up with delight, and he tried to pay attention to what she was saying, but he couldn't stop looking at her. At the mention of Sirius, he put his hand on top of hers on the fence.
She looked at him and forgot the stars, drawn into his brown eyes, seemingly deeper than the endless sky above. They stood facing each other and he asked, "Can I kiss you again?"
Lily's heart beat widly and she looked at the ground, her face flushed. "If you really want to." She didn't know, and was in fact afraid to find out what he thought about their first kiss.
"I really want to," James said softly.
He kissed her. His lips were warm and soft and sweet. Warmth spread through her, and she felt now emotions she had not felt before, not even when they had kissed earlier. Then everyone had been watching them, and she realized now they had both been holding part of themselves back. Although this kiss was no more intense, she felt different; as though she and James were the only people on Earth.
She felt his fingers touch her forearm, then move down to find her hand, and he held it as they kissed. James moved his lips ever so slightly against hers, and the world around the seemed to fall away.
Eternity passed in two or three minutes, and finally they parted. Lily opened her eyes and looked at him, lost in him still. James looked back at her with an expression full of astonishment and tenderness.
Niether of them noticed the red slitted eyes watching them from the bushes.
"Lily," James said, his voice trembling with emotion.
With a shaky breath she sighed, and neither could decide what to do -- staying out all night was preferable, but not very smart. So they looked at each other for a while longer, until their deepest emotions passed away enough to be able to go back inside and face their friends. James leaned forward, brushed hair back from her face, and pressed his lips against her forehead. Then they turned and went back inside.
The red slitted eyes watched them go. The she slithered off to find her Master.