Chapter 43 : Chapter Forty Three
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When I arrived in the common room on yet another Monday, flowers covered my face.
“Happy three week anniversary,” James said in a singsong voice as he stretched his neck around the flowers. He was grinning toothily and it had the immediate effect upon my stomach. I smiled.
“Thank you, love.” I said, taking the lilies and smelling them. They were very fragrant, and were sparkling with something. “What’s—”
“Fairy dust. It makes them live longer.” James said promptly. He was looking mischievous about something. “I stole it from Harrison’s cupboard.”
I frowned. “You stole it from a teacher? James, you know better than that.”
“Do I?” he said, raising an eyebrow. “Relax, it was easy. All I needed was my cloak.”
I gave him a hard look. “What? Now you don’t like them because I stole the dust from that git?”
“No. I do like them.” I said, standing on my tiptoes and giving him a kiss on his cheek. “Okay, then. I’ll just go upstairs and put them in a vase, shall I?” He nodded and I hurried up the stairs, and then came back.
“Ready?” James asked, taking my hand and leading me to the portrait hole. There were a few girls that were a part of James’s fan club that glared at me and tried to trip me with their feet at the entrance. I grabbed onto James for balance and narrowed my eyes at them as they giggled shrilly. We left the common room and I hitched my bag higher up my shoulder, straightening my skirt and blouse.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything.” I said. “I didn’t know three weeks were supposed to be celebrated.”
“It’s not always.” James said easily, smiling at me. “Don’t worry about it.”
“So, are you ready for Day 1 of N.E.W.T.s?”
“I’m glad that I won’t ever have to study Charms with you again.”
I huffed indignantly. “And why is that?”
“Well you came on a little strong—”
“I did not!”
James gave me a disbelieving look. Then, in a high-pitched voice he said shrilly, “James, that’s not the right notes! Don’t you see the little number 107 on the right corner? That stands for the 107th time we took notes! James! What are you doing? It’s swish and flick, not swish and I-don’t-care-what-goes-next! James! Why are you drooling on my Achievements in Charming book?”
James grinned at me and I narrowed my eyes. “I did not sound like that.”
“Of course you didn’t,” James said, nodding. “And I can’t wait until we study for Herbology.”
I thought about that for a moment. “Actually, we have Transfiguration next.”
“Must you correct me in everything? I know Transfiguration is next. But let’s be honest, Lily…do you think I need to study?”
“Of course you do!” I said. “Do you even realize that Transfiguration is essential for you wanting to be an Auror?”
James shook his head. “Yes, but you’re looking at the best student in Transfiguration this year.” When I continued to look venomous, he said, “And you’re the best student in Charms! If I were you I wouldn’t even bother studying notes #107.”
“I, unlike you, care about my future.” I said as we entered the Great Hall where our friends were already sitting. As usual, Gaby, Henn, and Sirius were laughing and chatting, and Grace and Remus were quietly sitting and studying.
“Where’s Wormtail?” James asked as we sat down. I pulled the beaker of orange juice and poured some for me, sipping on it and watching as Sirius shrugged.
“Dunno. He had already left the dormitory when I woke up.” Sirius said easily. He looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “Lily…why do you have dark circles under your eyes?”
I looked around and saw that most looked quite weary and tired. Sirius, however, was grinning and his eyes were shining with excitement. “Because I, like everyone else but yourself, studied hard last night.”
“Hm, studying.” Sirius said, shaking his head. He looked at James. “Even you, Prongs? Ah…and I always thought we would be lazy and lousy together.”
“That’s not funny.” I said, just as James chuckled appreciatively along with Sirius. “These exams are important!”
“Calm down, Lily.” Henn said. “Like you, out of all people, are going to fail.”
“I could fail!” I said indignantly, as everyone around laughed at my expense. “That’s why I studied.”
“Okay, then, honey. You’re right, you could fail.” James said, patting my shoulder sympathetically as if I was going through some sort of childish tantrum. “Henn, pass the news, will you?”
Henn handed him the Daily Prophet, just as a dark charcoal owl landed in front of me with a package and letter. He was clipping its beak at James, who looked at it with mild surprise. “Hm, that’s our family owl…”
I reached forward and took the letter, handing it to him. “Is it from your mum?” I asked curiously, leaning over to read it also. It was just one sentence but before I could read it James was already handing it to Sirius.
Sirius smiled, patting the owl before it took off. “‘Good luck today, James and Sirius…Love, Mum and Dad.’”
Henn grinned, ruffling Sirius’s hair playfully. “Aw…someone luvs wittle Sirius and Jame-sy.”
“Sure as hell seems like it.” Sirius said, who was beaming for once in a completely innocent way. “Whoa…your mom sent us cookies!”
“Chocolate chip?” James asked in a ‘what-could-be-better?’ voice. “Yes…it is chocolate chip…”
Henn and Gaby were sniggering. I, however, thought it was very sweet of Mr. and Mrs. Potter. “That was nice of your mum and dad.” I said, smiling.
“Actually, I doubt my dad did anything.” James said in an offhand tone. I raised my eyebrow and so did Sirius. “What? He probably didn’t.”
I turned around to look at the Ravenclaw table. “Lynn got one, nevertheless.” I said. Lynn was sharing some of her cookies with her second year friends, which comforted me a little since as far as I knew James practically denied her existence. At this thought passed my mind I glanced at James, who was looking uncomfortable. “Maybe you should go over there,” I said in an undertone so that Henn and Gaby wouldn’t hear.
“Nah, I don’t think so.” James said, shrugging it off. He hardly talked the rest of breakfast.
“Seventh years, wait outside,” Mcgonagall said over at the staff table.
“I was hoping she’d forget to say that,” Henn sighed.
When we reentered the Great Hall, the four House tables were pushed to the side and replaced with several desks that we had to sit down in, just like for the O.W.L.s, which from what I had heard, the fifth years had taken last week
“You’ll do fine.” James said, giving me a quick kiss before we had to go sit in alphabetical order. I smiled.
“Thanks. Good luck.” I said, and then took off to sit in my assigned seat. Just as Mcgonagall had everyone in their correct placements, Professor Flitwick passed by, winking, and turned over the hourglass on the table in front of him.
“You will have a limited amount of time to complete your exams. You may now begin, and don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully.”
“All right,” I said to myself. “I can do this. It’s just an exam. An exam that will determine the outcome of the rest of my life, but—”
“Shh!” hissed Grace from two rows behind me. Gaby, who was sitting next to her, rolled her eyes and shook her head at me. I turned around and stared at my paper, took a deep breath, and closed my eyes.
I read, Question #1: What charm is used to conjure water from a wand?
Easy. Aguamenti. We learned that last year. It was last year, right? Maybe it was fifth…Whoa, Lily. You’re getting off topic. If you don’t hurry up you’ll end up failing because you ran out of time…Wait, they wouldn’t do that to me, would they? Oh, no…I am going to fail this exam. I am going to fail this exam and I won’t be able to get a job and I’ll end up living with my father and Carrie forever! Or maybe I’d live with my mother, isolated in her big house and—
“Lily? You okay?” I heard someone whisper. I looked to my far right and saw James, sitting only four seats from Henn. They were both looking at me. I merely widened my eyes, which caused James to smile slightly and say, “Don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.”
“Ahem. No talking during exams!” Flitwick said from overhead. I smiled back at James and nodded at Henn, staring at my paper again. James was right. I would be fine…it wasn’t as if all those years of studying were going to go to waste. I wasn’t completely dim…there was no way I was going to fail. Okay…there was no way I was going to fail.
I looked at the next question, Which of the following is the actual charm used for opening locks? A) Alhamora, B) Alohomora, C) Alohomoria, D)Alhomora.
Okay…think, Lily, think. How do you spell it? Okay, let’s try the breathing thing again. Inhale…exhale. Inhale…exhale.
“Ms. Evans, are you feeling all right?” Professor Flitwick had stridden over to where I was sitting and was looking concerned.
“Yes, Professor, I’m fine.” I squeaked.
He raised his eyebrow at me then after looking around said in a low voice, “Lily, I can see that you’re nervous. Normally, I wouldn’t tell you this but…” He lowered his voice to a soft whisper. “You’re the best in my class. You’ll be phenomenal.”
I smiled weakly. “Thanks, Professor.” And with one last encouraging smile, he went to the front of the room again.
Hearing James and Professor Flitwick made me slightly less weary. All right, Lily. You’ll do fine…the Professor said you’re phenomenal! James said you’d do okay, did he? Is it weird that you’re talking to yourself in your head instead of taking your exam?
Yes, it was definitely weird. I closed my eyes then opened them, trying to forget how important these exams were going to be.
“All right,” I said softly. “Let’s do this.”
Once the written exam was over, I rushed out to meet James and gave him a tremendous hug. “I think I did really well! Thank you so much.” I said, giving him a very enthusiastic and thankful kiss.
“Hm, what?” James asked, looking dazed as we got out of the Great Hall.
“You helped me when you said I’d do fine.” I said, taking his hand and waiting for the others to meet up with us. “Oh, and Professor Flitwick helped also. He said I was phenomenal.”
James smiled. His eyes seemed out of focus for a minute, and then he said, “Well, you are.”
I beamed. Then I heard a voice behind me, say, “So! How did you all do?”
Henn came up behind me and gave me a hug. I opened my mouth but she quickly cut me off. “I don’t need to know about you. I know you did great.”
I grinned. “Well…I actually think I did do great.”
Gaby let her jaw drop in mock surprise. “Wait a minute…is this self-esteem that I’m hearing? Well, that’s new.”
“Ha-ha.” I said sarcastically.
“I’m going to go look for Sirius.” James said, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. “I’ll find you later, okay?”
“Okay.” I said, still grinning widely. We left the Great Hall and walked out onto the grounds, which were brightly lit. Only fifth years were out, due to the fact that they had already taken their O.W.L.s and the rest of the school was still taking their yearly exams. We went over to the lake and took off our shoes and socks so that we could soak our feet, like I remembered that we had done after we took the O.W.L.s once.
“So, how did you do, Grace?” Henn asked, breaking the comfortable silence.
“Good.” Grace said, smiling a little. All of us could see it was false.
“So, how are you? I mean…I hardly see you anymore.” I said. I looked at Gaby and Henn for support but they merely made incoherent sounds in their throats and then slowly and reluctantly nodded.
“Yeah, well…I study better alone.” Grace said, shrugging. “I’ve been in the library and all.” We continued to look at her, and her smile slowly faded. “Okay, I get it. You want to know what’s happening, right?”
“Yes!” we all said immediately. We all looked at each other, then I said, “Well, we’re just…you know, worried.”
“I know.” Grace said heavily. “Well, the thing is…Remus and I aren’t really going out anymore.”
There was an awkward silence. Finally, Gaby said, “Really?”
Grace nodded. “We haven’t really talked, but…well, I just know it.”
“Do you think he does?” I asked. Grace shrugged.
Gaby furrowed her eyebrows. “What happened?”
“Well…there just wasn’t—” She looked down at the grass, tearing it from the ground with her fingers, and sighed. “There just wasn’t that ‘thing’ anymore. We just fell apart.”
I exchanged looks with Henn, who looked just as disappointed as I did. Gaby scooted closer to Grace, giving her a tight embrace. I sighed and looked at our reflections in the lake, and none of us said anything for a long time.
Later on after we finished the Charms practical exam, Henn and I sat in the common room, while Grace and Gaby sat on the other side with Sirius and Peter. Henn exhaled slowly.
“I know it’s none of my business but…they just seemed so…good together.”
“Not at the end.” I said sadly. “They really were falling apart.”
“Yeah.” Henn said, looking at me. “Hey, don’t worry though—that’s not going to happen to you and James.”
I smiled a little. “How did you know I was thinking about that?”
“That look on your face gives it away. Where is he, anyway?”
“Dunno. Probably in the kitchens.” I said, shrugging. “Do you really think it won’t happen to us?”
Henn furrowed her eyebrows, thinking hard. “Well…both of you inevitably will have a rocky stage, but honestly, Lily? I think he’s crazy about you…the way he looks at you I’m sure he’s in love with you.”
I flushed a little. “No…I don’t think so. We certainly like each other, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”
“Maybe you’re not, but I wouldn’t say the same about him.” Henn said. “No need to panic, Lily. It’s a good thing.”
“Is it?” I asked, biting my lip. “Sometimes I’m not sure…maybe I am in love with him and I just don’t know it.”
Henn smiled. “Yeah, probably. It always takes you a while to finally get it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Henn laughed. “Well…it took you seven years to find out that you liked him too, didn’t it? Just wait another seven and maybe someday you’ll be engaged.”
“That’s not funny.” I said, frowning as she chuckled to herself. “I don’t want to be like that!”
Henn exhaled loudly. “Then don’t be! It’s that simple, but you just don’t realize it.”
“Hello, ladies. Hungry?”
“Hey James.” Henn said, grinning at me. I blushed as he came around and sat down at our table. “Wow, I’m impressed…Lily said you were in the kitchens, I guess she was right.”
“She knows her man.” James said, beaming at me.
“I know your stomach.” I said, smiling. “What did you bring?”
James started to empty his pockets of éclairs, donuts, and pastries. “Just some sweet snacks for a studying intermission.”
“Studying?” I repeated, and then suddenly everything clicked. “Oh my god…we forgot to study, Henn!”
Henn was already chewing on a large chocolate donut. After swallowing a particularly big chunk, she said, “Don’t worry, we’ve got time. Where’s Remus?”
Unlike us, James was rather unconcerned with the whereabouts or emotional state of his friend. “Upstairs, sulking probably.” He said, shrugging.
I frowned. “Aren’t you worried about him?”
“I’m pretty sure he’s not afraid of being by himself, Lily.”
“I know he’s not.” I said, glaring at him. “Don’t you think he’s taking the breakup hard? I mean him and Grace were together for—”
James interrupted me. “What are you talking about? They didn’t break up.”
Henn and I exchanged exasperated looks. “Of course they did,” I said irritably. “Grace told us this morning after the exams.”
“I was in the kitchens with him and he didn’t say anything.” James said, raising an eyebrow. “Are you sure she said that?”
“Yes,” Henn said, looking perplexed. “Maybe Remus just didn’t tell you.”
“First of all, he would tell me. Second, he told me they were going through a bad stage and that he was going to invite her to meet his parents over the summer to see if thing would get better, so I’m positive that they’re still together.”
“But Grace said—” I paused, thinking it over. “Okay, so are you telling me that Grace thinks that they’re not together but Remus does?”
“I guess.” James said, shrugging.
“How can you just shrug?”
“Well, they’ll sort out whatever problem they have, won’t they?”
“Not if they don’t know about the problem!”
“Well, Grace did say that she just assumed that he knew.” Henn said. “I guess she assumed wrong, then. Should we tell her?”
“Yes!” I said hotly, just as James said very calmly, “No, of course not.”
“Are you saying we should just let them deal with it?” I asked incredulously.
“Well, yeah! I mean, Remus and Grace aren’t little kids anymore, they’ll figure it out…”
“I’m telling her.” I said.
“Yeah, me too.” Henn said. We stood up simultaneously and walked over to the couch where Grace was, ignoring James’s yells of, “I’m telling you, you don’t know what you’re doing!”
Grace, Gaby, Sirius, and Peter were all chatting on the couch near the fire, laughing about something. Henn cleared her throat loudly, which made the four of them stop talking and look questioningly at us. “Grace, we need to talk.” I said, raising my eyebrows to tell her that it was something important. I looked at Sirius and Peter. “You two; leave.”
“No need to tell us twice.” Sirius said, hopping off. “Cheers.”
Once the two of them were sitting next to James at our abandoned table, throwing us perplexed looks as James filled them in, I turned back to Grace. “You know that—issue—you were telling us about when we were sitting near the lake this morning?”
Grace raised her eyebrows. “Yes,” she said slowly.
“The thing is…James just told us that Remus—” Henn paused, looking flustered. “Um…well he said that Remus doesn’t think…you guys have broken up.”
“And how the hell does James know?” Gaby asked, furrowing her eyebrows.
“Well, he’s one of Remus’s best friends.” I huffed, feeling for some reason very defensive of my boyfriend. “It’s not like he’s lying.”
“Calm down, I know he’s not.” Gaby said, raising her eyebrow.
“They were talking, and when we told James about how he should worry more about Remus because of your break up and everything…well, James seemed really surprised and said that Remus was telling him that you guys were just at a bad stage or something.” Henn said exasperatedly.
Grace frowned. “I don’t get it…I just assumed he knew.”
“I guess he didn’t.” I said.
Grace was quiet for a moment, obviously thinking hard. “I’ll just go talk to him when I see him. Don’t worry about it.”
“Okay.” I said. I felt relieved. “See, James thought we shouldn’t have said anything.”
“Well, I’m glad you did because I don’t want him to think we’re still together when we’re not.” Grace said, standing up. “I’m feeling a little weird…I think I’m going to study for Transfiguration upstairs…”
I watched her reach the door and shut it, although I wasn’t so sure it would be that easy to shut the door on this problem. I glanced at Henn, who merely shrugged. “She’ll be okay. She’s a big girl.” She said, and Gaby nodded.
“I know she is…but I mean—look at the way she was isolating herself from us when everything was happening.” I bit my lip. “I just don’t think this will turn out okay.”
“Well, even if it doesn’t, Grace only has to deal with it for a week or two.” Gaby said casually, already turning to her Transfiguration book and flipping through the pages. I stared at her, her words sinking slowly into my brain.
Gaby turned to look at me, her eyebrows raised. “Well, graduation is right after the exams.”
“Graduation? Oh…that’s right.” I sat down, staring into the fire. Were we really leaving that soon?
“Lil? You okay?” Henn asked, looking concerned. I forced a smile.
“Yeah…do you want to finish studying with James? He told me he’d help.” I said, glancing at James who was chewing on whatever he and Remus had brought from the kitchens. Henn shook her head.
“Nah. You go ahead, I’ll stay here with Gaby.”
I nodded and went over to sit by the boys, who were all looking at me with equally distraught faces. I frowned. “Um, is everything all right?”
Sirius scoffed, leaning towards Peter. “Do you believe her?”
“I know, girls, right?”
“What are you on about?” I asked tiredly, not exactly sure I wanted to hear the answer.
“Don’t even bother,” James said, shaking his head. “She won’t listen.”
“Why did you tell Grace?”
I glared at Sirius. “For your information, she told me she was glad that I told her.”
“Yeah, but how about Remus?”
I blinked. “What about him?”
“He thinks everything is fine! Couldn’t you spare the poor guy?” Sirius said; Peter and James nodding vigorously beside him.
“Are you saying that I should’ve left both Grace and Remus in the dark and let them sort it out?”
The three boys exchanged ‘she-doesn’t-get-it-she’s-a-girl’ looks. Finally, Sirius said, “Yes. Weren’t we clear?”
I stared at him, letting a few seconds pass by so I wouldn’t completely explode on him. “Um…right. James, you going to help me or not?” They were still looking at me, shaking their heads and frowning with disappointment. “That’s your cue to leave,” I said coolly.
“Okay, okay.” Sirius said, holding his hands up in defense and backing out of his chair. “Up to our dorm, I guess, right, Pete?”
“Well, I got to go to the library.”
“You have to go where?”
“To the library. I…forgot something.”
“Well, the library is full of books, Sirius.” James said, grinning.
“Ha-ha. Okay, see you later then. Wow…kicked out twice in one night.” Sirius said, shaking his head in mock shame. “Well…I guess I’ll be alone…”
“How sad.” I said, smiling sardonically.
“You know what, Lily? You are so cold.”
“You can help us study if you want.” I said, raising my eyebrows.
Sirius grimaced. “Okay…see you later, Prongs.”
“’Bye, Padfoot.” James said.
“You ready, then?” I asked.
“Right. I’m looking forward to studying with you.” James smiled.
I laughed. “You don’t have to pretend.”
“Good.” James said briskly, opening his Transfiguration book. “Let’s get this over with, hm?”
Since no one was in Ancient Runes, Friday we had the day to ourselves.
“Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Darks: All O’s, I assure you.” Sirius said in the middle of the common room, holding a glass of firewhiskey. “I think that proves that I don’t have to study, hm?”
He was looking at me, and everyone laughed. I rolled my eyes but smiled a bit, scooting closer so that I was tucked in the crook of James’s arm. He kissed me lovingly on the forehead, and I beamed. “You know, Sirius should be celebrating when all the exams are over.”
“Well…you know—it is Sirius.”
“Yes, it is me.” Sirius said as he threw himself onto the couch we were sitting at, giving me a goofy grin. “Relax, will you, Evans? Can’t you see we’re having a little party here?”
“Yes, and be thankful that I don’t report you, because firewhiskey is not supposed to be here—”
“Yeah, yeah.” Sirius said, rolling his eyes. “And you’re an excellent Head Girl. We know. Don’t you have a better thing to do than to nag?”
“Yes.” I said, standing up immediately and giving James a pointed look. “Right, James?”
“Whoa, wait. Where you both off to?” Sirius asked in bewilderment as James stood up also with a grimace. He threw his bag over his shoulder and gave Sirius a guilty smile. “Wait…you’re leaving?”
“James said he’d study with me.” I said, taking his hand and leading him away from the couch. Sirius stood up too.
“Let me get this straight—Prongs is leaving a typical Marauder party on a Friday night…to study?”
James ruffled his hair. “I guess so.”
I beamed. “See you later, Sirius.”
“What have you done to him, Evans?” Sirius called exasperatedly as we opened the door to James’s dorm and closed it. The sound of laughter was muffled as we climbed the stairs and went into his room.
I looked around, trying to hide the fact that I was itching to pick up the dirty laundry and taking it to get cleaned. I turned around and saw that James was watching me, smiling a bit as he turned on the lamp beside his bed and leaned against his four-poster.
He was looking at me in that way again, which made me blush and turn away as I sat on his bed. “Ready to study, then?”
He sat close to me, looking over my shoulder as I opened my Potions book. I furrowed my eyebrows, scanning the page, then said, “Okay…what is the main ingredient used for—Um…” I stopped, feeling something cool against my neck. Upon realizing that it was indeed, his lips, I smiled and leaned back a bit, giggling. “Um—for a—”
“Do we really have to study?” James asked, wrapping his arms around my stomach.
“Yes.” I said, without even thinking about it. James squirmed a bit so that his lips were on my cheek instead, leaving that warmth inside of me that always seemed to start from his lips and would always spread to the rest of my body. “Well…we can take a break, I guess…”
“Excellent.” James said as I turned my face so that I could kiss him back. He held my face with his hands, parting my lips with his as I spread my hands around his back so that we were in a tight embrace. All rational thought had left my mind for some reason, just like it always did when he kissed me like that…
I pulled away for a moment, feeling very hot as I smiled. “What was that for?”
James grinned. “You’ve got that effect on me.”
“I can’t even think about what subject we were studying for.”
“Me neither. So…why don’t we just not study tonight?” James asked, raising his eyebrows hopefully.
I gave him a pointed look. “I don’t think so.”
I gave him one last kiss then turned around again, so that I could resume whatever I had been asking. “So…what’s the key ingredient for a Swelling Solution?”
“Hm…” James said in a low voice, which I knew couldn’t help me study as he leaned closer to my ear.
“James…” I said in a warning voice, although I was already closing my eyes and smiling.
“What? I’m just thinking.” James said, kissing me on the ear, then on my cheek.
“You’re just trying to distract me.” I said, squirming a bit so I could not feel his lips anymore.
His lips were back on me. “I love you.”
I abruptly opened my eyes, and I distinctly felt James pull away from me. Suddenly it was denser and hotter in the room that it had been before, but for different reasons. I stared straight ahead; hearing that panicked voice in my head that seemed to appear every time I was in an awkward or intense situation, and my heart was beating very, very loudly.
“You…what?” I asked faintly.
James was breathing rather raggedly behind me. As if he wasn’t quite sure himself, he said, “I…love you?”
I spun around, seeing that his face was just as red as mine and that for once, he was looking down instead of facing me straight on. Panicking…panicking… “Um…since when?”
James gave me an incredulous look. “How can you ask that?”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I wasn’t really aware that you—”
“What?” James said loudly, jumping off the bed in rage. “How can you not be aware?”
I stared at him, my eyes wide. “Well, I wasn’t sure—”
“It’s not like I haven’t said it to you before!”
“Yeah, but you were drunk and clearly out of your mind—”
“Hardly, Lily! Remember I told you I wasn’t?”
“You said you were a little—Ugh! Why are we even arguing about this?”
“I don’t know!” James exclaimed incredulously, throwing his hands up into the air. We both stared at the bedspread, not speaking for a moment. “I didn’t mean to say it then! It just came out!”
Before I even processed what I was about to say, I said, “Well I love you too but I don’t just go blurting things out!”
“Did I just say that?”
We stared at each other, and I could only imagine how my face looked like if James’s was so red. My heart was beating rather hard again, but for some reason I wasn’t panicking as much.
“Yes.” James said faintly. “You did.”
I opened my mouth and closed it, feeling whatever I had just said float around us and stench the place, something I could never take back and tuck quietly back into my heart. We both stared at one another for a while, not quite sure what else to say. To break the silence I said quietly, “Well. I guess I do.”
James nodded, looking dazed. “Um…yeah. I guess I do also.”
I exhaled slowly. “I guess we both do then.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
Strangely enough, I wanted to leave. Saying what I truly felt made me vulnerable, and I hated being vulnerable. What else did James not know about me? Not much, and for some reason it was comforting that he knew who I was and what had happened to me, but made me feel unprotected at the same time. I made a move for my books, but I suddenly felt James’s warm hand on my own, just like it had been that day in the train when he had told me that there was no way he was going to hurt me again.
Suddenly I didn’t think I needed to leave.
I knew that this time I had to take the initiative. I stared up at him, parting my lips slightly as I kissed him, then pulled away for a moment. “I love you, James.” I said, and I never felt that I had said anything as truthful or right. James brought me closer, his breath ragged as he kissed me also, then pulled away just as I did.
“Merlin, Lily,” he said hoarsely. “I love you too.”
I left his dormitory once Sirius and Peter had gone upstairs to see that I was still there, which resulted in their cat calls and whistles, thinking that James and I had done the deed. Rolling my eyes and giving James one last kiss for goodbye, I took my books and held onto the door knob, blowing a kiss to the boy that I loved and who was grinning goofily as he blew me a kiss also.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m going.” I said as Sirius and Peter made equally disgusted sounds. I closed the door behind me and climbed down the stairs, sighing contently and feeling extremely giddy. So…this is how love feels like.
Hopping down the stairs, I hardly noticed the yelling and screaming until I reached the last turn in the circular stairway, jumping to the side in panic as I saw who was yelling and throwing a racket in the common room.
“Well, what did you expect?” Grace cried, although her voice sounded muffled and caught in her throat.
“Not this, I assure you!” Remus said, his voice shaking, either from hurt or anger, I didn’t know.
I suddenly realized exactly what I was listening to. I knew that I didn’t belong in there, knew it wasn’t right to listen to such a private moment, so I started towards the stairs again, thinking that I would just go up to James’s dorm and pretend I hadn’t heard a thing. However, when I made a move to go upstairs, I stopped abruptly upon hearing that Grace was crying. “I-I thought you knew!”
“Knew? How the hell would I know? Yeah, you were distant, but I just thought we were going through a phase—”
“This is more than that!” Grace yelled, and now her voice was full of rage. “And don’t you dare deny it, Remus Lupin, because there is no way you don’t know what I’m talking about!”
There was an absolute silence that followed, and for a moment it seemed that both of them had disappeared into thin air since there was no movement or sound. I furrowed my eyebrows, ready to come out so I could creep quietly into my room, but—
“You know?” Remus asked faintly.
“Yes!” Grace cried, sounding hysterical. “For ages!”
There was another silence, but this time I wasn’t fooled. Remus was still there, but he had no words to say. However, I had no idea why. Even though I felt terrible, I didn’t go upstairs and listened carefully, my eyebrows furrowed.
“So.” Remus said. He no longer sounded helpless and hurt, but rather sarcastic. “Well…I completely understand now why you want to end it.”
This time it was Grace who seemed to be dumbstruck. When she did not respond, he said in a flat voice, “Oh, don’t pity me, Grace. It’s nothing really…and to be honest, I realize I shouldn’t have expected more of you.”
“Oh, is that why you didn’t tell me?” Grace said, her voice returning to her in full force.
“Well, I was right, wasn’t I?”
“You know what, Grace? Forget it. You don’t have to answer, and don’t worry, this has happened to me plenty of times before. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just leave.”
I heard footsteps come towards me, but they abruptly stopped when I heard Grace’s voice nearby. “Remus, that’s not what I meant—”
“Really, Grace? Well, what did you mean?”
“You should’ve told me!” Grace cried desperately. “Why, Remus, why didn’t you tell me? I—I would’ve gotten used to it…I just—”
“Gotten used to it? You don’t get it, do you?” Remus said, his voice as cold as ice. “You’ll never get used to it. I thought that you were the only girl in this school who would ever be able to, but I’ve quickly noticed that you never—”
“That’s not true—”
“GRACE! I’M A MONSTER!”
In all this time I had known Remus, I had never heard him raise his voice, and never had he ever been even close to yelling. Another silence followed, and I could hear both of them breathe raggedly near me. Finally, Grace broke it. “You’re not—” she began breathlessly.
“I was going to invite you over the summer to meet my parents.” Remus’s voice was quiet, but it silenced her immediately. “Now I’m glad I never did.”
“What? You were—”
“Grace, it’s over.” Remus said heavily. “I understand that you’d never want to have a relationship with—with a werewolf. It’s okay. Now, please…just go.”
For a moment, all I heard were Grace’s sobs. Finally, I heard her cross the room and a door slam. Remus stood in the common room for a few minutes, and then slowly, I heard his feet shuffle towards the staircase and the open door, which quickly brought me to reality and humiliation as he stepped on the first few steps and saw me standing there.
He stared at me, his face slowly changing from surprise, to comprehension. I gaped, my mouth opening and closing, my heart racing at what I just heard—“Remus, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean—”
Remus silenced me by raising a single hand. “Lily…it’s okay. I would like it if you left, though.”
I would rather hear him yell at me. I opened my mouth again, although after thinking that it would be better not to respond, I nodded. Then he turned around and headed up the stairs again, just as I descended. Upon standing at the doorway, I could still see him.
“Remus,” I said quietly. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Remus stopped on the step, not turning around for a while. Finally, when he did, his face was solemn and he looked at least ten years older than seventeen.
“Lily,” he said slowly. “I wouldn’t care if you did.”
And turning his back on me once more, he ascended the stairs and disappeared out of sight.
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