Chapter 44 : Chapter Forty Four
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Anyway, this chapter is just one page short of the usual twenty. But...it's good. Trust me, even I love it. Reviews are very welcome, as usual, and don't be afraid to be cruel, but only if you must. :-)
Here we go, then:
I didn’t tell Gaby or Henn about what I had heard. Not only did I feel that it wasn’t my place, I also hadn’t fully processed everything that I had witnessed. Remus being a werewolf seemed so unreal and impossible, but apparently, it wasn’t. I went up to my dorm to find that everyone was asleep and that Grace was not in her bed, or anywhere near. She didn’t sleep there that night, and when I awoke, I saw her in the Great Hall, sipping her coffee and munching on some toast, and she did not mention a thing.
The weekend passed and the exams resumed. The week passed by slowly, with the seventh years taking the Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, Astronomy, Divination in some of our cases, Arithmancy for others, and finally, History of Magic N.E.W.T.s. James and I only discussed what I had heard after we left the History exam, as he pulled me aside with a serious look on his face.
“Why didn’t you tell me you knew?”
Immediately knowing what he was talking about, since it had been the only thing on my mind for the past week, I scowled at him. “I didn’t feel like I should!”
“Lily, I already know.” James said, raising his eyebrows. “We all have known since second or third year.”
“Really? Sirius and Peter too?”
“Of course. Why do you think we’re—” He paused, looking to side to side to see if anyone was near. No one was. “—You know…Animagi?”
I gaped. “What?”
“Yeah! I thought you’d figure this out by now.”
“Well—” I said, furrowing my eyebrows. “I—didn’t really want to think about it too much.”
“Look, I know that you feel guilty…” James said, lowering his voice and looking very serious. “But don’t, okay? This is between Remus and Grace…and please, just listen to me when I say this…let’s not get involved—Remus has enough trouble with this—um…you know…furry problem of his.”
I raised my eyebrow. “Is that what you call it?”
“Well, we can’t just go around talking about it!” James said, looking flustered as he ruffled his hair nervously.
“I know, I know, but—James…what should I do?”
James looked at me earnestly. “Do what we’ve been doing…and for his sake, keep his secret.”
The talk didn’t make me feel any better about it, but for once I followed James’s advice and kept out of it. When Grace seemed down, I had the courtesy to ask her what was wrong, but she never did tell me, and instead made excuses such as headaches or sleepiness.
I didn’t know what to do. She would walk around the hallways, with dark circles under her eyes and always looking as if she had been crying. She would wave us off and say that it had to do with her seasonal allergies, it was nothing really, but even Gaby and Henn knew better. She would be the first to wake up and eat breakfast, alone, and the first to go to bed at night; her four-poster shut to ward away the rest of us.
“Is Grace alright?” Patricia asked me in a hushed tone one day in our dormitory as Grace once again went to her bed, bidding us good night at nine o’ clock.
I merely shook my head. “It’s better if you don’t know.”
And it was. I secretly envied Henn and Gaby, who had already figured out that the state that Grace was in was because of Remus, although they had no idea what secret their relationship and all of Remus’s friends were holding. I felt the weight on my heart every time I looked at him, since from what James had told me, he too had been avoiding his friends and hadn’t talked much.
Our Graduation Ceremony was two days after our last N.E.W.T.s exam, which we had already finished. The day before was our Ball, which we hoped would take Grace’s mind out of her misery. We were appalled to find out, however, that she wasn’t planning on going.
“You must go,” Henn insisted as we all stood by our four-posters, our dressrobes, jewelry, and shoes already spread out on our bedspread. Grace’s bed, however, was empty, as she sat by and read her book calmly.
“It’s the Graduation Ball,” Gaby added, as if Grace wasn’t sure of what she was missing.
“I know it is,” Grace said, raising her eyebrows at us. “That doesn’t make me want to go, though.”
“Why not?” I asked, sitting on her bed and looking at her. She didn’t meet my eyes as she spoke.
“I—just—don’t want to see Remus, okay?”
Gaby and Henn exchanged looks. “So, what? You’re not going to go to the last event of our school years because of your ex? I’m sorry, but aren’t you still alive?”
“She’s right,” Gaby said quickly. “I mean…c’mon, Grace. You’re going to regret it if you don’t.”
I didn’t say anything. I merely looked at my friend, who was still looking stressed and tired, even though she said that the reason she had been looking like that was because of our exams, which were already over. Grace exhaled slowly, still not making eye contact with any of us.
“Fine. I’ll go.” She said, and Henn and Gaby immediately squealed with excitement as they hopped on her bed. With a bit of smile that gave me a lot of relief, she added seriously, “But if I start getting upset…I get to leave, all right? And none of you can make me come back.”
“Okay, okay.” Henn said, rolling her eyes. “But trust me…you’ll have a lot of fun. We all will.”
“Let’s get your outfit ready, then!” Gaby exclaimed, digging through Grace’s trunk that was already half-packed, unlike the rest of ours.
Grace groaned. “Do we have to? I mean…it’s tomorrow night.”
“Yes, but we need to get you excited right now!” Gaby said, taking Grace’s arms and pulling her up to her feet as they practiced their dancing while laughing as they stumbled.
We spent the rest of the night visualizing how we were going to do our hair, what jewelry we were going to wear, and who would get first dibs in the shower, since we all took long.
The next day, the rest of the school had already left as I woke up. We had the whole castle to only seventh years, teachers, and to the few younger students who decided to stay behind to watch the ceremony and try to sneak into the Ball.
“How’s Remus?” I asked James as we sat outside on the grounds, where most of the seventh years were, idling away their free time and getting excited about the Ball and the prospect of leaving school. I leaned against James, squeezing his hand slightly as he wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on my head.
“Better.” James said, shrugging. He exhaled slowly. “How about Grace?”
“Better too, I guess.” I said, turning my head and giving him a kiss on the lips. When I pulled away he was smiling, his hair blowing in the slight breeze. The sight made my heart melt as I kissed him again. “I just hope they’ll be all right.” I said finally, resting my back against his chest again.
“They will be.” He said. “You worry too much.”
“Or maybe you worry too little.”
James kissed the side of my cheek. “Maybe.” He murmured. “I love you, by the way.”
I smiled; he had been saying that a lot lately. When I had asked him why he said that he was making up for all that lost time that he had been too afraid to say it. I turned around again, where I saw that he was beaming at me in a completely unashamed, unperturbed way. This comforted me and left me practically wordless. “And I love you.” I said finally, and then we were kissing again, in that summer breeze that just seemed so wonderful—and everything, just everything in that one, single moment, seemed absolutely perfect, for once in my life. I pulled away again. “Do you think we’ll last?”
James smiled, pulling me towards him. “Of course.” He said low in my ear, and everything was perfect again as he swiped all those worries away from me and took my lips with his own.
After much discussion, the order of the baths went like this: Grace, Henn, me, and finally Gaby, who by far, took the longest. As we waited for her to get out of the shower, we dried our hair and combed it, ignoring the mutters of the Love twins who were complaining that they weren’t going to have enough shower time themselves. Well, they should’ve planned ahead, like we did.
My dress was jade with thin straps, which matched almost perfectly with my grandmother’s emerald necklace, which I had already decided that I was going to wear to the Ball. It had a translucent, chiffon layer, which was draped from my waist and fell down to my toes, barely covering my matching shoes.
Gaby did my hair once getting out of the shower (with Cecilia outside, looking disgruntled as Patricia went on ahead), using the charm that we had found in one of our magazines that fixed your hair very nicely. We each did our own make up, and I borrowed Henn’s gold bracelet and dangling gold earrings so that they would match with my necklace. We all looked gorgeous by the time we were all done; Henn was wearing a beautiful scoop necked, scarlet dress and was wearing her hair half up with a little roses pinned; Gaby was showing off her glowing color with a peach colored, sleeveless V-neck; and Grace was looking beautiful and for once was looking healthy and radiant, just like the old Grace, as she wore a halter powdered blue dress with a matching chiffon shawl. We left our dormitory, giggling, as Patricia got out of the shower and Cecilia finally got to use the bathroom, looking very peeved indeed.
James was waiting for me at the foot of the staircase. We beamed at each other, while Henn, Gaby, and Grace left quickly, smiling at us as they climbed out of the portrait hole. I stopped and looked up at him, suddenly a bit shy and conscious of how I looked.
“You look nice.” I said as he stepped closer and gave me a loving kiss.
“You look beyond that.” He said, which might’ve made me laugh if it hadn’t been for the way he was looking at me as he handed me a lily. I smiled, taking his extended arm as we left the portrait hole.
“Oh, look, don’t the Head Boy and Girl look just so perfect?” The Fat Lady called cheerfully as she and her friend, Vi, laughed loudly. We waved as we turned the corner, giggling a bit ourselves as we made our way to the Ball, which was being held in the Great Hall.
All the seventh years were gathered in the entrance hall, using radiant colors and wearing things we weren’t normally allowed to wear. I held onto James’s hand as we reached Sirius, who was accompanied by a Hufflepuff girl that I vaguely remembered being in my Divination class in my fourth year. She was quite pretty and was smiling widely at the prospect of being Sirius Black’s date, although he looked somewhat less enthused.
“Hey.” He said, immediately letting go of her hand and running it through his hair. “Whoa, Evans—you look like a girl.”
James glared. “Shut up, Sirius.”
“Hm, are you getting defensive?” I teased, tugging on his arm and beaming widely. “Don’t worry, I’m already used to Sirius’s pig comments.”
“Just speaking the truth.” Sirius said, shrugging. “Where’s everyone else?”
“Seventh years, line up as you please!” McGonagall announced somewhere near the crowd by the Great Hall doors. “And for Merlin’s sake, be organized!”
The Hufflepuff girl took Sirius’s limp arm and was still beaming widely at us, as if this weren’t awkward or strange at all. I gave Sirius a pointed look, which he did not catch, so I said, “So, Sirius. Who’s your date?”
“Oh.” Sirius said suddenly, looking at her as if he completely forgot there was a girl clinging to his arm. “This is Shelly.”
“I’m Lily.” I said, forcing a smile. James was observing the decorations on the wall, so I nudged him and added, “And this is James.”
“Hi.” James said distractedly, ruffling his hair. I glared at him until he added, “Er—nice to meet you.”
“You too.” Shelly said brightly. “Are you both in Gryffindor or—”
“They’re lining up.” Sirius said abruptly, dragging Shelly as he walked. “C’mon, let’s go.”
“Um, okay—bye!” Shelly called out hopelessly as Sirius made a big deal about straightening her dress right behind Gaby and Grace and giving her a dramatic kiss. Gaby turned around and looked at me, her eyebrows raised. I sighed, turning to James.
“Let’s go?” I said, as he extended his arm.
As we lined up, Henn came behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. “You guys know Aaron, right?”
To say that I was surprised, or shocked, even, was definitely an understatement. When I turned around and saw Henn, who looked beautiful although I assumed that it wasn’t for anyone but herself, my jaw dropped as I was thrown completely off guard. But there he was, Aaron Smith, how could I forget him? He was holding Henn’s hand in forest green dressrobes in his tan and gorgeous glory. He had a big grin on that showed all his shiny, perfect teeth, and looked very happy to be holding Henn’s hand. I noticed that he wasn’t with his usual group, with Zach and all of them. Hm…Zach… It seemed like it was so long ago when I was tied up in that completely different and surreal time when I dated him and was forced to go shopping with the rich girls, Crystal and Natalie.
“Hi Lily.” Aaron said in a way that probably meant he had said it more than once. I blinked. He then nodded to James, and added, “Potter.”
“Hey.” James said, while I bulged my eyes and tried to ask mentally when this had happened to Henn, who beamed.
“So, Lily—I didn’t see you at the last game. You don’t play anymore?”
“Nope. I quit.” I said slowly. “Um…sorry but how—what? When…?”
“She didn’t like practicing every day.” James said, raising his eyebrows at me as he tried to answer the question for me. “And she didn’t like me too much at the time either.” Aaron laughed.
“Can you believe that Hufflepuff won? I thought it would’ve been my team or yours that won the Quidditch Cup…”
While they talked about Quidditch, I pulled Henn aside. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Henn grinned. “He is rather charming, isn’t he?”
“Charming? Henn, he’s the most gorgeous guy in our school.”
“Even more so than James?” Henn asked, raising her eyebrows.
“That’s not the point.” I said hastily. “So? Tell me how this happened.”
“Well…he saw me outside yesterday with Gaby, and when he started towards us I immediately thought that he was going to ask her, you know? So I was already stepping away but then he touched my arm and said that he wanted to talk to me.”
I smiled. “Who would’ve thought?”
“I know! Apparently he said he’s always thought I was nice, you know, when you were dating Zach and we would sometimes sit there with him…but he told me that he’s never done anything about it because that jerk guy who used to stalk me, Ralph, used to like me.”
I laughed. “I remember him. I thought you said you didn’t want a date, though?”
Henn shrugged. “Changed my mind, I guess.”
“Lily, the line’s moving,” James called, and after one last giggle by ourselves, we returned to our dates and followed the line leading into the Great Hall.
My jaw dropped for the second time that night as we entered the Great Hall. It looked spectacular. It was a brilliantly starry night so the ceiling looked wonderful, as always, but instead of the four House tables there were many circular tables with candle-filled lamps and tablecloths with the Hogwarts crest. Behind the Head Table, up ahead, there was a large banner with all four House mascots, and the air was thick with large, luminous lights that with closer inspection were actually fairies, flying above and lightening up the room. There was a dance floor in the middle, and a band already playing as people filled the floor up with their dance partners.
“I like this song,” James said as he put his hand on my waist and I put mine on his shoulder. Nearby Henn was dancing with Aaron, throwing her head back in laughter as he said something in her ear. I smiled and she winked, then I started to dance with James, who apparently, wasn’t too bad at it.
“You’re rather good at this.” I said, raising my eyebrows.
“Well, don’t be so surprised.” James said, grinning.
“How’d you learn?”
“I’ve been preparing myself ever since I’ve heard about this Ball.” James said, looking proud.
I laughed. “What? How?”
“Well…basically books and stuff. They have these moving pictures and they teach you all the right moves—”
“Well, now I feel like an idiot because I didn’t practice at all.”
James grinned. “Just follow my lead then.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You’re getting smug about this, aren’t you?”
“A bit, yeah.” James said, tugging on my hand and twirling me around. I laughed as he spun me back in, moving his feet in a jazzy sort of rhythm, which looked awfully cute. I tried to keep up with him, barely keeping my balance as I followed his moves around the dance floor. The song ended and another one came on, a slower one that made us move closer together, so close that I could feel his sweet-smelling breath of mint mixed with his cologne, a perfect combination that always sent shivers up my spine. I started to stand on my tiptoes, ready to initiate a kiss—
I jerked around as Gaby took a hold of my shoulders and made me face her, leaving James bewildered as our dance was interrupted abruptly. Gaby, however, did not seem to mind this while everyone in our vicinity was dancing with their dates and having a romantic and intimate moment. Gaby was the only person ruining this picture, as she had her arms crossed and was looking very peeved.
“What are you doing here?” I hissed.
“I need to talk to you.”
“I really want to talk to you,” Gaby said exasperatedly. “Do you mind, James?”
James raised an eyebrow. “Do I mind what?”
Gaby sighed loudly. “If you could leave. I really need to talk to Lily.”
“See, she’s actually my date—”
“Fine.” Gaby huffed. “I’ll just borrow her for a while then, hm?”
“Wait—I—” I began to protest, but Gaby was already tugging my arm and steering me away from the dance floor, where James waved goodbye with a confused expression.
Finally, She managed to throw me into the entrance hall, where she faced me scowling.
Great. I knew just by that face that whatever she was about to say would take a while. “What is it?” I asked tiredly.
“It’s Sirius,” Gaby snarled as she slid down the wall. “Grace kept on being rational about it, you know, ‘what’s the matter? He cheated on you, you shouldn’t care, you dumped him, blah blah’—”
“She’s right,” I interrupted, glancing back in the Great Hall where I desperately wanted to return to.
“Will you quit it?” Gaby snapped. “This isn’t what I want to hear right now. I want you to tell me that he’s an arse and that it doesn’t matter that he’s here with a date because she’s as ugly as a goblin.”
I exhaled slowly. “So this is what it’s about? Sirius coming here with a date?”
“I could’ve come with a date too!” Gaby spat, throwing her hands up into the air. “But I didn’t. You know why? Because stupid me thought that maybe, maybe there was a chance that we’d dance at least once—I mean, it’s the last fun thing we’ll be able to do in Hogwarts and I just thought he’d feel…well…the same way.”
I watched as she sighed loudly and pressed her fingers to her temples, looking thoroughly confused. For a moment I forgot about James and sat down next to her, touching her shoulder and squeezing it slightly. “Sorry for being a prat before.” I said softly, but she merely shrugged, shaking her head. “You know what? He’s an arse and it doesn’t matter if he’s here with a date because she’s as ugly as a goblin.”
Gaby snorted, rolling her eyes. I smiled, then said, “In fact, I think she’s even uglier than a goblin.”
“Thanks,” Gaby said, smiling weakly. “But who are we kidding? I mean…it’s Shelly Brown. She’s gorgeous, there’s no denying it.”
“She looks terrible with Sirius, though.”
“I thought so too! I mean…she’s pretty and all, but way too pretty for Sirius, you know?”
This was a little bit of a lie, since Sirius was gorgeous also. I grinned anyway though. “You know who she’d look great with? Aaron Smith.”
“Aaron Smith! Can you believe Henn didn’t tell us?” Gaby giggled. “He is handsome, though.”
“Terribly handsome.” I agreed. “I’m happy for her.”
Gaby furrowed her eyebrows, her smile fading. Perhaps she was thinking of how it was usually her with all the dates and company, and that she should be just as happy as Henn with someone other than Sirius.
“Yes,” Gaby said softly. “Me too.”
After a while of just sitting, talking, and constant reassurances that Shelly Brown really did have a gigantic nose, Gaby finally let me go as she pulled me to my feet and was ready to go back into the Hall again. As we were entering we bumped into Peter, who nearly stumbled to the ground as he tried to regain his balance.
“Peter, what are you—”
“Sorry, no time.” Peter said, straightening himself and looking awfully pale. He pushed past us and called, “I’ll see you later, though!”
I raised my eyebrows at Gaby, who merely shrugged as we reentered the Great Hall. We found James with Remus, Sirius, and Shelly. Gaby said that she rather join Grace dancing and thanked me once again for staying out in the entrance hall with her. She left immediately while I sat down next to James, who looked relieved to see me.
“Thank Merlin, you’re here,” he said in an undertone as he scooted closer. “All Sirius and Shelly have been doing is snogging each other’s mouths off, and Remus over there looks like he’s about to kill himself.”
As I folded my napkin over my lap, I looked discreetly over at the other boys. Indeed, Sirius and Shelly were kissing as if there were no tomorrow, although I think it was more because Gaby was dancing nearby than anything else, and Remus was staring at his goblet as if he seriously considered drowning himself inside of it.
“He just saw Grace dance with another guy,” James said from the corner of his mouth. “Food’s here, Sirius.”
Immediately Sirius broke away from Shelly, who stumbled a bit and looked slightly confused as Sirius stuffed his mouth with the chicken that had just appeared on his plate. I raised my eyebrow at James, who rolled his eyes and poured me some water. “So, how did talking with Gaby go?”
“All right,” I said. “She’s better now. Sorry that I left you.”
James grinned and scooted his chair closer as he touched my wrist. I closed my eyes briefly, feeling the tingles that his mere touch gave me. I opened my eyes and smiled as he said, “It’s okay. I’m just glad that now we can—”
“Oh, I didn’t know the food was ready!”
I looked at James who looked just as peeved as I probably did, and turned around to see that Henn had left the dance floor holding Aaron’s hand. Both of them were slightly pink and grinning; they had obviously danced a lot.
“So, how’s everybody’s night so far?” Henn asked as Aaron moved a chair for her and she sat down. Remus looked at her, scowling. “Oh—” Henn said softly, putting a hand to her mouth. “Um…never mind.”
As Aaron started a conversation about where everyone was going after Hogwarts, James looked at me and whispered in my ear, “Do you want to go somewhere else?”
“Oh, Amos, you are so funny!”
“What the hell—” James started as everyone turned around to see Grace touching a boy’s chest as she giggled loudly at something he just had said. Apparently the boy she had been seen dancing with was Amos Diggory, who looked rather pleased that whatever he had said made Grace laugh so exuberantly.
“Come here, I want to introduce you to my friends.”
As she skipped over, I tried glaring at her to see if she’d quit acting like an idiot, but to no avail. Holding Amos’s hand, she said, “Does everyone here know Amos?”
“Actually, yes—” I began but I was quickly cut off.
“Amos here just told me the funniest joke. Why don’t you tell them, Amos?” I realized that she kept on glancing at Remus, who looked as if he had just smelled something very sour.
“We’re not really in the mood for jokes, Grace.” Remus said coldly.
“Well I want to hear it again,” Grace retorted just as coldly. “It’s that funny.”
Poor Amos was looking confused of what to do.
“Um, I could tell another one, if you’d like.”
Grace smiled and patted his arm. “Whatever you like, sweetie.”
Sweetie? I felt myself blush at her own embarrassment.
“Well, it’s this one about a traveler, a house-elf, and a werewolf—”
Nearly everyone’s fake smiles faded.
Amos apparently didn’t notice. “Well, the traveler is walking through these woods, when this house-elf Apparates and warns him about a werewolf living somewhere near, and the traveler says—”
“Excuse me, I’m going to leave.” Remus said suddenly. He stood up, looking furious. “I’m sure the joke would be very funny, Amos.” He then stalked out of the Great Hall, not for once looking back.
I looked at Grace, who looked stunned. After a minute of total silence, she turned on her heel and went after him, leaving the rest of us shocked and open-mouthed, as she too did not look back.
“What did I say?” Amos asked, looking helpless.
“Well—” Henn started, but paused. She furrowed her eyebrows. “Um—I don’t know, actually.”
Of course she didn’t know. But Sirius, James, and I were all exchanging worrying glances.
“Let’s leave.” I said in an undertone to James.
“Right behind you.” He said quickly, and after taking his hand, I pulled him to his feet and we scurried away, leaving Amos looking rather perplexed.
“Let’s go dance some more, Aaron,” I heard Henn say as she too made a retreat with her date. When she passed by we both simultaneously rolled our eyes.
As another song started to play, I positioned my other hand at James’s shoulder and we started to dance. I looked up and could see that he too was worried.
“What do you think he’s feeling?” I asked quietly, so that no one around us would hear.
“Like dung, probably,” James said, shaking his head.
“He’ll be okay—right?”
James looked at me. “Yeah. Of course.” He said, but I could tell that he felt as if he wasn’t so sure. “But he’s a big boy,” he added as he saw the look on my face. “And she’s a grown-up too. They’ll handle it, so don’t worry.”
“Yeah, because I never worry,” I said, snorting.
James smiled. “Nope. You’re carefree.”
We both laughed. “Shut up,” I said. As the song ended I stood on my tiptoes and gave him a soft kiss, which always made my heart at ease. He wrapped his arms around me, wanting to prolong the kiss, but I pulled away.
James scowled at me. “I like this song,” I explained, smirking a bit.
James moaned and pulled me closer. It was a slow song, so I rested my head on James’s chest and wrapped my arms around his neck, breathing in deeply his scent, which I loved. I felt goose bumps all over my arms and shivered a bit as he pulled me closer.
I looked up to see that he was looking at me too, no longer smiling. We had stopped moving even though the song was still on and he bent down to take my face with his warm hands, kissing me softly and caringly, making me feel that time had stopped and that I never wanted to leave that spot again. We pulled away when we felt a hard nudge between our ribs.
“Sirius!” I hissed when he twirled away from us with his date, giving us a devilish grin. I would’ve slapped him if he hadn’t taken Shelly’s hand and tugged her away with him, slipping out of reach.
After I cursed Sirius inwardly for ruining the moment, James kissed me on the forehead. “You don’t really like this song, do you?” James asked hoarsely, panting as his hands slipped to my neck and rested just behind my hair bun.
“No, not really.” I said quickly, and immediately he took my hand and led me outside to the entrance hall, where we passed the marble staircase and went out onto the grounds. In the distance we saw little specks of color that indicated that other couples were spread out onto the grounds, hoping for some privacy, just like us. A month or so ago I would’ve been disgusted at whatever they were doing in their own secluded areas, but that was before I started dating James. Now, however, I definitely could see why so many people risked detentions by sneaking out of school or arriving late to class with their girlfriends and boyfriends, even if it was only for another hour or minute that they could spend together.
We reached the beech tree, which was thankfully vacant as we hid under the shade and I backed up against the trunk. I extended my hand but James didn’t take it, and instead merely looked at me. His hazel eyes had that special sparkle in them that I liked, which made me smile as he wordlessly stepped forward and kissed me with so much passion that I thought I would melt onto the floor if I didn’t back up further against the tree for support. I encircled my arms around his neck and kissed him back, finally breaking away for breath as we stared at each other, both of us gasping.
“I love you,” James said breathlessly. “And I’ve been dying to kiss you like that all night.”
“No more interruptions,” I said, just as out of breath as he. “And I love you.”
It was strange how three little words could affect anybody so much. It was both comforting and startlingly frightening; perhaps the most frightening thing that someone had ever said to me in my life. What was even more was that I felt the same way.
I reached his face and touched his lips, which were still wet from my own. “A lot more than you know.” I added, which made him smile and lean in again, kissing me lovingly and with such tenderness that made my heart practically burst. There was so much emotion, so much overwhelming feelings in such a simple gesture, but I just never wanted to pull away, never leave him, which just frightened me even more.
He rested a hand behind my neck, his thumb holding onto my jaw as he pulled away for a moment and kissed it, moving his lips slowly down to my neck, where he suckled for a little bit. I sighed and held onto his hands, looking at him as he reached my collarbone, only to move up again and kiss me on the lips. The way he touched me made me feel like a princess, like I was some sort of precious glass that would fall to the ground and break if it weren’t for James holding me.
I couldn’t get enough of him and he couldn’t get enough of me, and because of this I just kept on kissing him and kissing him until my lungs could practically burst—
Finally, after I could no longer breathe solely through my nose, I broke the kiss and touched my lips as James leaned in again. I laughed weakly, since I was gasping as if I had just run a mile. “You’re going to end up killing me if you don’t let me breathe.” I closed my eyes as James kissed my fingers instead, holding them with his own as we tried to catch our breath.
The warm breeze was just so comfortable, and it was wonderful how I felt at ease in James’s arms, so that all worries of my friends and their dilemmas quickly slipped from my head. We inhaled and exhaled slowly, just breathing each other into our systems as I tried to imprint this moment vividly into my mind.
“I could stay like this with you forever,” I said, sighing contently. James held me closer, so close that I could feel his heart beat hard against our chests. We stayed quiet for a moment, listening to the slight breeze shaking the leaves overhead.
“Why don’t we?”
I laughed, although I did not know why. “What?”
“Why don’t we?” James repeated. I opened my eyes and saw that he was backing away, although he did not let go of my hands. I raised an eyebrow, feeling confused.
“I still don’t understand,” I said slowly.
“Lily,” James started, backing away a bit more. “You know that I love you—more than…well, lots of things.”
I raised my eyebrows and he added, “Well, everything.”
“Shh,” James said, putting a finger to his lips. “Just listen.”
Ha! As if he could seriously shut me up just like that. “Don’t ‘shh’—”
“Lily,” James said in that warning voice that he only used if it was really important. “Trust me…you’ll want to hear this.”
Well, that made me shut up.
My first thought was that he wanted to break up with me. It had all the elements in it; ‘you know I love you’ ‘trust me, you’ll want to hear this’—in a bit he was going to tell me that it wasn’t me, but him, and he was going to totally break my heart—
Then I realized I was rambling inside my mind. Because James wasn’t looking at me as if he wanted to break up…no, whatever he was going to say was definitely important. His eyes were still blazing with our passion and love, so that his browns and greens sparkled in the night, and made my heart skip a bit. So after I exhaled slowly a few times, I calmed down and listened to whatever he had to say.
“I have loved you—for…well, as long as I can remember.” James said in such a sincere voice that made me smile softly and touch his face. “So basically—”
He stared at me for a moment, and me at him. I did not fully comprehend what he was saying until he dropped down to one knee.
“Oh my—James.” I said, widening my eyes and touching my chest as my heart started to race. “What are you—”
“Lily, will you marry me?”
I nearly choked on my heart, which undoubtedly was jumping up to my throat. I stared at him, my mouth clearly open as my head pounded and my ears started ringing and any part of my body imaginable started to go off like an alarm clock.
He said what?
“J-James—what are you—I…what?” I stammered and sputtered, still clutching my chest which was feeling unbelievably hot. Actually, my whole body was hot, so that I felt that James’s mere hazel eyes could burn holes through my skin.
“Will you marry me?” James repeated, his voice louder and stronger as he said it for the second time that night. Hell, I didn’t think he’d ever say that in any approximate day or night.
James was getting up to his feet, holding my hands, which I realized I was trying to tug away. “Lily, listen. I know that you’re flipping out right now because I know you, and I know that every time something good happens to you, you question it. But think about it—” I opened and closed my mouth wordlessly, looking like a panic-stricken goldfish. No…a panic-stricken goldfish that had just been proposed to. How could this be happening? What was happening? I don’t even know where to start— “—we are so…so good together. Aren’t we?”
It was my time to talk, but it seemed that my voice had left me long ago. Along with my heart and other essential organs. James seemed to notice this because instead of waiting, he continued to talk.
“I know it sounds crazy. But—I thought this would be just like you wanted. A proposal that was…well—spontaneous and…you know, romantic.”
“Lily—” James said, holding my hands tighter still as I tried to pull away. “Lily…look at me.”
He took his free hand and tilted my chin towards him, and I could see that his eyes were really bright. Mine were probably too, since I felt like crying and breaking down right there and then. “C’mon,” he said softly and in a pleading voice. “I know you love me too.”
This time there was no alternative; I had to talk. We stared at one another for a while, him probably trying to read my mind, which he was grudgingly good at. I opened my mouth, trying to find the words but merely blurting out—
“You’re out of your mind, aren’t you?”
Surprisingly, James did not look offended. He even chuckled a bit. “Out of my mind in love with you, if that’s what you mean.”
“But James—” I said, starting to regain my voice and thoughts again. I looked at him, and my heart started to break inside my chest. “We’re only seventeen—”
“I’ll be eighteen soon,” he said quickly, as if one year even made that much of difference.
“Still. We don’t even have jobs yet! Where would we get the money? And I don’t know about you but I want to get married when my parents are dead—”
James shook his head, laughing softly. “Lily—it’s okay. We don’t have to get married, say, tomorrow—”
“We’re getting married tomorrow?”
James shook his head again. “Just listen to me. I’m just saying…let’s get engaged. I mean, we love each other, and it’s okay if we’re fiancés for a year or so before we can actually get married—”
The words ‘engaged’ and ‘fiancé’ made my heart skip a beat, but I wasn’t entirely sure if that was a good thing. Something strange was going off in my head, and I paused for a moment and wasn’t sure what to do, or to say.
I did love James. More than practically anything, I thought at times. But there were so many things to worry about, and marrying felt so stupid right now—
Although James said that it didn’t have to be tomorrow…
I tried to calm myself and not ‘flip out’ just like James had said. Maybe he was right…maybe I did question good things when they happened to me…
“You mean…if I say—‘yes’—” I started, which made James look at me with a hopeful expression on his face. “We’d be…fiancés?”
James exhaled slowly, looking as if he was trying hard not to get his hopes up. “Yes,”
“And later—even if it’s much later—we’d be…husband and wife? Maybe even mother and father? Grandma and grandpa?” How could these thoughts not scare me?
Although, James’s smile did fade a bit—and he got considerably pale. “Uh, let’s not think too ahead of ourselves, here—”
“Then—I say—um…all right.”
James raised an eyebrow at me, but he beamed. “Okay, let’s do this right then,” he said, and he dropped to one knee again, a hand to his chest. My eyes were incredibly moist, and it looked like his were also as he blinked and we caught our breaths.
“Lily Evans—” he started, and my heart thudded loudly in my chest, back in action again as all my nerves seemed to be alive, as I tried to mentally record this moment, which would change everything—our entire futures. “Will you, the love of my life—marry me, James Potter?”
We were breathing rapidly again, and my ears were ringing from the heat that was filling my body, but in a frighteningly good way.
“Yes,” I said finally, and James blinked, almost as if he wasn’t sure if I’d go through with it. “Yes.” I repeated. “Yes, yes, yes!”
James beamed and got to his feet again, picking me up from the ground and twirling me around rather fast, so that I bumped my head on one of the beech’s branches and got a terrible headache.
“Ah, sorry—” James said, putting me to the ground again. We were both beaming widely and both our eyes were terribly bright, and I could hold it no longer as the tears came rushing down. “Merlin, you’re going to be Mrs. Potter.”
I looked at him, crying and laughing at the same time as he gave me a kiss that held all those emotions inside that we didn’t have to be afraid of anymore. “I’m going to be Lily Potter,” I repeated, but I was crying hysterically as I said it.
“Lily Evans Potter.” He reminded me, although I think he too was trying not to cry.
“Screw the Evans, I just want the Potter!” I exclaimed, and we both laughed as he twirled me again, trying not to bump my head as he held onto me tightly, and me to him.
“Fine by me,” James said, this time softly. “As long as we’re engaged—right?”
I looked at him, smiling and wiping away my tears. “Right.” I said.
I already knew what he was going to say next, although the part after that, not so much. “I love you,” he said. “Mrs. Potter.”
“And me you,” I said, grinning. “Mr. Potter.”
“We’re going to be the Potters,” he said, as if didn’t quite believe it.
I laughed. “Yeah…I know.”
“You want to be a Potter, right?” James asked, looking uncertain.
“I said yes, didn’t I?”
“Yeah,” James said, chuckling. “I guess you did.”
“We can only get married once we have jobs, though.” I said seriously as he leaned into kiss me. “I’m not backing down on that one.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” He said, brushing a tear away from my eyes. “You look beautiful,”
“Thanks.” I said, smiling.
“No need to,” James said.
He leaned in and captured my lips, giving them all that care and attention that I needed, as we backed up against the trunk again and savored the moment.
The moment that everything changed—but in a wonderfully, frighteningly, terribly good way.
That's the first time I've written a scene with a proposal, so tell me if it's good or not! Try rating it, 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest, okay? Thanks, guys!
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