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Chapter 45 : Chapter Forty Five
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Anyway, I hope you like this. I was very inspired to write because whoo-hoo! Lots and lots of dialogue. I believe I said that this chapter was going to have the graudation ceremony--although seeing as how I found a good point to end the chapter, I guess the ceremony is going to be in the next one. And of course, there's lots of drama. Of course, there are more problems heading their way towards Lily and James...
I think that's pretty much it--enjoy!
I was surprised to find out later that evening that I was the last one to arrive in our dormitory. I opened the door with a rather loud creak, to find that all of my dorm mates were already tucked into their own beds, their four-poster curtains closed around them. Even the Love sisters, who usually came back way past midnight, were already sleeping; I could hear Cecilia’s snores.
Not wanting to bother anyone, I slipped off my high heels, which was good because they were killing me from such prolonged use, and tiptoed to my bed, which was the only one that didn’t have its curtains shut around it. I set my shoes in my open trunk and started to undress, as quietly as possible.
I yawned and closed my eyes for a moment, stretching my arms. When I opened them I was shocked to see that it was starting to get slightly lighter outside.
What time is it? I looked around for my alarm clock, slapping a hand over my mouth. Five o’ clock??
How long had I been out? I looked back at the window, seeing that the horizon was already starting to turn greenish-yellow, as the sun was ready to come out. I must’ve lost track of time as I spent it with James.
I smiled and momentarily forgot about my shock of the hour. It had been a wonderful night. After James proposed (I still couldn’t believe it…he actually proposed), we decided to skip the rest of the Ball (we had danced enough anyway), and sneaked into the kitchens, where we got some food and went up to the Room of Requirement, where we sat in a plain room with a sofa and a blanket, and stayed up the rest of the night talking and getting excited about our wedding.
I was still getting used to the mere word. Wedding! I was actually getting married.
It seemed almost like a dream, and it passed by so quickly. I had no idea it was so late.
I jumped as I heard movement behind me. Someone was stirring within their bed, sliding the four-poster curtain to the side as their face came into view.
“Lily?” Henn asked groggily, rubbing her eyes as she checked the time. “Why are you up so—” She paused, looking over my state; I was still in my dressrobes and my hair was falling out of the intricate bun that Gaby had taken half an hour to get just right. She widened her eyes. “Did you just come in now?”
I blushed, turning about and getting my pajamas out of my chest. “Well—yes, I guess I did.”
Henn jumped from her bed, hopping over to mine. She was wearing her pajamas but her makeup was still on—although heavily smeared. Her hair was out of the French twist she had it in and was now in two pigtails, and even though she looked like she was tired a moment before, her eyes were gleaming mischievously as she said, “Don’t pretend that nothing happened! I mean, this is you we’re talking about, and you’ve never come in later than eleven o’ clock…”
“That’s not true!” I said indignantly as I pulled my dress over my head and slipped in my nightgown. “And will you keep it down? I don’t want to wake anyone else up—”
“Lily? Is that you?” we heard Gaby ask from her closed four-poster. “Will you keep it down? I’m trying to sleep—”
“Lily spent the whole night out!” Henn said in a rush, which made Gaby immediately spring from her bed, push aside the curtains, and look at me wildly.
“You what? Merlin, you just came in, didn’t you?” she asked, her face cracking into a devilish grin as she too joined Henn on my bed. “Oh my gosh, you were with James!”
“Gaby!” I hissed. “Be quiet, you’re going to—”
“Who is that?”
“Grace!” Gaby squealed, rushing to her four-poster and wrenching open the curtains. “Lily spent the night with James!”
“I did not!” I protested. “We just—”
Gaby gasped. “Oh my gosh, you slept with him, didn’t you?”
“Gaby!” I practically screamed. “Will you just shut up before anyone else—”
I couldn’t even finish my sentence before it was too late. Simultaneously, the Love twins rose from their beds, asking what the hell was going on.
“Shut up, all of you!”
“Lily, why are you screaming?”
Cecilia, who looked snobbish even when she just woke up, stood from her bed and leaned against her bedpost, raising an eyebrow as she looked at my dismantled hair and my shoes that I was still holding. “My gosh, did you just come in?”
Patricia widened her eyes. “Really? But it’s five o’ clock!”
“Trust me, we were all surprised.” Henn said.
I groaned, pressing my forehead against my hands. Even though I didn’t mind Patricia as much, I knew that the Love sisters had the biggest mouths in the school. They’d surely spread something ridiculous by morning if I didn’t repair the damage my friends had caused.
“Lily, were you really with James?” Grace asked, looking curious.
“Yes!” Gaby said, looking more ecstatic than was appropriate at five o’ clock in the morning. It was as if she hadn’t just been violently woken up by Henn’s loud voice. “So—Lily. Tell us! Was it romantic? Was he gentle? Did it—”
“I still can’t believe you’re the one who’s coming back the latest—”
That was it. I had enough.
“Will everyone please shut up for just a second?” I yelled, which made everyone immediately fall silent and look at me. My face was probably as red as a tomato, and I felt slightly queasy at the stomach at the prospect of what people might be saying to me the next day. “Finally! All right, I’m really tired right now, and I just want to sleep, but I will talk to my friends.” I turned and looked meaningfully at Patricia, who seemed to be disappointed, and Cecilia, who looked absolutely furious that she couldn’t hear this particularly juicy piece of gossip. “I’m sorry, but I’m really tired,” I repeated. “And don’t you dare spread anything that’s not true, Cecilia!”
Cecilia pretended to look shocked. “Me? Why would I want to spread something that’s not true?” she asked innocently. I gave her a scathing look.
“Fine, we’ll go back to bed.” Patricia said. Cecilia opened her mouth in protest and Patricia gave her a pointed look. “C’mon, Cecilia…we don’t need to hear any of this.”
It took a bit of shoving and hissing, but finally (although reluctantly), Cecilia returned to her bed and Patricia to hers. They closed the blinds and left them in silence, where Henn, Gaby, and Grace were all looking at me expectantly.
I sighed. “All right, get in here.” I said, and after everyone hopped onto my bed and I closed the curtains, I cast a Silencing Spell. I was sure Cecilia was pretending to sleep but was actually eavesdropping on what I was going to say.
“I can’t believe you actually slept with him,” Gaby said immediately, while Henn and Grace looked at me shockingly. “I mean, I know you love him, but—”
“Gaby, for Merlin’s sake,” I said, trying to calm myself down as I pressed my fingers to my temples. “Please shut up.”
Gaby wasn’t going to give up that easily. “But you have to tell us—”
“I will!” I snapped. “Now…just be quiet. All of you. I have something important to say.”
It was either the word “important” or my tone of voice that shut everyone up. My three friends all leaned in, their eyes gleaming curiously as they waited on bated breath for what I was about to say. I stared at all of them.
“You can breathe, you know,” I said.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake just tell us!” Grace said, completely losing it.
I stared at her. “Um—all right.” I said, exhaling slowly. “Well—the thing is…James…proposed.”
It took at least a minute for everyone to fully register what I had just said. My grin faded and I looked at Henn, who looked dumbstruck, to Gaby, who looked as if she wasn’t quite sure she heard me right, to Grace, who looked skeptical.
Henn was the first to break the silence. “He what?”
“He proposed?” Grace asked, her mouth gaping.
“Oh—my—god.” Gaby said slowly. “And what did you say?”
Somehow their reactions weren’t very gratifying. “I said…yes.” I said uncertainly. I was about to defend myself and explain why I did say yes, but was abruptly cut off. Simultaneously, everyone started shrieking and crying, hugging me tightly as everyone spoke at once.
“He proposed! He proposed!” Henn cried, practically strangling me as she wrapped her arms around my neck.
“And she said yes!” Gaby screamed.
Even Grace was for once not being rational, and absolutely ecstatic. “Oh my—our friend’s getting married!”
“Oh my gosh—married!”
I felt a sudden relief seep into my stomach. “So, you guys approve?”
“Of course we do!” Gaby said, as if it were the stupidest question in the world.
Suddenly all the rushing feelings of ecstasy and excitement were all too overwhelming and I started to cry. This caused everyone to start crying for me too, as we all held onto each other and laughed at the same time.
“I can’t b-believe this,” Henn said, half-crying and half-laughing. “You’re going to get married!’
“You guys didn’t know?” I asked, as Gaby wiped my tears away from my face and handed me her handkerchief.
“No!” Grace burst out. “We had no idea!”
“Damn Potter—he didn’t tell us, your best friends?” Henn said, although she hardly looked mad about it. “Usually they plan things like this…”
“I think it was really spontaneous,” I said, drying my eyes a bit. “I mean—he just did it out of no where.”
“Wait a minute!” Gaby exclaimed. “We’re forgetting about one of the most important things!”
I looked at her curiously as Henn and Grace started to get excited too. “What?” I asked.
“The ring!” Henn cried. “Let us see it!”
“What?” I repeated, looking confused. “He didn’t get me one.”
Henn, Gaby, and Grace’s smiles faltered a little. “What do you mean?” Gaby asked.
“He didn’t get me a ring,” I said slowly. Suddenly the full realization of that hit me…why didn’t he give me a ring? “Why—why didn’t he?”
Instantly the whole mood changed. All three of my friends looked skeptical and slightly disappointed—although I was only thinking of a ring now and couldn’t really notice.
“I can’t believe this—you’re not getting a ring?” Gaby said, as if it were the most ridiculous and unheard of thing in the world.
“Calm down—she doesn’t need one,” Grace said slowly, while Henn and Gaby rounded on her.
“Of course she does!”
“It’s the essence of the proposal!”
Grace looked at them, bewildered. “But they love each other, and isn’t that all that counts?”
“No!” Gaby cried suddenly, which made everyone look at her. “Er—I mean…yeah, I guess.”
Henn snorted. “So—what are you going to do, Lily?”
I looked at their curious (and in Gaby’s case, incredulous) faces and thought about it for a moment.
“Well—I do love him. A lot. More than I thought I ever would love a guy—” Henn, Gaby, and Grace grinned widely at this. “But…why didn’t I get a ring?”
“Exactly!” Gaby said. “That’s all I’m saying.”
Grace rolled her eyes. “All right…why don’t you ask James about it then?”
“Let’s go now, then, shall we?” Henn said, wrenching open the curtains.
“Now?” I asked, grimacing. “I kind of want to sleep—”
“Lily,” Gaby said, raising an eyebrow. “It’s six o’ clock.” She pointed at the alarm clock, which indeed, showed that it was six o’ clock, and then at the window, where the sun was already up past the horizon and sunlight was streaming into our dormitory.
I groaned. “Are you kidding me?”
“No.” Henn said, tugging on my hands and pulling me out of bed. “This is your fault that you came in so late.”
“Or early, depending on you think of it,” Grace added.
“Now, let’s go brush our teeth, get ready—and you, Lily, have to look great for your fiancée.” Henn beamed as she stressed the word.
I was pushed into the bathroom upon protest. “I just want to sleep,” I moaned, but no one was listening to me as they shushed and ordered me to get ready.
“Can you believe this is our last day at Hogwarts?” Gaby said as she walked into the bathroom also, taking her toothbrush and spraying it with water.
The thought of the wedding and the absence of a ring finally flew out of my mind as I nearly let my toothbrush fall out of my mouth and I gaped at her. Of course, I had known that today was our last day—yesterday was our Graduation Ball, after all—but I suppose with all that had happened last night I had simply forgot about it. A feeling of dread seeped into my stomach as I continued to look at myself in the mirror, where my makeup was smeared and my hair was still the way Gaby had left it last night.
“I know what you mean,” Henn said quietly, reading my expression. “I’m going to miss this place.”
“We still have time, though,” Gaby said as she spat into the sink and washed her mouth. “I mean—the ceremony is only at dusk.”
“But our parents arrive sometime near noon.” Grace added.
I spat into the sink and remained silent. Everyone’s parents were coming to visit—to see the famous school of Hogwarts and spend a lovely day with their children. I, however, was to spend it alone, seeing as how I didn’t invite my parents to my Graduation. Not that any of them would come—seeing as my father was probably too busy with Carrie and my mother didn’t even know I was a witch. And I wasn’t planning to tell her anytime soon.
“Goodness, Lily, your hair is a mess,” Gaby said.
I jerked out of my thoughts and laughed weakly at her expression of incredulity as she immediately started to work on taking the knots out with a comb.
“Yeah, I didn’t have time to take it out.”
“So tell us—” Grace said as she washed her face. “Was it terribly romantic?”
It was nice to see that Grace was getting so excited for me—it was wonderful that Remus was temporarily out of her mind and not draining her, as usual. I grinned widely as I sat on the edge of the bathtub where Gaby was attacking my hair with Sleakeazy’s Hair Potion.
“The most romantic moment of my life,” I said. Henn and Gaby simultaneously sighed.
“We’re going to be the bridesmaids, right?” Gaby said as she forcefully wrenched the comb through a particularly difficult knot. I grimaced.
“Not if you keep trying to pull my hair out of my scalp.”
I could see Gaby smile through the mirror. “Really? We’re going to be your bridesmaids?”
“Who’s going to be the maid of honor?” Henn asked, trying to look casual about it but exchanging competitive glances with Gaby and Grace.
“We don’t have to worry about that yet—we’re not getting married right away, anyway.”
“Why not?” Gaby asked as she got up from the bathtub and handed me a clip to put on the side of my hair. “If it were me I’d want to get married the very next day.”
“Tell me, Gaby,” Grace said, smirking. “How many times have you been proposed to?”
Gaby rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, don’t remind me.”
I stopped laughing as we walked out of the bathroom and my stomach sank to the floor. Cecilia was already up and about—dressed and all. She was leaning against her bedpost, where she was wearing a very evil smile.
“You four really need to learn to keep your voices down,” Cecilia said, smirking and raising an eyebrow. I grimaced.
“Cecilia, how much did you hear?”
“More than enough,” Cecilia said, looking at her fingernails. “So—you must’ve really slept with him then if he proposed.”
“If that were true, you’d have gotten at least a hundred proposals by now,” Grace retorted uncharacteristically, which made Henn and Gaby laugh.
Cecilia easily ignored this. “I can’t believe Lily Evans is going to be the first to get married in our year. And to James Potter.” She scrunched her nose up in fake disgust.
“Didn’t you date James Potter?” Henn said in an equally evil voice. “So shut your pie hole, Cecilia.”
“Ignore her, Lily,” Gaby said, opening my trunk. “Besides, I have the perfect outfit for you to wear.” She said, as if that had anything to do with it.
I didn’t even bother to argue with Gaby, especially when I had the girl of all evil standing in front of me.
“Listen, Cecilia,” I said, standing up straighter so that I could look as tall as her. “Not that it’s none of your business that I’m getting married or not, but this is my secret and you have no right to spread it around. Got it?”
“Me? Spread things around?” Cecilia said; using that same innocent look she had on when I had just crept into our dormitory. “Of course not,” she said, smiling. “Have a good day, girls.” She waved and then walked into our bathroom, where she shut the door but not before she grinned widely.
“I hate her,” Grace said simply.
“I think everyone does,” Gaby said, sighing. “Are you okay, Lily? Here’s your outfit, by the way.”
I took the clothes without complaint as we all started to dress. “I guess,” I said. “It’s that…it’s not that I don’t want people to know, it’s that I want to be the one to tell them. You know, with James.”
“We’ll take care of Cecilia later.” Gaby said as I pulled the tank top she had picked for me over my head and put on some shorts. “Let’s go see your fiancée first, though.”
I rolled my eyes. “You can still call him my boyfriend, you know. Or by his name.”
“No, we can’t!” Henn exclaimed exuberantly. “Not now. I mean, everything has changed.”
“Stop, you’re going to freak her out,” Grace said, giving Henn a warning look.
“Well, it has! Nothing, and I mean nothing is the same now—”
“Tell me, Henn, how many times have you been proposed to?” Gaby asked, using Grace’s exact words. They both laughed.
“Let’s not talk about change?” I asked, holding a hand to my stomach. “It’s making me feel nauseous.”
“Of course,” Grace said as she opened the door. “Everyone ready to go?”
“Yes,” Henn said, frowning. “If I see Cecilia Love one more time this morning I just might punch her.”
“Maybe we should stick around, then,” Gaby said, giggling.
We climbed down the spiral steps to find that the common room was completely empty; most Gryffindors were asleep, tucked into their comfortable beds, where I longed to be. I yawned loudly, stretching my arms.
“It’s empty without all the younger ones,” Henn said, as we all looked around.
“And without all the people who are asleep—which is nearly everyone, I might add.” I said, as I yawned again.
“Oh, quit whining. Let’s go wake up your honey.” Gaby said, opening the door to the boys’ dormitory with ease as she started to go up the steps.
“Looks like you know your way around here,” Grace said with raised eyebrows as we all followed her.
“I used to date Sirius Black, remember?”
We had reached the door where the boys slept, with the lopsided sign that read: Seventh Year Boys. I pushed open the door where Henn and Grace made sounds with equal disgust; they had never seen their messy dorm before. Whilst all the girls in our dormitory were already packed and ready to leave, the boys clearly needed more time to do just that. Clothes, wands, books, were scattered everywhere. I pointed to a potion set where there was underwear hanging on the vials, and all four of us stifled our giggles.
“Which one is his bed?” Grace asked over the various snores coming from different parts of the room. “Wait—why is that bed empty?”
She pointed to the one on the nearest right, where the comforter was tucked in and the pillow nice and fluffed from houselves’ work.
“Well, if that one’s James’s, and that one is Remus’s—Sirius’s…than its Peter’s, I suppose.”
“Peter’s up this early?” Gaby asked, raising her eyebrows.
Henn shook her head. “No—unless Peter is far more organized and clean than he lets on—the house elves’ cleaned up last night, before we all went to bed. He didn’t even come up last night.”
“Looks like someone else was on a night extravaganza,” Gaby sniggered.
“Are you sure? This is Peter Pettigrew.” Grace said, giving her a meaningful look.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Lily, go wake James up and ask him about the ring.” Henn paused, sniffing the air. “What’s that smell?”
“It is a boys’ dormitory,” I reminded her, and Henn scrunched her nose up in disgust.
“Maybe we should wait downstairs,” Grace said. I saw her glance at Remus’s bed, where the curtains were only half-shut and we could see a little of his sleeping form. Everyone understood immediately.
“All right, we’ll wait downstairs—if you take too long we’ll see you at breakfast. I heard since it’s the last one, it’s going to be magnificent.” Henn said, licking her lips and rubbing her hands together. “See you in a bit, then?”
“All right,” I said, and the three of them crept quietly out, shutting the door behind them.
I stood in the doorway for a while, contemplating. Should I really be waking him up for such a silly question? Should I really care if I didn’t have a ring? It didn’t matter to me—not really, anyway. I walked to his four-poster and slid it to the side, James’s sleeping face coming into view. He looked very goofy; his hair was even untidier than usual, his glasses were lopsided on his face (he probably was too lazy to take them off), and every other minute he’d smile about something, snuggling closer to the pillow as he breathed slowly.
I held my giggle and sat on his bed, readying myself for what I had to do. Be casual, not cruel, I told myself. I didn’t want to sound as if a ring meant everything to me and I was over-materialistic. I really wasn’t. It just would be—well, nice, if I did have one.
I exhaled slowly and put a hand on James’s shoulder, jerking him a bit. He continued to sleep.
I jerked him a bit harder, and still, nothing. “James,” I whispered. “James, wake up.”
James merely turned on his back and opened his mouth to let out a snore. I rolled my eyes and took both of his shoulders, shaking him. “C’mon—wake up,” I coaxed.
I pinched him on the arm, although this just made him smile a bit, and to my fascination, he uttered, “Lily,”
I raised an eyebrow. “Are you awake?”
James smiled again and turned closer to me. “Hm…Lily.” He said, and then started to snore again.
What was wrong with this guy? I didn’t dare to think what would happen if we were attacked and James was sleeping. No one would be able to wake him, even if the house was on fire.
After trying to tickle him (to no avail), I decided I would have to rely on my last resort, water. I was about to jump off the bed when James grabbed my wrist. I tried pulling away and his grip merely tightened as he brought me back closer. “Lily,” he said again, and then another snore.
“James, let go of me,” I said, starting to get annoyed. “James, let go.”
I was making quite a bit of noise with my voice; my constant failed escapes, and with my squeals of protest as James didn’t let me go. Any of this would’ve awakened my friends in our dorm in an instant, but apparently all the boys in this dorm were very heavy sleepers.
Suddenly, I had thought of an idea. I leaned forward and placed a big, wet kiss on James’s lips and immediately his eyes opened as he nearly fell off of his bed.
“Lily? What are you—” He looked at my arm, which he was still holding and let go of it immediately, blushing. “Er—you didn’t, hear anything, did you?”
“Yes, you kept on saying my name—I actually thought you were awake.” I said, straightening up and rubbing my arm, which James had hurt a bit when he was holding it. “Good thing you are—did you know you are the heaviest sleeper ever?”
“That’s what my mum always says,” James said sheepishly, blushing a bit. “What time is it?”
“Seven o’ clock.” I said, laughing at his expression. “Well—consider sleeping two hours a luxury—I didn’t sleep at all.”
James grinned. “Last night was pretty nice, right?”
I blushed slightly. “Yes. But you didn’t tell me it was five o’ clock when we got back.”
“I thought you knew.” James said, shrugging. “I’ve never been that late out with a girl, did you know that?”
“I’ve never been that late out, period.” I said, smiling as I scooted closer to him and ruffled his hair playfully. “Good morning, by the way.” I bent down and kissed him for a moment, then pulled back.
“Mm, good morning.” James said, yawning. “Your breath tastes like mint.”
“And yours doesn’t, so go brush your teeth.” I said, pushing him a bit. James groaned.
“Fine, I’m going.” James sat up straight, heaving his body off of the bed. He was almost at the bathroom door when he turned around, grinning at me as he ruffled his already messy hair. “We’re getting married.”
I beamed. “Yes, we are.”
He smiled at me for a moment, and then retreated to the bathroom, closing the door. My own smile faded a bit as I remembered why I had come to his dorm in the first place. I leaned against the headboard, listening to the steady breathing and snoring coming from all corners of the room. I looked at my hand, where it was completely bare. My ring finger stood out particularly as I folded my hands again and waited.
It really was no big deal. All I had to do was ask James—casually, of course—if we could get a ring. It didn’t have to be enormous; it didn’t even need a diamond. A band would be fine—I just wanted something to show for our engagement—I wasn’t being selfish, or petty—right?
James had come out of the bathroom, his breath smelling like fresh mint and his hair brushed (well, as brushed as it could be). I grinned and outstretched my arms as he came to sit on his bed and kiss me—properly and thoroughly this time. All thoughts of rings slipped out of my head.
James pulled away and rested his forehead against mine. “I dreamed about you last night.”
I grinned. “You mean this morning?”
“Mm-hmm.” James murmured, kissing me again. “Was I really saying your name?”
“Yes.” I said, ruffling James’s hair.
“Hey, I just brushed that.”
I laughed. “Like it makes any difference.”
“So—” James said, pulling me closer and closing the curtains around us with a flick of his wand, which he had already placed in his pocket. “Why do I deserve your presence this morning?”
I smiled. “Well—you did propose last night—so I guess I thought you deserved an early morning’s kiss.”
James raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really? I think I deserve a bit more than that—”
I giggled as he came closer and bent his head, taking my lips with his, eliminating all thoughts from my head, including the ring. It started out slow, at first, as it usually did, and then quietly we sunk down onto his bed as I wrapped my arms around his neck and brought him closer to me. James pulled away and carefully started to kiss my jaw line, moving down to my neck where he suckled a bit. I couldn’t help but moan just a little as I felt his cool lips against my skin, which seemed to be on fire, like always, as he touched me.
I closed my eyes as he brought me into a closer embrace and started to kiss me again, warming my entire body with his own on top. I closed my eyes and enjoyed that hazy sensation that I only got from him—and probably would never feel for any other man for the rest of my life. But that was okay with me.
James pulled away suddenly and rolled to the side, cradling me on his outstretched arm and leaving me bewildered. “I can’t believe we’re getting married.”
“I can’t either.” I said, reaching for him and wanting to kiss him again. James grinned and gave me a quick peck, then sat up on the bed, stretching his arms.
“I know you want something, love,” James said, raising his eyebrow. “You avoid my room at all costs, remember? It has to be something important.”
What did I want to talk to him about, again?
I rolled my eyes. “Or maybe—” I said, sitting up also and coming closer to his body as I wrapped my arms around his waist, looking up. “I just wanted to kiss you.” I gave him a mischievous smile, one I knew was hard to resist in his case. It was usually he who took the initiative to our snogging, and when I was the one who wanted to start something it was a rare and precious thing, because I didn’t do it often. But I couldn’t help it this time—James had kissed me so lovingly and not nearly long enough—and I wanted to continue it for a while.
James gulped. “Lily…”
“Yes?” I asked, straddling myself on his lap as his hands came to rest on my hips.
James looked up at me. “You know that if we start kissing again, we probably won’t get to whatever it is that you wanted to tell me.”
“Who said I wanted to tell you something?” I asked, fluttering my eyelashes and laughing a bit at my own provocative state. James grinned.
“You kill me,” he said, and once again we were kissing and sinking back onto the bed, where his hands moved to my stomach, his cool and long fingers caressing it. I grinned against his lips and brought him closer, wrapping my arms around his neck again where I played with his hair and closed my eyes—
“Prongs, I was just—what the hell?”
I opened my eyes abruptly and jumped, hitting my head on James’s headboard as we both sat up quickly and looked up. Sirius was standing in front of us, his hand on the curtain as he wrenched it open. He had obviously just woken up, and his utterly shocked face was slowly turning to one of enormous amusement.
“And good morning to you, Evans.” Sirius said, grinning widely.
“Sirius, what are you doing up so early?” James growled as I tugged my shirt down, which had somehow risen up and patted down my tangled hair.
“Me?” Sirius asked, snorting in disbelief. “I think the question is—what are you doing? Or better yet—the two of you.” He looked at me and raised his eyebrows suggestively, as I gaped in horror.
“That was not what we were doing!”
“Sure—then why did you—” Sirius coughed, trying for a good word to describe whatever we were doing inside his head. “—sleep over here last night?”
James looked at me, then at Sirius, furious. “She didn’t.”
“I swear, you and Gaby think exactly the same,” I muttered.
“Nothing.” I said scathingly, crossing my arms.
“You really didn’t sleep here?” Sirius asked, looking confused as he scratched his head. “I could’ve sworn—”
“What?” James asked, as Sirius stopped abruptly. He had a dawning look on his face, as if he were just putting two and two together, then—
“Merlin, it can’t be—”
“What?” James repeated, glancing at me, but I was feeling just as confused.
“If it’s not you—”
“What?” I asked, but Sirius was looking around the room, where all the beds were neatly folded and organized, except for his and James’s.
“Did Pete come in last night?” Sirius asked, looking bewildered.
James looked past Sirius. “I guess not…”
“Maybe he did and already left.” I suggested.
Sirius gave a bark of laughter. “Yeah, right. None of us ever do our beds except for perfect Remy over there—but Remus is an early riser…I’m not surprised he’s gone…”
“He was here when I came up.” I said. “Funny—I didn’t hear him wake up—”
“Peter probably never came here last night.” James said, raising his eyebrows as both he and Sirius ignored what I had said. “The bed is made for him by the houselves’ work the night before.”
Sirius and James exchanged equally incredulous looks. “What was he doing, then?”
“Maybe he was out,” I suggested, just like Gaby had.
Sirius and James raised their eyebrows at me. “It’s Peter,” James said, as if I didn’t know.
I rolled my eyes. “Just thought I’d suggest—I mean, I came in really late last night and no girl in my dorm would ever have thought—”
“Oh, really?” Sirius asked, instantly amused. “What time did you come in?”
I looked at James, who looked equally sheepish.
“Ah—I get it.” Sirius said, grinning evilly. “The Head Boy and Girl were doing a little—”
“Please don’t finish that sentence.” I warned him.
Sirius snickered. “All right. So what were you guys doing?”
James and I exchanged looks, grinning. Sirius was looking confused as he looked from one face to the other. “What?” he asked.
“You tell him,” I said, smiling. “He’s your best friend.”
“True.” James said, shrugging. “Sirius, you better sit down.”
Sirius didn’t sit down. In fact, as he widened his eyes and gaped, he was looking less amused and more panicked. “Merlin, Lily’s pregnant, isn’t she?”
“What?” I spat.
“No, of course not!”
“We have to have sex first—”
“Lily, Sirius doesn’t need to know that!”
“I’m just saying—”
“All right. I’m just going to say it.” James said, standing up. “We’re getting married.”
It took a while for Sirius to process this, as if he couldn’t quite believe it. Slowly his eyes bulged, as he pointed and gestured wordlessly to James and I. “You mean—”
“Yes!” I said, standing up and ready to hug him. I was shocked to see that Sirius jumped away from me, and that far from looking happy, he looked horrified.
I looked at James, who was looking at Sirius with utter bewilderment. “Mate, we’re—”
“I heard you,” Sirius said slowly as he frowned. “What I mean to ask is—are you insane?”
I was hardly aware that my mouth had dropped to the floor as I stared at him. “Sirius,” I said calmly, as if there had to be some sort of misunderstanding. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, that you two need to think about this. We’re graduating today, that doesn’t mean you have to go crazy and get married too!”
James was looking just as shocked as I did. “We did think about, Padfoot,” James said. “We’re not getting married right away—”
“Like that even matters! You’re getting married, aren’t you?” Sirius spat out the word ‘married’, as if it were something that was contaminating his mouth. “And what about us? Weren’t we going to live in a flat together? What, does she have to come now?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had always thought that Sirius was all for my relationship with James, that he was extremely supportive and happy for us. I had thought he would’ve been ecstatic to hear that we were getting married, like my friends had been for me. I stared at him, but he wasn’t looking at me.
“I don’t have to—” I said, even though last night that had been what we had discussed. “I can get my own flat—”
“No.” James said firmly, giving me a hard look. “You don’t have to do anything.” He then turned to Sirius. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you? Just because you’re legally an adult doesn’t mean you have to start doing stupid things.”
“This isn’t stupid.” James said, starting to show signs of anger. “Lily and I love each other. There is no reason we shouldn’t get married. And if you aren’t going to be supportive—”
“What?” Sirius said, frowning as he stuck out his jaw, daring James to finish that sentence.
“Well, maybe I should be the one leaving the flat, and you can pay for the rent by yourself with your sorry arse!”
“James,” I said, panicked. “You don’t—”
James looked at me and I immediately fell silent.
Sirius was no longer narrowing his eyes or looking angry. He looked as if something had just hit him in the face. “Are you saying—you’re moving out?”
“It’s hard to move out when I haven’t even moved in,” James said coolly.
There was a pause. “Fine.” Sirius said finally, turning away and grabbing the robe on his bed and striding out of the room.
“Fine.” James said, going after him as Sirius slammed the door behind him. James opened it, yelling out, “Oh, and by the way, you were going to be my best man!”
Sirius yelled something back very offensively, which made James slam the door so hard that I thought it would break, but it didn’t as he came to sit next to me, fuming.
I didn’t say anything for a while, and neither did he. When he finally did talk, he was still as angry as he had been before. He started to curse Sirius every single vulgar word I had ever known, with a few new ones that I think he made up especially for that occasion.
“I know,” I said, touching his shoulder when he had stopped ranting. “I didn’t think he’d act that way.”
James merely swore some more, hitting his lamp in the process. I sighed, taking my wand out of my pocket and reversing it so that it was back to it’s unbroken, original state, then scooted closer to James, kissing him softly on his cheek.
“He’ll come around.” I said softly. “You two have never been mad at each other for long.”
“That’s because we’ve never been mad at each other.” James sighed. “And he thinks I’m violating the ‘pact.’”
I raised my eyebrow. “What pact?”
James exhaled slowly. “When Sirius and I were in our third year, he liked this girl named Abby, or Annie—I don’t know, she was a year older than us and was in Ravenclaw. By then I already liked you—but since Sirius wanted this girl as part of his dating collection,” (I sniggered but quickly shut up at the look on James’s face) “I got competitive with him…and when Sirius got the girl, I got sulky and that’s when we made the pact.”
I still looked confused. “The pact says that we won’t ever let a girl get in between us again.” James said. “And we haven’t broken it ever since—until now, I guess.”
I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t help but feel terrible that I was getting in the way of everything that he and Sirius had planned ever since their O.W.L.s, when they were starting to decide which careers to take and where to live. I merely held James’s hand as he groaned and pressed his fingers against his temples.
“You’re different, though.” James said, looking at me. “I thought Sirius would understand—I mean, I love you.”
I smiled. “And I love you. And Sirius loves you too. So, trust me—he’ll understand it in time.”
“I hope so,” James said exasperatedly.
“He will.” I assured him.
James merely shook his head, falling silent again. I sat next to him and caressed his back, trying to soothe him so that he’d forget about what Sirius had said—although I knew he wouldn’t. They had been friends for as long as Henn and I had been—and their friendship was probably even stronger than ours. I didn’t want to admit it, but Henn was moving to Sweden—and I knew that in time we’d stop writing to each other and continue our own lives—which saddened me but was inevitable. But if it were James and Sirius—it would’ve been different. They would always find a way to meet each other, even if it was only once a week and they only had time to Apparate quickly for a few minutes, just to chat. It made me sad what I felt that I was breaking up, and I hoped with all my heart it would be able to rectify itself.
“Oh, I have to give you something.” James said suddenly, sitting up straight.
Without so much of an explanation, he stood on his feet and started to rummage inside his drawer, throwing odd things aside such as stink pellets, broken quills, used tissues (gross, boys really are pigs), crumpled parchment and other Zonko’s products.
“James, what are you—” But I was abruptly cut off, as James came back onto the bed, where he held something tiny between his fingers. It was a rather faded golden ring, with a dull crystal on the top.
“I would’ve given it to you last night.” James said. “But I wasn’t planning on proposing to you, or using this ring—but I think it’s perfect for you. Just tell me if you like it.”
Speechless, I automatically gave him my left hand, where he slid the ring onto my finger. It was rather big, which worried me, but as if it had already memorized my format and size, shrank down to fit me perfectly, and the stone, momentarily flashed brightly—only to turn a vibrant, emerald green.
James smiled weakly, although he didn’t look nearly as ecstatic as he should’ve been, or as I should’ve been. “It accommodates to your size—” he said flatly. “—and it turns into your favorite stone. It’s been in my family for years. On my mother’s finger it was a ruby—and for my grandmother it was a diamond—well, I’m not surprised that yours is an emerald. It matches perfectly with that necklace you always wear and your eyes.”
“James,” I said softly. “I love it.” I felt terrible for loving it; I felt as if I was stealing this moment of sadness for him—he had the right to be angry and hurt and me loving the ring just interrupted whatever feelings he was having at the moment, which probably were many.
James smiled. “I’m glad you do, love.” And he did seem glad, although I knew that he was still thinking about what Sirius had said, and how he was “violating the pact.” I hated being the person to have caused him to do it.
As I moved in to hug him, he embraced me more tightly that he had ever before—wanting some sort of comfort and stability, which I happily gave him. As I looked at my left hand with the glowing emerald I felt even more terrible and desperate to make things better, but I knew that I couldn’t, at least not right then, no matter how hard I tried.
It broke me inside.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’ll sort out. Believe me.”
“I do.” James said. His voice muffled through my shirt as he rested his face against my stomach.
I just kept whispering the same thing, and I hoped that James really did believe me. Finally, I said. “I love you.”
James sighed. “And I you.”
After all that James had helped me through, after all those moments he comforted me without even knowing it, by just being himself and loving me—for being at my father’s wedding, at my sister’s too—for all those times he defended me even when I hated him—I wanted to make up for it.
I hoped that I would be able to.
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