How many tips does it take to win Mr. Rite?
Chapter 18 – Butterflies and Tumbleweeds
There were two boys close to Lily Evans’ heart.
First, there was Russell Rite.
Ever since Lily was in the Second Year she had liked Russell. Lily could still remember the first time they had ever met. It had been a precious moment to her, one memory she clung to and vowed she would never let slip past.
As Lily walked into the Great Hall, she knew it would be a wonderful morning. The hall was cast in a beautiful crisp, rusty-red light, due to both the massive windows and the charmed ceiling that reflected the weather outside. The orange light gave everything a calm and serene appearance. It was almost as if the light were making Lily instantly relaxed, like it was casting a spell upon her.
She was smiling to herself as she sat down next to her two best friends, Zoey and Kelly. Zoey was sulking, as usual. Lily found that the petite girl was always in bad mood when it was sunny; she was almost as testy in the light of day as a vampire. It would have puzzled Lily – she loved nothing more than soaking up the warm rays – but she knew that her friends were nothing like herself. That was why she liked them so much; they always surprised her. Kelly was chatting to the sulking girl, in full-animated mode, totally unaware that Zoey wasn’t paying her much attention.
Lily helped herself to breakfast, pausing to grin at her two friends. Kelly was typically talking about Quidditch, and Zoey was glaring daggers at the sunshine that seemed to put everyone is such a horribly good mood. That was when the post arrived. Kelly’s brand new owl, Toby crashed into a plate full of scrambled eggs in front of the three girls. But Kelly just giggled at the owl and snatched up her letter.
Lily hadn’t been expecting a letter from her family; they had written last week and didn’t write to her as much as usual, now that they knew she was settled in. So, it came to a great shook when an owl swooped down, neatly landing in front of and thrusting out its leg. Lily put down her toast and hesitantly reached for the letter. As soon as she had removed the letter from its leg, the birds swooped off, and Lily stared after it for a while, marveling the sight; she still hadn’t gotten used to the Wizarding World.
She tore open the letter and read the contents, a frown overcoming her features.
I’m voiceless but always cry.
I’m toothless but always bite.
I fly forever but never rest.
What am I?
Before Lily could even gape at the strange letter, a powerful gust of air flew at her and knocked her right off her chair, making her land, bottom-first on the wooden floor.
A piece of paper fluttered down to Lily. On it, it read:
She could hear a roar of laughter behind her. Laughter that was far too familiar for Lily’s liking. She could feel her eyes narrowing, her teeth clenching and her anger bubbling, all of pure habit. But this time she could feel her cheeks reddening too.
Just wait until I get my hands on James Potter! He won’t be laughing then!
She was about to stand up and start shouting abuse at the boy that made her life hell, but before she could even scream, a hand was in front of her. She glanced up, feeling puzzled and humiliated and saw a boy was holding out a hand for her, trying to help her up.
Lily stared transfixed at him for a moment; it was so surreal; like an angel had come to help her out. The boy looked the same age as her, and had beautiful chocolate-coloured curls and startling midnight-blue eyes that stood out on his cream face. Lily took the hand, feeling moronic, and the boy helped her to her feet.
‘Thanks,’ she mumbled, ducking her head to the ground so she could hide under a curtain of her red hair.
‘No problem.’ Even though Lily couldn’t see him, she knew the person was smiling kindly, and she glanced up and smiled back, feeling a bit better.
‘OI! RITE!’ Russell ignored James’ shouting, only seeming to register it by a roll of his eyes.
‘Just ignore him,’ he said, smiling. ‘He’s just being silly.’
Lily wanted the mysterious boy to stay longer and talk to her, but he had already started to walk away.
Lily stared after him in awe. That boy was so different. Lily could feel her insides turning all mushy, why she wasn’t quiet sure and decided to blame it upon her breakfast.
That boy was so… nice. Perfect.
‘Sorry about that, Lily,’ Lily was knocked out of her trance-like state and could feel her temper flaring as she turned around to face a smirking raven-haired boy.
But Lily knew one thing about the mysterious boy that she liked best of all: he was totally and completely different to James Potter.
But as Lily thought of the very memory now, she felt even more puzzled. There was no denying that the boy she had loathed so much, also now had a special place in her heart.
Arrogant, bigheaded, pompous, stupid James Potter.
But… James wasn’t all bad, although Lily was reluctant to admit that.
He had changed a lot from his younger years. James was… James was actually quite sweet.
And charming, and warm, and Lily liked him… a lot.
It confused Lily, the feelings she felt for James. The very feelings she had been missing out with Russell.
When she kissed Russell, there was nothing; a tumbleweed blowing past in the breeze. But when she kissed James it felt like millions of butterflies were swarming in her stomach.
Russell may have been Mr. Perfect but he wasn’t Mr. Right.
‘James!’ Lily rushed down the corridor, hurrying herself after the boy she had hated for so long. ‘James!!’
James was striding down the corridor, his steps quick and sharp.
He swiftly made his way past the confused-looking students and onto the Hogwarts grounds, Lily still rushing behind him.
‘For God’s sake! JAMES!’ Lily was panting heavily now. Lily didn’t do Quidditch and she hardly ever ran anymore, the lack of exercise was showing.
But she didn’t stop. She simply had to reach James Potter. She didn’t know why. But she had to.
‘Potter, are you deaf!?’ she screamed. James sped up even further, trying to ignore her.
‘URH!’ Lily shouted and stopped, throwing her hands up in defeat. She was tired, out of breath, cold and felt dizzy. ‘You’re such an arrogant prat!’
James finally stopped at her words. He spun round quickly and took a few angry steps towards her.
‘What?’ his voice came out in a snarl making Lily blink.
‘You heard me,’ she mumbled, suddenly feeling very small.
‘You know what, Lily?’ James spat, taking another angry step towards her until they were standing about twenty metres apart. ‘I’m sick of your insults.’
Lily crossed her arms stubbornly. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
James’ hazel eyes flashed with anger. ‘I’m sick of you always insulting me. And you do,’ he added as he saw her open her mouth to deny it. ‘I try to make it seem like it doesn’t bother me. But do you know what Lily Evans, it does. I bet you didn’t know that, did you Miss Know-it-all?’
Lily scowled and took a step forward, her tone dangerous low as she said, ‘What did you just call me?’
James crossed his arms, not faltering and said in a deliberately slow tone, like explaining to a child, ‘Miss Know-it-all.’
‘UGH!' Lily said, annoyed she had ran out of insults, so she shouted the first thing that came into her mind, 'MESSY HAIRED!'
Lily was now so close to James, she had to tilt her head up to look him in his hazel eyes.
‘You’re so stupid.’
‘That’s a new one,’ James spat.
Lily couldn’t help but smile. ‘You really are silly.’
‘This isn’t some stupid little game, Lily!’ James shouted as he noticed her smile, his eyes flashing angrily. ‘I’m sick of this,’ he gestured between the two of them. ‘First you hate me with a passion, then you kiss me, then you run away and I find out you’ve been going out with Russell and now… what? You’ve come to rub it in my face and insult me? I don’t get it.’ He tore at his raven-locks in frustration then added much more softly, ‘I just don’t get it.’
‘James,’ Lily sighed, shaking her head. ‘What do you want from me?’
James scowled. ‘I want you to tell the truth.’
Lily took a deep breath, as if preparing herself for a dive into ice-cold water. ‘Fine. I’ll tell you the truth.’ She bit her lip worriedly: Kelly would kill her if she ever admitted the whole truth to James Potter. ‘I’ve liked Russell for ages, when I kissed you at the Halloween Dance I thought I was kissing Russell. I didn’t realise it was you because you both had the same outfit on. When I realised it was you that’s when I ran away.’
James looked broken at her words. He turned around to leave.
‘But,’ Lily said, grabbing hold of his arm to turn him back to her. ‘When I kissed you, that was real.’ She nodded, suddenly gaining more confidence at the truth in her words. ‘What I feel with you is real. It’s better than I could ever imagined. It’s much more than I feel with Russell.’ Lily smiled at him. He blinked back into her emerald eyes, looking puzzled. ‘James,’ she whispered.
‘You called me James?’ James said, his voice blank apart from a few hints of confusion weaving through it.
‘What,’ Lily smiled and shrugged. ‘That’s you name, isn’t it?’
James just stared at her.
Lily grinned. ‘You really are silly, James. I didn’t come here to “rub it in your face”. Why would I do that?’ She laughed. ‘If I really wanted to be with Russell right now don’t you think I would have chased after him, rather than you?’
James’ hazel eyes were staring at her, confusion sprinkled into them
Lily sighed, rolling her eyes. ‘Do I have to spell it out for you?’
James opened his mouth, before slamming it shut again. Lily laughed. ‘I like you, James. Not Russell. You. That’s why I chased after you.’
‘Me?’ James voice came out as a whisper. ‘Why do you like me?’
Lily grinned. ‘I’m not really sure,’ she said, matching his own soft tone. ‘But I do. More than you could imagine. But,’ she sucked in a breath, glancing over her shoulder. ‘I have to go.’
‘Yes. I wish I didn’t have to… but I have to sort things out, meet me in the Common Room later?’
James was still staring at her, open-mouthed, so Lily seemed to take that as a “yes”. She bit her lip, fighting an emotional battle inside herself, before she stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek, before darting away.
James touched his cheek as he watched – bewildered - her running away.
‘What just happened here?’
Lily found Russell sitting by a huge apple-tree, grumbling to himself. She sighed and sat down next to him.
The only reply she received was a scowl, then: ‘What do you want?’
‘I came to explain things,’ she said quietly, trying to read his expression on his angel’s features.
Russell glowered, but didn’t say anything. Lily had expected that; Russell wasn’t a bad guy, he would listen to any explanation before he made up his mind about someone.
Lily leant against the trunk of the tree, watching a Jay hop across the grass a few metres away from her. ‘I haven’t been myself with you,’ she started, eyes still fixed to the Jay. ‘You see,’ she bit her lip, hesitating slightly. ‘The thing is Russell I’m not your dream girl.’
‘What? Of course you ar-’
‘No,’ Lily interrupted, shooting him a stern glance. ‘I’m not.’ She turned her gaze back to the bird, using it to distract herself from Russell’s confused features. ‘I don’t like Herbology.’
‘Well, I kind of figured that out, didn’t I?’
‘I love potions.’ Russell paused with his mouth open.
‘I’m never that cheerful. I get frustrated easily.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘And I hate – HATE - Quidditch.’
Russell eyes widened and he looked wounded. ‘You don’t like Quidditch?’
‘Then why on earth did you say you did?!?’
‘I was being stupid,’ Lily said, picking at a bit of fluff on her school robes. ‘I tried to change myself so you would notice me,’ Lily stared up at the brilliant blue sky and watched the Jay fly away, a blur of cherry-red among the feathery clouds. ‘But I now realise that was wrong. You shouldn’t change yourself into someone you’re not. It doesn’t get you anywhere. Not at all. Besides,’ Lily allowed a flicker of a smile across her lips. ‘There’s always someone who likes you for who you truly are.
‘Sorry for everything, Russell,’ she said, giving him a small smile.
She was about to stand up and leave when she saw Kelly bouncing along the path. Lily could feel her grin stretch from ear to ear as realisation sunk in.
‘Kelly!’ Lily called, and Kelly immediately hopped over to them, grinning widely.
‘I want to finally introduce you to Russell,’ she indicated to the handsome boy beside her.
Lily grinned at Russell. ‘Kelly’s always cheerful, never gets frustrated or angry, hates potions and just loves – LOVES – Quidditch.’
Russell stared up at Kelly and grinned. ‘Oh?’
Lily turned to Kelly. ‘Russell is perfect, sweet, kind and loves and hates the same things you do.’
Kelly looked down at Russell, as if seeing him in a new light. ‘Oh?’
Lily grinned between the two, noticing how they complimented each other so perfectly. ‘You two have a lot to talk about,’ she told them both, standing up. ‘See you guys later.’
But – Lily gained some satisfaction in knowing – Kelly and Russell didn’t hear her as they were already discussing Quidditch tactics.
Lily heart pounded in her chest as she slipped into the Common Room. Lily felt a sudden warmth flood into her as she saw James sitting on a plush-red sofa, staring around the room warily. When he saw her, James gave a small, unsure smile.
Lily walked over to him, feeling her heart thudding loudly. She stopped and looked down at him, trying to read the emotions painted across his face.
‘Hello, James,’ she said, smiling softly.
James looked surprised and he shook his head, suddenly grinning. ‘It sounds so weird when you call me James.’
Lily laughed too and sat down on the sofa next to him. ‘I talked to Russell,’ she said nervously fiddling with her hands.
‘Oh.’ Lily looked up, but found his face was even harder to read now. ‘And?’
She smiled to herself. ‘I told him that he didn’t really like me. Not how you like me. You like me for who I truly am, and Russell… Russell only liked me because… I changed who I was for him.’
James stared at her, realisation flashing through his eyes. ‘That’s why you said you liked Butterbeer!’
Lily laughed and nodded. ‘Yes.’
‘That’s why you’ve been acting so different!’
‘Yes. I’m sorry.’
James smiled at her then, a smile that made Lily’s heart turn to mush, and surprisingly, she liked the sensation. ‘You should be! You were driving me crazy being so unlike yourself!’
Lily felt a huge, goofy grin spread across ear to ear. It felt so right talking to James, so comfortable, like she could act like herself and that would be good enough, more than good. She had never felt like that with Russell; she was always thinking on what or what not to say. It was so unbelievably nice not having to censor her words. It was so wonderful to know that someone really, truly liked her for who she was, not what she had become.
‘So…’ James said, suddenly becoming nervous again. She smiled faintly to herself as she thought she had never seen him like that, he was always so sure of himself. It made Lily think how much she didn’t know James Potter… and how much she would love to get to know him.
‘Yes?’ She asked, tucking a strand of his crimson hair behind her ears.
‘So… you are Russell aren’t-aren’t… dating?’
‘No,’ she smiled.
‘And,’ James gulped. ‘A-and?’
‘And I don’t hate you any more?’ Lily offered.
‘Err, yeah, that.’ He looked so adorable when he stuttered Lily thought to herself.
‘I’ve never really hated you, James,’ she said, smiling softly, wanting this moment to last forever.
‘Really?’ James said, raising a black eyebrow. ‘Because it certainly seemed like you did.’
Lily shrugged. ‘I guess you could say I was avoiding the truth.’
‘Yes,’ said Lily. ‘I was so focused on how much I hated you… I never realised how much I liked you.’
James gulped, his beautiful hazel eyes looking doubtful. ‘And you do? You do like me?’
Lily stared straight at him them, and she didn’t feel weird about the hue of butterflies in her stomach, she didn’t feel weird that such a strong emotion that she had never recognised before was aiming at James Potter. It didn’t surprise her, because it felt so right, like she couldn’t believe she had never realised it before, that she wasted so many years. ‘More than you could ever know, James,’ she breathed back.
And before James could even open his mouth to make a surprised O shape Lily lost the gap between then, pressing her lips softly against his.
And she felt the butterflies.
Martha's Note: *Does happy dance* Lily's finally realised what she was doing was wrong and she finally realised she liked James! YEY!
Hope you liked the chapter! There will be one more that is sort of the epilogue type thing...
Please leave a review and thanks for reading ^O^ ^-^
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