6 – They Call It Instinct
I hate when you’re expecting things to happen because of two things. One, time passes slow and you get restless and irritable. Two, it never happens. I should have thought about the last point a bit before. I waited for James’ next strike to come for a week, but it didn’t. He acted normally icily towards me and me to him, but no prank. None at all.
I was frightened to death. I was so sure the strike had to come sooner or later, but nothing happened. I barely slept for nine days and when the evening before our first football match came upon us, I could barely keep my eyes open, but when I finally closed them, I couldn’t sleep. Megan took pity on me and fetched a potion in the hospital wing.
“Thanks,” I yawned when she handed it to me. “Thanks a lot, Megan…”
She smiled. “Don’t worry. You deserve a good night’s sleep and what can help you more than that?”
I smiled. “But please promise me to keep an eye out for James.”
She sighed. “I don’t think it’s coming. Maybe he did decide to leave you alone… Maybe all you both needed were time to think.” She stroked my head. “Night, night, Lily. Sleep tight and don’t think too much about it, it’s ruining you.”
My eyes shot open as Megan walked out. Oh, boy was I stupid.
This was his payback. Nothing! He knew I’d be extra careful and think about when he’d strike next. He knew it’d torment me until he did something. He knew I’d wait for it and he’d decided to let it haunt me. There wasn’t going to be any payback besides this. This prank was first over when I realised what he was doing.
He’d probably laughed his way through this week. Laughed at how I couldn’t sleep. Laughed at how I jumped at each sound. Laughed so hard.
I had really underestimated him. He was much better at this game than I had given him credit for. He knew what he was doing, I didn’t and he knew my mind too well and used that. He was playing so dirty.
Angrily I poured the potion into a glass and drank greedily. This was over now, I had to get some sleep and be ready tomorrow, leading my team to victory, showing James what I was made off.
I was at the court very early the next day. Even though the sleeping potion had worked perfectly the previous night, I had woken up early. There were nearly two hours till the game and the team was to be here one hour before the game started. I was pretty sure people would think I was weird (which would be true then).
I dropped the bag with our shirts and shorts on the floor in the corridor between the two changing rooms and walked straight into the girls’ changing room. I lay down on a bench with my hands behind my head
The silence did me good, I could feel. No James, no troubles, and no worries.
The door slammed open. My eyes shot open and I sat up. Who? After a few seconds the door into the girls’ changing room opened too. I was speechless. Wasn’t there anywhere where he wasn’t around? Could I ever be free from him? My own answer had to be no, I couldn’t.
“Ahh,” he said. “Figured it was you.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Oh,” I simply said, I had nothing else to say really.
“Only you’d be crazy enough to meet before me.” He smirked, looking around, but not at me.
“Why are you in here?” I asked coldly.
He shrugged. “Wanted to say ‘good morning’, so good morning, captain.” I could hear the sarcasm in his tone.
“Just piss off,” I muttered and laid my head down again. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to him, not at all.
The door closed softly and I breathed out. He hadn’t come to make trouble or insult me. Maybe the wait had been his last strike. Maybe he had changed his mind and let our battle die out. It just seemed so unlikely. But after all, how well did I know James?
I sat up, frowning. Maybe it wasn’t over after all. Maybe he was waiting for me to fall into a fake feeling of safety. Maybe the worst strike would come soon, now that I had showed him I was a bit relaxed and had gotten a lot of sleep last night.
No, enough was enough, and I had spent over a week wondering whether he’d hit me or not and when he’d hit me. I really should relax a bit more.
Angry at myself I got up, heading for the corridor where the bag with our shirts and shorts was. I could always get dressed while waiting for the rest of my team. Twenty minutes there was.
The bag stood where I had dropped it half an hour ago. I quickly snatched the bag and opened it to find my set. But as I looked into the bag I got busy letting it go. I screamed and threw it into the wall, a few red snakes falling out of it.
I narrowed my eyes, looking at the bag. Only one word going through my mind: Potter.
With a shudder and my heart pumping very loud, I grabbed around the tail of a snake and turned towards the door into the boys changing room. I didn’t even knock at the door but kicked the door open. James spun around, looking at me. He was half-dressed with a pair of shorts, but I couldn’t care less.
“What the fuck is this?” I yelled, holding up the red snake.
He smiled widely. “A gift to our lovely captain!”
I threw it at him. “You’re a pig, Potter!”
He pushed it away easily and looked at me, smirking. “And a proud one.”
Raging I took two steps towards him and pushed him violently in the chest and he stumbled backwards towards the wall, his eyes locked with mine. This was the last straw. Nine days of nervousness rushing through my body had had its toll on me and I snapped.
I stepped closer again. “What is the frigging matter with you?” I yelled, “Why can’t you leave me alone?”
I had raised my hand, about to hit him, but he grabbed it and yanked it away. “What the matter is with me?” he asked, raising both his eyebrows, he was seething. “You are the one who is a pain in the ass. You’re the one constantly bothering me. You started this! Don’t for a second think that you’re the only one suffering here.” He raised both hands, pointing at me. “You’re just as obnoxious as I, maybe even more.” He poked my shoulders with his fingers.
I yanked him hardly away and he stumbled backwards again. His eyes were furious as he looked at me through his hair. I couldn’t detect anything but pure hate in them. I was about to throw a punch at him, but before I could even raise my hand he’d grabbed around both of my wrists. I fought to get free, but his grip was too firm.
“Let me go!” I hissed. Three seconds and I’d kick him in the groin. “I hate you!”
He smirked and in one smooth movement he had spun around and slammed me hardly against the wall with his whole body, pinching my hands on each side of my head. I could feel a stone scratch into the skin on my back, but I hardly noticed it. Our eyes locked for a second and suddenly his lips were on mine.
People always say that in situations like that, they didn’t react at first, or just pulled away at once. Well, I didn’t, and I didn’t hesitate.
As if having expected it all along, I kissed him back.
His lips moved fiercely against mine and after a few seconds when he was sure I wouldn’t push him away again he slowly let go of my wrists, letting his hands trail down my body, exploring every bit. They stopped at my waist where he took a firm, hard hold and pressed me closer. Slowly my hands sunk into his hair, grabbed around it, holding onto him. The other was firmly placed around his neck.
His grip on my waist tightened a bit and I gasped loud. He took the opportunity of my open mouth to let his tongue roughly slide inside my mouth, where mine met it in a battle. Keeping the rough kiss going on I slowly slid my hand down his chest. His skin was burning beneath my fingers.
Then voices were heard.
As if thinking like one, in the matter of seconds we let go, pushed hardly away from each other and stumbled to each side of the changing room, I towards the door into the corridor, he towards his bag. With my back at him I dried my slightly sore lips and straightened out my hair. I shouldn’t look like a mess when the rest of the team would be here. I tried to slow down my pulse, but as people couldn’t see that it was a minor thing to care about. I opened the door from the boys’ changing room just as the door to the outside burst open and two of our classmates entered. Megan first along with Sirius. They stopped dead when seeing me.
Megan tilted her head and looked questioningly at me. I shook my head and walked straight towards the girls’ changing rooms without one word. She followed me after very few seconds and closed the door.
I turned, trying to keep my face neutral. “Yes?”
She looked towards the door and then me. “What were you doing in the boys’ changing room?” I didn’t answer, making her sigh. “Were you fighting again?”
I looked away. What was I to tell her? That I had just made out with James? Was it even real? It seemed so unreal and everything. What had happened? Was it really James and me? We hated each other. My mind was one big buzz and I couldn’t put just a few of my thoughts in order.
“Lily?” she used her low dangerous voice.
“Yes,” I said. I looked up. “We were fighting. So?”
I only felt a little bad. I had never really lied to Megan before, but as long as my mind was as big of a mess as it was, I couldn’t tell her. Sometimes you needed to figure out yourself before talking to your friends.
She sighed. “What happened?”
“He put snakes in the bag with our clothes. I wanted to tell him off and that’s what happened. We got into a fight, nothing special.” I explained quickly without really thinking about it. Then I added a shrug for emphasis.
“I really wish you two could get over your differences,” she said, “It’d be much easier for Sirius and me.”
“I know,” I grumbled.
She said something more, but my head was too filled with a thousand thoughts at once, so I couldn’t really concentrate on it. I had just… He was the one who started it, right? I hadn’t kissed him first, had I? No. But had I played along to it as if I’d known what would happen? And hadn’t I followed suit even though he did start it?
And what exactly was I to do now? If the last five minutes had been real, what did he expect from me now? Should I talk to him or let a silent awkwardness grow between us? Would there be awkwardness there? Would we forget it? Would he just act coolly about it? How could I know? I’d never been in a position like this before and less of all with a guy I had to see every day.
Before I knew what I was doing I had hit my head against the wall and pain rushed through it.
“Oi!” Megan grabbed my shoulder and dragged me away from the wall. She turned me to look at her. “What and I repeat, what, are you doing?”
“Hitting my head,” I said with a roll of my eyes. Duh!
I closed my eyes. “Because I need to get my thoughts in place.” A truth in fact.
“You’re giving me a headache!” I complained.
“No. The wall is doing that. What’s going on in your mind, Lily?”
“Football,” I said. “Come on. Let’s get started.”
Megan was about to argue, but our three teammates entered the changing room just then and she kept shut. Angela, Mary, and Thea all had their sets in their hands (apparently the snakes were gone) and dropped their bags.
“Hey captain,” Thea greeted, “and Megan.”
Mary and Angela both greeted silently. The Photo-Prank wasn’t all forgotten. It annoyed me, but not as I wanted it to. I suddenly found it hard to actually be mad at James. For real. I wanted to, but couldn’t.
I turned away from them, throwing off my top to get dressed. The other girls were talking, but I couldn’t even concentrate on the words they were saying. I kicked off my skirt with my head buzzing worse and worse for each second. I pulled up my red shorts with the number two on it. Two was my number. It had always been, it was my lucky number.
“Um, Lily?” Megan’s voice cut through my thoughts.
I turned. “Yes?”
She grabbed one shoulder of mine and spun me around away from her. “What, my dear Lily, have you been doing?”
I tried to get free, but it was impossible. “What do you mean?”
Her cool fingers ran over the right side of my back. “You have a very bad graze… What did you do?”
My eyes widened and my breath got stuck. What was I to say? That it was James? A truth in fact, but I was sure she wouldn’t understand it as the reality was. Then Megan would kill him for hurting me. He never had even though we’d had a lot of fights over the years. It was always me hurting him. But I’m pretty sure if he had, Megan would have been the one to put him back on his spot. I could say it was my own fault… for James…
“Um,” I muttered after five way too long seconds. “I slipped.”
“Yeah... The floor is pretty slippery in here.”
She turned me again. “Take care of yourself.” She pattered my cheek, smiling.
I rolled my eyes and turned to get the rest of my clothes on as fast as possible. I smiled at the other girls and hurried out with the net with balls in my hand. I met Sirius in the corridor.
“Black,” I said with a nod and continued out the door.
He rushed after me. “Hey, just do me a favour,” he said, “and tell me what you did to James.”
I studied the court a little. It had been changed a tiny bit so there were seats for the spectators on each side of the court, just like last weekend. Some from the Hufflepuff team were already there.
I looked away. “I don’t know what you mean.” I had long decided to lie until I knew what exactly was going on.
“He was very weird.” His voice sounded strange. “Did you say something particular bad or mean to him? He wouldn’t tell me so I guess I had to go straight to the source.”
“Hmm,” I muttered. “I guess it was the usual. Maybe I went over the top.”
He raised both his eyebrows. “You surely did.”
I had no response to that so I just looked straight out. We stopped at the Gryffindor side of the court and I let the balls out of the net. I was suddenly hit by a thought. What happened when James came out? How would I react? Would I spill the beans and break down?
I was set face to face with that sooner than I’d have thought.
I’m pretty sure my heart stopped beating for a few seconds. My eyes widened for a second. I tried to calm myself, but it was harder than expected.
He stopped right next to Sirius. His eyes darted to me for a second and mine met them. Even though it was less than a second, it seemed like ten long seconds. Oh, it was true. I had kissed him and he had kissed me. There was no way denying it.
“And Evans,” he said. Then he broke the eye contact. “Why did you go so fast, Padfoot?” Okay, so that’s how we played this game, with coolness and pretending nothing had happened.
Sirius shrugged. “So the two of you are done fighting?”
Our eyes met briefly again and my pulse raced up again. “I think so,” James said easily. He was playing this game much better than me.
“So what did you have in mind for warm-up?” Sirius asked, looking at me.
I wasn’t ready to be talked to, yet being asked questions people expected me to answer. “Um, err…” What was the question again?
I noticed James moving a bit. His gaze was flashing between me and Sirius, but stopped at Sirius at last. I blinked. Oh, yeah, the question.
“Err, running,” I answered finally. “And, um, passes with the ball.”
Sirius chuckled and pushed me softly in the shoulder. “What happened to you, Evans?”
I could once again feel James’ gaze on me, but looked away. I sighed. “Won’t the rest of the team be here soon?”
Suddenly an arm was wrapped around my shoulder. I looked up frightened, but was relieved to find it was Sirius. He was smirking.
“You seem awfully tense,” he smirked, his hand rubbing my shoulder. “I think you need to get laid.”
I blushed and could hear James snicker. How did he dare? I briefly looked up at him. He was looking at me. This was too much. I turned and was happy to find the rest of the team on their way. I smiled.
“Great to see you all,” I called.
They all stopped in front of me, and James and Sirius joined that crowd. They were all looking at me and I suddenly realised that now was the time I needed to prove what I was worth, what I could.
“Fantastic,” I muttered. “Great to see you all. Let’s see, there’s half an hour till the game begins. Um, let’s start warming up carefully. Balls for all,” – that made James and Sirius snicker – “and you can start running. I’ll tell you how we start out on the court before we start the game.”
Everyone did as I told them. I soon followed.
While running I got my thoughts a bit more in order. If James could act cool about this whole thing, then so could I. It was a mistake, simple as that and one never repeated ones mistakes. Thank Merlin.
I was pretty much happy with the team that started on the court. Not wanting to cross James, I had let him start in (I probably would have had anyhow), Sirius and Angela as midfielders (I felt too bad to go onto the court myself) and Remus, Thea and Megan as defenders. I sat on the bench, letting my team fight for me, making regular changes with the players. When half of the time of first half had passed I had to get myself onto the court. I switched myself with Sirius who had been in the whole time.
This was the moment of truth. This was the time to show my team that I could in fact play football.
James scored the first goal only ten minutes later. I studied him as he clasped hands with Remus and a few others. Did he avoid me intentionally?
I suddenly got a little mad at myself. What had been going on in my head there in the changing room? How had it come so far? We hated each other. Enemies did not go and snog each other. Something was wrong. Very wrong.
Could I even blame James? Wouldn’t it be more rational to blame me? I had never had a crush on him, so of course he was the obvious to blame first. No, even though he might have kissed me first, it takes two people to have such a thing going on. I mean, he didn’t force me or anything. I kissed him, willingly.
How stupid was I really?
I turned to Megan who had been yelling at me, noticing the Hufflepuffs cheering. What had happened? The ball in our goal answered the question for me.
“What happened?” Megan asked, putting a hand on my shoulder. “You were gone.”
I put a hand to my head. “Oh, crap. Sorry.”
My team wasn’t happy with me and I could see several angry gazes. James was frustrated. So now he could look at me?!
Lucky for me, there was half time a minute later. I quickly said I was sorry and told what we needed to do. I got a feeling half of what I said was wrong, so I was happy when both James and Daniel said a few things. I let Mary come onto the field instead of Megan and the game continued.
Even though I had just tried to concentrate on something which should have kept my mind busy, I couldn’t stop being angry with myself. I tried to keep focus on the game, but found it hard. Why couldn’t I just let it go? Why couldn’t I stop thinking about it?
The ball rolled to a halt in front of me. My teammates called for me, but I only faintly noticed it. I was too angry.
I took a quick look around and found both James and Sirius free to a passing. With my anger rushing through my body I kicked to it hard. It was bad placed and flew towards a spot in between the boys. The Hufflepuff keeper rushed out of her goal, snatched for the ball and missed. Slowly and carefully the ball rolled over the line.
My jaw dropped. What?
Thea’s arms were around me the next second. “Fantastic, Lily!”
I just stared into the goal as someone thumped me on the back. I looked around, finding most of the team around me, just like when James had scored. I had actually helped our team to victory. I caught glimpse of James who wasn’t a part of the crowd. He was looking at me with that cool gaze again. He was much better at this than me.
I shook my head slowly. Okay, so I made a mistake, kissing him. But it was all instinct, I told myself. When someone kisses you, you kiss them back. That’s not hard to understand. I nodded faintly. Instinct, that’s what it was.