Chapter 5 : Hogsmeade, Seventh Year.
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The wall of the Three Broomsticks was cold and rough against my back, but I didn't care. His warm body has pressed against mine so the autumn chill didn't reach me, and his hot breath tickled my face and skin. I leaned my head back, and he began to kiss my neck again, his hands wrapped loosely around my waist. I giggled.
I never giggle. I never, ever giggle. Sure I laugh, but that's usually a really loud and unattractive snort that is not in any way effeminate. James seemed to notice it as well, as he had moved away from neck and looked at me, his brow wrinkled in confusion.
"Did you just giggle?" He asked, tucking a stray piece of damp hair behind my ear.
"Apparently so," I answered, "you seem to bring it out in me."
James laughed softly, and pressed his lips to mine. I smiled against them, and ran my fingers through his unruly hair, which was still wet from the rain pouring down around us. I pushed him gently away from me, my hands lingering on his chest.
"When do we need to get the coaches?"
James groaned, placing his hands on either side of my head and leaning in to kiss me. I dodged out of the way, his lips landing on my cheek.
"James..." I said warningly, ducking from underneath his arms. I was just about to walk out of the alleyway when he grabbed my hand.
It was different to when he had done it before, and I felt the warmth and the ease at which his fingers slotted perfectly into mine. It surprised me. I had boyfriends before, and before James castrated them or I found out that they were cheating bastards, I never knew of the 'perfect hand-hold' as my wonderfully descriptive dorm mates called them. Not that James and I were boyfriend and girlfriend material anyway; it was far too platonic and far too incestuous for my liking. No, this was merely bottled up hormones from the summer, which I was surprised James had. Usually he picks up some sort of Muggle girl from Godric's Hollow.
I gasped slightly when he turned me around to look at him, his face just centimetres from my own.
"Why are you in such a hurry to start school?" He muttered, smirking.
"Why are you so testosterone fuelled?" I replied, laughing. Pulling my hand out of his - reluctantly I might add - I stepped into the street and from under the cover of the roof. The rain seeped through my clothes and onto my skin.
James muttered something quietly from behind me, and I stopped in my tracks, tapping my foot impatiently. It was cold, and I had started shivering. Looking over my shoulder, I saw that he had followed out onto the high street and his dark hair was plastered to his forehead and his smug smile had disappeared. He was staring at me intently. I'm not going to lie; it was a little bit weird. It was like he had properly seen for the first time that day.
"What are you muttering about now?" I said, raising an eyebrow quizzically.
At my words, he seemed to snap out of it, running his own hand through his damp hair and plastering his signature smirk on his face. There's the James I know and love. Well, love is a strong word. Smirking James just infuriates me.
"Good, because I'm fucking freezing."
"I can think of a way to warm you up," he replied cheekily, wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me towards him.
"A Butterbeer! You are right!" I answered him jokingly, pushing him away from me and running towards the entrance of the Three Broomsticks, the rainwater sloshing around my ankles. I tried to ignore the look of disappointment on his face. Men only ever have one thing on their mind. Well, two for James - he quite likes Quidditch.
The pub was surprising empty when I entered, James trudging in behind me. He shook his hair like a wet dog, and an old lady sitting near the entrance tutted noisily. I ordered two Butterbeers from the bar and sat down. I started a conversation, but James just replied with stupid monosyllabic answers, so it ended up being a monologue from yours truly.
"Merlin, Jimmy. Why don't you cheer up a bit? You look like you've just seen the Dark Mark or something," I said, sipping from my bottle.
"Sorry," he mumbled, pulling his drink towards him.
"Are you really that upset about before? Because I am sure Georgia Watson is free when we get to school."
So apparently this upset him even more. It was meant to be a joke. Are my jokes that bad? And you think men are so predictable. One minute they are the world's biggest player and the next they are Mr. Sensitive. Merlin, make up your mind. He slammed his drink onto the table and stormed out of the pub. I got up hurriedly, pressed a galleon into Rosmerta's hand and approached the doorway. The old woman was muttering again.
It was still raining when I got outside, looking up and down Hogsmeade high street for a sign of James. If I knew him at all, he was probably running towards the Shrieking Shack. In third year, he told me about the story of his grandfather and namesake and his Hogwarts pals. Whenever James feels down, he always visits the Shrieking Shack- so that is where I always know where to find him. I looked at my watch. We still had at least two hours before the other students arrived and we had to get the coaches up to school. I set off at a run.
And stopped almost as suddenly. I had seen him, and he was sitting in the alleyway where we had kissed, his head in his hands, and looking very serious and deep and emotional and everything.
What a polite and friendly boy my best friend is. I sat down next to him, and rested my head on his shoulder. I felt him shiver from the cold, and I put my arm around him.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Nothing," he replied curtly, shrinking out of my arms. He turned away from me and sat facing the opposite end of the alleyway like a sulking child. How mature.
"Well I can really work with that," I commented sarcastically. James laughed, but it wasn't his usual bark like laugh, but short and scornful.
"Is it me?" I continued.
"Yes and no."
"Yet again, you're not really helping me here James."
He stood up suddenly and began pacing up and down the street. I watched him walk to the end, then turn and walk back. He repeated this over and over again.
"Is it what I said before?" I persisted as he began running his hands through his hair, "because it was meant to be a joke. You've never usually taken so much offence to the sexual activities of Georgia Watson. In fact," I added on as an afterthought, "you usually encourage them."
He laughed again. It was still short and scornful. Not getting anywhere here, Amelie.
"So is it what I said about Watson?"
"Yes and no."
"You haven't got her pregnant, have you?" I whispered scandalously.
"Don't be stupid Amelie," he answered viciously, still pacing.
"Then tell me what the problem is!" I shouted, jumping up and stopping him in his tracks, my hands resting on his shoulders.
"Listen, James," I said, "I need you tell me what is bothering you." I was genuinely interested; I knew that it was about me. Maybe that whole 'getting-drunk-because-your-mum-is-an-uber-bitch' thing before the summer was a bit over the top. He probably freaked out.
"Is it about last year? Just before we broke up for summer?"
"Yeah, sort of," he said, his eyes avoiding mine.
"I'm sorry, I just overreacted to Mum getting married again. You know how she is and I suppose..."
"It's not about that, Amelie; it's definitely not about that. I had just realised then."
"Realised what, James?" I asked.
James blushed. That meant something. I will know whether he is lying or not; he always blushes when he has got something to hide.
"James..." I said warningly, "what had you realised?"
He had begun pacing again, pushing past me to resume his rapid walking. I ran my hands through my hair in frustration (a habit I had picked up from James) and lent against the wall, closing my eyes in an attempt to calm me down.
"I am sick of asking you questions!" I said loudly (obviously closing my eyes had not worked), "what did you realise?"
"That I liked...cockroach cluster," he offered weakly, blushing again. I sighed desperately. I had a sneaking suspicion that this was quite big. James would never ever admit to liking cockroach cluster.
He stopped pacing. He looked at me. Suddenly, I was nervous.
"I like you."
"Well you have to like me, I'm your best friend, we have been for...oh."
Realisation hit me like the Hogwarts Express. James liked me liked me. I looked back at him, and he looked nervous, as if waiting for me to run away from him at about several thousand miles per hour. I wasn't going to do that. I owed him that much.
But I wasn't sure whether I was able to throw my arms around his neck and kiss him either. I enjoyed spending time with him. I loved spending time with him. He's funny, he's sweet, and he's popular. Perhaps too popular. I think that is why I was hesitant. I thought that this was one of the stupid romantic stints he plays on girls he wants to sleep with. But I had seen him with other girls, Georgia Watson for example, and telling them that he liked them never seemed to be the problem. Then why had he been so hesitant with me?
"So before when I...oh. James, I'm sorry," I hugged him, my arms around his neck, and his hands around my waist. After a couple of moments, I pulled my head back, and suddenly he was there. We were standing face to face; his lips just centimetres from mine, his arms wrapped me. Our foreheads were touching. I feel his breath on my face again, and I was reminded of the kisses we shared in the alleyway.
"Amelie..." James whispered, and he leaned in.
I pulled back.
"No," I said quietly, "I don't want to be some plaything."
"I love you."
He said it quickly, as if it had spilled out accidentally, and I stared at him. He stared right back, his gaze sincere. It was the most serious I had ever seen him. There was no blush. It was the truth.
"Really?" I whispered. Talking too loud would ruin the moment.
"Are you sure?"
"Say it again."
"I love you."
"Then why didn't you tell..." I was cut off. He had kissed me. He had pressed his lips against mine, and we were kissing, gently and softly. All too soon he pulled away, and I heard him chuckle. I still had my eyes closed.
"I can stop, if you want."
Obviously I couldn't speak, so I merely shook my head. He waited, as if wanting my vocal permission to continue.
"Kiss me," I said breathlessly. I could feel his breath quickening against my lips.
"Are you sure? Because I don't want to ruin the moment by asking too many questions," He said sarcastically.
"James," I warned, "don't do this to me. Merlin knows how long you've waited for this."
"Well I thought this morning's show was the real thing, but then you so rudely rejected me," he added jokily.
"It's not my fault I thought you had left over hormones from the summer."
'Is that what you thought it was?"
"Yes. It was obvious that your little Muggle slut didn't satisfy you enough," I retorted snappily.
"Amelie, are you jealous?" He asked patronisingly.
"Oh just kiss me, James."
And he did. He leaned in quickly, grasping the back of my neck and giving me a kiss that was so full of passion, urgency and desperation that if I weren't supported against a wall, I would have fallen. My knees were weak and my heart was about to make a desperate break for freedom - through my chest. It was beating so hard that I wasn't sure whether James could hear it. It was different to this morning; I suppose knowing that someone loves you really makes the difference in a kiss.
But how would I know? Nicholas Clements had hardly been a lothario.
James pushed me against the wall, his body was so close to mine that his scent engulfed me and I wondered why we hadn't been doing this for seven years. Then I realised that 11 is a little young to be dating. Then all thoughts about sex crazed 11-year olds left my mind as he worked wonders with his lips. He pulled away from me gently, and rested his forehead against mine.
"I like you too, James."
"Like? Like? I just fucking declared my love for you, and all you can do is 'like'?" He teased, finding my hand and kissing it softly.
"Love is a little soon, don't you think?" I asked, smiling cheekily.
"Obviously not for me. It's like my grandparents all over again."
"Plus I'm still waiting for Georgia Watson to make an appearance."
"What is with you and Georgia Watson?" He asked exasperatedly, leading me out of the alleyway, and pulling me closer to him to protect me from the rain.
I never knew he was such a gentleman.
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