Chapter 1 : Drowning
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AN: So this was written for Indigo Sea's Kiss in the Rain Challenge on the forums. I hope you enjoy it!
For this story, I wanted to try something new. So, I decided to try a different format. Margravine’s Across the Universe on hpff inspired me to try this. I hope it works.
Sorry that the summary is a bit deceiving. This is not a story about swimming. It’s about love. It’s a metaphor. ;-)
Thank you! R & R lovelies!
beautifual image by Bedazzled @ TDA
i. kiss in the corridor
I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t stop it. And I couldn’t say I didn’t enjoy it at least a little bit. But it’s not as though I knew what I was looking for then, at the tender age of thirteen.
It was a pleasant feeling. Her lips on mine. Refreshing. Clean, minty, a little sweet. It didn’t last long. A mere few seconds of lips upon lips.
Somehow, despite the freeing sensation, I felt as though I were drowning.
I was falling into a deep dark abyss that I would never be able to swim to the top in time before I was left breathless, literally.
She left me – me standing there, alone – a little amused smile on her face. I probably looked like a dying a fish.
She was older, sixteen, more experienced. I was just a young boy, inexperienced and afraid of drowning.
ii. kiss in the classroom
Thirteen and three-quarters and still inexplicably inexperienced.
I didn’t have a girlfriend. I had girls who giggled in my presence. I had girls flirt with me. Girls of all ages. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. Most of these girls I didn’t even know.
However, this was a little different. Jamie was my transfig partner of three years. James and Jamie. I suppose it would have been cute. I suppose I should have done something other than just stare at her as she waited expectantly for me to say something. Anything.
Class had ended early since our professor had an emergency and left early. Everyone else had bolted. Jamie and I stayed back though. I was in no rush and she certainly wasn’t.
She had dropped a book. I bent to pick it up for her and so did she. Our hands brushed. Her breath caught, I could tell, like she was surprised. We stood back up slowly.
Immediately, I apologised, because that’s just what I did. My mum and dad insisted since I could talk to be polite and chivalrous.
She smiled slowly and said, ‘It’s alright.’
She stood there. Anticipating something. I clearly didn’t know what.
Then she leaned in.
Her lips tentatively brushed against mine and that was that.
I stood there, unresponsive. Pulling away, she was smiling but when she saw me look blankly back at her, she was no longer smiling.
I didn’t blame her. I pretty much had said ‘no, you’re not for me’ by failing to do anything.
I was a stupid boy, unsure of what I wanted and what such a simple thing as a kiss meant to me. Just plain stupid.
But it really wasn’t that simple.
iii. kiss during Quidditch practice
I didn’t look for these girls; they found me.
I never looked for these girls. Rose would always ask me ‘What makes you so special to them?’ Honestly, I didn’t know.
She’d say that I was just another bloke – her cousin – and all blokes were the same.
I liked Rose; she was always speaking her mind, no matter what. Blokes talked about her all the time on the pitch, at practice. They always wanted to ask her out but we’re afraid to do so because she seemed to be unapproachable. One day, I knew she’d be approached and her belief that all blokes were the same would be disproven. After all, all blokes weren’t the same. But I didn’t dare tell her that.
After one particular Quidditch practice, the majority of my teammates had returned to the locker rooms. I dawdled.
I always dawdled. Especially when it came to changing in front of people. I put full blame on my mum for that because of the one time when I was seven. Al had spewed all over me after going to a Muggle carnival, unable to handle all the candy and rides, and Mum had me strip all my clothes in public since we couldn’t find a loo. People stared and stared.
I hated staring of any sort. And yet, I found myself staring.
Lauryn Anderson. She was still up in the air, circling the pitch.
I must have stared for minutes before I realised she wasn’t even in the air anymore. In fact, she was standing right beside me.
‘What we’re you looking at?’ she asked me.
I turned and quickly answered, ‘Nothing.’
She nodded slowly, simply accepting it.
‘It was a good practice today. I just love flying. It’s quite freeing, don’t you think?’
‘Very freeing,’ I agreed.
I wasn’t uncomfortable, per say, in Lauryn’s presence. It was just different. It was strangely constricting, being in her presence, as if she was stealing all the oxygen around me. Like I was a fish out of water.
She was a fourteen year old girl. I was a fourteen year old boy. It was bound to be uncomfortable I thought.
We stood there, side by side, silent. The wind whispered. The stands creaked. Underneath my feet, I could practically feel the grass growing.
Suddenly, something changed. It was quick.
Lauryn was in front of me. Her lips met mine. Her hands rested comfortably on my shoulders. She was shorter than me, my brain registered. There was a little more to this kiss than my other two. She pushed a little further.
Did I like it? I couldn’t say. Did I like her? I didn’t really know her, other than the fact she was in my year, a Chaser, my teammate, and I suppose pretty.
‘I like you James,’ she whispered, her face inches from mine.
She smelled good; that much I also knew.
I nodded slowly.
‘Do you like me too?’
I thought about it. I guess I thought too long because soon she had run away crying.
iv. kiss in Greenhouse three
Herbology had just let out. It was the last class of the day. Everyone was packing up their things, ready to get the weekend started.
I had it stuck in my mind that it was Mother’s Day this Sunday and I hadn’t even gotten my Mum anything. I was an awful son.
‘I’m so glad it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday. I got my mum the most adorable sweater and made her a collage of pictures of me and her. She’ll love it, I know,’ my Herbology partner Zoe said. ‘What did you get your Mum, James?’
I laughed nervously. ‘I didn’t get her anything yet.’
Zoe smiled at me. ‘Oh, that’s okay. I can help you if you’d like.’
Zoe was really nice. She was always offering to help me with things, not just Herbology, since I was absolutely rubbish at it. Then, I felt like it was like any other time.
‘Thanks, Zoe,’ I told her, genuinely pleased.
But that changed when I noticed a certain look, which I had been quickly learning to decipher as the “anticipation kiss.”
Awkwardly, I cleared my throat.
Immediately, she jumped into ideas, as the rest of our class, minus a few stragglers talking to Neville, left. I relaxed as her focus changed.
‘Well, your mum used to be a professional Quidditch player, right? And she enjoys writing articles about Quidditch and you can compile…’
Zoe kept talking, but I zoned her out.
My attention shifted to the front of the greenhouse where Lorcan Scamander stood, the last of our classmates, talking amiably with Neville. Neville was his godfather and so he frequently visited. I have known Lorcan practically since I was born. He’s very eccentric.
Neville handed him a potted plant that looked a little odd, even for Herbology.
‘Thanks, Neville. This plant will be perfect for Mother’s Day. Mum will love it,’ Lorcan said, carrying the plant tenderly in his hands. It was as though he were carrying a baby.
As he passed, he said, ‘Bye Zoe. See you around James.’
He smiled at me, I’m certain, and I felt reassured. About what, I had no idea. I wished I actually would see him around later, but he was a Ravenclaw, while I was a Gryffindor.
Lorcan then left without another word, but for one reason or another, I wished he would’ve stayed. Stayed to save me from the inevitable that was going to happen.
Neville addressed Zoe and me, letting us know he was going to slip out and check the plants in Greenhouse five, effectively leaving me alone with Zoe.
She rambled on about Mother’s Day for a little bit longer before she stopped abruptly.
‘James,’ she said softly. ‘You weren’t listening.’
I had the unfortunate decency to blush.
‘Sorry. My mind’s elsewhere.’
Her face broke out into a shy grin. ‘Mine too. When I’m nervous, I talk too much. I’m sorry.’
‘Nervous? Why are you nervous?’
She laughed. She had a laugh like tinkling bells.
‘As if that isn’t obvious, James,’ she told me, amused.
I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about at the time.
Her hand reached up, cupping my face. I knew now.
She kissed me.
When I didn’t reciprocate the kiss, she pulled away slowly.
‘Is something wrong?’ she asked concerned.
I didn’t answer. I didn’t answer because I didn’t know.
‘James, are you going to answer?’
I blurted it out before I even knew what I was doing.
Zoe was stunned, and she stumbled backward a few steps.
‘Excuse me?’ she said, sounding shocked beyond belief.
She was no longer stunned as she threw the rest of her things in her bag angrily and silently seethed.
‘You know what James, forget it. You can find your mother a Mother’s Day gift on your own and you can forget that we were ever Herbology partners and that this little thing ever happened. Next class, I won’t be your partner. Right now, from this point on, I’m no longer your friend.’
Extremely rankled, she stalked out of Greenhouse three.
I wouldn’t ever let myself do anything without thinking again.
v. kiss in the rain (one)
I hate clichés. Kissing in the rain? Entirely cliché.
This kiss, fifteen years and three hundred and sixty days old, was the worst of the bunch, not that there had been a great many to begin with.
It wasn’t really a surprise to learn that Andie liked me. She was pretty, nice, perhaps a little too nice, and friendly.
It was springtime and she had asked me if I wanted to go for a walk on the grounds. Stupidly, I accepted, unaware of her ulterior motive.
We walked around the Black Lake, reaching the far end when she slipped her hand in mine.
I didn’t dare take my hand out of hers. I’d be pushed in the lake for sure. Plus, the Giant Squid had no mercy for boys who insulted girls. Especially for them.
I saw the clouds darken and thought to suggest we head back. It looked like it would be a thunderstorm.
We didn’t walk back, but instead Andie pulled me down on the lakeside to sit on the rocky beach.
‘Just look at the view!’ she had cried.
It was beautiful; I couldn’t deny that. The dark clouds encircled the castle in a picturesque way that only the greatest painter could capture.
I felt her scooch closer to me, so her body was next to mine. She leaned her head on my shoulder. A timid arm wrapped around my waist. Out of courtesy, I threw my arm across her shoulders. It’s what I thought I needed to do.
She turned a bit and her face looked up into mine. She smiled radiantly. Her eyes sparkled.
I saw the bolt of lightning out of the corner of my eye before the storm broke.
Then came the driving rain.
Andie squealed excitedly as we became soaked in seconds.
She laughed and stood up quickly, pulling me up as well. She took my hand and dragged me along, running through the rain.
We ran the whole length of the lake before she took us under a big, leafy tree.
We were soaked and the rain still dripped through the tree. It was as if we had gone swimming in our clothes.
Andie was laughing, smiling. It made me smile a bit, but I couldn’t help the feeling of sinking dread in the pit of my stomach.
Andie had both my arms, her hands wrapped just below the elbows. Boldly, she drew me closer and stood on her tiptoes to kiss me.
The kiss in the rain.
She didn’t back away like in all my other kisses. All four of them. She came closer, her body right next to mine. For once, I reciprocated. At least, I think I did.
It was the start of something.
vi. kiss under the mistletoe
Andie and I were still going come Christmas. My mum was thrilled. My first real girlfriend. And of seven and a half months, no less.
She came to the Burrow for Christmas Eve, prepared for festivities and craziness.
Uncle George had decorated for grandmum this year. The year before, it had been Uncle Percy’s job. Uncle George, being Uncle George, obviously had to go overboard and put mistletoe everywhere. And it wasn’t Muggle mistletoe that you can get out of easily.
Andie had cried out excitedly at seeing the mistletoe everywhere when we arrived by Floo. She told me repeatedly that the mistletoe was her favourite part of Christmas, more than the presents and food and people.
Eager to get to know every person of my family – sans the ones she already knew – Andie asked me to take her around the Burrow to meet everyone. Every so often on our journey, she would purposely get caught under the mistletoe so I would have to kiss her and save her.
I, however, avoided getting caught under the mistletoe. I had no control over her, but I could control where I stepped.
Eventually, however, I was unable to pass it by.
Andie was dragging me about when I caught.
She really didn’t notice at first, and then she saw me stuck underneath the mistletoe.
“James! I never thought I’d get the chance to kiss you under the mistletoe. It’s been me who has been getting kissed.” She smiled and sauntered over.
Taking my face in her hands, she leaned forward and pressed her lips to mine.
My eyes were open, and I saw around Andie’s head, Lorcan. He was merely standing there, a strange expression on his face.
Suddenly, the kiss felt wrong. Very wrong.
Lorcan slipped away and I barely noted. But I did.
Andie pulled away, noticing my lack of participation in the kiss.
“Is something wrong?” she asked as I stepped out from under the mistletoe.
My eyes scanned the room for any family. We were clear.
“Yes. Something is wrong. I can’t do this anymore.”
I stood there for a moment, ready for her reaction. But I couldn’t wait for her to scream at me or start crying. So I left.
I wasn’t going to be pulled under.
vii. kiss in the rain (two)
Since Christmas Eve, no girl has tried to kiss me. No girl has seriously tried to flirt with me. It’s been four and a half months.
Andie ignores me. I see her quite frequently with Zoe and Lauryn, who also ignore me. They have formed a group known as the “girls who’ve kissed James Potter.” It’s alright. It’s kind of catchy.
It was raining outside. Surprise. “April showers bring May flowers” is the saying I frequently hear, but I’d rather just have the rain, no flowers.
‘James, you can’t just stare out the window, longing to jump around in puddles. You have to physically do it.’
I turn around and see my cousin Rose. ‘Stop reading my thoughts,’ I joke.
‘I don’t have to; I know you too well,’ she laughed, taking a seat beside me. ‘Just go outside and walk the grounds. You need to just let go for a bit. Let go of reality and just…be.’
I scoff at her. She’s gotten a lot less rigid since realising all blokes aren’t the same. One in particular.
‘I see Scorpius has gotten you to loosen up. You are never one to just be.’
She blushed faintly before recovering. ‘You really should James. You’ve been off ever since Christmas Eve. Everyone has noticed. You’re not yourself.’
I sigh. I knew this was going to come sometime. ‘Maybe I was never actually myself.’
‘See! This is why you need to be. Find yourself in the rain. Wash away the new, strange and distant James to reveal the James you want to be, the James you were born to be.’
‘I’ll go and play in the rain if you stop being all motivational and shite.’
Rose laughs and gives my hand an encouraging squeeze. ‘Now that’s the spirit!’
I get up and smile.
She smiles back. ‘Of course.’
I leave, running up to my room to grab my mac and make my way through the castle and onto the grounds.
It was pouring. My mac was of no real help against the weather. I still put it on and trekked out into the elements.
Rose had been right; it’s exactly what I needed to clear my head.
Somehow, I find myself beside the very same tree Andie kissed me.
I lean up against the tree and laugh.
‘What are you laughing at?’
I turn to the source of the voice.
Needless to say, I’m surprised. I hadn’t expected to see anyone in the middle of a torrential downpour.
‘What are you doing in the middle of a very violent April shower?’
Lorcan smiled slowly, brushing a hand across his hair-plastered forehead.
‘I could ask you the same thing.’
He stands beside me and leans up against the tree.
‘Hmm,’ I voice, amused.
‘I’m here to clear my head,’ I tell him after a few moments of silence.
‘Why do you need to clear your head?’ Lorcan asks me.
‘Well, I haven’t been myself since Christmas Eve. It’s about time I forget about Andie and the “girls who’ve kissed James Potter” club and just enjoying being.’
‘Enjoy being what?’
‘Just being. Being alive, I suppose. Being me. Not having to worry about girls at all.’
Lorcan nodded, understanding. ‘It is good to be alive.’
‘The rain makes me feel alive,’ I tell him.
Suddenly, I run out from the relative shelter of the tree into the rain.
I run and run and I can hear Lorcan’s feet squishing in the muddy ground behind me.
I’m halfway down the lake when I stop. Lorcan is right behind me.
I fling out my arms and tilt my head back. I can feel everything about me sliding off, leaving only the parts that matter.
‘I am James Sirius Potter!’ I scream to the sky.
I stand up straight and see Lorcan is on my left. He’s squinting to see through the rain.
‘James, you are one of a kind.’
‘Sometimes I feel as I am the only one ever,’ I blurt out.
‘Only one what?’
I shrug. ‘I don’t know. I just am.’
I shake my head, my hair sticking tighter to my head.
Lorcan smiles and I smile back at him.
He takes a step closer and I know what’s going to come next. I’m not dreading it.
In no time at all, he’s in front of me and he’s leaning in toward me and I’m leaning into him.
It’s tentative and we bump noses to begin with, but we kiss. In the rain.
I felt strange, but a good strange. It was kind of like my first kiss all over again, but more wet because of the rain and it wasn’t a sixteen year old girl kissing me, but a nearly seventeen year old boy. And we were kissing in the rain!
This time, the cliché wasn’t in the fact that I was drenched from the rainstorm, kissing someone I had least expected. It was the fact that I had found someone who I actually made me feel something. There was no sense of obligation at all. I think Lorcan was someone I could understand and like a lot. Maybe even love, eventually.
And for once in my life, I don’t feel like I am drowning.
AN: For creative purposes, James and Rose are the same age in this story, as are Lorcan and Lysander. Also, James is a bit out of character; he’s not the mischievous boy we are all led to believe he is.
But anyway, I hope you enjoyed this different James. I myself – overall – have a hard time imagining James Sirius Potter as gay, but it was fun to write him as such. I like changing the characters “supposed” identities, like I did for my Lily/Lysander one-shot. (James was bookish while Al was a prick-ish superstar.)
And I hope this style wasn’t ruined by my attempt to write it. :-/ And I hope this realisation James experiences is believable.
And I apologise for the sappiness. :-P
Please R & R! It’d be quite appreciated. :-)