Chapter 32 : The Ball - Part I
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I twirled my wand distractedly in my fingers, not even hearing when McGonagall paired Potter and I together to work on the spell she had just taught.
“Miss Evans, did you hear me?”
“Huh?” I jerked to attention upon hearing my name and looked up to see McGonagall looking down her nose at me.
“For heaven’s sake, Miss Evans, I know you have a lot on your mind with the ball just days away but do try to pay attention in class, hm?” McGonagall scolded me, but her expression was soft. “You’ll be paired with Potter today.”
My stomach clenched uncomfortably as I glanced behind me at Potter who had a huge smile on his face. I turned back around and winced to myself.
How on earth was I supposed to stay away from Potter now? I’d done a pretty decent job of it so far, always hiding away in the library pretending to study or finishing things for the ball. I’d barely had to see him. Holly had kept her word; no secrets had been leaked yet. But I couldn’t risk taking chances just because she’s not in this class.
Everyone started moving with their partners. I didn’t even know what spell we were supposed to be practicing. I’d been zoned out all week, worrying about that stupid book. I hadn’t told the Clique. How could I? Emilie and Marley didn’t even know that Pippa still loved Sirius and I’m pretty sure Marley would kill me if anyone ever found out she slept with Liam. Not to mention, how freaked out they would be that Holly knows it was us who created the books in the first place. They’d be getting into serious trouble because of me.
Potter sat down next to me, placing a small stone statue of a deer in front of me.
“Do you want to go first?” Potter offered, nudging the small statue in front of me. I stared at if for a second and then sighed.
“I’m sorry, I don’t even know what we’re supposed to do,” I confessed, resting my chin in my hands.
“We’re doing Piertotem Locomotor” Potter explained, a smile creeping onto his face. “It animates things, makes them come alive.”
“Oh,” was all I could respond. I wanted desperately to talk to him, to joke and laugh with him, but Holly’s voice played over and over in my head like a broken record. Stay away from him. Stay away from him. Stay away from him.
“Are you ok? You seem a little out of it,” Potter said, furrowing his eyebrows in concern.
“I’m fine,” I said irritably. It hurt to talk to him like this, to pretend to hate him, to pretend that I don’t want to be with him. But if it saved the embarrassment of my friends, I would have to do it. It wasn’t that big of a price to pay…was it?
“Sorry, I just thought—“ Potter said quietly. “I guess I’ll go first…. Piertotem Locomotor!”
The small deer statue was illuminated by bright orange light that faded as the deer started taking small steps around the table. I watched it, half in awe at Potter’s spell-work, and half sad that I couldn’t tell him so.
Potter watched me reach down and touch the deer, feeling the cold smooth stone beneath my fingers.
“Listen, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Potter said, breaking my focus on the deer. I glanced over at him, unsure of what to expect.
“So Holly and I….well, we broke up. Just a few days ago,” Potter said, looking at me carefully as if waiting to measure my reaction. Inside, I was dancing and singing out of happiness that he was no longer tied down to her. But instead I tried to smooth my face into an expressionless mask to show him that I couldn’t care less.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, my voice sounding flat and lifeless to me.
“Well, I think it’s better this way…things weren’t going so well lately,” Potter said, confused by my reaction, or lack thereof.
“Mmhmm,” I murmured, turning the deer back to unmoving stone. “I’m sure you’ll find someone else,” I said, my voice catching in my throat.
Potter looked at me strangely for a moment and opened his mouth to speak but McGonagall cut him off, telling us that class was over and to we would continue where we left off next week.
* * * *
“That garland is too high!” I called to the prefect on the other side of the hall. Silvery ropes that rained snowflakes were being hung around the Great Hall in preparation for the ball. I watched as the prefect lowered the garland to match the others.
My eyes wandered around the hall to where Potter was standing, talking animatedly with Sirius about something. I saw Potter glance up and me and smile and I turned away quickly, pretending I hadn’t seen.
Agony. Bittersweet Agony. I was finally getting the attention from Potter that I wanted and I had to pretend I wasn’t even interested.
I invested myself in putting the table clothes on the tables and placing the white rose centerpieces on top. With a flick of my wand the tables were covered and I carefully moved the delicate glass vases of white roses to the middle of each table.
“It looks incredible, doesn’t it?” Potter said, appearing by my side. “You did a great job with decorations.”
“Thanks,” I smiled at him. “It does look pretty good doesn’t it?”
“Want to help me hang these outside?” Potter smiled back at me and my heart melted. How on earth was I supposed to keep resisting him? I’d thought of telling him the whole thing, about how Holly stole my book and threatened to tell everything. But it was useless, he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it and he would probably think I was an idiot for creating those books in the first place.
I followed Potter outside to the courtyard next to the Great Hall. It was lightly snowing and I hugged my robes around myself, trying to stay warm. Potter set the lights on the one of the stone benches and turned back around to face me.
“So I know you’ve been a little….stressed lately,” Potter said, his hands shoved in his pocket. “With the ball, and classes, all that drama with Chris…and I know it wasn’t easy when Holly was around all the time while we were trying to work. I haven’t been much of a help with all the planning…”
I stared at him, standing in front of me. I nervously tugged on a piece of my red hair, twisting and pulling it with my fingers. His bright hazel eyes avoided mine and his hands fidgeted in his pockets. What was he doing? I took deep breaths to calm myself. I had to remain removed and emotionless. No matter what he said now.
“I got you something,” Potter said pulling something out of his pocket. His eyes met mine and he must have noticed how surprised I was. “It’s not a big deal, really. Just something to say thanks….you know, for everything you’ve done.”
He reached out his hand and placed a dark blue velvet box in my hesitant palm. I glanced down at it, my breathing no longer calm. He bought me something? This boy was trying to make resisting him as hard as possible.
I flipped open the small box and gasped. Inside was a thin silver chain, almost impossibly delicate with a small snowflake pendant glittering in the pale, snowy December light.
“My uncle owns a jewelry store and makes all of his own pieces,” Potter explained quickly, seeing my shocked face. “So it’s one of a kind…like you.”
My heart swelled, and I couldn’t remember how to breathe. I tore my eyes away from the necklace to look at Potter, standing nervously in front of me.
“I can’t accept this,” I whispered, holding the box back to him. “It’s too much.”
“It didn’t cost me anything,” Potter said quickly, pushing the box back at me. “Really. I want you to have it.”
I looked down at the sparkling necklace again, the clear gems throwing beams of sunlight off them. “These aren’t—“
“Diamonds?” Potter read my thoughts. “Merlin, no. I told you it’s really not a big deal. I just thought it was pretty and, you know, a snowflake.”
“I don’t know what to say,” I whispered, moving my fingers over the delicate gems. This was undoubtedly the prettiest thing I had ever been given and I had no clue how to react, let alone how to react knowing that I couldn’t react.
“You don’t have to say anything,” Potter shrugged, keeping his eyes on me. “I thought maybe you could wear it to the ball….and save a dance for me, you know?”
I nodded dumbly, still unsure of what to say. He smiled hesitantly at me and all I could do was smile back.
“Want to help me hang these things?” Potter grinned at me, picking up the heavy ropes of lights.
An uncomfortable sensation crept into my stomach. The feeling we were being watched. I glanced up, ignoring Potter’s question and saw a pair of icy blue eyes peering at from behind the pillars on the other side of the courtyard. Holly.
“Lily?” Potter asked when I didn’t answer.
“I’m going inside,” I said coldly, turning my back on him and shoving the velvet box into my robes violently. I turned away from him so I wouldn’t have to see the hurt expression that I knew was on his face as I walked quickly back inside the castle.
I rounded a corner heading back to the Great Hall and ran right into someone.
“Oh! Sorry!” I exclaimed, before I noticed who was standing in front of me.
“Having a nice little chat with Potter?” Holly hissed, her pale eyes shooting daggers at me.
“We were just putting up decorations for the ball, Holly,” I sighed, not in a mood to put up with her threats.
“Looked to me like you were having a nice little moment out there,” Holly said angrily taking a step towards me. “I told you to stay away from him. This is your last warning. Understand?”
I nodded silently, my teeth clenching angrily.
“Next time I see anything like that happen again, all bets are off,” Holly hissed and shoved me away from her, walking quickly away down the hall and leaving me standing there. I pulled out the small velvet box from my pocket and glanced down at the dazzling snowflake once more before snapping the box shut.
* * * *
“Lily can you help me zip my dress?”
“Where’s my other earring? Have you seen my other earring?”
“Emilie! You’re stepping on my dress!”
It was absolute chaos in the Clique’s room in Gryffindor. We only had another half hour to get ready before we were supposed to meet Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Potter downstairs to go to the ball. Pippa and Marley were meeting Adrian and Liam outside the Great Hall.
“What if Remus doesn’t like my dress?” Emilie fidgeted as I helped her zip her dress.
“He practically adores you, Em. He’d like you even if you were wearing a paper bag,” I laughed and Emilie gave me a reluctant smile.
Pippa was frantically running her wand over her hair, trying to make it lay flat while Marley was peering out from behind her, trying to get a glimpse of herself in the mirror that Pippa was hogging. Emilie was turning around herself, trying to zip up her dress in the back when I finally interceded and zipped it for her.
I hadn’t put on my dress yet but instead was focused on my hair and makeup. A pile of dark blue silk was spread out on Pippa’s bed, waiting for me to put it on. I was wrapping the ends of my around my wand, trying to curl them. Finally I gave up and let Emilie take over. She pulled the curls over to one side and secured the low ponytail under my left ear, letting a few stray curls escape. She pinned a small, delicate white lily into the ponytail and secured it with just a flick of her wand.
Pippa was struggling into her form-fitting red silk dress. The flowing material clung flatteringly to her body, the halter top and flowing bottom accenting her curves. Emilie’s olive green dresses complimented her honey blond hair and hazel eyes perfectly and the modest cut of her dress suited her well. Marley had chosen a silver dress, making her dark hair and blue eyes stand out. She had outlined her eyes in sparkling silver and she looked positively angelic, like a real snow angel.
I pulled on my midnight blue dress, having Emilie help with the blue silk buttons running down the back. The strapless dress practically hugged me, remaining form-fitting until it flared out just above the knees. I opened the small blue velvet box and carefully took out the delicate snowflake necklace. I clasped it around me neck and looked in the mirror. I barely recognized myself, all dressed up like this, and I wondered as I looked at the necklace, if I’d get that dance with Potter tonight…
Once we were all dressed we were finally ready to head downstairs. I held my breath and we came into view of the common room and I saw Potter waiting aside Sirius, Remus, and Peter in their tuxedos. He literally took my breath away with his dark hair combed (for once) to one side and a white rose pinned to his lapel. It took me a moment to remember that I was going to the ball with Sirius, not him, and the sadness gripped me again.
However, Sirius looked equally dashing in his tuxedo and they all looked up as we approached.
“Well, if there was any doubt that you ladies were the best looking in the school before, there certainly isn’t anymore,” Sirius said, his eyes flitting between us all. I saw Potter staring at me, his eyes flitting to the necklace and back to my face.
“Thanks,” I muttered, dropping my eyes away from Potter’s face as Sirius looped his arm through mine and we started walking towards the Great Hall. I saw Emilie and Remus walking awkwardly next to each other and I had to suppress a smile.
Marley and Pippa met up with Liam and Adrian outside the Great Hall and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched Liam slip a modest corsage onto Marley’s wrist. She smiled up at him and he grasped her hand in his and they walked into the Great Hall together. Potter wandered into the Great Hall by himself, leaving Sirius and I alone.
Sirius’s grip on my arm tightened as we watched Adrian kiss Pippa on the lips as he pulled her into the hall with him. I glanced over at Sirius, seeing him scowl darkly after them. I was starting to get the impression that he wasn’t quite as over her as he appeared to be…
“You look really nice tonight,” Sirius said as we walked into the hall together. “I like your necklace. Is that new?”
“Actually,” I said, my hand reaching up to run my fingers over the snowflake. “Potter gave it to me yesterday. It’s not that big of a deal. I guess he got it from his uncle or something.”
“His uncle?” Sirius said, looking more closely at the pendant. “If he got it from his uncle, it most definitely is a big deal.”
“Why?” I asked bewildered, glancing down at the dazzling gems. “He said it’s not even real.”
“Lily,” Sirius said, looking up at me, the sparkle from the necklace reflecting in his silver eyes. “James’s uncle makes only diamond jewelry. To him, anything fake is near blasphemy. If James got this from his uncle, those are most definitely real.”
“But why—“ I stuttered, letting the necklace fall back onto my collarbone.
“Lily, listen to me. He’s done with Holly,” Sirius said, his eyes boring into mine. “And you’re done with Chris. Don’t you see what he’s doing here?”
Before I could say anything, Sirius pulled me into the hall behind him. The hall was practically dazzling in the evening light. The candles against the wall were lit and snowflakes were falling from the ceiling, mimicking the flurries outside. We took our seats at one of the tables and watched as Liam pulled Marley onto the dance floor, quickly followed by Remus and Emilie. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Holly with her Hufflepuff friends on the other side of the hall. She made eye contact with me and scowled, eyeing me up and down. I turned away, not wanting to deal with her tonight. I wanted to have fun with my friends and not have to worry about stupid schoolgirl threats.
“Do you guys want something to drink?” Adrian asked us, getting up.
“That would be great,” I replied, looking to Sirius for his answer too.
“No thanks,” Sirius said stiffly.
“Ok, I’ll be back in a few,” Adrian said, throwing Sirius a curious look.
“Could you be nice?” Pippa hissed when Adrian was out of earshot, smacking Sirius on the arm.
“I was being nice. I didn’t want anything to drink,” Sirius said flatly, turning away from her.
“What is your problem?” Pippa whispered angrily. “Are you jealous or something?”
Sirius turned angrily back to face her. “Jealous? Of that womanizer? Hardly.”
“He’s not a womanizer!” Pippa hissed at him.
“Hey, how about that dance?” Potter appeared in the seat next to me, distracting my attention away from the spat between Sirius and Pippa.
“Dance?” I said, my eyes finding Holly in the crowd. My head was still reeling from Sirius’s revelation about the necklace. Holly glared at me, seeing that I was talking to Potter.
“Maybe later,” I said, looking down so that I wouldn’t have to see Potter’s hurt expression. I stood up and walked away, leaving him disappointed at the table, and hoping it would look to Holly like I was thoroughly ignoring him. When I looked up I saw that Holly had returned to her friends so I assumed she was satisfied.
I walked around the room, watching the couples dancing, wishing desperately that Potter and I could be among them. Pippa and Sirius were still arguing at the table and Potter was sitting off to one side, staring idly into the crowd. I turned my attention away from the table and focused instead on making sure all of the decorations were holding up. All of the students seemed to be having a good time, dancing, listening to the music, mingling amongst each other.
I backed out of the Great Hall, unable to take it all in anymore. I walked aimlessly down the hall away from the party.
I almost screamed when a hand reached out and pulled me down a corridor towards the small balconies outside the Great Hall, but I was calmed when I saw that it was only Potter.
“I need to talk to you,” he said roughly, not meeting my eyes but letting my arm go as we walked out onto one of the decorated balconies off the Great Hall. The cold hit me hard in my strapless dress and heels and my teeth immediately started chattering. Potter flicked his wand casually and the air around me became suddenly warm, a bubble of heat surrounding us as thick clusters of snow fell around us.
“What’s going on? Is everything ok?” I asked, glancing around to make sure that we were completely alone. Maybe now I could finally tell him that I care, that I’m not purposely ignoring him.
“I need to tell you something,” Potter hesitated, his voice unsteady as he turned back towards me. I had never seen him this nervous before. His eyes lifted slightly to meet mine.
“Look, I know we haven’t exactly gotten on all that well this year, and a lot of that is my fault. But that kiss last year…and then, you stayed with him…I thought I could make you jealous by dating Holly and then it just…backfired and turned into something it wasn’t meant to be,” Potter said, the words practically spilling from his mouth as if he’d been bottling this up for months. “And I thought that, maybe, when you broke up with Chris you were doing it for me and that I’d made a mistake by being with Holly, but you were so cold and distant and then seeing you get back together with him just made it so much worse. And I tried to just be with Holly and force myself to get over but I was lying to myself.”
He took a deep breath, his hazel eyes full of emotion, locking with my emerald ones.
“It’s you,” James breathed, reaching a tentative hand out to tuck a stray auburn curl behind my ear. “It’s always been you. And I’ve been an idiot for trying to deny it for so long, but I want to be with you. And I think you want to be with me, too.”
I couldn’t breathe. My heart was thumping wildly in my chest and I was sure that he could hear it. Was this really happening? I must be dreaming. Never in a million years could I have hoped he would be standing before me saying these things. My voice was stuck in my throat, the millions of things I wanted to say to him remaining trapped inside me.
“I love you, Lily,” James said quietly, his hand tracing the side of my face gently, as he took a step toward me, his eyes never leaving mine. “I always have, and I always will.”
I couldn’t remember how to breathe. But it didn’t matter anymore as James rested his forehead against mine, our eyes closing as we listened to the snow swirling around us like a perfect snow globe. Our noses touched, just briefly before I felt his lips press gently against mine. My breath escaped me in a rush as his hands laced around my back, allowing me to melt into his arms. His kiss sent a jolt through me, electric, passionate as it made its way from my lips, coursing through my body to the tips of my toes, his scent overwhelming me in the best way possible..
It was a whole different kind of magic, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before, his body pressed against mine, my hands finding their way to his face…
“You bitch,” a dangerous whisper broke us apart. My head was still reeling from the kiss but my insides froze as I saw Holly standing just inside the balcony, her hands clenched into fists at her sides.
“I warned you,” she said, her voice low and dangerous, quivering with anger. I could feel James’s eyes on me, bewildered by the situation.
“I warned you!” Holly yelled again, backing away from us. Before I could stop her she had turned as was running down the hall away from us. Without a word to James I took off after her but my path was quickly cut off by Sirius as he grabbed my hand, stopping me in my tracks.
“Hey, I’ve been looking for you two everywhere,” Sirius said, sounding out of breath. “Dumbledore wants you and James for a toast in the Great Hall.”
I glanced up in time to Holly’s dress whipped out of sight around the corner along with any hope of stopping her.
A/N: Hey everyone!!!! Hooray new chapter!! and WOAHMYGOD drama! I hope you liked it! I'd love to hear what you think :) and if you can believe it, there's even MORE drama coming...
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