Chapter 1 : Predators and Prey
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pretty CI by blackhorse @tda
Author's Note: IMPORTANT! This story is written in the style of those documentaries we've all watched on channels about the life of animals. As such it is best read when imagining a deep narrative voice. It's a bit unusual, I know. :) Anyways, I hope you like it!
Valentine ’s Day morning comes in the Hogwarts castle. Dew kisses the newly grown leaves of the trees and deep within the halls of the castle, a dazzling natural phenomenon unfolds. Males of the magical species all over the school awake and realise that they need to woo a female for the occasion. Taking in their predicament, they slowly leave their sleeping grounds and begin their search for an appropriate mate.
In the Gryffindor tower, a particularly colourful sub-species of the male variety can be observed – The ‘James Potter’. The James, as we shall call him, is the alpha male of the Gryffindor pack. With his ruffled brown hair and exquisite facial features, he is often a target for predatory females. However, as most of the representatives of the male species, he prefers the thrill of the chase himself.
As the sun climbs over the trees of the Forbidden Forest, so James climbs out of his Gryffindor nest and embarks on nature’s most brutal test - the hunt for the chosen female.
Not unlike a lion, he struts lazily and confidently to the Great Hall. There, he plans to acquire food, since the hunt he is about to partake in cannot be done on an empty stomach.
Quick and agile, James sits in his preferred spot at the Gryffindor table. He had set the perfect observation point for his target – the striking female sub-species of Joanna Lowsley. Joanna is an impeccable example of the usage of “peacocking” in mating rituals. With bright blond hair, big blue eyes and a lot of colourful dyes (or as the technical term is – make up) on her face, she gathers the looks of many males. A lot of competition awaits James, but here, the rewards transcend the risk. The successful acquisition of Joanna's heart is bound to fortify his alpha status among the pride.
James' meal is an uneasy affair with the burden of observation upon him and his breakfast is about to be interrupted. Annette Cooper, another Gryffindor sits next to him and inadvertently distracts him from his target.
“Happy Valentine's, James,” she says. “Did you receive a lot of cards?”
“Meh...” James answers distractedly. Annette is a good friend of his, but today, she is of no interest to him. He knows her inside out and there is no thrill of the chase with her. It's no surprise that his eyes avert to Joanna yet again.But Joanna is nowhere in sight.
Panicking, James stands up from his seat abruptly and makes for the door of the Great Hall. His prey could not have gone far.Out of the hall, though, an unexpected development awaits him. Near the stairs, he sees his prey in the hands of another hunter. They are involved in the... traditional ritual of snogging. James looks bereft. It is an insult to a hunter for his prey to be taken right in front of him.
Crestfallen, James goes back to the Gryffindor den. Fortunately for him, it is Saturday and just like a wounded lion, he can go back to his hideout and recuperate.
Several hours later, James is still on his bed. Thunder strikes in the sky and it is clear that heavy rain is about to fall. As the first drops fall from the heavens, he climbs out of his bed yet again with the intention of raiding the Hogwarts kitchens. Little does he know that in the shadows outside the Gryffindor entrance, another predator lurks...
At the far end of the corridor, Joanna Lowsley is leaning against a wall, casually assessing her fingernails. As she hears James footsteps, she deftly turns at him and gives him a ravishing grin. Drawn by it, he goes to her with swift confident steps.
It's a trap. As good a predator James is, he doesn't realize that he, himself, has fallen into the hands of a huntress. And she is going for the kill.
Without any sign or notice, she puts her arms around James' neck and leans onto him. Surprised by the female's boldness, he stands there paralyzed with a mixture of curiosity and... fear? Using her current advantage in the situation, Joanna leans to his ear and whispers in a seductive manner.
“Hello, tiger. I've been looking for you.”
James cannot believe his current luck. But... is this really true? As if to answer his unspoken question, Joanna closes the distance between them and gets her ultimate hunt prize – the kiss.
In the beginning, this unexpected development makes James unbelievably overjoyed. The mixture of hormones and primal instincts cause him to answer passionately to Joanna's advance.
As the rush wears off though, he begins to question his interest in her. Was it just the hunt that drew him to her? Indeed, as coherent thoughts begin to come back into his head, he starts to feel as if she is not the majestic lioness he envisioned her to be, but rather, a plain cat that is one of the few predators who hunt for the sheer cruel enjoyment of the hunt. Finally, he pushes her off him and confronts her to her face.
“What about the other guy you were kissing that morning?” he asks.
Joanna throws him another seducing grin. “He was just a game.” With a cat-like swift motion, she takes his red and gold tie in her hand and pulls him close yet again. “And so are you, but it's a fun game, isn't it?”
She looks him straight in the eyes and a psychological duel between the two of them ensues. In the end, sensing his opposition to her reasoning, she retreats but not without making one final attack.
“You will regret this, James Potter, it's your loss.”
Disappointed by the shattering of his illusions about Joanna, James decides to go out of the castle for a walk to clear his thoughts. By the time he is at the entrance, rain is already falling down heavily. Ignoring the downpour, James arrives at the edge of the Hogwarts lake, home place of the Giant Squid. Instead of finding a monstrous creature there though, he sees Annette Cooper. Drenched and spaced out, she doesn't seem to notice James' arrival.
“Nettie, what are you doing outside in this weather?” he inquires.
Like an ambushed gazelle, she jumps lightly and turns around. Her eyes are puffy and red. That detail suggests to James that she had been crying.
“I am fine,” she snaps a bit more viciously than usual for her calm species. “Sorry, it's just that stupid Valentine's day... I don't care for it, really, I don't know why I am letting some stupid fake holiday get to me.”
“Ah... yeah. Valentine's day sucks.” concurs James.
Annette looks at him angrily again. “Like you are one to talk. You got a thousand Valentines and I saw those looks you were giving Joanna.”
It is an appropriate moment to mention that while James is, indeed, the typical representative of the male species, he is a lot more perceptive than his peers. The mental wheels in his mind start turning and he is finally able to connect Annette's past reactions into a behavioural pattern. A pattern that suggests that all the hanging out after class with James, all the smiles that she gave only to him and her snappy reaction towards Joanna mean one simple thing – she has a crush on him.
Startled by this sudden conclusion, he starts thinking about his own feelings towards her. Annette Cooper has always been around him. She has never been the loudest, or the most desired by the population girl, but the more James thinks about it, the more he realises that he could never bear to see her out of his life. He likes her freckled nose and sweet voice and whenever he sees or hears her, his day usually gets a bit brighter and his heart beats a bit faster. How he never noticed that she was the lioness that he was searching for is a mystery.
Determined, James steps closer to her and leans down. He looks into her big eyes and tells her only one thing, because further words are not needed now.
“Happy Valentine's Day, Nettie.”
He strokes her cheek softly with one hand and captures Annette's lips into a gentle kiss. In the beginning, she is startled, but then slowly returns it. She rests her hands on James' shoulders while he puts his around her tiny waist. The rain continues to pour wildly from the sky, but now, no one notices it anymore.
And that is how, Valentine's Day concludes in a happy ending for James. More importantly, life has thought him a lesson. Love, true love, is not a hunt or a game. People, despite all their lowly desires and shortcomings are not animals and it is impossible to describe them accurately as such. And in love, predators and prey do not really exist, for when people are in love, they are not a hunter or a prize. They are merely two persons on equal grounds that share with each other one of the most beautiful magic on Earth, the only magic that even the mightiest wizarding spell cannot overcome.