Chapter 9 : Avoiding James At All Possible Costs
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Lily knew she could not face James after this revelation, not if she had to spend all of Christmas with him. She did the only logical thing.
She hid from him.
When dawn peaked through her curtains, she pulled them tighter closed and pretended so be sleeping. Her friends didn't disturb her because she had claimed to be exhausted the night before when she had rushed into the dormitory. If she was still sleeping, they assumed she had been desperately tired.
Truth was, she had hardly slept at all. She could not get James Potter's face out of her head.
It was stuck behind her eyelids, making her blush as various scenarios played across her mind.
She realized she finally understood how he had felt all those years, and the difference was she could change it, she could eliminate these feelings. Lily felt that, maybe just a little bit, she deserved it, and she should have at least a few days of this feeling before destroying it. James deserved that much courtesy from her.
When the last giggling roommate had finally fled the dormitory, Lily opened her curtains. She sat in bed for a long while, wondering what she could do to stay out of his way. It would revolve around spending a lot of time in places he didn't go.
She pulled herself out of her bed and wandered slowly to her trunk. It dawned on her today was a Hogsmeade weekend. She had no reason to go, however, seeing as she had all of her gifts bought and wrapped. She could avoid James, because he would go with his friends. In fact, she would be able to spend plenty of time in the empty Common Room, enjoying the solitude.
She showered slowly, savoring the hot water as it pounded out the knots in her back. She wished everything could be simple, so she wouldn't have to hide from James.
In the end, she knew hiding would be fruitless. She was going to his house for the holidays and it hardly seemed likely she would be far from him during that time. In fact, he'd even mentioned a party his parents would be throwing that she'd need her newly-bought dress robes for.
Lily sighed as the steam around her became insufferable. She turned off the water and wrapped herself in a towel. The room above hers and her own were quiet, so she knew she'd been long enough that the students would be off to the village already.
"This isn't so bad," she said to herself. "I can avoid James for the weekend."
Lily dressed slowly, taking time to make sure she had on matching socks. Her sweater was warm and comforting, but also shaped her fairly well. If she'd woken up early enough to go the village with everyone else, she wouldn't have even bothered to pay attention to what shoes she was putting on, let alone if the sweater fit. Those things hardly bothered her, but if she was going to take extra time, every detail counted.
Lily flung her wet hair into a ponytail before remembering, as she did every morning, that she could do magic and didn't have to endure wet hair. She pulled out the scrunchie and pointed her wand at her head, focusing on the non-verbal spell.
Lily pulled out a book without looking at it and wandered shamelessly into the Common Room. Like she had anticipated, only a few of the First and Second Years were sitting around listlessly, probably longing for their adventures in Hogsmeade.
"It's really not all that exciting," she wanted to say to them. "I think it holds more heartbreak than anything else." But she knew they wouldn't understand and would probably just resent her. So she curled up in a chair by the fire and started to read. It was a book she'd purchased at Flourish and Blotts on a whim when she'd gone school shopping, one of about seven. It was a book her Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher would appreciate, because it was extremely descriptive and helpful.
Lily read away the hours and soon she was the only one in the Common Room. She stretched and realized it had to be dinner and soon everyone would be on their way back. With some quick thinking, she deduced the kitchens would be a safer bet. Sneaking back into the Common Room would be really hard, but she could perform a great Disillusionment Charm. Besides, she was hungry.
"Can Hixy help Miss?" a House-Elf asked as Lily walked into the kitchens.
"A cup of soup would be wonderful, Hixy," Lily said gently, sitting down quietly.
"Right away, Miss!"
Lily ate her soup in silence, watching as the House-Elves prepared for dinner. She glanced at her watch and realized she had a narrow window in which to make it back to the Common Room in order to pretend she'd had an early dinner.
She strode through the halls, glancing around at every turn. No one was about yet, and when she reached the Common Room, no one had arrived. She tucked her book under her arm and was headed back to her dormitory when a voice called to her.
"Hey, Emily," Lily said, smiling amiably to her as she stood on the third stair.
"Where are you going? We didn't see you at dinner."
"I ate early. I'm still really tired, so I was just going to go read it bed," Lily lied, coming up with her feigned tiredness on the spot.
"Are you okay?" Emily inquired, her brow furrowing in concern.
"I'm fine, Em," Lily said nonchalantly. "Too many late nights studying, I guess. They've caught up with me."
Emily paused, looking as if she shouldn't let Lily go, but after a moment, she reluctantly admitted, "You will need your sleep if we're spending the holidays with the Marauders."
"I knew you'd understand, Em. Night," Lily said, trying to remain calm and friendly. If she slipped up now, Emily would figure it out, and suddenly it would be all over.
"Night, Lily," Emily said, turning back around. Lily slowly trotted up the stairs to her dormitory. She changed into her pajamas and climbed into bed, propping open her book. She sat there for a moment before accepting how much of a lie it was. She untucked herself and made her way to the window sill. It had just enough room for one person to sit quietly alone, and that's just what Lily did.
Tomorrow, they were all leaving for the holidays. She would head to James Potter's house, and the game would be up. So for now, she stared across the grounds, thankful she could hide away for a little while longer.
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