Chapter 16 : chapter fifteen: first love
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"so little to say but so much time, despite my empty mouth tphe words are in my mind. Please wear the face, the one where you smile. Because you lighten up my heart when I start to cry."
First Love- Adele
“Lexie, suppers ready,” Lily’s muffled voice said. I opened my eyes, and sat up in my bed. I must have fallen asleep.
“Okay, one sec,” I said, grimacing at how hoarse my voice sounded. Bloody hell. I jumped out of bed quickly and checked the mirror in my bedroom at a vanity. My eyes were blood shot and my face was red and blotchy.
“I’ll meet you downstairs,” Lily murmured. I waited until I heard her walk down the stairs before I opened my door and walked across to the bathroom. Grabbing a face clothe, I ran it under cold water trying in vain to wash away the evidence of my tears.
My reflection terrified me- I looked terrible. My eyes were still red and puffy and my hair was a chaotic matted mess. Resigning myself to the fact that no matter what I did I would look terrible, I gathered my hair into a loose bun and walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.
I paused at the door, feeling like an intruder to the obvious happy mood inside. Taking a deep breath I opened the kitchen door.
Lily was helping Ginny bring the food to the table while Harry and Albus were laughing at something James said. As soon as I entered however, everyone stopped to look at me. Lily smiled as if I didn’t look like I had just been crying for the past few hours, which I was grateful for. Albus looked at me but quickly looked away. James frowned and his eyes crinkled in concern. Ginny and Harry looked at me then at each other.
“Sorry, I think I fell asleep.”
“It’s perfectly alright. Come on and sit down,” Ginny said. I did as she asked, sitting beside James and Lily.
As soon as Ginny set down the last of the dishes piled with food, Albus and Harry started to pile food onto their plates. James did the same, but with my plate. Noticing this, everyone Albus almost dropped his plate of food. Harry paused, smiled and put his plate down.
“Since when did you become a gentleman?” Albus asked, obviously gobsmacked.
“She’s a guest,” James argued, placing a plate full of food in front of me. I smiled in thanks.
“Yeah, like that’s ever stopped you before,” Lily laughed sarcastically.
James opened his mouth to make an argument, but Harry intercepted him expertly.
“So Lexie, tell us about yourself.” I looked up from my plate, and bit my lip.
“There’s not really much to say,” I trailed off feeling uneasy.
“Not from what I’ve heard,” Harry said with a smile, taking a bite of food. I grimaced.
“That seems to happen a lot. Are you sure you’re hearing about the right Lexie?” Everyone laughed, seeming to miss the fact that I was being completely serious.
“How did you and James meet?” Harry asked more specifically. I smirked and glanced at James who suddenly found his plate to be the most interesting thing in the world.
“We’re in the same year, obviously. Met him in first year and we’ve all of our classes together. But, this year on the train he knocked me down.”
“James!” Ginny scolded.
“It was Albus’ fault. He pushed me into the compartment,” James defended, glaring at his brother. Albus only rolled his eyes.
Harry sidestepped is sons’ bickering and looked at me again. His green eyes, although striking in colour were warm with kindness. I liked him, and I found myself trusting him. It must have been amazing to have a dad like him growing up.
“What are your plans after Hogwarts?” Ginny asked.
“Probably a healer, or a professor. I haven’t decided yet. Things have been fairly hectic.”
“Seventh year usually is,” Ginny consented, giving me a trademark smile. I smiled weakly back.
When everyone was finished eating, Ginny stood and started to collect dishes. I did the same out of habit.
“You’re a guest Lexie, you don’t have to help,” Ginny scolded. Seeing that their mum was otherwise distracted, Lily, Albus and James snuck out of the kitchen, followed by Harry.
“I don’t mind.”
I walked to the sink with the dirty dishes and ran the water. I could just clean the dishes with magic, but I always found washing dishes therapeutic. Ginny stood next to me, watching me intently.
“I’m sorry about your mum Lexie,” she said softly. I let out a shaky breath and felt tears start to sting my eyes.
“I miss her, and no one can really understand that. I wasn’t even there.” Tears started to spill down my cheeks. “I miss my mum,” I sobbed. Ginny collected me in a hug, stroking my hair soothingly.
“You’re okay. I’m right here,” she whispered over and over again. I held on tighter, not bothering to find control.
We stood there for several minutes. Even after I stopped sobbing, Ginny held me tightly. She pulled away reluctantly, flicking her wand at the pile of dirty dishes making them wash themselves. Next, she flicked her want making two cups of tea appear. We sat down at the table. I wrapped my hands around the delicate cup and took a grateful sip.
“It gets easier, after losing someone,” Ginny finally murmured.
“It never bothered me, not knowing my dad because I always had mum. Now that she’s gone, I can’t help but realize how alone I am.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Ginny said softly, placing her hand on top of mine. “you have Harry and I. I know you don’t know us well, but we’d like to fix that. Not to mention a certain son of mine seems to be smitten.”
“You were probably wondering why or how everyone in our family seems to know exactly who you are?”
“James hasn’t stopped talking about you since the first of September. We’ve never gotten so many letters from him,” Ginny said with a smile.
“That’s not possible, James couldn’t like me like that,” I argued, but my stomach filled with butterflies.
“Oh I think it’s more than just like.”
“What?” I asked again, smiling slightly.
“Don’t sell yourself short Lexie. He loves you, and he couldn’t have chosen a nicer girl to fall in love with.”
Then, as if Ginny summoned him with her scary impressive Potter magic skills, James entered the kitchen. I looked at him closely, before sharing a quick glance with Ginny. She winked. Bloody Hell- she winked!
“Hey Lex, are you done in here?”
“Yup, I am,” I said as I stood. James smiled and motioned for me to follow him out of the kitchen. Ginny gave me another significant glance.
Told you so. My eyes widened and caused Ginny to smile again. Okay- is there anything the Potters CAN’T do?
James and I walked out of the kitchen, down an unfamiliar hall and into what looked like a recreation room and living room. We were alone.
“Are you okay?” James asked as he pulled me down on the couch beside him. Now I really wished everyone would stop asking me that.
“Of course I’m not James.”
“Right, stupid question.” I nodded, feeling the all too familiar sting of tears. Would I ever stop crying?
James seemed to notice my tears, and scooped me up in a warm hug. I liked James’ hugs.
“I miss her,” was all I said. James didn’t say anything, he seemed to know I just needed to cry.
Not to sound like a walking cliché, but James and I fit together like puzzle pieces. In James’ embrace, I felt empowered and...loved. I sniffled a little and tilted my head so I could see James’ face. He was looking at me too.
“James, if I ask you a question, would you answer honestly?”
He thought for a few moments- his eyes never leaving mine.
I bit my lip nervously and James wiped a few stray tears from my face with his thumbs.
“I was talking to Ginny in the kitchen, and she told me something. Something that should of terrified me, but it didn’t.”
It was now or never, like a band aid. I could do this. I shouldn’t be asking- but I needed to know. I needed to know if my heart was going to break. My heart was already in shambles; if James didn’t love me...dear God I have turned into a complete girl.
“James, do you love me?” I asked, but before James could answer I pulled away from him and started to pace in front of the couch, all the while talking.
“Because in the course of three months you’ve degraded me to the level of an angsty teenager- a group that I was proud not to be a part of. What’s worse is that I’d happily remain the way I am if it meant I got to stay with you,” I said breathlessly, my mind doing all sorts of summersaults. I could hear my heart beating in my ear drums and my stomach flop with incredulity that I was letting my secret come to the surface not caring about the consequences for once.
“James, do you love me...because I think I love you,” I said quietly looking into his green eyes.
Neither of us spoke for several moments, and I felt my heart shattering with each passing second. He didn’t love me. I’d just ruined the one relationship that was keeping me from drowning.
Almost as if in slow motion, James stood and walked towards with me. I resisted to urge to take a step back. I looked down at my toes, but James’ warm rough hand tilted my head towards him.
He didn’t say anything, instead his lips pressed down against mine gently to give me a linger kiss. I embraced him as he arms wrapped around me. He pulled away from the kiss only to rest his forehead on mine. Tears of joy started to sting my eyes, and James moved his hands to cradle my face. He wiped my tears with the pads of his thumb.
Our eyes locked, and James whispered, “I love you too.”
I smiled at him, and he leaned in for another kiss.
As our lips were about to touch we heard the sound of a smack and Lily triumphantly saying, “Al I told you! I knew it would happen over the holidays. Pay up!”
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