Chapter 17 : St. Mango's
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Mortification. Nothing but utter mortification, coursing through my veins.
Karma! Curses, a thousand curses, I damn you to the fiery pits of Hades, where your nerves may burn and your skin may melt and your bones may disintegrate into pitiful dust –
Yeah, I know this is impossible. Don't ruin my fun.
The rest of transfiguration was torture. I couldn't look anywhere except at my notes, which swam in and out of focus as my cheeks burned and Miranda's giggles echoed and bounced around my brain. As soon as the bell rang I decided to stay back and wait for the rush of people to disappear, as to avoid any unwanted confrontation.
"Ms. Evans, are you alright?" McGonagall inquired a bit suspiciously.
"Never better," I replied, smiling tightly. "Just finishing up the last of the notes, pardon – " I gestured at the blackboard.
"Yes, well," McGonagall said, obviously a bit confused. "I hope you don't mind closing the door behind you after you're done."
"Of course, Professor," I assured her, and after making sure she was gone and the classroom empty, I quickly packed my things up and planned my escape route.
I ducked and rolled beneath a desk, coming to a halt just before the doorway. I peered out into the hallway, checking for signs of human activity, before slithering out and coming to a stand against the wall. I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hello," a pleasant voice said from beside me.
I jumped a foot in the air, tripped over the hem of my robes, and as I began to fall, I resolutely accepted my fate of complete humiliation. Goodbye, my days as a dignified witch - so long, my sanity, my hopes, my dreams...
And hello to absolute horror. A pair of rather strong arms caught me and held me against a warm, welcoming body.
What a nice body it was, my brain sighed.
"Gotcha," Potter laughed happily, holding me closer.
Of course it was Potter. It was always Potter.
He smelled very, very nice.
"No!" I cried, my situation suddenly dawning on me. Struggling against his hold, I shouted, "Let go of me!", grabbing his arms and wrenching them away.
And while James released me kindly enough, my traitorous fingers stayed locked around his wrists.
What nice wrists.
"Sorry," I grumbled, even though I wasn't sorry at all. I was still thrilling at the heat of his body, and how I had just fit into his embrace like a puzzle piece. I let go of James's hands, a bit more forcefully than what was really necessary, and turned my back on him so I couldn't see the elated, about-to-combust-with-laughter expression written across his ego-inflated head.
On other standards, however, his head was actually quite nice – what with the sex hair, and all. And the eyes, and the lips, the tracings of the cheekbones and the bridge of his nose, the glasses –
What was my issue? What was…THIS? I was turning into an estrogen controlled, overly hormonal, whiny, simpering fangirl.
"Is something the matter, Lily?" James asked my back, amused with a tinge of genuine concern. My resolve softened for a second, to my disapproval. Where was the awesomely awesome awesomeness, the antidote to the Potter Poison? Had it deserted me in my moment of weakness? Though the way things were shaping up, this "moment" of weakness was beginning to feel like a lifetime of tragedy.
"Oh, nothing's the matter, nothing at all," I babbled. "I just sighed at you, for Merlin's sake, sighed at you! Like some obsessive, devoted little schoolgirl. I am nothing more than a little schoolgirl."
"Technically," James commented, "you are a little schoolgirl. You're fairly little – " I harrumphed at this " – you go to school, and you're a girl, unless you have a very shocking confession to make."
"I am very feminine!" I shouted over my shoulder.
"Could you please turn around?" James sighed. "It's not as much fun to talk to your back as you apparently think it is."
"I'm going mad, James," I rambled. "I just completely humiliated myself – well, you were there to see it, you were probably laughing with the rest of them, basking in your sexy glory." I heard James choke slightly behind me. "And in that moment, that stupid, stupid moment, I succumbed to natural instincts and…y' know, sighed. I sighed. And I regret it." I spun around to James's surprise and hollered, "I REGRET IT!"
"Fine, you regret it!" James assured me, holding my arms as if to calm me down. He was rubbing pleasant circles on my wrists, and I nearly shivered with pleasure.
"Lily, calm down, or I think you'll be having a grand old time with the staff at St. Mungo's," James said soothingly. Except his words were far from soothing, and his actions even further.
"ST. MUNGO'S?" I roared, and James stepped back a bit, letting go of my wrists. The little demon inside of me cried, "No! Come back and hold me again. Idiot."
At least my internal devils could still insult properly.
"Calm, Evans," James said, holding up his hands in a precautionary fashion.
"St. Mungo's," I muttered. Then repeated, "St. Mungo's."
"Yeah," James said slowly. "St. Mungo's. You know, the big magical hospital where you can get better? Mentally," he muttered as an afterthought.
I calmly straightened myself out, but my mind was whirring a mile a minute, and this little gem came out of my mouth: "Have you ever noticed how 'mungo' is only one letter away from 'mango'?"
James looked utterly lost.
"St. Mango's," I said faintly. His expression grew more and more baffled. "St. Mango's. I want to go there." A deranged giggle slipped out from my lips. "St. Mango's!"
And with that I rushed out of the hallway, relieved that I'd finally accomplished escape. I hoped James hadn't suffered too much brain damage on my behalf.
As I power-walked expertly out of the corridor, I contemplated where I should go next, marveling in the humidity and warmth of the castle in late fall. Merlin knew I had a complicated knot of troubles to sort out, and neither the Gryffindor common room nor the Head's dorm seemed like an ideal place to go. Passing by the familiar tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy with his ballet-dancing trolls, I stopped.
Musing over the painting and even putting a hand to my chin for effect, I leant backward as Barnabas took the trolls through a tricky arabesque. He seemed so enthusiastic, freedom and laughter in his warm eyes.
How I wished to be him! Unrestrained from the troubles of reality, cut from the ropes of imprisonment and liberated from the cage of society -
Who was I kidding, waxing poetic. Barnabas was crazy in a hat.
I paced back and forth by the painting, not sure whether I should go to the head dorms or Gryffindor tower, as the most amazing thing happened. The blank stone wall across from the tapestry began to shift as bricks gave way to smooth glass panes, and before I knew it, a sliding panel had appeared before me.
This was ridiculous. Inside the room I could see trolls in tutus, practicing ballet like their lives depended on it.
Gaping at the room across from me, I did a double take, then glanced down both ends of the hallway to see if anyone else had observed what had just happened.
There were no witnesses to the dancing trolls. Except me. And from what I could see through the doors, their eyes were welcoming me in with warmhearted goodness.
I know it's usually not a good thing to listen to kind-eyed dancing trolls in an unknown, magically appearing room, but my mental state was too unstable to actually listen to the frantic logic squeaking away at the back of my mind. Entranced, and with a silly, inexplicable grin plastered on my face, I walked into the troll's dance studio.
Tinkling piano music met my ears as I walked into the fresh, cool air of the strange room, and instead of meeting the distinctive stench of troll, the soothing scent of fruity goodness met my nostrils. I eagerly sought the source of this tantalizing aroma, completely forgetting about the cheerful trolls frolicking near the ballet bar. My eyes immediately snapped to a large fruit tart, baked fresh and to absolute perfection, waiting patiently for me on a small stool.
This room was perfect.
I looked around to gather my surroundings, and found myself in a dance studio lined with mirrors one side, and glass walls on the other three, overlooking what couldn't possibly have been real – a beautiful, cloudy mountainside on one end of the room, a dramatic ocean sunset on the other, and lastly, a calming valley of green grass and daffodils opposite the direction I was facing. I panicked for a second, trying to find the door again, but saw that it had shifted to the mirrored side of the room as the trolls danced around it.
Edging closer to the tart and suspiciously peering about, I could see no others (besides the trolls) that could steal my perfect pastry away – so without further ado, I conjured up a cushion and snatched the tart from the stool and plopped down on the floor, facing the meadow and the open sky. The tart was heavenly and as I sat and devoured its deliciousness, dancing trolls behind me and daffodils before me, sane thought began to creep back into my mind.
At first my logic, it seemed, was a little jarred, likely from being in its comatose state for much longer than it should have (and also probably because it was waking up to the most illogical room I'd ever set foot in). But once it'd got its bearings, it unleashed a torrent of questions.
What is this place? How in the hell are you surrounded by dancing trolls and three different geographical locations? Is that tart safe to eat? What the fuck am I going to do about James Potter?
As I couldn't really answer the first three accurately, I decided to settle on the last one. Not a moment too soon and I realized – I couldn't quite answer that one, either.
Maybe I should start at profiling. That was always a good first step.
James Potter, i.e., the Bane of Your Existence and the Man of Excellent Bone Structure Who Maybe Isn't As Bad As You Previously Had Thought (MEBSWMIABAYPHT for not so short).
The boy is bloody gorgeous, you have to admit. Go on. Admit it. You already sighed in front of an entire classroom, drool practically flooding out of your mouth.
But he's a childish, immature, arrogant little fuckwit that doesn't deserve a profile. Or your attention.
Except for maybe he does.
Because he's really not that bad. He makes you laugh. He makes you so confused you want to explode (or make him explode), but he's so genuine. He's made you feel better loads of times, like when you had that detention, or when you had that terrible dream. He likes you despite the fact that you are certifiably out of your mind. He actually carries out his head duties.
And he takes you seriously when you're trying, and he laughs with you when you're happy, and he's incredibly brave. Incredibly dedicated. And you like him.
You're so far gone, Lily. And you're so blind to think that it's something new. He's been trying to be there forever, and he's never given up, and you never gave him a chance, and now you're not so sure if you should, and nothing makes sense anymore, does it?
I can't just forget the past.
I took another bite of the tart, my voracious eating slowing down to a more acceptable pace.
I can't just forget the past. I've never forgotten things with Severus. I can't erase the times I saw him torn down by James, the mockery, the complete humiliation. I hated the spite I saw in his eyes. I absolutely hated it, down to my core, the fact that someone with everything could do such horrible things to someone with nothing.
But Severus isn't the same anymore. James isn't the same anymore. Not in the least bit.
And I don't think I'm the same anymore, either.
There's no other reason why you would be thinking this, right now, right here.
I like James.
I like James Potter.
My fork clattered to the floor as I finished the very last bit of the fruit tart, but as I let go of the plate and stood up, the room began to spin and the beautiful views began to vanish. The piano, playing ever so softly in the background, disappeared completely, and the trolls were gone, too. I was standing in a plain, empty room.
What the fuck?
There was a sudden pop behind me and I spun around.
To my horror, a life-size picture of James Potter, clad in sexy Quidditch gear, was plastered on the whitewashed walls. He grinned at me wickedly, raising a perfect, arched eyebrow that made me blush, even though for Merlin's sake, it was a poster.
James got me even in poster form.
"Bloody hell!" I shrieked, and scrambled away from the poster as fast as I could, but another pop sounded off and another poster appeared – this time James, in nothing but scarlet and gold boxers, stretching and yawning and revealing wonderful muscles on his gorgeous, gorgeous chest.
Another pop. Another poster. James, at a desk, frowning slightly and ruffling his hair, bending over an assignment with a quill in his other hand.
Fuck! I can't take all this beauty!
I rushed out the door and left the room behind me. The humidity of the Hogwarts corridor hit me like a brick wall, and for a second, I had trouble breathing and adjusting from the inexplicably air-conditioned nightmare room to the climate of the castle. You'd think a magical academy would learn some sort of climate control. They wouldn't have to pay for air conditioning, anyway.
I slumped against the wall, realizing that the door had disappeared altogether, in much the same manner as it had appeared to begin with. For some reason, I was relieved. A small smile refused to remove itself from my face.
I liked James Potter.
This was great. A step up. It was better to know than not know.
But what the ruddy hell could I do now?
That's it for today! Will update soon, I hope. Want to tell me if Lily's introverted-ness was annoying, or if I seemed like I was high while writing about dancing trolls? Then review, my good friends.
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