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Chapter 8 : Chapter 8. Swift.
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“It’s been a long day,” I heard myself say.
“I know,” his voice replied.
“Is this a real dream or did you pull something?” I asked, backing away from him. His eyes seemed to match the brightness of his smile.
“Technically, it’s both.”
“What are you on about?” I furrowed my brow and crossed my arms over my chest. He sat down on a couch that appeared from nowhere.
“I’ve been reading up on lucid dreaming and whatnot, trying to figure out if I could do what you do minus the freak potions accident and, well obviously I can’t dream hop, but I can control my own dreams,” he said proudly, putting his hands on his head and leaning back.
I looked around once more, trying to process all of this new information. He watched me silently, letting me think. I appreciated it so much that I wondered again if this was my dream James or just James in my dream.
“So you fell asleep?” I asked. “Knowing you’d pull me into a dream…”
“And that I could control the dream if I realized that I was dreaming,” he explained, smirking at me. My mind got away from me for a moment as I managed to mock him for his smugness and then feel attraction in the pit of my stomach for his brilliance all in the span of two seconds.
“Oh,” I cleared my throat and shifted my weight from one foot to the other, using my pinky finger to push away a strand of hair that was stuck to my cheek. I had a dull ache in my side.
“Lily,” the sound of my name from his voice just sent a shiver down my spine and I blushed a bit. He stared into my eyes for a moment and I looked at his face. Curse him for having a better complexion than me! Being so pale generally doesn’t bode well with stress acne. His eyelashes are gorgeous! Such a waste! Finally he pulled me away from my frivolous thoughts, “when we were pulled into the dream just now…you kind of lunged at me?”
I turned scarlet, bringing my hand up to tuck some of my auburn hair behind my ear. I adjusted my jumper a bit out of habit and then nodded, “Yeah, it was just…” C’mon Lily, think… “I was frightened!”
Oh Merlin, that sounded false even to me. Damn you lying skills…or lack thereof.
“Frightened?” James raised an eyebrow and seemed skeptical but also like he was worried about me. Did he really not catch onto my not so subtle hints?
“Well, I fell into another nightmare earlier,” I lied. “The same one from before actually, the whole werewolf bite, and it just…horrifies me. It’s so vivid and violent and absolutely—I mean, what if it’s a memory? Most people don’t have the exact same dream twice, yeah? So, someone might have been…you know?”
Sometimes my mouth runs itself away from my brain. James suddenly tensed, all silliness struck away from his demeanor.
“Did you finally figure out whose dream it is?”
“James, if I knew, I would have said so!” I got a little annoyed. Does he listen to me at all?
“Yeah,” he sighed and slumped to the side of the couch, his feet heading in separate directions. What a slouch, I scolded him mentally.
“So, yeah, I just needed comforting is all,” I continued.
“No, of course, I didn’t think that you,” all of a sudden he seemed really sheepish, almost resembling Remus in his shyness. “you would ever, I mean, friends hug all the time.”
Why was he laughing so nervously? I nodded and continued to look at him as though he’d gone barmy. I sighed and slapped his knee lightly to get him to scoot over so I could join him on the couch.
“Yeah,” I agreed. I dropped down on the cushions and exhaled loudly.
“So, I saw Cameo Johnson today after the game,” James laughed, recalling the whip cream dream I’d intruded upon. “She smiled and waved so I went over and—“
“Please tell me you didn’t—“
“I couldn’t help myself, I was like, ‘so, do you have any whipped cream by any chance? Sirius and I have been jonesing for some lately’ and oh Merlin, you should have seen her face!” He collapsed into a fit of rambunctious laughter. I felt tears come to my eyes from laughing, and my hand clenched my stomach as my abs were contracting.
“James!” I gasped. I could scarcely breathe at this point.
The dream began to fade and I found myself in my little nook, the book open on my lap to page 3. I brought my hand up to my face, wiping my eyes and leaving black residue on my knuckle from my stupid mascara.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about!” I heard Sirius’ voice and looked over to the chess table, but no one was there. My gaze swung to the couch in front of the fire where the three boys were sitting along with two other blokes and a few fifth year girls.
My eyes searched for the dark head of hair I was longing to see, or maybe those hazel eyes, or the crooked smirk, Merlin I had it bad. But James wasn’t sitting with the rest of his mates. He had to be in the room, the dream hopping wouldn’t have worked otherwise.
“Looking for me?” a voice whispered into my ear and a chill went up my spine. I turned my head and he backed away a little, leaning against the wall, his arms crossed. “So what’d you think?”
“It was brilliant!” I said, attempting to be emotionless as not to inflate his precious ego once more. It seemed the attempt was futile though, as his eyes beamed and his hand flew to ruffle his hair. “I didn’t think you knew how to research.”
“Ha Ha very funny,” he smirked, shaking his head a little.
“No, but in all honesty, I’m impressed.”
“You should be,” he shifted his gaze elsewhere, looking oh-so-nonchalant. “I’m kind of a big deal around here if you haven’t noticed.”
There was humor in his voice but my eyes rolled of their own accord, possibly out of habit. Before I could stop myself I said, “And here I was under the impression you had changed.”
His whole demeanor suddenly altered, his air grew stiff and his took a step towards me. James’ expression was almost hurt. “I have changed.”
I hesitated for a moment. I didn’t want to apologize, to show weakness in any shape. Potter may have impressed me, but I wouldn’t let him walk all over me. Sure, I had admitted that I had been wrong about him, that I liked him a bit, that every time I saw him I felt hyper and shaky, that lately when I wasn’t being sucked into dreams I was fantasizing about us rolling around on the grass outside, his hands all over me, my own twisted into that hair that he was once more shuffling his hand through.
I snapped out of the daze, feeling foolish. Pull yourself together, I thought. Trying to change the subject, I nudged my head to the side, indicating the group by the fire, “what are they all up to?”
“I dunno,” he swayed for a moment and then seemed to make up his mind. His walk to the scene almost appeared like a strut, but merely because of his athletic gait. To my embarrassment, and I seriously hope no one saw, my eyes traveled down to watch his bum through his trousers. I managed to avert my gaze just as he turned to look at me and wave me over, “Well, c’mon then!”
I took my time walking over, folding up my blanket and placing it gently on the window seat, the throw pillow on top of that, and finally my novel upon that.
We spent the rest of the night with those folks. Sirius argued with James for a bit about the validity of some quidditch rule. I just smiled and laughed at the appropriate moments and stole glances at James when I thought no one was looking.
An hour passed and it became Sunday as the clock continued ticking. Some of the girls wandered up to bed, claiming they needed beauty sleep. Bitterness swept through me, resentment at their ability to just sleep without worry.
Remus was now lecturing the boys on some kind of old sportsmanship convention that spawned the rule they had just been debating. It was rather boring—how the boys managed to stay awake I haven’t a clue.
And right as the thought struck me, the numbness did as well. My fingertips tingled, and my vision blurred. Oh lord, I thought. I felt a sense of panic sweep through me, chill me to the bone—why was I so worried. I’d gone by myself before on dream hops? I was used to it. But going with James just seemed right. Like I needed him to experience this with me, whether it be bad or good. My arm lunged out grabbing hold of some fabric before I completely succumbed.
It was night but it was easy to see, the moon was bright and full in the sky. The land around me was dry, serene, calm. I breathed in deep and turning, and my breath caught in my throat.
“Oh thank Merlin,” I leapt towards James and crossed my arms behind his neck, clinging to him. After a second he put his hands on my waist, dazed it seemed. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t expect one tonight and—“
“No, Lily, I’m glad that you feel like you need me here,” I felt him smile against my hair. “Makes me feel needed…wanted.”
“Well I do want you,” as soon as it left my lips I begged it to come back. He pulled back, not letting go of me, but looking into my eyes.
His eyes were dark, clouded with some kind of emotion I couldn’t define. It made the pit of my stomach ache in a strange way, stronger than anything I’d ever felt before.
“I-I mean…I just…” I stammered. Suddenly though I was interrupted.
“Prongs, either you morph right now or he’s not going to chase you and then I won’t be able to tackle him later. Now!” Sirius’ voice was shouting. Suddenly I gained my wits and pulled away from James completely. James looked completely shocked.
I then took in our surroundings.
“The shrieking shack?” I asked. “What are we doing here?”
“I…um, don’t know?” James sounded insecure with his answer. Sirius was looking at him expectantly but James was just gaping at him. Sirius cleared his throat.
“Prongs!” He bellowed. “Now!”
And then James was gone. In his place suddenly stood a deer, no a stag. It was majestic looking, and if my life were a muggle film, I suspect that euphoric and epic sounding music would blast at this moment as beams of light surrounded the animal.
“James?” I gasped, looking at the stag.
Before anything could be answered though, a resounding howl emerged from the shack, the wood foundation shook, and I trembled with worry. What on Earth was that? Without any warning, a werewolf, looking absolutely frantic, bombarded out of the archway of the shack, leaping with great strides towards the stag.
“James!” I shrieked, my face losing all color. I froze, terrified and worried for his safety, or at least this creature that was now in his place. The stag gracefully evaded the raging beast and sidestepped, allowing a huge black mass to pounce upon the werewolf from atop a hill. I watched in terror, frozen.
“Wait,” I breathed, looking around for Sirius. Where had he escaped to? Had he just left James and I here to face this beast or what? I heard a growl, a snarl, and a bark. Werewolves don’t bark, my mind ran wild.
Through the tussle I made out the shape of a black dog, biting the werewolf’s ear. It looked as though the two were playing. The stag was now just standing behind them, looking at the scene and then me every now and then.
“Oi!” I heard. The darkness began to cloud my vision once more. I shook my head and sat still for a moment. I heard shuffling footsteps and opened my eyes.
Peter was shaking Sirius awake while Remus seemed to be tugging on James’ hair.
Remus laughed, “Mate! C’mon, why are you so out of it?”
James’ stare stayed transfixed on mine, “I guess I’m just really tired.”
“Well, we’re packing it in for the night anyway, Padfoot already passed out,” he nodded over to where Sirius was rubbing his eyes and wiping his chin. James nodded and gave a small, semi-fake smile to his friend before waving them off.
“You should head up too, Lily,” Peter called to me. “You zonked out just as bad as these two!”
“Thanks, Peter, I will.” I replied curtly.
The three other boys noisily made their way back up to their dorm as James and I watched them go. When we heard the thud of the boys’ dormitory door shutting, I turned to him and gave him what I hoped was an intimidating look.
“What the hell just happened?”
“Okay,” James sighed, letting his head fall into his hands. “I need to let you in one some…information.”
“Remus?” I gasped. “Oh my—You mean—Oh God, poor Remus! So it was a memory! I was right. So then how did you guys learn to morph into your animagus forms?”
“I didn’t know you could research,” I quoted myself. “Remus must have been the main one doing the work, I suppose.”
“He didn’t know actually. The bloke would have hexed us to hell if he’d found out we were planning on risking our safety. It was only till we were completely sure we could do it that we told him and convinced the poor bloke to let us join him next full moon.” He laughed at the memory. I watched his eyes glaze over with nostalgia. “The first time was a disaster of course, but most first times are.”
I froze at his words, the double meaning hanging in the air. He seemed to notice my palpable discomfort and stiffened as well. I wanted to laugh, but merely settled on clearing my throat.
“Look,” I said, changing the subject. “In case you’re worried about me telling someone—“
“No,” he cut me off quickly. “I trust you Lily!”
I continued, “I’m not especially close with Haley anymore it seems, and I don’t think Lys would care to be honest, so you have nothing to worry about. Besides, there’s kind of this feeling…I dunno, I feel like I’m in on your guys’ secret.”
“I guess it’s only fair; I’m in on your secret, yeah?” He laughed a bit.
“It’s a good feeling. You know, ever since this whole dream business began I’ve been shrinking back from my friends. Haley practically is some activist stranger now and I can barely have a five minute conversation with Lys. I just…I really appreciate you being my friend, James.”
He seemed put out for a split second and my mind jumped at the prospect that he’d been disappointed in the use of the word friend.
“I’m just glad you finally realized I’m not a bad guy after all,” he laughed, though it sounded a little forced.
“No, James, I don’t think you’re bad at all. I actually—“ I stopped myself.
“You what?” He pressed.
I noticed we were sitting on the couch together in rather close proximity. The fire was making the room be lit in an orange glow and it made his eyes seem larger, his whole demeanor screeched sex to me. I wanted to jump on top of him and just…woah Lily, calm down.
But I didn’t calm down, I licked my lips and thought to myself, would he push me off if I just climbed onto his lap? I could just hug him for a bit and maybe after a moment or two I could…I dunno grind my hips into his? That subtle enough for you, Potter?
I blushed a deep red, looking away from the boy in question.
“I think you’re great. And I think that I should be getting some rest.”
“You’re going to go sleep in the dorm? Where you’ll be dropped into all of those dreams and—“
“I don’t have any other choice. It works out badly if I sleep in here,” I gesture to the rest of the common room.
“Well,” he paused.
“What?” I pressed.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” he began. I bit my lip. “But maybe you could come up and sleep in my bed? That way at least I can share your exhaustion, maybe it’ll be spread between us, you know?”
It was totally ridiculous, the notion, but my hormones were making the idea more and more appealing.
“Your friends will see me? And I’ll have to sneak out in the morning, and someone will notice and then people will talk and I just can’t handle that right now, James.”
“Trust me, you won’t have to sneak,” he smirked. I stared at him with an eyebrow cocked. “I have something you can use…it’ll make sure no one sees you.”
After a bit more coaxing he took my sweaty hand in his and pulled me up the stairs. James opened the door to the boys’ dormitory, peeked inside, and then roughly pulled me inside, rushing me to what I presumed to be his bead. He pushed me onto it, closed the curtains and then left the bed to go search in his trunk for a moment.
I shivered a bit from the cold that was in the room. Someone must have left the window open.
He returned with something shiny and soft looking in his hands.
“This is a family thing,” he explained. I knew what it was immediately, despite my mind protesting the existence of such an object.
“Wow,” I breathed, reaching my hand out and feeling it. He unfolded it and laid it down upon my body, and immediately I was invisible.
“You can use it as a blanket, yeah? Serves multipurpose,” he craned his neck to pop a kink. Then he exited the curtained bed once again. I heard shuffling outside, but decided to just close my eyes and get ready for sleep.
No one was dreaming yet, which seemed really odd to me, but whatever.
When the curtains opened again my eyes shot open and my face went red as a gasp/moan slipped through my lips. James either didn’t notice or pretended not to as he climbed into bed next to me, closing the curtains once more.
“You only wear boxers to bed?” I blurted out.
“Yeah, is that a problem, I can change” I sat up.
“No, no. We’re both adults,” I laughed awkwardly. He smiled back.
I tried to ease the tension by making small-talk. “we don’t close our curtains in the girls dorm. Normally anyway. Except when we have to put on a bra or something.”
It left my mouth before I could hold it in and my face turned a deeper red, and to my surprise, so did James’.
“Is that right?” He feigned disinterest.
I shivered. Then a few things happened. I felt our legs touch each other, skin to skin and I gasped at the contact. We inched closer to each other—I’m guessing neither of us meant to do it intentionally. And my fingers began to tingle.
“Dream,” I warned him. My vision was blurring as he grabbed my hand and then to my surprise pulled me closer to him, putting his arm around me and tugging me closer to his side. I didn’t have time to protest, not that I would have.
Sorry for the long wait guys!! Please forgive me! I'll try to finish this story up before I leave for university in a month! Please review!
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