No, this isn't a joke. This is real life. Yes, I've update! Woo hoo! I'm sorry for the months I've been out :[ Sometimes life kicks in and fandoms take over your life... and then you no longer have a life lol. But I'm hoping to pump out another three chapters *hopefully!* before Christmas comes around.
Again, I'm so sorry I didn't update for so long - I think a part of me is really stringing this out because...well, the story is almost over :/ so I think I'm somehow trying to stop this from happening. But... all things must come to an end :') so I guess I'll have to suck it up, sit down, have a good cry, and finish the story that took me approx. 6 years of my life to write.
Cheers, lovelies. This chapter is the beginning of the end. You're looking at less than 5 chapters left. Maybe I'll end up having 40 total chapters, I don't know, but as of late - it's only a few for now.
I love you all. And I will try my hardest to get these out before the holiday!
It’s the last day of our Hogsmeade camping trip and I haven’t spoken to James since our fight.
And I know what you’re thinking, but no, I don’t want to be the bigger person and talk it out with him. I’m too angry to even approach the idiot, let alone speak to him. The things he made me go through… I mean I could repeatedly punch him with all my might and it still wouldn’t be equivalent to the frustration I’ve felt since then.
Mainly because… well…
Because he was right.
I was afraid of what I felt for him.
I’ve known him my whole life; I know that I can sure as hell live without him, but I want him in my life and it makes me sick. It makes me sick, coming to this realization now. I didn’t know what to think of him all year and then he says one stupid thing, and everything just makes sense.
Regardless, I won’t let him win.
I won’t cave in and tell him he was partially right, because he was also partially to blame.
We’re both at fault here, and I know that.
But the fact that he pretended to have a girlfriend just to make me jealous… just to make me feel a little bit of what he was feeling… it was immature and just plain mean. I wanted to hurt him, mentally and physically, because that’s how he hurt me. He may not have known it, but that’s what he did.
I know that I sound like a child who’s blaming everything on the other person, but I don’t care anymore. I don’t care about being sensible.
I’m upset that I feel for him.
I’m upset that he knows.
I’m upset that I can’t even say it out loud.
“Lily,” my best friend calls, entering my cabin. She slams the door behind her and sits on my bed.
“Yes?” I respond, as I continue to pack my trunk. I grab another set of pants off my bed while Jessica idles back and forth nervously.
“I’m gonna do it.”
I scrunch my eyebrows and stop myself mid clothes-packing. “Eh?”
“I’m going to go public… with Frank,” she tells me airily, although she’s more into trying to convince herself than me.
I take a deep breath and look at her. “Oh,” I say fruitfully, my eyebrows raised in surprise.
“Tonight, at the farewell barbeque, I’m just going to scream it.”
"I’m going to scream that I’m with Frank Longbottom."
I thought going public would be a bit less… loud? Not that I’m not for it, because I’m practically their personal cheerleader. But Jessica is very literal and when she says she’ll do something she does it just how she describes.
“Why don’t you just hold hands instead,” I suggest, shrugging my shoulders.
It’s as if a light bulb has lit up in Jessica’s head. “Oh. Yeah, I guess I could do that,” she says in genuine surprise.
Sigh. Leave it to my best friend to go to extremes instead of keeping things simple.
“Wouldn’t that be more ideal? Well, more ideal than screaming?” I snap Jess back to from her daydream, where she is probably fantasizing about freely snogging Frank in the hallways.
“Um, I just thought screaming would send the message faster but since I hate most people… I guess just having them see me hold hands with him would get my message across.”
"Isn't that how most couples go public, though?" Well, that and bad PDA.
“Now that I think about it, yeah, that does make sense actually!” She looks at me with admiration. “That was very logical of you.”
Who’s that smug bastard folding her clothes right now?
OH, THAT WOULD BE ME.
“Damn straight, it was logical,” I smirk, nodding my head like the Fonz.
I should really chart my progress. I don’t think you understand how great I feel when I realize I just made sense. I should receive added years onto my life for things like this. At the rate I’m going I’ll probably be able to live up to 100 years old. Aw, yeah, I’d be the coolest old lady ever. Can you not imagine me as a old lady? I’d have such swagger with my cane and all. I can see it now…
“-so yeah, that’s what we decided today,” Jess explains, looking up to me to hear my thoughts on the matter.
“Er… I like cake.”
“Lily, damn it!” She exclaims, throwing her hands in the air exasperatedly.
I sigh, exhaling guiltily. “I’m sorry, I was fantasizing about my future self,” I say honestly.
Jessica stops mid-sentence and adds onto my confession. “Wait,” she sticks a finger up defensively. “Am I in this fantasy?” She looks at me like an angry toddler, with her lips are in a cute little pout.
“Of course,” I say obviously. “You and I are in a retirement flat together and we steal the wheelchairs once and a while.”
Her angry expression turns into an excited one. “Really?”
“Dude, I can totally see that,” she nods, looking off to think about her future self as well.
“I know, it’s so us,” I comment like a giddy teenager.
For a moment, Jess is pensive. Then she turns to me while I am folding my jeans and asks me, “We’re going to be the ones getting in wheelchair duels in the lobby, won’t we?”
My response is automatic.
“Most definitely,” I say strongly, without missing a beat on my folding.
After packing, handing in last minute assignments, and cleaning the last two days off of my face, I head down to the farewell barbeque with Emma. Today was sort of a resting day, where we had one last round of classes and one last trip around the grounds before writing our final reports. The rest was really just relaxing about and taking walks and sneaking naps in between.
I take a seat at the camping ground across from Jess, while Emma sits next to Sirius. Her boyfriend, who has been sitting with Jess for God know show long, just smiles at us with his charming face and goes back to interrogating my best friend. It’s not exactly a scenario you’d expect to see at a barbeque. Especially the questions Sirius Black seemed to have been asking Jess for the past 10 minutes.
“So what’s it like to have female reproductive organs?”
“You’re mentally unstable.”
“Do ovaries float?”
“I’m not having this conversation with you.”
Emma Tebbon looks off into the distance politely, grimacing to herself.
“Really?” I say to him, completely bland. “You’re asking her about her womanhood?”
Jessica puts her head in her hands. “He’s been going at this for a solid fifteen minutes.”
He shrugs. “I’m just curious,” he defends before turning back to Jess. “So what does a tampon-”
Emma holds up a hand, silencing him. She looks absolutely pained. “We’re at a barbeque.”
“Hey, it’s not my fault if I fell asleep during a few Anatomy lessons! Besides, it’s the only thing I can think of that can keep me entertained enough until Prongs and Wormtail come back. Little Miss Finelly and her little ovaries here are lacking in the excitement of the evening. She’s making me contemplate eating moth balls out of boredom.”
“Wow, thanks,” Jessica sarcastically comments, saluting to Sirius with her hands.
“Oh. Well, where’d they go?” I ask him, zipping my hoodie up all the way to my chin. “Not that I care, but if they’re going to leave you out here with moth ball eating as an option, they’re not very good friends.”
“I think they went to go finish packing with Frank. I’m not sure. Actually, Moony’s been out for a while too…”
What could those boys possibly be doing? If I have to go and save their asses from a hostile llama again I am going to be sodding pissed, I’m telling you right now.
“How long have they been gone?”
Sirius turns to me with a blank expression. Like I’ve asked him to solve rocket science and he is doing the calculations in his head. “They’ve been MIA for the past twenty minutes,” he states pensively. "Bloody, what are they doing? Color coordinating their drawers?"
“Yeah, probably,” Emma jokes.
We all sort of turn to her unexpectedly because she doesn’t make jokes like that ever. But then she giggles and smiles at us expectantly and we all sort of bite our lips. She’s adorable. I must say, I love it when she gets cheeky.
But all this teasing is making me dehydrated.
“I could use some lemonade,” I say randomly.
Everyone turns to me with puppy dog eyes.
“I’m going to get some drinks for all of us,” I announce, as I give in to their peer pressure. I getting up and I ask them what they want to drink, like the good friend that I am, and I walk two meters away where the drinks are being poured. What I come back to, is them discussing conspiracies.
“Maybe they’re just packing their clothes,” Emma offers, shrugging her shoulders simply.
Sirius and Jessica have deadpan identical faces.
“These are my boys we’re talking about. They’ve either left me to join some sort of fight club, or run around naked without me to get back at me for waxing Wormtail’s eyebrows last night, or getting matching tattoos on their buttocks, or setting fire to a cabin…”
I blink profusely as I put everyone’s drinks on the table. “Wow.” Those were mental photos I could do without.
“I’m convinced they’re all snogging together in a cabin somewhere,” Jessica agrees. “That’s the only possible explanation for them having to leave me with him.” Jessica jerks her thumb towards Sirius Black. Emma Tebbon rolls her eyes playfully, a smile tugging at her lips as she surveys her boyfriend.
“I beg your pardon,” he lifts up a finger like a snarky librarian. “If we all played ball for the other team, they’d all definitely want to snog me first! I’d want to snog me! And besides, I’m more entertaining than you are - you should be happy they left you with me.”
“Hardly, you asked me what it was like to have fallopian tubes.”
“Because I wanted to know!”
This type of conversation is just not okay.
“There are certain things one should just never talk about at barbeques, and that would be one of those things,” I state.
“Why?” Sirius ponders innocently. "Why is it inappropriate!?"
“It’s not exactly appetizing,” Emma comments.
Her boyfriend continues looking around aimlessly.
“Do you want me to paint a picture of what it’s like? Or should I just remind you of that video we had to watch in class that dealt with the miracle of life, or as you put it, making the baby and shooting it out like a rocket?” Jess challenges.
A bitter taste has made its way into Sirius Black’s mouth.
I can’t help but chuckle a bit. “Now you’ll think twice about bringing up the female anatomy during mealtime.”
“Is Sirius asking inappropriate questions again?” Remus asks, surprising us all. Frank and Peter follow behind him. It takes all of three seconds for everyone to squeal and then instantly start pestering the three boys with questions.
“Where the hell were you, Moony?” Sirius demanded, pouting like a puppy. “Where were all of you?” He motions to Peter and Frank. “And where the hell is Prongs!? If you guys got matching tattoos done without me I’m going to be very upset.”
“Yes, Padfoot. We got matching tattoos in the middle of the bloody woods,” Remus replies monotonously, taking a seat next to Emma.
"James is coming. He’ll meet us later," Peter shrugs, trying not to draw attention. Unlike everyone else, who is looking at me.
I pretend I don’t hear him.
“What took you guys so long?” Jessica questions.
Frank slides next to her smoothly, receiving somewhat odd looks from the guys at the table. “Guy stuff, don’t worry about it.” Frank scoots closer to Jess than normal and takes a sip of her cola.
Oh, lord. Let the relationship outing commence.
“Am I missing something?” Sirius whispers to Emma.
Emma takes a sip of her lemonade. “Most likely,” she says playfully, followed by a small nudge to his shoulder. As usual, her boyfriend looks completely unaffected.
I survey Jessica and she’s surprisingly not nervous by Frank’s proximity. I thought for sure she’d be a bit tense with her and Frank going public tonight. But my best friend isn’t the least bit worried, although I can see anxiousness in her eyes. She isn’t fidgeting and she isn’t glaring her usual daggers at Frank. She’s just… natural. Jess is herself, and this is the first time in a long time she gets to share that part with the world with Frank by her side. It’s nice seeing her this way.
They share a smile before smirking at each other knowingly. No one really picks up on the subtle gesture but I do. And I secretly adore it like the little sap that I am.
Out of my immediate focus, I see what looks like James up ahead. I narrow my vision ever so slightly between Jessica’s turning head and Frank’s face, and my assumptions are soon confirmed. James Potter is slowly becoming more and more visible with every step he takes. I don’t know if I should look away or look right at him or look at the ground, so I turn to Peter and force him to talk to me.
“So about this weather lately,” I say with mock enthusiasm.
Peter’s expressions leads me to believe that he knows exactly what I’m doing - and that he feels sorry enough for me to play along.
“Tis quite crappy,” he comments. "Quite dark….and cold."
“Fell asleep with my feet freezing last night,” I pathetically throw in.
“We have magic coal that heats up our beds so we don’t have that problem.”
“Alright then,” I reply swiftly.
Good conversation so far.
“I caught Sirius moisturizing before bed.”
“Emma Tebbon talks in her sleep.”
What had started out as lame small talk, was quickly turning into just blurting out useless facts.
"I’m allergic to sesame seeds."
“One time I had a dream that I married a house elf.”
“My mum makes me wear suspenders in our Christmas photos every year.”
“I caught Frank watching a television program about a high school show choir in the U.S.”
“Sometimes Remus reads science fiction before bed, and he thinks no one knows about it.”
“Frank hit me with the clicker when I caught him watching the television program about those teenagers in that show choir in Ohio.”
“I think slushies are God’s gift to man.”
“I sneezed during my Potions exam in Third Year and got a bogie on my essay.”
“In First Year, some bully in Slytherin made me kiss his foot.”
I frown at this information. “Um…ew,” I reply, repulsed by the idea of little 11 year old Peter kissing some git’s hairy foot. That’s just fucking unfortunate.
“Yeah,” he reminisces, shaking his head. “I didn’t enjoy it much.”
I shouldn’t be all that taken aback; Peter was bullied a lot in First Year. That is, until he met James and the rest of the boys. Ugh, does everything have to go back to him? I can’t have one conversation with Peter about feet without James following me everywhere I go!
I glance up between Jess and Frank really fast before turning my attention back to Peter, who is now describing the shape of the foot he had to kiss. James is about ten paces away. Should I do the fake laugh thing? Is that tacky? Is it expected? Is it NOT expected?! Oh, man, I’m not good at this.
I burst into a fit giggles and smack Peter in the arm so hard I practically shove him into the wooden picnic table. Frank throws me a look. I ignore him. Jess squints at me suspiciously. I ignore her. I hear some pain-filled mumbling and turn my head ever so slightly at Peter. He’s whimpering into his shoulder.
“Prongs.” Remus acknowledges James with a short nod. He’s wearing dark jeans with a navy sweatshirt with the sleeves pushed up, looking cuter than I thought he was from afar.
James nods back automatically, taking his seat next to Remus. No one says anything.
“Where were you?” Sirius blurts, pained by the sense of abandonment.
“I had to take care of some things.” His eyes land on Frank briefly, before bothering to do the same with almost everyone else around. Sirius just pouts in disappointment.
Is it just me or does James Potter’s focus seem somewhere else? He’s closed off physically, his posture the farthest from welcoming. It doesn’t look like he’s going to share any more with us.
He didn’t even look at me yet.
“So tonight’s the last night,” Emma announces refreshingly, stating the painfully obvious. God bless the girl for trying to change the subject.
“Thank Merlin tonight’s our last night in these woods. If I have to shower in those bloody wooden lavatories one more time, I’m going to set fire to something,” Jessica confesses, shaking her head incredulously. She crosses her arms on the picnic table and rests her head on them.
“Awe, no, I like it here!” Emma gushes. She’s been enjoying herself since day one on this camping trip. It’s not much of a surprise either; it doesn’t take much to make Emma happy. She can find joy in the simplest of things.
“It’s a pity we have to leave and walk back up to the castle tonight,” she says. “It’s so comfy and peaceful. The cabins are nice and creaky, and the food is yummy and outdoors-y! It’s pretty and quiet at night-”
“This sounds like the beginning of every horror story known to man,” Frank interrupts.
Emma tilts her head to the side, giving him an ‘oh, please’ kind of look. “It’s a nice change from being inside the castle walls! Admit it, out here, there’s more freedom!”
When she gets no responses she sighs impatiently. “Come on, I can’t be the only one who enjoyed roasting marshmallows.“
“Yeah,“ he laughs incredulously. “I loved the marshmallows. In fact, I loved them so much I forgot to breathe at one point.” Frank narrows his eyes at Jessica and then at me. We both raise our hands in defense.
Emma’s mouth drops in guilt about being insensitive over Frank passing out yesterday. “Oh, Crap. Right… sorry. I didn’t mean to bring that up.”
“It’s not your fault, Em. These two here decided to beat me back to life. In fact, I was sure Finelly here punctured one of my lungs.”
“I was trying to save your life,” Jess wheedles. “Some lungs just need that extra puncture.”
Frank’s face falls flat and he looks at me for any kind of sanity.
“And you wouldn’t have gone into that tiny little coma if it wasn’t for this guy,” Jess points an accusing finger at Sirius.
“Hey! There was a strong gust of wind! I can’t control nature’s outbursts!” He slams his hands down on the table and demands reasonability. I don’t think Sirius realizes that he does not contain much reasonability in his life anyway.
“The only outburst was your foot to the ball, thus making it fly across the camp,” she quips back.
“Excuse me, Finelly, but in the world of professional sports they call that talent.”
“In the offices of most specialists, they call that mental deficiency.”
I try really hard to continue listening to my friend’s discussions, but after a good five minutes I get lost in the banter. I’ve automatically zoned out. I’m too busy trying not to look at James and biting my nails. For the first time in my life I’m purposefully trying to brood my way out of talking to someone. Well, not just a random someone but a particular someone. I’m trying very hard not to give James Potter my attention, and it is a battle that is taking up a lot of my energy, damn it.
From a third party outsider I probably look miserable, and the way I’m scrunching my eyebrows in this angsty James Dean expression makes me feel like I should be wearing a leather jacket or something. Not to mention the fact that I fake-giggled and physically abused Peter Pettigrew in front of James to make it look like I was having a great time without him. All while sipping lemonade. My God, this is the lowest I’ve ever been.
By a force unbeknownst to me, I somehow zone back into the conversation going around the picnic table. At this point the food’s been cooked and the professors start to call out tables to come up and get their dinner.
“I was actually growing a bit tired of this place myself.”
“See? Even Remus agrees with me!” Jessica declares, gesturing to Remus Lupin.
“Don’t get too ahead of yourself.“ Remus raises his hand pathetically. “I just miss some of my literature.”
“That’s what you miss? Out of all the things? How about the comfort of our dormitories and the security of our personal space? Or… I don’t know, being able to do fun things and play chess in the common room?” Sirius Black’s face is a mixture between absolute madness and sadness. “How can you miss your literature of all things?”
Peter and I suppress our smirks. You mean his midnight science fiction novels.
“You can’t blame him,” Jessica intervenes. “Remus’s idea of fun is translating Ancient Runes. And your idea of literature is a dirty book.”
Sirius sticks his tongue out at her.
“I have to agree with Emma. I like it here, too,” counters Frank.
My best friend becomes befuddled by this information and asks Frank, “Really? You like it here?”
“Yeah,” he shrugs. “It’s a nice getaway from bustling hallways and crowded classrooms.”
Huh… he has a point.
“We may have given up one of our free weekends for this Muggle Studies retreat, but it was a much needed vacation,” he concludes.
“I guess so, but this place definitely had its creepy moments. Those showers were horrifying all on their own. There was a huge spider staring at me the whole time I was shampooing,” Jessica adds.
“Oh, that’s what was bothering you? The spiders in the stalls? I thought you’d have noticed the translucency of your shower curtain,” Frank bites a smirk into his palm while the rest of us grow wide-eyed at Frank’s bold statement. Everyone is still unaware of Frank and Jessica’s relationship except James and I. Although no one’s questioning it, everyone’s starting to sense that something is definitely different.
My best friend’s face becomes pale instantly. “What?” she whispers, hoping she didn’t hear him right.
“Don’t worry, it was only your butt,” Frank winks. She slowly creaks her head straight to look at her (secret) boyfriend dead in the face. She’s about ready to explode.
“You saw my butt?!”
“It was in the morning during breakfast,“ he cries out. “It was really sunny and the curtains get a bit sheer when hit with natural sunlight.” Jessica finds these words anything but comforting. “I didn’t see anything else, I promise.“ He even goes far enough to gesture a round circle in the air with his hands, referring to her butt. “It was a small silhouette,” Frank reassures her lamely.
Jessica does that crazy repetitive headshake thing teenage girls do when their boyfriends are being impossible.
“YOU SAW MY BUTT!”
And just like that she gets up and storms off. Frank looks at her retreating figure impossibly and then quickly looks back at us. “It was a small silhouette!” he pushes, throwing his hands in the air.
Remus, Peter, Sirius, Emma, James and I nod curtly as we all respond at the same time.
“Dude, of course.”
“I believe it.”
Frank Longbottom sighs heavily, cursing Merlin for his life, before getting up and stomping after my best friend. I have a feeling another shouting match is going to ensue. Now isn’t that always the way… Frank and Jess were technically supposed to announce their relationship subtly to the world tonight, and now irony has them in his metaphorical iron grip by letting them brew in their own unnecessary havoc.
“So, did you hear about the memo Professor Franklin sent out?” Emma quips.
We all turn at her with furrowed eyebrows.
Emma Tebbon looks around at us, frazzled. “The memo,” she repeats. “You know, the memo about her emergency leave?”
“What!?” My exclamation comes out more hostile than I wanted it to and everyone turns to me.
I hide my hands in my hoodie and blink a few times, “She’s leaving already?”
“I can’t be the only one who knows,” she presses, looking around the table desperately. “She left this morning for break, something about a family matter. We’ll see her in January.”
“Em, what the hell are you talking about?” Sirius questions his girlfriend with a vapid look on his face.
“Oh, honestly,” she says, annoyed. “Did none of you get it? Professor McGonagall attached the memo on the back of our last assignment pamphlet. It said in bold at the top: Professor Franklin’s Muggle Studies course 283!”
“Yeah… no,” Peter shakes his head, Emma’s clues obviously not ringing a bell.
“It was on the last page.”
Realization dawns on our faces collectively. No one reads the last page.
“Ohhhhhhhhh, that!” Remus acknowledges.
Emma sighs heavily. “Let’s pretend I’m not slightly disappointed with my choice of friends,” she says hurriedly. “Anyway, you know how Professor Franklin scheduled a brief lesson before we were to leave for Christmas vacation?”
Sirius looks at his girlfriend. "I thought she ended up canceling it?"
“Well,” she says in a disappointed tone, “It’s back on.”
“We have class tonight?” I ask in disbelief, my face just as horror stricken as Sirius.
This has got to be a joke. We’re about to eat dinner! We’re about to go pack for break! We’re about to head home! And now we have to go to class for a subject we just spent the whole weekend doing?!
“This is bollocks!” Peter cries.
“What lesson is it?” James quietly asks, no emotion in his voice. Remus, Sirius, Emma, Peter, and I are too befuddled about the change in plans to even care about James suddenly finding his voice. Remus goes blank for a second but not because of his friend, but because he’s just remembered something.
“Ugh, it’s our dance lesson,” Remus answers him with a grimace. “The dance portion of our semester. Muggle ballroom or something like that. Professor Franklin wanted us to have that lesson before break to get us ready for when we came back, remember?”
I actually do remember her mentioning it- but I didn’t think she’d go through with it the night of our leave! This whole weekend was concentrated Muggle Studies coursework that really delved into the muggle societies that lived here before us. It was a nature trail, basically. And now we have to jumpstart our next lesson on her semester agenda and learn dance?! This is the last thing I want to think about right now. She was going to assign this lesson the day before we had the camping trip, but since she ended up canceling it we all assumed she’d just forget about it… and that we wouldn’t have to worry about anything until we came back.
This is… this is just….this is abuse!
“The memo on the paper said it was a last minute lesson, sort of spur of the moment… so we have to go back up to the castle and do the lesson before we leave,” Emma shrugs, a frown on her face. "Professor Franklin definitely told McGonagall to continue with the lesson, because she and Madame Pince will be teaching it."
“This sucks,” Remus pouts.
Peter bangs his head on the table.
"I know,"he agrees. “The last thing I want to do is march up to grounds and attend a Muggle Studies class while other people pack for vacation.”
“Hang on, how long is the lesson?” I ask, slightly worried about the time we’ll be spending doing the tango with McGonagall.
Emma sighs, looking at the table. “I think, a little bit past an hour.”
I close my eyes and pinch the bridge of my nose.
“An hour!? She wants us to do the foxtrot for an hour? Talk about brief!” Sirius bursts, drawing attention to the table.
Emma purses her lips. “I don’t think the foxtrot is exactly what we’ll be learning-”
“Everyone will be headed out on thestrals by then!” Peter says, anger clearly apparent in his voice. “And we have to stay in for an extra hour, or maybe more. This is shit.” He shakes his head, refusing to deal.
“We won’t be going home until midnight,” I add sullenly.
Everyone starts blurting out opinions on the matter while other tables get called to get food. And that’s when James connects eyes with me. He’s not directly across the table, so it isn’t as obvious, but through the blabber of our friends surrounding this new lesson we have to attend to tonight, we’re the only ones not speaking. He’s just staring at me in this disappointed way. But it changes to a cocky one very quickly.
I’ve convinced myself that at this point, it’s the way James operates. It’s a defensive mechanism. This git thinks I haven’t read between the lines. He thinks he’s some sort of fucking mystery.
Emma Tebbon abruptly silences herself mid sentence while her mouth curls over, trying to understand what she’s just heard. Every person at the table stops and turns to me. James scrunches his eyebrows and has WTF stamped on his face.
Awe, shit! Did I just express that out loud?
Everyone’s still looking at me, waiting for an explanation for my outburst. But I, the crazy redhead, have nothing to use in my defense. Mainly it’s because I can handle shock much better than I used to so things like this don’t bother me. I’m not as embarrassed as I am mentally unsound, so I jab my finger outwards to Jonathan Michaels two tables over, and hope to use him as a sort of scapegoat.
“Did you see the design on the back of his sweatshirt?” I try to save weakly. “He has a dancing crab playing limbo.”
As if by telepathic ability, Sirius, Peter, Remus, and Emma all blink once at me in unison. James just looks like he’s trying to hide a sinister laugh because he’s won this round. You should just look at this snarky bastard’s eyes right now, they totally give him away. He’s secretly enjoying this.
The more I repeat my words, the faster my voice turns into a murmur. “It’s a… dancing…crab,” I finish meekly to myself. I’ve set a new level of pathetic for schoolgirls everywhere.
One of the Professors from Hufflepuff call our table, and I thank God that the world was suddenly working in my favor, as the weight in the group shifted away from my idiocy and towards our dinner. I take one long sip of my lemonade before I rise up from the picnic table. But as soon as Remus and Peter put their hands on the table to get ready to push themselves up - almost as if in slow motion - Frank and Jess come bursting through the crowds of students either in line for food or are carrying their dinners back to their tables.
Frank’s chasing her around, pounding his feet on the ground while following behind her impatiently. Jessica is unfazed by him follow behind; at this point I think she’s used to it. She’s just yelling out incoherencies (as far as I can hear) and she isn’t even looking at him… and yet she knows he’s hot on her tails. Although this is the way these two operate, you can tell, and I mean really tell, that they’re doing the typical ‘teenage couple’ type of argument. The only thing is, no one can suspect this type of behavior from them because everybody already has this idea in their minds of what they’re like. If it was any other guy and any other girl, people would be staring.
Except that Jessica and Frank’s arguments are infamous for their loudness and crudeness, so the crowd, being as predictable as ever, is unaffected.
Except us. We’ve stopped moving all together, because witnessing them stalking back up to our table takes only two seconds to comprehend. But that’s not what ultimately stops us.
“Not only that, but you weren’t even going to tell me! You saw my arse and you were going to keep it all to yourself…”
It’s what Frank does next.
“You’re an insufferable ape, Longbottom! I can’t even-”
Frank, who is flushed (whether by anger or by the pace of his walking, I’m not sure) grips Jessica’s arm tightly, before whipping her around to face him. She is immediately silenced while Frank stares her down. Panting, he glares into her and it takes two seconds for Jessica’s eyes to mirror his identical expression. There’s a nanosecond of hatred in their eyes, before Frank says lowly, “I hate you.”
"I hate y-"
He kisses her on the mouth in front of everyone… dare I say, passionately.
I’m taken aback by the abrupt way Frank and Jessica ultimately just revealed their secret relationship to the entire upper classmen of Hogwarts. My left eyelid is half closed and my mouth’s in a weird shape. I just can’t comprehend- I mean- wow, he’s still kissing her.
I swallow loudly and take a look at everyone who is staring at my best friend and her boyfriend in befuddlement.
Emma’s reaction is a light gasp followed by giving everyone the same wandering eyes that I’m giving. Sirius Black’s face is a mix between trying to solve a sudoku puzzle and constipation. Peter and Remus are suffering slight catatonia, while James is biting his bottom lip in amusement
The git has enough nerve to cough during this awkward silence.
Frank and Jess stop snogging long enough to give us a view of their swollen and red lips, before taking a look around the audience they’ve just sent into silence for the rest of dinner. They both suppress a laugh and turning to look at us, their slightly traumatized group of friends, and enjoy studying our faces in an evil Frank/Jessica manor.
They link hands, ignore the world, and turn around to get their dinner.
“Huh,” Sirius squeaks in realization.
The marble and stone walls in the Great Hall are all that occupy my sight as Madame Pince and Professor McGonagall make their rounds and finish attendance. Once our entire Sixth Year Muggle Studies class is accounted for, dance class begins. We start with some awkward stretching exercises and then a brief explanation of the history of dance. Madame Pince begins to explain the origins of famous dances and Professor McGonagall continues with a short lecture about which dance she’s warming us up with before break.
McGonagall is instructing orderly protocol while Madame Pince is dividing the students in the Great Hall up by the sexes and then by sub-groups. My life is flashing before my eyes. I’m thrusted into a remote corner of the Great Hall with a string of students just idling about; this includes Peter, Sirius, and James. Jessica and Remus are in the next group ahead of us.
Either this could go horribly wrong, or this could go horribly wrong.
Within the next 10 minutes, I get turned around and the single filed line of males in front of me occupies my vision. I wouldn’t have pulled the horrendous face that got me a behavioral comment from Madame Pince if it wasn’t for the ass I got placed with, who was taunting me with his eyes. Standing tall in front of me, three feet away, was James Potter.
Poopsicle sticks, does the world ever work in my favor?
I’m wondering if it’s possible to divorce yourself from your own existence.
I look at him and he looks at me and it’s so painfully cliché that I want to punch something. His eyes are dark and curious, anticipation almost exploding from his demeanor. He smirks.
That’s James Potter’s infamous game face – and I don’t mean the Quidditch type of game.
Could he possibly find this amusing?
James adjusts himself a bit better and takes off his hoodie. His posture soon mirrors my own; squaring his shoulders with my caving ones, and facing me so dead straight that our faces are probably located on the same line of latitude. I’m trying to disappear and he’s anxiously waiting for further instructions from McGonagall.
Madame Pince starts mumbling comments on posture while Professor McGonagall begins instructing. Before I know it James takes his hand and puts in on my mid-back, silently telling me to get into position. How suggestive of him. I take it upon myself to life my hand, but I don’t take his like McGonagall is telling us to do. I just keep my hand raised, waiting for James to lift his.
I’m not going to grab his hand, fuck that. If he wants to dance then he better take some initiative. He’s going to have to come to me now. How the hell my mind just came up with this is beyond me, but I’m willing to roll with it.
He looks off to the side, annoyed but secretly entertained. It’s the kind o face you’d see with an eye roll. If he was to speak right now, it would probably be something like ‘Is she seriously acting like this?’ and in which case I’d kick him where it hurt.
James sighs huskily and takes my hand into his. We start to dance in synch with the rest of the students. Since we all start at around the same time, Madame Pince goes into drill sergeant mode about footwork and throws herself in between students who don’t know what they’re doing. She’s yelling directions at our class on which steps to take next. I could have dealt with her crazy rambling if it wasn’t for the fact that a few moments later I saw her walking around and checking our group’s couples.
James and I stare into each other. He tries to dip me out of nowhere without as much as a warning to catch me off guard (knowing him, it was definitely plausible). But I catch him in the act. I grab him hard and stiffen my back, while putting more space in between the already gaping hole between us. James sees he’s defeated and can’t dip me.
Don’t underestimate me, I practically yell at him.
He reads my eyes loud and clear, and tilts his head back to make sure that it really is me, Lily Evans, being a bit of a smart ass back to him.
“Mmmhm,” he murmurs.
“Someone’s afraid to dance,” he says, making it evidently clear who he’s talking about.
“I’m not afraid. Don’t use that excuse to help yourself deal with the fact that I denied your move,” I whip back at him. My eyes get a bit wide as soon as I spit out my retort, but I clear my throat and keep myself focused so he doesn’t catch on.
James scoffs with a ghost of a smile on his face. His left eyebrow rises in shock.
James is pleased but not too surprised, like he was waiting for me to say something but wasn’t expecting it any time soon. My mind is still reeling over the fact that I know exactly what to say to make me seem unpredictable. It’s so unexplainable to me how I have this sudden urge to want to piss him off or just shock him.
His eyes don’t leave my face and I’m left blushing, looking away, only to have my neck snapped back into position by Madame Pince.
“Eye contact with your partner at all times!” She squeaks.
James stifles a laugh as she examines our posture for the next 15 seconds. She quickly snaps her fingers together in, what I assume, is a conclusive gesture.
Well, she examines quite fast, doesn’t she?
I expect her to move on to the next couple in our group, except she doesn’t leave. She snaps again at us. And then again, and again. What the hell? If you haven’t noticed, Madame Pince snaps very loudly, and she’s snapping right in my face. This is NOT appealing to me.
Madame Pince snaps another two times, but this time with impatience. “Enough!”
James and I share a blank stare at Madame Pince collectively.
“Do not ignore me, you two. When I snap it means something is wrong!” she bursts as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I can’t just sit here and babysit you. You must try to guide yourselves.”
Sorry, I didn’t get the memo. Is there a dictionary of annoyance somewhere that I could use to translate her unnecessary outbursts? The last time she yelled at me like this, I was in the library where Frank Longbottom was going on and on about Jessica. This woman needs a social life. I mean I’m not one to talk but I don’t enjoy just lollygagging and holding onto James Potter’s frame as she freaks out at us for not reading her mind. She’s got deep, Nancy Drew, psychological problems. Damn this woman.
“You two are supposed to find out what’s wrong,” Madame Pince huffs, “And fix it!”
That is the biggest pun I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
“Do you find anything wrong with your dancing, Mr. Potter?”
“Yes,” she clarifies, tapping her foot with annoyance. “And what might be the problem, Ms. Evans?” She turns to me but I keep my eyes on James.
“It’s standing right in front of me.”
His eyes turn into slits as he narrows them at me in less than a second. I smirk at this happily.
Madame Pince sighs with frustration. “The biggest problem with you two is space! You are standing a ridiculous long distance away from Mr. Potter, Ms. Evans.” Now it’s my fault!?
James looks smug.
“You must let him lead if you want to dance! The only way to let him lead is to be close. Be one with your partner. This is ballroom from this century, not dance circles from the dark ages.” She puts her hands on our backs and pushes us together. Some strength she has, that Madame Pince! Bloody!
I practically rammed my chest into his!
“Humph,” she mumbles under her breath in a high-prissy-satisfactory kind of way. She walks towards Peter Pettigrew and his partner, leaving us alone.
“Too close for comfort?”
I look up at him. “Don’t taunt me.”
I smell his musky aftershave the whole time we’re dancing and try really hard to ignore it. We relax into each other, against our free wills, and glide our feet across the dance floor. We should probably keep count of our steps and keep formation, but our brains are only half paying attention to the orders Madame Pince is barking out to the couples in our group.
“Is our proximity a problem?” he brings up again, glancing at my neck, then my chin, and all the way up to my face again.
“It is for you.”
James bites his tongue as he lets go of my left hand and twirls me briefly before whipping me back to him. I almost slip because of his harsh tug, so I elbow him in the gut. The wind gets knocked out of him for only a moment, before he sighs and big sigh and looks at me with a deadpan expression.
I give him a small shake of my head and close my eyes. I try to tune him out before he even begins.
I open my eyes as I adjust my hips the way Madame Pince is telling all the girls to do, and I tilt my body to the right, and sway. I come back around again and James’s expression hits me like a slap. James just seems so lost and indescribable now that I can’t even say anything. I don’t know what to say.
I feel his hand slide lower down my back as we do one final turn, following with the rhythm of the counts Madame Pince is firing off. I can count every single one of his eyelashes. It’s quiet and we’re in our own little demonic realm and I can hear nothing but our breathing and growing frustration with each other. It’s as if we have no peripheral vision. Too bad neither of us is alert enough to hear her telling us to separate when we’re done.
Professor McGonagall comes around to see our group, and when she reaches James and me, she sees that we’re still in our stance, hands together, bodies close. “Alright, you’re finished,” Madame Pince repeats herself.
We’re just breathing in and out and staring at each other until McGonagall finds her way next to Madame Pince and says to us strongly, “Ms. Evans, Mr. Potter, you’ve completed the assignment. I suggest you head up to your dormitories with the rest of your group and finish packing your bags. We leave in an hour.”
I drop his warm hand and walk out.
It doesn’t take long for him to follow me into the hallway. Our group is a few paces ahead, and since they’re all parting ways to reach their own house dormitories, we’re the only ones going in the same direction. Peter and Sirius are good ten yards away from us.
He reaches for my hand but I turn to him abruptly and he reclines.
“Don’t bother me.”
“I’m not here to bother you,” is all he says.
All you do is bother me.
When will he get that I don’t want to be around him? I’m still angry and I’m still irrational and I don’t care.
He stops following me and stares at my retreating figure and says to no one in particular, “Why are things so fucked up?” His voice is genuinely confused. Heaven knows what’s going through this mind at this moment.
I stop walking slowly as I think about his words. I stare at the ground. Then I whip my head around at him.
“Because we’re not kids anymore.”
I resume walking but he continues speaking to me from a distance.
“We’ll always be kids. We are kids. We always have been.”
I scoff. “I remember being friends with you when I was younger. I don’t see that anywhere here now.”
His eyes narrow just slightly. “You were the one who left this friendship, alright? It was you, NOT me.”
I turn around and quickly stomp over to where he is. “Are you really going to go there,” I state – it’s not a question. My hands are balled into fists.
“It’s true!” His voice slowly rises.
“We both changed! It happens!” I’m speaking as if I’m defending myself but really, I’m not sure I have the right. “We came here and you were different, and I wasn’t different with you, so we grew apart, okay? It’s not like I fucking left you by yourself, you found friends! You were never the loner because you were never alone! Out of the two of us, you somehow always knew what to do, what to say… you made people want to be around you. So don’t give me that, alright? Mr. I Need An Audience. I was left without you because you weren’t the same anymore.”
“Don’t turn this on me! You made friends, too! You found Jessica! And I found Sirius, Remus, and Peter! What was I supposed to do, stay by myself? Sob until someone asked me to be there friend? Don’t punish me for being outgoing.”
“No, but you didn’t have to act the way you did around me! You found Sirius your first day here. Hell, you even found Remus and Peter that same week. Do you even remember hanging out with me after the Sorting Hat? Honestly, tell me… Do you?"
His arms are stiffened at his sides and his expression’s hardened.
I take a deep breath and wait for James to process what I’m telling him. "You were so different around them than you were with me. And you’re a bit like that now."
He’s breathing out of his nose. Whether it’s out of anger, I’m not sure.
“Well, we no longer were what we were.”
“And what were we?” I ask him.
“Best friends,” he says. But his eyes say something else. Something he doesn’t want to share.
I stare at the floor as I cross my arms in defeat because that’s how I feel. Defeated.
And that’s how I walk away from him. Down the hallway. Up my dormitory stairs. Defeated.
It’s how I start my Christmas vacation.
I pack in silence with the rest of the girls who are both tired and sick of being here after hours. Jess sees my expressionless face and doesn’t ask any questions. I hook arms with her when our year lines up outside the Gryffindor tower. We follow McGonagall down the hall and outside to the thestrals. Everything sounds like static. And when we throw our bags in the carriage and step inside, I try not to think about anything. Or anyone. Because at this point, numbness is all I feel. Anger’s set it, and it’s down in there somewhere. And it should be fighting. But for now? It’s worn me out. And I’m tired of fighting.