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32. James Potter has me struggling.
December has absolutely flown by. Whether it’s the exams or the snow or the glow of the holidays, something is making time fly. Actually, I think it might be the warm hand in mine- the hand that never seems to let go.
As the days continue to pass in a happy blur, I am faced with a daunting task. Not exams, certainly- I’ll pass them all with flying colors. Nor handling the annoyingly constant banter between Charlotte and Sirius- I’ve learned to tune it out. No, my problem is much simpler. And much…well, stupider.
You see, I have absolutely no idea what to get James for Christmas.
Stupid, right? Of course.
I’ve always been an excellent gift giver. My mother taught me to be just the right amount of thoughtful when giving, as well as perfectly practical. Up until now, this formula has never given me trouble. And you wouldn’t think it would be hard for me to buy a gift for my boyfriend. You wouldn’t think
We’ve been dating for about a month, and I’ve learned more about James Potter in these thirty or so days than I ever could have imagined I would. Idiosyncrasies I would have never guessed about him have revealed themselves slowly. Who would have thought the mighty Potter had a weakness for English literature? I caught him with his nose in Dickens a week ago, and will not be letting him forget it anytime soon.
And yet, despite all I’ve learned, I’m drawing an absolute blank.
I tell myself. I’m sure this isn’t as hard as you’re making it out to be.
But it’s like this- how am I supposed to give him a gift that thanks him for all he’s given me
? Something that thanks him for his kindness, his wit, his twinkling eyes? His strength, his insight, his gentle kisses? I don’t see a way to thank him for the chance he’s giving me at happiness. How can I even begin to repay that?
What I really need is something that would give him a piece
of me- a piece of my heart. Just as he’s given me. I need something personal, something insightful, something secret…
I hold it in my very hands.
33. James Potter thought he was surprising me.
As you can tell, he hasn’t got you. I haven’t had the chance to ‘gift’ you, yet. Oh, but I just couldn’t wait to tell you.
Tonight was my last at Hogwarts before leaving for the holidays, and James and I ate dinner in the Great Hall with our friends. Strangely enough, Charlotte and Sirius managed to put their differences (or affections, for that matter) aside for the night and get along. Peter had left already, and so had Remus, so it was just us four.
I noticed James was a little edgy all night. He laughed and smiled as Sirius cracked jokes and Charlotte retorted smartly, but I sensed hesitation behind his cheerful façade. As we left dinner to return to our dormitory, I intended to discover what was wrong.
“James?” I asked as we stepped through the portrait hole and entered the Heads common room. “Are you alright?”
He didn’t answer me right away, because he seemed to be looking around the room for something. “Uh, sorry, what?” He said absently after a moment, his gaze shifting towards me only for a millisecond.
“Are you okay?” I pressed, searchingly, touching my fingers lightly on his sleeve. His eyes continued to sweep across the room. “You’re acting…a bit odd.”
“Odd?” He looked at me a little longer this time, his expression making me feel like I was talking nonsense. I retracted my hand. He scratched the back of his neck distractedly, walking away from where we’d stopped and approaching the stairs. “Um, no, nothing’s wrong, I’m just, um, there’s something I’ve got for you.”
My face contorted with confused exasperation. “James, what are you talking about?”
He called down to me over his shoulder. “Come up here!” He disappeared into his bedroom.
I rolled my eyes. Men and their vague-ness.
I climbed the stairs and entered his room. I’d only been in it on two or three other occasions, and a quick overview found it no less unorganized than before. Stained parchment, quills and books were scattered haphazardly across his desk in the corner, and piles of clothes seemed to fill every foot of floor space. Only his bed in the farthest corner was neatly made, free of clothing and parchment. James stood at his dresser, searching through the topmost drawer.
“It’s fascinating,” I told him as I walked closer to the window nearest to his desk, tracing my fingers along its mahogany edge. “How your room is so messy but your bed is perfectly made.”
“Huh?” James said into the drawer, still hopelessly preoccupied.
“Never mind.” I rolled my eyes again, a small smile on my lips. In truth, I was more amused than put off. I sat down on the cushioned seat protruding from the window and looked out at the clear December night. A sliver of moon peeked out from behind pearly clouds, feathery snowflakes floating through an invisible breeze.
“Aha!” I heard James exclaim suddenly. I looked back to find him holding a small box in his hands. He turned to me, an electric smile on his face. “I found it!”
I raised my eyebrows. He approached me, his smile foolishly large. “It’s your Christmas present,” he told me, excitedly. “And I really ought to wait, but I just can’t. And I thought I might’ve lost it, but I found it! So, here. Open it!”
He placed the small box in my hand, quickly sitting down next to me on the window seat. His eyes shone expectantly, and I bit back a laugh at the childishly eager look on his face.
It was sort of precious.
My eyes flicked to his once before I turned my attention to the box in my hand. He placed his hand softly on my knee, nodding encouragingly, and my stomach knotted a little. Tiny box=some sort of jewelry.
The fact that made me extremely nervous.
Slowly, I lifted the top of the box. When I saw what was inside, I could barely hold back a gasp.
“Oh.” The syllable was so quiet it barely passed my lips.
Nestled neatly in a fluff of white was a small emerald pendant, a dazzling droplet of gemstone- as if a beautiful green teardrop had been frozen. The stunning jewel caught the light of the lamp on James’ desk behind me, its tiny facets reflecting the rays and nearly stealing my breath with its beauty.
Positively mesmerized, I gently lifted the emerald from the box, discovering it to be suspended on a delicate silver chain. I’d never seen anything so beautiful; it even outshone the sparkle in James’ eyes as I met his gaze. He’d been watching my reaction.
“James,” I whispered, shaking my head a little, trying to think of something, anything, more than thank you
. But I had no words. Nothing could recapitulate my gratitude, my amazement. It was simply incredible.
“You like it?” He asked hopefully, brushing aside a strand of hair that had wandered across my shoulder.
“Like it?” I inquired, unbelievably. “This, this is…” I looked at it, and then at him. I swallowed. “It’s amazing. It’s beautiful.” I quietly set the necklace and its box on the window sill and tucked my knees beneath me on the cushion. I reached out to gently hold his face in my hands. “I love
His lips broke out in a smile, and I couldn’t resist smiling back. He rested his hands against my forearms, stroking his thumbs against my wrists. A shiver ran down my spine, and I leaned towards him, as if the response had propelled me forward. I brushed my forefinger across the edge of his glasses, marveling at the tiny grooves and indentations. I trailed my nails across the smoothness of a recently shaved cheek.
A month ago, I knew such intimacy with anyone, let alone James Potter, would have seemed scary. Even unlikely. But sitting on the window sill with him, with only a sliver of moon as a witness, felt natural. In fact, the only emotion I felt as my fingers explored the contours of his face was curiosity; not a single trace of embarrassment or timidity. I’d come a long way.
I don’t know how long we sat there, basking in a sort of connectedness we hadn’t ever experienced before. Our eyes remained locked; freshly cut grass and glimmering chestnuts. I felt in the oddest way that James was seeing not just my eyes but a different part of me, something more vulnerable. Like he was gazing straight through the green of my irises and accessing a deeper part of me, a deeper understanding of me. Though I can’t speak for him, I can only imagine that’s how it may have felt, only because that’s how I
was feeling. What I was seeing.
It had hit me several times before, of course, how much he’d changed from the arrogant, obnoxious first year I’d met several years ago. But perhaps for the first time I was truly seeing
him as that different person, the person who I learned was capable of astonishing things. True caring, unconditional kindness, unwavering loyalty. And I couldn’t tell you why I was coming to the solid realization right then. Maybe it was the soft light of the moon, or the warmness radiating through my arms from his burning touch.
With the risk of sounding horribly cheesy, I’ve got to tell you. Something inside of me
changed during those moments. If I’m not mistaken, the shift took place within in my heart, the very place that had been so unwilling to even consider the depth of the feelings that were suddenly surfacing. Lo and behold, my heart suddenly seemed to recognize the emotions not with doubt and suspicion but with trust and exhilaration. And without my permission, it issued a desperate longing to express the sentiment; to voice the sudden shift in understanding.
Unsurprisingly, the organ didn’t exactly think before it acted. I’m pretty sure it just said hey there, nerve-ending thingys! Would you mind sending this mind-numbingly groundbreaking emotion up to Lily’s head so she can realize just how much she needs to say it out loud? Hey- thanks!
nerve-ending thingys - bless their souls- obliged kindly, sending the message racing straight from my coronary arteries into the accepting neurons of my brain. Who, like any good neurons would have, thought it was a great idea to take action before my clear thought processing machine was available for usage.
So, you see, it really wasn’t my fault that the words came out, quiet but clear. “I love you.”
34. James Potter was actually the one getting the surprise- trust me.
A waterfall of recognition and surprise rippled across James’ face, his skin tightening and shifting beneath my fingers like un-molded clay. He looked at me like he’d never expected to hear the words come out of my mouth.
But I didn’t regret saying it, not right then. In fact, I was happy the neurons had made the decision for me. If I’d been given the opportunity at any other time, I knew I would have refrained from the taking the leap.
I didn’t particularly need a response, or even expect one. It was enough that I’d put it out there; enough that I’d given him that small gift of truth. A glimpse into the truth sometimes I
didn’t even know I possessed.
“Yeah,” I said, nodding a little. It was mostly to assure myself, not him. My smile widened, and I laughed freely, as if the truth liberated me. Which it did. “I love you.” I repeated. Just in case he’d missed it the first time.
“And I bought you that when I was twelve,” James whispered quickly, motioning towards the abandoned necklace. His eyes glowed brighter, if that was possible. “Because I was scared and nervous that every time I looked at you my heart started beating really hard and I wasn’t sure if I liked you because you were pretty or because of your red hair and green eyes or because sometimes I dreamed about us holding hands and taking walks in the woods together.”
,” I said, laughing again, letting his fast words sink in. “What?”
“Blimey, I’m sorry.” James laughed too. I felt the glorious sound vibrating through his hands and up my arms. “It’s just, I loved you before I even knew what love was, or what it felt like.” He looked down at his hands on my arms. “And being that young, I was confused.”
“So naturally,” I reasoned. “You bought me a necklace.”
James’ laugh filled the winter night once more, and I thought my body would explode with happiness. “I thought maybe giving you something like this would make you like me. Stupid of me, of course.” He shrugged and looked back into my eyes. “My confusion got the best of me in the end and I chickened out anyways. Decided to go back to that whole ‘I’m really great so I don’t get why don’t you like me’ act. You know.”
“Yeah, I remember that.” I smiled softly. Gingerly, I swept a finger across his lips. “You’ve changed.” I whispered.
He nodded. “The fact that you made me feel
something solid really did scare me. Out of my mind, actually.” He shook his head slightly. “I would get so angry seeing you talk with other guys, especially as we got older. I couldn’t explain the anger, but I could attribute it to the feelings I also didn’t understand.” He sighed. “And while I was busy being confused about all that, I acted like a right git, I know. I guess I finally noticed the arrogance wasn’t getting me anywhere.”
James was silent for a moment. “Whatever happened back then,” he finally said, his voice really quiet. “I’m glad it’s brought us here, now.”
I couldn’t have agreed more. I skimmed my hands down to his shoulders and leaned forward, resting my head against his chest. My ear quickly found a familiar, steady beat.
He settled his head against the top of mine. “I love you, too.”
35. On stupidity
Remember when I told you that stupid was my favorite word? It still is.
But I’ve discovered that ‘stupid’ isn’t the way things have to be. Not if you look close enough. Sure, everything and everyone have a little bit of ‘stupid’ somewhere. But the whole isn’t always the sum of its parts. And ‘stupid’ isn’t always the final word.
Journal, you taught me this. And for that, I can do nothing but thank you. You’ve done me something really good, listening and listening to my, yes, stupid
worries and woes. For this I will be eternally grateful. Thank you.
Now, I put you in better hands. Be nice to him, okay?
A/N: Hey there guys! Hope you enjoyed that!
First of all, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for reading and reviewing my story. Your comments mean the world to me and I can't explain how happy they make me :) I'm absolutely amazed at the kindness of some people, espeically those of you who take the time to review- it's just incredible. No words could really express my true gratiude...but thank you will have to do for now!!
Secondly- this isn't the end of Stupid, though it may seem like it! There's at least one more chapter coming up...and a sequel! Eeek! Keep your eyes out for that :)
Thanks again so much for reading!