The last week before mid-semester break is just cruel. I spend my afternoons in the art room, my spare time during the day in the library, and my evenings holed up in my room. I have unanswered letters from Mum, Hugo, Abby, James, Al and the Scamander twins regarding my plans for midsemester break littering my floor, and have taken to buying vast amounts of energy drinks to keep myself awake late at night. Procrastination, how I hate thee.
Even Luke’s retreated into study mode, so I’m not tempted to go play stupid flying games with him in the afternoons. He has a big theory assignment to do, which he hates, and often shows up in my doorway asking if I can proofread the latest paragraph of his report. Why he can’t ask Nathan is beyond me, but he explained that last time he asked Nathan he was threatened with a kick to the crotchal region and I’m much more benevolent when I’m stressed.
“I’ll decapitate you,” I inform him cheerfully.
“As long as you don’t threaten the family jewels, I’m fine,” he replies, giving me his winning smile.
“I’ll castrate you.”
He departs to ask Amber.
On Wednesday afternoon I finish my Hugo painting and skip all the way back the halls in triumph.
“What did you do, rob Gringotts?” Amethyst asks me suspiciously as I pass her sitting by the fountain with her camera.
“No, I finished my painting.”
She brightens considerably. “Good for you!”
“I know!” I crow, and resume my skipping.
“LILY!” Amber shrieks when I get to the second floor. I jump; I don’t think I’ve ever seen Amber so animated, and wonder what, exactly, I’ve done.
“Yes?” I ask timidly.
“You gotta help me!” she wails, seizing my wrist and towing me into her room. “I don’t get what Dumbledore’s Army is, I thought the resistance group was the Order of the Phoenix…”
“Dumbledore’s Army was the student resistance group,” I explain patiently. “In the year Voldemort actually reigned, Mum, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood were in charge of it.”
“I know that bit, they took heaps of kids into hiding and stuff, but what’s this stuff about 1995-1996? It says that was when it started, but it says that Voldemort wasn’t even out in the open. How could they resist if they didn’t know he was there?”
“Coz my dad saw Voldemort return,” I say, “And my dad’s awesome and everyone listened to him.”
“Then who was Umbridge?”
“The DADA teacher from the Ministry of Magic who didn’t let them learn practical magic. Dumbledore’s Army was originally an organisation to learn DADA from Dad.”
“So Dumbledore’s Army started out as like, a DADA club,” Amber summarises. “And your dad started it. Then Umbridge left so they didn’t use it, then your mum and her friends restarted it in 1997, where it was actually a student resistance movement against the Death Eaters?”
“You’ve got it.”
“So hang on, it was your dad, so, Harry Potter, and, uh, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, they started it to begin with. Then the new one was started by Ginny Potter, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood?”
“Weasley,” I correct. “Ginny Weasley, she wasn’t married back then.”
“You’re a lifesaver, you know that? You’re actually amazing.”
“I do try,” I say with a grin.
I return to my room and find Luke lounging on my bed.
“Evening, Potter,” he says, grinning at me.
“What are you doing here, Nelson?”
“Well, I figure, seeing as you’ve finished your painting and it’s really not too difficult for you to get A pluses in your Voldemort paper coz your family was all important and whatnot…give my paper a final read over?”
I roll my eyes, snatching the parchment from his hand. “Fine. You better love me for this.”
He waggles his eyebrows. “Oh, I do, Lily.”
“Wait, what did you call me?”
“Just checking to see if you’re awake,” he says innocently.
I shake my head, leaning against the wall and skimming over Luke’s paper. He gets up from my bed, coming to stand beside me and peering over my shoulder.
“Hey Lily,” he says quietly.
There’s something in his voice that makes me nervous. Not a creepy, he’s-standing-beside-me-about-to-slit-my-throat kind of nervous, but a he’s-attractive-and-standing-really-close-calling-me-Lily-instead-of-Potter-something’s-different kind of nervous.
It might be worth mentioning around this point that I’m nearly nineteen and I’ve never kissed anyone before. Apart from Lorcan Scamander, but that doesn’t really count because we were like, twelve and only went out because it was the done thing to do. I’ve dated Lorcan a lot, if I think about it. First when we were five, then when we were eight (that was when he proposed) and again when we were twelve.
I’m pretty clueless when it comes to boys.
If we’re being honest.
Case in point: it’s been a good thirty seconds and I’ve given no indication of having heard Luke at all.
I’ll just pretend I was too busy reading his report.
“I want you to have my babies,” Luke informs me.
I splutter. “What?”
He shrugs. “Things were getting a bit tense back there. Thought I’d lighten the mood.”
“You spelled ‘establishment’ wrong,” I say, pointing to the parchment. Jeez, Lily, what a line. No guy would be able to resist that.
He shuffles closer, leaning over my shoulder to peer at the parchment. For once, he doesn’t smell like gross sweaty Quidditch boy. He smells like clean, knows-what-a-shower-and-deodorant-is boy. Nothing like nice-smelling boys to make your stomach do flip-flops.
Not that mine’s doing flip-flops or anything. Luke and I are just mates.
Okay, there’s some attraction in there too.
“Have I ever told you about the girl of my dreams?” Luke asks me conversationally.
“No, you haven’t.”
“She’s pretty much exactly like you,” he continues. “But the girl of my dreams, being, you know, from my dreams, doesn’t exist, and you do. So you kind of have the advantage here.”
Maybe not so one-sided after all.
Say something, Lily. Something incredibly witty or romantic that will just seal the deal.
“Oh yep,” I manage.
“No idea what to say to that?”
I shake my head.
“Okay, I’ll make it easy for you. If you feel the same, nod. If not, shake your head.”
“Good,” Luke says, turning me around to face him. He’s smiling. He has a really nice smile. The universe moves in slow motion as he puts a hand on my shoulder and leans in closer. Do I close my eyes? What do I do? This is about the point where one of our friends will burst in, I guarantee it. That’s just how my life works.
Omigod he’s kissing me.
Omigod I like it.
Omigod I’m nearly nineteen, I’m such a loser.
Amber does indeed burst in, but luckily not until after Luke and I have finished kissing (holy hippogriffs I kissed a boy) and asks for my help with some other aspect of her report. Correctly deducing I would be some time, Luke makes his excuses and heads back to his room.
“I didn’t interrupt anything before, did I?” Amber asks once I’m sitting on her floor reading her report.
“What do you mean?” I ask innocently.
“You and Luke. Did I interrupt something?”
“Not at all.”
She gives me a Look.
“Technically not,” I concede.
She raises her eyebrows at me.
“You have good timing,” I say finally.
“Did you guys kiss?” she asks, her voice rising. I hate girls. They squeal.
“So,” I say, abruptly changing the subject, “How’s Nathan?”
I watch her squirm.
“There’s nothing there,” she says, staring at the floor and going pink.
“Sure there isn’t.”
“Okay, I like him.”
“Wow, really? Couldn’t have figured that one out myself.”
“Is it obvious?” she asks, alarmed.
“Yes, but it’s okay, because he’s just as blatantly obvious as you are.”
“What are you talking about?”
You can tell this one went to an all-girls school for seven years.
“You guys flirt like nothing on earth,” I explain patiently. “Well, you flirt as much as two shy quiet music geeks can flirt, which is actually a heck of a lot more than I expected.”
“How do you talk to them though?” Amber asks. “I mean, do you just go ‘hey, I like you, let’s go out?’”
“That would be quite a direct approach, but it would work.”
“I’m not doing that.”
“Didn’t think you would.”
“What did you say to Luke?”
“I didn’t really say anything. He did most of the talking. I daresay that approach wouldn’t work for you.”
“No, you’re right,” Amber agrees, looking glum. “Anyway, I should finish this stuff, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Lily, just the person I wanted to see,” Luke greets me jovially at breakfast the next morning.
“I can imagine.”
“Wanna be my girlfriend?”
“Sure, why not.”
Marama stares at us. “Did I miss something?” she asks eventually.
“Pretty much, yeah,” I tell her. “Finish your Transfiguration shit?”
She nods happily. “Transfiguration shit is finished. Potions shit will be finished at lunch. I am getting drunk tonight.”
“Good, coz so am I,” I say. “Luke, wanna come drink tonight?”
“Are we all going?” Amber asks.
“Sweet. Nathan, that means you too.”
“Such enthusiasm,” Luke says.
“You weren’t up till four this morning getting shit done.”
“Even more reason to get drunk tonight,” Luke reasons.
“Spose,” Nathan mumbles. “We going to the Omega, then?”
“That’s the best one,” I say.
Marama stuffs the last of her toast in her mouth. “Gotta get to the apothecary, see you guys tonight.”