Chapter 5 : From Bright to Bleak
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It seemed like I had only been sleeping for mere minutes before James was waking me with gentle nudges. Opening my tired eyes, I reluctantly pulled my head off of his shoulder, sat up and yawned.
“Good morning,” he greeted me with a warm smile.
“Morning,” I replied sleepily. “Is it time to go already?”
“Yes it is.” James chuckled and extended his hands to me. I took them, allowing him to pull me to my feet. He swept my legs out from under me faster than my hazy mind could process and carried me out of the room bridal-style.
“I’m able to walk, you know,” I told him indignantly, though I was trying to hide a smile.
“Not well.” James flashed me a cocky grin. “Unless you would rather walk?”
I considered the pain in my ankle and shook my head grudgingly. James laughed and surprised me with a kiss to my forehead.
He carried me all the way through the Shrieking Shack until we reached a narrow tunnel that required crawling to move through. It was a difficult task for me but James was patient, stopping when I needed to stop. As soon as we emerged from the exit, he knelt in front of me, allowing me to climb onto his back. I wrapped my arms around him and he hooked his arms with my knees as we headed up to the castle in comfortable silence. He carried me through the front doors and up multiple flights of stairs, refusing to put me down until we reached the hospital wing’s doors. He helped me limp inside, still supporting most of my weight as we entered the wing and found Madame Promfrey. We explained how I had “slipped” outside and she ushered me to a bed before bustling back into her office.
“Hey, don't you have a game today?” I asked James, propping myself up against a plain, white pillow.
“Yup. We play Slytherin.”
I immediately felt guilty. “I hope I didn’t hurt your chances of winning.”
“How would you do that?” James asked, giving me an amused look.
“I kept you up last night. Shouldn’t you sleep well before a game?”
“Probably,” James chuckled. “But,” he sat next to me and kissed my cheek, “it was worth not sleeping.”
I felt the heat rise into my face and James wound an arm around me as Madame Promfrey hurried back to my bed with her wand.
“This should only take a matter of minutes, Miss Evans. You may feel a slight numbing sensation.” She raised her wand, but hesitated when she glanced at James. “You may leave if you wish Mr. Potter.”
James, who still held me close, flashed her a winning grin. “I can wait.” She shrugged her shoulders and recited a few incantations under her breath. Almost immediately, my foot numbed; after a few moments, I regained feeling and with a final flourish of her wand, Madame Promfrey announced that I could leave.
James and I decided to change before breakfast, so we headed back to our dormitories to freshen up. Splashing my face with water and brushing my hair made me feel much more presentable than I had been in my pyjamas. Once I felt I looked decent, I met James in the common room and headed off to the Great Hall to join the other students for breakfast. My mind wouldn’t stop reeling from the recent events in my life.
“What does this mean?” I asked him.
James gave me a confused sideways glance. “What does this mean for what?”
I almost couldn’t voice the next word but pushed myself to say it. “Us.”
James looked taken by surprise at first, but grinned down at me as we walked. “Well, Miss Lily Evans, I was hoping you would be my girlfriend.”
“Is that your way of asking me out?” I tried to sound joking but my stomach was in butterflies.
“Yes,” James’ brow furrowed a little. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No,” I smiled to myself and he relaxed. “And yes.”
“I thought you said no!”
“Yes, I’ll be your girlfriend.” I giggled, feeling myself blush at the words. I couldn’t believe that I had just giggled in front of a boy like some starry-eyed fan girl; that was not me at all. There was something about James though, it changed how I acted. Almost as if he was...different; sure he was confident and sometimes overbearingly cocky, but he was a true gentleman at heart. I had never known that I was a sucker for the romantic type. Huh.
James wore an ear-splitting grin as we reached the Great Hall, where the chatter of hundreds of students could be heard amongst the clatter of silverware. He took my hand to stop me before we entered.
“Thank you,” he said simply; then he pulled me in for a kiss. When the kiss ended, I was feeling a little light-headed and short of breath, but I couldn’t stop smiling. James took me by the hand and led me through the grand doors to our usual spot at the Gryffindor table. I heard a few gasps and murmured whispers at our entrance but ignored them as I sat between Remus and James. I looked up across the table to see two identical masks of shock on my roommates’ faces.
“Later,” I whispered conspiratorially. Liz and Mary giggled uncontrollably and I could hear James snickering beside me. He leaned in to whisper into my ear;
“What are you going to tell them?” My roommates’ giggling doubled. They probably assumed that we were professing our love to each other; that’s my friends for you. I shot them an eye roll across the table but grinned.
“I’ll think of something,” I whispered back, scooping scrambled eggs onto my plate.
“Evans,” Sirius called with his mouth full of toast. “Did you see the look ol’ Snivelus gave James when you came in?”
James left shortly after breakfast to join the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team in the locker room. The rest of us returned to our rooms to bundle up in jackets and red and yellow scarves before crossing the frozen ground to the pitch. I loved watching Quidditch; it was an exciting, heart-pumping sport. I probably would have tried out for the team if I wasn’t so afraid of heights. You can’t focus on catching the Quaffle when you’re too busy clutching the broom handle for dear life.
Professor Dumbledore, wearing a bright black and orange hat, was waiting with a surprise for us when we reached the pitch. He had ordered performers to entertain the students and faculty before the first game of the season. Since it was Halloween, the performance followed a creepy theme but was great nonetheless. It featured some really strange looking creatures; I was sure I saw a couple Banshees and a real vampire amongst them. It ended with an acrobatic performance by some beautiful girls dressed as witches; I knew for a fact that every girl in the stands was suddenly self-conscious since the boys were nearly drooling at the sight of them. Liz gave Sirius a good whack in the arm; he had been leaning forward with eager, wide eyes, his mouth hanging open.
The performance ended with much vigorous clapping from the boys. Dumbledore spoke to the crowd once more, saying how our Veela guests had perhaps overdone it. There was a loud chorus of “ohhh” from the students but I still didn’t understand, since I had no clue as to what a “Veela” was. I was about to ask Liz about them but my question was interrupted by the grand entrance of the Quidditch teams.
I always loved hearing the stadium cheer when the teams first flew onto the pitch. The Slytherins cheered and clapped when their team flew by in a blur of green but their applause was drowned out by the booing of the other three houses. If there was one thing we could unify over, it was our dislike of the Slytherin Quidditch team.
Gryffindor flew in to roaring cheers. I clapped along with Liz and Mary as the team blazed by, waving to their happy fans.
The game passed in high tension, both teams scoring their fair share of points on the other. I kept my eyes mostly on James, who had flown high above the play in search of the Snitch, so I was one of the first to see him nosedive towards the ground. Unfortunately, the Slytherin Seeker saw him as well and followed suit. They bumped in mid-air, causing James to roll on his broom and nearly fall off, but he still managed to grab the Snitch. The stands erupted in a booming roar of applause and James flew to the ground, where he was tackled by his team. I screamed my heart out and kept cheering, elated at the victory over Slytherin.
“Come on!” Mary yelled to me. “Let’s go congratulate them!” I nodded my agreement and began to slowly edge down the bleachers with the rest of the Gryffindors.
The school headed back up to the castle for lunch, but I hung back by the change rooms with Liz, Mary and the Marauders to wait for James. The team began filing out one by one. I congratulated my friend Julie, a Beater, as she passed by, but James still hadn’t come out yet. Ian, a seventh year and captain of the team, was one of the last to emerge; he was beaming and greeted us with a friendly wave.
“Well done mate!” Sirius congratulated him with a pat on the back. “Where’s James? Already starting on the celebrations?”
“He got called outside a few minutes ago. He’s probably still by the doors near the pitch if you want to find him.”
Thanking him, the group of us snuck around to the indicated spot to surprise James. We rounded a corner and spotted him, but he wasn’t alone.
A unanimous gasp could be heard from my friends, but I remained silent, willing myself to believe that my eyes were lying. Shock registered through me first, but once anger made itself known, it acted quickly.
“Lily...” Mary said worriedly, but I didn’t answer her. I stormed back up to the castle, angry tears running down my cheeks as rage made my blood boil. I felt a hand on my shoulder but shrugged whoever it was away, hurrying away from them and hating myself for believing in the impossible.
I can honestly say that I had no idea what was happening until it did. I heard a female voice calling me from outside the change rooms, and when I went to see who it was, something happened. Every thought in my mind seemed to melt away as I stared at the beautiful girl in front of me. Her blond hair, tall, slim build and stunning looks put me in a daze. I think she said something about how good a player I was, but I was too captivated by her to truly listen. I couldn’t think, speak, even move. So when she pushed me against a wall and started kissing me, I was merciless to her power.
Someone screamed a name just then and I slowly turned my head in the direction of the noise. My brain felt really foggy so it took me a while to process that Sirius, Remus, Peter and Liz were standing there, staring at me with their mouths wide open.
“Damn Veela,” Remus muttered. “Look away guys.” At that moment, a blue curse shot by me. It barely brushed me but hit the beautiful girl full on. Screeching like a banshee, she moved to retaliate, but Liz continued to shoot curses at her until she ran out of sight. As soon as she was out of my view, my brain seemed to snap back to itself. The first thing I realized was that someone important could have witnessed that moment and completely misunderstood.
My stomach twisted to the point where I felt nauseous. “Tell me she wasn’t here...”
At that moment, Mary rounded the corner to join our group, panting and holding her side. She stared at me with a look of pity, as did all my other friends.
“Damn it!” I yelled and sprinted past them towards the castle. I could see a red-headed figure hurrying in the same direction and I did my best to catch up.
“Lily!” I called, but she didn’t turn back to face me. I continued yelling her name, but that just resulted in her picking up the pace. I caught up to her near the steps to the front door and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Lily, you need to know-” I would have gone on but I was interrupted when she whirled around and slapped me right in the face.
“Don't you even come near me Potter!”
I was too astounded to move; I brought a hand slowly to my cheek in surprise. I think she may have even caught herself off guard by doing it because she stood frozen to the spot in front of me.
“I should have known better,” she muttered, tears cascading down her cheeks. “It was too good to be true...I should have known...”
“Lily, please,” I begged. I didn’t step closer in case she hit me again. “It’s not how it looks!”
She began a sarcastic laugh, but it was cut off by more tears. “Don't tell me that. Who knows how many other girls have heard that when they caught you-” She stifled a sob, but regained composure.
“Lily, I swear to you that I-”
“You swear nothing Potter! I was your girlfriend for no more than three hours before you needed someone new to snog! I can’t believe I fell for your little act. I was so stupid.” She turned to walk away from me again but I ran in front of her.
“You have to hear me out!” I insisted.
“No I don’t,” she whispered. “I don't have to hear another word you say again. I guess I wasn’t good enough for the player that is James Potter.” She moved around me and stalked away.
“Look,” she turned back around and for a moment, I could see her wall of hatred for me crumble. “I was beginning to think that you weren’t the prat you always pretend to be. I thought you were genuine and sweet...but clearly...I was wrong.” Tears flowed freely from her eyes now; she ran into Hogwarts but I didn’t follow her any further. Anger and sadness blazed through every inch of me, so I'm not entirely sure which emotion caused the tears to well up in my eyes. I kicked a rock nearby and it flew a good twenty feet across the lawn before stuttering to a stop.
I turned and walked back down the hill I had just ascended, heading towards the lake. Mary and Liz ran wordlessly past me, following Lily into the castle. I could see my friends turn in my direction and they met me at our regular tree by the water. I sat with my back to it and they sat in a semi-circle around me. Their faces all reflected the same thing; pity.
“You know that it was the Veela kissing me right?” I asked desperately.
“We know,” Peter said sadly, sitting cross-legged in front of me.
“I don't think Lily does though.” That was typical Sirius, ready to break the news whether it was bad or good.
I groaned and buried my face in my hands. I had finally won over the girl of my dreams, only for her to catch me with another girl. A girl that wasn’t even human! So for once, the screw-up wasn’t even my fault, but I still felt horribly guilty. To top it all off, the first time I ever see Lily cry, no, sob, it’s my own stupid fault. Remus put a comforting hand on my shoulder from my left side.
“She hates me.” My voice sounded pathetic, but I was too upset to care. I felt Sirius wrap an arm around my shoulders from my other side and Peter put a brotherly hand on my knee.
“I’m sure she’ll come around. I’m not sure she even knows what a Veela does.”
“So there might be a chance for me?” I asked, the tiniest spot of hope showing up on my bleak horizon.
“Maybe. Just maybe,” Remus said reassuringly. “But damn it, you can’t afford to screw up again, or she will curse you senseless.”
Alright, so here is chapter 5. I know it has been a while since i've updated, but with the holidays and exams, my laptop has been sadly neglected. I hope to update again within the next few weeks, hopefully sooner. Thank you to all the readers! Please leave a review for me, they honestly make my day, and are so inspiring. Plus, they help me fix my work. :)
Happy New Year!
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