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If Wishes Were Fishes by Looney Loopy Laura
Chapter 30 : Little Lion Man
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 32


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Disclaimer: Not JKR, but I like to pretend sometimes :)

                               

Chapter 30

(James’s POV)

“Alright, I’m off to the kitchens,” Sirius clapped me on the shoulder causing my arm to wobble and the jet of paper streamers issuing from the end of my wand began attaching themselves to Peter instead of the wall like they were supposed to.

“Gerroff!” Peter’s muffled voice came from within the pile of streamers as he was knocked to the ground.

Remus sighed from the other side of the common room and flicked his wand casually in Peter’s directions and the streamers fell lifelessly to the floor leaving Peter sitting panting in the middle.

“Sorry, Wormtail,” I shrugged at him apologetically before Sirius commanded my attention.

“Anything else you can think of for me to get?” Sirius pulled out a folded piece of parchment from his pocket and examined it. “We have a the cake of course, two cases of butterbeer, four bottles of firewhiskey, and three bottles of the ginger rum… think that’s enough?”

I let out a small laugh. “Yeah, I think that’ll sufficiently get everyone plastered.”

“Hmm… “ Sirius scratched his chin and then pulled out his quill to add to the list. “Better make it three cases of butterbeer, just in case.”

I chuckled and Sirius ambled out of the common room. I turned around to admire the decorations we had put up for Lily’s birthday party and smiled. Red and gold streamers hung from every nook and cranny around the room, reminding me slightly of a circus tent of steroids. Remus was adding finishing touches to a large banner that flashed “Happy Birthday Lily” and Peter was now wrestling with the non-deflating singing birthday balloons we had gotten in Hogsmeade.

“Looks good, doesn’t it, Prongs?” Remus commented, noticing my appraisal of the room.

“Do you think she’ll like it?” I frowned, voicing the question that had been on my mind all morning. “I mean… it’s too much, isn’t it? Why did I let Padfoot talk me into those singing balloons? She’s going to hate them.”

A small smile crept onto Remus’s face as he wandered over towards me.

“She won’t hate it,” Remus assured me. 

“She seemed on edge when we mentioned it to her the other day,” I reminded him pointedly and Remus rolled his eyes.

“I don’t think that had anything to do with the party,” Remus muttered quietly and I looked over at him.

“You don’t think she’s still creeped out by what happened in the dungeons, do you? I mean, that was more than a week ago,” I said anxiously. Ever since that night, Lily had been quite awkward around me, and I was sure I had annoyed the pants off the other Marauders by asking them this question every couple hours.

“No, I don’t think that’s it,” Remus sighed and there was a note of exasperation in his voice that I didn’t quite understand.

I was about to ask him what he did think it was, but the singing balloons were now bouncing joyfully off Peter’s head and Remus gave me a weary eye roll before going over to help him.

I noticed a streamer falling off the wall by the girls’ staircase and went to fix it. A door slammed from somewhere up the stairs and voices floated down towards me.

“You’re sure?” I recognized Scarlet St. Clair’s voice and automatically assumed that she must be with Anna and Lily. Damn, I didn’t want her to see the common room before the party tonight, but I guess she had to leave sometime…

“Positive,” I heard Lily respond. “According to Dumbledore, at least. It’s definitely Ravenclaw’s…Come on, I’ll tell you the rest once we’re there.”

The three girls emerged at the bottom of the stairs and jumped when they saw me standing right there.

“Goodness, James,” Anna breathed, her hand flying up to her heart. “You gave us a fright.”

“What’s Ravenclaw’s?” I asked curiously, confused by their conversation.

Lily’s eyes widened slightly and Anna and Scarlet exchanged a quick look.

“Er… the lost diadem,” Lily said quickly, tugging on a strand of her long red hair. Her voice was uncertain, almost like she was lying. But what of Ravenclaw’s would make her lie?  

“The… what?” I asked, confusion coloring my face. She was acting strange again…

“The lost diadem,” Lily said again quickly, her voice more confident thought her eyes darted to the portrait hole and back to me. “It’s supposed to be the only relic of Rowena Ravenclaw and the legend goes that her daughter stole it and went to—“

“Ok, ok, I didn’t want a history lesson,” I interrupted her and she fell silent. Anna and Scarlet were still exchanging a look again that I didn’t understand. 

We stared awkwardly at each other for a minute before Lily’s eyes drifted away from me and took in the common room. She took a step past me, her brilliant green eyes taking in the mass amount of streamers and balloons.

“Is this… for… me?” Lily asked quietly, turning back towards me, her cheeks tinged pink. Remus had finally gotten the balloons to stop harassing Peter and we were all watching Lily now with bated breath.

“Er… yeah,” I said, exchanging a worried look with Scarlet and Anna. It was like waiting for a bomb to go off.

“It’s… amazing,” Lily breathed after a moment and there was a collective sigh of relief from everyone. “Really, thank you.”

Lily turned towards Scarlet and Anna and jerked her head subtly towards the door.

“Wait,” I said, catching Lily by the hand and she stopped abruptly, jerking her hand out of my grasp rather violently.

I was slightly taken aback by her reaction and I waited for her to scream at me not to touch her, but she just winced slightly and looked apologetically up at me.

“Sorry,” she said awkwardly. “You have cold hands.  It just… surprised me is all.”

“Er, ok,” I said and I saw Remus roll his eyes out of the corner of my vision. “Listen, I have something for you.”

Lily looked unsteadily back towards Scarlet and Anna and exchanged a series of odd facial expressions that I couldn’t read. Those girls were so weird.

“Go on,” Lily finally said to them. “I’ll meet you at the, er… owlery.”

Scarlet and Anna nodded and climbed through the portrait hole. Lily turned back towards me, a wary expression on her face.

“You don’t have to be so apprehensive,” I grinned at her and she gave me a small smile.

“Sorry,” she grimaced. “I’m just not very good with presents. Scar and Annie know not to get me anything by now… but I guess you wouldn’t know that.”

“Who doesn’t love presents?” I scoffed at her and she rolled her eyes at me in that oh-so familiar way. “It’s not a big deal, anyways.”

I retrieved a small wrapped package from the tables we had pushed against the walls and tossed it to Lily who caught it and eyed it suspiciously.

“It’s not going to bite you…I don’t think,” I sent her my best mischievous smile for good measure and she sighed and pulled off the wrapping.

A square box fell into her hands and with another doubtful look at me, she opened it and reached her hand in, only to pull it out quickly with a small yelp.

“What the bloody hell is in there?” Lily said, her eyes wide as she held the box out to me. “It’s… furry.”

“You’ll just have to be a big girl and see for yourself,” I folded my arms over my chest and leaned back against one of the armchairs, watching her.

Lily sent me a withering look and tipped the box so that the contents fell out into her open palm. A small light brown ball of fur rolled into her hand and she started at the sight of it. Dropping the empty box onto the couch, she held her palm up gingerly so she could see better.

“What… is it?” Lily asked delicately, her brow furrowing as her eyes slid from the brown ball of fur over to me.

“Ah, damnit,” I said pushing myself away from the couch and walking up to her. I prodded the fur ball with my finger. “Come on, budge up there.”

A quiet gasp escaped Lily as the furry thing stretched out, revealing a miniature shaggy lion.

“Oh my god,” Lily breathed, reaching a tentative hand up to stroke the little lion’s mane. “Is he… real?”

I let out a snort of laughter. “Of course he’s real. What did you think, that he’s a figment of your imagination?”

“You know what I mean,” Lily said quietly, not taking her eyes off the lion.

“He’s as real as you and me,” I shrugged, reaching a hand up to stroke the lion myself. “That er… that statue McGonagall sent us as a portkey to get back from your house? Well, a bit of spell work brought him right to life.”

Lily tore her eyes away from the lion and gazed up at me, an expression on her face that baffled me. I realized that we were standing quite close to each other, our faces mere inches apart. The lavender scent coming off her hair was beginning to mess with my head and for one crazy moment, I wished that Lily was my girlfriend and not Celia, so our proximity would be nothing to worry about.

Lily seemed to notice our closeness too and with a blink of her vibrant green eyes, she took a step back, the lion cradled tenderly in her hands.

“Thank you, James,” Lily said, an air of forced formality to her voice. “Really, it means… a lot.”

“Yeah, well…” I trailed off, realizing that what I wanted to say, that she means a lot, would have been wildly inappropriate. “Happy birthday,” I finished lamely.            “Right,” Lily took another step away from me. “I’ll… I’ll see you tonight. At the party.”

Lily turned quickly and disappeared through the portrait hole leaving me gaping after her.

I heard sniggers from the corner of the room where Remus and Peter had been watching and I frowned at them.

“What?” I snapped, snatching the empty box off the couch.

“Nothing,” Remus shrugged innocently, a smug grin on his face.

“And I thought I was clueless,” I heard Peter mutter under his breath as I turned to toss the box into the fireplace.

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

The party was in full swing by ten o’clock that evening. It seemed that everyone in Gryffindor was aching for an excuse to party, not to mention everyone adored Lily. As much as she may have denied it, she was widely popular within the school. There were even some students there from other houses that had managed to sneak in, including Celia, a few of her friends, and some Hufflepuffs.

“To the birthday girl!” Sirius called loudly over the music and voices, raising his bottle of firewhiskey into the air. Everyone in the room followed suit and I spotted Lily through the crowed, blushing furiously as Amos Diggory clinked his bottle of butterbeer against hers.

Thankfully it looked as though she were thoroughly enjoying herself. Her cheeks were flushed pink and a smile was stuck permanently on her face as she chatted animatedly with Amos Diggory. I didn’t quite like the way he looked at her, like he’d won the lottery, but who was I to care who she talked to?

“Great party, James,” Celia slid up next to me, a drink clutched in her hand. She wound her arm around me and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. I was honestly surprised she had even come… I was under the impression that she didn’t really care for Lily at all, especially after what had happened in the dungeons.

“Thanks. Having fun?” I asked, taking a drink from my own bottle of butterbeer.

“Loads,” Celia smiled up at me, her brown eyes twinkling in the dim lights. It was hard to think about much else when Celia smiled at me like that… she hadn’t done so in so long that I forgot how it took my breath away.

“Good,” I smiled back, twisting my fingers through hers.

“Oy! There’s my little lion man!” I looked up to see Lily with her arms linked with Scarlet and Anna’s making their way towards us.

“I’m sorry, what did she just call you?” Celia sniggered at me and I just shook my head as the girls came to a halt in front of us.

“Who knew birthdays could be this much fun?” Lily giggled, taking a drink from her bottle. I guess by the way she was swaying from side to side this wasn’t her first drink of the night.

“Well, anything’s more fun that sitting in the library studying,” Scarlet rolled her eyes at her friend.

“Happy birthday, Lily,” Celia smiled at her and Lily smiled back genuinely. Seriously, since when were they on such good terms? Did I miss something?

“James,” Lily said suddenly serious, placing a hand on my arm. “I’ve decided on a name for my lion.”

I let out a laugh as Anna and Scarlet dissolved into giggles at her side. It was one of those weird sentences you never expect to hear someone say…

“Well?” I pressed, waiting for her to reveal the name. “Let’s have it.”

Lily unhooked her arms from Scarlet and Anna, holding her hands out in front of herself as if waiting for a drumroll.

“Sir Harold Shaggyback,” Lily stated grandly, her drink sloshing dangerously in her hand.

“Harry the Shaggy lion, I like it,” I chuckled appreciatively.

Lily cleared her throat and sent me a stern look. “ I prefer Sir Harold Shaggyback. It’s more dignified.”

I snorted at this and a smile broke through Lily’s pseudo-serious façade. I loved seeing Lily like this… so free. So herself. There was no evidence of stress or worry in her eyes, and the smile on her face was enough to make me forget whether I was stressed or worried too.

Sirius hopped onto one of the tables and was now leading the crowed in yet another round of the “Happy Birthday” song and Lily froze with her arms still out in front of her as she listened.

“I have to go,” she said suddenly, her eyes wide. “My people need me!”

And she darted away into the crowd only to reappear a few seconds later on top of the table with Sirius, conducting the partygoers in song with her wand.

“Merlin, she’s going to be a mess tomorrow,” Anna giggled as she and Scarlet made their way towards the drinks table.

I stood for a moment, just watching Lily on top of the table taking a low sweeping bow with Sirius before he grabbed her and started doing a kind of waltz with her. She threw her head back in a laugh as he twirled her around the tables. Her red hair whipped through the air as she turned, her dark blue dress fanning out around her gracefully. It was incredible the difference in her between now and last year.

Remembering that Celia was standing next to me, I tore my eyes away from Lily, taking a long drink from my bottle.

“Since when are you and Lily such good friends?” I asked Celia casually as we wandered around the outside of the room.

“Oh,” Celia said, taken aback by my question and to my surprise, she blushed slightly pink. “Well… I guess, since the incident with the love potion.”

I raised my eyebrows at her questioningly and she looked down at her hands.

“She, er… she was the one who told me what actually happened,” Celia explained carefully and I felt my eyes widen. “She felt so bad about the, er, kiss… she didn’t want me to think you had cheated on me. And she… well, she convinced me to give you another chance, said that you really cared about me and… that there was nothing at all between you two.”

I stared at Celia, lost for words. I had no idea Lily had done that. If I had… well, what would I have done... thanked her?  Why hadn’t she just told me?

“Oh,” was all I could respond. I looked over to where Lily was now sitting on the edge of the table talking with Sirius. She looked over and caught my eye, sending me a heart-stopping smile.

I looked down, taking a drink for something to do. It was all so confusing… I had to admit, there were times when I got the feeling that Lily maybe had feelings for me other than just friends, but… it couldn’t be true. Not in a million years. Wishful thinking, maybe? Or was it just because she wasn’t yelling at me all the time now? And especially after what Celia said, if she fancied me at all why would she have gone to so much trouble to make sure Celia forgave me, to tell her there was nothing at all between us?

“Are you ok?” Celia asked me, placing a hand on my arm.

“I’m fine,” I said quickly. “I just didn’t realize she’d done that. That was… nice of her.”

I looked over at Lily again and saw that Scarlet was whispering something in her ear… something that made the smile vanish from her face. She nodded to Scarlet and excused herself from the group she was talking to. I watched her slip out of the portrait hole and my curiosity got the better of me.

“I’ll be right back,” I said to Celia, who looked at me questioningly. “I just want some fresh air. I’ll be back before you know it.”

Celia smiled and was quickly dragged away by one of her friends as I made my way through the crowd towards the portrait hole. I opened the portrait slowly and saw Lily’s red hair disappear down the end of the corridor. I followed her quietly and stopped when I heard another voice that wasn’t hers from around the corner. I slid up against the wall so I could hear and realized with a jolt who she was talking to.

“I can’t… Lily was saying in a quiet voice. “I can’t deal with this. Not now… not tonight.

“I just… wanted to see you,” Severus Snape said in a low voice.

“You can’t keep doing this…” Lily said in a stern voice. “You messed up, Sev. And this time I can’t forgive you.”

The hall was quiet for a minute and I realized they must be talking about what happened in the dungeons. I listened harder.

“Look… I messed up too, Sev,” Lily said after a minute. “Everything you said… about me. It was… true. And I’m so sorry. If I had known… I don’t know, maybe I did know and just chose to ignore it.”

“Then why didn’t you say anything?” Severus asked, his voice breaking.

“The same reason you didn’t say anything,” Lily replied. “I… you know how I feel, Sev. I couldn’t lose you… not that way.”

Know how I feel? How did she feel about Snape? She couldn’t feel that way about him… it was impossible. Who could love a slimy git like him?

“You wouldn’t have lost me…” Snape mumbled quietly.

“I have lost you now, though,” Lily said, an edge of despair to her voice that sent shivers through me. I couldn’t bear the anguish in her voice… I wanted to fix it.

“That doesn’t have to be true,” Severus argued desperately.

“You know it does, Severus,” Lily said sternly. “We can’t do this anymore… maybe it was easier when we were kids but… we’re not kids anymore. I’m tired. And you’re changing,  I’m changing. We’ve got to stop this before one of us gets hurt again. I can’t let what you did to James happen to anyone else…”

“So what, you going to date Potter now? Become an auror and stand in the way of Lord Voldemort?” Snape scoffed cruelly and I heard Lily huff impatiently. She was probably rolling her eyes at the mention of dating me, but I couldn’t ignore the feeling that swelled in my stomach at the notion.

“I’m going to stand for what I think is right,” Lily clarified, her voice growing stronger. “If that means standing up to Voldemort, then so be it. Anything’s better than becoming a Death Eater.”

“I’m just doing what I think is right,” Snape snapped back at her. “The Dark Lord… some of his ideas aren’t so bad, you know. ”

“Torturing muggles isn’t so bad?” Lily hissed at him incredulously. “Tell me, Sev. What will happen if Voldemort asks you to go after my parents? Could you murder them, just because they haven’t any magical power? Could you murder me? Because of where I come from? Because it’s something that I can’t help?”

“That would never happen,” Severus growled stubbornly and I could practically hear Lily grind her teeth.

“I can’t argue with you anymore,” Lily said after a tense moment of silence. “I have to go.”

“Lily, please—“

“No.” Lily said harshly. “It’s my birthday, Severus. I just want to be happy. And if I stay here any longer, it’s going to ruin the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

“Fine, whatever,” Snape said shortly after a pause. His voice was hard and cold now, as if he decided that it would be easier to walk away from Lily if he pretended to hate her. I couldn’t blame him for that…

“Sev.. I—I’m sorry,” Lily stuttered, her voice almost breaking on the last word.

“Yeah… me too,” Snape said a little less coldly.

There was a silence broken only by the sound of footsteps fading down the corridor and I knew that Snape had gone.  

I felt awkward, pressed up against the wall. I knew if Lily were to find me standing here she’d yell at me for about five years, but I couldn’t bring myself to move yet.

After a moment of deliberation I finally pushed myself away from the wall and rounded the corner slowly, intending to pretend that I had just come looking for her.

I stopped when I saw her standing there, looking at the place where Snape had presumably been standing.

“Lily?” I asked tentatively and she jumped at my voice, hastily wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her dress.

“Oh, James!” She turned, putting a false smile on her face. “I just stepped out to get some fresh air.”

I stared at her in disbelief. Was she really going to pretend that none of that had happened?

“It’s a great party, really,” Lily continued when I continued to stay at her. “I can’t believe how many people turned up. And the decorations are amazing, did Remus make that banner? Where on earth did you get all the food? And the—“       

“Stop,” I finally said when she continued to babble. She snapped her mouth shut, the smile fading from her face.

“You heard,” Lily conceded, all pretenses of happiness vanishing from her.

I nodded slowly and Lily blinked, tears twinkling in the corners of her eyes. Her bottom lip quivered slightly, her tear-filled eyes flashing briefly to my face and I clenched my jaw. I knew that look. She was trying hard not to break.

“It’ll be ok, Lily,” I said quietly in what I hoped what a soothing voice though I couldn’t hide the bite of annoyance I felt towards her. Why did she have to do this to me? I could be perfectly happy with Celia right now if it weren’t for her… standing here, being infuriatingly irresistible.  She’s crying, for god’s sake, over Severus Snape, and I still can’t think about anything but how the light from the candles on the wall is catching her eyes just the right way, how it makes her hair looks even more red…

Lily’s eyes flicked to me again, a single tear escaping her lashes and running down her cheek. Without thinking, I reached out and caught it with my thumb, wiping it away. My fingers tingled slightly at the touch of her soft skin, but Lily pulled her face away from my hand quickly, brushing her own hand across her cheeks as more tears spilled over.

I frowned at her as she took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. I didn’t understand how she could do it. She had just ended her friendship with Snape and while I may not quite understand the relationship they had, I knew they were good enough friends that this can’t be easy for her…

“You don’t always have to be so strong all the time, you know,” I shook my head as she let out yet another deep breath. She let her breath run out as her eyes slowly raised to meet mine.

“Yes, I do,” she said steadily, her eyes hardening in determination.

“No,” I contradicted in a soft voice. “ You don’t.”

Lily swallowed, keeping her eyes on me, and then took a tentative step forward. Before I even had time to react, she had her arms around me, her face pressed tightly into my chest.

I felt my breath escape me at her sudden touch and it was a few seconds before I was able to gather my thoughts enough to carefully lace my arms around her back, scared that too much touching might finally cause me to snap and fall head over heels in love with the damn girl. What the bloody hell was she doing to me? She had to know the effect she had on me…

Lily tightened her arms around me as I felt her shake slightly with the tears she had been trying so hard to hold back. I let out a resigned sigh, trying to resist the unbearable temptation I had to run my fingers through her hair and brush it away from her face like I had done at her house in December. Merlin, that seemed like ages ago…

“I’m s-sorry,” Lily stuttered, pulling away from me after another agonizing minute. “I should b-be happy. It’s my birthday.”

Lily wiped her eyes on her sleeve again and took a deep breath to calm herself. I stared at her incredulously, wondering again how on earth she was able to pull herself together so quickly.

“It’s just…harder than I thought it would be, losing him,” Lily said quietly, looking down at her shoes. “I.. I d-didn’t expect it to hurt this much. And I thought what happened with Alex was bad…”

“What happened with Alex?” I couldn’t help but ask, and of course she didn’t answer me. I was starting to doubt that I would ever find out what went wrong there.

“I’m sorry, I—I’ve got to get back,” Lily sent me a small smile and before I could stop her, she was halfway down the corridor.

I stared after her a minute, completely overwhelmed with everything going on inside my head. I couldn’t ignore the multitude of emotions I felt. The dizzying effect that Lily had on me anymore, the relief that she was no longer friends with Snape, the confusion (still) about what happened with Alex.

Every time she mentioned Alex, it was like driving a knife deeper into the wound. She must have really liked him if she was still upset about it… I remembered the beginning of the year when he had tried to get back together with her. Why had she said no? It was obvious she wanted to… so why hadn’t she? Was she simply scared? I wouldn’t put it past her…

But if it would make her happier to be with him, then wouldn’t she do it? I thought briefly about Celia and how Lily had gone through so much trouble to make sure she forgave me. Celia had said she did it because she knew how upset I was by it…

So couldn’t I do the same for her? If Lily had any feelings for me at all, surely she wouldn’t have gone to Celia. So maybe if I help her, it will prove once and for all that any feelings I have for her are just… just what? Non-existent? They definitely exist… but my feelings for Celia definitely exist, too. Maybe if Lily were in a relationship as well, these feelings would go away… and if it made her happy to be with Alex again, then I had to try, right?

Before I could talk myself out of it, I nodded resolutely to myself and hurried back to the common room. I squeezed my way through the crowd towards my dormitory and ran up the stairs to our room. I opened my trunk and hastily dug through it, searching for the object I knew was still in my dress robes pocket.

I pulled out the tiny owl necklace I’d accidentally taken from Lily’s house and slipped it into my pocket.

“Frisky witch, Prongs?” Sirius elbowed me in the ribs as I reappeared in the common room.

“I beg your pardon?” I laughed out of surprise and Sirius held up a drink as explanation.

“Frisky witch,” Sirius nodded, downing half the drink in one swallow. “One hell of a drink, let me tell you. I’m pretty sure it’s mostly whiskey.”

“Why’s it called a frisky witch?” I chuckled, gingerly taking a sip of the glass Sirius offered me.

He pointed behind me to where Anna Doucette was happily snogging Max Lyndon, the seventh year beater for the Quidditch team.

“She’s had about three of these,” Sirius smiled mischievously and I rolled my eyes at him. “What are you up to? You don’t seem that drunk…”

“I will be soon, I promise,” I chuckled at his concern. “I’ve just got something to take care of real quick.”

“Alright, well hurry up,” Sirius grinned. “We’re bringing out the cake soon. Ten different flavors, all in one cake, can you believe it, Prongs? Merlin, I love those house elves.”

I slipped back out through the portrait hole into the hall and walked purposefully towards the Hufflepuff dormitory, wondering slightly if I’d run into someone who could tell me where I could find Alex Winchester.

Luck was on my side however, and as I approached the still life painting I knew guarded the entrance, a student stepped out from behind it.

“Winchester,” I called and the brown-haired boy turned around, frowning slightly when he recognized me. I hadn’t spoken five words to Alex before and it must have struck him as odd that I’d want to talk to him now.

Alex shoved his hands into his pockets as I came to a stop in front of him, a look of polite confusion on his face.

My fingers twisted around the necklace in my pockets and my brain screamed that this was a huge mistake. But I had to prove that I didn’t fancy Lily like that, I just had to. And if this made her happier, then that was all the more reason to do it.

“Can I have a word?” I asked, pulling out the necklace and holding it out to him.

Alex studied the necklace for a moment before recognition lit his eyes and he looked curiously up at me.

“I’m listening,” Alex finally said, a hint of a smile pulling up the corners of his mouth.




A/N: .... *hides*.... please don't hate me? Does it help if I say I'm sorry? You should all know by now that I never make things easy :P And sorry it took me AGES to update! This has been the weirdest/worst start to a semester I've ever had, plus I wasn't quite happy with this chapter for a while... but here it is! 

Soooo.... dare I ask what you thought? 

James has finally realized his feelings for Lily and yet still manages to delude himself... what do you think will happen with Alex?

What will Lily do if/when she finds out James talked to him? 

What will she say to Alex if he tries to talk to her again?

Also, the next chapter is Slughorn's Valentine's party :) Just saying...

Also, also... 30 chapters! I can't believe how this story has grown and all of the support you all have given me is amazing :) I couldn't have made it this far without all of my lovely readers! Thank you so much everyone! 


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