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The Con by katlynncore
Chapter 6 : Chapter Six
 
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                                                                   Chapter Six

 

Disclaimer: All of the genius of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. I am merely inspired by her fantastic work.

 

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     I woke the next morning feeling very uncomfortable and very cold. I opened my eyes to find that I was not in a bed, but on a dusty smelling couch. I heard a snore coming from the floor next to me. James was sleeping with a book spread opened on his chest and a lumpy looking pillow under his head.


     I looked around and realized where we were. “Bloody hell! James, what time is it?”

     He jolted awake. His glasses were askew on his face and he tried to clumsily fix them. “What? What’s the matter?”


      “We fell asleep in the Room of Requirement.”

      “Shite. What time is it?”

      “I don’t know. That’s what I was asking you. What if we missed class?”

      We stood up and straightened out our clothes before peeking out the door. The corridor was clear, so we quietly made our way through the castle. The sun had not risen yet, so I knew we could safely make it back to our dorms without much notice.

      James and I stood in awkward silence when we had to go our separate ways. “I hope my mates didn’t notice I was gone. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

      I laughed. “Yeah, definitely. So, er, thanks for all your help last night. And for, you know, all of those other times before.”

      He shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal. “It’s been kind of fun. I’ll see you in Potions, then?”


      “Yeah, I guess you will.” I was excited at the prospect of seeing him again. We separated and I couldn’t help the smile on my face. That seemed to happen a lot around him these days.

      When I got back to my dorm, nobody was awake yet and I was careful not to rouse any of the other girls from their slumber. The clock was just about to strike six in the morning, so I decided to get ready for my day and head down for an early breakfast.

      As I ate, I went over the past few nights that I’d spent with James and thought about how comfortable I felt around him now. With a resigned sigh, I realized that I couldn’t deny my attraction to him anymore. Had he really been like this all along? Was I just now seeing how amazing he truly was? I couldn’t help but feel like I'd been the prat all along.


     It was a while before I noticed that the tables were full with the others around me eating breakfast. I looked over to the Gryffindor table to find James. He was sitting with the Marauders and, to my great dismay, Gabby and my friends.

     A feeling of loneliness overtook me as I watched Gabby interact with Marlene and Helen. I missed them very much. I wished I could talk to them about my changing feelings for James. This was huge and I needed to talk to them about it. My friends always knew the right thing to say. I missed our late night chats, when we would talk about whatever came to mind for hours. I craved to know what was going on in their lives since the last time I’d talked to them.

       As if sensing my distress, James’ eye caught mine. He gave me a smile that made my insides feel weird; sort of light and fluttery. I smiled back after he nodded discreetly and casted a look over at the Marauders. I knew what message he was trying to convey: his mates hadn’t realized he was gone all last night.

       I collected my things and made my way towards the Potions room early. The butterflies in my stomach intensified as I thought of the upcoming class. Not only was I nervous about seeing James again, but Gabby, too. Was she going to dominate this class, as well? This was my best subject and there was no way I was going to let her overshadow me.

      Slowly, the room started to fill up as my fellow classmates began to arrive. I had chosen a table in the middle section of the room, but off to the right side. No one sat next to me at my table, but James and Sirius chose the one beside mine. I gave both a greeting smile, but it disappeared as soon as Gabby and Helen sat down in front of them.

      As Gabby turned around to whisper something to James, Sirius rolled his eyes. He turned to me and slowly shook his head with a mock serious expression, eliciting a laugh from me. Gabby gave me an icy glare for a second or two then turned back to face forward. I widened my eyes at Sirius as if to ask, What did I do? which made us both loose it. James looked between us with an amused, questioning glance.

       Before James could voice his confusion, Slughorn entered the room. He proclaimed that today’s potion was going to be Draught of the Living Death. “I know that we’ve done it before, but it’s such a difficult potion, that I thought a review would benefit you all greatly. This is your final year, after all. I know you're all up for the challenge.”

        I smiled as I opened my book to the correct page, especially after glancing over at Gabby’s slumped shoulders. Back in fourth and fifth year, I used to spend many a free period with my former best mate, Severus Snape, practicing the most challenging potions we could find. Sev had actually been a hair better than me at Potions, but only because he was fantastic at modifying them. He had changed the instructions given by the text with better results, and I had paid attention. This was going to be easy.

     My potion had just turned a lovely shade of lilac, when I heard Sirius’ exasperated sigh. “Bloody hell, Prongs. You’re a nightmare. How did you even get to the N.E.W.T. level anyway?”


     James gave him a cheeky smile. “My charming good looks and comely demeanor.”


     “You’re an absolute prat, you know that?”

     After stirring my potions seven times counter-clockwise (and once more in the opposite direction, per Sev’s modification), my potion turned clear. I began to bottle it.


     “Evans,” Sirius called me over as I finished corking my vile. “Since you’re done, and you obviously know what you’re doing,” he gave James a pointed look, “would you mind helping this sorry excuse for a partner of mine do something correctly for once?”

     I smirked and joined their table. Their potion was still very dark in color. James had a knife in his hand, attempting to slice the sopophorous bean. He was going about it all wrong, and the bean kept flinging from his grasp to the floor. “Well, if this sodding bean wasn’t so damn slippery…”

     “James, you’re doing it all wrong.” I picked up the bean from the floor and placed it back on the table.


     “I think I know how to use a knife, thank you very much.”


     “And I think I know how to make the potion better than you do, thank you very much.”

     Sirius let out a surprised hoot and said, “She’s got you there, Prongs. I think you should show him, Evans. No,” he said as I took the knife from James’s hand. “You need to physically show him how to do it. Otherwise he’ll just pretend like he’s listening. Potions, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, is not his best subject. He tends to get a little hazy and unfocused during demonstrations.”

     I caught a glint in Sirius’s eyes and narrowed mine at him. He was up to something, but I wasn’t quite sure what yet. I gave James back the knife and moved to stand beside him. I hesitated before taking his hand in mine. I gulped when I felt the roughness of it, probably from all of the Quidditch he played. His hand was warm and touching his skin sent tingles up my arm. “Okay, grab the bean with your other hand. Now, what you’re going to do is crush it with the flat side, like this,” I turned the knife in his hand. “That way you’ll get more juice from the bean. That's the important part.”

     James looked over at me, our noses almost touching. The fluttery feeling in my stomach intensified again. “But the book doesn’t say that.”


     “Trust me.”


      He stared into my eyes for what felt like a lifetime, and then he nodded his head and crushed the bean. The shock was clear in his voice when he exclaimed, “I did it.”

      Sirius cleared his throat and I broke away from James. “Actually, mate, you and Evans did it.”


      I looked at Sirius. He now had a slight, satisfied smirk on his face to match the glint in his eye. I suddenly realized that Sirius was deliberately trying to force us together. He flicked his eyes at Gabby, so I turned my gaze on her as well. She had stiff shoulders and her movements were jerky with anger. Even though I was secretly happy at her discomfort, I shook my head at Sirius and his smirk grew. The gall of that boy, really.


      James, oblivious to mine and Sirius’s exchange, asked, “What’s next?”


      “Just follow what the book says until you get to the stirring. You can call me over then.”

     I returned to my table, picked up the vile, and brought it up to Slughorn for grading. “My goodness, Miss Evans. Finished already?” He took my finished potion and declared to the entire class that I was the first to finish and blathered on about how perfect it looked. The delight I got from seeing Gabby’s murderous gaze made the embarrassment of the situation suddenly seem not so bad.


      A few minutes after I finished cleaning up my area, James and Sirius called me over again. Their potion was a bit cloudier than it should have been, but it didn’t seem too bad. “Okay, you do the seven stirs then another in the opposite direction.” When James began to stir clockwise, I snatched the spoon from his hand. “Seriously? Don’t you read? Is he always this bad,” I asked Sirius.

     Sirius gave me a bland look. “Sadly, yes.”


     James gave an indignant huff. “Of course I read. It says right here…oh.”


     “See what I mean,” Sirius drawled. “He learns by doing, not by reading.”

     “Fine, I guess I’ll have to show him then.” I narrowed my eyes at Sirius again when the glint and the smirk reappeared.

     I grabbed James’s hand again, ignoring the butterflies this time. I showed him how to properly stir the potion. I told him that in order to make the potion correctly, he had to be very precise. The spoon had to go around the outer edges, otherwise it wouldn't work. When I looked up, his gaze quickly fell to the potion as if he’d been staring at me. He hadn't even been paying attention! I couldn’t simply ignore the fluttery feeling then. Sirius’s smirk was bigger than ever as he looked back and forth between James and me. What a git.

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     After class, I went to the lavatory. I thought about the interest Sirius had taken in James and me. When did he become such a match maker? He was obviously trying to push us together. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about all of this yet. Fancying James was totally new to me. I was trying to adjust to the way I got nervous around him now. Besides, I had a crisis on my hands. My life had been high-jacked, and I had to fix it before I even considered pursuing a relationship with anyone.

     I was washing my hands when Helen and Marlene walked in. Marlene was in one of her moods; I could tell by the angry way she held herself. I decided to ignore them. “You have some nerve, Evans. You know that they’re dating.”

      My surprised eyes made contact with hers in the mirror. “I’m sorry?”


      She whipped me around to face her. Helen was standing by the door wringing her hands in stress. “Don’t pretend to be thick with me. I know what you’re up to.”


     “I’m sorry, Marlene, but I don’t—”

     “Bullshite, you slag.” I felt as if I’d been slapped. I’d never seen so much anger in her face. Well, that’s not true. I’d never seen this anger directed at me before, but I had seen it used plenty of times, mostly on Slytherins. “I’ve noticed how you’ve been all over James lately, eating with him, sending him those pathetic, longing stares. But what you did in Potions today was crossing the line.”

     I closed my eyes briefly, cursing at Sirius in my head. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to help them, I swear.”


      “Don’t lie.” My heart picked up pace as Marlene took another step towards me. I thought for sure she would start swinging. “Gabby is one of my best mates. If you mess with her, you mess with me. Listen to me when I tell you to stay away from James. You don’t want me for an enemy.”

      I nodded silently and looked away. When they left, I sighed heavily and felt the tears stinging the back of my eyes. I remembered how protective Marlene could be. She was such a good friend. Despite her scary threats, I missed both Marlene and Helen fiercely at that moment.

     By the time I gathered myself, it was well into lunchtime.  I made my way slowly to the Great Hall to eat something. I sat in my usual seat, but avoided all eye contact with the Gryffindor table. I was sure that my eyes were red from the few tears that had escaped. I gave up eating halfway through, losing my appetite. It didn’t surprise me really when I heard his footsteps following me out into the corridor.

     “Lily, I need to—are you okay?” James’s stare was filled with concern when he caught up with me.


      I continued to avoid making eye contact with him. “I’m fine. You needed something?”


      “Er, yes. I won’t be able to make it to the Room tonight. I just remembered that I have Quidditch practice after supper.”


      “That’s fine. You really don’t have to help me anymore if you don’t want.” Marlene was right; I really didn’t want her for an enemy. She would get aggressive since she thought that Gabby was her friend, and I was not so inclined to be on the recieving end of her anger. I wasn't sure what would hurt more, the pain she'd inflict on me or the fact that it was one of my best mates dealing out the blows. Maybe if I pushed James away, I could avoid it entirely. Besides this attraction I held for him was steadily becoming a distraction from finding the counter spell.

     “No, I want to keep helping you, but I just think that I’ll be too tired after practice.” I just nodded. He grabbed my shoulders and I finally looked him in the eye. Big mistake. My insides twisted, but unlike earlier, it wasn’t a happy feeling.  His eyes were intense as they scrutinized my face. “Are you sure you’re okay?”


     I gave him a small smile. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired, I guess.”


     “Okay, well I’ll see you later, then?” The worry was still there in his expression.


     “Yeah, have a good practice.” I walked away, already missing him.

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Author’s Note: See, what did I tell you? I hope this made up for the last chapter being so short. There is more drama to come. Hopefully I’ll be able to write it all out soon, but I’ve been so busy with school and work that I can’t make any promises. I’d love to hear what you thought of this chapter (or my story in general, so far), even if you need to provide some constructive criticism. Thanks!

 

*Update: Sorry  that it’s been such a long time since I’ve updated. I just went through some personal stuff and couldn’t find it in myself to write for a while. I’m finally back and ready to get back into this story! I did some small edits to this chapter, but nothing major. I’m currently working on Chapter Seven now, and should have it up soon.


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