Chapter 9 : Chapter 9
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"Go on, James."
"Grow a pair, Prongs!" I took a deep breath, steadfastly ignoring my boys. I had been preoccupied since the Prefects' meeting and although I passed it off under the pretense of planning a prank, when Padfoot caught me staring at Lily for the fifth time that night he finally called me out on it. I was in the middle of dutifully writing Wormtail's essay when he grabbed my quill, snapped it in half and chucked the pieces in the fire.
"Listen up, Potter. You either get your sorry arse over there and ask Evans to the ball, or I'm taking her myself." That got my attention for sure. I knew (or at least prayed to Merlin) that he would never actually date the girl I fancied, but he would find a way to go through with his threat. My heart was beating furiously in my chest and I was sure my nerves were clearly visible on my face. Keeping my eyes on my feet and trying not to think, I kept walking towards her. Cautiously, I put a hand on her shoulder.
"Yes?" Merlin, she was cute.
"Hey." She chuckled a bit.
"Hey. Um, what's up?" I asked for a word and led her out of the Common Room and into the small niche across from it. And when I finally got around to asking her, albeit after some stammering and hesitation, she just stood there. Vacant expression, flaming cheeks, eyes darting around frantically. Did she already have a date? Was she searching for an excuse? Maybe she thought I had given up on her. She was still frozen in place. You know what, fuck it, I thought.
"Never mind, I'll just go," I said, trying not to sound like a pitiful little girl getting her fragile heart broken but probably failing miserably. I made to exit with my dignity intact but stopped abruptly when her hand grabbed my elbow. Suddenly, her lips were on mine and I was in shock. Lily Evans was... was... kissing me! Me! Before I could process this wonderful piece of news and respond like I had wanted to for years, she had pulled away, looking hurt and embarrassed. Her big green eyes were wet as she whispered an apology and fled. I tried to go after her, I called her name and maybe even cried a little bit (don't tell Padfoot!) but she was gone, off to who knows where. Maybe Snivelly would comfort her and they'd end up shagging in his greasy Slytherin bed.
I'd really done it now. Fucknuggets on a stick. Dejectedly, I returned to the Common Room and trudged up the boys' staircase, knowing without needing to look that Sirius would be right behind me. I collapsed on his four-poster in my old dorm.
"What happened?" With much prodding from my best mate, I retold the story as best I could. It was, needless to say, rather painful. When I finished, he looked at me. "Uh, you messed up, man."
"No shit, Sherlock." Yeah, I had gotten that far, thanks. I grumbled into his pillow and resisted the temptation to punch something (or someone). Still, Evans had kissed me. Maybe she did want to go to the ball with me after all. There was still hope, then. I just needed to find her and explain. Sitting up and running a hand through my hair, I bid Padfoot a hasty goodbye and took the stairs three at a time before crossing the Common Room purposefully and embarking on my mission. This should be interesting, I thought.
I spent a good quarter hour wandering the castle until I remembered the handy map I happened to have in the back pocket of my jeans. Cursing my stupidity inwardly and whipping it out, I whispered "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" and tapped it with my pliable mahogany wand. It took me all of three seconds to find her dot amongst the hundreds and I was surprised to find her moving down a dodgy corridor near the Slytherin Common Room, alone. I didn't see the menacing pentagon of dots, all labeled with the names of 7th year Slytherins, that lurked not fifty yards ahead along her path, so I stowed the map in my jacket and set off at a brisk walk to reclaim my date to the ball.
I arrived at the top of a slippery staircase to see Lily at the bottom, taking on three aspiring Death Eaters that were firing sinister spells at her. A girl lay unconscious against a wall with blood trickling from her head and the burly Beater for the Slytherin Quidditch Team was frozen in a Full-Body Bind and tied up with white ropes. "Lily!" I cried, hurtling towards her just as the ringleader, Vaughn Wilkes, hissed a fateful, horrible word.
"Crucio." I was not aware of leaping, but suddenly I was colliding with Evans, pulling her to the ground and blasting Wilkes backwards with more force than I ever thought possible. He hit the stone wall with an ominous crack and slid to the ground, motionless, and his curse exploded a section of wall behind me, but I wasn't watching. Bellatrix Black and Rosier were advancing towards us and Lily's face was contorted with pain from whatever injury she had sustained. Black laughed mirthlessly and with a flourish of her wand sent a lasso of writhing black snakes towards us. I concentrated on Transfiguring the snakes mid-flight into a flock gray birds that I sent back at her with a fury I didn't know I possessed.
"James!" Lily screamed, and too late I sensed Rosier's curse. It hit me in the side, cutting into my flesh and sending warm, crimson liquid out like a river. Evans was on her feet, eyes aflame with anger, and she sent spell after nonverbal spell at my attacker. I could only watch as he was Disarmed, suspended upside-down, bruised as if punched everywhere, and released to crash to the floor.
Hurried footsteps accompanied the swish of robes around the corner and a girl's voice screamed. I vaguely remember saying "Thanks, Lils," before blacking out.
Twelve hours later the Hospital Wing was bustling with activity. Winter sunlight fell on my face and blinded me when I pried open my eyelids. Groaning slightly, I pushed myself into a sitting position and assessed my predicament. Obviously this was the Hospital Wing, as the distinct medicinal smell was present and the new healing intern by the name of Pomfrey was fussing about the occupant of the bed adjacent to mine. I flitted through my recollections of the past twenty-four hours and settled on a memory of pain, flashing lights, and anger. "What's happened?" I asked groggily to no one in particular, attracting the maiden's attention.
"Ah, Miss Evans. Good to see you awake," she said, making her way to the side of my bed. "There's been quite the commotion in here, seven students brought in unconscious! What a night! Now, I've mended your broken wrist, do you feel any pain there? No? Good. You were pretty banged up when the Headmaster brought you in, Miss Evans, but I dealt with all the major abrasions. Now-" She said this all very fast and my head was throbbing so that I didn't think I could take another moment of it.
"What time is it?" I rudely interuppted.
"Oh, why it is nearly eight. Your friends have just gone to fetch themselves and you two some breakfast. Unfortunately they have refused to leave this room since you arrived last night," Pomfrey said, looking cross at the very thought of persistent visitors and worried friends disturbing her patients. I realized that she kept referring to 'the two' of us, and craned my stiff neck to the left to see James groping around for his glasses on the bedside table between us. I grabbed them and put them in his hands soundlessly. He flashed that irresistible smile at me and rubbed his eyes as he slid them up his nose. James downed the potion Madam Pompfrey handed him without complaint and then cocked an eyebrow at me, as if daring me to do better. I smirked and took my vial from the woman, but gasped involuntarily when it hit my throat and grimaced while it burned its way down. Thrusting the empty vessel back and breathing heavily, I saw James shaking his head in mock disappointment at me. I giggled and threw a pillow at his face the second Pomfrey's back was turned. The stunned look on his face was priceless. I was aware that he had hurt me last night, but he was too adorable to hold a grudge against. Anyway, he appeared to have forgiven my impulsiveness, so I suppose we would carry on as friends. And maybe, just maybe, I could make him want something more again.
The heavy Hospital Wing doors swung inwards at that moment to reveal Sirius, Remus, Kate, Mary, and Alice. Sirius and Mary were leading the rest like troops, and all were laden with delicacies, courtesy of the Hogwarts house elves. My mouth was watering at the smell of fresh croissants, cinnamon buns, and most of all, bacon. Stealing a glance at the bed next to me, I saw James had perked up and looked like an eager puppy while eyeing my bacon. This could get nasty- I wanted that bacon.
Kate snagged the chair on the far side of my bed and set about gently brushing my hair, which was in a tangled red mop of a ponytail. It was times like these that Kate showed her gentle, sweet side. Remus smiled fondly at her from across the bed, but she was too engrossed in maneuvering her brush down my back to notice. Alice plopped herself at my feet, short legs outstretched to rest on the foot of James bed. Sirius lounged casually at the head of his best mate whilst shoving food in his mouth. He sprayed crumbs everywhere as he spoke. "Oi, mate, promise me you won't do that again."
James looked indignant. "What, help Evans? You want me to sit and watch while she takes on five Voldemort-wannabees?"
Sirius didn't even have the decency to look ashamed. "No, I meant promise you won't leave me out of a fight ever again. You get all the action!" he whined, as if fighting students was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that James had forced him to miss out on. Mary, of course, was sniggering at 'you get all the action' and it took some self-restraint not to join in, not because of my immaturity but because it was so very far from the truth. I instead turned my attention to the mountain of food on the bedside table, stealing the entire platter of bacon from under Potter's searching fingertips. Cackling slightly, I set to work devouring it, feeling quite pleased with myself. Just to further annoy James, I made a show of looking to the heavens and thanking Merlin for this lovely food on this joyous morning. However, when I looked back at my plate, there was only one piece left.
"Hey!" I cried, confused. James, of course. He sat munching innocently on my bacon, wand on the bedside table. Several pieces lay in a napkin on his lap. "Alright, that's it," I mumbled, swinging my legs down to the floor and stumbling the three feet to his bedside before wresting the napkin and its contents from him and giving him my best glare. "Don't. Touch. My. Bacon," I growled dramatically.
I was about to sink back into bed when a pair of arms grabbed me around the middle, lifted me up, and dropped me onto the bed, tickling furiously. We rolled around on the bed (minds out of the gutter, please) and finally came to a halt with me pinned beneath him, the half-crumbled bacon still in hand. "You want this?" I asked in a breathy voice. His chest was on mine and our faces only six inches apart. I completely forgot everything but him- it wasn't us in a Hospital surrounded by our gaping friends- it was just James and me. The way it should be. Slowly, I brought a piece of bacon to his mouth. "Open up," I whispered, and he obliged so I could push it through his perfect lips. I watched his jaw working and he swallowed and came marginally closer. Whether he was going to ask for more bacon or kiss me, I never found out, because dear old Pompfrey chose that moment to exit her new office with a new batch of medications for the two of us.
"Mr. Potter, if you please, stop canoodling in this place of healing. You can fraternize with your girlfriend later," she sternly reprimanded. Girlfriend. I liked the way that sounded. James didn't bother to correct her either.
"Sorry ma'am," he said, winking at me and climbing off me to return to his own bed. Immediately I missed the heat of his body on mine.
Our friends were all staring at us with expressions ranging from Kate's 'I knew it' look to Alice's 'aww, so cute' to Remus' 'well done, mate' and Mary's simple smile. Then there was Sirius, who was smirking delightfully at a private joke of some sort and trying to send sign language messages along the lines of 'get some' to James with little success. I chuckled and reached for the potion the madam held out to me.
"Well, Lils, if you don't mind, we need to get some shopping done for the ball. We've tried to get Pompfrey to release you, but she's not having it. We will have to get your dress another time, unless you would rather we stay, of course." At nearly eleven, Kate, Alice, and Mary were preparing to take leave from my bedside. Today was the Hogsmeade visit and Gladrags Wizardwear was sure to be packed with ball-goers needing suitable attire.
"No, no, you all go on. I wish I could go with you," I said with a half-smile. I knew exactly the sort of gown I wanted, so finding it shouldn't take long anyway. The trick would be getting into Hogsmeade undetected- as Head Girl, I could not be caught sneaking off the grounds under any circumstances. At James' bed, a similar conversation was taking place.
"I already have my dress robes, I've been planning this for ages, remember? And anyways, shopping is no fun at all. Track down Wormtail and the three of you go, alright? Yes, you're going too, Padfoot, end of discussion." Sirius was pouting like a toddler that didn't get his way. "I'll see you tonight, we have some things to discuss," James finished. I rolled my eyes- 'things to discuss' my arse, they were probably planning a prank. Spectacular.
After many promises of Honeydukes' sweets upon their return (and a "don't get Lily pregnant while we're gone, Prongs!" from Sirius) the five friends left the Hospital Wing for the walk down to the village in the chilly December air. I felt left out of the shopping, imprisoned, and restless. After a few minutes, I had had enough.
"James," I asked quietly, "can you get us out of here?"
He smiled confidently. "Of course, Lils. I thought you would never ask."
A/N: Sorry about the wait! I'm not very happy with this chapter, but wanted to get one up anyways. Please review!!!
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