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Southern Comfort by Muse2488
Chapter 17 : No Time Like the Present
 
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The next couple of days seemed to be much better now that James was awake. We kept up the team rotations we had been doing when he was unconscious, except now the gang made sure I wasn't skipping out on meals or sleep. Even James agreed with kicking me out.

Jerk.

I was still able to stay a bit longer on the weekends though. Madam Pomfrey let me stay with him until close to midnight on the weekends; I figured she still had sympathy for me. Whenever it was just James and I she would sneak glances at us and smile softly. It was a bit odd, but I never dwelt on it. I was too busy with the new duty we had to add to our list of things to do for James; make sure James didn't' escape.

James was totally restless, even worse than I had been!

Okay...well...maybe not worse.

Every few hours he would claim the need to get up for something and we would immediately push him back down on his pillows or threaten to call Madam Pomfrey. James claimed he was feeling better but once he tried to sit up or stand for too long he would get dizzy and nauseous. Harry and Ginny tried to ensure James' full cooperation but their son was quite stubborn. Harry and Ginny needed to leave, but Ginny was worried about her son and didn't want to leave, despite Madam Pomfrey's promise of his full recovery and James' insistence that he was fine.

"I'm fine Mum." James said with a sigh.

"Are you sure? You're still pretty bruised." Ginny said uneasily. This was true. While the bruises were starting to fade, they weren't completely gone and the really bad bruising on his ribs were still purple in color; which made his breathing still labored.

"I'm fine though Mum, I promise." James repeated.

"Ginny, he's gonna be okay." Harry said as he wrapped an arm around her waist. Ginny was standing at the head of James' bed on the left side while I was on the right. Al and Lily were at the foot of his bed while the rest of the gang was helping Teddy with a few wedding plans. They promised to come up after a few minutes to say goodbye to Ginny and Harry.

"Dad's right Mum; James has more than enough people to make sure he doesn't do anything stupid." Al said.

"You mean anything more stupid than his normal stupid right?" Lily asked.

"Oi!" James cried indignantly.

"You'll take care of him won't you Paislee?" Ginny asked me. I was startled by her question, but touched as well.

I smiled at Ginny and nodded, "Of course I will." 

"Now I feel better." Ginny smiled.

"So now that you have a babysitter for me you feel better? What, you don't trust me?" James asked.

Ginny scoffed, "I trust you about as much as I trust your Uncle Ron not to touch a pie that's sitting in front of him." 

Harry snorted a laugh while James looked offended.

"That hurts Mum." 

"Oh hush." Ginny replied.

"You ready dear?" Harry asked his wife.

Ginny sighed, "I guess." 

"We'll see you in a few days Mum; remember Easter break is the week after next." Lily said brightly.

"That's right! We'll all be at the Burrow then. Your lots final dress robes fittings will be then, so be prepared. Only two more months until Vic's and Teddy's wedding." Ginny said excitedly.

"We'll meet the rest of the crew at Ted's office. See you later son, get well alright? And listen to Paislee...she'll tell us if you misbehave." Harry said with a wink towards me before ruffling his son's hair. James tried to duck out of his father's reach but failed. Harry laughed. Ginny bent down to kiss James' forehead. James allowed her to and his cheeks turned slightly pink at Al's snicker. Ginny brushed a few strands of James' hair from his face.

"See you soon love." She told him and then went to hug and kiss her other two children, Harry following his wife's lead.

"Bye Mr. and Mrs. Potter." I said with a wave.

"You're never going to call us by our first names are you?" Ginny asked with an amused smile.

"Probably not." I replied with a smile of my own.

Well, whenever you feel ready, we'll be fine with it." Harry told me.

"Thanks...Harry." I said with a sly smile.

Ginny laughed, "I forgot how cheeky you can be. Now come here and give me a proper hug." 

I obliged and even Harry gave me a hug. They waved goodbye once more before leaving and James scowled at his two younger siblings.

"Stupid huh? And more stupid than I normally am?" James asked in annoyance.

Lily and Al snorted at the same time, making me laugh.

"You have been known to do crazy and stupid things." Lily said.

"I agree with this." I quipped.

"Oh that's a right laugh; Paislee Hayes is saying that I do crazy things." James said sarcastically.

"Are you trying to say I do crazy things?" I demanded.

Uh-oh, lovers spat. C'mon Lils, let's get out of here before Paislee turns him into a newt." Al said with a laugh. James and I rolled our eyes before shooting Al a look. Lily waved as the two of them walked out.

"Those two drive me mad." James said with a wry smile.

"I'm sure the feeling's mutual." I replied with a laugh. "Now, what's with me being crazy?" 

James barked a laugh, "Did I stutter?" 

"I just don't see how I'm the on that's done crazy things." 

"How bout the fact that you are practically fearless, which isn't exactly a good thing. Your first two months here you managed to tick off Slytherin's Keeper so much that he grabbed a Beater's bat and knocked you out with a Bludger, you also volunteered your first day in Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and you also took on two huge, stupid, complete wankers with very little help. I'd deem those things crazy." James said and gave me a dimpled grin.

I melted.

He was just too damn attractive.

"Yeah well you're just as crazy as I am." I told him.

"Oh silly American, I'm on a whole other level." 

I rolled my eyes at him.

"How much longer do you think I'll be in here?" James asked me.

"Oh you're gonna be in here until the day we leave." I laughed.

James sighed, "I had a feeling you'd say that." 

"Well what did you expect James? I was there for a week and I was less damaged than you are now!" 

"Easter break isn't until next week though, I dunno if I can last." 

"Man up." I joked as I ran my fingers through his hair. James closed his eyes and sighed contentedly, pushing the top of his head into my hand.

"I miss touching you." James said.

"We were just holding hands." I laughed.

James shook his head, "It's not the same. I miss holding you, running my own fingers through your hair, kissing you..." 

"We just kissed yesterday." 

"No, kissing you properly. Grabbing your face in between my hands, starting sweet and slow, building up the pressure until we both can't stand it." James said softly.

I blushed.

"At least I can still make you blush." James said with a slight smirk.

"You blush too ya know." 

"Not nearly as easily as you do though." 

I rolled my eyes at him before looking across the room, seeing Madam Pomfrey make her way towards us.

"Alright Ms. Hayes, it's time for you to go. It's dinner time and I'm under strict orders by Mr. Potter here and the rest of that lot, including Professor Lupin, to make sure you eat." Madam Pomfrey said with a fond smile.

"Professor Lupin is in on this too?" I cried.

"You can blame Starlene for that one." James said with a laugh.

"Y'all are a bunch of sneaky little devils." I said and scowled at him.

"You can visit Mr. Potter after you've eaten." Madam Pomfrey assured me as she ushered me out of the room.

I sigheed, not wanting to leave but the truth was that I was indeed hungry. I made my way down to the Great Hall and found the gang at the far end of the Gryffindor table, they waved me over and I sat down next to Dom and Starlene.

"How's he doing?" Starlene asked.

"He says he's fine but I can tell he's still hurting. He keeps siphoning the pain potion out of his daily ones." I answered.

There was a collective gasp at the table before Roxanne asked, "How can you tell?" 

"I'm not really sure...it's just there are these times when he'll move or something and his jaw will clench or his fingers will clutch the mattress hard. It's little things, but I can see them." 

"We should tell Madam Pomfrey." Rose said.

"I don't think so." Al said.

"Why not? He needs to be taking something for his pain." Dom said.

"He obviously doesn't want to take the pain potion for a reason, if he thinks he can handle it we should let him try. If it gets to be too much, then we'll say something." Al offered.

"I'm not exactly comfortable with that...but I guess it's what he wants..." Dom said uneasily.

"I don't think we can stop him from doing it anyways. If we take away his wand he'll just stop drinking the potion. As much as Madam Pomfrey likes to think she can force him to drink it, she can't." I said.

"And James is quite the stubborn git when he wants to be." Lily added.

We all laughed at that.

"You think Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny will arrest the two wankers?" Hugo asked.

"I dunno...I mean, Aunt Ginny was furious of course. But Uncle Harry seemed more..." Dom trailed off.

"Rational?" Freddie supplied.

"Freddie!" Starlene chastised.

"What? We all know Aunt Ginny tends to act irrational!" Freddie defended.

"Of course she's irrational at times look at who she grew up with!" Lily said with a laugh.

"You're right, Uncle Percy was probably a nightmare to grow up with." Hugo said with a slight smile.

"You are all impossible." Roxanne said with an eye roll.

I smiled at the family banter. It was nice to just watch them interact with one another. They were all so very close and sometimes I felt like I was an intruder into their family moments, but they were always so open and welcoming that those feelings would immediately be washed away, especially when it came to Ginny. Starlene and Scorpius grew up with the Weasley's and Potter's so it was easier for them, but I was slowly learning that they truly thought of me as family.

We finished dinner with me a little on the quieter side as I listened to my friends talk to one another. Once we were done Rose, Starlene, Freddie, and Scorpius went to take their shift with James while the rest of us caught up on homework (or in Lily's and Hugo's hang out with their significant other's). Once I was done with my Potion's essay and my Herbology plant matching homework I decided to write my Dad and let him know how James was doing.

I missed my Dad terribly. He always knew what to do when I was upset. When I was little and had a nightmare he would pick me up and take me to the living room. We would sit on the couch with the fireplace on, lighting the entire room in a warm glow. I'd be sniffling from crying still and Dad would make us hot chocolate. We had these huge mugs that he'd fill to the top with marshmallows and whipped cream. We'd sit in silence, drinking our hot chocolate until Dad started telling me stories about him and my Mom, or stories when I was a baby. And then he'd sing to me and before I knew it my Mom's voice would join his. She'd sit on the other side of me and they both would sing until I was asleep again. And even though my Mom wasn't with us anymore, my Dad would still sing to me whenever I was really upset or scared. They're the reasons why I sing, I learned from them. I told my Dad that I missed him and couldn't wait to see him for break. We were planning a trip to Alabama once I graduated from school, after Vic's wedding. Dad was gonna help me set up an apartment near the Healer training school. It was located in Atlanta, Georgia which wasn't too far from Alabama.

I hadn't told my new group of friends this yet.

Of course they knew I wasn't staying. I had told them this ages ago. I would miss them all terribly of course, but I still had a life back in the states as well. I missed my grandparents and my other friends. I couldn't just turn my back on them, especially since Mom is gone and Dad's new job keeps him on another continent. I couldn't just turn my back on them. Plus, I missed America. England is fantastic, don't get me wrong. It's just hard to live in a foreign country when all you've known is somewhere else. I also missed going to my Mom's grave. I'd visit at least three times a week every week when we were home. I'd have a new bouquet of flowers every time and I'd just sit there and talk about my day. It's nice to just sit outside and be near her. It helped me believe it or not, to just sit there and talk as if she could hear me.

I wasn't sure how well this was going to go over when I told James of my plans. I'm sure he'd be upset, but...there's not much I can do. He still hasn't even really asked me to be his girlfriend yet. I knew he was going to soon, but he still hadn't just yet. And besides, being boyfriend and girlfriend didn't mean we were married or anything, I'm sure he had plans for his own future that didn't necessarily involve me. And of course just because we were going to be separated didn't necessarily mean we weren't going to talk to one another ever again. I will still write each and every single one of these crazy Brit's weekly and visit every chance I got of course. Still...I wasn't particularly looking forward to that conversation with James when it came up. And I planned on it not coming up anytime in the near future.

I finished my letter to my Dad and decided to write a few to my friends as well. Kerianna had threatened to kill me if I didn't send a picture of James to her so I obliged and told them all of how much I missed them and how wonderful James and my new friends were and I even included a photo of the gang and me. It was a picture that was taken during Christmas break. We were all standing in front of the Burrow, snow was in the yard and was falling from the sky. We were laughing at something Ron, Harry, and my Dad were doing, making faces at us or something. Every once in a while James would look down at me and would smile. It was a really nice picture.

Once I was done with my letters I walked back to the common room and saw that Starlene and them were back and that Al, Lily, and Hugo were now doing their shift at James' bedside. It was nearing 10p.m. and I was anxious to see James before it was too late. I knew I had just been there, but I didn't like leaving him very much. The other's let him get away with too much. At least, that's the reason I convinced myself was why I wanted to be with James so often.

The real reason? 

Well to be perfectly honest...

I love him.

I am so in love with this boy that it scared the hell out of me. I was finding myself needing to be near him more and more, needing to touch him, to talk to him, to kiss him. The love I had for him only grew every time I was around him. I was constantly being reminded of how wonderful he was. How he made me laugh, and could be so unbelievably frustrating and charming at the same time. I could be ready to throttle him and he'd flash me a charming smile and I'd melt.

I love him, and that's all there is to it.

"Paislee?" Starlene said suddenly, pulling me from my musings.

"Hm?" I asked raising my head.

"You have an hour if you'd like to visit James. You better be back in time for bed though!" Dom added sternly.

"Yes Mom." I replied and she smacked the back of my head.

"Ouch! What was that for?" I cried.

"What is it normally for?" She asked sarcastically.

"Yeah, yeah I know, I know. My 'cheek.'" I said and waved her off. I ran to our dorm for a moment and changed into a nicer pair of black yoga pants and a long sleeve white shirt before I made my way to James. It was almost 11 at night when I finally made  it. I practically burst through the doors and immediately felt at peace the moment I saw his face.

He looked frustrated and I could only imagine what Madam Pomfrey had done to give him that adorable angry look on his face.

"What's got your wand in a knot?" I asked with a smirk on my face. James looked up at me and his face broke into a wide smile.

"Who says my wand's in a knot?" He asked.

"That angry look on your face." I answered with a laugh. "Did Madam Pomfrey catch you siphoning the pain potion from your normal ones?" 

"What?" James asked incredulously.

"Don't 'what' me James Sirius Potter, I know what you've been doing." I said slyly.

"I guess Mum was right in choosing you as my babysitter." James muttered with an eye roll. I laughed before I bent down and kissed him. James wrapped an arm around my neck and pulled me closer to him. I allowed it for a moment before he shifted and I felt his jaw clench slightly as the movement had left him in pain. I pulled back and he groaned.

"You're hurting." I said.

"Only because you aren't closer to me." 

I scoffed, "No, it's because you're trying to do more than you should." 

"I haven't been doing more than I should since I woke up." 

"That's because I'm a good babysitter." I replied.

"I'm not a baby that needs to be watched." James insisted.

"Your Mom seems to think so." I replied with a smirk.

James scowled, "My Mum is a bit high strung."

"I think she just loves you and is worried about you." I told him. And the moment I said the word love I wanted to tell him that I too loved him. But I chickened out of course, and in all honesty I wanted him to be the one who said it to me first. It might've been old fashioned, but I didn't want to confess my love for him and have him not love me back.

Unrequited love is the worst thing ever.

"Yeah she does and I love her too don't get me wrong, but I can't wait to get out of here." James said.

"I can't wait for you to get out of here either. I miss you." I told him, the last part coming out in a whisper.

"I miss you too Paislee. I miss being able to go and see you whenever I want." 

"Well if you'd call off the hounds I'd be able to hang out here a lot longer." I told him.

James chuckled, "I'd rather you be healthy thank you very much. And besides, I want to get out of this room and be with you somewhere other than this hospital bed. I hate being stuck here." 

A wave of guilt washed over me when he said this.

"I"m sorry James." I whispered. James' head snapped up and he gave me a look.

"Paislee...we've been over this, it isn't your fault I'm in here. I thought the gang would've beaten these thoughts out of you by now." James said with a slight smirk. I rolled my eyes at him.

"I have received quite a few head smacks from Dom." I told him and he laughed.

"Well, when I do make it out of here we should celebrate." James said.

"Freddie, Al, and Scorpius are already planning a huge welcome back party." I told him. Freddie was practically bursting at the seams about it already.

"I meant just me and you." James said softly.

I was taken aback by this and I felt my face heat up slightly.

"You mean...like a date?" I asked.

James' own cheeks reddened a bit, "Yeah...like a date." 

"I'd like that." I said softly and smiled at him. James beamed back at me, flashing those dimples again and I couldn't help but lean over and kiss him. James kissed me back, our lips moving over one another's fitting perfectly. James deepened the kiss and pulled me closer until I was practically on top of him.

"James!" I whispered in protest.

"What?" James asked innocently.

"What if Madam Pomfrey walks in?" I asked.

"She won't notice?" James asked and I rolled my eyes before shifting off of him. James hissed in pain and I noticed I had braced myself against his ribs and I immediately shot out of the bed and back into my chair.

"Oh James! I'm so sorry, I didn't notice!" 

James winced and shifted slightly before another hiss of pain escaped his lips. "S'okay Paislee...you didn't know." 

"Let me see." I said and stood up.

James wasn't shirtless yet, but he had a button up shirt that wasn't buttoned all the way. I guess it gave Madam Pomfrey better access to his ribs so she could check up on him.

"M'fine." He said through clenched teeth, obviously trying to control the pain.

"Just let me see." I said. James sighed and unbuttoned his shirt the rest of the way.

I gasped at the damage.

James ribs were still lined with dark purple splotches. His chest was heaving shakily with each breath and he was clenching the sheets in his fists, riding the wave of pain.

"They really did a number on you huh?" I asked.

James grimaced before nodding, "Well, let's concentrate on something else. What're we gonna do on our date?" 

I was uneasy about answering but James seemed desperate for a change in the conversation so I shrugged.

"Well, there's a Hogsmeade weekend when we get back from Easter break. We could go to the Three Broomsticks, visit Zonko's, stroll to the Shrieking Shack and snog..." 

"James!" I cried as my face flushed. James grinned at me.

"You have to admit, it sounds ideal." 

"Fine, it sounds ideal." I told him.

"Hey Paislee...before we go on our ideal date, I have a question for you." James said.

"Oh yeah? And what's that?" 

"Would you like to be my girlfriend?" James asked.

HUZZAH!

"Oh James! Yes! Yes of course! I'd love to be your girlfriend!" I told him excitedly and had to stop myself from tackling him so I grabbed his face and kissed him fiercely. James responded in kind and moaned. I didn't want to stop kissing him but after a few minutes we did stop.

 "I had this huge romantic thing planned to ask you...but then I got my arse handed to me. I didn't want to wait another day though, I wanted to know that you were with me and only me. I apologize I didn't ask you in a better situation." James said.

"James, the only thing I care about is being with you. So as long as I'm with you and only you, I don't care how you ask me." I told him. I bent over and kissed him again for another few minutes before I sat back and sighed, curling my legs into the chair and snuggling closer in it's softness.

I was getting tired.

I smiled widely at James before yawning.  

Yawning was a mistake.

"You're tired, you should go to bed." James told me.

"I"m fine." I told him.

James chuckled, "Then why do you look as if you're about to fall asleep on that chair?" 

"You're seeing things." I told him sleepily.

Instead of answering, James started humming; a soft melody that I didn't recognize. James' smooth and deep voice was very soothing and I found myself slowly falling asleep, thoughts of officially being James' lulling me to sleep.

 




James' POV:

She was asleep within minutes. I had no idea what I was humming, it was just some tune that popped into my head, but whatever it was it lulled her right to sleep. I figured she was still exhausted from keeping a constant vigil while I was unconscious.

She was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I couldn't believe she was mine. My girlfriend.

Jeez, that was going to be a hard title to get used to. I don't really feel like I deserve her. She's so kind, so caring, so bloody gorgeous and brilliant.

Her hair was longer than when we first met. It hit past her shoulders now and her bangs were longer too. I liked it longer. It made me want to run my fingers through it and I couldn't wait until I was out of here and could do it. Her pale skin highlighted the freckles that spread across her cheeks. Whenever she blushed the freckles were a lot less noticalbe, but made her look adorable nonetheless.

Her breathing was even and a small sigh escaped her lips. I closed my eyes and savored her presence being there. It was amazing, how dependent I've become on this tiny American. I've never really needed anyone before, but I felt as if I needed her. Needed her to be around me, to touch me, to kiss me. It was scary as hell and exhilarating at the same time. And that's when I came to the conclusion I was currently mulling over in my head.

I love her.

I'm one hundred percent in love with her.

And nothing was going to change that.

 




A/N: AWE!!!!!!!!!!!! So what did y'all think about it?! Paislee and James are finally an official couple and have admitted to themselves that they're in love!! Now all they glottal do is tell each other! Easter break is soon and then only a few more weeks until graduation! Is Paislee going to continue with her plans to go back to the states? I dunno! Leave me some love as they leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside!
 


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