Chapter 3 : Immobile
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I had no trouble sleeping that night. In fact, I had the most restful sleep I'd had in a very long time. Thoughts of Lily laced my dreams, like always, only sweeter. In the morning I dressed as quickly as possible. I had to get downstairs and figure out if the previous night had been a dream.
As chance would have it, as I opened my door I noticed Lily was doing the same across the hallway.
We looked at each other and closed the doors behind us. Her lips quirked into a smile and a soft breath of relief escaped my lungs. We were alright.
"Can we skip the awkward 'what do we do right now?' that's about to happen?" Lily asked me. Her hair was braided over her shoulder, her sweater bluer than the sky on a sunny day.
Her words made me so happy that I had to physically restrain myself from sweeping her into my arms and gallivanting about the castle for an entire twenty-four hours. "Absolutely," I nodded. "Absolutely."
"Okay." She looked painfully Lily-like, green eyes bright just like normal, smiling at me. My world brightened considerably when she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around my torso. I was surprised only for a second.
I hugged her back. And Merlin's beard it felt good. Like a gigantic chasm in my universe had been sealed shut. The emotions I felt for her seemed to blare my senses, overwhelming my body and soul in unimaginable ways. It was breathtaking what a day apart from her had done to me.
If I'd been stuck on Lily before – I knew that now I was practically immobile.
Hey diary-er, journal-thing.
I figured since Lily spilled her so-called 'embarrassing' secrets to you, I'd share a few of my own.
Okay, for starters – around Lily, it's hard to find my academic abilities anything less than pathetic.
Exhibit A: Herbology.
"Everybody please retrieve your copy of Goshawk's," chirped Professor Sprout from the far end of the greenhouse. It was this afternoon, the last class of the day, and the seventh year N.E.W.T-level students were restless. It was rotten luck to have been placed in such a thankless class just as the sun began traveling westward, because, as one might guess, seventeen-year-olds had much more important things to be doing at such times.
Our bumbling professor ambled her way through the aisles of the messy-beyond-repair conservatory, pepper-grey curls bouncing beneath an absurd green cap. As everybody reached for their copies of the riveting text, Goshawk's Guide to Herbology, she seemed abnormally excited about the upcoming lesson.
Unsurprisingly, I felt quite differently. Herbology had never been my thing.
I grudgingly reached for my book, carefully navigating my hand around the snargaluff on the bench in front of me. I'd come in a close encounter with the plant before, and I didn't wish to repeat the unlucky fate that had befallen me previously. Next to me, I noticed Lily skimming her finger across the text. I rolled my eyes. Professor Sprout hadn't even called out the page number yet.
Reading my mind, the stout woman saw fit to do just so. "Page 667, ladies and gentlemen, if you will. Snargaluffs!" As I'd earlier predicted, her voice held an enthusiasm for the subject that was unfathomable to me. "Very tricky plants, as you all well know. Since you've handled them already last year, I needn't to give you too much guidance."
I heard several of my classmates scoff. Naturally, we all remembered how to appropriately handle the gnarled stumps that hid dangerous thorn-covered vines until provoked to attack. It was more or less an issue of common sense. Obviously.
"Just in case, however, I'd chide you to review the warnings on page 667." The Professor clapped her chubby hands together. "Now. I'd like to see you all extract at least six pods by the end of the class. Containers are located beneath your benches. Happy pickings!"
"That woman is too damn contented in dooming us all to failure," I heard Sirius mumble at my left. "Even if she doesn't know it."
I glanced over at him and shared a rueful smile. "We'll be lucky not to almost lose our arms this time."
Sirius laughed, remembering our greenhouse adventure Fifth year. "Perhaps if we hadn't been in here after hours, we'd have been okay."
I shook my head in mock sadness. "I'm know poor Pete will always miss his left index finger."
"And I know you'll be missing your mediocre Herbology grade if you don't get started soon, Potter," came the voice of reason from my other side. Perhaps more appropriately labeled my better half.
I swiveled on my stool to face her, what I knew was a cocky grin on my face. "Mediocre, eh?"
"I'd say less than mediocre," Lily murmured, clearly concentrated on the snargaluff reading in the textbook in front of her. "But I certainly wouldn't want to upset you."
I narrowed my eyes at her. Her lips formed a smirk, but she still didn't look at me. I had the occasion to weigh in on the fact that she looked irresistibly pretty in the late-afternoon sun leaking through the greenhouse windows. The smirk playing across her lips only beautified the picture.
Does she have to be so damned desirable? I thought, frustrated at my inability to control my emotions around her. In bloody Herbology class?
She most know the effect she has on me. So blatantly taunting me in bloody Herbology class.
I turned my attention away from my weakness for the redhead next to me and focused instead on the Merlin-forsaken snargaluff. "See hear, snargaluff," I said determinedly. "If you give me one ounce of trouble, you're out, you hear me?"
I practically felt Lily roll her eyes. "It's a plant, James, not a Quidditch player."
I pretended to ignore her. Not bothering to open Goshawk's guide, I rolled back my sleeves. Tentatively, hands open wide, I approached the innocent-looking stump. My fingers were just short of a millimeter away when the blasted thing sprung right at me, its thick, evil-looking vines springing out of nowhere and towards my face. I leapt backwards, my stool scratching several feet backwards and nearly toppling to the ground.
As soon as I was a safe distance away, the plant retracted its thorny vines and returned to its normal, seemingly harmless state.
Sirius didn't bother stifling his laughter. Lily had a very 'you're-an-imbecile' look on her face. It translated to words. "You're an imbecile, you know that, right?"
I gulped, straightening my tie and scooting back up to the bench. "To be honest, I really thought approaching it slowly would bring about good results."
"Well, if you'd actually read the instructions," Lily scolded, indicating her copy of Goshawk's. "You'd know that it takes more than one person to tackle a snargaluff."
"Ah," I blinked. As always, she was right, I was wrong. Which made perfect sense. "So you...tackle it?"
Lily looked at me and sighed. "I hate to say it, but your mediocre grade is fading rather quickly."
I smiled at her adoringly. She was enchanting even when she spoke the hard truth. "And if I don't care?"
She shrugged and closed her book, reaching for a pair dragon-hide gloves beneath the bench. "Continue the slow-approach method. You'll be sure to fail."
"Or...." I pondered thoughtfully. "We could tackle this together, you know, as a team. Strength in numbers, right?" Lily looked over at me in poorly disguised disbelief. "I read somewhere that it's best to have more than one person when approaching a snargaluff."
"You-" She stopped herself, perhaps realizing that it was no use.
Though my ironic idiocy must have annoyed her beyond belief, she withheld whatever comment had been on the tip of her tongue. And though it obviously took a great amount of will power, she grudgingly moved her stool closer to mine.
"Fine." She flipped her red curls over her shoulders and tied her them into a ponytail. Then she looked at me sternly. My heart flipped over. "I'll handle the extracting, got it?" Her voice was humorously relentless. "You just hold down the vines."
I found my own pair of protective gloves beneath the bench and nodded dutifully. "You got it, chief."
She ignored the remark.
We proceeded to tackle the blasted thing.
Naturally, Lily handled the extracting end of the task perfectly as I struggled with a great intensity to control its rampant, thick and oozing green vines. I tried not to retch. The disturbing pea-colored pus leaking from the vines was probably the most disgusting thing I'd ever seen.
One class period and several gallons of sweat later, Lily had successfully extracted six pods from not only my snargaluff but her own. I don't think I'd even been more thankful to have her as a Herbology partner.
When the bell toned to end class, all the Seventh-years eagerly deposited their filled or not-so-filled containers of green snargaluff tubers on Professor Sprout's bench at the end of the greenhouse. "Have a green day!" She twittered after us as we quickly vacated the conservatory.
"Jolly good chance of that," grumbled Sirius. I couldn't help but agree, considering it was only Thursday. "Got that damned Divination essay due tomorrow. Haven't even started it."
"Ah, the procrastination beast strikes again," chimed in Lily, who slid up to my side as she hoisted her book bag over her shoulder. I grinned at her widely and grabbed her hand.
My ebony-haired friend shook his head. "Don't you start with me, Evans."
Lily rubbed her lips together and raised her eyebrows. I laughed.
"Listen, Prongs, just because you two are dating," Sirius warned, pointing at me. "Doesn't mean I can't harbor hatred towards her."
I shrugged. "Hate all you want, Padfoot." I looked over at Lily. "The essay's still due tomorrow."
"Oh, god, now she's poisoned your bloody mind." He groaned, glaring at me. "I can't stand you two."
He shook his head, rumbling off something that sounded a lot like "damn lovebirds". Without another word or a backwards glance, he picked up his pace and escaped Lily and I.
"Your friends are utterly endearing," Lily mentioned.
"They try," I replied. "Hey, thanks for helping me out with the snarfulguffer," I added seriously. "I don't know what I'd do without you in Herbology."
Lily shook her head and laughed. "You're welcome for wrangling the snargaluff," she stressed, looking at me meaningfully. "And I haven't the slightest idea where you'd even begin without me in there, either."
"It's really quite embarrassing," I told her truthfully as we turned a corner and mounted a staircase to the third floor. "Being a Head with you. I mean, Lily 'I'm a Genius Don't Deny It' Evans versus James 'We Had Homework?' Potter?" I shook my head in degradation. "Downright mortifying."
Lily hiccupped trying to withhold her laughter. "Oh, c'mon, don't be so hard on yourself. I mean look on the bright side," she urged. "You totally trump me in Defense Against the Dark Arts!" She paused for a second and thought. "At least nine times out of ten."
"Ok, alright, so that one time I couldn't do that one spell non-verbally!" I cried, releasing her fingers in order to throw up my hands in anguish. "That one time!"
Lily burst into the laughter she'd been trying to keep in. She fell against a wall, a hand against her mouth. She had a look of apology on her face that contradicted the outburst completely.
I tried not to smile. "I give up," I said jokingly. "You're ridiculous."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Lily rushed, still laughing, grabbing at my arm. We'd reached the Heads dormitory and had stepped inside the common room. The light streaming in through the window above the staircase illuminated the large plush couch, the rectangular table tucked in the left corner, the fireless fireplace.
Lily stopped laughing. "Okay, okay, look, there's plenty of things that you'll always be better than me at!"
"Oh, yeah, like what?" I questioned, intrigued, throwing my book back on a chair and loosening my tie.
Lily sat on the armrest of the couch. "Well, there's Quidditch for starters, right?" She offered. Then clapped her hands together."Ooh, ooh, and apparation! You're loads better at apparation than I am!"
I rolled my eyes. "Oh come on. You can't be better at apparation than someone else."
"Alright, I just made that one up," Lily admitted. She thought for a second. "Oh! Well, duh!" She exclaimed, as if it was obvious. "You can transform into, uh, I don't know, an animal." She held her hands up as if it was nothing. "I mean, not like that's not extremely advanced magic, almost impossible for adult wizards to master. But I mean, that's really just nothing special at all."
I shrugged halfway. "That's true. I'm an illegal anamagi." I grinned at her. "Unlike you."
"Of course," she replied. "If I were an anamagi, I'm sure I'd be like ten times better than you, but that's not really relevant."
"Hey!" I remarked, highly offended. Though she was probably right. "I resent that!"
Once again, Lily exploded in a fit of laughter. She fell back onto the couch, clutching at her stomach.
I shook my head, and walked over to where she lay collapsed in humor. Without so much as a second thought, I leaned down over her, bracing my hands on either side of the couch.
She was hiccupping again. "I'm-I'm-" she could barely talk, she was laughing so hard. "I'm really sor-"
"Shh." I cut her off with a finger to her lips. My nearness seemed to make her laughter fade quickly. I bent over further, till our faces were but a mere inch apart.
Lily hiccupped one time. Her eyes were wide.
"It's rather unfortunate," I whispered. "That even when you're mean to me I still like you."
Lily seemed to be biting back a smile. "I didn't realize your feelings were so easily hurt."
"Well, there it is. Didn't catch on to that little piece of information, did you?" I inclined my head closer to hers. "See, you're not as smart as everyone thinks you are."
Lily put her hands on either side of my face. "You sure got me on that one."
"There will be an article in the Dailey Prophet on this," I murmured. "Keep your eyes peeled."
Huffing an quiet, impatient breath, Lily slid a hand up the back of my neck and into my hair. "Are you going to kiss me, or not, Potter?"
My mouth formed a small smile, and in lieu of a response, I tilted all the way down and touched my lips to hers.
The next morning at breakfast, a though struck me as I was reaching for a blueberry muffins. I glanced across the table at Lily, who was buttering a piece of toast. "Hey, do you want to go on a date?"
She looked up at me. I noticed the necklace I'd given her resting against her cream-colored sweater. "What?"
"Well, we've never actually been on a date," I told her, pouring myself some orange juice. "You know, to dinner or something."
Lily bit into her toast and chewed for a moment. "Where would we go?"
"I heard the dungeons are pretty high end," Sirius piped in, sliding onto the bench next to me.
"Oh, yeah, I'm sure," Charlotte added, sitting down next to Lily. Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. Which was, of course, a normal for her when she was talking to Sirius.
"Madam Pudifoot's?" I offered.
Lily nearly choked on her toast. "Oh, Merlin, anywhere but there," she shook her head as if to rid a terrible thought. "Bad experience with a cherub." She told me.
I laughed. Charlotte rubbed Lily's shoulder comfortingly. "Don't worry about it, honey. Jefferson always had dastardly intentions."
"Should I beat him up?" I asked, more serious than I'm sure anyone thought.
Lily's face lit up with her laughter. "Thanks, but no thanks." She smiled at me. "How about the Three Broomsticks?" She lowered her voice and leaned over the table towards me. "I know a corner."
"A corner?" Beneath the table, Lily rubbed her foot over mine. My heart skipped a couple beats.
"Ah," Charlotte nodded knowingly, taking a sip of her juice. "The Corner."
"What corner?" I asked, feeling stupid, swiveling my head between the two friends.
"Yeah, what corner?" Sirius leaned forward, a look of real confusion on his face. "If there was a corner that was different from the others in the Three Broomsticks, I would know it."
Tossing her blonde curls over her shoulder, Charlotte laughed loudly. "Oh, would you now, Black?" She looked at Lily, who laughed as well. "Trust me, it's a girl thing. The Corner."
"Well, what makes it so special?" I pressed, anxious to understand the hype.
Lily winked at me. "You'll see."
Holy Merlin. Did she just wink at me?
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