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Chapter 4 : Fastened
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It's me again.
It's almost disturbing, really, how much this journal thing is growing on me. I'm feeling less and less weird about it. Which worries me.
But I promised to tell you more some of my secrets. And I've got a huge one for you. Drum roll, please.
I want to spend a lot of my future with Lily Evans. As in, all of it.
I remember a couple months ago, on the most incredible night of my life, when somebody asked me a question:"I mean, what is wrong with you!? How can you just-be like that?”
I answered, “It would take me a long time to tell you all the reasons why. But the easiest way would be to repeat myself. I love you. I guess it’s just that simple.”
I remember how appalled Lily was to discover that I wasn't angry at her. In all truth, I had no reason to be. Sure, she'd shaken me up in the infirmary, and then again in the courtyard, but I recognized her behavior, because I'd seen it before – in myself. Whatever other things were going on in her mind, I identified something in her actions that I was all too familiar with: a fear of new feelings.
If she'd only known that I'd been experiencing the exact same fear since the day I'd first laid eyes on her.
She couldn't seem to comprehend my lack of frustration, even after she'd "jerked me through terrible, terrible maze of mixed-messages" (her words, not mine). But what she didn't understand was the simplest truth I could offer her – I loved her. More purely and more intently than I'd ever felt an emotion before. The sentiment seemed only amplified by her accusations and her bewilderment. It seemed otherworldly to her that I could just let her confusion go completely. But it was so easy because I understood it – understood it perfectly.
I told her it would take a long time to explain. And there's more reason to it than the fact that I loved her then, and always had. Like that she was just human, and humans make mistakes. Humans feel fear and insecurity and run away from things they are afraid of because it's only natural. I suppose at the time she had no idea I'd made such a inference, but a lot of things had run through my mind since she'd left me in the courtyard. Beyond what would have been her wildest doubt, her abandonment that day before the ball hadn't angered me at all; in fact, it had given me hope. Hope that she was just as scared of the possibility of an 'us' as I was.
Okay, I really strayed from my original point. The future – and Lily.
Future is a daunting word. One of the scariest things anyone has to face. I am no exception. But what scares me even more than the future is a future without her.
I could bore you to death with stories of how I daydreamed about our life together when I was twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and so on. I could tell you the endless visions I collected of a brick house, a smiling, red-headed bride, maybe some kids. But I'll make it short.
When I'm with Lily, I get a feeling inside of me that no one has ever given me. It's a deep sense of security, a strong feeling of home. I'm comfortable, I'm happy, I'm alive. My fingers fit best in hers and feel empty without them. Her heartbeat has become my favorite song, her laugh the sweetest symphony. I feel like she's engrained herself so profoundly in my soul that she's permanently rooted. For now and forever.
The simplest things set me off thinking of the future and her role in it. When we argue, I imagine we're married, bickering about paint colors. When she waves an Auror early-admittance application in front of my face to persuade me to study, I imagine coming home to her after a long day of work and falling asleep in her arms.
Call me crazy, call me obsessed. I'd rather call it impossibly in love. Impossibly stuck in a trap I don't ever want to get out of. Get my drift?
I might have gone on too long about that. But hopefully now you understand at least part of of it. To be honest, even I don't understand all of what I feel. But to be even more honest, I don't mind if I die trying.
Over and out.
Lily and I walked down the snowy pathway to Hogsmeade, bundled thoroughly against the chill of winter. It was snowing overhead, and we were on our way to our first real date ever.
And of all the strange things, I was nervous.
Fifteen minutes prior I'd stood in front of the mirror above my wardrobe, observing the green-sweater and jeans look I'd chosen. As I stared at my reflection, I'd realized quite abruptly that I was scared. Shaking, even. Not because I was worried we wouldn't have fun, because I knew we would no matter what. I just felt very strongly right then that the date was a big deciding factor for my future.
My pulse responded naturally, and I put some cologne on to calm the blood rushing through my head. I had to sit down for a second.
James. Calm down. I thought to myself, amazed that I felt so anxious all of a sudden. You've been on first dates before.
But I knew that was a stupid thing to think. This was the first 'first date' that actually meant something colossal.
While I was freaking out, Lily was knocking on my door, and I had to slap some sense into myself before I had a heart attack.
Fast forward fifteen minutes and I was still suffering a prelude to cardiac arrest.
I should've really controlled my nerves better, because Lily's way too perceptive for her own good. "James?" She asked me, weaving a mitten-clad hand through my own. "Are you alright?"
I glanced over at her. She looked like a picture off a postcard, outlined by the white world of snow behind her. She wore a patterned gray cap, her crimson curls tumbling out from beneath it and spanning her navy jacket and wooly scarf. Snowflakes clung to her eyelashes, rivaling the paleness of her freckled cheeks. She was a vision, and I was afraid for a second that responding would ruin the image.
"I'm fine." I smiled comfortingly, squeezing her hand. "Just hungry. Are you hungry?"
"Starved." She smiled back. "Rosmerta makes a mean turkey sandwich, you know."
We continued along the snow-encrusted path until we reached Hogsmeade. It was Saturday, and many other Hogwarts students were taking advantage of the opportunity to shop, have lunch, or just get away from the castle. Within minutes we'd reached the Three Broomsticks, which proved to be anything but lacking business. The pub was bustling with people, as always. Lily and I removed our hats and gloves, walking towards the bar towards the far wall where Madam Rosmerta, the rosy-cheeked owner, stood laughing and talking with customers.
"Ah, Miss Evans!" She exclaimed as we approached, setting down the mug she'd been drying with a rag. "Always lovely to see you, my dear. But in such odd company?" She shot a meaningful look towards me.
I was highly offended.
Lily looked over at me, too, and laughed at the look on my face. "It's okay Rosmerta. I'm with him voluntarily."
The pub owner's brunette curls bounced as her chest shook with laughter. "I'm only teasing you, Mr. Potter, don't look so glum!"
"Did you get the note I sent over?" Lily asked the owner when her laughter had subsided.
"I did indeed, dear, and I've got the corner all ready for you." Rosmerta nodded to her left. "I'll be right around with two butterbeers."
"Thanks!" Lily beamed at her, before grabbing my hand. "Come on!"
She led me through a labyrinth of noisy tables, where our classmates laughed together and drank what would probably be inordinate amounts of Rosmerta's famous butterbeer. I spotted Sirius, Peter and Remus sitting at a table near the fireplace, and I waved. Peter and Remus waved back. Sirius winked and gave me a thumbs up. I rolled my eyes.
Lily was leading me to the back of the pub, which I'd never seen before. She took me beyond the bathrooms and down a corridor that I hadn't known existed. The hall ended with a circular entryway. We stepped through the doorway into what seemed like a private room with three tables, all of which were vacant. One was wrapped about the far corner of the room, with a single light hanging overhead. "Ah," I said. "That must be 'The Corner'."
"Good job, James," she laughed. "You found it!"
I shoved her playfully.
We sat down at the table and I knew immediately one of the reasons girls seemed to like the corner. It's circular booth-style seat made impossible for the persons sitting at it to be anything but directly next to each other. Accordingly, Lily and slid in next to one another after taking off our jackets.
"So, this is the infamous Corner," I mused rubbing my hands across the expanse of the circular table in front of us.
"James," Lily rolled her eyes. "You only just heard about it yesterday."
"I know, I know," I admitted. "But it must be pretty special if it took me this long to find out about."
"Well," Lily smiled hugely. "It is pretty special."
"Um," I looked around the empty room, and the table in front of us. "Is there a fireworks display I should be looking forward to?"
Lily laughed and slapped my shoulder. "No, silly. There's a more important reason why it's special."
"And what's that?"
"Butterbeer!" Interrupted a cheerful Rosmerta, who walked in at that moment bearing what she had promised. She set two frosted mugs in front of us, filled to the brim with her signature drink. "And you'll be having a turkey sandwich, I presume, Miss Evans?"
Lily laughed. "You know me too well!"
Rosmerta turned to me. "And for you, Mr. Potter?"
"I'll just have the same, thanks," I said a bit too quickly. I smiled politely in an attempt to compensate.
Unfortunately, the tone seemed to have been to intentional to ignore. "Ah," the woman nodded knowingly. "I'll leave you two be. I'll be back with your lunches."
"Thank you, Rosmerta," Lily said before looking over at me sternly.
"What?" I asked when the pub owner had left.
"You don't have to be rude," Lily scolded. "She's a very nice woman."
I nodded quickly in apology. "I know, I know! I'm just anxious to figure out what on earth the big deal about this corner is, that's all."
"All right." Lily obliged reluctantly. "Now, you have to promise that you won't laugh if you think this is stupid for some reason."
I rose my right hand. "I solemnly swear."
"Okay." Lily scooted closer to me, if that was possible. I noticed her eyes had lit up. "There's a rule in this corner that's honored by every knowing female who brings a boy back here."
"Oh, man," I whispered, making sure my voice was low and suggestive.
Lily slapped me on the shoulder for the second time that day. "James."
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry. Please continue."
Lily gave me a reproachful look before continuing. "It's real simple. We each have to find out ten new things about each other before we leave."
I let it sink in. "That's the big secret?"
Lily nodded excitedly.
It wasn't such a bad idea. "I have to say I'm rather disappointed the rule isn't that we have to stare into each other's eyes for ten straight minutes," I said. "But that sounds just as much fun."
Lily's laughter rung through the room, and right then Rosmerta came in with our sandwiches.
"Enjoy!" She said with a wink before leaving the room. "I'll be at the bar if you need anything."
"Alright, so how do we do this?" I asked after taking a healthy bite of the delicious meal. Lily hadn't lied when she'd said Rosmerta made a mean turkey sandwich. "Do we just ask each other questions?"
"I guess," Lily shrugged, taking a sip of butterbeer. "I think it's really just supposed to serve as a conversation starter. Which is always a big problem for us, so this will be good."
I laughed. "You mean you haven't ever been back here with anyone else?"
"Nope," she said, touching her hand to the side of my face. "You're the one and only."
I turned my mouth to her palm and kissed it. "I'm honored."
We looked at each other for a long moment, silence surrounding us. "Maybe the rule should be the staring thing, after all," Lily murmured.
And then her stomach rumbled rather loudly. I was set off into a in fit of laughter. "Ugh!" She groaned. "I knew this sandwich would ruin moments. It's much too tempting."
I chuckled as she returned her attention to her beloved sandwich. I drank some butterbeer. "You know, I've got this ten things requirement in the bag."
"Oh, do you?"
"Yeah, I do," I assured pompously. "I know plenty of things about you that you don't know I do."
Lily titled her head skeptically. "Like what?"
I leaned back. "Well, I recall reading somewhere that you have a particular weakness for my eyes, my forearms and my upper-body strength."
Lily rolled her eyes, but she was blushing. It colored her cheeks beautifully. "Of course I know you know that, idiot, I gave you the evidence voluntarily, did I not?"
I smirked and wrapped an arm around her waist. "Do you really think my forearms are attractive?"
I could tell my proximity was making her squirm, which made me smile. "It's really quite unfair of you to use such a weakness against me."
"But, really? My forearms are really a weakness of yours?" I questioned teasingly.
"Well, certainly one of them," Lily's voice was suddenly soft. I looked at her seriously, because her voice wasn't kidding like mine. Her eyes had become wide and dark, glowing. Her hand was on my chest, making my heart attuned to its familiar, Lily's-right-there beat.
She kept her eyes locked on mine as she bent towards me. She leaned right up against me, till our noses touched. She hesitated only momentarily before stooping to brush her lips quietly against mine.
And then she suddenly retracted, detaching herself from me, leaving what must have been a very confused look on my face. "Now." She said, looking at me as if nothing out-of-the-ordinary had just occurred. "For those ten things."
I shook my head at her slowly. "I just figured on out for you." My eyes were wide. "You're a seductress."
Lily looked over at me disbelievingly but laughingly. "Oh, I am far from a seductress."
I was still shaking my head. "Okay, fine, we'll call it 'flirtier-than-I-thought-you-were'. Number one."
Lily was laughing. "In that case, I've got one, too," she said. "You are more seducible than I thought you were."
"Um, excuse me," I replied indignantly. "If you won't let me call you a seductress, you are not allowed to call me 'seducible'."
"Oh, alright." She thought for a moment. "How about that 'you're more receptive of my amateur attempts at flirtation than I thought you were'?"
"That works," I nodded, taking another bite from my sandwich. "And I've got another about me that you should know." I pointed at my plate and spoke through a mouthful of turkey. "I'm in love with this sandwich."
Lily nearly choked on her butterbeer. "I am not counting that. Give me something better."
"Fine." I thought for a moment. "Okay, okay, I've got one." I looked at her and admitted something rather embarrassing. "I cried the day you started dating Jefferson Cornwall."
Lily's mouth fell wide open. "What?"
I shifted a bit uncomfortably. "You heard me. I cried."
"You can't be serious." She said, still resolutely incredulous.
I rolled my eyes. "Lily, we've been over this before. I'm James, not Sirius."
"Oh, don't try to change the subject." She warned. "You really cried?"
I nodded halfheartedly.
Lily laughed in amazement. "I don't believe it! How on earth did such a thing reduce you to tears?"
"Isn't it obvious?" I sighed. "I was afraid I'd lost my chance with you for good. If there ever had been one." I shrugged. "I guess I was afraid you two would run off and elope, or something morbid like that. I was a hormonal teenager and upset beyond meaning, can you blame me?"
"No," Lily shook her head, smiling. "Not at all. That's...weirdly sweet."
"That's me, weirdly sweet." I shrugged and laughed. "So now you've got two. I need another." I considered the prospect, and then thought of something. "Okay, here's one. What's your patronus?"
"Oh, good one." Lily commended. "A doe. Yours?"
It was my mouth's turn to be unhinged. "A doe?" I asked, positively astonished.
"Yeah." She looked at me with concern. "Why? Is yours a doe too?"
I couldn't even laugh, it was so bizarre. "No, but not far from it. A stag."
Lily's eyebrows shot upwards. "A stag?" She shook her head slightly. "Well, that's odd."
"Very odd indeed," I agreed. I took her hands in mine very gently. "Do think this is destiny's way of telling us we're meant to be deer?"
With an inevitable roll of the eyes and the third slap on the shoulder of the day, Lily laughed. "Oh, you're hopeless.
"Hopelessly in love with a deer, apparently," I mentioned, pretending to be disturbed by the thought. "I mean, it's like my entire life has been a lie. All this time we've just been deer, grazing in a field or something."
"I might throw this in your face if you don't shut up," Lily warned, grasping her mug of butterbeer.
I recoiled from my joking and switched tactics. "Or you could just kiss me," I suggested coyly. "That would probably be just as affective."
She bit her lip for a minute. After a second she said, "I'm trying really hard to come up with a witty response to that." And then she shrugged. "But I don't really care."
I laughed as she wrapped her arms around my torso and leaned forward to offer the kiss she'd taunted with before. I accepted graciously, bringing my hands about her face.
It was at that moment that I decided I really, really liked The Corner.
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