The day of the ball dawned crisp and clear. From my window in Gryffindor Tower, I could see the sun sparkling on the snow and a few early rising first years attempting to build a snowman with their wands. I watched one of them instruct another, seeing her mouth form the words 'swish and flick, Cade,' and laughed to myself. I shook my head, feeling inexplicably nostalgic, and turned away from the window to see my open wardrobe with the gown clearly visible. A huge yawn overtook me and I shivered, crawling back into bed and drawing my curtains around me. I curled up with a book and when I reemerged an hour later I wallowed in the warmth of my shower for twenty minutes.
I dressed in leggings and a gray pullover of my mother's that bore the words 'Harvard University' and performed a quick drying charm on my hair to make it fall in its natural waves. With one last glance at my dress for that evening, I left my suite and strode right into the 7th Year Girls' dormitory. "Good morn-ing!" I sang, obnoxiously loud and jubilant for eight in the morning.
From the bathroom, Mary yelled at me. "Lily, shut up!"
Kate was still in bed and flung her pillow over her head with a disgruntled "mmph."
Alice smiled (typical.) and said "good morning, Lily."
Minna, the girls' fourth roommate, was conspicuously absent, which made me feel both relieved and nervous. Ever since it became known that I was James' date to the ball, not to mention the incident in Hogsmeade, Hocker had taken to shooting me some heinous dirty looks, whispering threatening things and even going so far as to try to hex me- twice. Thankfully neither attempt had been successful, but I was subconsciously watching my back for the crazy hooker. The chances that she would have the brains to cause any real damage were slim, but nevertheless the thought of her plotting something was somewhat disconcerting. I shook my head and rolled my eyes at myself. It was Minna the Hooker, after all.
"Who's up for some breakfast?" I asked. My stomach was grumbling and Alice and Mary were both now ready. My lovely best friend had fallen back asleep and was snoring in her four-poster.
"Oh just leave her," Mary said, chuckling. I smiled and followed Alice out the door. Down the stairs we went, across the Common Room and towards the exit. The Fat Lady's portrait swung open from the outside just as we were clambering through to reveal none other than my dishy date, James Potter. He looked stiff and his brow was furrowed in a very un-James-like fashion. His hazel eyes were barely visible with the massive dilation of his pupils. It was all quite perplexing. Instead of being a proper gentleman and letting the three of us through first, he pushed into the cramped space, sparing none of us a glance. He moved so forcefully that he pushed Alice into me and sent my body tumbling backwards to land with a thump on the carpet. Now exceedingly cross, I watched James step over me nonchalantly and make his way towards the Girls' staircase. "OI!" I yelled. He didn't notice. "Potter! Get back here!" He ignored me. That's it, I thought, and jumped off the floor to apprehend Potter at the base of the stairs. Grabbing his arm, I whipped him around to face me. "What was that?" I could feel the heat in my face, the anger running in my veins.
He looked at me- no, he looked at where I stood but didn't seem to register who I was or if indeed there was a person there, as it was not I that he sought. "I need Minna." He shrugged, as if this was excusable behavior.
I gaped at him. "I... what? Why?"
He shrugged again, his face taking on a dreamy expression. "I need to ask her to the ball. I think... I think I'm... I think I'm in love with her," he finished.
My jaw hit the floor. I was speechless.
"Minna!" he yelled. "I love you!" He looked manic, crazy with 'love' for the hooker. The addled Potter made to ascend the staircase in search of Minna, but I wouldn't allow it.
"No, you're not in love with her, you dipshit." He blinked at me, looking more confused than ever.
"Who are you?" he asked bluntly.
(insert face-palm here.)
"Lily Evans. Who are you?"
He puffed up his chest. "I'm James Potter," he said like the pompous eleven-year-old he once was. I thought about my N.E.W.T. Potions textbook and mentally ran through the checklist of symptoms. As I came to my conclusion, James seemed to get bored and started anxiously bouncing on his toes. "Do you know Minna?" he asked.
"I- yes, I know her," I replied, sighing.
"Could you find her for me, please?" he pouted. Like, legitimately pouted. It was ridiculous.
"Sure," I said, rolling my eyes. "I'll be right back." I dashed up the staircase, opened my potion-making kit and whipped up and antidote to Amortentia from memory. Within two minutes I had conjured a goblet, filled it with potion and Summoned a bottle of butterbeer from the kitchens.
I returned to the Common Room to find James pacing at the foot of the stairs. When he saw me, his face changed. "Where's Minna?"
"She's on her way down. Drink this," I commanded, shoving the goblet into his hand. He didn't even ask, just downed it all in once. It took a total of three seconds for the dreamy, confident expression to fall from his facial features and be replaced by one of horror. I steered him gently into an armchair in the corner.
"What just happened?" he asked to no one in particular, eyes firmly shut. I took it upon myself to answer, as no one else was paying much attention anymore.
"Love potion," I answered. He grimaced. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a gold bottle flying towards me and snatched it out the air. I should play Quidditch, I should. Nimble fingers and all that. Anyway, I pushed it into his hand. "Drink up, you'll feel better," I told him. He obediently raised the bottle to his lips and drained half of it in one go. I suppressed a giggle.
He swallowed and opened his eyes blearily. "Wow... the last thing I remember was grabbing some pumpkin juice at breakfast. I didn't do anything terrible, did I?" He looked fearful and mortified.
"Nah," I said. "Just shoved me out of the portrait hole and screamed that you loved Minna," I laughed.
"Oh. Sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it."
He smiled. I returned it. "Would madame care to accompany me to breakfast and make sure my beverages remain intact for me?" He stood, offering his arm to me.
"Why yes I would. But you should be more careful, stupid. You got tricked by a dumbass hooker."
"Oh, shut it," he grumbled, embarrassed. I elbowed him in the side and grinned wickedly. Breakfast was lovely.
"Lily, its time." The four of us were in my room, having felt it quite necessary to avoid Minna and her poisoning ways. When Alice spoke, I was posed in front of my full-body mirror, admiring myself. I wore the beautiful gown with some flashy gold heels of Mary's, my emerald necklace on a gold chain, and big golden hoops. Mary had donned a rather nontraditional red number that came to her mid-thigh and was far more appropriate for a nightclub than a Yule Ball but, of course, was perfect with her straight black hair and smoky eye makeup. Kate was stunning in a floor-length ivory thing with a twisted bandeau-style top. Her hair was in an elegant twist with a few strands curling around her face. Alice had opted for a simple, tunic style dress that was white at the shoulders and gradually faded to a pale orange. The petite girl had done her blonde locks in loose waves and she was glowing. The three of them had spent ages on my hair, curling it to absolute perfection and bringing back pieces from the front to create a loose, 'windblown' half-up/half-down style that I adored. We were beautiful.
Kate glanced at the tiny silver watch on her left wrist and nodded. "Yes, we're fashionably late but we'd best be off. The boys are waiting," she said. I know I was excited and slightly nervous to see James, and it was obvious that the other girls were feeling similar emotions regarding being seen momentarily by their significant others.
Even Mary, who was so often seen as the Ice Queen, appeared a little anxious about what Sirius' reaction to her dress would be. He had apparently asked her on their way back to the castle after Minna's little show in the Three Broomsticks. If Mary had already had a date (I can't keep track of her love life), then she blew him off in an instant for the charming Mr. Black.
I lead the way out the door and down the stairs, praying to Merlin that I wouldn't trip in these potentially fatal shoes and make a complete arse of myself. Trying to look sexy, cute, poised, and modest at the same time, I kept my eyes downcast but let a small smile rest on my lips, moving my hips as I descended as gracefully as I could. When I reached the bottom, I finally looked up through my lashes to see James grinning goofily at me, awestruck. I made my way towards him and he took my hand, leaning forward to whisper in my ear.
"You're beautiful." It was gruff and sincere and perfect.
I felt my face light up. "You clean up pretty nice yourself," I said. It was true; James was looking dishier than ever in black dressrobes with a bizarre but charming gold tie. His hair was no neater than usual, and it was sexy as hell. When he came near me I breathed in his alluring scent, a delicious combination of cologne, aftershave, mint, and hot cocoa. He couldn't keep the massive smile off his face, like this was his dream come true and he was the luckiest guy in the world. He could make me feel like royalty just by standing there and I loved it. "Why thank you, my lovely lady. Shall we?"
"But of course." I laughed and we strolled out the portrait hole, up a corridor, and down many flights of stairs to reach the white marble steps that presently housed a throng of festive, moving students. The crowd seemed to part as we slowly descended into the Entrance Hall. The noise level dropped considerably and I felt dozens of eyes upon me, searching and analyzing my face, body language, outfit, and hair. Whispers followed us down. I got jealous glares from the James Potter Fan Club (sans Minna, who was serving detention for bewitching James) and huge smiles from friends that had apparently 'seen it coming for years', but one face held my attention. Severus was half-hidden behind a suit of armor, wearing the most disgusting pair of robes I had ever seen, and looking at James with nothing less than pure, soul-consuming hatred. His knuckles were white gripping his wand, his greasy hair slicked back for the occasion. James, thankfully, didn't notice him lurking there and before I could process it I was whisked past him and left with his mangy image branded on my eyeballs. No, Lily, I told myself. This is your night. Think about James.
The Head Girl and Head Boy of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were the first to dance, and as the waltz progressed they were joined by couples young and old that flocked to the dance floor once they were stuffed with a delicious seasonal feast courtesy of the kitchen elves. Slowly but surely, the floor filled with students and the music selection changed to faster, more contemporary hits. Alcohol had been made available, in moderation, to the staff and students that were of age, but it was apparent that younger students had gotten ahold of some Firewhiskey or rum. The number of adults was quickly diminishing as the clock crept towards midnight and people were really cutting loose. A particularly rough number came on and James nearly ripped my arm off in his eagerness to join the pulsating horde of tipsy dancing kids. I shook back my hair and obliged to his wish, pushing behind him until we came to Mary, Sirius, Kate, Remus, and a few other Gryffindors. I was dancing with Mary and Kate, cracking up from mirth and alcohol, when I felt my date's hands on my hips, slowly pulling me away from them.
With a guilty smile, I blended backwards into the crowd. I was conscious only of James, his body, the way he pressed his hips against me and breathed in my ear, his hair tickling my exposed neck. I grinded on him, pushing back against his body, and he returned the favor with equivalent gusto. We were moving, shaking, spinning. I was hot and sweaty and just so, so overwhelmed. His hands roamed from my back onto my stomach and slid down my abdomen to the front of my hips, pressing me even harder against him. People were probably staring, but I didn't notice nor care one bit. I couldn't get close enough, I turned to face him and pressed my boobs to his chest, my breathing ragged and hopefully sexy. I had never done this before, but it came so naturally- it was primitive instinct. One hand on his neck, the other on his back inside his dressrobes. He craned his head even farther and my back arched subconsciously so he could bite the underside of my jaw, sucking and caressing with an aggression I craved with every part of my being. Before I could start undressing him (I worry that I may have begun to do as such) the song tapered off, and our bodies slowed with the beat until we were standing still. James' mouth detached from my neck and he met my gaze. We were both flushed and sweaty and completely exhilarated. I took a deep breath in, shaking hair out of my eyes.
"I need some air. You coming?" I asked, winking at him and flashing a smile.
"But of course." We both laughed and this time I lead the way out of the Great Hall, into the Entrance Hall and through the Trophy Room to a tiny alcove known to very few. It hid behind a door and a tapestry and featured a small couch and three huge windows that provided a sprawling view of the rolling white field preceding the frozen, snow-covered Black Lake and the willows on its bank. I kicked off my shoes and plopped on the couch, tucking my feet up underneath me. James removed his robe to reveal pressed dress pants and a white collared shirt. He loosened that gold tie of his as well.
He cleared his throat awkwardly. I picked at my gold nail polish. He sat on the other side of the cozy couch. I fanned myself with my hand. He ruffled his hair. I wanted to kiss him.
And so I did.
It was easy, actually, after the dancing. I slid towards him, cupped his face with my left hand and fingered his collar with my right, and planted one on his soft, moist lips. He responded eagerly, sliding his hand up my back to tangle in my messy hair. His mouth was gentle, but grew hotter and more passionate quickly. Before I knew it I was lying on top of him on the couch, my hips straddling his and his hand inching its way up my shirt. I loved every second of it.
Despite having recently come to the realization that this was what I had wanted and needed for months now, I registered through the haze of pent-up emotion that things were going pretty fast. I reluctantly detached my lips from his and pushed myself upright.
"James..." I ran my fingers through my hair and fruitlessly attempted to untangle it. "We should stop." He sat up too and gave a small cough.
"Erm, yeah. Sorry," he said with a goofy, guilty grin. I couldn't help but return it.
"Don't be sorry. That was..." I trailed off, completely at loss for words to appropraitely convey what I intended with that statement.
"One more thing."
"Lily Evans, will you be my girlfriend? Please?" The afterthought made me laugh, but mirth was drowned by genuine happiness. How long had I really been waiting for this day, this moment? Longer than I had previously thought, for sure.
"Yes." I leaned in and kissed him again, both of us smiling into it. It was a gentle, fun, but meaningful kiss. And for that one frozen bit of time amidst the constantly changing, moving, spinning universe, my life felt perfect.
He broke the kiss eventually to ask for one last dance and we reentered the Great Hall for a final spin around the dance floor. I could practically taste our radiance.
When I kissed James goodnight at well past two that morning, he tasted peculiarly of lemons and the sticky sweetness of honey or dulce de leche.
A/N: Busy day for Lily. Anyway, I have a question for anyone who reads this. I could stop here and skip right to the epilogue, which I have all planned out, or continue until graduation with a few sub-plots thrown in there. Is it time for this story to be over? Please please please leave a review to tell me!
Write a Review When Life Gives You Lemons: Chapter 11