Chapter 5 : Captured
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Just a quick note, if I throw you out the window in anger in the middle of this entry, forgive me.
And another quick note – it's really rather hard to write when my arm is shaking. I'm probably not in a right mind to be writing, anyways. But I have to put this on paper because Merlin knows Lily doesn't want to hear it.
Today, I made a bit of a mistake. That much I'll admit to. But was it my fault?
Please. Don't make me laugh.
Jefferson Cornwall chose to provoke me. There I was, minding my own business while exiting Astronomy, and there he was, leaning against the wall with a smirk on his face like he owned the entire castle. Idiot.
The minute I was out of the classroom he pushed off the wall and just came right up to me, as if we'd known each other all our lives. "Potter." He said to me almost smugly, which immediately got me agitated. Because, who on earth did he think he was to address me so snobbishly? I was ticking from the get go, which I suppose I should have seen as a warning sign.
But arrogance precedes all else in such situations, right?
"What do you want?" I retorted, increasing the length of my stride in an attempt to flee.
"Oh, nothing, really," He shrugged stupidly, as if his words were true. "Just wanted to impart a few words of wisdom."
By this time, my insides were rumbling with resentment at the simple fact that I was talking to the idiot. "I don't want your advice, Cornwall." I snarled, never slowing my pace. "Leave me alone."
"Oh so cocky, just like usual," the haughty blonde responded, shaking his head. "I only assumed you'd want to know the drawbacks of dating Evans."
That made me stop in my tracks. "Excuse me," I pondered carefully, irritation eager to burst through my tone. "What makes you think you have any right in the world to tell me anything about Lily?"
"Well, don't beg now, I'll tell you. " Cornwall said sarcastically. I resisted the urge to strangle him. "It's just that she's a little..." he leaned in closer to me as if telling a secret. I clenched my fists. "Uneager to go very far." He winked at me. I gagged. "If you know what I mean."
His words took about a half a second for my mind to process. When they had, I had a quick thought: Imbecile.
I don't think any rational part of my mind actually intended to punch him. But it seemed that the un-rational part had been considering such an action since Cornwall had first opened his mouth.
Three things followed the impact of my knuckles pounding against Jefferson Cornwall's jaw: He keeled over, his book bag flying open across the floor. Everyone around us in the hallway stopped walking and stared at me, opened mouthed. And Lily was suddenly right there, her face a distorted mess of horror.
I stood still for a moment observing these three strange things, things that hadn't even seemed possible seconds ago. I was broken from my trance when Cornwall struggled back to his feet, fire in his eyes, a nasty red bump swelling across his jaw. "You're going to pay for that, Head Boy."
While the rational part of my mind was blaring "HE'S GOING TO BEAT YOU DOWN YOU OUGHT TO LEAVE RIGHT ABOUT NOW", I considered reacting. But the un-rational part was still partially amazed that it had won out earlier, and therefore made it a bit hard to dodge the blow that Cornwall threw at my face quicker than lightening.
Two nasty hits to my nose and cheek and ten minutes later, I found myself sitting in the Headmasters office. Next to me was Cornwall, nursing his wound. Across from me, Professor Dumbledore observed the both of us with indifferent blue eyes. The inside of my chest was still choked with anger. I felt like breaking a brick.
"Now." Dumbledore said suddenly, slowly. "It seems you two have had some sort of disagreement."
I almost scoffed. But I held it inside.
"Would one of you like to tell me what about?"
Cornwall looked at me in disgust. "It wasn't a disagreement, sir." He turned back to the Headmaster. "Potter's just a lunatic."
I rolled my eyes.
Dumbledore didn't respond, instead turning to me. "Mr. Potter?"
I sighed heavily, knowing that I had to be the bigger man, considering Cornwall didn't have the emotional or intelligible capacity. "It was my fault, sir. I threw the first punch. I was just overreacting about something he said."
I caught the surprised expression on Jefferson's face. Dumbledore considered me blankly. "Ah." There was a pause. "Mr. Cornwall, you are free to go. Perhaps a visit to the infirmary would be a good idea."
"Yes, sir," Jefferson responded, still confused. He stood up and left, rubbing his jaw.
I looked up at Dumbledore. I couldn't tell if he was angry, disappointed or otherwise. His face was perpetually an unreadable page.
"Anger, Mr. Potter, is a ubiquitous emotion." He said, as calmly as always. "It is our job as humans to rein it in and control, to not let it get the best of us. Surely by now you know this."
"Yes, sir," I agreed. Surely I should be above such stupid and childish actions.
The professor rose from his seat behind the desk. "I know your motives for quarreling with Mr. Cornwall more closely than you might imagine," he told me. "And your reasons are noble. But nobility and pride are no excuse for violence."
"Yes, sir," I repeated.
Dumbledore regarded me. His eyes seemed to have regained a bit of their normal sparkle. "Now. I believe a visit to the infirmary may be in order for yourself as well, if I am correct?"
"Yes, sir," I said for the third time.
"Then run along," The headmaster instructed, turning his back to me and moving towards the back of his office.
I stood, perplexed for a moment. "But, sir, you haven't assigned me any punishment. Surely detention?"
Dumbledore answered without turning back towards me. "I can't have my Head Boy sitting in detention, for obvious reasons." He paused. "I will stand assured in the fact that you've learned you lesson. In that I can be content."
"Right, then," I responded. "Thank you, sir."
I backed out of his office, taken aback that I hadn't gotten punishment for my foolish behavior. I descended the spiral staircase leading to the hallway. But I didn't get far.
Lily was waiting for me outside of Dumbledore's office. I noticed her crossed arms immediately. This demeanor told me she was annoyed. Very annoyed.
"Hi," I said, taking the slight chance that she wasn't as annoyed as she appeared.
"Don't 'hi' me," she snapped. Yep, I'd been right. Very annoyed. "You can't just say 'hi' after what you just did."
I sensed a deluge of fury was about to be unleashed. I braced myself. "Okay."
"Okay?" Lily looked at me incredulously. "It is not okay, James. What the hell did you think you were doing back there?" She questioned angrily. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"Before you go and take a blow at my thinking," I countered, irritated that she didn't even know by motivation. "You might want to consider the context of the situation."
"Oh, well of course! How could I forget about the context?" She wondered sarcastically. "The context must just be awfully great to justify you punching someone in the face."
"Hold it right there." I demanded. "This wasn't just anyone, okay? It was Jefferson Cornwall." I sensed no change in the angry look on her face. "Lily, c'mon, you told me yourself how awful of a person he is."
Lily shook her head furiously. "It doesn't matter who it was, James. It was wrong!"
"Okay, well, there you go again, judging a situation when you don't even know the context." I shook my own head, aggravated.
"Oh, will you shut up about the stupid context?" Lily cried, her eyebrows wrinkling together in exasperation. "I could care less about what made you hit him. The fact remains that you punched him. On purpose!"
"Lily, you don't understand," I ground through clenched teeth. "He was degrading you. Talking about you crudely."
"I'm sorry, did you hear a word I just said?" she yelled, her voice cracking under her anger. "I don't care what he said! I don't care if he called me a mudblood for Merlin's sake, it is not okay that you hit him!"
I was taken aback by her use of such a word. I flashed back briefly to earlier in the year when she'd been called the exact term by a boy she'd once considered a friend. I shuddered with remembrance of the encounter. My voice got quiet. "I was only trying to protect you."
"Protect me?" Lily was flabbergasted. "I don't need you to protect me, okay, James? I can protect my own honor just fine, thanks."
I'd run out of words to validate my actions. Not that they'd even been justifiable to begin with. "I'm sorry." I finally said.
She sighed, frustrated. "Jefferson is a grade-A dolt. On that much we can agree. But that's no excuse for what you did."
With that, she turned and walked away. I closed my eyes for half a beat, hating myself. How could I have been so stupid?
I grudgingly walked the opposite direction, towards a bathroom. The last thing I needed was to collide with Cornwall again in the infirmary.
And even now, sitting in my room, cheek and lip burning, I'm angry. At myself, at Cornwall. But not Lily, oddly enough.
What's the explanation for that, you asked? I'm whipped.
Over and out.
There was a knock at my door later that night. "James?"
The special thing about living in a dormitory with only one other person is you always have a pretty good idea of who's at your door.
I glanced at myself in the mirror above my wardrobe. I winced at the reflection. A healthy-sized red welt spread across the left side of my jaw, the corner of my lower lip swelling. It was not a pretty sight.
I tugged open the door. Lily's eyes flew to the damage on my face, and she cringed like I had.
"I'm sorry." I said very quickly, before she could get a word out. "I'm really sorry for what I did. It was stupid of me."
"Thank you." She replied. Just like that, she accepted my apology. She reached out to let her fingers graze the mark on my cheek. It only stung a little. "This looks painful. I'm sorry."
"Not too bad." I told her. "Not any worse than you being angry with me."
She smiled softly. "I'm sorry I yelled. It was only because I have a hard time being labeled the damsel in distress."
"No apology necessary," I returned. "I deserved it."
"Can I clean this?" She asked, referring to my cheek. "It looks nasty."
"Sure." I consented, happy that we'd gotten over the argument so easily.
Lily pointed to my desk chair. "Sit down. I'll go get a rag."
I sat down obediently and a minute later she returned with a wet towel. "Lily?"
"Yeah?" she said, gently dabbing the cloth across my cheek.
"I know you can take of yourself," I said, grimacing as she brought it across my lip. "But I can't help feeling responsible for you in some way."
Lily took the rag away from my face at looked at me. "I don't blame you for that. I understand that." She shook her head. "I seem to remember feeling the exact same way at a certain Quidditch game."
I cocked my head to the side. "Really?"
"Yes," she responded, bringing the wet cloth back across my cheek. It stung less this time. "I kind of thought you were going to die."
I laughed. She slid the rag across my lip once again and I sobered instantly, forehead crumpling in pain.
"I'm sorry," Lily apologized. "I know it stings."
"Nah, never felt better," I replied, though my crinkled forehead certainly betrayed my words.
She patted the towel across my cheek one final time, then dried off both of the gashes with a dry towel. She retrieved a white bandage and carefully spread it across my lower jaw. "There. Feel better?"
I smiled as wide as I could without the swelling in my lip exploding in pain. "Good as new."
"Good as ever, you mean," Lily said, touching her lips against the bandage. Which obviously healed it immediately.
"Well, this has been awfully romantic," I mentioned. "Thanks for attending to my battle wounds."
She laughed and stood up to get rid of the towels in the bathroom. "You sure know how to show a girl a good time, Potter."
"My reputation precedes me, I see," I teased. "I'm glad I don't disappoint."
Lily came back into my room, and went to sit on my bed. She regarded me. "You know, I call you an idiot, but the truth is," she laughed to herself. "If you looked up 'stupid' in the dictionary, you'd find my picture. So I'm way off." She shook her head. "And you really shouldn't listen to me."
"I don't know what dictionary you're using," I said, standing to sit next to her on the bed. "But I usually find you under 'beautiful'."
She laughed again, but self-consciously this time, and leaned her head against my shoulder. I liked the feeling of the weight against my shoulder, the texture of her hair on my neck. I liked the feeling of her there, next to me, just me and her and the entire world spinning on without us paying any attention.
"I love you." I whispered to her, feeling like she needed the reminder.
"Even after I yelled at you for being noble?" She murmured, putting her hand on top of my fingers.
"Especially then." I admitted. "Especially now."
Lily turned her face into my arm. "Then if you must know," she murmured. "I love you too." There was a pause. "Even when you're being a dolt and punching people."
I closed my eyes and tried to memorize how completely and utterly surrendered I was to her right then. Tried to memorize the tight hold she had on my heart.
I never wanted to forget.
"Okay, really?" I said to my Herbology homework, as if it was the parchment's fault that I didn't understand the material in the least.
"Really really," Sirius replied from across the table, closing his Divination book with a definite slam. "I'm finished."
"No way you're finished," I scoffed, looking up at him with wide eyes. "You just started ten minutes ago."
"That's the beauty of divination, Prongs," my boastful friend replied, rustling his hand through his jet-black locks. "It's all stuff and nonsense. You just make it up."
I shook my head and returned to the impossible Herbology assignment in front of me, rolling up my sleeves and loosening my tie. I was in for a long night.
Sirius and I sat in the library at our favorite table, which was located in the furthest corner of the massive room. The area was hidden by stacks upon stacks of volumes, lit only by dim overhead lights. When we were younger and less mature (wait a second- who am I kidding?), the table had acted as the perfect scheming location for us Marauders. It was where we'd brainstormed tens upon hundreds of brilliant and fool-proof pranks – or so we'd thought at the time.
I heard Lily and Charlotte before I saw them, their voices floating through the stacks and getting closer. I smiled. Their friendship was so odd, so against what seemed to be eternal laws of teenage social activity that it never ceased to boggle my mind. But if I knew anything about friendship, it was that when you find the right people, it can change your world.
"Hey," I said as the pair came into view. "Perfect timing. I need loads of help on this Herbology assignment."
"Why, can't you do anything yourself?" It was Charlotte who spoke to me first, a completely unexpected bite in her voice. She crossed her arms, a silvery charm bracelet jingling. "Or are you just like every other man and can't possibly even think about taking matters into your own hands?"
I recoiled, taken aback. "Well, I-um, I just-"
Charlotte cut me off. "Oh, piss off." Without saying another word, the blonde wrinkled her nose in disgust and left just as quickly as she'd come.
I turned to Lily, distressed. "What did I do?"
"Nothing," Lily shook her head and sat down next to me at the table, setting down her book bag. "She's been acting really strange all afternoon."
Sirius raised his hand from across the table. "I did that."
Lily and I both swiveled our heads towards him. "What?" I asked.
Sirius shrugged. "Well, we made out a little bit, and now she's all put off because I won't date her."
I looked at Sirius in disbelief. "Okay, rewind. You 'made our a little bit'?"
"Yeah, nothing major," Sirius replied, putting some quills away in his bag. "Not like she hasn't done the same and more with other people."
"Well, Sirius, that was probably a pretty big deal to her," Lily said, frustrated, her eyebrows creased in incredulity. "She's like you for a really long time."
"Okay, well, nobody told me that." Sirius threw up his hands. "And I don't see what the big deal is, anyways. We kissed. So what? It's not like I signed a contract."
"Are you stupid?" Lily questioned unbelievingly. I sensed her getting angrier by the second. "This is Charlotte we're talking about, not some idiot who doesn't know how you play your little games, Black. She's not stupid. But she's a girl and you kissed her and for that you owe her some sort of conversation."
"A conversation?" Sirius asked incredulously. "What the hell about?"
Lily rolled her eyes. "Oh my lord, you are stupid."
Sirius looked over at me in equal parts disgust and confusion. I shrugged in innocence and identical confusion.
"Sirius, listen to me." Lily said, her voice hard. "I know how you operate with girls, and I won't berate you for that. But Charlotte is my best friend and I care a lot about her. If you hurt her anymore, I won't ever forgive you. I don't care how you make it right, but you have too. Merlin knows you owe it to yourself to do this at least once in your life."
Lily didn't let the sentence get out of his mouth. "I don't care how you do it. Just do it, okay?"
Sirius sighed in frustration. "I-"
He hadn't learned, and Lily cut him off again. "Go!" she ordered.
Huffing another aggravated breath, Sirius glared at both Lily and I before standing and retrieving his book bag. "Fine."
He exited the corner. I looked over at Lily in amazement. "Did you just get Sirius Black to consent to an order, or was that my imagination?"
Lily rubbed her lips together to contain the anger I saw her still harboring beneath the surface. "I think so."
I was astounded. Never in a million years would Sirius have listened to me, even if we'd conducted the exact same exchange of words. "You're remarkable."
Lily's looked at me and sighed. "I just hope it works."
"Oh, I'm sure they'll be fine." I paused. "Hey, maybe we should go in restricted section and kiss," I suggested after a second. "You know, so you can blow off your anger."
"James," Lily prodded, annoyed. "You've got Herbology to do." She pointed to the disregarded parchment in front of me.
I reached out to brush aside a piece of her hair. "But you're so pretty."
Lily gave me a condescending look. "Maybe I should leave. I think I'm too big of a distraction."
"No!" I exclaimed. "I mean, yes, of course you're a distraction, but no, you should definitely not leave. I really do need your help."
Lily laughed a little and I could sense her irritation melting away. "Okay, fine. Since you can't do anything yourself."
"Hey!" I shoved her with my shoulder. She laughed again.
I had the occasion to wonder right then that I'd gotten terribly lucky whatever day she'd decided to give me a chance.
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