Chapter 2 : One Leap
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I have the best luck. I groaned inwardly as I walked through the mostly empty hallway. I’d woken up late and Marlene, Alice and Mary had already left for Hogsmeade.
I had just resigned myself to another day spent in the library when I spotted a familiar figure—the dark, untidy hair unmistakable from the distance.
He turned around, a smile lighting his face when he saw me.
“Had you planned on going to Hogsmeade today?” I asked once I reached him.
“Er, no,” he said slowly. A strange look crossed his face. “Why?”
“Oh.” I scrunched my face. “Nevermind. I wanted to get this book, but everyone already left and I can’t go alone because of that new rule to go in groups. It’s okay, I’ll just—,” I rambled until he interrupted me.
“Okay, I’ll go.”
I blinked. “What?”
James gave me a small smile. But I didn’t miss the flash of something else in his eyes. Was it disappointment? “Come on. Before I change my mind.” He turned and walked past the double doors, throwing me a wink over his shoulder.
I laughed, shaking my head as I followed him. “Thanks, James.”
He nodded. “You know,” he started, giving me a side-long look. “I almost thought for a moment that you were trying to ask me to Hogsmeade on a date.”
I felt my face grow hot. “Really?”I managed, avoiding his eyes.
“I know. That would have been unthinkable. Lily Evans asking me on a date?” He teased, his voice low, face deadpan.
I made a small sound of agreement, trying to ignore how hard my heart was beating. “So how’d you do on that Transfiguration essay? I honestly didn’t think I’d finish it in time.” I asked quickly, changing the subject.
I felt James look at me for a moment, a small smirk playing on his lips. His eyes held a glint, as if he knew exactly why I was so flustered. But he played along, answering, “Aced it.”
Merlin, what is wrong with you? Just stop thinking about it, I told myself, feeling frustrated.
James was right, in a way. It would have been unthinkable for me to ask him on a date—or at least, two years ago it would have been unthinkable for me. But lately, I hadn’t been able to stop wondering what it would be like to be with him, to hold hands as we walked to class, to steal kisses during rounds. But I didn’t think he was going to ask me anytime soon. He’d stopped once we decided that working together as Head Boy and Girl would be easier if we finally crossed the line and became friends.
The conversation died as we walked but thankfully, the silence that fell over us was comfortable. I kept stealing glances at James, unable to keep my eyes away from him. He was whistling softly, his hands tucked into his pockets—perfectly at ease.
Something about that fascinated me. He was always so relaxed and it was easy to feel relaxed around him. That is, of course if I ignored the strange jolts in my stomach, and those damn butterflies that hadn’t gone away. Aside from those setbacks, I felt like I could just talk to him, tell him about anything, for hours on end and I’d never found that with anyone other than Sev.
He looked over at me and quirked his eyebrows, his eyes curious and I realized I’d been staring at him for a few minutes too long. “You said you needed to look in the bookstore?”
I blinked as I looked around me, surprised that we had already reached Hogsmeade. “Yeah,” I muttered, ducking my head as I headed into Tomes and Scrolls, suddenly shy.
I knew which book I wanted and quickly found it. But just as we were leaving, something caught my eye.
“Essentials for the Potions-Master.” James read out loud from behind my shoulder. “Merlin that sounds completely dull.” I turned to scowl at him and he grinned. “I’m only joking.”
“You’re not getting it?” James questioned curiously as I put it back.
“I wish,” I sighed wistfully. He followed me out of the store. “It’s a collection of some of the best potions and theories. But it’s too expensive.” I looked up at him to see him watching me intently, his eyes full of affection.
I blushed. “What?” I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, feeling self-conscious.
“Nothing,” James replied quickly. He cleared his throat before gesturing towards the Three Broomsticks. “Want to stop for a quick Butterbeer?”
James insisted that it be his treat so I waited at a table as he went to get the drinks, my mind still on our conversation. I’d been blushing too much around him, I decided. I needed to stop.
It was taking James awhile, I noticed. I scanned the pub to see him by a table, talking to Lucy. His face was serious as he spoke to her. I looked away quickly when he started to head back to me.
“Here we go,” James announced. He placed two cups in front of us and seated himself across from me.
We were quiet for the first couple minutes--me trying to make sense of all the jumbled thoughts in my mind, James glancing around the pub, an uncharacteristically solemn expression on his face, his lips tugged down into a small frown.
“Aren’t you going to ask about Lucy?”
“What?” I glanced up, startled.
James gave me a look. “I saw you watching us, Lily.”
I shrugged, trying to be nonchalant. “I don’t want to force you to talk about it if you don’t want to,” I tried.
His lips twitched. “But you’ve very curious.” He managed with a straight face.
I raised my hands. “Alright. Spill.”
James played with his cup for a moment, moving it around the table in circles. “She was upset. We went on a date and she expected something more.” He shook his head. “I guess I should have been clearer that I didn’t want a long-term relationship with her.”
“Yeah,” James agreed.
“Well.” I hesitated. “I guess it’s good in a way. I think you….deserve better than her.” I blinked in surprise. I hadn’t expected that out of my mouth either.
James looked at me curiously. “You think so?”
I nodded. My cheeks flushed again. His inquisitive gaze had the butterflies in my stomach all a-flutter all over again.
We had finished our drinks and were almost back to Hogwarts when James said something that made my heart stop.
“So for our first date, I think that went pretty well. Don’t you think?” James winked.
I froze. “It wasn’t a date,” I said quickly.
His smile faded. “I was just teasing, Lily.”
I winced. I could hear the hurt in his voice. He remained quiet as we’d reached the entrance hall and a thought suddenly occurred to me. Because although James had stopped asking me out, maybe he still felt the same way about me, a claim that I hadn’t believed all these years. A spark of hope flared in me.
Gathering my nerves, I turned to face him. “I’m sorry, James. I didn’t mean anything by it, I just—I really like being friends with you and it’s taken so long to get to this point. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…I don’t want to ruin anything between us and—.” I stopped, suddenly unsure as to what I was rambling about.
James gave me a weak smile. “It’s not your fault. Don’t worry about it.” He spotted Sirius outside the Great Hall and gestured towards him. “I have to ask Sirius about something. I’ll talk to you later.”
He left me with a sour feeling in my stomach. Merlin, why had I opened my mouth? I groaned inwardly. I’d probably convinced him by now that I had no feelings and wouldn’t have any feelings for him ever. How ironic that it had to happen just when I was maybe, quite possibly starting to fall for him.
My head jerked. I glanced up in surprise to see Sirius standing in front of me. “What are you doing here?” I asked, giving him a bemused look.
“No, no, no. What are you doing here?” Sirius crossed his arms, a scowl on his face. “We just won a game against Slytherin. Why are you down here in the library while we’re having the best party of the year in the common room?”
I sighed. “I have a lot of studying to catch up on, Sirius.”
He rolled his eyes before reaching over to close the book in front of me. “That’s what Sunday’s for,” he informed me with a grin. “Come on. It’s our last year, Lily! Live on the edge, for once.”
I glared at him. But my resolve was slowly crumbling. It wasn’t like I was actually making progress with any of my reading.
Sirius, sensing that I was giving in grinned. “Fine, at least come for James? He was asking where you were.”
My heart leapt. “Really?” I cleared my throat, hoping I didn’t sound too eager. “Fine,” I mock grumbled. “How’d you find me, anyway?” I asked as I followed him out of the library.
Sirius gave me a look. “I’m hurt, Lily. Seriously.” He smirked when I smacked him gently on his head. “You’d think after all these years you’d have some faith in my skills.”
We were quiet for a moment as we walked through the quiet halls.
“What?” I finally asked, raising my eyebrows at Sirius who kept glancing at me.
“Nothing,” he replied innocently. “Well, there’s just one thing.” He paused. “You haven’t dated anyone in a while, have you?”
I didn’t answer, instead giving him a suspicious look.
“Any reason for that? Someone caught your eye?”
“Where are you going with this, Sirius?” I asked bluntly.
He looked at me thoughtfully. “I don’t want you to think that James put me up to this. I’m saying this because I know how much….he cares for you. He’s really changed, Lily. And I think you had a big part in that.”
I felt my cheeks grow hot. I was speechless for a moment, unsure of what to say. “Thank you for telling me that,” I finally managed. “You’re such a good friend to him. It’s really admirable,” I said softly.
He tilted his head in acknowledgement. We’d reached the common room and after a beat of silence, Sirius shook his head and muttered the password.
Why am I being such a coward?
“Sirius.” He turned back to look at me questioningly. “I have noticed how different he is.”
He smiled then and reached over to squeeze my shoulder before disappearing into the crowd.
It took a while till I found James. Or I should say, till he found me. I was sitting, talking to Marlene and Remus when he appeared in front of us, a drunken glaze over his eyes, his face lighting up as he spotted me.
“Lily!” He exclaimed, his voice slightly slurred. “There you are. I’ve been looking for you! Did you come to the game? Wasn’t it amazing? We trashed Slytherin.” He paused, his face anxious as he waited for me to answer.
Marlene and Remus had continued talking but kept shooting us amused glances.
“Yes, James,” I told him patiently, barely able to keep a straight face. “It was a great game.”
James, looking pleased by my answer leaned over to say something but his attention was diverted by a couple of his teammates gesturing wildly to him. He ran off and I couldn’t help but smile. James was an active drunk—very entertaining to watch.
The next time I found James, he was considerably calmer. He was sitting by the fireplace, sipping a butterbeer and watching the antics of his friends with a small smirk: Peter attempting to flirt with an oblivious fifth-year, Sirius egging Remus on to drink more shots.
He watched with lazy eyes as I settled into the chair next to him.
“Can I ask you something?” I started hesitantly.
He tiled his head, his eyes curious and nodded.
“What did you mean that other day? When I was out at the Quidditch stands. You said, maybe I’ll explain it to you someday.”
James smiled crookedly but said nothing. Instead he reached for my hand and faced it up. “See that one?” He asked quietly. His finger softly traced a line on my palm. “I think it means that you have a lot of people in your life that care about you very much.” He smiled then. “And this one, right here? It means you’ll live a long and healthy life.”
I watched him wordlessly as he continued to outline the lines on my palm slowly, my heart pounding harder and harder with each brush of his fingers. After several moments his hand fell away, as if signaling the end of the fairytale, the chime of twelve o’clock.
I wrinkled my nose. “Wow, James. I had no idea you were such a Divination expert,” I teased, a weak effort to hide my sudden panic. I felt like we’d broken another boundary between us—a thin line of friendship that I’d been struggling so hard to keep.
James rolled his eyes. "Lily Evans, you are a moment-ruiner," he informed me. But then Sirius joined us and he changed the subject.
I listened idly. When I went to sleep later that night, I realized that I had no idea what they'd talked about. My thoughts had been entirely fixed on how steady his hand had been as he held mine and how warm his touch was.
“I am so late,” I muttered to myself as I sped down the corridor. I turned the corner and then proceeded to run into a very hard wall, almost falling to the ground if it wasn’t for the strong arms that wrapped tightly around my waist and pulled me upright.
“James,” I gasped out. I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself. But that was proving difficult given how close I was to James, my hands in front of me the only thing separating my chest from being pressed to his.
“You okay?” His voice was warm with concern.
“I fell asleep,” I admitted, my cheeks flushing. “I’m so late to the meeting, I’m sorry.”
“Just missed it, actually.” His eyes crinkled in amusement at the horror on my face. “It’s okay, Lily. There wasn’t much to talk about anyway. All I needed to do was hand out the new schedule for the prefects.”
“Oh, Merlin. I’m so sorry,” I said again. I knew I shouldn’t have taken that nap but I’d just been so tired. And if I admitted it to myself, I had been trying to escape my constant thoughts about the person who was still currently holding me tightly, his arms warm and safe.
“Don’t worry about it.” He hesitated and then reached out to tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “You work too hard sometimes. It’s good you caught up on your sleep.”
He smiled down at me. My heart leapt as I stared up at him, touched by his concern.
“I have practice but I’ll see you later for rounds, yeah?” He said as he finally released me from his arms.
I nodded, knowing if I spoke I would just emit a squeak. He shot me another smile before striding away from me.
It wasn’t until dinner that my mind finally caught up with my heart. James was sitting a couple seats away from me and I was watching him out of the corner of my eye, taking in the way his eyes twinkled as he teased Remus, the concentration on his face as he discussed Quidditch tactics with one of the other Chasers. At one point, he looked up and caught my eye and after a beat, flashed me a smile so full of warmth it was as if rays of sunlight on a hot summer’s day were gently caressing my skin.
And then I realized that James had suddenly become everything I’d wanted in a guy. He was the one I’d been waiting for all this time. Or maybe it was me that changed—I’d finally opened my eyes to see that James had already been all those things I’d been looking for. I just hadn’t been able to see it.
A/N: YAY, chapter two! Umm, I can't stop inwardly gushing to myself over much I love writing their relationship--I think it's one of my favorite pieces of writing that I've done. So please, leave a review and tell me what you like about it! I love hearing what you guys have to say and it definitely helps me write faster :P
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