Chapter 9 : James - Decisions and Suspicions
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I hardly had a moment to think about anything at all before Alice's gaze locked on mine and a crazy grin spread over her face. Before I knew what was happening, she had launched her head towards mine, kissing me passionately and gripping the sides of my head as though to make sure I didn't leave. I felt both surprised and terribly scared of this girl as her glossy lips seemed to ravish mine. She was definitely pretty, there was no doubt about that, and she always seemed nice, but I'd never really given her a second glance before. I put my hands on her shoulders and tried to push her away, but she wouldn't budge. Finally, I grabbed her hands and practically threw them off me, backing away instantly.
I suddenly realized that the entire Great Hall was quiet, staring blatantly at this sudden show of affection. Rumors would be flying, that was for sure. And right beside Alice sat Frank, looking crestfallen and completely confused.
Alice grinned mischievously at me and came towards me again, but Lily grabbed her quickly. Even in the most surprising situations, she managed to remain practical and responsive. She was just amazing… "Alice," she said in a tone of forced calm, though she sounded shocked and a little off-guard. "Come on, Alice, let's go to our dorm."
"No!" she shrieked loudly. "No, I want to be with James!" I was now thoroughly creeped out, though I knew exactly what had caused this.
"He's coming, too," Lily said, looking at me pointedly.
"I am?" I asked blankly, still trying to process the events of the last minute. It wasn't easy to do, considering what just happened, but Lily made it so much harder by holding eye contact with me. I felt slightly dazed, but tried to shake myself out of it as she continued talking.
"Yes, you are!" Lily turned to Mary and instructed her to hold Alice back. While Alice struggled valiantly, Lily got up from her seat, walked the short distance around the table (we were at the furthest end of it, after all), and grabbed my hand. I was vaguely aware of her dragging me down the silent room to the entrance of the Great Hall, but all my mind could really focus on was the fact that Lily Evans - the Lily Evans - was holding my hand. And willingly, too!
"Can you walk?" she hissed. "We would go faster then."
"Huh?" I snapped out of my thoughts. "Oh, right." I quickly caught up with her, but I didn't let go of her hand.
"Come on, Alice!" she sang as we reached the end of the Great Hall. "James is right over here!" I smiled - my name sounded so nice when Lily said it.
Mary released Alice, who bolted towards me from the other end of the hall. She, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Frank raced after her, and Lily whispered to me, "Run, quickly!"
The two of us sprinted down the hall, up the marble staircase, and skidded to a halt by the portrait of the Fat Lady. She regarded us with interest for a moment.
"Bubotuber!" Lily gasped, panting for breath. The Fat Lady didn't immediately open, though this was the password, for her mouth had dropped open at the sight of us.
"So you two are finally together, hmm?" the Fat Lady asked with a small smile after she had closed her jaw, her eyes darting to our interlocked hands.
"What? No!" Lily sputtered. I found it strange how even the portrait was keeping track of our love lives, but tried to ignore the slightly disturbing fact for the moment.
"Look, we're in a hurry. Let us in!" I ordered. The Fat Lady sighed and swung open, and we clambered in, hearing some shouts behind us as the portrait swung shut. Had Alice caught up to us already?
Lily raced up the stairs to the Girls' Dormitories, and in my haste I started running up as well. How stupid of me - the stairs soon changed into a slide, and Lily and I went tumbling down to the bottom. I hit the floor with a grunt, and Lily landed right on top of me.
Hmm. Maybe that wasn't so stupid after all.
Suddenly, the portrait opened, and Lily and I turned our heads toward the opening. Alice had dashed in, closely followed by our friends. She took one look at our positions and became furious.
"You!" she cried out angrily, pointing directly at Lily. Lily looked a bit affronted at her tone as she continued. "You're stealing James from me!"
"What?! How could you think that?" Lily demanded. She looked down at me, and realization dawned in her eyes of how our positions must look to an outsider. She quickly crawled off of me, and I felt a strange sense of loss.
"Boyfriend stealer!" Alice screamed at Lily. Lily looked immensely concerned at this point.
"James isn't even your boyfriend, Alice," she said slowly.
"But he will be!" Alice insisted, turning to me with a smile on her face. "Right, Jamesie?"
"Er…" I didn't really know what to say to that, but Alice seemed content to take my hesitation as affirmation.
"See, he agrees. So don't come close to him ever again, okay? We're very happy together."
Lily subtly grabbed her wand from her bag and held it behind her back. Immediately, thick, coarse grey ropes wound around Alice, pinning her arms and legs to her sides. Alice fell to the carpet, her brown eyes wide with shock, before she started to roll directly towards me. Alarm filled me again instantly.
"Come on! Upstairs!" Lily cried, heading for the staircase.
"Wait! We can't go up unless a girl brings us up!" I reminded her, grabbing her hand again.
Looking over my shoulder, I noticed Mary holding Sirius's hand with her right hand and Remus's hand with her left hand, with Frank and Peter connected to the two boys. We stumbled up the stairs, trying to all fit on the rather narrow staircase, while Alice screamed my name and gave desperate cries of "Take me with you, James!"
We made it into the Seventh Year Girls' Dormitories, and Alice's shrieks downstairs could only be faintly heard. "All right," Lily breathed, dropping my hand and looking at each of us in turn. "We have to find out exactly what's up with her and fix it before dinner's over. Any ideas?"
"Maybe I was a bad boyfriend," Frank said worriedly, "And this is her way of breaking up with me while getting revenge on me!" He looked completely distraught at the very thought of it.
"Nonsense," Mary chimed in, shaking her head emphatically. "Alice talked about you nonstop at my house a couple days before we went to Hogwarts, at Diagon Alley the day before, during the train ride, and during meals! There's no way she would suddenly decide to break up with you."
"Well," Lily sighed, plopping down on her bed. "Any theories?"
Sirius and I exchanged an uncertain glance, and I knew exactly what he was thinking - it was the same as what I was thinking, after all. Should we tell them what was going on or try to fix it ourselves? Lily definitely wouldn't appreciate the story, but it would patch things up with Alice and Frank. Then again, could we fix it ourselves? And if we could, what would happen to Alice and Frank?
There was one solution: we had to hint at what was going on and pretend we had nothing to do with it.
"I can only think of one thing," I said slowly, feigning a look of pondering. "Someone must've slipped her some love potion." Everyone stared blankly at me. Then Remus slowly shook his head.
"Why would someone want Alice to fall in love with you, James?" he asked me, though he was looking to the others for an answer. "And when would they get the opportunity?"
"She was acting perfectly normal all day," Lily verified. "Until dinner tonight… remember she suddenly loved the smell of her pumpkin juice, then went all wacky?" I nodded, along with the other five people who were listening to her.
"Maybe something was in the pumpkin juice," Sirius suggested innocently.
"Who would have put it in?" Peter asked nervously, clearly fearing an attack on himself.
"Well…" Lily said slowly, eyeing me suspiciously, "I do recall James and Sirius screaming 'No!' right before she drank it…"
All eyes turned to Sirius and I. I shifted a bit uncomfortably, but Sirius's eyes just widened very believably. "What?" he asked, as though just processing what she had said. "Are you saying that you think we did it?"
"Why'd you scream?" Mary asked, looking just as suspicious as Lily did.
"I had a suspicion," he admitted in a confidential voice. "When she was talking about its smell, I thought something might be wrong with it."
"And James?" Lily asked skeptically. Despite my worry, I felt my heart soar. She called me James again!
Clearing my throat, I answered evenly, "Sirius and I are like twin brothers. Both clever, both charming, both devilishly handsome--" Lily raised her eyebrows, and I got back on topic. "We tend to think the same, and sometimes speak the same thing at the same time."
Lily still seemed a bit skeptical. She surveyed the people in the room and said quietly, "We're all the only people who were near Alice at the table, so we're the only suspects. Whoever did it must have been one of us, or else we would have noticed the culprit coming over and leaving." Everyone nodded seriously.
"Maybe… maybe we should deal with who did it after we fix up Alice," I suggested hurriedly as Remus opened his mouth to speak.
Lily dismissed this thought quickly. "We can't fix her until we know what we're fixing," she explained sadly.
Mary hadn't taken her eyes off of me yet. She leaned towards Lily and whispered something in her ear. Lily looked a bit reluctant, but then nodded discreetly, and she slowly advanced toward me.
"So, James," she said seductively as she came nearer. My breath caught in my throat at the sight of her, her green eyes sparkling with determination, her pale face set, a hint of a smile on her lips.
"Y-yes, Lily?" I stuttered nervously. She smiled fully now.
"You don't happen to know who did it, do you?" She really had a perfect smile, her teeth were so straight and pearly white… wait, what did she ask me again?
"No, no I don't," I answered quickly.
"You sure?" she asked, now so close I could feel her breath on my face. I suddenly felt clammy and a bit shaky, but tried desperately to keep my cool.
"P-positive," I answered, nodding firmly.
"That's too bad," she sighed, whispering in my ear now in the most tempting voice I've ever heard, "I would've been so grateful to know who'd done it, maybe expressed my happiness at finding out--"
"It was Sirius!" The words just tumbled out, and Sirius shot me a frustrated look. I shrugged helplessly - how was I supposed to keep my mouth shut when Lily was doing… whatever she was doing?
"What did you do exactly, Sirius?" Lily demanded, backing away from me instantly. I felt a huge sense of loss yet again, which was interesting, since I never really had her to lose in the first place.
"Nothing! James is lying, of course!" Sirius answered, but at Lily's sharp glare, he knew he had been found out. "Okay, okay, fine. So I put Amortentia in her drink, what's the big--"
"Amortentia?!" Lily exclaimed, mouth dropping open. "Sirius Black, that's the most powerful love potion in the world! What in the name of Merlin were you thinking?!"
"I didn't mean to!" Sirius protested. Everybody stared at him disbelievingly. "Well, I meant to put it in the drink, obviously, but not hers!"
"Then whose?" Lily ordered fiercely. "Who would you want to fall in love with-- oh."
Comprehension dawned on her gorgeous features -- snap out of it, I told myself sternly -- and she glared at me. "Did Potter put you up to this?" she asked, as though not daring to believe it.
"Er… kinda?" Sirius replied hesitantly, scratching his head. I wasn't sure myself - I had wanted him to get Lily to fall in love with me, but I hadn't specified this method or anything…
"YOU TWO TRIED TO GIVE ME LOVE POTION?!" she screamed, an expression of pure anger overtaking her face. "You were prepared to make me act like Alice is now?!"
"Um, yes?" Sirius answered tentatively. I groaned. That was a bad answer.
Her eyes were bright with fury. "Get… my… cauldron," she instructed Mary through gritted teeth. The girl scampered to Lily's trunk, her blonde hair flying behind her in her haste, and unlocked it. She retrieved both a coal-black cauldron and a copy of Advanced Potion Making before returning to a still-fuming Lily, who seemed to be taking her anger out on her potion ingredients.
Mary quickly flipped through the book until she got to a portion about Amortentia. "Here's the recipe for the counter-potion," she said hurriedly, practically shoving the book under Lily's nose.
"Step one," Lily said in a tone of forced calm. "Slice the bezoar into neat strips." She raised her shiny silver knife high into the air, then slammed it into the bezoar over and over again, producing a more mangled result than expected. I wondered if she was imagining the bezoar as me and shuddered at the thought.
"I think it's time for us to go," Sirius whispered to me, and I nodded quickly, practically sprinting out of the room. I was sure my best mate was trying to help, but he really was messing up everything. Maybe this contest wasn't such a good idea after all.
AN: Another fun chapter to write :D Your reviews mean so much to me, and they're very helpful too, so please continue to leave your helpful critiques and comments! Thank you all so much! ~WaterLily :)
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