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Chapter 14 : The One with the Change in Atmosphere
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Beautiful chapter image by Jacqueline (nutellugh) at TDA
I shivered as a cold autumn breeze slipped into my coat and raised pinpricks on my arms. I pulled my coat tighter around me and groaned quietly. Quidditch is so incredibly boring. I don’t understand why Abi, Niki, Sirius and James love it so much. It’s just a bunch of people flying around on cleaning utensils chucking balls at each other. I honestly don’t get the attraction.
Jess, Molly, Remus, Peter and I were sitting in the stands watching the Gryffindor’s quidditch practice. And I was dying of boredom. It was cold and everyone was busy but me. Remus was the team’s strategist so he watched the practices and then recorded what they did well and what they could improve upon, to go over with James later. Peter was reading a book and was nodding whenever he came to a particularly interesting bit. Jess had conjured a stand and a few pieces of A2 paper and was writing things down on it with Molly. They appeared to be having some sort of conference.
“Bathilda Bagshot?” Jess asked, pointing to an incredibly long list in her hands. Molly hesitated and then shook her head.
“Nah, it’s not really her scene.” Jess nodded.
Goodness knows what they were planning. I don’t think I particularly want to know either.
I flung my head back and groaned loudly. Why can’t these practises go faster? When no one said anything I groaned louder.
“Problem Lily?” Remus asked in amusement, looking up from his notebook.
“This is so boring,” I whined. “How can people sit here for hours and still cheer so enthusiastically?” Remus looked from left to right before leaning closer to me.
“Between you and me, I only come to watch James fly around in a tight outfit,” Remus whispered with a cheeky grin. That caused me to smile for the first time in what felt like hours.
“Remus you little pervert!” I hit him on the arm in mock-disgust. He continued grinning.
“Ah but he’s my best friend so it’s okay,” he answered.
“Right because that obviously makes it okay,” I rolled my eyes. We sat in silence for a few more minutes before practice ended and the team headed back to the changing rooms. James, Abi, Sirius and Nik flew up to the stands to greet us. All of them were caked in about three layers of grime. I can see why, James made them run five laps of the pitch as a warm-up! A warm-up I tell you! He’s a cruel captain.
“James have I ever told you that you’re a bastard?” Abi asked sweetly, dropping onto the bench next to me.
“Erm no you haven’t,” James replied with a smile.
“Well now I have. James you’re a bastard.”
James nodded, “Noted.” He then looked at me. “So Lily, what did you think of practice?” Out of the corner of my eye I saw Remus struggling to hold back laughter. I couldn’t keep the smile from creeping onto my face.
“I erm- it was very err good,” I finished grimacing inside. But it was alright because James beamed so I guess he bought it. Remus stood up, stretched and began walking towards the stairs.
“I’m going to head to the library; I have some homework to do. Jess you coming?” Remus gave Jess a not so covert look which we all caught but her.
“Erm no thanks Rem I’m kind of busy,” she muttered, still focussed on writing on her board. Remus sighed.
“Jess, we have homework to do,” he said slowly. “Are you coming with me to do it in the quiet of the library?” My face scrunched up in disgust and horror at his last sentence. That sounded so terribly wrong. Apprehension dawned on Jess’ face, as well as a smile which she quickly turned into a frown.
“Not homework!” Jess cried dramatically, flinging her arms out despairingly. Remus began walking down the stairs and Jess scurried after him.
“Wait for me!” Molly stood watching their retreating backs with her mouth wide open. The two carried on without her.
“I think I’ve just been ditched…” Sirius strode over to Molly and linked arms with her.
“Come on Mol, I’ll show you a good time!” Molly couldn’t wipe the excited grin off of her face as her and Sirius strolled down the stairs. Peter glanced at his watch and jumped up quickly.
“Oh they’re going to kill me if I’m late…” he muttered as he hurried away. I looked after him in confusion.
“Where’s he going?” I asked. Everyone shrugged.
“Well I’m going to have a long hot bath and then a nap,” Abi decided, getting up and walking down the stairs.
“I feel like doing some reading,” was all Nicola said. The two girls limped down the stairs, complaining about their captain loudly.
“I think they’re trying to tell you something,” I said to James who looked affronted.
“Hey I’m just trying to get them all into shape after a lazy summer,” he said innocently, holding his hands up. I chuckled and then realized it was just the two of us. The laughter died on my lips as I looked around wildly for anyone who might still be hanging around. I hadn’t spoken to James properly since I was in the hospital wing and I had no idea where to start.
You know, everyone left awfully conveniently. I swear this whole thing has been staged.
“Lily are you okay?” James asked in concern. I nodded and ran a hand through my hair. That mannerism must be catching. God dammit.
“Yeah I’m fine.” An awkward silence settled between us until James cleared his throat nervously.
“Erm Lily, do you want to go for a ride?” he gestured to the broom in his hand. I looked at him in confusion.
“A ride…?” I repeated. He nodded hesitantly as I weighed up the options in my mind.
On the one hand, it could be fun. I’m not necessarily afraid of heights but I don’t particularly like the idea of flying hundreds of feet above the ground and only being supported by a kitchen utensil either. Although James was a good flyer, he seems to know what he’s doing.
On the other hand; getting up close and personal with a boy who I haven’t properly spoken to since he camped out in a hospital to watch me sleep; (okay that came out way creepier than I meant it to) may not be the best of ideas.
“That sounds like fun!” I grinned. Ah this is not going to end well.
“James you seriously need to stop acting so surprised every time I agree with you or something, I am your friend.” James nodded.
“Right sorry.” James put a leg over his broom and settled himself on it. “Okay Lily you get on in front of me.” I cautiously climbed on and held on so tightly my knuckles turned white. James gently pried my hands off the broom and put his own over mine. I took a deep breath and felt a blush creeping up my neck. James had his arms around me. Ohmygod James had his arms around me. Why does this feel so weird? We’re friends. Friends do stuff like this. Right?
A small voice in the back of my mind said; “You wouldn’t feel this way if it were Sirius, Remus or Peter behind you.” Shut up brain, no one asked you.
“Peachy,” I replied, desperately trying to breathe normally. I felt him adjust his position slightly on the broom.
“Are you ready?” I nodded and held on but not as tightly as before. James kept his hands over mine and rubbed soothing circles with his thumb on the back of my hand. James kicked off and my heart soared as we did. He steered the broom and we cut effortlessly through the sky, swerving around the goal hoops and then doubling back. The wind whipped through our hair as we flew. I had never felt so free; it was like all of my worries had been left on the ground. We climbed higher but James’ reassuring arms around my waist made me feel as if we could keep going forever.
“James this is amazing,” I breathed.
“Now you know why I do it,” he whispered in my ear. A shiver ran down my spine as his breath tickled my cheek.
We flew for what seemed like hours, not saying anything because we didn’t have to.
Black clouds rolled across the sky and blocked out the fading sun. Rain sprinkled down, light at first but then suddenly it was so forceful that we had to land. James took my hand and we made a run for it, unable to control our laughter as we sprinted across the grounds and towards the castle.
“Lily you’re soaked!” James yelled over the thunder.
“So are you!” James grabbed his cloak out of his bag and put it around me.
“Better?” I nodded, unable to form words due to the chattering of my teeth. He grinned, grabbed my hand and we continued running. “I think we should take shelter in the changing rooms.” I nodded again. It made sense, the rain was making the ground muddy and slippery which in turn made it really difficult to run. We trudged as quickly as possible over to the changing rooms and made our way inside. James disappeared into the showers and re-emerged with towels. He passed one to me and I dried my sopping wet hair.
“Damn I’m cold,” I shivered and pulled the wet cloak around me, attempting to gain some warmth.
“Do you not know a spell that can warm us up or dry us?” James asked. I thought about it and remembered one. I quickly dried my robes and James’ quidditch gear and leant against the wall, feeling a bit better. James took his glasses off, wiped them on his robes and then put them back on.
“Oh that’s better, I can see now,” James commented before making his way over to me.
“Hey James?” I asked suddenly. “What do you want to do after Hogwarts?” He looked slightly taken aback at the question.
“Auror,” he replied almost immediately. I smiled.
“I figured,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well I just always figured you’d do what your parents do,” I answered. James nodded thoughtfully.
“What are you going to be?” That stopped me in my tracks a little. I had never really considered what I wanted to be. I suppose I’d never had to. I’ve always just tried to get the best grades possible because then I wouldn’t be limited when it came to deciding. The end of my school days had always seemed so far and I figured that when the time came, I would know.
I shrugged. “Healer I guess.” I had always liked helping people and healing was very interesting.
“Really?” James seemed almost cynical.
“What’s wrong with healing?” I asked defensively.
James shrugged. “Nothing I suppose. I just always thought that you would do something like- like teaching,” he said, sounding enthusiastic.
“Teaching?” I quirked an eyebrow. James nodded.
“Yeah! You’d be a great teacher, you’re bossy and controlling and neurotic-” I smacked him on the arm. Rude. James held his hands up in defence.
“Hey let me finish! I was going to add, that you’re also patient, kind and incredibly nurturing,” he finished sweetly.
“I’m not sure about a teacher, I think you just described a mother,” I laughed. James grinned.
“When we have kids I expect you to stay at home like a good wife,” he joked.
“Yeah that’s never going to happen.”
“It could you know, if you gave me a chance.” And there goes the whole relaxed mood. Awkward tension is rapidly filling the air and I’m choking on my own tongue.
“Er- well I err-” I stuttered miserably. Suddenly the doors flew open with a bang and rain immediately began soaking the floor. I shrieked in surprise and tried to jump backwards but slipped in a puddle of muddy water. I wildly flailed for something to hold onto and grabbed the front of James’ quidditch jumper, pulling him down with me. We crashed to the floor in a tangle of limbs and I managed to somehow land on top of James. We lay panting for a moment.
“Sorry,” I mumbled nervously. Oh good lord this is so awkward. Without warning James’ lips crashed onto mine and I was so surprised that I stayed completely still for a second before coming to my senses. I pushed him off and got up numbly.
“James what were you doing?” I shrieked, backing towards the doors with my fingers on my lips. James got to his feet quickly and stumbled towards me.
“Shit Lily I’m so sorry, was that- was that the wrong thing to do?” he asked, raking a hand through his hair.
“You think?” I yelled, pacing up and down.
“Lily, I’m really sorry. I wasn’t thinking-”
“No you obviously weren’t James!”
“I got caught up in the moment-”
“What moment James? What moment? There was no moment!” I shouted, whirling around to face James. “There was never any moment!” James stopped in his tracks and his expression went blank.
“I get the message Lily,” he said in a hard tone before stalking out of the changing rooms and into the rain. I ran out after him and the minute I stepped outside I was completely soaked to the bone.
“James!” I screamed, turning around, trying to spot him through the wild sheets of rain. “James where are you?” My only reply was the thunder and lightning which chose that particular moment to crack across the sky.
“So how bad was the rain?” Sirius asked. We were all gathered around the fire in the common room, commandeering the sofa and armchairs whilst the rain lashed against the windows and lightening lit up the sky. I could feel James’ eyes burning holes in the side of my head as I answered.
“Bad,” I said with a sniff. My nose and eyes had been streaming since I had dragged myself up to my dorm and had the hottest shower ever about twenty minutes ago.
Sirius, Niki and Abi groaned.
“You’re going to make us practice at five am in the mud aren’t you James?” Nicola asked. James nodded slightly, his face set like a stone in an expressionless mask.
“Bastard…” Abi muttered.
“So erm, at the risk of sounding stupid because I bet even Lily knows this, how do you play quidditch?” Molly asked, looking sheepish.
“You mean you don’t know how to play?!” Sirius was shocked to say the least. I was too busy trying to stop myself from looking in James’ direction to really follow the conversation.
“Well no,” Jess replied.
“Surely you’ve come to practices before?”
“Well no,” Molly replied, looking slightly ashamed.
“How have you never been to one?” Sirius asked incredulously.
“There have always been rather conveniently timed gobstones meetings which we had to attend,” Molly answered.
“And as Co-Presidents of the National Competitive Gobstones Party, or the NCGP,” Jess and Molly shared a laugh. “It would look bad if we didn’t show up,” Jess finished.
“I didn’t know there was a Gobstones club?” I said in surprise, James momentarily forgotten. “Nor did I know you were presidents!”
“We’re very private people.”
“In fact,” Molly said. “We’re having a party on Halloween; you’re more than welcome to come.”
“Oh of course, although it’s black tie so bring your best dress! We have some very important people coming and as you know, appearances are everything.” Jess added, sending a cautionary look at Nicola. “Honey if you’re coming, you’re coming in a dress.”
“Oh shit!” Molly shouted, standing up in a hurry and cutting Nicola off who was undoubtedly about to refuse. “I forgot to owl the florist!”
“Molly!” Jess shrieked. “We have two days! How are they supposed to get the centrepieces done now?”
“We can do this; let’s get up to the owlery pronto!” Jess and Molly ran out of the portrait hole, shoving aside fifth years who were loitering by the entrance.
“So, how was your date?” Remus asked James and I. How do they manage to change the conversation so abruptly? It makes it much harder to keep track of where this is going and how to prevent it.
“There was no date,” I growled. “Nothing happened.” James gave me a dirty look and then stalked off to his dorm. I groaned and flopped backwards onto the couch. Bloody hell.
A/N: Hey guys! This is for that one special reviewer who requested a little more Jily action! Please leave a review and tell me how it is, or whether you think the story is missing something.
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