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Chapter 14 : New Year's
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As told by James Godric Potter
I’d love to say everything went smoothly from there. Me and Lily had our reunion kiss, made up, Courtney stopped being a bitch and everything went back to the way it was.
Nope. With my life, I’m surprised it’s not spiralled down to a stupid twisted blob of crap right now.
So let me just remind you what happened last night on Christmas Day.
Apparently, Lily couldn’t sleep so she got out of bed, saw the light was on in my room and decided that this was the best time to take a lesson in becoming a master-spy by eavesdropping on our conversation. Sirius suggested we go visit her in bed (and use that hand-in-cold-water trick to make her pee) and we opened the door and Lily was standing there all innocent-like as if she hadn’t been listening in. Then the two of us had this conversation and we ended up kissing.
I really did miss Lily. I actually kind of forgot what a good kisser she was. I tried saying sorry but we couldn’t have a conversation without infuriating each other and end up yelling. But now hopefully everything would go better.
You ever hear the saying, ‘When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade’? Yeah? Well, I’d like to tell Life where to stick those damn lemons. Up. Its. Arse.
After Lily and I broke apart after that kiss, she leant back against the wall and looked at me. She didn’t say anything. Just looked.
‘What?’ I said to her. ‘What are you looking at?’
‘I’m just remembering,’ she said.
‘Remembering what exactly?’ I asked, peering suspiciously at her.
‘Oh, just all the times you told me you loved me –’
‘Lily, don’t start –’
‘And then all the times I loved you back.’ She raised an eyebrow at me. ‘I love you.’
‘Do you really?’ I said. She nodded. ‘Positive?’ Again, she nodded. I circled my arms around her waist again. ‘Absolutely sure?’ I pressed my lips to her neck and I felt her nod once again.
‘Seriously, though,’ she said, lifting my chin with her fingers and looking into my eyes, ‘I don’t want either of us messing it up this time. This is for real, right?’
‘For real,’ I agreed, pulling her closer into a hug.
I wish I only knew how bloody damn complicated things were going to get right then.
After another ten minutes of standing in the hallway, kissing and hugging and whispering, Lily finally said goodnight and departed into her room. I waited until the door was shut before retreating into mine.
Sirius was still up, sitting on his bed and clearly wanting information. ‘Well?’ he demanded. ‘What happened?’
I shrugged, getting into bed ‘We kissed.’
‘And that’s it?’
‘Talked about what?’
‘Dunno. Just … stuff.’ I lay down and stared at the ceiling. ‘Stuff.’
‘And … what sort of stuff is this?’
‘Eh … couldn’t really say. Just stuff.’
Sirius was getting annoyed. He got into bed and said, ‘Goddammit you’re like one of those sensitive nerds who can’t talk about romance.’
‘And you’re like one of those hyperactive bitches who talk about nothing but romance. Go to sleep, Paddy,’ I sighed. Rolling over, I closed my eyes and thought about Lily. Hopefully everything would go OK from now on.
The next morning, I got up ten minutes before Lily was due to leave for Lisa’s. She was standing by the front door checking her trunk when I raced down the stairs (sliding on the banister) in my pyjamas and landed in front of her.
‘I wondered when you were going to get up,’ she said, prodding me gently in the stomach.
‘Meh, thought I’d lie in.’ I wrapped my arms around her and kissed the tip of her nose. ‘You send me an owl when you’re all settled, yes?’
‘Yes, sir,’ she said, rolling her eyes and giving a mock salute.
‘And we’re going to this dumb New Year’s party together, right?’
‘Whatever you say, General James,’ she said, smiling.
My mum came running out of the kitchen, holding something wrapped in tin foil. ‘Give this cake to Mr and Mrs Corner, OK, Lily?’
‘Sure, Mrs Potter,’ Lily said, taking the package and tucking it safely inside her trunk. She looked at her watch. ‘So … I’d better get going. I’ll see you on New Year’s Eve, then.’
She kissed me on the cheek, gave us both a wide smile and slipped out of the front door. I heard the pop sound and looked out of the window. She was gone.
‘So you and Lily have made up?’ Mum asked.
‘Yes, I’ve told you a million times before. Me and Lily are back together.’ I said.
‘Good. I’m rooting for you two, you know!’
‘Leaving now, honey!’ she trilled, then scurried off into the kitchen.
Honestly, my mother is the weirdest woman alive.
I sat down in an armchair. So far, everything was going fine. I felt happy.
That happiness shattered when Courtney walked in. ‘What’s this I hear? You and the precious little princess are back together?’
‘What’s it to you, bitch?’ I snapped. I wasn’t in the mood to be gentlemanly.
She laughed. ‘Oh, you know what it is to me. You’re mine, Potter. I don’t care what anyone else says. Your mother’s rooting for you and Lilykins is she? How wrong the sour old cow is.’
‘Hey, don’t call my mother a sour old cow!’ I said, growling at her. My mum might be weird, but nobody insults my momma!
‘Who’s a sour old cow?’ Sirius asked, coming down the stairs.
‘Nobody,’ Courtney said sweetly. ‘Nothing’s wrong.’ She kissed him on the cheek and when she wasn’t looking, Sirius made a ‘What’s wrong with her?’ face at me. I shrugged.
‘Lily’s gone then?’ Sirius asked, yawning.
‘Yeah, she left like, five minutes ago.’ I told him.
‘Damn. I wanted to say bye to her. Meh. Oh well.’ Sirius said, moving into the kitchen for breakfast. As soon as he was gone, Courtney narrowed her eyes.
‘Better watch out, Jamesie, ’cause I’m coming to get you.’
‘Ha!’ I snorted. ‘I’d like to see you try. I’m not the stupid idiot I used to be, OK? You can try to seduce me all you like, it ain’t gonna work.’ I folded my arms across my chest and tried to look smug.
Courtney smirked. ‘If you say so.’ She flashed a seductive smile at me before swinging her hair over her shoulder and stalking up the stairs.
I rolled my eyes and sank lower into the armchair. Girls were so confusing sometimes. I mean, when two guys like a girl, it’s like, ‘Meh’, but when two girls like a guy, it’s like World War Three.
Sirius came out of the kitchen holding a rack of toast. He offered it to me. I grabbed three pieces and stuffed one into my mouth, growling at the floor.
‘Depressed, are you?’ Sirius asked, sitting on the floor by the fireplace. He set the toast rack on his lap and picked one up.
‘Girls,’ I snapped, ‘need to be put into a mental home.’
‘Naw. Your girlfriend Courtney. Bitch.’ I said, glaring at my toast.
‘What’s she done? I thought you two were friends,’ Sirius commented. ‘Prongs, stop giving your toast the evils. It’s not done anything to you.’
I stopped giving my toast the evils.
‘I know she likes you,’ Sirius said casually, as if this wasn’t such a big deal. ‘Courtney, I mean. She fancies you more than she fancies me.’
‘Are you saying I’m hot?’
I raised an eyebrow. ‘No, I just mean she’s crazy because I’m with Lily now. She should just give it a rest for once.’
‘Well, to be fair, you have snogged her more than once while you were dating Lily. You’ve probably put some stupid hopes into her head.’ Sirius said, gobbling down a second piece of toast.
‘You’re meant to be on my side, you git,’ I said.
‘I am on nobody’s side. I am the voice of reason,’ Sirius said, grinning. I snorted and rolled my eyes again.
‘It’s your fault too, you know. If you hadn’t asked out Lily, none of this would have happened. And how comes you kissed her during the Halloween Ball if you don’t like her?’ I asked, nibbling at the crust on the toast. Merlin, I feel like a hormonal teenage girl.
Sirius shrugged. ‘I had to make Courtney think I wanted Lily back, didn’t I?’
I quickly checked the stairs to see if Courtney was listening in. ‘You mean you don’t want Lily back?’
‘Nah. She messes about too much.’ I narrowed my eyes. ‘And anyway, you’ve got Lily. I’ve always been root–’
‘Please, don’t finish that sentence.’
‘Because you sound like my mother!’
He shut up. ‘So like I was saying, I’m a –’ He looked around. ‘– double agent.’
‘Meaning Courtney thinks I want Lily back, but I’m secretly working hard to keep you and Lily together. And meh, who knows, maybe get Courtney in the process.’ Sirius said, finishing off his second piece of toast and starting on a third.
‘Oh my God, stop eating so much.’ I snapped suddenly. ‘Honestly, are you trying to get fat?’
He didn’t reply. ‘You know, you’re sounding more and more like a teenage girl. Is this what dating has done to you?’ He shuddered and continued munching on his toast.
I rolled my eyes yet again and got up. ‘Here, have my toast if you want. I’m going to the park.’
I threw the toast at him and stormed up the stairs. There was an owl waiting for me, hovering outside my bedroom window. I undid the latch and pushed it up, letting the barn owl flutter inside and land on the windowsill. It stuck one of its legs out, revealing a small envelope tied to it. I managed to undo the knot and unfolded the letter.
I got to Lisa’s house fine. Michael and Joyce liked the chocolate spice cake your mother made for them. I’m all settled in now and her cousins are driving me mad already. Are you missing me? It’s kind of sad that we only made up last night and I’m not going to see you until New Year’s. But anyway, this was just to tell you I got here alright. Missing you already!
Lots of love,
I looked through my drawers for a piece of parchment and a quill. Leaning on the windowsill next to the owl, which was starting to look impatient, I scribbled,
Glad to hear you’re all settled in. I can’t wait for the party, Mum and Dad are keeping quiet but Dad told me it would be ‘radical’. (I told him never to say the word ‘radical’ ever again because he sounded like one of those Muggle rockers from the 50’s). Yeah, sure, I miss you too.
Love James x
I tied the letter to the owl, who glared at me before leaping out of the window. I slid it shut and turned to my wardrobe. It was quite empty (I might act like a girl lately, but I don’t go shopping like one), so I just put on some jeans and a top. I zipped up the jacket, put on some socks and shoes and jumped down the stairs two at a time.
Sirius was still sat on the floor chomping down toast. There were only two pieces left on the rack. ‘Bye!’ he called as I opened the door. I pulled a face at him, then walked outside and shut the door.
The cold winter air hit me as soon as I stepped outside. I hunched over, wishing I’d put on a coat, or at least some gloves, and walked quickly towards the park. There weren’t many people there.
I sat on a bench, huddled against the wind.
‘You’re the mean boy who hurted Lily!’ said an angry voice. I looked up. It was the little boy who was friends with Lily … what was his name again?
‘Matthew,’ I said.
‘Where’s Lily?’ he demanded.
‘Lily went to stay with some other friends,’ I told him. ‘But she’ll be back on New Year’s Eve, I think.’
‘Who are you?’
‘I’m Lily’s boyfriend. My name’s James.’
‘Why did you hurt Lily?’
‘Because I was being stupid then. But I’m not anymore. You want to be friends?’ I asked. He looked at me suspiciously.
‘OK then!’ he said brightly. He hopped up onto the bench next to me.
‘So how come you like Lily so much then, Matthew?’
‘Well … she’s pretty …’ Yep, I like this kid. ‘Are you really her boyfriend?’ I nodded. ‘You are very lucky.’
Damn right! ‘Yeah … I guess …’
‘Oh, my mummy’s calling me. Well, bye, James!’ He gave me a hug, slid off the bench. I think he likes hugs.
Matthew’s mother looked at me, frowning, but Matthew said something to her and she smiled at me.
I looked at the other side of the park, where I buried Lily’s Christmas present. I don’t exactly know I did it. I guess it was because I thought she didn’t love me anymore. My relationship with Lily was so odd.
After a little while, when I was finally sick of the cold, I got up and left the park.
I bumped into someone on the way home. My parents kept a stash of Muggle money in the house if I ever felt like getting something from the little convenience store on the corner. I was on my way to ask them for some so I could get that Muggle fizzy drink called ‘Coke’, which was really nice. It made my brain fuzz up and my nose went all odd when I drank it. In other words, I thought it was awesome.
‘Sorry, I –’ I stopped when I saw who it was.
Courtney, wrapped in a coat and scarf but still managing to look pretty (ish), was smirking at me.
‘So, what, are you stalking me now?’ I demanded. She shrugged. ‘You’re so … ugh!’
Bloody hell, I really do sound like a girl.
She didn’t say anything, just smirked.
‘Stop smirking,’ I snapped, ‘it’s really annoying.’ She stopped smirking, flashed a smile at me and walked past. I rolled my eyes at her back, then started walking back home. Suddenly I felt fingers on my shoulders and hot breath on my neck. I grabbed my wand (who cares if I’m not seventeen yet?) and whipped round, expecting to see Courtney there, but she was still walking away. She looked back at me and waggled her fingers, smiling, before turning into the park.
Stupid bitch, messing with my head like that.
The next day, December 27th, Sirius and I were planning to test out the new Flobberworm racetrack he’d got me for Christmas. Because his parents would have gotten Kreacher to smush the Flobberworms, I kept them in a big container under my bed.
I’d painted mine with a red streak and Sirius’s with a gold one so we could tell them apart. I also called mine Benji, which it seemed to respond to. We were in the back garden with the racetrack set out on the patio and Benji and Glorax (Sirius calls his Flobberworm Glorax – don’t ask why) all ready for racing when I heard whistling. I turned round. Courtney was standing by the back door, holding a piece of parchment.
‘Ja-ames,’ she sang, ‘look what I’ve got!’
‘What’s that?’ I asked, feeling impatient. Benji started wriggling and excreting more mucus than normal and Glorax was trying to eat himself.
‘It’s a letter from your lovely Lily,’ she told me.
I didn’t believe her for a second. I looked at Sirius, who was frowning at Courtney as if he was trying to work out whether she was telling the truth or not.
‘Give it here then,’ I sighed, holding out the hand which wasn’t drenched in Flobberworm mucus. Courtney laughed, then twirled around and shot into the house. For Merlin’s sake, the girl was deranged.
‘It probably wasn’t a letter from Lily, anyway.’ I said, shrugging. ‘Come on, let’s get on with this race. Eurgh, Benji’s convulsing.’ I put Benji behind the starting line and Glorax started making squelching noises when Sirius put him on the track. ‘OK … ready?’ I put my finger on the button that lifted the barrier. Sirius nodded, rubbing his hands together.
‘Three … two … one … Lettuce!’ I yelled, pushing down the button. Normally they’d have sat there squelching, but sometimes we put lettuce or cabbage at the end of the track to see what happened. Today, Glorax started inching his way over to the lettuce and Benji flopped over and rolled to the finish line.
Sirius was roaring with laughter while I was gently prodding Benji forwards. It took a while, in which Sirius and I had several laughing fits and I got three stomach cramps from it all, but in the end, Glorax won by an inch.
‘Ha! In your face, Potter!’ he yelled, punching the air. ‘You go, Glorax!’ He seized his Flobberworm and kissed it. ‘Ah!’ he screamed, spitting out the Flobberworm mucus and wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
I used my wand to Summon some more lettuce from the kitchen and put it in their box. ‘Extra lettuce for you, Glorax,’ I said, taking him and putting him in the box. ‘And some extra lettuce for Benji, too,’ I said, and Benji went in with him. I put the lid on the box (which had air holes punched in – I’m not an inhumane Flobberworm abuser) and picked it up. Sirius gathered up the racetrack and we headed back inside.
‘Wash your hands, boys!’ Mum called from the kitchen. ‘I don’t want mucus-y fingerprints all over my house!’
‘Yes, Mum!’ I said. Like we were going to spend the rest of the day with Flobberworm mucus all over our hands. We went up to my room and I stowed the box under my bed, saying goodbye to Benji and Glorax.
Sirius used his wand to make water pour from his wand and the carpet in my bedroom ended up soaking. Meh.
I wiped a little mucus off the floor with a tissue and threw it in the bin by my desk. There was a piece of parchment in there, but I thought it might be some trash because I usually start homework and then chuck it.
‘Lunchtime!’ I heard Mum called.
‘WOO!’ Sirius screamed, punching the air. ‘Man, I’m starving!’
‘You go ahead, I think Benji needs some more lettuce. He’s thinning down a little.’ Sirius laughed, then turned around and ran out. I could hear him jumping down the stairs.
The door opened slowly and I turned, expecting to see Courtney. But I didn’t.
‘Lily? What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at Lisa’s aunt and uncle’s place.’ I said, standing up. She didn’t say anything. ‘Lily?’
Lily started walking towards me and suddenly her lips were on mine. Something about me felt reluctant like ‘This is wrong, how can she be here?’ But her hands started running through my hair and I started kissing her back. This was Lily, for Merlin’s sake. Why wouldn’t I kiss her?
I could hear Benji and Glorax squelching, obviously wanting more lettuce, but Lily deepened the kiss and –
‘JAMES!’ Sirius yelled as the door burst open.
Lily and I jumped apart … only – wait a second. Lily’s red hair was slowly turning blonde and her eyes turned blue. Courtney swore, shooting Sirius the finger before storming out of the room.
‘What the fu– what the hell was that all about?’ Sirius roared.
‘I don’t know!’ I shot back. ‘One minute she was Lily and then she was Courtney – I’m so confused!’
‘Ha! You’re confused? Do you understand what you’ve done to me? You only made up with Lily last night and now you’re snogging your ex, who just so happens to have it in for your girlfriend?’
‘Like I said – she looked like Lily and – no. She wouldn’t. The stupid bitch actually charmed herself to look like Lily?’ I curled my hands into fists. ‘I’m going to kill her.’
‘Before you kill her, you idiot, we need to worry about what Lily will do.’
‘We just won’t tell Lily. She doesn’t have to know.’ I shrugged.
‘If I hadn’t come in, and you still thought she was Lily, what would you have done then? Kissed her more? Slept with her?’
‘I’m serious!’ he cried.
I sniggered. ‘I know you are.’
‘Shut up! There’s no way in hell Courtney will keep quiet about this. She’ll probably say something during that stupid party and you and Lily will get upset with each other again and, for Merlin’s sake, it’s actually time for you both to stop being so childish and start growing up!’ I stared at him. Since when has Sirius gone all touchy-feely?
I rolled my eyes. ‘Look, Lily and I agreed not to lie to each other. So I’ll just tell her what happened – that Courtney charmed herself to look like Lily and tricked me.’
‘You really think she’ll believe you? After all those times she caught you kissing Courtney? You think she’ll believe you now?’ Sirius demanded.
‘She has to! Why would I lie to her now? Especially since she knows I love her.’ I said. God, I sounded desperate. Sirius growled at me.
‘For God’s sake, you really haven’t learnt, have you? Girls like Lily – especially girls like Lily – get jealous at little things. If their boyfriends look at another girl they’ll start a war – and Merlin knows what Lily will do when she finds out you kissed Courtney again.’
‘Lily won’t care if you were tricked or not. She’ll only care that your ex kissed you and, by the looks of things, you were kissing her back.’
‘She’s got no proof –’
‘All she needs are words, you twat. She’ll believe anything if it sounds genuine.’ Sirius sighed. ‘Girls are stupid like that.’
Pfft. Tell me about it.
So now I know what Lily felt like when I messed around with her.
For the rest of the day, all I got from Courtney were flirty waves and seductive smiles. God, what a bitch. Twice she nearly kissed me again – once out in the garden and the other time when I was lying on my bed, trying to write a letter to Lily. You can imagine how that last one went down.
I was actually dreading this stupid New Year’s Party. Why the hell did my parents decide to hold one this year?
Sirius and I were just going to wear the tuxedos from the Halloween ball. There was no point going to look for a new one when these were only worn a couple of months ago.
Lily arrived a few hours early. She came wearing jeans and a T-shirt but she was holding the bag containing the dress Mum and Dad got for her. She Apparated into our front garden and rang the doorbell.
Sirius and I were having a competition in the lounge to see who could eat as many Chocolate Frogs as they could in a minute when she came. I didn’t get up fast enough and Courtney opened the door. She pulled a face and said,
‘Jamesie-poo, your girlfriend is here.’
I scowled at her through a mouthful of Chocolate Frogs and vaulted over the sofa. Courtney went ‘Ugh’ one last time and left.
There was Lily – the real Lily this time – with her red hair streaming down her back and over her shoulders. Her green eyes sparkled and she grinned as she walked into the house. It had only been five days since I’d seen her last, but I’d really missed her. She saw the glob of chocolate in my mouth and said,
‘Ew.’ I swallowed the chocolate, wiped my mouth with my sleeve and pulled her into a hug. ‘Yeah, yeah, I missed you too,’ she said, but she hugged me back. I led her into the lounge where Sirius was busy cramming the last few Frogs into his mouth.
‘Awl righ’ ’Ily?’
‘I really missed your table manners, Black,’ she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
He snorted and shoved another Frog into his mouth. Courtney was watching him, but she looked up to give Lily an evil glare.
‘Er … let’s go up to my room, shall we?’ I suggested. ‘Mum, Lily’s here!’ I yelled into the kitchen, before pulling Lily up the stairs.
She laughed as she shut the door behind her when we came into my room. ‘How come you didn’t reply to my letter?’ she asked, sitting on my bed.
‘What letter? The only letter I got from you was the one you sent once you got to Lisa’s,’ I said, frowning, ‘and I replied to that one.’
‘Hmm … maybe the letter got lost. My owl’s dropped letters more than once while she’s been delivering.’ Lily furrowed her brow and tapped her bottom lip with one of her fingers. Merlin, she looked cute. Then her eyes fell on my bin. ‘What’s that?’ she asked.
I reached over to take the crumpled parchment out of the bin and smoothed it out.
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Lily’s letter. Courtney must have chucked it in here.
Damn! So it really had been a letter from Lily when Sirius and I were Flobberworm racing!
‘Oh, this is just some rubbish. I need to recycle this.’ I said quickly, crumpling it up again.
‘Ooh, let me see!’ Lily said. I was expecting her to jump for it, so I threw it back into the bin. ‘Aw, come on, Jamesie-poo,’ she said, sounding eerily like Courtney. So much like her, in fact, that I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.
‘Stop it!’ I growled in her face. ‘Stop trying to trick me!’
She whimpered. ‘W-what?’ She sounded scared. ‘James, what are you do–’
‘Shut up! I’m not going to fall for you, not this time!’
‘James, stop it! You’re scaring me!’ Her green eyes were wide and she was definitely frightened. But was it really her? I was so confused that it could be Courtney in disguise again. But … it couldn’t be her. She was just downstairs.
I let go of Lily and sank back down onto the bed. ‘James?’ she asked. She sat next to me. ‘Are you OK?’
‘I’m fine. I’m sorry, I –’
‘It’s alright. Tell me what happened.’ I stared at her.
‘Nothing happened,’ I said hastily, shaking my head.
‘I really believe that,’ Lily said, snorting. ‘Tell me. I won’t mind. Unless you tell me you ended up snogging Courtney again.’ She laughed a little.
‘Um …’ I bit my lip and Lily narrowed her eyes. ‘I thought she was you.’
‘What do you mean by that?’ Her voice wasn’t as warm as it was a second ago.
‘Well, she charmed herself to look like you.’
‘And when did you realise it wasn’t me?’
‘Sirius came in and she turned back to normal.’ I shrugged. ‘The point is, I wouldn’t have kissed her if I knew it was her.’
‘But it didn’t occur to you that I wouldn’t be coming until today?’
‘I did wonder. I was about to say something but then she kissed me.’ I said. ‘Honestly, if I knew it was her, I’d never have respond– I mean, never kissed her. And anyway, she kisses differently to you.’ I added. Lily smiled.
I titled my head, smirking. ‘I don’t exactly remember …’
Lily wiggled her eyebrows, which made me laugh. I’d never seen her do anything remotely like that before. ‘Would you like me to remind you?’
Before I could reply, Lily grabbed my shoulders and kissed me. I’d actually forgotten what her lips felt like. I should have realised when Courtney kissed me that it felt different.
She lifted her hands to rest just under my chin. Mine touched her face. I don’t know why my hands always went to her face. She has nice skin.
I moved my thumb across her cheek and Lily grabbed the collar of my shirt, pulling me closer. While one of my hands stroked her cheek, the other wound a finger around her long red hair. She has nice hair, too. And nice legs. And arms. I like her arms.
‘JAMES!’ It was Mum. ‘REMUS AND PETER ARE HERE!’
I groaned. ‘God dammit, they’re early.’ I rested my forehead against Lily’s. ‘I expect Lisa and Mary and Ella will be here soon, too.’
‘LILY! COURTNEY! LISA, MARY AND ELLA ARE HERE!’
‘Are you psychic?’ Lily giggled.
‘Probably,’ I said, grinning. Lily kissed the tip of my nose and got up.
‘Come on,’ she said, holding out her hand. I took it, and we went downstairs. Sirius had stopped gorging on Frogs and was sat on the sofa with Remus and Peter. Courtney was lingering around with Mary. Lisa and Ella were just coming through the door. Lily let go of my hand and jumped on Ella.
‘Hello!’ Ella said, sounding surprised. ‘It’s nice to know I was missed.’
Lily looked at her watch. ‘Um … we’ve got three hours until the party. We should go get ready …’
Lisa rolled her eyes. ‘Yes, ma’am.’
The three of them rushed up the stairs, closely followed by Courtney and Mary, who it seemed, had still not opened her eyes to the bitchy aura Courtney emanated.
‘Girls,’ Sirius said, ‘why do they need so much time preparing? All we need to do is chuck on those stupid tuxedos and we’re done.’
I sat on an armchair. ‘So, how’s your Christmas been, you two?’
Remus sighed and shut his eyes. Clearly it was so traumatic he didn’t want to even talk about it.
Peter made this weird squeaking sound and said, ‘I saw Lucille again,’
Sirius laughed. Lucille was this Muggle girl who lived in Peter’s village who he’d been crushing on since she moved there when they were four. Unfortunately, she didn’t really like him very much when he accidentally ripped the head off of one of her dolls when he tried to show her how strong he was.
I heard a lot of loud footsteps, screaming and thuds from upstairs. Judging from the position on the ceiling, I guessed Lily, Ella or Lisa were having an argument over their dresses or something.
I showed Remus and Peter my new Flobberworm race track and told them about Benji and Glorax’s race.
There were a lot of noises from upstairs, and it made me wonder what they were doing. I put a finger to my lips and snuck up the stairs. Courtney and Mary were in the bedroom Courtney and Lily had shared and the other three were in the other spare bedroom next to Mum and Dad’s.
I quietly turned the doorknob of the spare bedroom and opened the door a little. There was a loud scream, a flurry of red hair and the door slammed shut and I was thrown onto the floor.
Sirius, Remus and Peter appeared behind me. ‘Let me guess,’ Remus said, ‘you tried to open the door but they slammed it shut and you fell over?’
I shrugged. ‘I guess we’re not allowed to see them until the party starts.’
Ugh. I wish my parents had never held this stupid party. But, to be honest, Lily looked stunning, so I’m not complaining about that.
The party started at seven. My parents made Sirius, Peter, Remus and I stay in my room so they could do up the house and when the four of us came down, I must say, I wasn’t expecting it.
They must have magically extended the house because it was a lot bigger than I remembered. The furniture was all gone, apart from a few tables and chairs and a little lounge by the stairs. There was a bar against one wall with Firewhisky and Butterbeer and a load of Muggle alcohol, like champagne and whiskey.
There was a huge white marquee out in the garden and numbers floating over it:
‘Countdown to New Year’s?’ I guessed. Mum nodded as she rushed about putting food platters down on the tables.
Peter nudged me. ‘Here they come.’
I turned to the stairs. Lily, Ella and Lisa were walking down the stairs, wobbling on their heels, but looking … wow.
Ella was wearing a shiny pink dress with thick straps (she didn’t usually wear pink, but she did look very nice) and her blonde hair was straight and tied in a side ponytail. She pinched my arm and told me to stop staring.
Lisa looked nothing like her usual bookworm-y self. Her dress was dark green and her hair was straight like Ella’s and fell loose over her shoulders. She kept pulling at the hem of her dress, which came to just above her knees.
Lily … wow. The dress my parents gave her complimented her hair, which was in waves down her back. The dress didn’t quite reach the floor and I could see the tips of her shoes poking out when she stepped.
‘You look nice,’ I said, taking her hand.
‘Just nice?’ She raised an eyebrow.
‘Well … maybe a little more than nice.’ I pulled on my tie and kissed her cheek.
The doorbell rang and Sirius went to get it. ‘Lisa, Ella, your dates are here.’
Gerry Fowey and Lucas McDowell, who were Lisa and Ella’s partners for the Halloween Ball, walked inside. Ella smiled shyly at Gerry as he hugged her. Lucas kissed Lisa’s cheek and looked round.
‘Your parents have done a great job, James,’ he said to me.
‘I didn’t even know what they were going to do,’ I replied. ‘They locked us in my room until they were done.’
Everyone else started arriving soon after. A load of my parents’ friends came swarming through the door at once. Mum’s best friend, Jean (or something), came barging in and gave me a big lipsticky kiss on my face.
Lily laughed at me, so I hit her lightly with an empty platter as I wiped the lipstick off my face. Music was playing from somewhere around the room and Lily gasped.
‘What is it?’
She gestured towards the door, where four people were standing. Two of them were older and they looked amazed, but the other two looked like they’d rather not be here. Lily grabbed my hand and pulled me over to them.
‘Mum!’ she squealed, ‘Dad!’
‘Hello, Lily, dear,’ said Mrs Evans, pulling her daughter into a tight hug.
‘Tuney!’ Lily said after she’d hugged her dad. Petunia glared at her, pouting and clutched onto the arm of her boyfriend. ‘Hello, Vernon,’ Lily said, smiling. Vernon, who was really fat and red, grunted.
‘This must be James,’ Mr Evans said, nodding towards me.
‘Yes, sir,’ I said, shaking his hand.
‘You’re Lily’s boyfriend?’
‘Yes, sir. I’m very lucky to be.’ Mr Evans looked me up and down. Then he smiled.
‘Well, welcome to the family, James!’ He patted me on the back so hard I got winded.
Lily’s sister Petunia sniffed at me, so I sniffed back at her. She glared at me, then sniffed harder. I sniffed again. Suddenly we were in a full-on sniffing war. I think I burst a couple of blood vessels in my brain because I sniffed so hard. After a while, I grabbed a tissue off the bar and handed it to ‘Tuney’ and said,
‘Here, would you like a tissue?’
Sniff. She snatched the tissue and stormed off with her boyfriend.
Lily grinned. ‘How did you get Petunia and Vernon to come?’
Mrs Evans shrugged, looking rather pleased with herself. ‘I told her that if she came she’d be able to move in with Vernon a year earlier.’
Lily laughed. ‘Well, it was really good to see you! I’ll be home this summer, I promise.’ She hugged her parents one last time before they went off to look at the magical decorations.
‘Petunia and Vernon are apparently engaged.’ Lily said. ‘He doesn’t know about … magic and stuff.’
‘Even with all the décor?’ I asked, surprised. Lily nodded, looking amused. ‘Well, he’s either not very observant or just plain dumb.’
Lily giggled. ‘I think he’s both. He’s very stuck-up and posh.’
‘Ugh, I hate him already.’ Lily laughed. Her eyes quickly flickered over my shoulder and her expression darkened for a second, but then she hitched a grin back onto her face and met my eyes again. ‘What is it?’ I asked, peering behind me. ‘Oh.’
Courtney was glaring at Lily and winking at me, making inappropriate gestures with her fingers.
‘Just ignore it, Lily.’ I said, shaking my head. Courtney moved so she was in my line of vision. She made the rude gesture again. Damn it. ‘Um … let’s go outside. My parents have put a marquee up.’
‘OK.’ Lily said, glowering back at Courtney. She let me take her hand and drag her outside. The dark garden was lit up with small lights in the trees and draped around bushes. Lamps brightened up the inside of the huge marquee, which was filled with people.
The garden was huge, and I’d always loved it. When I was little, I used to ride around on the toy broomstick my parents got me and pretend I was a world-famous Quidditch player. There was a lake on the far side and even from here I could see the water glistening.
‘Come on,’ I said.
Lily gasped when she saw the lake. ‘I never knew this was here!’
‘Not many people do. Look how far it is from the house. But I come down here when I need some quiet.’ I told her, sitting on the bank. She cautiously sat next to me, testing how damp the grass was. I laughed. ‘We can always dry it later if it gets wet.’
Lily smiled. ‘James, I – do you think now would be a good time to talk?’
‘I think now would be a great time to talk.’
‘Good. Well … Sirius told me about Courtney’s plan to get you back.’
‘Y’know. To seduce you and stuff.’
‘Oh. I wanted to talk to you about that.’ Without waiting for a reply, I went on. ‘You know the first time you caught me kissing her, after you went to the library.’ Lily raised an eyebrow, but she didn’t say anything, so I continued. ‘You were gone for quite a long time, so I decided to come and look for you. I took that shortcut and Courtney was there. I don’t know if she knew I’d go that way, or if it was a coincidence or what, but I was about to walk right past her when she grabbed me.’ I frowned, trying to remember. ‘She pinned me up against the wall and I think she … I don’t know, maybe she put a charm on me because it was all fuzzy right up until you burst in. You know I’d never kiss her willingly, Lily.’
She considered me for a moment, tucking her hair behind her ear and giving me that judging stare of hers. Then she smiled and I breathed a sigh of relief. ‘It’s OK, James. I should have known … but I guessed you might still like her.’
‘I never liked her,’ I said, smiling. ‘And I never will, OK?’
‘OK.’ She leant forwards to kiss me. Her skin felt even smoother than it did before and I found myself stroking her cheek with my thumb. One of her hands trailed in the water and when she lifted it and ran it through my hair, it ended up sticking up straight. Lily broke off the kiss and laughed, trying to pat down my hair with more water, which only made it worse.
‘Does this happen when you have a shower or something?’ she snorted.
‘Would you like to find out?’
She shot me a look before pulling her wand out of her purse and muttering a spell. I felt my hair, which was now perfectly dry.
‘Maybe later,’ she said, standing up and checking the back of her dress.
‘Is that a promise?’ I asked, scrambling after her as she started to make her way back up to the marquee.
‘Possibly.’ She turned and winked at me, walking a little faster.
‘Lily, are you –’ I started, but I heard screaming from the marquee. We stared at each other, then Lily hitched her dress up to her knees and ran for it, stumbling on her heels. I grabbed her hand and pulled her along.
‘What’s happening? What is it?’ I demanded, pushing through the crowd that had gathered.
‘Look!’ someone squealed. ‘Look, it’s The Hairy Elf!’
Lily rolled her eyes. ‘It’s no big deal. We had them at our Halloween Ball?’
‘You’ve seen them live before?’ said the woman who’d screamed. ‘Wow. I really like the lead singer – he’s sooo hot!’
Lily scoffed, shaking her head.
‘Lily,’ someone said quietly. We both turned round.
‘What do you want?’ Lily snapped at Courtney, whose eyes went big and round. She was wearing a low-cut, blood red dress. I noticed a few guy’s eyes kept trying to look down her dress. Weirdoes.
‘I wanted to say sorry.’ Courtney muttered. Lily raised an eyebrow. ‘Look, I realise I’ve been treating you really badly for the past few months, and I remembered what it was like when we were friends. I really miss that. And – and I just want things to go back to normal.’
‘Normal …’ Lily said, and I knew she really wanted that. ‘Normal like, the five of us, me, you, Lisa, Mary and Ella, we can go back the way things were?’ Courtney nodded. ‘And me and James will still be together and so can you and Sirius?’
‘Well … boys are what started all of this. So “normal” would mean before James and Sirius.’
‘You’re saying I’m the problem here?’ I said, getting angry. She ignored me, staring at Lily.
‘No,’ Lily said finally. ‘Me and James have finally worked … something out and I know for a fact that there is no way in hell that you’ll be able to stay away from boys. You’ve always been like that since first year. Frankly, I don’t think I want a friend like that.’
‘This is it then? No more Courtney and Lily?’ Courtney asked.
‘I don’t want us to still be arguing,’ Lily said sadly. ‘I want us to be friends. No more fighting? Please?’
Courtney shot me a look, then fixed on Lily and sighed. ‘OK. Friends?’
Courtney pulled Lily into a hug, glared at me, then turned and charged through the crowd.
‘I wouldn’t trust her if I were you,’ I warned. Lily looked at me and some sort of sadness filled her eyes.
‘James, she’s been one of my best friends since first year. I’ve hated being enemies with her.’ she told me, sniffling. It wasn’t the sort of ‘I am better than you’ sniff Petunia did. This one was so much more different. I wrapped my arms around her and let her stay there until she was OK to come out.
I heard my mother’s voice, magically amplified, booming around the house:
‘Can everybody please congregate inside the marquee for the ten-second countdown to New Year?’
There was a lot of clamouring, shouting and punching, but finally everyone was crammed inside the marquee and waiting for the magic clock to tick down to zero.
Lily dragged me to the edge of the crowd where there was more breathable air. ‘God, it’s so stuffy. Two hundred sweaty people standing in a cramped space is not good for your health.’
‘Pfft, tell me about it. Oh –’
The clock went down to seven seconds. Six seconds.
The crowd started chanting the numbers. ‘FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO–!’
Suddenly, something in the air shifted. I don’t know what it was. Maybe the breeze just got colder. Maybe it was just me. But whatever it was, I could feel it.
I rugby tackled Lily out of the way and we hit the ground as the clock hit zero and the marquee exploded.
AN: Hello! It’s been a while since I updated, and this chapter’s quite long, so thanks for reading this to the end! So … New Year’s Party … James’s POV … MASSIVE HUGE MEGA EXPLOSION … what did you think? The next few chapters will be in different POVs, so I hope you like them all. Let me know in a review and hopefully the next chapter will be up soon-ish :)
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