Chapter 14 : A Magical Day, A Celebration and A New Years Eve Party
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We lay under the covers after, and I was happy. The sound of the midnight bell started ringing throughout the house and I knew at some point I would have to leave his room.
Dom must be wondering where I had wandered off to. Or, given that James and I had disappeared at the same time she probably assumed I was with him. It was slightly annoying to realize she had been right about James.
We hadn’t spoken for a while, and I had no idea what he was thinking. Was I just another girl, just another night? Did this mean something? Was this the beginning of James and Charlotte the couple? Or just the most amazing of nights between friends?
I couldn’t care right now though. I was riding high, I’d never been this happy before. James suddenly tensed and pulled me closer towards him, if that was even possible. I picked my head up off his chest and looked up.
“James? What’s wrong?” Panic seized me and I wondered if he was regretting this.
“You’re leaving for a week.” He traced his finger down my nose, to my lips. “I don’t want you to leave.” The panic released its hold on me, and I smiled.
“Does that mean you’ll actually miss me, or miss this?” He got a very serious look on his face and I realized that now may not be the best time to joke.
“I will miss you, and I will spend the rest of the week waiting for your return.”
“We don’t have to talk about it now.”
“That’s not what I was going to ask, but ok.”
“I mean, we do need to talk about… this… at some point, but I mostly wanted to know if I could take a shower.”
“Of course you can. Want company?” He grinned at me, and I laughed. I turned away from him and sat up in the bed, giving James a very good view of my naked back. His fingers started tracing patters on my lower back and I got goosebumps. His shirt lay on the floor, and I picked it up, sliding my arms through before standing up and facing him.
He lay back in the bed, head propped up on the pillows. The sheet was draped lazily around his lower half and he was looking at me with dark eyes. I smiled at him, before getting nervous and dipping my head. I heard, rather than saw him lean forward. He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me onto his lap.
“Are you wanting something James?” He pulled my face to his and kissed me with excruciating tenderness. It’s official, I was now a puddle. His eyes searched mine as he pulled back.
“I should never have waited this long to do that.”
“So I guess she was right.”
“Who was right? Why are you talking about another girl?” He sounded confused and slightly scared. It was cute.
“Dom, Dom was right.”
“Um… why are you talking about my cousin?”
“Ever since the beginning of term, starting right before Asher asked me out, she got it in her head that you liked me. I told her she was crazy. I guess she was right.”
“My family is annoyingly accurate about some things.” He kissed me again.
“You do seem to like kissing me.” He growled and flipped me onto my back. My hair fanned out onto the pillow and his shirt fell open, as I hadn’t bothered to button it yet.
“I really, really do.” So he did it again, and again, and again. I was pretty sure that coherent sentences weren’t going to be happening for a while after.
“Right. Can I join you?”
“You still have energy to move?”
“I’ve never felt better.” He grinned down at me and if there was any part left of me to melt, I would have melted.
“Good, then you can carry me, because I can’t. Move that is. I’m a puddle.” I smiled up at him and my heart melted (again) as he smiled back. He reached over me to grab his shorts and then walked over to the door, poking his head out first.
After realizing it was all clear, he walked back over to me and held his hands out. I grabbed them and he pulled me forward and then lifted me up over his shoulder.
“James! Carry me another way!” I shrieked at him, but couldn’t do it properly because I was laughing.
“Nope.” He walked back over to the door and double checked to make sure the coast was still clear, then sprinted the both of us over to the shower. He kept me up on his shoulder as he reached into the shower to turn the water on, only putting me down long enough to shove his shirt off my body. The hot water created a wall of steam around us and it was easily the least normal shower I had ever had.
James and I walked out of the bathroom together, hand in hand. He had a towel wrapped around his waist and I had put his shirt back on, draping a towel over my shoulders to help dry my hair with later. Right before we got to his room another door opened down the hallway and we both froze.
“Oh Thank God! Finally!” It was Dom, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. At least it wasn’t his parents, that would have been mortifying. I caught my best friends eye and she grinned. “Get back to whatever you were doing. Cheerio!” Dom walked past us into the bathroom, laughing happily to herself. James looked down at me and pulled me into his room.
“Happy Christmas Charlotte.” He bent his head and placed a light kiss on my lips. I wrapped my arms around his waist and placed my ear over his heart, listening to the steady beat.
“Best Christmas Ever.”
“I’m going to get dressed, and then I’ll finally give you your present, ok?”
“I’ll sneak into my room and grab some clothes too.” He turned around, looking like he was going to protest, but I skipped out of the room before he could do anything. I walked the few steps to the guest room and shut the door behind me.
I leaned up against it, closed my eyes and smiled, a smile so wide I thought my face would crack. James would be waiting on me though, so I walked over to my suitcase and rummaged around for something cute. Dom strutted in a minute later, and upon seeing me in the room, she shrieked and jumped on my back. Which meant I fell to the floor, a loud breath of air escaping from my lungs.
“You and Jamesy! OH I’m so EXCITED!” Dom still hadn’t let me up, and was just sitting on my back clapping her hands.
“Yes. We’ve sealed the deal. Now, can you please GET OFF ME!” A laugh vibrated through my entire body, and I rolled onto my back after Dom got off me. She looked down at me, grinning.
“Sealed the deal? As in… wait! Did you sleep with him?!? Ew… no wait, I don’t want to know that. Wait, yes I do. Just, no details, cause seriously… ew.”
“You did see us coming out of the shower together… what did you think we were both doing in there?”
“You could have been taking separate showers!”
“We didn’t, ok.”
“More than once?!?”
“Yes?” I scrunched up my face and found that I couldn’t stop laughing. Somehow this was all too much.
“Geez Charlotte, I knew you had it in you!”
“I’ve had sex before you know!”
“Still… you go from being in love with him since the summer to going all the way in one night.”
“It’s not like I planned it.”
“What happened, like exactly, you have to tell me!”
“James is kind of waiting for me to come back dressed. I mean, I know I’m a girl but…”
“James can wait 10 minutes while you explain your evening to me. Last I heard, you were mad at him because he’s been a total wanker to you this whole holiday. But then over dinner he couldn’t stop staring at you… I mean, it’s been quite obvious that he’s head over heels for you and oh my god he must be so relieved to finally be able to snog you. Wait… I’m rambling. Tell me. Now.” She pulled me up onto the bed, cupped her chin in her hand and just stared at me, blue eyes glittering. The sun was just coming up.
“Can I get dressed first?” I pulled my favorite pair of skinny jeans out and then rooted around for a nice shirt to wear. I was about to pull out a white button down blouse and my favorite blue sweater when Dom shrieked at me.
“NO! You are not wearing that. You must wear something cuter.” She jumped off the bed, stalked over to me and yanked my two shirts away from my grasp. They got thrown onto the floor while Dom rooted around looking for something she deemed acceptable.
I looked down when she said aha and then sat back on her heels, smiling her scary smile up at me. She held out something that was a dark green, a sweater I forgot I owned. She shook the sweater at me, telling me to take it and put it on. I pulled it over my head and looked at myself in the mirror. It fit me really well, why had I never worn this before?
Dom, who seemed both excited and grossed out to be giving me tips on looking cute for James, said that showing some skin was always good. She tossed a long gold necklace at me, and fussed with my hair. While she styled me I told her what had happened the night before.
How I had told James that I had broken up with Asher and what he had said. I told her about how Harper interrupted him when he was about to kiss me and James had dragged me into the library. I told her about giving him his presents and how I had sat in front of the fireplace reading while he sat in shock.
I told her about the moment when he first kissed me and how right it felt. I told her about everything. She sat there staring at me, a wistful smile on her face. When I was done telling her the story, she hugged me and then kicked me out of the room, telling me that she was satisfied and I could go back to James.
I knocked very quietly on his door and took an automatic step back when it flew open. He still didn’t have a shirt on and was only wearing dark jeans that hung low on his hips.
“You took forever.”
“Dom held me hostage.”
“Am I just going to stand out here in the hallway?”
“No, what I want to do to you shouldn’t be done in public halls.” He grabbed my wrist and pulled me inside. I got pushed up against the door, my hands were held behind my back and James took his time kissing me. I wasn’t complaining though.
After a while he broke away, slipped his hand into mine and pulled me towards the bed. James pulled a small box out of his pants that were lying on the floor, turning around and holding it out to me. He looked slightly scared.
“Why are you looking scared?”
“I just… hope you like it. I’m not known for picking out meaningful gifts.”
“More the rubber duck and dirt flavored brownie mix type?” I knew about that courtesy of Rose, who had told me about his horrendous gift to their cousin Victorie.
“I’m offended by that statement! Mostly because it’s true.” He crossed his arms across his chest and looked at me, a small smile on his lips. I was sitting in his desk chair, one leg pulled underneath me and the other hooked on the bottom rung. I leaned forward, and my sweater slipped further down my arm. “Go on, open it.”
It was wrapped in sliver paper, with a gold ribbon tied around it. The ribbon fell off easily when I tugged on it and the paper magically disappeared. I pried open the lid of the blue velvet box, hearing it protest. Nestled inside was a bronze locket.
“It’s pretty!” James stood over me and let out a huff.
“They put it in the wrong way! That’s the back, flip the locket over.” I did as he asked and saw that underneath a glass dome was the Ravenclaw symbol surrounded by an ivy filigree design. It was beautiful, very beautiful. I found the small switch and opened the locket, but both sides were empty.
As gracefully as I could, I folded myself out of the chair and stood in front of James, holding the box in one hand and wrapping my arms around his neck. He bent down and kissed me.
“Thank you James. I love it.”
“It’s not just a regular locket. There’s a story to it. Here let me put it on you, and I’ll explain.” He turned me around, pulling my back into his chest. His arms came around me, holding the ends of the locket in each hand. I pulled my hair to one side and felt it settle just below the hollow of my throat.
James bent his head down and placed little kisses on my neck and bare shoulder, causing a low moan to escape. “Before I get distracted by taking your clothes off, let me explain.” He sat down on the floor, leaning up against his bed. I joined him and waited for the story.
“The locket is over 200 years old. It originally belonged to a young witch, who was, as you can probably guess, in Ravenclaw. She was a lot like you according the story provided by the shop I bought it from. Her name was Victoria and she was half English, and half American. She, like you, grew up in the south until coming to England almost full time after starting at Hogwarts. Victoria lived a hard life. Her mother died when she was a little girl, and her father quickly remarried, finding the ultimate evil step-mother. According to the shop owner, Victoria, once very full of life, became very quiet. She had always been fascinated by people, and why they did what they did. She watched her father become a bitter person, watched her brothers break and die way before their time. She watched, and learned. She noticed that people often went against who they were as people. Their fears got the best of them, or they mad bad choices and never forgave themselves. She said that people were always looking for the darkness instead of finding the light. One day, she found an old locket while walking around her hometown in America. She took it home and enchanted it. After losing almost everyone she loved to darkness, she became determined to live in the light. Whenever you are wearing the necklace, and whenever you do something that is right for you, something that will keep you in the light, the locket will grow warm. It won’t burn you, but you will feel the heat. It’s meant to be a guide, a way to help you grow up and out, like a flower reaching for the sun. Victoria was proud to be in Ravenclaw and thought the symbol of the eagle was appropriate for the enchantment. It’s all about flying free of the bonds that hold you. When I came across it, quite on accident, it had your name all over it. I had to get it for you and I, I really hope you like it. I hope it helps you reach for the sun.”
The more James told me about this locket, the more touched I was and tears leaked out of my eyes and fell silently. I wrapped my hand around the necklace and felt a faint flutter, as if it recognized the heart beating in my chest.
He turned to face me as he stopped talking and looked concerned about the tears on my face. I knew what he was thinking.
“James… this is the most perfect gift anyone has ever given me. I love it. I really love it. Thank you.” The concern on his face evaportated, replaced by a warm smile. I climbed onto his lap, wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. A bright flare of heat seared my chest and I leaned back with a gasp.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Um… nothing.” My fingers wrapped around the locket and I looked down. I guess it worked. Apparently James was good for me, although I think I’d known that for the last 6 months. He pulled my face back up, so he could meet my eyes. Soft lips closed over mine and I melted into his embrace.
A knock sounded at the door and we both groaned in frustration. “What?” James snapped at whoever was on the other side.
“Are you both decent? I really don’t want to walk in and see anything that will scar me for life.” Dom, of course it would be her.
“Yes, we’re both decent.” She opened the door, balancing a tray in one hand and covering her eyes with the other. “I said we’re decent.” Her hand drifted down and she opened her eyes.
“You’re sitting on his lap!”
“Fully clothed! Geez Dom. At least he’s not naked.”
“Ew. Ew. Ew. That is my cousin!”
“Did you bring me food Dommie? I always knew you were my favorite cousin.”
“Freddy is your best friend.”
“Well… next to Freddy.”
“I figured you two might want to stay holed up in here all day, and given, um, what I assume you will be doing, you’ll burn a lot of calories… and so yea, lots of food here. I snuck it all away before anyone could ask questions. I’m going to tell them that you both snuck off early this morning for some alone time to figure things out, so just stay in here and keep quiet. No… screams or anything. Ew, bad image in my head. Get out!”
“You’re the bestest friend a girl could ask for Dom.”
“I know.” She finally looked at both of us and then stared at me. “I’m happy this is finally happening. Enjoy the day.” She walked away, shutting the door behind her quietly. She had put the tray of food down on his desk and the smell of freshly baked muffins assailed my senses.
I climbed off of James and grabbed a muffin, tearing into it with a large bite. I polished it off in 4 bites, and grabbed the basket with baked good, bringing it over to James. He did the same thing I did, only he inhaled two muffins in the time it took me to eat one. He looked up at me with his mouth full of food and I laughed.
After eating, we had laid down on his bed and both let out big yawns. Having been up all night and spending most of that time doing physical things, we were both beat. James had pulled the curtains across the windows, throwing his room into darkness. My head sank into the pillow and the last thing I felt before falling asleep was James curling up against me, his arm draping over my stomach and pulling me close.
I woke up many, many hours later. Raising my arms above my head, I did a full body stretch and yawned at the same time. I wondered what time it was and squinted at my watch but it was too dark to see. James rolled over and groaned before his breathing steadied out again. His arm was draped over me, and I picked it up gingerly, sliding out from underneath the weight.
I sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, the scenes from the past 24 hours shifting rapidly through my head. What would the next 24 hours hold? This didn’t seem like the best time to have started anything, as I was leaving very early tomorrow morning for a few days, on a girls trip to Paris.
Georgia, Dom and I all had birthdays close to together. Mine was the first, and was December 30th. Georgia’s was January 4th, and Dom’s was January 15th. Since we’d be back at school soon, we decided to plan a trip to celebrate our 17th birthdays in style.
It would be fun, but I already knew it was going to be hard to not be around James immediately following this. Whatever this was, I didn’t know. I padded quietly over to the window and flicked the curtains aside, getting blinded by the bright light of the setting sun.
Ok, so it was almost dinner time, which meant we had been asleep for almost 9 hours. After letting my eyes adjust to the light, I stared at the grounds of the Potter house. It must have snowed again today, there was an untouched layer of snow covering everything.
White snow made everything magical somehow- the world was stripped of bright color, and colored in a white layer that sparkled in the setting sun. Behind me, I heard James flop over again.
“What are you doing?” He groaned, voice thick with sleep.
“Just looking, wanted to know what time it was.”
“I can stay for a bit. I should probably head back to my room and pack for my trip.”
“No trip. Miss you. With me.” My eyebrow went up, he wasn’t making sense.
“Just come here.” He picked his head up off the pillow and looked at me. His hair was sticking in about a thousand different directions and his eyes were heavy with sleep. He laid on his stomach, back bare, and the covers were twisted around his legs. He whined at me again.
I yanked the curtains open, letting the reddish gold light stream into the room. James cursed at me and buried his head deeper into his pillow. A laugh escaped me and I trotted over to the bed, hopping up.
Feeling mischievous, and knowing he hated being tickled, I traced my fingernails over his skin. He tried squirming away from me, but I just found another spot. James growled and sat up long enough to grab me, before he laid his body entirely over mine and buried his head in the crook of my neck. I was good and trapped and I didn’t mind in the slightest.
“What were you attempting to say?”
“I said I don’t want you to go on your trip. I’ll miss you and would rather you stay here with me.”
“It’s cute that you’ll miss me that much, but it’s only a few days. You’ll survive.”
“Charlotte- I just went six months denying myself the opportunity to do this…” He kissed me deeply, “And this,” He ran his hands over my body, “and this,” he kissed my neck before capturing my lips in another searing kiss, “so I’d really rather be able to continue doing this for however long you’ll let me.”
His skin looked gold in the light and I ran my fingers through his hair, trying to straighten it. James propped himself up on his elbows, which gave me some breathing room.
“I don’t see any scenario in which I’d not want you to do all that.”
“Good.” He growled.
“But I’m still going on my trip.”
“What if I come with you?” He pouted at me and I bit my lip to keep from laughing, it was so cute.
“Girls trip only, sorry.”
“But you’re going to Paris. It’s the city of love. What if you get swept of your feet by some snooty, boring Parisian guy?”
“I think I have more sense than that. Besides, how many times in a week can a girl get swept of her feet?”
“Only once, I hope. But you three girls alone in a big city, I’m going to worry about you”
“I think we can handle ourselves just fine…” He looked down at me and I could tell that he was genuinely worried. “I’d like to see someone try to jump any of us. We’d hex them into oblivion if they so much as looked at us wrong. Dom and Georgia won’t let anything happen to me, and I sure as hell won’t let anything happen to them. I may seem quiet and broken, but I’ll fight like hell to protect them, and myself.”
“That’s what I like about you Charlotte.” James linked both his hands with mine and raised them above my head, my back arching. His mouth came down to mine and he kissed me quickly. “Your fire. Yes, you have a fire.” He said it because I scoffed, I couldn’t help it. “I don’t look at you and see the broken pieces, those things you’re convinced make up who you are. I look at you and see the fire. I see the phoenix. I see all you can be and all I want is to help you be that person. I want you to know that you aren’t the sum of your hurts, you are the sum of all your great moments inside of those hurts.”
I flashed back to a few weeks ago, when I had broken up with Asher. How Asher had said that he loved my brokenness and wanted to help me put myself back together. James was entirely different in that he knew I could fix myself, if I only believed.
He looked at me and saw what the Japanese called kintsukuroi- the art of fixing something broken with gold so that the cracks become more beautiful. Asher looked at me and saw something to fix. James saw the shimmering opal in my darkness.
The setting sun streamed into the room and lit everything with a reddish gold hue. I wrapped a leg around his and leaned up and into him, finding his mouth. All I felt was the heat, the fire. He let my hands go, and I wrapped them around his neck, twining my fingers through his hair. James pulled back and looked down at me.
“You’re absolutely positive you want to go.”
“Absolutely. You’ll just have to wait for me to get back.”
“With bated breath.”
“Now I really should go pack.”
“Fine. But I’m helping.”
“How can you help me pack?”
“I can help you by making sure you don’t pick anything that will tempt a guy to try and flirt with you.”
“You sound like a jealous boyfriend.”
“Well… I don’t want anyone to bother you.” He didn’t at all protest about me using the word boyfriend, even though it wasn’t directed at him. Did he already think that?
“Should I wear a paper bag over my face as well.”
“If it will keep guys from flirting with you, yes.”
“James, Dom won’t let any guy near me. Nothing to worry about. You’re extra cute when you worry though.” We walked into the guest room and found Dom lying on her stomach reading a magazine.
“You two finally done with your marathon sex session?”
“What? Oh don’t be like that Charlie.” James was roaring in laughter and leaned against the wall. Al and Ava popped their head into the room.
“I see they’ve come out of his room.” Al leaned against the doorframe.
“Yup.” Dom said, still casually flipping the pages of her magazine.
“Needed a break from all the sex?”
“OI! Shut up Al!” James roared. He turned to me and noticed that I was the one laughing now. “What is wrong with my family?”
“I think they’re wonderful. Better than mine.”
“I am here you know.” Ava sounded annoyed.
“Yea, well, you may have a good relationship with our family. I don’t and I think they all suck.” Ava turned on her heel and stalked off, quickly followed by Al. Dom watched them leave with a bored look, then turned to us.
“So why are you here and not getting physical?”
“Because I have to pack for my trip, and James insisted on helping me. Apparently he doesn’t trust me to pick out the right clothes.”
“James, you seriously don’t need to worry about her flirting with anyone else. She’s been head over heels for you since this summer, even if, oh shut up Charlie, she won’t admit it.” Dom scoffed at me, and threw one of her magazines at me.
I pulled my overnight bag towards me and starting sorting my clothes. James objected to about half of it, but I put them in anyway. We decided to spend the evening with his family, everyone curled up on the massive couch downstairs and watched movies.
Despite my protests, James wouldn’t let me sit more than 2 inches from him, and I spent the entire time curled up with him. I guess it was pretty obvious to everyone that we were together. Although we hadn’t had that conversation, and I really didn’t know where we stood. I spent the night with him, again, and we parted ways in the morning.
He embarrassed me to no end by kissing me in front of his entire family. I promised him I would write to him while I was away, still thinking it funny that he was reacting this way. We would only be in Paris for 6 days.
Paris was enchanting. It was beautiful and charming and I loved it. We spent our days ordering room service and retreating into the hotel spa for massages. The day before my birthday, we went shopping, all needing to find something for the Potter’s New Years Party. We finally found a shop with what looked like amazing dresses.
Dom and Georgia tore through, pulling dress after dress off the racks. They seemed to want to try on everything. I just wandered around, looking for things that really caught my eye. Towards the back of the store, I found something that looked like what I wanted. I took it into the dressing room and tried it on.
I stared at myself in the full length mirror, marveling at how I looked in the dress. Dom was chattering away in the dressing room next to mine, and I could tell that she hadn’t found ‘the’ dress yet. But I just had. I didn’t own many nice dresses and decided to buy a new one for the party in two days.
Given that it was very formal and it was my first real chance to impress James in a dress, I wanted something spectacular. James had given me advanced notice of the decorations and I wanted a dress to match it. His Mum had apparently decided on a dark, enchanted winter forest theme; lots of glittery snow, long tree branches painted black, twinkling lights in dark jewel tones.
I wanted something that was half snow princess, half dark enchantress. It was a tall order to fill and I wasn’t sure I would find the right dress. I spun around and smiled over my shoulder at my relfection.
The dress was white silk and one shouldered. It gathered right above my waist and flared out; poofy, but only slightly so. A thick black silk sash wound around the waist. Staring from the one shoulder was a very thin sheer fabric on top of the silk, that cut in half after the sash- so that the sheer layer fluttered everytime you moved, like curtains in the breeze.
The best part though, were the thousands of hand stitched sparkly black (and a few deep emerald green) leaves all over the dress. They clustered tightly around the bodice and then became more and more sporadic the further down the dress you looked. It fit perfectly and was exactly what I had wanted. I couldn’t stop staring. I heard a gasp and looked over my shoulder, grinning at Dom.
“Charlie! Oh my God. You look… you look amazing. You have to get that dress. Oh, you look so pretty!” She looked like she was about to cry and put a gloved hand to her mouth. “I’m going to have so much fun styling you for the party. Please tell me you like that dress?”
“I love it. I can’t wait to wear it.” Realizing how stupid that sounded given that I was already wearing it I added, “to the party, of course.”
“James is going to die.”
“I hope you don’t mean that literally…”
“Well when I’m done with you, you’ll look so captivating you might actually take his breath away. Hmm, maybe you should go with something that makes you look less sexy, don’t need you killing my cousin right after you two finally made things work.”
“He’ll have to survive. I’m getting this dress, I may be in love with it.” I spun around and watched the fabric swirl around my legs. I looked up at Dom and smiled, and the look she gave me made me wonder what she was thinking. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You’re just… glowing. You look so happy and radiant and…” She paused and I could tell that she was fighting tears. “You don’t understand Charlie, because you’ve never seen yourself from the outside. You’ve never seen how special and amazing you are, and I’ve always tried to tell you this, and you never listen. You walk around and even though you’re happy when you’re with me, and Georgie, you’re not really happy. It’s just like you turn up the light a little bit. And now… I look at you… and you’re glowing. You’re happy- truly happy- you’re letting that brilliant light you carry within shine bright. You don’t know how amazing it is to see you like this. This is why I wanted you to be with James, I saw it from the beginning. You light up around him. You, become your true self Charlotte and… I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.” I had started crying and tripped over my feet running to her for a hug. There was a reason she was my best friend. “Now before I ruin your amazing dress, I do need your help. I’m torn between two dresses and you must tell me which one to get.”
“Well, it will depend. Are you trying to impress anyone in particular? Or just looking stunning.”
“Both. I’m trying to get someone’s attention and the better I look the harder it will be for him to pretend he doesn’t like me.”
“Are you talking about Greyson again?”
“You really like him, don’t you?”
“I already told you that!”
“Yes, but you kind of go through guys quickly. And he’s… you know…”
“If you say that just because he’s in Slytherin…”
“I wasn’t going to say that!” I walked into her dressing room and looked at the two gowns hanging. One was a strapless deep emerald green mermaid style gown with a long slit on one side and a jeweled broach on the hip. The other was a sky blue princess dress, with thin straps and white beading. Before she could even try them on I pointed to the green dress. “That one. Definitely that one.”
“That’s what I was hoping you’d say. Georgia!” She poked her head out of the room she was in and immediately upon seeing my dress, she started tearing up. “Yea, Charlotte looks amazing doesn’t she?”
“James is going to flippin die when he sees you. You need some accessories though.”
“We’ll get to that. Tell me Georgie- which dress do you like better?”
“The green one. Now, come here, both of you. I need help too.” We followed her and leaned against the walls of the dressing room. There were three dresses, which she tried on for us to see. One was gold, one was navy and one was purple. Dom and I both pointed to the purple dress at the same time. It was one shouldered cap sleeve black lace bodice, over a close fitting amethyst silk dress. There was a large butterfly pendant in the center and it made her look stunning.
After getting all our dresses purchased, along with a pair of long gloves for each of us (Dom insisted we needed them), we headed back to our hotel room and spent the rest of the night eating desserts and watching chick flicks.
We left Paris in the very early morning on New Year’s Eve, holding bags of freshly baked croissants. The sky lightened, and the pearly pinks of dawn bled across the sky. We took the train back to London, and while Georgia and Dom chattered away happily, I stared out at the brightening sky, a wisp of a smile gracing my features.
We were going back to Dom’s house to get ready for the party. Dom insisted that it had to be this way, something about how James wasn’t allowed to see me at all until my big debut fully dressed up. When I told him he wouldn’t see me until the evening and that Dom was the reason, he used a lot of bad words in deciding that she was no longer his second favorite cousin.
Once we got into London, we met Victorie in Diagon Alley for a few last minute supplies before apparting to Shell Cottage. We arrived at her house just after two in the afternoon, giving us about three hours to get ready. Dom, Georgia and Victorie were all in a panic that they wouldn’t be able to get ready in time.
I lounged back and tried to read a book, internally laughing at them running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Georgia finally decided that I had lots to do before I could be considered stunning enough to leave the house and she forcibly yanked me out of my chair.
We all took ridiculously long showers, and used our favorite beauty spells for hairless skin, silky hair, and glowing skin. I thought I was going to choke to death inhaling the fumes from hairspray and perfume. Dom told me to start acting like a girl, and forced me to sit down in front of her vanity table so she and Victorie could get to work on me.
They did my hair first, taking my naturally wavy hair to the next level. They pulled one side away from my face and secured it in the back with star shaped diamond clips. I looked at myself in the mirror and stared in awe at their handiwork.
My eyes shone like pieces of silver underneath darkened eyes, dark gray eyeshadow with a thin line of dark emerald green. A very soft light pink blush and sheer plum gloss made my look complete. Everything was done to make my eyes the focal point, and I thanked them profusely for making me look like a dark enchantress.
There is something about walking down a curved staircase in a ball gown that makes a girl feel like a princess. The party was just getting started, and there weren’t a lot people there, yet. The annual Potter New Year’s Party was a sight to behold, and this year was no different. It was always held in their house, which was quite easy at it was huge.
I always thought of their house as being like the White House. There was the formal area of the house, and then the part of the house that was actually lived in. The staircase I had just walked down was in the formal part of the house. I left the front room and wandered back towards where I knew James’s family was.
My dress swished around me with each step and I felt like twirling. Candles twinkled on every surface and the air smelled like a winter night. The house had been transformed into a winter wonderland. Not the cheesy prom kind seen in American high schools, but the magical, classy kind.
I was just walking past the hallway that led to the rarely used guest wing of the house when someone reached out and grabbed me. I found myself being led by someone I couldn’t see, as all the lights had been turned off, and being led into an empty room.
Everything was just darkness and shadows around me, and I heard a door click shut, followed by the sound of a lock turning. I had a pretty good idea of who was with me in the room and I smiled. Warm, familiar hands cupped my face and drew me forward.
Soft lips captured mine in a searing kiss and my nerves fired in response. I wound my arms around his neck and felt hands sliding from my face down to my waist, at which point I was pulled even closer towards his body. I used my hands to pull his face closer to mine, deepening the already intense kiss. James groaned in response and held me tightly.
“I missed you.” He kissed me.
“I was only gone a few days.” I reached up and ran my fingers down his jaw.
“Which was still too long.” He kissed me again. I could get used to this, I thought with a smile. “I do like kissing you.”
“You should have done it sooner.”
“I should have.” James pulled me into a hug, placing his chin on top of my head. “As much as I’d like to keep you to myself tonight, this is a party, and we should enjoy it.” He pulled away, linked his fingers with mine and pulled me back out into the house.
James made a beeline for the beverage table and handed me a cup with a wink. After taking a sip it became obvious that it was spiked, but it didn’t mind. It was a party after all, and it was time to enjoy myself.
It was almost midnight. People were twirling around me as I walked through the dance floor. I was lightly buzzed and floating on could nine, and my brain took in all the details, albeit a little shinier than things actually were. The floor was made of black wood that resembled a forest floor and was covered in a layer of enchanted snow.
The dancing figures around me kicked the snow up and it sparkled, as it too, danced. Around the floor were trees, black and bare of any leaves. Strewn between the branches were thousands of twinkling lights- dark blue, purple and just enough white light that people could see.
The world sparkled. It felt like an ancient magical site. I half expected to hear prayers to ancient gods and see fairies flying around. Flashes of shirts and dresses caught my eye- dark green, gold, and lots of red. The music pounded through my veins, and I languished in the vibrations.
I spun around, a laugh on my face, and found myself in someone’s arms. A hand wrapped around my waist and grabbed my outstretched hand, leading me in a dance. I closed my eyes and drifted with the moment, aware only of the feelings of a tall, hard body and the scents around me. A hint of rose, of juniper, and of amber. Wait, juniper?
I took a deep breath and reality started to bring me back down. I knew that scent. I opened my eyes, and looked up through my lashes. My body froze, interrupting the dance. Twisting away, I stared at him, at Asher.
He looked at me, and I saw two emotions fighting a war inside of him. Happy and sad. He smiled and then frowned, probably wondering why I was reacting so negatively to seeing him. He reached out to me, and I stepped back again, almost colliding into another couple.
“Charlotte. Why don’t you look happy to see me?” His green eyes searched mine and I felt a welling of tears coming. Everything crashed around me, like shattering glass. Why wasn’t that James?
“We broke up.” A whisper of sound escaped my lips and I looked around for James, hoping he hadn’t seen me dancing with Asher and taken it the wrong way. I thought I was dancing with him.
“I don’t want that. Please, let me fix it. Whatever was wrong. I’ll do better. Please Charlotte, I miss you.” I looked at him. He looked like a lost puppy hoping to find a new home with the person standing in front of him- despair and hope. How did I make this much of an impression on the guy in less than two months of dating?
I don’t even understand why Asher likes me, let alone why James seems ten times happier with me around. That may just be the kissing and sex though, I wasn’t entirely sure. I was too busy thinking to notice that Asher was standing in front of me. My senses were heightened and I smelled alcohol underneath his cologne. His eyes were bright as they looked into mine and his hand came up to cup my face.
Before I could process his movement, his was kissing me. Ice water flooded my veins and I froze on the spot, not moving and definitely not engaging. My senses came back to me after a few seconds and I pushed him away.
“No Asher. No.”
“Charlotte, please.” I stepped away from him and looked around. No one was paying attention to this, we had somehow found our way to the corner of the dance floor and no one was around. My eyes searched the crowd and I found James, looking right at us, and my heart seized.
He looked angry, but not at me. He didn’t looked betrayed, he looked like someone had touched something precious to him. Everything about his stance and the way he was looking at me screamed, “mine. She is mine.”
My feet moved and I found myself running towards him and into him. He wrapped his arms around me, while I buried my head in his chest and started apologizing, telling him it meant nothing. Asher had just kissed me out of nowhere. James, though I couldn’t see it, was having a glaring contest with Asher.
James led me away, pulling me into a dark corner of the house. Once again, I found myself pushed up against a wall, with James kissing me. Kisses that seared and made my brain fuzzy. Kisses that spoke of possession. It made me giddy, so unlike what I had felt when Asher has just kissed me. James growled and pulled me closer, nipping at my collarbone.
“He does remember that you broke up with him, right?” He sounded angry, but I knew it wasn’t directed at me. “That when someone breaks up with you, you don’t get to kiss them anymore.”
“He wants to get back together.”
“He must not have been happy when you said no.” He laid his forehead on mine and then sucked in a breath. “You did say no, right?” He sounded frozen by fear. I was so astonished by all these events that I couldn’t speak. James turned into a solid plank of wood and I could feel his heartbeat pounding rapidly underneath my hand. “Charlotte? What did you tell him?” James backed away from me and the loss of his comforting presence shattered my silence.
“No. Come back. I told him no. Of course I told him no.” James deflated and came back towards me, bringing me back into the safety of his arms. “I don’t want him.”
“Who do you want?” Amidst all of this and he was seriously asking me that? I looked up at him, my annoyance shining through the ten other emotions. He laughed for a second before saying, “I’m serious Charlotte. You’re not a game to me and I hope that I’m not a game to you. Which sounds ridiculous, I know, because you aren’t like that, of course you aren’t like that. At the risk of sounding less manly by sharing my feelings, I hope that you realize that you mean a lot to me and this… is… different for me.”
“You do realize the reason I broke up with Asher is because you were all I thought about, right?” I looked up at him and watched his expression change from worry to delight.
“Oh good. Had to be sure.”
“Do you want to go back to the party?” I really didn’t and was hoping he would say no.
“No. I just want to spend my time with you, if that’s ok.”
“I was hoping you would say that.” James told me to head up to his room while he said goodbye to some people, so I snuck quietly up the back stairs; relishing the utter stillness of his quiet bedroom. I checked the clock on his bedside table and noticed that it was ten minutes to midnight.
This crazy year was almost over and I was ending it on a high note, mostly. The window beckoned to me, and I stared out at the crystal clear sky, the stars blinking at me. My thoughts rose up quickly and enveloped me.
I didn’t understand in the slightest why James wanted to be with me. When I dug deep, I realized that I still expected him to leave and find someone better. I knew that I was just waiting for this to play out, knowing that I would enjoy it while it lasted. Whatever I felt I could be, one day, I wasn’t that person now.
James deserved better that me. I was just a sad girl from a broken family. If my family couldn’t love me, didn’t that make me unlovable? The door opened and closed quietly and I sunk into his arms as they wrapped around my waist. From downstairs I heard the sounds of cheering and I spun around to face James.
“Happy New Year Lottie.”
“Happy New Year James.” His arms tightened around me as his mouth sought mine, kissing me softly. The cheering below faded into nothingness as I got lost in the moment. James pulled back and rested his chin on top of my head, wrapping his arms around my shoulders.
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to change now. I hate wearing tuxes. You, of course, are more than welcome to change out of your dress.”
“Fine by me. Toss me one of your shirts will you.”
“Do you really need to wear clothes?” He stood there holding one of his t-shirts, with a small pout.
“Yes, unless you want me to freeze.”
“You won’t freeze, I’ll keep you warm.” And there was that cheeky smile of his again. He looked over his shoulder at me, standing in front of his closet, and tossed me a shirt. I shimmied out of my dress as easily as I could, leaving it in a pile on the floor. The wrinkles could be easily fixed with a simple spell tomorrow.
For now, I was exhausted and wanted to sleep. While James was still changing, I buried myself under the covers and tried to looked like I wasn’t there at all. I didn’t know how long this would last with him and sleeping in the same bed would certainly not happen once we were back at school; so, for now, I decided to enjoy this.
If, at the end of my life, I was going to look back and think about my happiest time, this would be it. I owed to my future self to fully enjoy this, while I could. Now that I was good and depressed, I tried to fall asleep. James finally climbed under his covers and pulled me to him in one quick movement. He kissed my shoulder and I smiled, wrapping this cozy moment around me.
My necklace flared with heat again, it had a habit of doing that when James was around. I hoped it would stop soon. It was making it harder to know this wasn’t going to last.
A/N- Hope that wasn't too long. It didn't make sense to cut this chapter into two parts, so yea, sorry for the length! Hope you enjoyed reading it! Next up- the end of winter break and new challenges that will come with being back at Hogwarts.
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