Chapter 1 : Break Up With Him
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Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I own next to nothing of this. Everything you recognize from HP is the property of the brilliant JK Rowling. The song is “Break Up with Him” and it is property of the band Old Dominion.
Break Up With Him
The way you look at me, girl, you can't pretend
I know you ain't in love with him, break up with him
As usual, Slughorn had tried to outdo himself. The last couple of years, the first meeting of his “Slug Club” had been no more than a special dinner held in a gigantic abandoned classroom on the eighth floor. Why he picked a room so far away from the kitchens, I have no clue. Maybe it was for the view of the lake or an attempt to keep people he hadn’t deemed important enough to be invited away. Whatever his reasoning was, the evenings had always been relatively low-key.
This year, it was anything other than low-key. The food didn’t just appear, like it did in the Great Hall. Instead, there were house elves scurrying around with trays on their heads. The décor was more over-the-top than his usual dinners, but that wasn’t that surprising given the kind of person Slughorn was. It hadn’t taken long to realize that he thought more was more.
Slughorn had gone all out with entertainment as well. There was a band and a singer that he announced were former members of his exclusive club. They weren’t the only former students who had shown up either. Usually he had limited the attendance of Hogwarts graduates to a couple of parties a year, one around Christmas time and one in the spring. Yet, within moments of being greeted by the professor, I spotted a handful of faces recognized from years past or from the news.
The students that I spotted seemed to be the same kind of crowd as always: people with exceptional talent in one subject or another, people who were from old wizarding families or related to a witch or wizard with outstanding accomplishments, a handful of the best Quidditch players from around the school, and others who must have been good at something.
Unfortunately, most of my friends weren’t up to his standards. In fact, only one of my good friends had made the cut. Liv was everything that Slughorn liked: she was tall and beautiful, both of her parents had been Unspeakables, and she was the youngest in her family of Ravenclaws. A couple of years ago, I’d had another friend here, but now it was just me and Liv.
After greeting Slughorn and making small talk for a few minutes, we grabbed some hors d’ouevres off a moving tray and headed to the side of the room.
I leaned against the wall, watching the other people milling about. Beside me, Liv sighed.
“Always the same crowd,” she said. “I was hoping that there would at least be somebody worth dancing with here.”
“I’m sure you’ll make due,” I said. “I can’t even spend my night flirting with people to amuse myself.”
Liv flashed a wide smile. “Edric not invited?”
I shook my head. “Apparently, he doesn’t have the proper connections and a mix of E’s and A’s on your OWLs is not impressive enough to get you an invitation.”
“I take it dating the Head Girl doesn’t count as a proper connection,” Liv replied.
“Apparently not.” I sighed. “It would be nice if he was around when I’m all dressed up though.”
Even though Edric wasn’t invited, I had taken my time getting ready. I had spent what was probably way too much time on my makeup and, with the help of my best friend Aurora, I had managed to curl my hair. I thought I looked pretty good, even standing next to Liv in her low-backed dress and sky-high heels that I would hardly be able to walk in.
“Then tonight will just have to be a night for breaking hearts,” Liv said.
“For you or me?”
Liv smiled mischievously. “Both of us, of course.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “How do you plan to pull that off?”
Another house elf scurried past, with a tray of drinks on its head. Without hesitation, Liv grabbed a flute of something purple and bubbly off and brought it to her lips. “In this getup?” she asked, using her free hand to gesture to her body. Her tight blue dress showed off her curves and her heels certainly helped the appearance of her legs. “All it should take is a bit of this –” she bit the corner of her lip “—and a whole lot of this.” She gave me a sidelong glance, demonstrating what could only be described as bedroom eyes. In a second, her concentration broke and she was laughing again.
“Who is you victim going to be?” I asked.
Liv shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet. But don’t think you’re getting out of this. These parties are no fun if you can’t flirt with somebody and dance with people.”
I pulled at the hem of my dress. “I have a boyfriend.”
“You’re not even serious,” Liv said with a wave of the hand. “And even if you were, it’s not like you need to go fuck somebody else.”
“I guess you have a point,” I said slowly. Edric and I had only been dating for a couple of weeks, since we got back to school. We had hung out when our schedules allowed, but between my Head Girl duties, the start of term craziness, and the fact that we were in different houses, there wasn’t a ton of time. There was also the unfortunate fact that the first Hogsmeade trip was a month away, so we couldn’t have our first proper date until then. For now, hanging out together outside and wherever we could find a place in the castle would have to do.
My reluctance didn’t seem to bother Liv. Instead, she began commenting on the guys who were standing around the room, weighing our options carefully. She spoke quietly as people moved around, offering her thoughts on people who walked past. There was Jack MacFarlan, one of the Gryffindor boys in our year, whose uncle was a famous Quidditch captain. Unfortunately, he hadn’t inherited his uncle’s athleticism and his looks were only average at best. She brushed off a trio of Ravenclaws, insisting that they weren’t worth our time. One of the graduates that Slughorn had invited, who Lily seemed to remember as a Hufflepuff two years ahead of them, was dismissed under the claim that their friend Naomi said he was a bad kisser. However, Liv had only positive comments about the man he was talking to, mentioning that he was supposed to be some sort of prodigy and that it looked like you could bounce a galleon off of his ass.
The crowd parted and three Slytherin boys from our year became visible. Standing between Julius Avery, a student known for his cruelty, and Rigel Black, who was apparently only a distant relation to Sirius, was Severus Snape. His dark hair fell in curtains across his face and he had his hands shoved into his pockets, his shoulder slumped.
“No, no, no,” Liv said, looking at each one in turn. “Cruel,” she tipped her second glass of the purple drink towards Avery, “cruel and ugly,” she gestured at Snape, “and decent looking, but Slytherin. Pass.” She took a swig of her glass and sighed.
“I guess the guy with the nice ass is looking like your pick,” I said.
“Clearly,” Liv replied. With a glance back towards the Slytherins, she lowered her voice and said, “He’s staring at you again.”
I didn’t have to ask who she was talking about. There were only two people that stared at me on a semi-regular basis, and only one of them would get that sort of disdain from her. She had never been quiet about her feelings towards my friendship with Snape and, after what we now referred to simply as “the Mudblood Incident”, she offered to hex him whenever she was in a particularly foul mood. I had suspected that there was something more to his feelings for me when we were friends and, despite everything, he had done nothing to change my opinion since we had stopped talking. On the contrary, I noticed his looks more now. Maybe it was because I couldn’t tell myself that it was just the usual glances between friends, or maybe the distance somehow made it easier to see him for who he was.
“I swear he wasn’t like this when we were friends,” I said, forcing myself to stop my eyes from drifting back over to where he was standing.
Liv leaned down slightly and whispered, “You know how you can crush him, right?” She sounded like she relished the idea of me getting payback for him destroying me after our OWLs.
“He knows I have a boyfriend. You’d think that would do it.”
“Well, clearly he’s a little thick,” Liv said bluntly. “You should just make out with somebody in front of him.”
“That’s kind of hard to pull off tonight,” I replied.
Liv shrugged, as if she was saying she wasn’t entirely sure about that. Suddenly, her blue eyes glinted and I could tell she’d had an idea. “You can hang out with them tonight, at least. That’s a sure way to piss him off.”
I followed her gaze and caught sight of James Potter and Sirius Black, who evidently had just arrived. Sirius was laughing, his tousled hair falling in a way that was clearly meant to be casual and alluring, but I guessed was done on purpose. Beside him James was grinning, his hair as untidy as ever. The sleeves of his dress shirt were pushed up, revealing his muscled forearms. They caught sight of Liv and me and made their way over.
“Sluggy really went big this year,” Sirius said, skipping over greetings.
“Probably because he knows this is his last chance to impress us,” James joked.
We made small talk for a while, gossiping about others in our year and what had happened over the summer. Even though our professors had been down our throats about our NEWTs, even though the year had barely started, we avoided talking about school. Sirius and James always wanted to avoid talking about classes whenever possible and, while Liv and I studied for things, neither of us wanted to have to think about school on a Saturday night.
Not long after the guys came in Slughorn introduced the band, paying special attention to the members who had been part of the Slug Club during their Hogwarts years. As they started to play, the lights dimmed and the house elves’ trays began to feature more drinks than food. Liv apparently caught the attention of the guy she had been looking at earlier in the night and, as promised, she began making eyes at him from across the room. It took a few songs but, sure enough, he came over and asked her to dance. Liv then threw back the rest of her drink and slipped off, acting as though she wasn’t invested in what was going on at all.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Sirius said, “Impressive. That couldn’t have been more than, what, fifteen minutes?”
“I’ve seen you pick up girls in that length of time,” I replied, which made Sirius grin.
“It’s a gift,” he said, feigning modesty. “Being this good looking can be both a blessing and a curse I tell you.”
“How is it a curse?” James asked, raising an eyebrow. “You have never had to try to get a date.”
“I know,” Sirius replied. He paused, then added, “I guess it isn’t a curse.”
I rolled my eyes. A year before, I would have taken his confidence as arrogance but after so much exposure to him I had accepted that he was just supremely confident. “Are you planning on using that gift of yours tonight?”
“What else am I supposed to do here?” he asked. “I’ll even dance with you first if it makes you feel special.”
I reached out to grab Sirius’s hand and brought him onto the dance floor. The song that was playing wasn’t the easiest to dance to, but Sirius had no qualms about drawing attention to himself. He slipped his arms around my waist and started to sway to the music, even though there wasn’t a steady beat.
“So, where’s Edric tonight?” He said his name like it was something gross.
Ignoring his tone, I said, “Slughorn didn’t invite him.”
“He’s not that special, huh?” Sirius said.
Our faces were only about a foot apart, so I knew he saw my glare despite the low lighting. “Subtle, Sirius.”
“What?” He looked down at me like he had no idea what I was talking about, which we both knew was a lie, so I didn’t bother replying to him. After several seconds of silence, he sighed and his grey eyes met mine. “Slughorn doesn’t think he’s as special as you do, clearly.”
I looked over his handsome face. He didn’t look like he was trying to hide anything and, even though I didn’t like his comments, I had to admit he was loyal. “Let me guess, you think I should be with somebody who was deemed special enough to come to this party. Like, say,” I pretended to think about who he could possibly be trying to talk about for a moment, “I don’t know, maybe James.”
Sirius’s voice softened. “I’ve seen you two together and I’ve seen you with your boyfriend. There’s a difference.” He pushed hair off my face. “And I’m not the only one who sees it.”
I was still thinking about what he said when the song ended and we made our way back to where we had been before. James was still standing where we had left him, watching us intently. I’d barely stopped walking when he offered me his hand and asked, “My turn?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Sirius nod. Pretending I hadn’t noticed, I said, “Okay,” and let James take me back the way I’d came.
James pulled me to the middle of the dance floor, past several dancing couples before stopping. Once he seemed content with where we were, he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close, much closer than Sirius had held me minutes earlier. We were so close that I couldn’t even keep my hands together at the back of his neck, instead I had to drape one arm over the other. I knew that if I looked up, my face would be right next to his. The band was playing a slower song so it was easy to sway to, spinning slowly in tiny circles. James rested his cheek against my forehead after a moment and I didn’t pull away.
As we spun, not speaking, I caught sight of faces I recognized. Liv was standing near a table at the side of the room, leaning towards the man she wanted to flirt with. Sirius was standing where we left him, drinking a glass of something he hadn’t had moments earlier. Well across the room, Snape was standing with his two friends. After a couple rotations we made eye contact for a brief second, but it was long enough for me to see a look of disdain on his face. Rather than focusing on his look I turned away, which required separating my forehead from James’s cheek.
“Are you okay?” James whispered.
His hot breath tickled my ear and I looked up. He was looking at me through rectangular glasses, his hazel eyes curious. And, as I had expected earlier, our faces were only inches apart. I could make out his eyelashes, which were longer and thicker than I had noticed before. And from the way he was looking at me, I was sure that he was trying to take in everything about me.
Suddenly uncomfortable, I pulled away a bit. “I’m fine,” I said, pushing Snape from my mind.
“Something’s on your mind,” he said. It was a statement, not a question. Could he read me that well? “What is it?”
As he spoke, I watched his lips move. It was dangerous and I knew it, so I forced myself to look away. I didn’t mean to say it, but somehow the words tumbled out of my mouth. I mumbled, more into his shirt than to his face, “I have a boyfriend.”
“Edric?” James sounded confused somehow. “So?”
“You shouldn’t hold me this close,” I mumbled, unsure of what to say. What did he mean, so?
James placed a finger under my chin and made me look at him. “I think you like it,” he whispered back. It was a statement that could have sounded cocky and conceited, but it didn’t. If anything, it sounded hesitant. He sounded almost like he didn’t want to say it, because he knew he might not like the answer he was going to get.
With his hand under my chin, I couldn’t look away this time. Instead, I had to look at him as his eyes bore into mine, daring me to do something to show how I felt. My breath caught in my throat. “James…”
“I see the way you look at him, the way you interact with him,” James whispered. “It’s not easy like it is with me and you know it. You don’t love him.”
“It’s only been a few weeks,” I stammered, unsure of what else to say.
He ignored my statement. “Things changed between us last year. You put up with me at the beginning for your friends, but by the end I know things were different. You can’t tell me you don’t feel it too.” His fingertips trailed across my waist and over my back gently. The song had changed, but he didn’t seem to have noticed. “Things fit between us Lils. And…”
The pause seemed to go on for an eternity. “And?” I prompted after I finally found my voice again. My heart was thumping in my chest. I needed to hear what he had to say. I doubted I could look away from him, even if I’d tried.
“I’d treat you right,” he whispered, finally breaking the silence. “You know I would.” He traced down my cheek and jaw with his finger. “Give me a chance Lily. I’ve loved you for a long time and I know you have feelings for me too.”
My brain seemed to be moving slowly, too slowly. Finally, I managed to squeak out, “You love me?”
James looked like a deer caught in headlights for a split second before answering. “Of course I do. Didn’t you know?”
Had I known? On some level, I suppose I had. Throughout our sixth year, things had been different between us. He had been different. Once we had been interacting on a regular basis as acquaintances and later friends, I suppose I had realized it. I met his eyes again and only then did I realize he was staring down at me, waiting for me to say something. But what was there to say? How were you supposed to react when your friend told you they loved you, even though you were dating somebody else? Did it matter if you had known before?
“I need to think,” I said. I knew it wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but it was the only think I could think of that was true and coherent.
Thankfully, he seemed to understand. We finished dancing to the song in silence, finally changing our pacing to fit the song better. He rested his head against mine once more and I let him, head spinning with our conversation running through my mind. Every time I looked up he was looking back at me, which made me look down again. It was easier to focus on his shirt than his face.
As soon as it ended, I pulled myself away and excused myself. I walked back to the dorm alone, not even bothering to let Liv know that I was leaving. Surely the guys would tell her if she went to see them again and, if not, she wouldn’t notice anyway.
I slipped through the Common Room, avoiding everybody, and made my way all the way to the top of Gryffindor Tower. Not bothering to take off my makeup and ignoring the questions of my dorm mates, I changed into my pyjamas and crawled under the covers of my four-poster bed to think.
The next day, I decided to brave the autumn breeze and make my way to the Quidditch pitch. I knew that the Gryffindor team had a late morning practice and, since Aurora hadn’t shown up in the Common Room again since, I figured that it hadn’t ended yet.
Sure enough, I was able to see several figures flying around on broomsticks long before I reached the pitch. I could see two people smacking what could only be a bludger at each other, back and forth and back and forth, far away from their teammates. High above, somebody was zipping around at top speeds, probably looking for the snitch. The other four were clustered near a set of rings.
I climbed the steps to the stands, hands shoved into my pockets to protect them from the chilly breeze coming off of the lake. I then settled myself onto the stands to wait. I must have underestimated the length of time James was willing to dedicate to practice, because it seemed like a lot of time passed before he finally called practice to an end.
One by one, the others disappeared off the pitch. By the time I was walking across the grass, there were only two people left. James was standing, his black hair even more of a mess than usual, with Sirius on the ground next to him, swearing as he shoved the bludger he had been practicing with into its compartment. They must have heard me coming, because they both looked up as I approached.
James gave me a curt nod as a greeting. “Aurora should be out in a couple minutes,” he said. “She and Athena are probably just changing.”
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you,” I said, trying to keep my voice even.
There was a loud bang as Sirius slammed the top of the chest shut. “I’ll bring these to storage,” he said to James. After he had the chest levitated, he raised a hand in farewell and walked off.
“No jokes?” I called out as he walked away. “Are you actually living up to your name for once?”
“Never!” he yelled over his shoulder.
James ran a hand through his hair. Cutting straight to the chase, he asked, “What did you want to talk about? It’s what I said last night, isn’t it? I know I shouldn’t have said it, but you were so close and it just slipped out. I –”
I didn’t give him a chance to keep babbling. “I broke up with Edric,” I said loudly, speaking over him.
He stopped mid-sentence and stared at me, brows furrowed. “When?”
“This morning, after breakfast.”
His handsome face broke into a grin and he ran a hand through his hair again. “Awesome.” He hesitated, then added, “Because of me?”
Slowly, I nodded. “You were right last night,” I admitted.
A split second later, he had closed the gap between us. He had a hand on the back of my neck and an arm around my waist and then, before I had time to process what was happening, he was kissing me. His lips tasted like gum and he smelled of sweat and, if I had any doubts left, they disappeared. He had been right all along. It was only one kiss, but I could already tell that it had never been like this with Edric and it never would be like this with Edric. James and I just fit.
He pulled away half an inch, just enough to look into my eyes. Using the same phrasing he had used dozens of times before, he whispered, “Go out with me, Evans.”
And, for once, I whispered back, “Okay.”
Author’s Note: Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a review to let me know what you thought of it.
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