Chapter 1 : The first kiss is grand...
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It was the colour of her eyes. That beautiful, shining, emerald.
It reminded you of Spring, of buds breaking on the trees to reveal new leaves, of nature waking up to a new life.
It reminded you of wide sweep of fields, of the grass down the Quidditch Pitch, of the adrenaline of a swooping descent to catch the Snitch.
It reminded you of the dense fronds in the Forbidden Forest, of those nights running along with the dog and the wolf under the bright, silvery light of the full moon.
It reminded you of the ocean, of waters so deep you could drown into them and never reach the bottom.
You remember that time your parents took your ten-year-old self to the North Devon coast. It might sound weird for a Gryffindor and a Quidditch star like yourself to be scared of heights, and in fact you aren't, but looking down that cliff, at the raging sea so far down, at its high waves colliding against the rocks with such strength, made your young heart drum wildly in fear.
Just like it is doing right now. You're looking into her eyes, and you're feeling that same fright, that same sense of vertigo.
And it isn't the colour of her eyes that matter anymore. You are not even sure if they're green like the forest's fronds, or blue like a bright late afternoon sky, or grey like a raging storm in Winter, or even brown like a cup of hot chocolate. No, it isn't the colour. It's their depth, their sweetness, the way they shine when she smiles.
She's smiling right now. At you. She's actually smiling at you, and you're certain there is a mistake, because you know for a fact that she hates you. She always did, since the very first time you met, on your very first trip on the Hogwarts Express. It is ironic, and it hurts like hell, because that's when you started loving her. She took his hand and led him out of the compartment, shutting the door behind her with as much force as she could muster, while Sirius mimicked her haugthy voice. Something broke inside you in that moment. You couldn't tell what it was back then, but you started to realize it day after day, month after month, year after year. You wanted her to look at you the way she looked at him, you wanted to breath the perfume of her skin, to stroke her hair, to kiss her lips. You hoped things between the two of you might change, after he called her... that word. You hoped you could have a chance, once he was out of the equation. But he wasn't the point, he'd never been. She just couldn't stand you, she just couldn't see you as nothing more than an arrogant bully. Still, she's smiling at you, and you've never seen anything more beautiful in your whole life.
"You know, that was brave..."
She's talking to you... No, she's complimenting you... And her smile is still there... Maybe you are dreaming... Yes, that would explain it... You pinch yourself. It hurts. No, you're not dreaming.
"Earlier this afternoon, when you pulled Mary out of the Black Lake."
"Oh... it was nothing..." you try to play it down.
"But you could've just ignored it, instead you jumped into the lake and rescued her."
"Yeah... But, I mean... she was drowning... Anyone else would've done the same."
Your hand automatically goes to shuffle your hair. It's a nervous habit you've had since childhood, and something your best friends always make fun of you about. You've recently learned that it's also one of the many things she can't stand about you. You immediatly let go and thrust your hands in your pockets instead.
"But I din't see anyone else doing it, James. I only saw you."
She's called you James. James, not Potter. And she thinks you've been brave. You have to put a really great effort in keeping your hands in your pockets.
"I suppose. I was just lucky that I was in the right place at the right time... Erm... I mean..."
Something in her eyes changes. The smile you adore is not there anymore. You know you've crossed an invisible line, even if you don't know exactly when or how you did.
"Oh, you're so infuriating, Potter! Excuse me if I tried to show you some gratitude. I'll never make the same mistake again."
She turns on her heels. But you can't let her go away. You can't let her go back to hating you.
"Ev-Lily! Lily, wait!"
You pose your hand on her arm and she stops at your touch. For a moment, everything stops. The air stops in your lungs, your heart stops its rhytmic beat, the world itself stops spinning around.
There's annoyment in her voice, but also something else... Curiosity, maybe? Or is it something different? Eagerness? Longing? Your mouth feels dry, your brain jammed. But you need to say something, and it has to be the right something, or you'll end up ruining everything. Again.
"Lily, I..." you swallow. "Merlin, you're beautiful..."
She raises her eyebrows. Panic wells inside you as you realize you've already made a mistake.
"That's not what I meant to say... I mean, you are beautiful... But you're so much more than that..."
And she is. Because it isn't the brightness of her eyes, nor the stunning way her auburn locks sway on her back, nor the levigate perfection of her skin, not even the melodious sound of her voice. It is the person she is inside. It is her pride, her strength. It is the way she always faces every difficulty head on, even with the darkness out there slowly penetrating the safe walls of the school, endangering her above others because of her blood status. It is her kindness, her generosity, the way she always tries to offer assistance to everyone, to put others' needs before her own. It is her sense of humour, and that mischievous side that she tries so hard to hide behind her Prefect-ness pretence, but that you know is there. It is all of that, not her beauty, that makes you love her so much.
"James..." she whispers.
"You are so much more," you go on, like she hasn't said anything. "You are sweet, and funny, and intelligent. And I know I'm bit of an idiot at times, and that I can be infuriating, and that I'm too reckless and..."
"James..." she tries again, a bit louder.
"No. Please, let me finish, ok? What I'm trying to say is..."
You hesitate. You know that if you speak the words, you won't be able to take them back. But you just have to. You can't keep them hidden any longer.
"...is that I love you, Lily Evans. I truly, deeply, hopelessly love you. But I understand if you don't feel the same way. Still, I'm asking you to give me a chance, alright? Just as a friend. Please, Lily, let me be your friend."
For a moment, she’s silent. She’s looking straight at you but her expression is unreadable. You have no idea if she’s angry, or indulgent, or simply surprised. You just can’t tell. And then a little smile appears on her face again, a slight blush tinging her pale cheeks.
"What if I did feel the same way?"
"You... You do?"
That's all the encouragement you need. You advance towards her and, when you're close enough, you put a hand through her hair, marveling at the feeling of it between your fingers.
"Did I mention that you're beau-"
The rest of your sentence is cut off when she pulls you by your uniform's tie and brings your lips to hers.
How wonderful life is, now you're in the world.
See the pretty girl in the mirror there?
The brush passes smoothly through your auburn locks. Your hair seems to gleam. Everything about you seems to gleam.
You observe that face in the mirror, that face you see every morning. But is it really the same face? Is that really your reflection?
You used to look into that mirror and see only flaws. Hundreds, thousands, billions of flaws. Too pale complexion, too high forehead, too thick brows, too slim figure... You could go on like that forever. Then, why can't you see any of those flaws tonight? Why don't you find your hair insanely messy, your freckles ridicolously annoying, your lips disturbingly empty? Who is that pretty girl in the mirror? Surely it can't be you...
Or maybe it is you who isn't the same person you were this morning. This morning you were Lily Evans, the bookworm, the ice queen, the haughty and snooty perfect Prefect. Tonight you're Lily Evans, still a queen, but the queen of James Potter's heart.
A smile spread on your lips, and it makes your eyes shine. You still can't believe it happened, can't believe you really did it. You can still savour the taste of his lips on your own, still feel your heartbeat accelerate while fireworks exploded in the back of your mind.
You curse yourself as you stop a moment to think how stupid you've been wasting all that time because of your silly pride. You've been in love with him way before your kiss, way before you even had an idea about what love was supposed to be. He infuriated you, sure. You couldn't stand his arrogance, his complete irresponsibility, that way of his to do whatever came to his mind disregarding any rule and omitting to weigh consequences. But at the same time you've always admired his courage, his strength, his loyalty, his humour. You've always found sort of cute his habit of messing with his hair when he was nervous, the way he blushed whenever Black made some risqué joke, those pleading and hopeful doe's eyes anytime he tried to ask you out, which was approximately ten times a day.
"Lils, what are you doing inside there? It's been a half hour!"
You smile again at your reflection, pose your brush on the mirror's shelf and open the bathroom door, to meet Mary McDonald's questioning face. You laugh as you take her hands and lead her in a playful waltz; she follows you spinning around the dorm and laughs with you, just because that's what friends do. When Marly steps in, squirted in mud after her Quidditch training, you reach out to her and make her join the dance.
"This is fun and all, but I really need to take a shower..." Marlene looks amused as she tries to disentangle herself from the girlish hug. "By the way, now don't hex me, I'm only delivering a message. James Potter is down in the Common Room, he said he wanted to talk to you..."
That's all you need to hear. You rush down the stairs, ignoring the astonishment of your friends standing there as if petrified. You also ignore the incredulous silence that suddenly fills the Common Room while you run to James and throw your arms around his neck. He blinks, surprised, then a tentative smile appears on his lips. It's the most adorable thing you've ever seen.
"I guess this means you don't regret this afternoon?"
He doesn't answer, not with words. There's no need for him to do so, no need for Legilimency to guess what's on his mind. It is clear from the way he looks at you, transfixed, full of love. You've always believed he was only playing with you, you've always believed you weren't good enough for someone like him. That's the true reason you've rejected him for so long. It was your way to protect yourself, and only now you are realizing it.
Eyes closed and heart pulsing quickly in your chest, you let the world disappear for a moment, you savour the sweet taste of happiness and oblivion on his lips. Everything is perfect, everything is magical, everything is exactly the way it should be.
The first kiss is grand, they say... But the second is even better.
For I'm loved
by a pretty, wonderful boy.
To Katie (carryonwithyourknitting) for being a lovely friend and for being ispiration for this story with her "Magic of the Musicals" challenge.
And to my beautiful, adorable, incredible, beta/betee/best HPFF friend Ysh, who didn't simply host the other challenge inspiring this, but read this over for me, encouraged me and gave me all her lovely support and precious suggestions! Thank you so much, my little Betee!
The lyrics in James' section (in italics) are from the musical Moulin Rouge, more specifically from "Your song" by Elton John.
The lyrics in Lily's section (in italics) are from the musical West Side Story, more specifically from "I feel pretty" by Leonard Bernstein.
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