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Not Fade Away by Noblevyne
Chapter 15 : Chapter 15
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 16


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He wrapped an arm around her waist (ignoring his pounding heart) and pushed forward. They let themselves out of the room (Lily had the distinct impression that he’d done this before) and she felt impossibly free, her heart hammering excitedly as she pelted down the halls of Hogwarts with James Potter.

“Come on,” James urged as they went through a door in the Entrance Hall. Lily watched as he reached a hand from beneath the cloak and tickled a pear on the painting of fruit in front of them. She watched, fascinated, as the pear giggled and the painting swung open.

James pulled off the cloak entirely and stepped in, extending his hand to Lily; she took it, shaking her head at this show of chivalry.

“Where are we?’ she whispered as the painting swung shut behind them.

“School kitchens,” James replied. “What do you want?” He started to rummage through the cupboards, shelves and iceboxes and he emerged with his hands full of various foods. He dropped them unceremoniously on the battered hardwood table and looked up at Lily with an exultant grin.

“So we’ve got some bread, ham, left over chicken from tonight’s dinner, cheese, lettuce, baguettes, pumpkin juice and a quart of mulled mead…one of the elves must have a drinking problem.”

“Elves?” Lily repeated, still in disbelief of the whole situation. She never really had thought about where the food came from.

“House elves” James clarified. “They run this place, basically. If you wanted something more filling we could wake them up, I don’t usually like to, though.”

“No, no, this is fine,” Lily said, pulling out one of the rickety chairs and sitting down. “This is great, thank you.”

James’ smile broadened but he said nothing, just poured himself a glass of mulled mead. “Do you want some?”

“I’m underage.”

“And out of bounds,” he reminded her. “Come on, live dangerously.”

She surrendered and her poured her a glass.

“How long have you known about this place?” Lily asked as she pulled apart the lettuce.

“First week of first term of first year—Sirius and I were curious little sods and my dad had given me the Invisibility Cloak strictly for the purpose of exploring. I had to honour his wishes.”

Lily laughed, “Pretty harsh standards your folks set.”

“I come from a long line of trouble makers.”

She laughed again. Sitting here with James was, well, fun and easy and for some reason she felt perfectly comfortable and safe with him, he exuded a sense of goodness about him that she had never allowed herself to feel, though she had been getting inklings of it all this year: seeing the way he reacted with people, how they in turn reacted to him.

She suddenly felt guilty for the number of times when she had scolded him just because he was an easy target. The most recent being:

“I owe you an apology.”

“For what?” he inquired, mildly surprised and politely puzzled.

“For the way I treated you on the train at the start of the year. I had no right you didn’t understand why, I was angry and I took it out on you. It was wrong you didn’t deserve it and I’m sorry.” She’d said the whole thing in a single breath and now felt strangely ashamed but also relieved.

He regarded her with a contemplative expression for a few moments before saying softly, “You didn’t have to apologise. No offence Lily, but I’m kind of used to being on the wrong side of you.”

She winced remembering all those other times he hadn’t really deserved the pointy end of her glare, sure she’d often been highly justified when yelling at him, more often than not really, but sometimes she’d just done it because he was there. Being a redhead, her mother had always encouraged her temper, she seemed to regard it as her birthright and Lily had never shied from speaking her mind.

“I know, it’s just I think you deserve an explanation, it wasn’t anything you did or said, I was just being a bitch.”

He nodded, “You still didn’t have to apologise, I’ve got a bit of a foot-in-mouth problem.” He paused unsure if the shaky bonds of their friendship were strong enough for further investigation into the matter. “May I ask…”

“Why?”

He nodded and she sighed. “Thurston and I didn’t have an easy break up. He…he said a lot of things that even Severus Snape would find distasteful.” She observed the way his lips pursed into a thin white line and how his fists clenched angrily. “Maybe it’s just this…war that’s rising, everyone’s acting strange.”

“Maybe,” he said darkly.

“Look, it’s all in the past now. I’m over it. There are more important things to worry about.”

“Yeah,” he drawled, still looking murderous, “funnily enough, you’re right.”

“Funnily enough,” she repeated gently.

They sat there awhile: Lily enjoying her sandwich and sipping her mulled mead whilst James continued to look lost in thought. Lily didn’t like the look on his face.

“James?” she inquired tentatively.

He shook himself out of his funk and looked up at her questioningly. “Hmmm?”

“You okay?”

He offered her a weary smile. “Just thinking,” he said softly. He looked up at the Grandfather clock and shifted in his chair. “We’d better get back—if Poppy comes in to check on us and we’re not there she’ll have puppies.”

She laughed at the serious look on his face which broke into his familiar impish grin, “You think I’m joking?”

She liked him like this, when he was relaxed instead of busy trying to impress her…even though he hadn’t really pulled a stunt like that since last year. But since last year she’d been feeling it come on gradually—this affection for him, nothing conscious or cognitive, just reactions to him, she often found herself laughing at one of his jokes during prefects meetings or deliberately carrying on a conversation. She noted the way that Dumbledore respected him, and she found herself understanding why.

Last year he had been tolerable, this year, however, he was likeable and she wasn’t sure who had changed. Him or her?

She was sure that this year it was because she had been exposed to his more redeeming qualities, working in such close proximity with him had allowed her to get to know him in a different manner.

He was still arrogant, overtly self confident, occasionally conceited and endlessly troublesome but he was also brave, fiercely loyal, compassionate, understanding, kind (well, to most people), clever, fun and (she thought back to his lithe body in the Hospital Wing) not at all unattractive.

At 17 years of age he was so unlike the scrawny 11 year old she’d started school with. His shoulders were broader, long limbs moved with a sort of studied grace, sinewy muscles melted down his arms, running into his slender, skilful hands and fingers. He was slight in frame, thin even, though not the straggly boy she’d regarded him as all this time.

His face; no longer that of angelic choir boy with bright, fiercely intelligent eyes, his glasses were no longer too big for his face and they perched on his nose, giving him a scholarly look, she thought. His impish grin was ever present but his jaw was stronger and at the moment covered in the coarse beginnings of a day old beard. His untidy black hair still made him look quite juvenile, but she kind of found that endearing.

His appearance was trapped somewhere between naughty schoolboy and powerful wizard.

And he was currently looking at her with a strange expression.

“Lily?”

“Er, yes?”

“I asked if you were ready to go.”

“Oh. Yes, sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He grinned and tossed the Invisibility Cloak around the both of them.

He was sp close that she could feel his heart beat against her back, it was considerably faster than usual, but, she realised, that her own heart was keeping pace admirably.

This was not her normal reaction to James Potter, not even with all the recent progress they’d made. James Potter inspired a sense of frustration, but now she was struggling to remember exactly why he was so frustrating.

She gave an involuntary shiver and she knew he must have felt it. He was so, so close.

She might have blamed it on the mulled mead, but then she remembered she’d only had half a glass.

The attack yesterday had brought down her inhibitions, taught her a thing or two about the power of instinct and perhaps a little something about the kind of person James Potter really was.

She turned to face him and he looked down at her with a puzzled appearance. She pressed a hand to his chest and could feel his heart race beneath her palm, she wondered idly how he could still be standing, it was a miracle he didn’t just rocket off through the ceiling.

A smile quirked on her lips and his quizzical expression was now replaced with trepidation and longing. His breath was shallow and concentrated; warm…she could feel it on her skin.

His hand trembled as he raised it to cup her face. He had suspended his disbelief and decided it might be a good idea to do something in this situation, lest it really was just a moment of insanity and she would remember who he actually was and change her tactics.

She was intoxicating. Her hair smelled faintly of citrus, impossibly soft as it cascaded over her shoulders. She was looking up at him with those magnificent green eyes, pleadingly.

Never in his wildest fantasies…well, perhaps in a couple of them, had he ever been in a situation like this. But this was real, staggeringly, painfully real. He’d never felt so nervous in his entire life.

Her delicate hand was still pressed against his heart and he savoured the touch; his thumb stroked her cheek, desperately trying to keep his calm. She raised up on her tip-toes and he leaned down to meet her lips, his other hand braced her against his body.

This was unlike the chastened kisses she’d shared with other boys. There was no stilted uncertainty, no childish exploration of her body. James Potter knew what he was doing, and he applied the same virtues he applied to all other areas of his life: passion, skill, honesty and power. But at the same time he was incredibly gentle.

He tasted like bread and honey.

The Invisibility Cloak slipped from their shoulders and shivered to the floor. She wrapped her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss; her toes were barely touching the floor.

While he could have gladly stayed this way forever. Kissing Lily Evans was everything he’d ever imagined it to be. However he hadn’t counted on just how nervous she had made him, and he’d always imagined himself taking her on a date, somewhere a little more classy than the Hogwarts kitchens.

Oh well, the important thing was that Lily Evans was kissing him, in his arms of her own free will. Stranger things had happened, but right now he couldn’t have given an example.

They broke apart and when they did, their eyes never left the others’, each trying to interpret the torrent of emotions running behind them.

Her lips were swollen with kisses. His kisses he thought with a sort of giddy pride.

For a second he wondered if she might realise who she had been kissing and run off or slap him, but instead she rested her head on his chest, her hands pressed against him.

She sighed contentedly and sought his hand with one of her own, with his spare hand he adjusted his glasses (which had gone quite askew amidst the action) and then stroked her back languidly, smiling to himself and for her.

She laughed breathlessly and he could feel the vibrations on his skin.

“What?” he murmured.

She tilted her head up to look at him. Those hazel eyes were filled once again with bewilderment. “Should have done that a long time ago,” she drawled, and this time he laughed.

“Probably not a good time to say ‘I told you so’, right?”

She grinned. “I don’t think so, not if you know what’s good for you, anyway.”

“I know what’s good for me,” he whispered suggestively and she could hear the leering grin in his voice.

“Don’t push it,” she warned, looking up at him seriously before breaking into a sly smile.

“Me? The perfect gentleman? I think I ought to be questioning your motives, Miss Evans.” He’d meant it lightly but there was a note of gravity to his voice that Lily did not fail pick up.

“James?” she inquired, freeing herself from his embrace.

He sighed and fidgeted uneasily. He forced himself to look at her, still tasting her on his lips. “I…what was that for you?” he blurted. “Because I like you, Lily, you know, in case you hadn’t figured that out. But…but I know that I’m not exactly your favourite person, so…why?”

She felt her temper rise at the insinuation, feeling cheapened somehow, but it subsided as she glanced the vulnerable, anxious look on his face.

She knew that this was going to have to be handled rather delicately, after all, it was a fair question, one that she didn’t really have a coherent answer for herself. She couldn’t think of a single reason that she would be down in the Hogwarts kitchens kissing James Potter. Except that she liked him. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained

She took a step forward, closing the space between. She conjured up a smile, trying to give off the impression that she was calm. Taking one of his hands in her own, she fixed him with a stare. “James, I…do I really have to convince you you’re a good person? You wasted a lot of time trying to impress me but things change. People change.” She cringed, “Horrible cliché, sorry.”

His features melted into a mask of relief and he smiled, a smile that even now she was beginning to think of as her own. “Well, I liked it. Impress you huh?”

She grinned wickedly. “I prefer this approach,” she said leaning in and he could do nothing but oblige her.



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