Chapter 11 : When The Plan Actually Goes According To ... Plan?
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(credit to the amazing milominderbinder)
I studied my reflection, not all together pleased—but then what girl looked in the mirror and was completely satisfied?
'I look fit to fuck,' Dom declared, checking her reflection out.
Right … Girls like Dom.
But she wasn't wrong, she did look hot. She was wearing the same black skirt she wore to her birthday but paired this time with a sheer, glittery short-sleeved top with a visible lacy black bralette underneath. She'd drawn her curled hair into a high pony tail with a few loose coppery strands framing her face. Her make up was simple; lifted lashes, a dusting of silver eyeshadow, a nude lip.
I'd gone for a similar look make-up wise—that is, minimal—except no eyeshadow and a winged eye instead, with a small, barely noticeably flick, finished off with a dusty rose lip.
This time around, there was no pre-party anxiety—I was so relieved with the sudden change to our plan that it had made me lightheaded. I knew I was going to get out of here the first thing tomorrow, after I drunkenly, with copious amounts liquid courage, confronted Dom and asked her what in the eternal fuck was wrong with her. So I was happy enough to even feel like I wasn't faking being friendly with her, not suspecting her every word or move. Instead, I sank into the warm amber glow of chatting about random things, painting our faces, genuinely enjoying the infectious thrill that went with getting ready.
It made everything I did ten times as important.
Like choosing an outfit.
'No,' Dom said, shooting down the fifth outfit choice I showed her. 'Ugly shirt, ugly skirt. Ugly.'
I scowled. 'Cheers, Dom. Those were expensive.'
'You should return them.'
I shot her a nasty look that was ignored.
'Next!' boomed Dictator Dom, sitting on the bed as though it was her throne.
'This?' I showed her another combination that she scoffed at. I threw it on the bed in frustration. 'You decide for me then!'
Dom grinned maniacally. 'Magic to my ears, Jen.'
I flopped down on the bed, giving up. Most of Dom's clothes were too big on me around the bust area so I was sure she'd avoid scrummaging through her closet for options that would only point out how disappointingly lacking my body was. And don't get me wrong—I loved my body. It was just hard not to feel insecure when your best friend was a five foot eight part Veela with a body like a swimsuit model. I did, like any other girl, envy and want a bigger boobs.
I watched as she searched through the wardrobe, tossing out clothes at random.
I narrowed my eyes at all my clothes strewn across the floor. She was going to have to put those back.
'This!' she said suddenly.
I pursed my lips sceptically at the only black skirt I bought with me. 'Dom, we'll match.'
'Not—if you wear this!' With a flourish, she brandished a ruched, short sleeved off the shoulder crop top. It was black and tight and would definitely bare at least a couple of centimetres of my midriff. 'It's mine but whatever, I know it'll fit. You have smaller boobs than me anyway.'
I snatched the clothes, changing into them without protest. Dom was, unsurprisingly, right: the top fit well enough, so my cleavage was more existent than usual when I wore her clothes. Dom waited impatiently by the door while I pulled my shoes on (my dirty white Nike trainers—I liked my small comforts). But Dom was so impatient she yanked me to my feet before I could even get a second look at myself, the Monet that I was.
'You look fine! Amazing!' she huffed when I protested. 'I want to get drunk! Come on!'
We met Freddie in the living room and he looked hot—if I did say so myself. My eyebrows raised themselves of their own accord. He wore black skinny jeans and a long-sleeved blue and white horizontally stripped t-shirt with a red heart above his … well, heart.
'Nice!' Freddie said appreciatively as we walked in. I did a little twirl as Dom struck a haughty pose.
'We know,' she said. Then she straightened up, eyeing his shirt. 'Is that Comme des Garçons?'
Freddie stared blankly at her. 'Yes.'
'Do you have to be so ostentatious?'
'Mm … yes?'
'Where is everyone?' I interjected before they could descend into an argument about the issues of showcasing their personal wealth at a time like this, what with another Riot protest just over our shoulders.
I didn't feel particularly keen on a heated debate (which was likely to escalate into a incoherent shouting) about renewed anti-pureblood sentiment brewing over a new wave of distaste with Wotter fanaticism—which was currently enjoying the height of its popularity after Harry Potter and his Aurors defended a break in at the Department of Mysteries months ago—and how displaying their privilege was just ammunition to the anti-Wotters.
Even thinking about it exhausted me.
'Luke and James are staying behind to finish the stars,' Freddie explained, tearing his narrowed eyes away from Dom. 'They'll be there as soon as they're done.'
'Bummer!' Dom pouted, distracted. 'So it'll be just us girls then!' She winked at Freddie who rolled his eyes exaggeratedly.
'But it's nearly eleven,' I muttered, checking my wizPhone. 'Tell them to hurry up.'
'It's a party not detention. Plus, the stars need to be finished!'
Freddie gave me a pointed look, as if to say stop being so obvious, to which I replied with raised eyebrows, I'm not being obvious also I forgot the old plan wasn't happening again. Freddie shook his head.
'Are you both done?' Dom said impatiently, eyes darting back and forth between us. 'The sooner I learn Legilimens the better.'
Freddie and I shared a look—this time we didn't have to pretend to read each other's mind to know we were thinking the same thing.
Better for who?
'Late to your own party?' Tessa Zhou asked in her nasally wasp, standing at the threshold with her hip cocked to the side. She arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow. 'Isn't that a bit theatrical? Even for Gryffs?'
'Aren't you a bit sober to be talking to us at all?' I snapped back, shouldering past her into the already filled room.
Freddie sniggered and Dom snorted in cool amusement.
I still hadn't forgiven her for calling me that newt Gamble's girlfriend.
To my pleasant surprise, the empty house had turned into a shockingly good replica of an abandoned Berlin warehouse. At some point during the day either Flora or Freddie (probably Freddie) had found fluorescent white strobe lights from the furniture store and got them going, sending epileptic seizure inducing flashes all over the place; music blared thunderously through the house and I dearly hoped Gamble's muffilato skills were up to task.
The whole crew was here—Harry Foster, Milo Bennett and Will Pine, Marisa, Ella, Gamble, Flora, Nathaniel Smith and even Holly Winters, who I thought, after the last party, would've rather crawled into a hole with friendly mole people and died than show up to another one of these again.
'Nice turn out,' Freddie said appreciatively.
'Wasn't that the point?' I said, staring at Flora.
She caught my gaze and her eyes widened almost imperceptibly, locking with someone over my head. Confused, I followed her gaze and almost had an aneurysm.
I'd forgotten Dom was with me.
I grinned maniacally at her. 'Hey! Let's get fucked!'
Dom snapped her gaze away from Flora, eyes still simmering with hatred. 'Good idea. I always like to be belligerently drunk before I threaten someone.'
'Can you make me a Dom's Doom?'
Her entire expression shifted at once, manic excitement transforming her features. 'What?! Really?! I have permission?! I thought you said it was disgusting! I thought you banned it in the One Hundred and Eighty-Eighth Order of the Quidditch Accords!'
'I did,' I said darkly, already regretting my words. 'And with good reason. You made twelve Quidditch players black out after one Dom's Doom. All four houses had players hospitalised for two weeks! We all had to find last minute reserves and it was a miracle we even won last year—'
'All right, all right!' Dom said, annoyed but still unable to hide the thrill in her eyes. 'But?'
'But,' I said grudgingly. Jesus, the things I did for a distraction. 'We're not at Hogwarts.'
'Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! This is a better gift than the bloody necklace!'
Dom flounced off, throwing herself at a flustered and red Nathaniel Smith before twirling away to the kitchen where a heap of non-Muggle alcohol was piled. Smith blew air out his cheeks and shook his head, dazed.
'Cheers Dom,' I muttered. I turned to Freddie, arching an eyebrow. 'Tell Flora not to get Newton and Fig?'
'Yeah,' he agreed. 'It's all cool Jenelly! Time to get—'
'—fucking fucked up?'
Freddie winked. 'Who ever said you were a boring killjoy?'
'Yeah. Wait—what? Who said that? Hey—Freddie!'
I harrumphed in irritation as he escaped my wrath and into the crowd, popular guy that he was, hands clamouring all over him to have a chat and be dignified by his imbecile gaze. He better tell Flora soon.
Dom successfully distracted, I stared intensely at the back of Flora's head again until she locked eyes with me. I gestured surreptitiously with my chin to meet in the empty bathroom. She gave a slight nod to indicate that she understood and turned back to Holly and Ella, excusing herself. I looked around furtively to make sure no one was watching and—
'All done!' Dom cried happily, shoving a pint of Dom's Doom in my face.
I caught a flash of Flora disappearing down the corridor and cursed my bad luck.
I looked back at Dom, smiling, except I was sure it came out as more of a pained grimace.
'Oh don't look so worried,' she said, rolling her eyes. 'It's a milder version of the original. I didn't have all my usual ingredients, unfortunately. But fortunately for you it's guaranteed to make you black out after three drinks instead of just the one!'
'Brilliant.' We clinked our glasses and she drank hers with gusto. A bit terrified, I took a sip—and to my utter shock, found that it actually didn't taste bad. My eyes flicked up to her, amazed. 'Dom! This isn't half bad!'
'Wow! Can I taste honey in here?'
'You bet your fine arse you can!'
'Wow!' I said again, genuinely impressed. 'I definitely want another!'
Famous last words anyone?
An hour later and I'd lost everyone.
Dom had disappeared with Will Pine (great), Freddie had commandeered a bedroom with the other guys, and I was currently in the bathroom, looking at my hazy reflection trying to understand how I got this drunk. After another stomach swooping minute of bracing my hands against the cool porcelain sink and trying to regulate my rapid heart rate, I drew up.
My reflection looked ill. It was like all the anxiety and dread that I felt thinking about asking Dom was seeping into my pores, spreading through my veins like poison, multiplying in my cells like a cancer.
I knew I had to do it. But my stomach coiled into a knot, my heart clenched, and I was too afraid.
Abruptly, a wall slammed down on those thoughts.
I wouldn't think about it. Not yet.
Like they never existed, I began touching up my make up and fixed my skirt and top. A minute passed. I twisted around, checking my bum out, pursing my lips and thinking damn girl, you look fit to fuck. Then I shook my head. Stupid. That only worked for people like Dom. As I stared at my face in the mirror, wondering who are you?, I tried to tell myself that, actually, on second thought, I wasn't that drunk.
I half stumbled out of the bathroom, furiously double checking to see if my top was still covering both my boobs, rearing up to approach the masses I was so desperately trying to please, when I saw Luke retract himself from Marisa—who was furiously engaging him in chat—and make a beeline towards me.
The living room at the end of the hallway was a colourful cacophony of colour and noise, people screeching, dancing, drinking, smoking. The strobe lights flashed erratically, disorienting me, but my swimming head sobered somewhat as Luke's silhouette materialised in front of me.
His gold-blue eyes searched mine. 'All right?'
'Did you find out yet? Have you asked Dom?'
His words lanced off my ears, the annoying buzz of a bee. 'What? No—not yet.'
'How is this party even going to achieve what you want?' he demanded.
'Because parties mean drunk and drunk means fights!'
Luke went on as if he hadn't heard me at all, steadily growing more frustrated. 'You've just been avoiding her this whole time—'
'You would too if you couldn't stand the sight of her!' I hissed.
I tried to move past him but he blocked my path. God, he needed to get out of my way.
'That's a stupid excuse and what did you mean by the way? Leave at one? What's going to happen at one, Jenny? If you've—'
'Nothing!' I cried, overwhelmed by his presence. Suddenly, I realised that despite my reasoning, I was very drunk. 'Nothing's happening at one! No—seriously, Luke! Nothing's happening! I don't know why I said that. Stay as along as you like, settle down here for all I care, I think Marisa wants to marry you anyway—'
Luke caught my arm and spun me around as I tried to leave a second time.
'What do you want!' I whinged.
He glared at me. 'Something's up with you. I can tell.'
'Once again Ashwood, thank you for keeping your keen observational skills in tip-top shape, but they're not needed.'
'I'm just saying!' he said indignantly. 'I can tell when you're all—erratic! It's an ill omen!'
'An ill omen? Erratic?! I'm partying you stupid sod!'
Luke's eyes widened dramatically. 'Wait, you're not mad that we kissed are you?'
'AH! Shut up!' I looked around him to see anyone was around or had heard. 'Oh my god I am going to kill you—'
'Oh piss off! It was barely a peck!'
My mouth dropped in outrage. 'I felt tongue, you scoundrel!'
'Oh yeah,' he said sheepishly. 'Felt bad about that. I didn't mean to, sorry—'
'Sorry?' I cried, outraged. 'Sorry you stuck that—that thing down my throat for six seconds?!'
I gaped at him. Luke and I stared at each other for a chaotic moment, him genuinely surprised by this, me distracted by his genuine surprise at this—then burst out laughing. We doubled over, laughing hysterically and just when we thought we were sobering up, we'd catch each other's eye and lose it all over again. Finally, wiping away tears of mirth, I hiccoughed and leaned against the wall for support.
'Oh my god,' I wheezed. 'This whole trip has been one long dream-state fucking nightmare.'
'I still can't believe Dom did all of this,' Luke said, shaking his head. 'I mean—why? I'm concerned she may be a sociopath. Or a pathological liar.'
'No. She isn't psychotic. It's worse than that.'
'Than being psychotic?'
'She did it because she fancies you. And love makes people do stupid things.'
I would know.
Luke shot me a look of utter astonishment.
I didn't even feel bad for telling him Dom's lock-and-key guarded secret. My life had been so immeasurably upended her by own stupidity, I was sure she could forgive me my drunken mistake. Besides, after ruining my relationship, she couldn't begrudge me her own ruination.
'Dom does not love me. Not—not like that anyway.'
'Fine. She does fancy you though.'
'Fancy me or not—that is not fucking all right.'
'I wish someone had told her that.'
We fell into an amiable, contemplative silence. Vaguely I was aware that if Luke was here then James was too. In fact, it had occurred to me the moment I saw him. But I had pushed the ridiculous urge to ask Luke where he was and go looking for him away. I kept forgetting in my drunk state that I was supposed to be furious with him, that I was supposed to hate him. It wasn't easy, hating him. Even though I had plenty of reasons.
'You know,' Luke began after a moment. 'I am sorry our first kiss went down like that. It's not how I'd imagined it.'
I looked up at him witheringly. 'I know you say things just to get a reaction out of me. It's not working.'
He grin widened. His gaze flicked up and down my body thoughtfully. 'If you want, we could try it again—'
'Oh fuck off, Ashwood!' I laughed. Then I caught Tessa's suspicious gaze out of the corner my eye. She raised her eyebrows at me and Luke and entered the bedroom where people were passing around a joint. My mood soured immediately. 'Come on. Forget this. Let's dance.'
'I don't dance. I stand broodingly in the corner, looking mysterious and unapproachable before making eyes with a beautiful girl from across the room.'
'Yeah, good luck with that.'
As soon as we stepped into the living room, I was dragged unceremoniously aside by Ella ('Argh!'). Luke rolled his eyes but was immediately commandeered by Marisa again, so had nothing to complain about. Ella's pale green eyes were wide and alert as she shoved me into a corner of the kitchen. She was wearing a pretty white cotton dress and black Converse, her straight blonde fringe falling artfully into her eyes.
'What?' I said.
'Ollie and Flora have been acting so strange, Jenny,' she said, voice hushed, as if it was of the utmost importance that I know this. 'He's been following her around everywhere and she's moping like her dog's just died and, by the way, what the fuck is going on with her and James? Like he's still not here and she was crying the other day and—I think she's jealous of you and Ollie! She might be, like, realising her true feelings for him and James knows or something!'
Er … right.
'She was crying? About—about what?'
'I don't know! She locked herself in the bathroom for an hour. I knew she was crying. And—no offence—but James isn't like the greatest person ever to her. He's barely even spoken to her this whole trip—like, honestly, why the fuck are they even dating? I don't know, maybe he's with her to make you jealous or something?'
Er … right.
'I—I don't know—'
'I so don't think he's over you,' she went on loudly, as if this might be a brand new perspective I'd never thought of before. 'But he's still dating her—though if he's just found out Flora likes Ollie back that might the actual reason but still. He's being the literal definition of a fuck boy with Flora. I need to figure his deal out. Should I talk to him tonight when he comes? Is he even coming?'
My mind was spinning with all of Ella's bad information and theories.
'Um, no. Please don't. Please don't do anything. I don't think Flora was crying about—about Ollie—'
'Why? What do you know about it?'
My eyes widened in slight panic. 'Me? Nothing! But just—we would know, wouldn't we? And why would she be with James if she did, right?'
'Yeah ... true. I suppose ...'
I stared at Ella and she gazed significantly back.
'So,' she said. 'He's using her to make you jealous then.'
'If that were true,' I said, feigning a grim smile and feeling sick to my stomach. 'He'd be such a fucking wanker, I'd never like him again.'
Ella snorted and shook her fringe out of her eyes, folding her arms across her chest. 'It is charming though. A bit.'
'James Potter could murder Professor McGonagall and people would also think it was charming.'
Ella appraised me with a smirk. 'Funny. And maybe a little true. It's just so out of character. The way he's acting. Don't you think?'
'Um, hell yes? He was never such an arse before—'
'Listen,' she interrupted suddenly, dropping her voice and moving closer towards me. 'Yes it's a massive dick move if he's been dating Flora—calling her his girlfriend—completely screwing with her own emotions just to make you angry. It's fucked up on so many levels I don't even know them all. But it's not like him. It's not who he really is.'
I stared at her, dumbfounded, not knowing what to say.
Her smirk turned into a lopsided grin and she moved back abruptly.
'He's so messed up over you, oh Merlin.'
'I don't like this talk,' I moped. 'Makes me sober.'
'Give him a taste of his own medicine then. With Ollie.' Ella wagged her eyebrows suggestively. 'Ollie's fucking hot. Hotter than James, dare I say.'
Yeah ... been there, done that, got the aggressive verbal attack in a furniture shop.
'Ells,' I said wearily. 'If I ever get over James Potter, Ollie would be the last to fucking know.'
'What the hell! Why!'
I quickly told her how he called me out on my relationship with James in Furniture & Hardware. Ella's jaw dropped with every word, eyes growing wider and wider.
'Wow ... prick.'
'You know what? I'm actually glad we had this talk—I feel like we both learnt a lot—it was super informative—now let's take some fucking shots and dance!'
I was pissed.
Everyone was in the living room, all fifteen of us, and somehow, we seemed like a hundred. And we were actually dancing—humping and grinding, hands all over each other. I had the sneaking suspicion that Dom had given every single person—apart from Holly Winters, who was so morose I just wanted to put her out of her misery and tell her to get out—a glass, or three, of Dom's Doom.
I leaned back against the cool window, relishing the iciness of it against my hot, sweaty back. I closed my eyes; my hair was down in its natural waves, bushier now because of the heat and humidity, and sticky against my bare collar bones.
So far, I'd danced like a madwoman, screamed songs at the top of my lungs, chatted maniacally with Marisa and Ella about how Gillian Andrews was definitely pregnant and allowed Milo Bennett to slip his hands around my waist. Sat against the window, I remembered the way my stomach coiled like a snake, strangely intoxicated as his fingers brushed against an inch of bare stomach. It was insane, unbelievable, that I could feel something for anyone but James—but maybe it was just desire—I mean, Milo was all right—good looking enough—
'Jenny, what are you doing?'
I knew that voice like the beat of my own heart.
'Hi,' I said, eyes flickering open. 'Guess the prodigal finally showed up.'
James smiled crookedly, my favourite, and handed me a glass of clear liquid. I took it and sniffed it suspiciously. After my second Dom's Doom, I couldn't risk anything. It had taken me almost forty minutes to make the room stop spinning and abate the nausea rising up my gut.
'Oh—right.' I gulped it, barely stopping myself from moaning in pleasure, because that would've been just a little extra.
My eyes flickered all over him, drinking him in as well; he was wearing dark jeans and a plain white t-shirt that showed off his lean, muscular body just … brilliantly. He looked handsome, as always, lips sugary pink and full, eyes dark and intense. My gaze roved lazily over his arms, big and just straining against his sleeves in a way that sent my pulse into a frenzy.
I met his amused gaze, feeling hot and molten and completely untethered to my body.
'Anytime.' He watched me stare at him. I detected a hint of amusement. 'Are you okay?'
'Yeah.' I pushed myself off the window and closed the space between us, stumbling only a little. James' eyebrows shot up. Honestly, even I was taken aback by my sudden forwardness. You know, especially considering our last real conversation had ended up in anger and a hasty plan to give our entire class detention so I wouldn't have to see his face again.
Now, I couldn't take my eyes off him. Our chests were separated by a few meaningless, searing inches. A luscious, inexplicable heat kindled in my stomach, spreading a golden, liquid glow through my veins.
I didn't even care that I knew how stupid I was being.
I just didn't care.
I wanted what I wanted.
I would never get enough of him would I? Never want anyone like this? Was I finished too? Was the person I was looking for this idiot? This jealous, impulsive, prideful idiot?
James' heavy, swirling gaze was unwavering, mouth quirked up into a smirk.
He always read me like an open book.
He didn't need Flora to make me jealous. He didn't have to do that, hurt her, hurt me, just to show me that he wasn't hurt. That he could move on. He didn't have to do anything—I would've believed him.
I knew he liked me. A lot. But I didn't trust teenage relationships. I never have. I didn't believe anyone could be finished, that anyone could be done looking, not at our age.
'You look pretty,' he said, as if commenting on the weather. Could he not feel our bodies burning like two pillars of stardust? Was it not as ridiculous to him as it was to me that he still had his shirt on? What about the flat sun pressed between us, catching fire to our edges? I'd ached—ached to hear his voice the way it sounded now, and he was completely unaware of the effect it had on me. Brimming with good humour, mischief and the easy joy that came with having a charmed, beautiful life.
'You smell even better. You smell so good …'
The heat blazed into an inferno.
'You always flatter me when you want something. I know all your tricks, Potter.'
James made an impossibly cute noise of amusement; half a snort, half a chuckle.
'What if I just want you? No tricks.'
My breath caught in my throat; I tried not to let my fluster show.
James was struggling not to grin, but he wasn't joking.
I didn't trust teenage relationships.
But he confused me. He made me think that maybe—maybe I was wrong. And that terrified me.
Everyone around us was in their own worlds—Dom still in the crowd dancing, or in the bathroom with Marisa; Freddie smoking with Luke or whoever in a bedroom—and we were in ours. Far away. Our own pocket of the universe. My skin trembled with a static, charged electricity.
'And do I want you?' I asked; my skin brushed against his shirt, featherlight, we were that close. My stomach coiled, twisting with plain desire. His eyes flicked down and up my body again so fast I didn't know if I'd imagined it.
I saw him reach his hand up—to brush away a trendril, to brush my cheek, I didn't know.
'Let's dance,' I ordered, moving aside abruptly, dragging him into the crowd.
Milo Bennett clapped James on the shoulders and yelled 'Get in mate!' before I tugged him impatiently.
His arms went around my waist, mine around his neck. The music pumped to the beat of my pulse as I wound my hips against his. I felt utterly in control with James under my spell; his features blazed with smoky intensity. Knowing his eyes would never leave me, knowing he was watching me, I twisted around, pressing his hand tighter against my waist, the other twining around his neck. Our bodies locked, hands burning skin.
I pressed harder against him, winding my hips to the beat, an unreasonable thrill shooting up my spine at the way his hands tightened, fingers digging. I felt his pulse quicken.
Suddenly, James spun me out. My lips parted in surprise; he grinned wickedly. He tugged my arm and I curled back into him, heart pounding rapidly in my chest. His arm went around my waist, fingers clasping mine.
'Game on, Clarke,' he murmured in my ear.
He twirled me around pulled me flush against him, chests pressed against each other's, heart beats synching. He took my hand and put the other on my waist. He leaned in to whisper in my ear instead of shouting over the music.
'Let me lead.'
James spun me around again and the air was the silkiness of water; lights flashed, my friends danced, writhing, sweating. He twirled me back in and I felt his chest against my back again, arms entwined.
I looked up at him, breathing hard, flushed.
'You want me,' he said simply, voice husky and melodic.
'So you say.'
I slipped out of his grasp and threw my hands over my head, whipping my hair, body rippling to sound of the deep bass. Behind me, Ella wrapped her arms around my waist, laughing with euphoria, oblivious to James' burning eyes as he watched me, an unreadable, intoxicated expression on his face. Eyes never leaving his, I turned to Ella and grinned.
She grinned back, freckled face shuttering in and out of illumination.
Then the beat dropped.
We thrashed wildly, arms up in the air, screaming the words to the song, 'IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WAY I TALK, THEN WHY AM I ON YOUR MIND? IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WAY I ROCK, THEN FINISH YOUR GLASS OF WINE!' I threw my hair back, jumping up and down.
When I looked again, James was gone. A violent, almost painful pang of disappointment seared through my heart. But instead of dwelling on it, I danced with Ella, screaming in delight as Marisa and Dom joined us. Out the corner of my eye I saw Harry Foster pull a reluctant Holly Winters to the dance floor, swinging her arms side to side awkwardly—but then she grinned.
God I loved parties!
Finally, exhausted, I told them I was going to get some water. At the kitchen counter, I found James chatting with Freddie, who I raised my eyebrows at as a way of greeting.
'Jenny,' Freddie said, pressing his lips together in obvious amusement. 'You should bare your décolletage more often.'
'Are you flirting with me, Weasley?' I asked, batting my lashes exaggeratedly, distinctly aware of James' gaze. 'You'll have to join the queue.'
'Be still my beating heart,' he said. 'I'm available for the rest of my life.'
My eyes flashed up to James; he smirked.
'If I want you,' I said, addressing him directly. 'I'll let you know.'
'Yup! And I'll take that as my cue to leave …'
James and I looked at each other, eyes locked in tumultuous exchange of multitudes, and it was a challenge, a provocation and a demand all wrapped up in one. There was a glint of curiosity in the deep, dark espresso, coupled with plain, almost lazy desire. My pulse sped up; stomach coiled tightly; heart clenched; blood sang in my veins, burning with slow, flickering flames.
'What do you want, Clarke?' he murmured. He seemed genuinely curious, as if he was trying to figure out what I was doing and had given up.
'I don't know,' I said truthfully.
He looked so fucking good, it was driving me insane. Why did anger and hatred, the fact that I didn't want to be anywhere near him, make me crave him?
I felt desperate to touch him. To feel him close to me. To remind myself he was real. That he was finished and I was what he was looking for. I wanted him to tell me.
'Yes, you do. Just say it.'
'Come on,' he said abruptly, voice rough and low.
James took my hand, not even looking over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching, our fingers lacing automatically, out of pure habit, as we fled into the cool night.
I felt nauseatingly happy—giddy—up in the stars that I loved so much, stomach performing somersaults. Swathed in a blanket of light pink joy, mouthwatering, sour and sweet. I wanted to melt into him, to fuse our bones, to knit our souls.
It was fucking weird.
I couldn't help it.
Alcohol minus sick guilt plus alarmingly attractive James Potter equalled Jenny all hot and bothered with no inhibitions.
James and I ambled back to our house, and I laughed at the jokes he cracked, wiping away tears of mirth as told me Milo Bennett ate a dungbomb on a dare and couldn't stop farting fiery, pungent farts and that was really why he wanted to leave the party. Then I caught him watching my mouth move in conversation and we half ran back, hearts beating wildly, deliciously with suspense at the prospect of being alone in our house together.
James unlocked the door, looking at me furtively over his shoulder, grin wicked and devilish.
'Close your eyes,' he instructed.
'Is that what you said before you obliviated me?'
'Ha ha, Jenelle Clarke.' I felt James take my hand, white hot palm in mine, and lead me inside. 'Watch your step—okay—just here—you have to be centre!'
'Okay! Merlin, Morgana and Sluggy!'
'The unholy trinity,' he muttered. Then, I felt his calloused thumb lift my chin slightly up, and my hair spilt over my back. Even though my eyes were closed, I could tell it was bright—but he hadn't turned the lights on had he?
'Okay,' he murmured in my ear, cool breath trickling down my neck, making me shiver. His hands gripped my arms gently, back flush against his chest. I couldn't concentrate. 'Open your eyes.'
'Oh my god,' I breathed, stepping away from him and whirling around in complete awe. Mouth hanging open, I drank in the sight above me, a wave of indescribable wonderment spreading through me.
It was beautiful.
The ceiling had been transformed, Charmed to mimic the sky outside. It was a smooth, flat midnight blue, an ancient wash that had seen empires built and fall, great loves, brutal and bloody wars, the founding of Hogwarts, and us, tonight. In the cloudless, violent violet crush, were the glass spheres that Dom had Charmed to glow a blinding white. They hung, suspended at various heights above our heads, by magic, like real stars.
'Watch.' James cleared his throat and raised his voice. 'What time is it?'
To my utter astonishment, a few stars flew gracefully and rearranged themselves to spell out … 12:37 A.M.
I spun around on my heel and gaped incredulously at James.
He grinned back, that crooked one that always made my heart jump, obviously pleased by my response. He ran a hand through his messy golden brown hair, sending it sticking up in every direction, as though he'd lost a fight with an electrical outlet.
'It doesn't do much beyond tell the time and the date for now but Freddie and I reckon over time it'll start to learn, kind of like A.I.—'
'Shut up, James.'
His eyes snapped down to mine, suddenly unreadable.
I felt breathless. I felt the stars like they were inside of me, each a starburst of platinum white. Looking at him underneath their pearly light, I forgot why we weren't together. I forgot why I was angry with him. Why we'd made each other mad in confusion. I forgot all the parts of him that irritated me and enraged me. I only remembered how deeply I missed him the way he was now, the way he had always been, before all of this.
And I missed him so much, it was hard to speak.
'Do you love me?'
James' amusement flickered away. It was replaced with his newly learnt impassivity.
'Don't call me that.'
'Clarke,' he said, taking a step towards me, eyebrows raised.
I took a step back.
'Do you miss me?' I asked, taking another step back as he came closer.
'Miss you? You're right here.'
'Did you miss me?'
'What's gotten into you? Why are you asking me these questions?'
I looked up at the stars. 'Maybe they'll answer.'
'They can't answer things like that.'
'Why can't you just tell me how you feel?'
'I'm not the only one withholding! Why can't you?'
'I don't think you deserve to know.'
'What the hell is that supposed to mean?'
'It means exactly what I said you knobhead.'
'Why then? Why don't I deserve it?'
Because I think I'm in love with you; I think this time, if I let you back in, if I tell you, you could break my heart and I would never recover from it; you don't deserve it because I have no idea how you feel, and I am not getting hurt again.
'Why do you think?'
'Because I broke us up over a lie Dom told?'
'Alleged lie. And yes, you're on the right track.'
'Jenelle,' James said, voice tinged with light exasperation. I hadn't bothered moving away as he slowly closed the gap between us. I looked up at him and he looked down at me, expression smouldering with an emotion I couldn't place.
'I thought I said not to call me that,' I whispered.
'It's your name,' he murmured, tucking a loose wave behind my ear. He let his fingers linger against my jaw. A shiver ran down my spine.
'Not the one you call me.' But my words were swallowed whole by his mouth on mine.
I reacted at once, a spark igniting: I crushed into him, mouths sliding over each other's in a reckless frenzy, all tongue and teeth and god—his hands slipped into my hair, knotting themselves in it, and kissed me back hard, with bruising force. He abruptly forced me to his slow, languorous pace. I kissed him just as gently back, tasting alcohol and spearmint gum, squeezing him tighter against me.
Then, of their own accord—I swear I had no control, my body forced my brain's hand—I caught the edges of his jean jacket and pulled them off. And they were off.
He pulled away suddenly, my hands still on his chest, heart hammering furiously. His pupils were dilated, irises practically all black.
For the first time in his entire life, he sounded a little unsteady.
I nodded, mind whirling, not knowing what I was doing, why I was doing it, and not really caring anymore.
Fuck it right?
My life was already a series of unexplainable messes—why not add losing my virginity to James Potter to the mix?
It was supposed to happen anyway.
We tumbled into my bedroom then onto the bed, limbs tangling, as he kissed me again. His lips were soft and warm as they moved against mine; fusing like oxygen to fire; He deepened the kiss, exploring my mouth with his tongue. He was being slow and deliberate, as if he wanted to take the time to feel everything. The fire inside me roared its dissatisfaction, wanting—needing more. I wanted him to lose control. I wanted to press against him and get lost. I wanted to burn.
James drew back suddenly, lips swollen, eyes deliriously rich, flickering with uncertainty. 'You're not drunk are you?'
'Not that drunk,' I whispered back. James started to pull away, frowning, but I gripped him hard and brought him back down, fingers interlocking like a vice around his neck. 'Oh shut up. I want this, James Potter.'
His sudden reluctance made fear flare up inside me. He couldn't stop this—not now.
'I'm ready,' I insisted. 'Please.'
In true Potter fashion, he didn't answer. Slowly, watching me for my reaction the entire time, his hands moved down to unbutton my denim skirt, and when I smiled at him, heart thumping madly, wildly terrified and excited all at once, blood thrumming violently, he yanked it completely off and in the same motion, pulled his shirt off. My breath became shallow as I drank him in. His tan skin was pulled tight over his hard, flat stomach, tapering off into two dents that reignited a volcanic fire in my bones.
'Your top,' James murmured.
'What? Oh—right—' I discarded it quickly, trying not to show him how much of struggle it was wrestling that skin tight thing off.
In an instant, his expression shifted. His eyes widened almost imperceptibly, amazed as they traveled over my body in a daze: he was seeing me for the first time. Not to say that we haven't seen each other in our knickers before … but this time was different.
This time, I wasn't going to tell him to stop. This time he knew he didn't need to.
James was careful not to crush me with his body, bracing his weight on his arms. His hand trailed fire up my leg, over my stomach, over my breasts, my neck—my eyes fluttered shut—oh god—his touch was electric. Then his fingers knotted in my hair again and I didn't know who moved first but suddenly our lips were on each other's again, desperate, urgent. And I wasn't docile—I explored him with my hands too, bursting with triumph as he shuddered under my touch, kissing him back with a wildness I didn't know I possessed. And if I'd expected him to be gentle now, I was definitely mistaken; his mouth was rough, insistent, demanding.
I pushed him over suddenly, straddling his hips, ignoring his noise of surprise, hair spilling around us like a curtain. We were both breathing hard, searching each other for something new, because I felt new.
'Are you nervous?'
'Clarke, I know this is your first time—'
'No. I've been nervous before.'
I smiled, the corner of my mouth tilting up. 'I'm not nervous.'
With a low, intoxicated growl, James flipped us back over, so he was on top again, and I tried to protest but he trapped my hands and pinned them over my head. Then he kissed me again, hard, and I made a noise that pushed him over an edge. He deepened the kiss and his tongue … his hand splayed between my thighs and I arched my back, pressing my bare stomach against his.
'Fuck,' he murmured against my mouth. He ducked his head to trail kisses all over my stomach, up my chest, to the hollow of my neck. My back arched again of its own accord. 'What the fuck was I thinking—as if I could live without you—' His lips were on mine again, and it was like the first time all over again, his kiss rewriting my future, telling me: I am finished, and so are you.
James was all dark hair and tan skin, brown sugar and wood polish—but his fingers were flames, his mouth an inferno. The world had fallen away from me. Everything I could've possibly held on to, anything I could've possibly needed, didn't matter. My heart hammered in my chest. A whirlwind of sweet nothingness spun in my head. He groaned, setting my nerves ablaze, when I caught his lower lip between my teeth—
I fumbled with his belt, fingers trembling, burning under his searing gaze. Then those were off too. He trailed kisses down my neck, finding the sensitive spot behind my ear—and I yanked him back up because I couldn't stand it anymore.
'Jenny,' he murmured, voice throaty, hoarse with need. 'Jenny, are you sure this—'
'CLARKE! WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU, YOU STUPID FUCKING TWAT!'
James and I looked at each other in electric alarm. He scrambled off me at once and I lunged for the duvet, covering myself in petrified panic as the door flew open—
And Flora Morgan stood at the threshold, cloaked in a thin pink robe, livid gaze landing on me.
'You stupid bitch!' she screamed at me, face positively Moschino cherry red. 'You didn't fucking tell me—' Flora stopped abruptly, like a radio cut off, when she spotted James, breathing hard, face flushed and half naked in just his briefs, shirt clutched meaningfully in front of him. Her gaze snapped back to mine, eyes gigantic saucers, comically round, if this situation was funny in any way at all. The blood drained from her face.
She promptly slammed the door shut.
There was a beat of silence.
'Fuck,' I blurted. I threw the sheets off me and got to my feet, frantically searching for my clothes that were right in front of me. 'Fuck, fuck, fuck—'
'Jenny, it's fine! Stop—'
My eyes lanced up to him, furious and blisteringly sober. James hurried to put his jeans back on, hastily buckling the belt.
Oh my GOD. I couldn't believe I was about to have to SEX with him. I wasn't even on birth control!
'It's fine?! She just caught us almost having sex! After everything I—she probably hates me even fucking more now—fuck—'
'Why do you even care? It's not like you liked her anyway—'
'I do!' I spat viciously. 'I do like her! Not even your efforts to use her to make me jealous could affect that!'
James rolled his eyes, shoving his arm through the sleeve of his shirt. His head popped out, hair even more ruffled—if that was possible—than before. His eyes, once filled with wild desire, were annoyed.
'Well that hardly matters now—just leave her alone—she'll get over it—'
'Just like I got over it?!' I shouted, unbelievably angry with his blasé attitude. 'God, James! Do you even fucking hear yourself? Do you think of anything besides your own emotions for even a second?! Flora liked you! She actually, really liked you and you broke her heart—just like you broke mine!'
James stared at me, stunned—then turned abruptly angry. 'I'm sorry about Flora, okay? But I—'
'No you're not!' I laughed hysterically, breathlessly. My body was trembling with so much rage and disbelief that I had to put my robe on because I couldn't pick my clothes up. 'You're not sorry at all. You don't fucking care. You're only saying that because I'm mad and Merlin forbid if I'm still fucked off with you! You don't care about anyone but yourself—'
'Will you STOP saying that!' James roared. His face was an incandescent mask of fury. 'I care about you! You're the only person I've ever cared about! Only ever you! And you run away from it all the time—'
'That's your fucking problem,' James snarled mutinously. 'You can't even believe that I could want you. That I'd want you this much. You can't wrap your mind around the fact me and you? We're it. There is no one else for me. I fucking know it. It's time you figured it out too.'
With that, he grabbed his shoes and stormed out.
For the second time in my life, James Potter left me alone in this bedroom, angry, upset and confused.
Then, I heard a voice that certainly did not belong to either James or Flora.
'MR POTTER! TELL ME THIS INSANT WHAT YOU ARE DOING OUT OF BED!'
My blood ran cold.
Hiiii okay so the drama is UNREAAAL! Was any of this what you guys expected? I feel some of you guessed something like this would happen. I know from reading you guys' reviews you all definitely had the right idea in being wary of this party looming lol but THIS??
Stupid Jenny thought she told Freddie to tell Flora, but he thought she was telling him that she was going to tell Flora and well ... it was inspired by a great miscommunication I had with one of my friends lmao but the consequences here are a thousand times worse.
Also, tried my hand at an almost-sex-scene so sorry if it's super cringe or goes on forever! I just needed to make it as graphic as it could get to really jam in those emotions to make the end as crazy chaotic as possible lol.
Anyways. I don't own Comme des Garçons and I don't own Dua Lipa's Blow Your Mind (Mwah) ('IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WAY I TALK, THEN WHY AM I ON YOUR MIND? IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WAY I ROCK, THEN FINISH YOUR GLASS OF WINE!').
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