James, I say, tell me something good. We are lying on the floor of your bedroom. The ceiling looks like it’s cloaked in stars and I can hear you breathing next to me. I am scared. I am scared because this morning Remus dropped his spoon while he was reading the Prophet because three more people have disappeared. I am scared because you are next to me in the darkness and your hand is inches from mine. I am scared because my heart is missing in this mess and I think you may have stolen it. Well, you say, I am lying in the dark with a pretty girl, and I roll over and punch you.
How did this happen to me? I wonder. You are making me laugh in Transfiguration and I am doodling in the margin of your textbook. I used to dream about your blood being in my mouth but I haven’t slept in a month because I keep tracing your name in the darkness. I remember every single time you’ve touched me, last week in the Great Hall, yesterday at Hogsmeade, today, your knee is touching mine under the table. Your fingerprints are written all over me like ink, and I want to feel your stained hands on my paper-thin skin. I’m always looking for excuses to be close to you.
You’re doing that thing again where you stretch in class and your shirt rides up your torso. I have to tear my gaze away from your lower abdomen and your back muscles that are feathering with corded veins. Something bothering you, Evans? you ask me, and I want to say yes, yes, James, you’re bothering me. But I don’t say anything, smirking into the back of my hand as I scribble down an answer to Flitwick’s question. Remus nudges my side and Sirius is grinning at me, but I ignore them. The glint in your eyes is distracting me, anyway. The wiring in my head is similar to blown fuses. I’m overrun and overwired and I can never concentrate when I’m around you anymore.
Come with me, you say, dragging me down through the corridors. Everything is bleak and uninviting until I hold your hand. The sky is blanketed in grey and the only light in the world are the watery flames of candles and the light laced in your smile. Potter, I ask you, where are we going? Your fingers are looped messily through mine, like string tied around my knuckles. We screech as we run down over the grass, and you slam me up against a pine tree. For a second I think you are going to kiss me, wild eyes and unsteady breathing and beating hearts. But then you say, wait here, and I sit down on the bank of the lake while you pace over rocks, whispering incantations into the skies. Then we’re side by side in the tree line, and the sky breaks open. You got rid of the clouds for me. It feels like we’re stepping into the sun.
My satchel is laden with books as I trudge back from the library. Something sits, waiting, seething. Five Slytherins step in front of me and they are all taller than I am. There is a charge running along my shoulder blades and my hand twists my wand in my pocket. I am not scared, I tell myself. But I am. I am very scared, because Avery is looking at me like he wants to break open my skull and pick apart the contents. Shouldn’t you be in bed by now, Evans? he jeers, snarling. Shouldn’t you be in Azkaban? I retort. He smiles. My hand is shaking. Someone grabs me from behind and I am drowning. I can hear laughing and there are fissures cracking along my spine. My wrist feels shattered where curses break from it. There are five of them. I feel like I am dying. And then someone is wrenching an immovable weight off my heart and flinging Avery into a wall and dragging me into his side. Four of them fall into the ground. I cannot calm down. The light from my wand is static where it hits Rosier in the chest. There is blood running down my face. I can taste it. Lily, you takes my face in your hands, Lily, Lily, Lily, oh my God, are you OK? I think on this for a moment. No, I say, and pass out in your arms.
Everything is sweet and heady and too much for me. I can’t be in the same room as you anymore. I also can’t be away from you for more than five minutes. Sirius makes a sign that spells sexual tension in big block letters and starts holding it up whenever we look at each other. I think I may have to kill him. Remus and I hide his record player in Greenhouse 1. He goes ballistic when he finds out. You’re a fuckface, Evans, he tells me. Don’t be such a sore loser, Black, I say. You are laughing. I want you to stop, because it feels like I’m going to implode. I want you to stop, because I know that I’d bathe in the sound if I could.
You’re shoving my arm when we’re walking down the hallway. Did I just see you smile, Evans? you ask me. Not a chance, I lie, because you’ve made me smile every day for the past year. There’s probably a burn on my bicep where you touched me. You need to stop touching me. There’s no guarantee that I won’t drag you into the broom closet on the Fifth Floor if you don’t. Lily, you say. I turn to look at you. The stone wall is crumbling and dank where I brush past it. There’s something wild swimming in your irises. James? my voice is tentative. It doesn’t sound like my own. You aren’t talking. James, I say again. You’ve backed me into a corner. Suddenly there’s a reel playing in my head of every single point that’s led to this. Your fingers looping messily around my wrist. Your hands either side of my head. Your hips framing mine. Oh, no, I think, this is now. Because your lips are on mine and your eyelashes are tickling my cheek and my heart is falling out of my mouth. I can barely breathe because your teeth are digging into my lower lip and you taste like mint chapstick. I may have said the last bit out loud. You taste like sunshine, you counter. How do you know? I whisper.You smile at me. Because I do.
chapter one of the peter pan au. happy belated birthday @jiilys, you are the great love of my life.
He flies in through her bedroom window, spurned by a hunger for her words. She arranges them prettily every night and he waits to hear them, dirty toes scuffing along the edge of the white-painted sill, holding his breath, the tiny ball of dark light hovering at his elbow.
Toys are strewn along the rich carpet, wooden blocks and trucks and dolls in lacy dresses. He crawls on filthy hands and knees covered in scabs, searching for the girl with her words, so he can steal them, take them home to other hungry, open mouths.
The last time he was here he stood, silhouetted against the moon, his shadow waving and winking along the floor, but before he could get close, a phantom wind snapped the latch shut, like cutting off a limb. He flew backwards into the waiting arms of the oak tree in the front yard, his shadow trapped inside, dancing with the darkness, and he could not go back in and get it, retreating into the sky with the little, dark star at his side.
Now that obsidian prince upturns jars and combs and trinkets on the vanity, wings beating heartily, a silver-tipped dragonfly. The boy presides over one of the two beds, looking for the mark. He knows her by her hair, red and true as blood pricked from his thumb. She is splayed out on a white pillow, rivulets of that hair running away from her. He can see her chest rising and falling. She is asleep.
That is when the fairy knocks over a box of beads and it tips onto the floor, and the girl bolts upright in bed, milky eyes blinking away sleep to reveal piercing green, like fresh grass in the spring. The boy shoots into the topmost corner of the room, limbs spread-eagled like a mad thing, gazing at her in wonder. She is looking around, eyes wide now, hair astray. He has never seen a creature quite like her.
‘Is someone there?’ she whispers into the darkness. He wants to tell her he is there, he wants her to see him. Instead she pulls back the covers and pads over quietly to the bed next to hers, gently shaking the lump under the covers. ‘Tuney, Tuney, wake up, I think I heard something.’
The other bed makes ungainly sound, groaning, the lump twisting over to the other side. He wonders what is in that bed. A gremlin, perhaps. A pirate.
The girl turns around, despairing, green eyes searching the shadows. And that’s when she sees him. She doesn’t scream, but her hands fly to her mouth, and her eyes grow big and round.
He’s caught, and his flighty, crooked grin takes over his mouth. He floats down slowly from the ceiling. ‘Alright?’ he asks her.
She is screaming without screaming. Her hands leave her lips, but her mouth is wide open, in wonderment, in horror.
‘What—‘ she whispers, then seems to remember herself, squaring her shoulders, like she is not afraid of him, of a boy who has snuck into her bedroom in the bare hours of the night. When she speaks again, her voice is hushed, but it does not waver. It is direct and even. ‘Who are you, and want do you want?’ she asks.
He shrugs, aimless, trying for nonchalance, swinging in a circle. But that is when he spots it. His own lithe form silhouetted against the opposite wall.
He goes berserk. He lunges for it, and the tiny obsidian ball of light tries to drag an empty jar over to him while the boy jumps and claws, the shadow evading his capture.
The girl is unimpressed. ‘What are you doing?’ she asks evenly.
‘Trying—‘ he struggles between jumps, ‘to catch—‘ another jump, ‘my shadow!’
There’s a beat, and then he hears her say, ‘Well, why didn’t you just say so? We have strange boys in here every other day trying to recapture their shadows.’ She delivers this in a deadpan snark, and he can hear her moving in the background.
‘You’re hilarious,’ he tells her, trying to hold his own hand.
‘I know,’ says the girl, then reappears at his side, holding a hairclip, some ribbon, and a bottle of craft glue.
‘What are those for?’ he asks her, scrunching his nose.
‘Isn’t it obvious?’ she replies, her tongue poking the side of her mouth as she concentrates, unclamping the hairclip as his shadow darts across the wall.
‘Not really, no.’
‘Well, then you must be impeccably stupid.’
‘Thanks for that,’ he says, but then, as his shadow makes a break for the window, she fastens the clip on its left hand, tugging back across the floor.
‘There,’ she says, turning to look at the boy, holding onto the shadow like a mother holds onto an unruly toddler in the street.
‘Thanks,’ he says, reaching out to take it from her, but she just raises an eyebrow, diverts her hold out of his grip.
‘Don’t be an idiot,’ she tells him, gesturing with her free hand to her bed. ‘Go sit down.’
He does, and she ties the shadow to him temporarily with her ribbon, then uses the craft glue to stick it down on each of his limbs, telling him to stay there while it dries.
After a while she cocks her head in silent appraisal, then moves to grab his hand to see if it’s worked, but he can see the fairy hovering at her left ear, and as she reaches for him, it tugs at a lock of her red hair, pulling her backwards.
‘Ouch!’ she shrieks, and the form in the other bed stirs somewhat, and the girl holds her tongue before the proverbial thunderclouds reassemble in front of her eyes, and she whirls in a circle, trying to spot her assailant.
‘What was that?’ she asks, rounding on the boy.
He grins knowingly at her, and it makes her scowl, so he shrugs, the fairy flying to his side. ‘This is Sirius,’ he tells her, gesturing.
The girl raises an eyebrow. ‘Like the star?’
The boy nods, proud. ‘The brightest star in the night sky.’
After a moment’s consideration, the girl glances back at the fairy. ‘Someone’s jealous,’ she says, and Sirius sticks his tongue out at her.
She makes a face back at him, then turns back to the boy, and says, ‘He’s not very bright, for a star.’
The boy narrows his eyes at her. ‘I said he was bright, I didn’t say what colour.’
And he was right. The fairy was imminently the most compelling and brightest spot in the room, and yet he glowed as dark as night, like the sky dipped in silver.
‘Anyway,’ said the boy, standing up, the fairy at his shoulder, ‘I best be off.’
‘Wait!’ she says, moving to block his path, ‘you haven’t told me why you came here in the first place.’
‘And I’m not going to,’ he tells her, touching lightly off the ground, hovering.
Her eyes narrow at him. ‘I could call the police,’ she tells him, her voice crackling with brevity.
He has no idea who the police are, but he doesn’t like the sound of them. He touches down on the carpet again.
The girl steps closer to him, pointing at his feet. ‘You’re going to tell me how you did that.’
‘How did you do that?’
He starts, like he hadn’t really thought about it. ‘Oh, well, you just sort of…’ and in explanation, his feet leave the ground, floating silently towards the ceiling.
‘Do you want me to call the police?’ she says calmly.
‘Alright, alright, I’ll teach you!’ he says, floating back down, holding his hands up, forehead scrunching as he tries to conjure up a way to explain.
‘Well?’ she asks, waiting, her hands placed on her hips.
‘Then think harder.’
‘Shut up!’ he yells at her. His teeth dig into his lower lip, trying to arrive at an explanation. ‘OK, it’s like this,’ he tells her. ‘You have to believe that you can. You feel it in your chest, in your stomach, but you have to believe you can. There is something else to it, but I think that it’s mostly just…you.’
‘What do you mean?’ she says, quizzical. ‘Like this?’ He can see her tense, every muscle in her lean frame going rigid, like a bowstring pulled taught.
‘Yeah,’ he says, appraising. ‘Now for part two.’
The fairy, upon realising what he is about to do, bolts, but the boy makes a swift grab, capturing the effervescent darkness in his palm.
‘You OK?’ he whispers to the bundle in his hands. The fairy glares at him, jutting out his bottom lip, but nods slowly.
‘OK,’ he says, then tips him upside down over the girl’s head, shaking the fairy’s form until something like shards of night sky settle over her, like a fleet of stars, settling in her hair. She reaches out her hands, glancing in wonder, her lips parted in awe. He pauses to look at her, before releasing the fairy, who spins, dizzily. ‘That should do it,’ he tells her.
She concentrates, taking in a breath, tensing her muscles. And that is when her feet leave the floor, fluttering above the carpet, and she makes some small noises of delight, breathless and enthused, reaching out her arms, as graceful and lovely as though she was borne of the skies, of the stars that live there.
‘This is stupendous!’ she says, spinning in mid-air.
The boy smiles at her frivolity, rising to meet her. ’It’s neat, isn’t it?’
‘It’s the best thing I’ve ever done!’ she squeals.
He rolls his eyes. ‘And I did nothing at all to help?’
‘You did a little,’ she says, winking at him, and his stomach plummets, as though he is falling, but he is still hovering above the ground.
‘I have to go,’ he says, suddenly, spooked, but the red-headed girl in front of him grabs at his wrist, and he is lost.
‘Don’t go,’ she says, then seems to become aware of herself, floating back to the ground as she says, ‘where are you going, anyway?’
‘Home,’ he tells her.
‘Where is home?’
He leads her over to the window, pointing out through the glass to the stars that border the horizon. ‘Second star to the right, and straight on until morning.’
She glances at him. ‘You’re berserk.’
‘Not berserk, just wild.’
They stand beside one another for a moment, bathed in the light of the moon, watching the stars.
She looks back at him, tilting her head to the side, appraising him once more. ‘Why did you come here?’ she asks him.
He smiles, the words rising as easily as breathing, because they are the truth.
‘To hear you speak,’ he tells her, and offers her his hand.
relationship milestones - “'it’s their first kiss and they are leaning in painful slow, then suddenly one of them goes for it and “oW you headbutted me??”
Over the past couple of weeks, James and Lily had found
themselves in a couple very peculiar situations. A couple very frustrating situations for James in
particular, and the entirety of the combined situations had him on edge.
It started in the library. They were Head Students now, and
so on top of all the work they would normally have to do, they had to schedule
prefect rounds, go over docked points and detention slips, organize and run
meetings and set Hogsmeade trips. So
they frequently went to the library together to work on these tasks and then they
would study together afterwards and this was James’s new favorite thing. He’d
been made captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, owned an invisibility cloak
and a map of the school that let him know where anyone was at any given time
and his favorite thing about his seventh year at Hogwarts was studying with
Lily Evans every Tuesday and Thursday evening. He knew he was whipped, he just
wished that she knew. But she didn’t.
The first of these peculiar situations happened on a
Thursday in late September. Lily and James had been meeting twice a week in the
library for almost an entire month now. They were friends even. The first time
they had met up, she left as soon as they finished their head duties. The
second time she had asked him a question about their Transfiguration homework
and the third time they had stayed in the library until lights out.
But this Thursday in late September was different than that
night. The main difference was that he was sitting in the seat next to her
instead of the seat across from her. He knew it had been a stupid idea about
two seconds after sitting down because he could smell her floral scented
shampoo and when she laughed he could see her eyes light up and she would touch
his arm sometimes and he didn’t know what to do about these things.
It was getting late, and she was getting tired, and when
Lily got tired she laughed a lot more than normal, and she laughed quite a bit
as it were. So tired Lily just laughed after almost everything either of them
said, and at ‘funny words’ in their homework problems and when she dropped her
quill or when James ran his hand through his hair and James absolutely loved
it. Every time he left the library on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, he tried
to get them to this point. To the point where she was a delirious, laughing