the art of being a gentleman
because who doesn’t want a muggle au?
James should be thinking about several things.
He should be thinking about his history course work due in two days or his match on Saturday. He should be thinking about the prefect timetable he has yet to organise and he definitely should be thinking about the niggling pain in the back of his knee and if he should mention it to his coach. What he categorically shouldn’t be thinking about is the pretty redhead at his bus stop and how he wants to kiss the colour out of her lips and hold it in his chest.
She’s wearing those bloody jeans again, the same as the week before, that hug her legs and around her waist (and other areas James definitely isn’t looking at). The streetlamps have already clicked on, her skin is woven gold under the amber light.
He can’t look away, won’t look away as she wanders up and down the bus stop, her fingers tapping at her phone screen and her mouth lifting into a lazy smile as she reads a text. Thunderous grey clouds hang heavy in the sky and he wonders if he is going mad, standing in the cold about to be soaked when with one call he could have a car pick him up with complimentary tea and biscuits.
The girl smiles again and he knows he’s going mad because his heart is pumping in his throat and flowers are growing through his ribs. His phones rings and he lifts it to his ear, noticing there is still a smear of blood across his bruised knuckles.
“We need your help,” Sirius tells him. James can hear what he thinks is Pete trying to move a bed. “Where are you?”
“I’m at the bus stop, I need to nip to the flat to grab something.” James tells him, craning his neck to see if the bus is coming. The girl glances at him, pulling her bottom lip through her teeth. James flashes her a grin and blood burns up the neck he so desperately wants to press his lips against.
“I thought that’s what you were doing last week?” Sirius replies.
“Yeah, I just need something else.” James winces at the silence that follows. There’s another crash and Pete is violently swearing.
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with that redhead who was on the bus last week, would it?”
James can’t stop his eyes flickering to where she stands, leaning against a lamppost, her silhouette cut from the shadows. “Err- potentially- anyway why did you need me?”
“We’re trying to find Moony’s philosophy notes, he’s hidden them.”
He runs his hand through his hair, it needs a wash to get rid of the remnants of mud. “Obviously, last time you used them you spilt gin all over them.”
“That wasn’t my fau- oh you utter bastard you know where they are don’t you?”
James laughs and leans against the crumbling brick wall behind him. “Look, Pads, I’ve got to go, I’ll see you tonight.”
There’s more crashing and what sounds like ‘James you fucker’ before James can press end call. The girl is staring at him, the corner of her mouth twitching. He pockets his phone with a sheepish grin at her. He’s about to ask her something, anything. Words are climbing up his throat and dancing across his tongue, a ballet of letters held between his teeth.
Then the sky opens.
The rain isn’t particularly heavy but it’s the sort that seeps under the skin and lingers in the blood, James’s hair is already damp by the time he gets his hood up. The girl is shivering, her thin jumper soaked through. James’s legs start moving before his brain does, his hands unzipping his rugby bag and fishing out his school hoodie. The girl looks confused, James must too because he’s not really sure what he’s doing.
“Here, it’ll stop you freezing to death.” He says, offering it to her. She reaches for it, uncertainty spilling out of her eyes. “I’m James, by the way.”
“You’re not a serial killer, are you?” she asks once she’s tugged it over her head. He almost misses the question, thinking too much about how she would look in nothing but his rugby shirt.
She’s staring at him expectantly, her brow crinkled ever so slightly.
“Only on Thursdays, you should be safe.”
She laughs, sunlight falling from her lips, her fingers tucking strands of copper hair under the hood. “I’m Lily,” she says. Lily. He nods, it settles in his stomach like it’s always been there, Lily. The rain keeps up it’s symphony on the pavement.
“So how posh are you, on a scale of Eddie Redmayne to Prince William?” she asks. Her eyes are alight, her voice bubbling like cheap champagne. He thinks he might be already drunk.
He raises an eyebrow, pretends to look offended, drinks in the light that’s pouring out of her. “Me, posh? Never.” Her phone beeps but her hands stay tucked in the pockets of his hoodie, he lets a drop of warmth creep into his bones.
“Seriously though, I hear your school fees are insane.”
He glances at the crest stitched into his jacket, into the hoodie, into his skin. Red and gold and laughter and adrenaline and home. “I’m not that posh. Sirius, he’s a lord, but I’m nothing special.”
He knows the weight the name carries, knows the looks in the street, the eyes noting the tie and blazer, the polished shoes and tailored trousers. He knows what they think of, arrogance smirks and burnt fifty pound notes, wrecked cars and opportunities thrown about like paper in a classroom. They’re not all like that, he’s not like that.
“A lord, huh?” she says, “Can you get me his number?”