Decorations

Part 3

Inside the theatre it was dark, and mostly empty. It was Lily’s habit to sit in the middle of the middle row, but James grabbed her hand and pulled her to the back. “This is the best spot,” he whispered.

“For secondary schoolers snogging, maybe,” she hissed.

He put a hand on her lips, shushing her gently. “Don’t want to disturb the other filmgoers, do we?”

Lily glared at him to distract herself from the way his finger felt against her lips, and felt herself blushing. She looked away as they found their seats. Somehow James’ hand hadn’t managed to leave hers, and she couldn’t bring herself to take it away.

The movie started, but Lily wasn’t really enjoying much of it; she was too focused on the feeling of James’ hand in hers; his palms were oddly callused, and she wondered if it was from weightlifting or farm work or something else entirely. Occasionally he rubbed his thumb over hers, the tip of which was also callused—from guitar playing?—she thought, and each time he did it she had to hide her shiver.

Occasionally she glanced over at him, using only her peripheral vision. Once or twice she could’ve sworn he looked over at her, but she couldn’t look long enough to be sure. I’ve never been on a date with this much damn sexual tension, Lily thought. Who would’ve guessed Wreath Boy would be so attractive?

Steeling herself, Lily reached for the popcorn, which she was absolutely certain was sitting between them. Unfortunately, she’d taken so much time being careful not to look at James that she hadn’t noticed he’d moved it to the floor, mostly for the purpose of gradually snuggling closer and closer to her. Her hand landed on James’ thigh.

She gasped out loud and froze for a moment, which was possibly the worst possible reaction, because her hand lingered over the muscle that was surprisingly easy to feel under his jeans. When Lily un-froze and slowly began to move her hand away, James placed his other hand over hers, warm and comforting and an excellent excuse to keep touching his leg. Oh, you slag, Lily chided herself mentally, but it wasn’t any use. She was very, very happy the way she was.

The rest of the film progressed in much the same way, except that somehow in each explosion, when Lily inevitably jumped and gasped, James drew her closer in such a comforting fashion that she didn’t feel justified doing anything except relaxing into him. By the end, she was somehow cuddled up against him. She had a crick in her back from leaning over the armrest of the seat, and she had absolutely no idea of the plot of the film.

They walked out into the bright light of the theatre lobby, and Lily blinked, confused by the change in lighting and by the fact that she was still holding James’ hand. Finally getting the best of her more impulsive self, she dropped it like it had bitten her.

Without even meaning to, she looked up to gauge his reaction and saw, for a moment, genuine hurt. Then he grinned, just few watts less brilliant than the grin he’d grinned before the film, and led her out of the theatre. “I’ve asked Sirius to pick us up, if that’s alright. But I understand if you don’t trust him—or me, for that matter. We haven’t known each other very long.”

Lily knew that most people wouldn’t have seen the decision she was about to make as a very wise one, but at this point she didn’t care. Ah, what the hell, she thought, throwing caution to the winds. I really sodding want to spend more time with him. “Yeah, that’s fine,” she agreed, flashing James a quick smile. “That’s the bloke who dropped you off, yeah?”

“Yes. He’s, um, a bit cheeky. Great lad, though.”

In spite of herself, Lily felt a wide smile spread across her face. “Did you just make an arse pun on the very first date, Potter?”

James, for the first time since he’d gotten over his initial bout of nervousness, was relatively speechless. “Oops.”

Lily laughed, harder than was strictly the right amount for a first date, as her laugh was bubbly and hiccupy and, in her opinion, very unattractive.

To her surprise, James chuckled and then guffawed. “You have the cutest laugh I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Lily smiled up at him, a real, extremely happy smile.

Just then, the old green sports car pulled up to the curb, and the young man inside wolf-whistled loudly. “Your chauffeur, madame!”

James climbed quickly into the back, patting the seat next to him invitingly and deftly smacking Sirius with his other hand.

“Ouch! D’you want someone with a concussion driving you—where am I driving you?”

“Firstly, your mop’s got to be impeding your vision more than enough that a concussion wouldn’t make much of a difference.” Sirius hooted admiringly. “Secondly, I don’t know. You’re welcome to come hang out at our place for a little while, Lily, if you’d like,” he added shyly. “We’re all of us perfectly safe, I promise.”

“All of you? How many are there?”

“Two others,” James admitted, “but Sirius counts as four.”

“So seven, total, then. That’s a lucky number. Sure, why not?” Looks like it’s Questionable Decision Night, she thought wryly.

The ride to James’ flat was quite enjoyable, mostly because Sirius liked to take the turns very fast, which resulted in Lily being thrown into James’ lap quite a lot, and sometimes the reverse. Lily wondered if James had put Sirius up to driving like a madman, or if he always drove like that. She had a suspicion it was the latter.

The car pulled up outside a surprisingly nice flat, and Lily got out, only shaking a little. “You know, Sirius, I think I agree with James about your hair getting in the way. It’s a miracle all your passengers are still alive.”

“Or something getting in the way,” James snarked. “Could just be his brain.” He dodged Sirius’ punch and unlocked the door, holding it open for her. She mock-curtsied as she went through.

It wasn’t horribly messy, which frankly wasn’t what Lily had expected. She understood when she heard a loud sigh of relief behind her. “Oh, good,” Sirius muttered to James. “Remus cleaned.”

“I can hear you, you know,” she called. “Who’s Remus?”

“One of my flatmates,” James said, “who isn’t here right now. However, he and Peter could be home at any minute, possibly horribly inebriated and with hordes of unclothed girls, so it’s probably best you come up to my room. For the preservation of your mental faculties.”

Lily heard Sirius snort loudly behind them, but nodded gracefully anyway. “Sounds good.”

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