The Sugar Quill
Author: Thistlerose  Story: Turnabout  Chapter: Default
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Turnabout Rated PG for mild language. The only ship is James/Lily.



     “It’s all right, Mum!” the girl shouted as she slammed the door behind her and nearly tripped down the front stoop in her haste to reach the cloaked figure coming up the walk. “James!”

     The figure stopped and a hand reached up to push back the hood that obscured his face. Garish light from the streetlamp glinted off the frames of his glasses, which were askew on his nose, and lent a strange, almost sickly tint to his pale skin. “Lily. You’re all right?”

     She had reached him by then. She saw that he was trembling slightly, and grasped his wrists.

     “You should be inside,” he muttered. “Is your family all right?”

     “We’re fine,” she assured him. “You’re not. What happened? How did…?” There was blood on his temple and what she’d first taken to be a shadow along his cheek, on closer scrutiny, turned out to be a bruise.

     “It’s nothing.”

     “Don’t be stupid.”

     “All right, it hurts like hell, but I’m not going to die,” he snapped. “Ow--don’t--ow, Evans!”

     She was dabbing at his cut with her sleeve. “What happened?” she demanded again, quietly.

     “There was an explosion,” James said, frowning, but accepting unflinchingly her rather less-than-tender ministrations. “Bones and I caught sight of someone in a dark cloak and we followed him--or her--down an alley. Stupidly--but you know, there’s always a chance the bloke you’re chasing will be stupider than you. Must’ve Apparated just before we got there. Thought we’d lost ‘em. Then half the wall exploded.”

     “Is Bones all right?”

     “Yeah. Just a broken arm. You didn’t see anything, did you? Ow--all right, enough.”

     Lily withdrew her hand and stepped back a pace. “I didn’t,” she said. “Petunia said she thought someone was following her from the chemist’s, that’s all. Someone in a cloak.”

     “Muggle baiters. Bloody cowards. Bloody bastards,” said James, scowling and touching his cut gingerly. His fingers came away bloody. “Bugger.”

     “You should be inside,” Lily pointed out. “Someone should look at that.”

     “I’m fine,” James insisted belligerently. “You should be inside. You sure you’re all right?”

     “Yes. And my family is all right. Just frightened. They don’t understand what’s happening. They try, but if it’s not in the Telegraph or on the BBC they have trouble believing it exists. Even if it’s a war.”

     “It is a war,” James said bleakly. “I should get back to Headquarters, make sure Bones got everything in his report.”

     “Don’t you trust him?”

     “Yeah, well…”

     “Well,” Lily said, looking up into his pale face, “it can wait, then, can’t it? You’re hurt. Come inside. My mum can put something on that--stop touching it, you idiot--and we can brew you a cuppa.”

     He met her gaze and held it. His lips twisted slightly, first into a smile, then a grimace. “I shouldn’t,” he said softly. “I just wanted to see you were all right. You are, so I should get going.”

     “But you’re not,” said Lily pointedly. “I can see that, and if you don’t mind, I’m not sure I want to let you go anywhere until you are.”

     She saw the question flicker in his dark gaze, heard him as he sucked air into his lungs sharply, and then released it. He was so stupid, she thought. When she didn’t want him, he refused to leave her alone; when she invited him in, he chose to act like a puppy that had been kicked by its master. The thing was, she realised, and her heart shivered slightly, he wasn’t acting. She found his genuine uncertainty endearing and made up her mind.

     “Look, you idiot,” she said, then said nothing more; she grasped his cloak instead and yanked his face down to hers. Their lips were inches apart. She hesitated a moment--to give him time to realise what was about to happen. Then she kissed him full on the lips. He muttered in surprise and stiffened, but she did not let him go, and in another moment his lips had parted and he was kissing her back desperately, clutching her hands and clasping them to him.

     It was over too soon. He pulled away abruptly and stared down at her, mouth half-open, bewilderment all over his handsome, bruised face. “You could’ve just taken my glasses if you wanted me to go inside.”

     “I know. But I decided to kiss you, instead. Will you come inside?”

     He was trembling more violently now; the tremors that shook his body passed along their still-clasped hands, into her. Or maybe they were both shaking, she realised dazedly, and her tremors and his met where their fingers laced together. Was it delayed reaction to the evening’s fright, or response to the kiss, or both that was producing this reaction in her?

     He said, “Er--” then gave the slightest of nods.

     “All right. Come on.” Her voice was calm enough, but when she took a step she nearly stumbled. Clinging together, they made their way toward the lighted doorway, through which there would be chairs and hot tea, and with luck, rationality. I’m going to fight, too, Lily decided, just before she entered the house, and Let that be my last irrational thought of the night.

     But as she drew him inside, and as they stood together in the shadowed front hallway, their hands still clasped together, she knew that it would not be.


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