Social Niceties by ChristyCorr
It begins slowly, with an unsure peck asking—no, begging—permission to become more. They allow it to, each pushing the other's limits a little more with every turn of the head, every cautious caress.
It does not take him long to become quite comfortable. She devotes most of her time during those first few minutes to acknowledge that she is kissing him—him of all people. She ponders that maybe this isn't so bad.
(Half an hour ago, she would not have imagined it possible for the couple to find themselves in this situation. He approached her during the Christmas Feast, and they left the Great Hall together, only to run into a lively sprig of mistletoe halfway up to Gryffindor Tower. The situation was irritably predictable, but in hindsight she does not regret failing to avoid it. She doesn't even notice when the mistletoe floats away seconds after their lips lock together, probably convinced that the two are already an item.)
After a short while, she's come to terms with the idea, and she's even having a great time. It's not as though she's never considered the possibility of doing this. He's quite nice, really. He wouldn't have made Head Boy if he were that hopeless, would he?
Of course he's having a wonderful time; she's the girl of his dreams, and they both know that. He opens his eyes from time to time just to make sure they're still kissing, and that the girl he's snogging is really her.
(He may or may not think he's dreaming. She smiles at the thought. It's flattering to think that she means that much to someone. In her current perspective, her former objections seem rather senseless; it's quite pleasant to give in to his advances, more so than she'd imagined.)
He is a teenage boy, all hands and eagerness, but she, too, is a teenager and does not know better, quite literally; she cannot complain. He's a bit rough but, she reasons with herself, there was no way he could dawdle; they are on a staircase, after all, and the very setting entreats carelessness.
She stands one step above him; it's all he can do to lessen the height difference between them short of lifting her off the ground. Her back is pressed hard against the tall railing and, she thinks as she runs her hands through his hair, it's disturbing that she's willing to be so public about this.
(There are less than a dozen people at Hogwarts for Christmas, of course, but that does not change the fact that she's there, with him, and that she's allowing him to go further than either has imagined—or dreamt, really, not that she would ever willingly confess having that sort of fantasy.)
The railing is cold—of course it's cold; it's winter—against her back, and she can feel it through her robes, just as she can feel his hands and their clumsy caresses, the hesitant touch of a boy who thought he knew what to do in this kind of situation until he was actually there.
He does not know her; the girl's curves are entirely unfamiliar, but he's begun to notice that she gasps when he does this and that or strokes her there, or even pulls her to him with some ferocity. She isn't picky, in truth, and seems to enjoy being with him overall, no matter what he's doing.
(He cannot believe his luck, and has no idea what persuaded her to accept the idea. He will try to remember to ask her later—if she's still talking to him after this, of course.)
Well over a quarter of hour after they have started, he already fancies himself something of a connoisseur, as if she were a particularly rare brand of wine or cheese with peculiar smell and taste few people were acquainted with. He discovers her little by little, and feels as of yet unknown and unprovoked parts of him revel in the delight of having her—finally having her after craving her for so long.
But she does not taste of clover or peppermint or any hint of fancy spices, thank Merlin; that would be just plain odd. She tastes of turkey and plum pudding, as does he, and for about five seconds he wonders whether the eggnog from the Christmas Feast is to blame for the current state of affairs. It isn't; he thinks himself to be quite sober, and she probably is, too.
(She may or may not blame the eggnog later on, of course. He cannot foresee whether she will, and cannot bring himself to care just yet.)
He groans whenever she pulls his head down to kiss him, she's realised, and loves it when she runs her hand down the small of his back. He likes to lean in to smell her hair, and she wonders whether it still smells like her shampoo, and whether it's become a tangled mess yet.
(It has, but he doesn't care. They both know he's always been fascinated by the shade of her hair, which is almost, but not quite, like their house colour and the colour of sunburnt fallen leaves in autumn. Yes, it smells faintly like watermelon shampoo, and like something else as well: like snow, perhaps, Christmas food, and chilly winter days, but above all like her. That is, after all, the reason he's so fond of it.)
He plants fleeting, teasing kisses on her neck and earlobes, and she deduces that he would like her to do the same. She's somewhat anxious, only having engaged in this sort of activity a few times before, but hopes he will not notice; not that she plans on going all the way here, on top of the bloody stairs, of course. She has better self-control than that, or so she thinks.
(She's not even sure whether what she and the inexperienced Mark had the previous year could be considered 'sex,' even though all the regular... mechanics were present. It was far too awkward, and he was far too reluctant to learn with her. She is a very curious girl, and has no patience for boys who do not wish to teach or experiment with her. A hunch indicates that this one will more than willing to do both.)
The staircase jerks sharply to the left; they tumble to a horizontal position, and she clings to him for support. He kisses her with some sweetness then, and doesn't seem all that frantic. She appreciates the change of pace, and envelops his neck with her arms, feeling an odd sort of warmth overwhelm her from within.
(She likes this; she likes him, though she's been little keen on facing the thought before now. She'd always assumed he would be unbearably smug if she let him in on that fact, but he's far too busy enjoying her to be arrogant or to give himself congratulatory pats on the back. That's good. She would've hexed him otherwise... or maybe not.)
He unbuttons the top of her robes and kisses the bare skin, silently marvelling at the freckles on her chest—he would never have guessed that she had them, considering there are none on her face. He nibbles on the side of her breast, taking pleasure in her shivers and gasps.
(He was once told that love was a pure, chaste, and constant feeling; the concept is irreconcilable with the urges he feels now, even though he has come to acknowledge his obsession with her as some sort of love. Sure, he knows she's the one he wants for the rest of his life, but why can't he desire her as well? Perhaps his love is simply not as innocent as others. It might have to do with being an teenager.)
She moans against his lips when he slides a hand under her robes to stroke her inner thigh with tentative nimbleness. It is, he decides, the most delightful sound he's ever heard. He tries once more, and she reacts the same way. He smirks, pleased with himself, and does it again, just for good measure.
Her eyes flicker open and shut once more. Her chest heaves with heavy breathing; he, too, is panting. It is surprisingly hard to control himself.
(He knows men are supposed to provoke a woman skilfully for many hours; his best friend has him reading that sort of book from time to time, for educational purposes. There is, perhaps, something physically wrong with him, because he feels a strangled sort of desperation that signals he won't hold out much longer.)
"Wait," she gasps, snatching his hand from inside her robes before he goes too far. "Some... social niceties must be observed."
He stares at her as if she is insane, and she probably is, to stop this at a point when neither is in the least willing to pause. She struggles to calm herself down, but part of her hopes he won't heed her request.
Her eyes wander: his red lips and tousled hair, and the collar of his robes, stretched by her inattentive hands in an odd way, and crap, why hadn't she agreed to do this before? They could be elsewhere, somewhere appropriate for this sort of thing, and in that case there would be no need to stop.
"Social—what?" he asks despairingly, glancing down at her open robes and highly tempting face. He wonders whether she'd mind terribly if he ignored the interruption, and guesses that she wouldn't. He doesn't anyway, simply because he knows her well enough to guess that such an action could disappoint her. He cannot afford to lose her, not when he is so close to having her for good.
"Niceties, Potter," she replies—not irritably, as she normally would have, but softly, and he thinks, Oh, this is what it feels like to be friends with her, for the lack of a better term, or maybe just because he's not in an adequate frame of mind to make proper use of his language skills.
He manages a half-smile. "James," he corrects her with a gentle kiss. They have thus far somewhat ignored the fact that they're supposed to hate each other, or at best not get along at all. It is now time to acknowledge this turn of events for what it is.
"All right." She beams, having already wrapped her mind around the fact that she is now with him. It's an odd idea, but it will become something of a given soon enough. "James."
"Social niceties," he echoes, remembering that such formalities had never gotten him far before. "Er."
She nods, and waits for him to pull himself together. She idly strokes his jawline and offers him an encouraging grin.
"Would you like go to Hogsmeade with me today?" he blurts out for the umpteenth time. It has been months, or perhaps years, since he last had this much confidence in a positive answer. "Lily?" he adds with a genial smile.
(The mistletoe that began everything is gone, long gone, and neither remembers it even existed. They will always have a hard, embarrassing time explaining what got them started in the first place, until James comes up with the hilarious tale of a particularly vicious sprig on a killing spree. Soon afterwards, not even they can separate truth from fabrication.)