Fanfic: Jingle¡ªHoly F*ck by theesteemedladydebourgh (Read for Free, 1,332,114 Clicks)

Description: Lily Evans and James Potter fell in love, broke apart and graduated Hogwarts. Ten years later, one failed engagement (her), a prestigious career as an Auror (him), and a diverted flight that lands them both in the middle of Muggle Ireland right before Christmas might be the thing to bring them back together.An unreliable car is procured, emotional baggage is tossed in the boot, snow is forecast and it¡¯s jingle all the¡ªoh look, a detour.

Characters: No Archive Warnings ApplyJames Potter/Lily Evans PotterJames Potter Lily Evans Potter Sirius Black Remus Lupin Dorcas Meadowes Petunia Evans Dursley Mrs. Evans Mr. Evans Vernon DursleyRomance Humor Second Chances Smut Alternate Timelines Road Trips Holiday Shenanigans Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence but set in 2018 because idk Mild Angst major smut Accidental Marriage

Summary: Summary:

Lily Evans and James Potter fell in love, broke apart and graduated Hogwarts. Ten years later, one failed engagement (her), a prestigious career as an Auror (him), and a diverted flight that lands them both in the middle of Muggle Ireland right before Christmas might be the thing to bring them back together.An unreliable car is procured, emotional baggage is tossed in the boot, snow is forecast and it¡¯s jingle all the¡ªoh look, a detour.

Notes: Notes:
my short chapters have turned out…not short. blame jily, i do.hopefully this will be a bit of holiday fun! spotify playlist here for all the s(ex)y [email protected] on tumblr, come say hello and tell me your thoughts/theories! <3 (See the end of the chapter for more notes.),Notes: spotify playlist here for all the s(ex)y [email protected] on tumblr, come say hello and tell me your thoughts/theories! <3and happy third night of Hanukkah to anyone who celebrates!

Chapter 1: merry goddamn christmas

Chapter Text

JAMES

17 December, 2018
Christmas music is floating through the hotel bar. It¡¯s coming out of bright Muggle speakers, the sound booming and crisp and filling the dimly lit room with the jaunty tunes.
James, two drinks in and slightly sloshed or not, can admit that stereo systems are a world better than the wizarding wireless.?World better.?

Ed, standing behind the bar with his apron tied neatly and eyes constantly seconds away from rolling, gives him a droll glance when the music switches to yet another Christmas song, merry and endless.

¡°You¡¯d think they¡¯d play something else,¡± the bartender mutters under his breath, sliding another drink across the counter without prompting. A patron snaps his fingers for his attention and Ed¡¯s eyes¡ªever familiar¡ªroll heavenward.

James grins despite himself and downs the last bit of his second drink, moving steadily onto the third. After the last few days he¡¯s had¡ªarranging affairs, Flooing back and forth with his mum to arrange for Uncle Oliver¡¯s things to be sent from home to Cardiff¡ªhe thinks he deserves another drink. And the Christmas music really isn¡¯t that bad, Ed¡¯s frustration notwithstanding. At least it sounds good, he muses, then nearly laughs again.

James glances around the small, elegantly appointed hotel bar like someone will share in his hilarity, but no one in the bustling space spares him any mind. No one to laugh with him over this¡ªspending the week before Christmas drinking in a Muggle bar while mentally comparing sound systems. Not that he really knows enough to compare; last year he¡¯d spent a confusing afternoon in Muggle London at something called an ¡®elektronics¡¯ shop, but despite the technical hurdles he eventually came away with his own set, which Sirius promptly stole from under his nose.

Not that he¡¯s bitter.

The laughter of the bar fills his ears, musically cheerful.

James is halfway through his third drink and pleasantly on his merry way to half-sloshed, contemplating calling Sirius through the mirror and asking him what he¡¯s missed in London when the door leading to the lobby of the hotel swings open.

It should be utterly innocuous and it is¡ªJames¡¯s eyes barely glance around at the faint squeak, casually scanning through the raucous crowd¡ªbut then his gaze pauses at the door and the world stops.

The door swings open, the world stops, the Christmas music keeps playing.

Because, like the time hasn¡¯t passed, like James hasn¡¯t dated and shagged and loved multiple women since her¡ªSince Her, like she¡¯s an event all in her own, a time in his life he can¡¯t erase from his memory no matter how hard he tries¡ªin walks Lily Evans.

A stumbling Lily Evans, wet and irate and high-heeled, wearing red lipstick. She¡¯s got a fringe now, plastered against her forehead from the melted snow and her hair is shorter, cut in stylish layers. Her heels slip on the uneven floor, she swears¡ªhe sees her mouth form the words, can vividly remember the feeling of ¡®Fuck,¡¯ exhaled against his skin¡ªand she¡¯s older, but it¡¯s her¡ª

He drops his glass. Muggle whiskey all over his shoes, the counter. Broken glass.

She looks up, green eyes scanning. She¡¯s clutching her purse tightly, head lifted as high as it can go.

¡°Alright?¡± someone asks her with a laugh.

Her answer is lost in the merry Christmas music and she begins to push her way through the crowd across the room. ¡°¡ªI don¡¯t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need¡ª¡°

Her blouse is clinging to her collarbones from the cold snow, rapidly melting in the warm room and she doesn¡¯t glance around herself at all as she walks towards the bar.

James can¡¯t move. He can¡¯t think and maybe he¡¯s dreaming, maybe he¡¯s finally gone round the bend, like all the terrible figments of his repressed bitter feelings have finally reared their ugly head in the shape of a vivid hallucination brought on by stress¡ª

Lily Evans leans against the bar right next to him with a harsh exhale. Her shoulders slump, her hand falls flat against the counter. She looks exhausted and cold and those shoes can¡¯t be comfortable¡ª

His brain stops working.

She turns and her eyes land on him and that red-painted mouth parts, presses together.

Oh.

12 December, 2007

¡°We shouldn¡¯t be doing this¡ª¡°

¡°I know but¡ªoh¡ªwe¡¯ve got a few more min¡ª¡°

¡°You said that last time, Evans, and look where it landed us¡ª¡°

A breathless laugh, slipped off into a moan. ¡°You¡¯re one to fucking talk. You were the one with your¡ªfuck¡ªhand up my¡ªmy¡ª¡°

Lily¡¯s knickers are on the floor. They¡¯re on the floor of the boys locker room, which is currently empty but for her and James but it won¡¯t be in about eight minutes (by her last calculation, which is probably incorrect by now as all logic had gone right out the window the second she saw her boyfriend wearing Quidditch robes) and that is a very big problem, this is a very unwise decision and she should really be¡ª

James¡¯s thumb presses against her clit as his fingers¡ªtwo of them, because that always feels better and she¡¯s so wet and so close that she really could use a third¡ªpump in and out of her and Lily moans loudly, head falling back against the wall. He takes the advantage to kiss her neck, warm mouth sucking on her pulse point until she¡¯s all but incoherent with the feelings and his Merlin fucking fingers¡ª

Then James chuckles and it¡¯s over for her.

She wrenches her eyes open. ¡°What the fuck are you laughing at?¡± Her voice is high pitched and breathless, face flushed and legs beginning to shake, probably only held up by his arms pinning her against the wall.

She can feel him smirking against her jaw as he presses a kiss there. ¡°Remember the final between us and Ravenclaw in fifth year?¡±

She nearly punches him, but then he slides a third finger inside her and she makes a loud, keening noise that¡¯s more whimper than moan. Fucking James¡ª ¡°Why are you thinking about something happened two years ago now?¡± she nearly gasps.

¡°Because,¡± James says, almost conversational and pulls back enough to kiss her mouth. His tongue, clever and hot, sends the clenching, dizzying sensation in her core to new heights. His voice is a laughing murmur. ¡°That was the day¡ªafter we¡¯d lost spectacularly¡ªthat you told me you¡¯d never cheer me up after a game.¡±

Lily¡¯s eyes flutter closed at a particularly rough stroke of his fingers, the silent clock on their tryst ticking faster and faster and somehow the fear and excitement makes it better. ¡°You haven¡¯t lost yet today,¡± she manages to say and bites back another sound. Oh, fuck, she¡¯s going to¡ª

¡°Exactly,¡± James says and it makes so little sense but the feeling of him against her and his eyes on her are all too much. He knows it, can pick up on the slight tremors of her legs and the way she¡¯s starting to clench around his fingers, cheeks flushing red in a way he¡¯s probably become very familiar with of late. He knows and his voice is rough when he presses his mouth next to her ear. ¡°Come for me,¡± he says. ¡°That¡¯s it baby, you¡¯re soaking, aren¡¯t you? Come on, come for me¡ªfuck, fuck¡ª¡°

Lily thinks she says his name when she comes, but truly she can¡¯t remember it then or later, too overwhelmed with the way her entire body tightens and then snaps, pleasure flooding every inch.

James strokes her through it, cursing wildly as though her climax is undoing him too even though she can still feel him hard and nudging against her hip. His body presses hers against the wall of the boys locker room, suffocating and warm and perfect.

Lily pants, eyes flickering open.

James¡¯s cheeks are flushed too, pupils blown as he looks at her, fingers lingering between her legs, but then he glances to his other hand, pressed flat against the wall, and he smiles. ¡°Two minutes to spare,¡± he says. ¡°Right on schedule.¡±

Lily laughs breathlessly, pressing her sweaty face into his neck. She¡¯s got to pick up her knickers and do something about the utter mess he¡¯s made of her¡­but they¡¯ve still got two minutes. ¡°Merry Christmas, Potter,¡± she says and lets him hold her.

After all the years he¡¯s spent chasing her and the spectacular orgasm he just gave her, she supposes he¡¯s earned it.

LILY

17 December, 2018

Lily fucking hates flying.
Like, really, truly hates it. With a passion that some might say is disproportionate considering she hasn¡¯t actually set foot on an aeroplane since she was fourteen and still caught halfway between the Muggle and wizarding worlds, but she hates it nonetheless.Eight hours into a flight that¡¯s supposed to last an hour and a half, she¡¯s very unhappily proven right about her distaste.Because she¡¯s in fucking Belfast. As in, Northern Ireland. As in, not England.¡°You¡¯ve got to have something,¡± Lily pleads and truly, she¡¯d feel embarrassed about the levels she¡¯s sunk to¡ªbegging a gate agent about flights that she has absolutely no control over¡ªexcept her feet are fucking dying from the shoes that seem designed specifically to squeeze all feeling from her nerve endings and she was supposed to be in London this morning¡ªTake the plane, she¡¯d told herself. It¡¯ll be a gesture! Like calling Petunia on the phone and telling her she¡¯s flying in is a nonverbal gesture that will win her approval. Look how normal and Muggle I can be!It would have been all fine and dandy, if she hadn¡¯t been magically sorting her socks at the same moment.¡°Look, I need to be home today,¡± Lily tells the unimpressed gate agent. The clamor of the airport is a loud background to her plight. ¡°Because my sister just got engaged and it¡¯s a nightmare and she thinks my entire life is, well, basically a waste because I chose to move to Edinburgh and¡ª¡°¡°No more flights,¡± the woman with her slicked back blonde hair and emotionless, customer-service smile says. ¡°Sorry. Unexpected storms up the whole coast¡ªsnow¡¯s bigger than we¡¯ve seen it in years.¡±Lily sucks in a breath, trying to regain any composure. ¡°What about tomorrow?¡± she asks.Desperate? Yes. But she¡¯ll do almost anything not to have to Apparate in and give her stupid sister even more of a reason to hate her¡ª¡°Flights are cancelled until Wednesday,¡± the gate agent says with great apathy. The clamoring crowds behind her are muttering and shifting with impatience, people shouting into their mobiles and Googling accommodation. ¡°Try to find a hotel and maybe the airline will reimburse you.¡± She sounds doubtful.Except that.Lily¡¯s breath is sucked in so tightly it hurts her chest. ¡°Right. Thank you,¡± she says tightly and turns on her heel. Her feet protest the movement, the heels she¡¯d thought would signal to Petunia that she¡¯s Professional and Serious and Grown Up, proper Nouns, practically hobbling her as she clicks across the shiny airport floor.Her luggage had been shrunk and swept into her purse the moment she departed her flat in Edinburgh, entirely unwilling to lug it around for the sake of looking like a Muggle, but Lily¡¯s in so much discomfort she willingly enters an echoing, shiny public bathroom and digs it out in the stall.¡°Thank fucking Merlin,¡± she mutters when she Accios a pair of trainers.Considerably more suitably attired, she re-shrinks her luggage, splashes some water on her face and sternly addresses her reflection¡ªpale, red haired and far too dressed up for a simple flight¡ªthat she¡¯s going to be home in moments and this will all be a funny story.Funny story, she chants in her head as she swiftly makes her way out of Belfast International Airport. Funny story, funny story¡ªOr it¡¯s a funny story, right up until the moment when she emerges into the literal snow storm outside the airport. ¡°Fucking¡ª¡° Her swear is lost as knives of cold pierce her coat and Lily squints at the dark night, the clamoring crowds of people shoving luggage into taxis.Never travel on the holidays, Roger had always told her, in that sage, mild-mannered way of his that had always made her want to either shake her head with frustration or kiss him. Absolute madness.¡°Madness!¡± Lily says aloud, just to try it out, and chokes on a laugh at the same time. Madness is, she¡¯s in bloody Northern Ireland when she¡¯s supposed to be, well, not. Edinburgh to London¡ªthat¡¯s a simple flight, isn¡¯t it? Same landmass, a straight shot down. Apparently not.Fuck Petunia, she¡¯s just going to have to bite down her seething hatred for everything Lily does and deal, because she¡¯s going to Apparate home to Cokeworth right now and be home and done with this nonsense.No one is paying attention to her with the chaos currently rampaging through the night air, but Lily still makes her shivering way to a quiet spot behind a concrete pillar before she tries to Apparate.She takes a deep breath, trainers already cold and wet, and twists on the spot.Absolutely nothing happens.Lily frowns, glancing around. Her nose is raw and red with cold and she shivers, wrinkling her brow as she tries again. Her shoes slip, mud and ice making a deadly foe, and she spins ridiculously. A freezing hand flails out, catching herself against a stone pillar.¡°What the fuck¡ª¡°And then Lily groans aloud. Fucking bureaucracy. Her iced over, exhausted brain, still caught up at security back in Edinburgh, has skipped over a very important fact that sixteen year old Lily had learned at some point, probably bored in History of Magic, and never thought on again.While both Ireland and Northern Ireland are under the Ministry of Magic¡¯s jurisdiction, they have an entirely separate set of laws and regulations. And since Connell Walsh, the Irish Minister, had decided that Ireland and Britain should be treated as separate entities, laws restricting Apparation by non-citizens had been proposed over the last five years.You¡¯d think casting an anti-Apparation ward over an entire island was a tad dramatic, especially considering they all answered to the same government anyway, but clearly the Ministry hadn¡¯t agreed because the laws passed, the wards were instated and Lily is totally fucked.
Fucking bureaucracy.
Lily is resigning herself to renting a car and being disastrously late arriving home¡ªand earning Petunia¡¯s unending wrath because how dare she not be a week early to her own sister¡¯s engagement party?¡ªand is all set in her determination until that hits a swift end as well.Because the kindly man, all nice and bundled inside the airport while snow rages on outside, tell hers with a beam that there¡¯s no cars available anywhere as every plane over Europe has apparently been bloody diverted to Belfast and there are thousands of clamoring people and she wasted time trying to turn on the spot like a bloody mad idiot (he doesn¡¯t say this, but she certainly thinks it).¡°Of course,¡± she mutters, tilting her head back and pursing her lips. ¡°Of fucking course.¡±The man grimace-smiles at her.Lily gives him her nicest smile, steps back and promptly falls right on her arse¡ªsodden, soaked shoes having had quite enough.The flimsy fabric is so wet and mud covered and mysteriously torn that all of her halfhearted¡ªthen fullhearted¡ªrepairing and drying charms just barely perk them up, leaving her with half-destroyed trainers, fabric weeping at the seems. So, nearly at the point of screaming her frustration, Lily switches back to the only two other pairs of shoes she¡¯d brought with her: the ridiculously impractical heels that Petunia likely won¡¯t even be seeing because she has no way to get home.She checks her phone as she lingers near the doors, trying to avoid leaving the relative warmth of the airport, and groans. The screen is black, not even flickering to life when she presses irritably on the power button. Dead. Of course.She could wait to charge it, but it¡¯s already nearly eight o¡¯clock and her chances of getting a cab into Belfast are probably getting slimmer by the minute¡­Lily resignedly hobbles out of the airport, trying to avoid patches of ice and not break her neck. Cars are whizzing past the frozen pavement, families and single travelers hustling luggage into boots and sweeping off into the night, frozen and bundled in winter coats.Lily¡¯s stylish, thin wool coat feels stupidly ridiculous next to everyone and she attracts her fair share of looks¡ªslacks, make up, heels¡ªand just knows how she must be coming across: those insane travelers who prioritize aesthetic and posting pictures of their #travellife on Instagram above functionality. She hates those people. Naturally, today she is one.Headlights shine and sparkle across the snow covered pavement and Lily flings out a hand, waving frantically. Her voice is hoarse from the cold, but she shouts for what she¡¯s worth too and something must have taken pity on her, because a white, official looking taxi pulls up right next to her.¡°Quite a night, isn¡¯t it?¡± the cabbie says, giving her a grin when she falls into the back, freezing and wet. The car has the very distinct smell of cigarette smoke and aftershave so strong she nearly coughs.Lily grunts, not in the mood for small talk. ¡°You can say that again,¡± she says under her breath.He pulls away from the pavement and they immediately get stuck in a long line of cars waiting to exist the airport roadways.The cabbie is apparently very chatty. ¡°You English?¡±Great, and she¡¯s about to ostracized for¡ªgranted, a very legitimate grudge¡ªand tossed out on her arse, which is already numb from bleeding cold.¡°Edinburgh,¡± Lily says.The cabbie¡¯s grin in the rearview mirror doesn¡¯t falter though. ¡°Student?¡±¡°Hea¡ªdoctor,¡± Lily says, catching herself just in time. ¡°On my way home for the holidays.¡±¡°Where¡¯s that?¡±He doesn¡¯t seem lascivious, but Lily¡¯s still careful with her words. ¡°Cokeworth.¡± Well, maybe not that careful, exhaustion has scrambled her brain.¡°Near Coventry?¡± His surprise is clear. He chuckles. ¡°You¡¯re a long way from there, miss.¡±¡°Weather,¡± Lily grumbles.¡°A beast, for sure,¡± the cabbie sighs, then glances back at her. He¡¯s around her age, maybe a little older. Late thirties. He glances at her just a second too long, though his friendly smile doesn¡¯t waver. ¡°You got somewhere to go tonight?¡±Lily¡¯s better instincts light up again, bright and blinking and she feels for the familiar shape of her wand in her pocket. ¡°I¡¯m meeting someone,¡± she says. ¡°At the¡­¡± she casts around in her head for a place and somehow the name of a hotel comes to mind. ¡°Ruby Petal Hotel.¡±
Where the fuck did that come from?
The cabbie¡¯s brow twitches. ¡°Who¡¯re you meeting there?¡±Lily¡¯s grip on her wand tightens. ¡°My boyfriend,¡± she says, voice clipped. ¡°So, that¡¯s where I¡¯d like to go, please.¡±She wants to take back the please as soon as she¡¯s said it, holding her breath a little, but the cabbie grunts a bit and turns back to the wheel, shifting forward through the queue of cars. ¡°It¡¯s a ways from here. Should be about an hour or so,¡± he says and she wonders if it¡¯s safe to relax, if he¡¯s just got a bit of a leering vibe to him or if he¡¯d actually meant her any harm.Her grip on her wand starts to feel a bit silly.A ways from here. How the bloody hell did she know the name of a random hotel in Belfast? She¡¯s never been here in her life¡ªnever been to Ireland, for that matter¡ªand the only chance she really gets to peruse Google is when she¡¯s bored between shifts at St. Bartholomew¡¯s Hospital. She can¡¯t imagine herself wistfully looking for vacation spots a country over.Whatever. It¡¯s done now. Lily sighs and settles into the back seat, tired eyes trailing over the passing scenery outside her window. As they leave the airport and merge on the motorway, she can fully take in the amount of snow that had cancelled her flight.White covers everything, gleaming in the bright headlights of cars and falling heavily from the sky. It would be quite pretty, if Lily was watching it comfortably from the window of her flat, curled up in her pajamas and sipping hot chocolate.Soon she¡¯s going to add holidays in general to her list of dislikes. Planes, trips, snow¡ªif the entire world could fuck off that would be nice.Snow of this magnitude is entirely surprising and apparently no one is prepared for it; Lily wouldn¡¯t even classify it as a truly terrible snowstorm, yet as the cabbie¡ªstill occasionally chattering to her¡ªenters the city proper, everywhere she looks people are bundling themselves into cars and shutting doors.The car slows, snow still falling. They¡¯re on a side street somewhere in the city, the lit up front of a small hotel is visible through Lily¡¯s fogged up side window.¡°Here we go,¡± the cabbie says and Lily¡¯s automatically handing him a handful of pounds when an idea occurs to her. She¡¯d hate to spend another minute driving in the strong-scented cab, but avoiding Petunia¡¯s wrath may be worth it¡­¡°How much would a cab to Dublin be?¡± Lily asks suddenly. ¡°Or¡ªWexford, would be even better, truly.¡±The cabbie snorts loudly, giving her a glance in the rearview mirror. ¡°In this weather? You mad? I wouldn¡¯t drive you from here to Lisburn for 400 pounds. You won¡¯t find anyone else willing either.¡±
Fucking¡ª
¡°Great,¡± Lily huffs and grabs her purse, stepping out of the car. She immediately slips on the ice, the matchsticks some shoe salesman had the audacity to call functional supports skating and twisting, and she barely catches herself on an equally frozen lamp post. Her palm stings and she barks a swear. ¡°I hate this,¡± she wheezes once she regains her balance.The cab pulls away from the curb and zooms off, headlights flashing on white snow.The dark street is empty, the snow sitting heavy on the ground. No one to see her humiliation, or possibly put her out of her misery by happening to be on their merry way to the other side of the island.She spots the lit up sign of the Ruby Petal Hotel right across the road. It¡¯s clearly a Muggle establishment, based on the unobtrusively elegant front, and she forces her frozen feet to move, one hand hovering in the air in case the ground decides to betray her yet again. She makes it to the front door of the hotel in one piece, and shoves it open with a whoosh of hot air and a small bang that makes her wince.The quiet lobby that greets her¡ªwarm and bright¡ªis surprising to her frozen eyes and she takes a second to be confused, again, as to how she remembered the name of this place, but shakes it off after a second, chalking it up to a tired brain and a good memory, and quickly hobbles her way over to the reception.¡°Hi,¡± she says, trying to look as sane and also pitiful as possible. ¡°I¡¯m looking for a room for the night?¡±Luck, scant as it¡¯s been today, shines on her and a few minutes later she¡¯s in possession of a key to room 201 (thanking Merlin she had the foresight to bring her credit card with her) and of the brilliant idea to locate the nearest alcohol.¡°There¡¯s a bar,¡± the woman behind the desk says with a friendly smile. She points to the far side of the quiet room, where an elderly gentleman is reading a newspaper in an armchair. ¡°Right that way. You can put it on your bill if you give them your room number.¡±Lily nearly laughs with relief. ¡°Thank you,¡± she says and turns, sodden heels snagging on the carpet.Another door greets her and Lily switches her purse to her other hand so she can push it open¡ªit creaks, resisting her push and she grits her teeth, nudging forward until it finally gives with small crash.In she stumbles, both from momentum and surprise at the roar of sound¡ªmusic and laughter¡ªand warmth, a snowfall of a flushed-faced, wet woman in unwieldy heels.The warmly lit bar doesn¡¯t quiet at her entrance, but she does get a few looks as she straightens, hoisting her purse higher and trying to hold on to her dignity. Her frozen toes are cramped in her shoes and she wobbles with her first few steps, unused to the sensation of wooden floors.¡°Alright?¡± a bloke asks her with a laugh. The walls are decorated in soft blue wallpaper, small tables with little lamps tucked into corners. It¡¯s packed with a variety of rowdy customers all twisting their heads to look at the football match on the telly above the bar. Christmas music is playing loudly in the background, glittering garlands and little red and green baubles hung everywhere. In the very back corner, she spots a single menorah, as if someone had forgotten it on their way to Christmasville.Lily manages a tight smile. ¡°Just fine,¡± she mutters and tries to head further into the room. She pushes back her damp hair from her forehead, likely completely messing up the fringe she¡¯d had to beat into submission with heating charms that morning. Not like it matters anymore.There¡¯s one spot at the bar that¡¯s empty and she makes a beeline for it, grip on her purse dropping as she nears and she finally slumps against the wooden counter with a loud exhale. It takes some of the weight off of her feet and Lily¡¯s tired eyes travel over the menu on the wall, over to the bright screen of the telly showing blokes in red uniforms running around on a green pitch.It¡¯s both like and unlike Quidditch and she finds herself briefly fascinated by it, comparing it to the few professional games Dorcas has dragged her to.Someone clears their throat next to her and Lily barely withholds the sharp sound of irritation as she twists around, already glaring for no reason at all except she¡¯s tired and doesn¡¯t want to talk right now¡ªAnd she remembers where she¡¯s heard the name the Ruby Petal Hotel. A low, laughing voice, an idle comment made during some afternoon or night or morning spent tangled together in his bed. My uncle lives in Belfast. Always frequents this bar at this little hotel¡ªthe Ruby Petal Hotel¡ªyou¡¯d like it, it¡¯s got character. Anyway, he¡¯s been dragging me there for a pint since I was twelve.How responsible, she¡¯d responded dryly and he¡¯d laughed, eyes crinkling. Didn¡¯t say I drank them, he claimed, which she didn¡¯t believe in the slightest, then he¡¯d smirked. At least when I was twelve. Later¡­Idiot. He¡¯d been an idiot then, back when the sight of his face and smile inspired warmth and affection and not¡­Not a sucker-punch to the gut. Not wordless panic or surprise. Not dread. Dread at the thought of running into her ex-boyfriend in some stupid hotel in Belfast because she hadn¡¯t bothered to think for more than a second why the name of it sounded so familiar.Lily sucks in a breath, ten years worth of pent up emotion in the sound. She can¡¯t move.¡°Hullo,¡± James Potter says. He doesn¡¯t look happy to see her.

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