Author's Note: My apologies on the length of time between updates. As I announced before, I am doing rewrites of "The Last Two Years" and posting them at . If you are interested, I have written quite a few new chapters and scenes, and you can check them out there.
Chapter Eighteen: More Than Friends
School was in full swing. In March, Cornelia planned a surprise party for Emma's fifteenth birthday. Much to her chagrin, Olivia and Lily were the ones who offered to help. After their numerous suggestions to jinx various party favors, Cornelia rushed them out of the classroom they were talking in, declaring that she would get the party together on her own. She had quickly seen that James and Aidan, too busy chasing various girls around the school, were going to be no help. It was up to her.
March 1st came, and with it came cold, rainy weather. "This is just perfect!" Emma exclaimed with a groan when she woke up the morning of her birthday.
"Oh, don't worry about it," Cornelia assured her. "Maybe it'll clear up."
However, as they sat in their classes, the weather turned from bad to worse. By the time dinner rolled around, the ceiling in the Great Hall was so dark from cloud cover that extra candles had to be put in the room. "Today's been a fabulous day," Emma said with sarcasm as she helped herself to some food.
"It could still pick up!" Olivia announced brightly, to which Cornelia stamped on her foot to make her be quiet. Emma raised her eyebrows at her friend, but said nothing to her. After dinner, she headed to the library to go over some notes she needed to write a potions essay. James was commissioned to accompany her, to make sure she didn't find her way upstairs too soon.
"Have you noticed something strange about Cornelia and Aidan?" Emma asked James as she closed one book and reached for another. She was referring to the many times over the year that she had seen them interact with each other. Though she had witnessed it for nearly four years, she saw a change. Their body language was different, and Cornelia seemed to giggle a lot whenever she was in his presence.
"What do you mean?" James asked nonchalantly as he doodled on a piece of parchment.
"If I didn't know better," said Emma, thinking about the behavior, "I'd say they've been flirting with each other since September."
"Really?" James asked, suddenly interested in the conversation. "What makes you say so?" Emma recounted the things she had seen to him. "Aidan's never mentioned liking her."
"Does he tell you about everyone he likes?" Emma asked.
James nodded. "Usually."
"Uh-oh," Emma said, and she looked at her cousin with a serious expression. "I think we have a problem."
"What problem?" James asked. "I don't see any problem."
"James, Aidan probably REALLY likes her. A LOT. So much that he can't even tell his best friend about it," Emma explained.
"Or maybe," James added, "he doesn't even KNOW he likes her."
Emma thought about this for a moment. "That's possible," she said. "You know all the stories about how my mum and dad got together."
"Does Cornelia like him?" James asked suddenly.
"She doesn't say," said Emma. "She's shy about that kind of thing though. She always blushes whenever I mention any boys."
James looked at her sternly. "And what boys do YOU mention?" he asked.
"Oh, James, grow up," said Emma in exasperation. "I'm not a little girl anymore. I talk about boys all the time. A whole bunch of them."
"I do NOT need to hear that from you," James said, and to prove his point, he covered his ears. The gesture made Emma laugh.
"All right," she said. "I'm getting bored. I'm not going to spend my whole birthday evening in this library. Let's go upstairs." She packed her books and James followed her out of the library and up to the common room.
* * *
"SURPRISE!" the whole of Gryffindor shouted when they saw Emma enter the room. She jumped back and started smiling. Cornelia ran over to her and hugged her.
"Happy Birthday!" she exclaimed.
"Thanks!" said Emma.
"Oh, you KNEW, didn't you?" Cornelia asked, only slightly disappointed.
"I had a feeling," Emma admitted. This did not deter Cornelia's good mood and she pulled Emma into the room."
"I have to tell you something," she said conspiratorially.
"What?" Emma asked.
"I don't want to say it here," Cornelia whispered. "I only want you to know about it."
"Let's go upstairs then," said Emma. "Just let me get something to drink first." She got to bottles of butterbeer from the table and then followed Cornelia up the staircase to their dormitory. "What's going on?" she asked as she sat down on her bed. Cornelia took a seat next to her.
"Aidan kissed me," she said. Emma, who had just taken a sip of butterbeer, choked momentarily, but managed to regain her composure.
"What?" she asked. "How did this happen?"
"We were setting up for the party," Cornelia began...
* * *
"Aidan, can you please help me with this?" Cornelia asked as she held up a length of streamers, trying to decide where to put them. She was standing on a chair, so when Aidan stood she was actually taller than he was.
"Why don't you just levitate them where you want them?" he asked as he looked up at the ceiling with her.
"I suppose," said Cornelia, and she moved to step down off of the chair. However, her foot caught and she stumbled. Before she could hit the ground, she found herself in Aidan's arms. She looked up into his face. "Thanks," she said, and she suddenly found herself feeling awkward.
"You have to be more careful," Aidan said, though his voice was soft as he looked at her, and his cheeks were tinged a slight pink color. They looked at each other for a moment, ignoring the fact that there were small clusters of students in the room. Aidan moved his head lower, and Cornelia moved hers as well until there was contact.
The first kiss was brief. When it was over, Cornelia was able to stand straight again, and when she and Aidan looked at each other they didn't speak, but their mouths met again, this time more intense. When they broke away, they were both a little out of breath. "That was... Wow," said Aidan.
"Yeah," was all Cornelia could muster.
* * *
"So what happened next?" Emma asked.
"We talked for a few minutes," said Cornelia, "and Aidan said that he's liked me for a while now, maybe even since last year. And I told him that I liked him, and so then, he asked me to go with him to Hogsmeade the next time there's a weekend! But he also asked if I wouldn't mind spending more time with him before then as well."
"And you said yes, of course," Emma said, hoping that her friend didn't shy away from him and tell him she couldn't. She breathed a sigh of relief when Cornelia nodded her head. "What was it like?" Emma asked.
"The kiss," Emma clarified.
"Oh," said Cornelia, and her eyes took on a dreamy quality. "It was... Oh, I can't describe it... But it was wonderful, and weird, and scary all at the same time." Emma sighed.
"I wouldn't know," she said. She looked at her friend. "So, then you and Aidan are a couple then?"
"Looks like it," Cornelia said happily. Emma sighed again. Cornelia took her hand. "You'll have it too," she assured her friend. "Just wait."
"I know," said Emma, and she smiled. "But right now, I want to go back to my birthday party." She stood and she and Cornelia headed back downstairs to join the fun.