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CA [userpic]
by CA (piartemis18)
at October 18th, 2006 (01:10 pm)
current song: Transatlanticism

I still don't like this blur, but I haven't written anything else and it's always nice to have reminders that communities exist. So, the latest Justlie.

It was a beautiful, crisp October day – the date of Hogwarts’ Hogsmeade visit. Hufflepuff was brimming with excitement – some required a visit to Zonko’s joke shop, some were in desperate need of Honeydukes chocolate, and they were all past ready for a chance to relax for the day.

“I’ve never quite understood why we usually wear Muggle clothing,” Leslie remarked. “It is a wizarding village, after all.”

Marie straightened her jacket and checked her appearance in the mirror. “Because no one in their very right mind passes up the chance to wear jeans.”

Leslie looked down at her outfit of choice. It was fairly flattering, she thought – at least, it would’ve been if she’d bothered to iron it. But she really couldn’t care that much – today was supposed to be relaxing, after all.

“Ready to go?” It was a testimony to the close-knittendess of Hufflepuff House that they walked down to Hogsmeade as one big group, more or less.

The path to the village was vibrant with changing leaves. Leslie slowed down for a moment to particularly admire a soft red-gold that reminded her strongly of the most beautiful sunsets. Suddenly she found her friends had gone on without her. All except one.

“It seems that the promise of butterbeer, Chocolate Frogs, and Dr. Filibuster’s fireworks holds more allure than the beauties of nature,” Justin remarked with a small smile.

“How unfortunate,” Leslie replied. “Thank you for waiting.”

“My pleasure, Justin assured her, and she began to worry if her face matched one of the redder leaves that surrounded them.

The main group of Hufflepuffs was now far ahead and Leslie doubted she could catch up at this point – if she wanted to catch up.

Feeling the silence to be a little awkward, Leslie said the first thing that came to mind – a truly deplorable habit of hers. “Do you ever wonder why we wear Muggle clothing on our days off? I always feel so self-conscious.”

“You have great reason to be,” Justin said gravely and Leslie turned to him in dismay.

“It’s because I didn’t iron it, isn’t it?”

“No,” he said, quirking his brows. “No, I was thinking about the fact that, well...” he trailed off, apparently too embarrassed at some great flaw in her appearance to even say.

“What?!” Leslie demanded.

Justin would meet her eyes and she looked away, hastening her steps ever so slightly. He grabbed her wrist and swung her around toward him and she braced herself for some stinging critique.

“That outfit is far too attractive on you!” he blurted, glancing quickly at her face then glaring at the nearest tree.

As shocked as Leslie was, some evil flirt within her said coyly, “Is that so?” She blushed at her forwardness.

“Yes,” was the curt reply.

“Um,” Leslie stammered. “Well, then.” She could think of anything to say that would alleviate their embarrassment.

“Yes,” Justin said again. He released her wrist and cocked his head toward the village. “Shall we go on?”

They walked silently for a while. Leslie knew her face was bright red, and a glance at Justin’s face showed he was also fairly scarlet. “We look like a couple of tomatoes!” she exclaimed abruptly, and Justin dissolved into contagious laughter. “It wasn’t that funny!” she gasped helplessly.

“But it was true,” Justin reminded her, the thought somehow sobering him. “Leslie, what I said before was true, too.”

“Thank you,” Leslie replied, nonplussed. Why he kept bringing up this uncomfortable topic of conversation was beyond her. To distract herself from the glances Justin kept giving her she stared at the nearest bedecked tree.

“It certainly is a beautiful day,” Justin said, as if she’d said something. “Would you like to talk a walk?”

“I thought we already were,” Leslie responded.

Justin chuckled briefly. “I meant, take a walk.” He grabbed her hand.

“Oh!” Leslie said, completely unappreciative of her fair skin that caused her to blush so brilliantly. “Well, of course.”

They continued down the path, ambling slowly and taking time to appreciate the crisp air and the beautiful fall colors. When Hogsmeade finally came into view, Justin and Leslie looked at each other.

“Did you absolutely have your heart set on that Honeydukes chocolate I heard you pining for earlier?” Justin asked, his eyes a little beseeching.

Leslie bit her lip; she really did need chocolate to function properly. But Hogsmeade visits were often enough; days like this were few and far between. “I think I’ll manage,” she said finally, flashing a smile up at Justin, whose grin was bright as a star.

They circumambulated the village and continued their stroll, hands linked – until Justin let go to affectionately put his arm around her. This slowed them down considerably, but Leslie didn’t mind. In fact, they stopped completely at the most glorious fall display yet.

“It’s beautiful,” Leslie breathed, entirely engrossed in the array.

“Yes,” Justin said, “you are.”

Leslie blinked then looked sideways up at him. “You did not just use that line on me.”

Justin looked surprised. “Is that a bad line?”

“It’s totally lame,” Leslie informed him.

“Oh. Well, I only said it because I looked at the leaves, which are beautiful, then I looked at you, and...you should never ever feel self-conscious in Muggle clothing. You’re so beautiful it makes me ... gah.”

He squinched his eyes shut as if the sight of her were suddenly too much to bear.

“You’ve succeeded in making me feel quite ashamed for teasing you,” Leslie said in a small voice. “I’m sorry.” She reached up to touch his face but lost her nerve and patted his shoulder instead.

Justin’s arms snaked around her waist and pulled her close so that the hand on his shoulder slid to his back instead. Leslie smiled into his warm embrace and reflected that he didn’t seem inclined to release her anytime soon.

“You don’t look so bad in Hogwarts robes either,” came Justin’s voice rumbling through his chest. “Just so you’re aware.”

Leslie giggled. “I don’t know if you were fishing for compliments or what, but – ” she turned her head so she could almost see his ear – “you know you’re always attractive to me. Men have that fortunate ability to look good without having to resort to, er, Muggle outfits.”

Justin finally stepped back from the hug so he could look teasingly at her. “That may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“You’re welcome,” Leslie said modestly, a grin emerging on her face.

The look in his eyes softened so meltingly that Leslie almost looked away in embarrassment at viewing such a private emotion. Instead she held his gaze.

“Ah, you’re a special girl, you are,” he said gently. Leslie wondered briefly if he was going to kiss her, but then he pulled her back into his embrace. This one was fairly short, however. He held her just for the space of a breath then kissed her hair and let her go.

She thought she might fall over. There had been no idea in her mind that Justin was so ... romantic, but he’d said some incredible things today and there was no doubt in her heart that he was sincere. And that quick pressure on the side of her head....Leslie went dizzy for a moment but Justin took her hand and she smiled at him.

“We’d probably better head back,” she said, her voice quivering a little.

“Yeah,” Justin replied. “We wouldn’t want to be late for dinner.”

Their friends from Hufflepuff had surely noticed their absence from the village, but when they sat down to dinner no one said anything. Leslie caught a few knowing glances moving up and down the table and realized they thought she and Justin had escaped for a quick snog – she blushed at the very thought – but the experience was much deeper to her than that.

The next morning at breakfast, Justin’s owl Ferdy landed in front of Leslie’s place, a bar of chocolate clutched in his talons. An attached note read, Because I prevented you from acquiring what you’d wanted. Hope the trade-off wasn’t too poor. Yours truly, Justin.

Leslie grinned and scribbled on the back of the parchment, poking Ferdy so he fluttered down a few places to where Justin sat. He read, You know that our walk yesterday was worth all the chocolate in the world. Well, most of it at least. Thank you, though.

The smile they exchanged over the sausages was so fraught with light and mutual friendship that their housemates were amazed.