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Chapter 5: Is This What You Want?
The first three fourths is written in first person, present tense. When it changes back to normal, I'll have a series of symbols (--**--) to let you know. It's the only time I'll ever have those symbols in this story, or its sequels, without forewarning like this.
Chapter Five: Is This What You Want?
Remus can't be right, he doesn't understand. I don't know why he thinks life is slowly doling out my dues and why I can't bear to get along with James Potter. He's been my friend for so long, but what if he really doesn't know me the way I had hoped he did?
He thinks it's just my stubborn pride but he doesn't understand how much more than that it really is. I wish I could show him, I wish I could place him in my shoes and yell "This is why, Remus!" Even with magic I can't do that.
He assures me there is so much more to James Potter, but he doesn't know that I already figured that out. He's more than a pranking prat carrying a torch. He's a human being with emotions, and that scares me. It scares me a lot. Because I worry I am not.
I don't know how to tell Remus how I really feel. He doesn't get it, or maybe I just don't want him to get it. He's been my connection to the male world and I his to the female. But our separation in mindset makes it so I don't know how to talk to him about matters of the heart. However, it seems he knows how to talk to me.
Remus doesn't understand how hard I have to work to accept James Potter. It's not simply because he's different from me. Oh, if it were only that. It's because he lives in the throes of his emotions, letting himself follow where they lead. I haven't listened to my heart in so many years, I wouldn't know how even if I tried.
He insisted our differences were where we would connect. If there's one thing I have learned, it's that the commonalities that bring people together. What do James Potter and I have in common? Little, if anything.
And, besides, I can't forget that look on his face as he cut through to my heart. The first, and only, time. He will never reach me like that again, with such venom, bringing back my dead father. I will never forgive him for that.
How can I? He can't deserve it, he simply can't. He made a mistake, true, true. Whatever. He made a mistake that was bigger than any of his previous mistakes. He wants to work something out, fine. But he can't send Remus for him. I will not be made a fool of, I will not be hurt again. Not by James Potter, not by anyone.
Remus doesn't know, though, does he? James didn't say anything. Remus doesn't know what happened that afternoon. I couldn't tell him. James Potter doesn't deserve that.
Oh, Lily Evans.
Remus is insistent that you mean no harm, but how can't you? I have never seen such a passion in your eyes as you cursed me to an endless roundtrip to hell and back. You refuse to say a word to me, out of righteous anger. How can I earn your forgiveness?
Lily Evans, I made a mistake. I never meant to hurt you. I've been trying so hard not to, to keep my distance, to show you who I really am. I wronged you as soon as I could, didn't I?
You never told Remus, Lily Evans. Why haven't you told Remus? You talk to Remus more than you talk to anyone, it seems. Would he say something harsh to you, or to me? Who are you protecting?
If you're protecting me, why do you care? I have never seen such hate in all my life. I hope never to again. But help me to understand why you do these things.
He said I love you, Lily. I don't know, I just don't know. Is that what they call this, this torture? This maddening stream of sorrow and regret, this longing? Love?
Maybe he is right. But if he is right, what could I do? How could I prove it? Do I need to prove it? Do you know?
Wait, wait. Back up, James. Love? You? You're a reckless character, a figure of mischief, not of romantic devotion. Hold to yourself, mate. If you succumb to love, you have lost everything you stood for, all those years.
He said I do not love you, Lily Evans. Remus said I am so madly in love with you, it is a blind devotion, an endless well of emotion. That love comes not alone, but with anger and fear, happiness and sadness. That I could never say a word about love for what it is, because I don't know. I never bothered to watch myself with you, and that would be my downfall. He told me if I don't pay attention now, it will end badly.
Because you are watching as well.
Dear sweet Lily Evans. There isn't a night I don't close my eyes thinking of you, not a morning I don't wake up without first thinking your name. I dream of you, I wait for you to realize what Remus assures me could only be true.
But still, I must question myself before you. I can't say a word for your feelings until I know my own.
Am I in love you, Lily Evans?
Your very name makes me smile, and I can't resist acting like a fool in front of you. I say whatever comes to mind, and forget how it may make you feel. I forget you have feelings that I shouldn't ignore, because I'm so consumed with making you mine.
I am, Lily Evans, irrevocably, hopelessly, desperately, in love with you.
There is a piece I'm missing. Something neither will tell me, but is essential, imperative to understanding exactly what's happening between them. And the options are simple: Either one (or both) will tell me, or they must put it behind themselves. It can't be a roadblock forever. I refuse to let whatever it is stay in their way.
I don't know why I'm playing matchmaker now. It was Clare's job, but she relinquished it to me. Am I better at it? Happier at pulling two people meant to be closer and closer together?
No, I can't say that. I feel like I'm the evil one, the bad guy. If something goes wrong, both will fling the blame back on me. I don't want that. No one really wants that.
Did she give it to me because she knows I can take the blame, the anger, the pain, and she cannot?
Emily understands this so much more than I do. I've always been the peacemaker, not the matchmaker. I don't know how to do this job without causing suspicion or hate. Or both.
I asked both of them, separately of course, if this, what they have right now, is what they want. James gave me a straight answer. "Of course not, Moony. I've been waiting for Lily Evans to be mine for two years. Do you think this is where I want things to stay?"
Lily, on the other hand, was not so forthcoming in her answer. "Does anyone ever want what they have at the moment? Isn't everyone longing for something else?"
I worry for that girl sometimes. Her heart is locked away so tightly, I don't think anyone will ever be able to release it, especially herself.
A baby laughs and James smiles. The baby is right in front of him, a beautiful green-eyed boy. Those eyes are so familiar, but he can't place them yet.
He plays peek-a-boo with the baby, laughing as the baby gurgles in delight.
He feeds the baby when he gets hungry and burps him. James has no idea how he learned to do these things: he is an only child and never took care of an infant before. The baby pulls gently, lazily at his hair. The baby yawns and James suddenly knows his name.
"Harry," he whispers.
He tucks Harry into his basinet and curls up on the couch for a nap himself. Lily should be home soon.
James sits up and looks around the living room. On the mantle is a picture of Lily in wedding robes, standing next to a grinning James. He smiles in pleasant surprise and snuggles up on the cough again. He can hear Harry's gentle breathing and it soothes him into a tiny nap, just for a few minutes. He needs to be wake when Lily gets home…
"Wake up, James," a gentle voice calls. "James?"
He sat up quickly, flinging his books everywhere. Lily stood over him, shaking her head.
"Honestly, James. It's well past midnight. Get to bed." She gathered her belongings from across the room and hesitated a bit at the foot of the stairs. As James shook the dream of his consciousness, Lily called to him, "James?"
"Why were you muttering my name?"
James floundered for an answer, his mouth opening and closing uselessly. Lily cackled.
"Kidding!" she called back down the stairs as she raced up them.
James turned a gentle pink and rubbed the back of his neck, his mind still lost in the dream future.