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Chapter 7: Sixth Year, Part Four
She woke up alone the next morning. She had no recollection of James leaving, so she assumed he had after she fell asleep. She was eternally grateful for his presence last night, and slightly heartbroken by his absence this morning. She told herself it didn’t matter. Why should it? She didn’t care about him, so what did it matter if he didn’t care about her? Why should he stay? Carefully, she sat up, pulled the curtain around her open, and checked the time.
A small box, and a piece of parchment were blocking the clock. She picked them up, completely disregarding the time, and opened the parchment.
You’re going to be okay. We’ll make it through this. Together.
P.S. I’m sorry I missed your birthday. Enjoy the gift.
She smiled, and opened the box. The pretty necklace she had looked at in the muggle village gleamed at her. It was silver, and a small glass pendant hung from it. She smiled again, as she clasped it around her neck.
Maybe he did care.
Maybe she did.
The common room was crowded. She wasn’t sure why, there was no celebration, or punishment in place, there was no good reason that everyone should be in the common room. But they were.
It was quite unfortunate really, that they had all picked today to huddle about in the common room. Today, when all Lily wanted to do was see James. Normally, she the congestion wouldn’t have been a problem. All she had to do was find some menial thing that James might have done to annoy her, and they could be alone together in the blink of an eye.
But yelling at him was just not an option today. It just would’ve been wrong. So Lily sat with her girlfriends, chatting idly while James sat across the room, with his friends, doing something boisterous that looked like quite a lot of fun. She looked at him as frequently as she could without rousing suspicion, trying to make eye contact. It proved extremely difficult; as James was very involved in whatever sport the boys were playing.
After twelve daunting minutes, James finally looked back at her. She caught his eye, he smiled infectiously, she glanced at the portrait hole. He seemed to understand, so Lily excused herself from her friends, and made her way to the corridor.
Her feet carried her from memory to the little alcove near Gryffindor tower they had stumbled upon together. She leaned against a wall and waited. It wasn’t long before Lily heard the familiar sound of his rushed footsteps. She wondered vaguely why it was that he would run to meet her at a moments notice, but was nearly always late for planned dates. It was inconsequential. They hardly ever had planned dates, and Lily intended to keep it that way.
He burst into the alcove and had his arms wrapped around her immediately. She stopped him before he kissed her, placing a finger to his lips. “James,” his eyebrows burrowed in confusion. He looked adorable, and Lily couldn’t help but chuckle, “I just wanted to say thank you.”
His eyebrows came closer together; they were nearly one now. He dropped his hands from her hips. “For what? The necklace because that wa-”
She took a breath, shrugged, and cut him off, “For everything.”
He smirked, “It wasn’t a big deal.”
“It was though,” She took a step toward him, and clasped her hands around his neck.
“Nah,” He moved closer to her, and put his hands back on her hips. “But you know what is?” She shook her head, “You’ve met me just to talk twice now.” She chuckled, “What is this madness?!”
She laughed, leaned her head in toward him. “This madness,” she whispered, “is not going to happen again.”
She thought she noticed a flash of genuine disappointment on his face, but it turned comical too quickly for her to really comprehend it. “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwe,” he whined, “Why not?” She smiled at his childlike behavior, “I like talking.”
“I don’t.” She shook her head, and moved closer to him; their noses were pressed against each other. “I like snogging.” She pressed her lips to his. He responded immediately. “Don’t you?” She breathed. She felt his head nod earnestly; he made an enthusiastic sound of agreement. “Well, snogging it is then.”
They ended up in his bed later that day. It had been a challenge, sneaking her up with the common room so full, but the risk had paid off in tenfold as they roamed each other’s bodies with ease, familiarity.
It had been as wonderful as always. Lily didn’t like to talk, but the sounds she had made drove James crazy. He loved every minute of it. She was graceful, fluid in her movements. He was rough, and powerful. Together… well, James couldn’t think of anything more magnificent.
Lily was quiet now. Motionless. He knew she didn’t like to talk, but she hadn’t made any sound at all since the heavy breathing wake of their sex. It was sad. He wanted to ask her if something was wrong, if she was still upset, if something else was bothering her. He didn’t. He wasn’t sure she would hear him; she seemed to be off, somewhere far away, where he would never, ever find her.
James didn’t like this. He wanted to talk and laugh and play like they usually did. He missed her, as asinine as it may be. She was right there next to him. But she wasn’t. She was alone, in her own world. James doubted he could bring her back to him. Trying would be like trying to raise the dead: futile and possibly dangerous.
He moved nearer to her, wanting to be close to her body if not her mind. He propped his head up on his hand and took in the sight of her. She was peaceful, elegant, exquisite. James wanted to burn the serene expression she wore now into his mind forever. It might have been the most beautiful image he would ever see. The desire to be as close as possible to her was overwhelming.
He lay back down, and pulled himself flush to her. He nuzzled into her neck and breathed deeply the scent that was so uniquely her. He placed a gentle kiss on her shoulder. Her smile surprised him; he wasn’t expecting her to come back to him. She lifted her head and kissed him lightly on the mouth. As she lay back down, she cuddled in closer to him.
He inhaled her scent again, completely wrapped up in the presence of her. He could feel her breath on his skin, and that was all he needed. He had found her, he realized, and both of them were gone now. Off to the secret, magical, perfect place that existed when they were together. They were a million miles away, together in his bed.
And maybe, maybe James didn’t like talking so much after all.
“EVANS! Hey, Evans!” He hollered after her as she walked by him in the Great Hall. She hesitated just for a moment, and he realized he had her attention. “Go out with me.”
She didn’t look back. “No.”
“Well, why not?” He turned around on the bench to face her, but remained sitting.
She turned on her heel and raised her eyebrows at him. “Because you’re a prick. I’m not particularly fond of pricks.”
“How ‘bout a snog then?” He waggled his eyebrows.
Her eyes flashed dangerously. She began storming toward him. For a brief, hopeful moment, he thought she might actually grab him and snog him right there. If she hadn’t been acutely aware of the hundreds of eyes on her, she might have.
As it is, she was aware that everyone was watching her, so instead of snogging him, she did what was expected of her. She slapped him. All in the room- except Lily- winced at the crack. Through his blinking eyelids, James could barely make out Lily storming through the hall and out the doors. Tentatively, he fingered the glowing hand mark he just knew was there. He groaned and moved toward the door.
She knew he would follow her. He always did. Usually she wanted him to. Today, however, she was just not in the mood. It had been a while since she was legitimately angry with him. Somehow, the frustration she might have felt was always over run by the anticipation of snogging him later. This time though, this time he had completely infuriated her.
She stomped through the hallways. She wasn’t sure where exactly she was going, but she knew she was not going to and unused classrooms or shadowy alcoves. So help her, James was not going to find her.
She succeeded in hiding from him for a bit, but all too soon, she heard his footsteps behind her. She upped her speed, but it was pointless. “Lily!” he called. He caught her arm and swung her around. She motioned to push him away, but he caught her hands. “I’m sorry, okay!”
She pulled herself from his grasp, “Oh, I’ll bet you’re sorry…” he cut off her rant with his mouth.
He knew it was probably stupid. He couldn’t remember the last time she was this angry with him, but with her face flushed and the dangerous look in her eyes, he just couldn’t help it. And, after all, wasn’t it a stupid move like this- exactly like this- that had started this whole thing?
He kissed her, just as he had nearly two years ago. Once again, and just as surprisingly, she kissed him back. Angry, passionate, and fierce, her lips moved against his, pouring her frustrations into him. She pressed her hands to his chest, and pushed him against the wall. It gave her better leverage, and allowed her to deepen the kiss.
James was highly amused. As their lips briefly disconnected, he whispered, “Still think I’m a prick?”
She pushed his head back against the wall with her kiss. “Yes.”
Lily’s desk was a mess. There were half-written essays that had been cast aside for new and improved versions; a scramble of letters from home, and a few addressed to her family that needed to be sent; and a handful of textbooks. She was attempting to organize the stacks of parchment, but it was to no avail. Amidst her stacking, words would catch her eye, and she would stop, read through the old letter or start of an essay, smile fondly or grimace at it, and continue stacking. It was really a very strenuous process.
Halfway through a potions essay that had been due several months prior, Lily subconsciously registered her dormitory door opening. It didn’t phase her, she did share the room with five other girls and they did have as much right to come in whenever the pleased as she did. She ignored the door, and continued contemplating why she had chosen to rewrite that particular essay. The first few paragraphs were quite good, she thought.
A small cough from behind her startled her a bit, but again, she chose to ignore it. She dismissed the potions essay, added it to her stack, and began file through the rest of her papers.
“Lily.” Garnered her attention. She turned around to meet James.
“Well, hullo.” She smiled briefly and rose to meet him. “How did you get in here?” She wanted to eat the words the moment they left her mouth. He had been to her room before, she just hadn’t thought to ask how before.
“Nice to see you too.” He crossed his arms over his chest, and raised his eyebrows.
“I didn’t say it wasn’t nice to see you. It’s just-“
“Surprising?” He chuckled.
“Yes.” She paused for a moment before adding, “Pleasantly.”
He grinned at her. “Good.”
She rolled her eyes, and shook her head. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Right,” he unfolded his arms, and began walking toward her. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that. Top secret.”
“I thought you said we shouldn’t keep secrets?”
“Right! I said that… so um… I got up here by magic!”
“You said no lies either.”
“I’m not lying. I did use magic.”
“Right.” She looked skeptically at him. “Can you at least indulge me and tell me why you’re here?”
“Certainly.” He took another step toward her and placed his hands on her hips. “It’s simple enough. I missed you.”
“Did you now?” She looked up at him and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Terribly.” He whispered before descending his mouth to hers.
“I think you should miss me more often.” Lily mused as she attempted to catch her breath. James sniggered. “What? That was… wonderful. And I didn’t even go anywhere. Maybe I’ll just start avoiding you.”
“You wouldn’t want to do that.”
“Why not?” She rolled to her side, looked him in the eye. His glasses had been removed sometime before, so she could peer directly into them. She realized he really had quite beautiful eyes.
“You would miss my riveting sense of humor.”
“Right. That’s what I would miss.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm.
“Ouch.” She shrugged it off with a smirk. “It’s good to know why you keep me around.”
“I don’t keep secrets from you.”
He winced. “I deserved that one.” She raised her eyebrows, “I promise I’ll tell you one day. You’ll enjoy the story. It’s a riveting tale containing a cat named Oskar.”
“See? I should start avoiding you. I’d have better sex and information!” She started to move toward the edge of the bed.
James remained laying. “Are you leaving?” She nodded, “but this is your room!” She shrugged. “What will your roommates think when they find me naked in your bed?”
“That you’re mad, probably. They already think you stalk me, it wouldn’t be all that surprising.”
“That really hurts, Lily.” He clutched his chest and reached out for emphasis. Lily could not contain her laughter as James reached blatantly in the wrong direction. “What’s funny? I’m not kidding!”
“You really can’t see without your glasses on, can you?”
He blushed and put his hands down. “No.” She took an unwilling step toward him. “Are you really going to avoid a poor blind man who just wants to be with you?”
“Are you going to lie to me again?” She took another step.
“Never, love.” She took a step into his arms, and wrapped hers around his neck. She slowly moved her face, so that their noses were touching. He smiled before she kissed him.
“Are you okay?”
It was a difficult question. Quite possibly the hardest she had answered in her years at Hogwarts- O.W.L.’s included. In any other case she would have replied simply, “Yes, of course!” maybe excuse herself by claiming fatigue, or other sickness. Prove to who ever was asking that there was no reason for her not to be okay, and there never had been. Answering any other way would mean explaining why she wasn’t, and only one other person in the world could ever know that.
Unfortunately, that other person was the one asking the question.
“Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” she answered. It wasn’t a lie, exactly. There was nothing immediately plaguing her. Of course, she knew why he was asking. And he knew that she knew too. He raised his eyebrows, reminding her of this.
“I think so, anyway.” She amended, trying at least, for honesty. She wasn’t sure if she was okay, yet. She certainly wasn’t good. But she wasn’t necessarily bad either. She was traveling the road between the two. Perhaps okay was a stop along the way.
He moved closer to her and brushed the hair out of her face. His glasses had been replaced on his face, and through them, it seemed as though he could see directly into her. “It’s hard.” She sighed. “It’s the most bizarre feeling I’ve ever had.” He continued to look at her, willing her on with his expression. “It’s like I’ve lost something.” She shook her head, “But I never had it.”
She could feel emotions bursting forth. She didn’t understand it. She had dealt with these emotions long ago, alone. “So why should I be upset about it?” The tears were stinging her eyes, and try and she might she could not keep them back. “And I know,” she choked, “I know its obtainable,” She inhaled sharply. Her tears were falling freely, and some time ago, he had placed his hand on hers, squeezing it gently. “One day,” She sniffed, and wiped at her tears with her free hand, “One day I can have whatever it is that I’ve lost. I will, it’s a fact of life, it’s just…” She broke away from him, and brought her hands to cover her face, “I don’t even know!”
His response was simple. He moved toward her, and pulled her into him. He rested her head on his shoulder, and wrapped one arm around her back, while the other caressed her hair. He leaned his check against her temple as she sniffed and sobbed. When it seemed she had calmed down, he did not release her, but pressed a soft kiss to her forehead.
Everything he might have said was lost, but it didn’t matter. His silence was all that was needed.
Lily was not sleeping. She was very aware of this. Her eyes were closed, she wasn’t moving, to anyone looking-- namely the boy next to her-- it seemed she was asleep. If she could help it, she probably would be. She was very tired, but she just could not calm her mind down. So she lay there, wrapped warmly in her lover’s arms; eyes closed, body still, mind running.
James was not sleeping either. Lily could tell. Not that it was difficult; he wasn’t even pretending to sleep. She could feel his uneven breaths, the shifting of his weight, the occasional movement of his hands on her body. Perhaps a while ago he had been trying to sleep, as she was, but now he was resigned to lying next to her, completely awake. She felt him huff indignantly. “Lily?”
She could answer him. She knew that deep down somewhere inside of her, she had the ability. But actually summoning that ability was far too much effort for her to respond. She remained silent.
“Are you sleeping?”
No. She could shake her head. It was a menial action, simple enough. Two simple movements. She could do it. Or she could lie there. Stay still. The choice was simple.
She didn’t respond.
He chuckled. “Oh, Lily,” he was speaking softly. “What am I going to do with you?” He was smiling; she could hear it in his voice. He began stroking her hair gently. After a few moments, he placed a kiss on her temple. His lips remained close to her; she could feel them brush lightly against her skin as he moved to her ear. They remained touch her ear, just barely, as James whispered, just barely:
“I love you, Lily.”
The decision to ignore his statement was simple enough. He hadn’t known she was awake, therefore, did not really want her to know anyway. He couldn’t. If he did, he would’ve said it when he was sure she was listening.
She wasn’t pressured to respond at all, but it disconcerted her nonetheless. They still weren’t in a relationship. They were just having fun. It meant… nothing. And falling in love, or saying it at least, was definitely against the rules.
But she did still enjoy his company, so she ignored him.
It was simple enough.
He kissed her lips softly. She smiled half-heartedly back at him. Despite a handful of meetings, three weeks, and the threat of two months without him; his words were plaguing her. He just wasn’t supposed to say that! It was not part of their agreement.
“What’s the matter?” he asked her, kissing her forehead. “Upset again?”
“Not at all.” She smiled and kissed his nose. She expected him to berate her for lying, but he let it drop.
He smiled, catching her lips in another kiss. He reached down and grasped her hands in his own. She pulled them away abruptly. “No handholding, remember?”
His expression changed from content to confused and hurt. “That- that was like two years ago… Are we back to that, really?”
She moved away from him, and sat up. “We never left that.”
“Oh that’s bullshit, Lily and you know it.” The were both standing now, facing each other and glaring with a ferocity they hadn’t seen in ages.
“It’s not! We had an agreement! There were rules!” Her hands were gesturing of their own accord. She knew her face was beet red, she could feel the heat growing in her cheeks.
“Two years ago!” He spat viciously back at her. He moved toward her, trying to calm himself. He reached out to her, “We’ve just, been through so much since then. I thought we were past these stupid rules.” He had grabbed her hand, pleading with her.
“Don’t!” She ripped her hand away. “Rules are not stupid!” She began pacing, “The provide order, and- and- they’re not stupid!”
“Okay!” He responded, “They’re not stupid.” She stopped moving, but kept her back turned to him. “But Lily,” he moved closer to her, “That was so long ago. It was before we were here. Back when we were just having fun. Before we got serious.”
She whipped around, pushing him around. “We are not serious! We’re not in a relationship!”
“Because you won’t agree to it! We act like we are, you just won’t make it official!”
“Because I don’t want to be in a relationship with you!” His face fell once again.
“You don’t want a relationship?” he asked tentatively. “Or you don’t want a relationship with me?”
She took a deep, angry breath. “I don’t want relationship,” His face lifted with a glimmer of hope, “with you.”
“Well why the hell not!?” He stormed toward her grabbed her wrists and glared into her blank eyes. “Why is it okay for me to kiss you, but not to hold your hand? Why the hell is it okay to act like a couple when we’re alone, and when it suits you but no other time?”
Lily’s face remained blank. This was not the outcome she was expecting (but then, James had a knack for surprising her). She was vaguely aware of James’ voice continuing to ask her difficult questions. There was no answer for them. All that was running through her head were ways to get away from him. Now.
“I-I,” she took a breath, “I don’t know, James.” Without looking at him, she grabbed the clothes she had neglected, and hastily put them on. He didn’t protest. She walked to the door, and briefly turned her head. “I’ll write to you this summer.”
She closed the door behind her. After two steps, the crashing against the door made her flinch. She continued walking.
AN: Well, I hope that was worth the wait! I'm sorry it was so late, I just got CRAZY busy. I literally had no time to write. And I had writers block. It's not a good combination. At all. Please please leave me a review! Even though I know I don't deserve it... Please? :)