Chapter 13 : Wicked Game
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He sat up on his elbows and realised that unless he was very much mistaken Lily was in bed next to him. Debating with himself on whether or not it would be a good idea to wake her, he realised that he was far to curious to just let her sleep.
Rocking her shoulder gently at first and then more forcefully when he realised how sound a sleeper she really was, he was forced to take drastic and immature measures.
Her eyes flew open and she sat up ramrod straight, throwing the covers off of her and nearly toppling out of bed.
He supposed it might have been the laughter that gave him away, but she soon turned to him and gave his arms and back a good swatting, proving she was a lot stronger than she looked.
“Easy on, easy on. It’s no fair when I can’t even see you coming,” he protested, shielding his face with his arms. He reached over the bed and felt around for his glasses as Lily continued to hit his back. Once he had them on again he was able to block her blows a little easier so she gave up after one final jab in the stomach and sat on the edge of the bed, glaring at him.
“What did you do that for?” she hissed and attempted to flatten her hair which had now worked itself up into a frizzy red halo.
Deciding that the answer to that particular question would probably get him into more trouble when she found out he was just impatient, he decided to try a different approach. “Why are you here? Do your parents know you’ve gone and by the way, weren’t we on a break?”
She held the scowl on her face for a few moments before it dropped to reveal her embarrassment and worry. “I’ve left home,” she said quietly. “I didn’t mean to barge in on you and I would have slept on the couch but…well, you live here so maybe you can explain the strange stains and I came into wake you up and talk but I…” she trailed off and for the first time he noticed the dark bags under her puffy, red eyes and concluded something rather major must have gone down in the Evans household.
“What was the fight about?” he asked, feeling more than a little guilty about his wake up call.
She tugged on her rumpled t-shirt and stared at hands. “They were worried,” she replied, a slight sniffle in her voice. “You know last week when we were sprung by those Death Eaters in Kent?”
James remembered. He remembered being dragged from the fight by Sirius and Moody, a burn seared across his back and his eyes blurred with tears and dirt, he remembered desperately trying to hold onto consciousness and searching for a flash of red hair, he remembered panic when he couldn’t see her in the huddled masses and sheer relief when she and Remus were pulled from the fight by Peter, Hestia and Fabian, bleeding and battered but still alive. “Yeah.”
She pushed her wild hair behind her ears. “Well, they couldn’t heal one of the burns and I went home with it,” she shook her head and stared up at the mouldy ceiling of James’ apartment. “They’ve been freaking out ever since. I don’t know what happened last night though, I came in the front door maybe ten minutes late and they just started screaming and telling me I couldn’t go back to the Wizarding World. Mum wanted to snap my wand.”
James inched across the bed and placed a hand on her shoulder.
Lily let out a sob. “I know they’re just trying to protect me, but the things they were saying and the thought of not being able to be in the Order or be a witch anymore…I just ran and I could have gone to Marjorie’s but she wouldn’t have understood, so I came here because I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”
James’ grip on her tightened and forgetting that they had broken up three weeks ago, he pulled her against his chest and held her. She looked so miserable and he could tell it was tearing her up that she’d had to decide between her Muggle and Wizarding life and go against her own parents. He rubbed his hand soothingly against her back and let her cry, hoping it would do her some good to have someone to vent to and she’d come here, to his place, for a reason.
Lily lifted her head up and their faces came within awkward inches, closer than they’d been in weeks. It was too much for the both of them; Lily pushed away and wiped her eyes with the corner of his sheet. “Oh Christ, I’m sorry. It’s not fair of me barge in and start carrying on like this. I’m really sorry, James.”
His heart was pounding because for some reason just being in the same room, let alone in the same bed with her was too much of a problem. It hadn’t been long since they’d broken up after a fairly horrific screaming match. It had been his fault of course; he’d gotten drunk and snogged some girl at a party at Sirius’, Lily had walked in on them lying on the bed together in various states of undress and he’d been damned from that moment on. Like the pathetic degenerate that he was he’d followed her out shirtless into the London streets, begging with her, telling her it had been a mistake, that he’d been stupid and drunk and that he was sorry. They’d been having problems before that anyway, stupid fights about stupid things because both of them were scared and both of them were young.
Lily hadn’t cried, she shoved him angrily when he tried to touch her, called him pathetic and worthless and drunk as he was he’d started to get irritated and started in on her, blaming her for the fact that he’d almost shagged some girl up in Sirius’ flat.
It hadn’t ended well.
Three weeks of having to work together had meant they couldn’t avoid talking to one another and James suspected that Dumbledore was deliberately assigning them missions together for his own nefarious purposes. They’d kept it polite and shallow because exchanging more than five minutes worth of conversation was too painful and embarrassing. He had wanted to apologise, but knew that he didn’t even have the right to bring up the subject, cretinous leper that he was.
He waved her off and smiled warmly at her. “Don’t even worry about it, you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like. I’ll clean up the place and you can have the bed, okay? I’ll brave the couch.”
She blushed and shook her head vehemently. “I don’t want to be a burden, I’ll be out of your hair as fast I possible.” She smiled to herself and bit her lip.
“What?” James asked, genuinely perplexed.
“Your hair,” she said affectionately. “I had a very vivid image of actually getting tangled in it when I said that.”
James laughed and raked his fingers through his hair. “That would have delayed your escape for a while.”
Lily grinned at him from across her side of the bed. It seemed so comfortable being like this, just talking and laughing and poking fun at him, like they had so many times, so many mornings. Lily’s hair draped over her shoulder like that, resting her arms on her knees and head cradled by delicate fingers, gazing at him tenderly – he sincerely wished he was not as stupid as he was to have screwed up what he’d had with her. It had been inevitable anyway, he’d told himself, how many school relationships last beyond that? He’d been expecting things to go south from the time they left Hogwarts and it had happened.
She seemed to remember that they’d broken up as well and began to fuss with her clothes and hair, swinging her legs over the side of the bed and standing up. “I won’t stay long, I promise and I’ll take the couch, I can do a decent cleaning charm when I have to.”
“Sure, yeah, okay,” James replied eloquently, getting up out of bed himself and standing pathetically in his billowing t-shirt and baggy pyjama pants. He’d been enchanted by Muggle clothes when Lily had introduced them to him but he had never quite understood the sizes and on his skinny frame most of what he’d bought looked like tents.
Standing on opposite sides of the room, they stared at each other. Separated by much more than physical distance and the bed between them. Lily chewed on her lip and scuffed her feet on his floor. “Thank you,” she said finally and opened the door to leave.
“Would you like some breakfast?” James asked hastily, getting the feeling that he’d much prefer to be talking to her over the sort of painful and awkward silence they usually endured.
She looked wary. “Please tell me you’ve been shopping since I was last here.”
“Two days ago,” he said proudly. He didn’t have to tell her that it had been his own mother who brought him around new supplies as he had been living on cereal and cheese for a week. “I think there might even be bacon.”
She nodded and smiled. “I’ll cook, it’s the least I can do.”
He had also decided that this was one of those times when it was important to keep her laughing and smiling. “And miss out on my gourmet skills? You haven’t seen what I can do with cheese and potatoes yet, have you?”
She chuckled. “Maybe later,” she said with a smile as she left the room. James took a deep breath, wiped his hands over his face and followed after her.
A/N: Back to flashbacks. Hurrah or boo depending on your perspective. I know it seems a strange place to jump to what with all the ANGST (capitol letters ANGST no less) of last chapter, but I actually designed it this way, haven't lost my mind...don't worry. More ANGST on the way.
Chapter title Chris Isaac's because I was listening to it at that time.
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