Chapter 14 : With ot Without You
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Lily had been staying at his place for two days now and feeling as though she was indebted to him, he’d actually come home to find the entire place cleaned up. She’d been like this when they were dating, but never as severe as this; it looked as though she’d even washed the walls.
“I’m in the kitchen!” her voice sang out and James followed it, stepping around the new arrangements of furniture.
“Am I in the right house?” he asked as he set his briefcase down on the kitchen counter.
Her hands were covered in marinade, the front of her shirt had stains all down the front of it and there was a delicious smell that originated from the oven, with an almost uncanny ability to put things together he came to the conclusion that she’d been cooking.
“What’s this?” he asked cautiously.
She beamed at him. “I thought I’d make us something decent to eat, I knew you’d never get around to using that roast and it seemed silly to waste it.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” he sighed and leaned against the bench.
“I know I didn’t, I wanted to and besides I was bored,” she replied, busying herself again in chopping up copious amounts of vegetables.
“What? Cleaning the entire place not exciting enough for you?” he said slyly.
She grinned at him again and crinkled up her nose. “It’ll save your parents having to dig through piles of rubbish just to see you.”
James stared suspiciously at the vase of flowers that had magically appeared on his table and wondered if she’d actually decided to move in and was softening up for that blow, the place looked too clean and far too much like he had a girlfriend; if he had to be a bachelor he’d prefer he looked like one.
“Did you have plans for tonight?” she asked suddenly.
“I was going to go out with Sirius tonight, actually”. The truth was that it was getting progressively harder to be in the same house with her when there was no chance of things ever going back to the way they were, everything she did was wonderful and painfully comfortable and he was getting increasingly frustrated with her for being that way, for making him want her back, making it harder to get over her; but he wouldn’t say anything, he owed her that much.
“Oh, that’s okay. I was going to pop around to my parents and pick up a few things. I think I’ve found a place in Diagon Alley above Madam Malkin’s,” she told him lightly, bustling about in front the oven. He knew her fairly well, so he didn’t miss that strange breathlessness to her voice when she’d mentioned her parents.
“Did you want…I’ll come over and help you pack,” he said.
She turned to him and smiled gratefully. “No, it’s okay, I think you being there might make things worse.”
Secretly, he was relieved. The last thing he wanted to do was face her parents again, her mum had never been too keen on him but he and George Evans got on fantastically well, seeing them again would just make him feel even worse about how he’d treated their daughter, like some naughty school boy caught in the act except he was supposed to be an adult now and when he made a mistake, they were generally worse than just having your cauldron blow up in your face and he was usually held accountable for every single thing he did.
“Well, I can help you move out then. Least I can do,” he offered.
“Bet you’re glad to see the back of me,” she replied.
He flushed red. “Oh no, no. Well, I mean, it’s good to see you Lily and you’ve been really great,” he stammered uselessly, knowing that he’d let himself get caught out because he’d been trying too hard not to show her how much this was bothering him.
“But?” she asked and then looked embarrassed to have said that. “I know, it’s…I shouldn’t have come here like this and put you in this position. You’ve been so good to me, James even though I know it’s been weird, me being here.”
He wasn’t going to disagree with her, so he simply took his glasses off his nose and started polishing them with his robes. The two of them stood there awkwardly, staring at their feet. The timer on the oven sounded and Lily turned around and busied herself with the roast again.
Dinner passed excruciatingly slowly, the two of them picked at their meal and made painful attempts at small talk. Lily was now doing the washing up, clattering plates into the sink as though they’d done her great personal wrong.
He loitered in the doorway, indecisively.
A plate whizzed past his face and flew into the cupboard with a tinkling smash. He kneeled down trying pick up the pieces, but Lily simply flicked her wand and the pieces melded back together.
“Just go James,” she sighed. “I’m obviously keeping you from your very important social life.”
James didn’t say anything; he just stood there, leaning over one of his chairs.
“Throwing me out of my own house?” he asked tetchily.
She gripped her apron tightly and set her jaw. “I’m letting you off the hook, isn’t that what you want? You can go off and shag as many girls as you want, sow your wild seed, find some nice, inbred, pureblooded girl to carry on the family line and forget about the stupid mudblood who you used to have.”
James was utterly befuddled as to how they’d gotten to the current topic. “What?”
“Are you going to see her again? That girl…Regina Roach, you know, the one you were having it off with at Sirius’?” Lily asked him acidly. “Or will it be some other perfectly pure girl?”
“I don’t know what you’re on about,” James replied, strangely embarrassed to hear Lily going on about him with other girls.
“Isn’t that what you were waiting for?” she asked him, her voice higher than it had been. “Wasn’t I just a bit of fun along the way?”
“No!” he protested. “What’s got into your head?”
“Don’t you remember telling me that it was about time we broke up?” she asked, brandishing a spatula. “An eligible bachelor like you, James, shouldn’t be wasted on a Muggleborn, no, best keep the good name of Potter as pure as could possibly be. Best get started on finding a suitable breeder.”
“Who’s been telling you this nonsense?” James asked her incredulously.
“Everyone!” she burst out. “Don’t you think I’ve heard it before? All the time when we were dating! Girls talk, James, and the Pureblooded girls never shut up about how all Pureblood boys have to have a Muggleborn or a Halfblood, to taste the exotic, or to get it out of their system before they settle down with their second cousin or whoever it is you’re arranged to marry.”
James snorted derisively.” You believed them? They were jealous of you, Lily.”
“I never believed them, not until we broke up, not until I heard you’d been out with a couple of Pureblood girls after you’d almost, not until you’d told me you’d been wasting your time,” she explained to him bitterly, biting out the words between gritted teeth.
“Since when is who I see any of your business and…why the hell are we even arguing about this anyway?” He said, shaking his hands in frustration.
She turned her back to him and sagged against the counter. “Forget it.”
“No, I want to know exactly what’s gotten into your head that makes you think you can stroll in here, make me feel like a git by being so bloody wonderful and then demand to know about who I’ve been seeing. Don’t tell me to forget it Lily; you aren’t going down like some innocent martyr, carrying it all on your shoulders just so you can have one more thing to crucify me with, you brought it up, so have some balls and follow through,” he shouted at her, his temper and weeks of frustration, guilt and hurt surfacing.
She turned back to him, eyes blazing. “I don’t have to tell you anything.”
“You didn’t have to come here either!” he replied viciously. “Christ, why did you have to come here? Was it some genius plan of yours to make me want you back so badly I was ready to gnaw off my own fingers to stop myself touching you?” Admitting that that last part had not exactly been expected and he wondered if he had heard those same words that he might be somewhat afraid of the person who said them. James Potter: the mad pervert.
“No! I wanted…I want…I don’t know anymore. Don’t you get it? I missed you!” she announced and then clapped her hands to her mouth, turning away from him.
James stood there speechless and flabbergasted. “Um…what?” he replied, which was probably not the most eloquent of responses. Like a man with lead in his shoes and rocks in his skull, he stood rooted to the spot.
She let out a sob and made to push past him, but his ever so agile mind decided to catch up with the situation and he caught her arm. She stared back at him, wide eyed and looking about as confused as he felt. They stayed that way for a while, Lily looking like she might be ready to fight her way out and James just standing there like a monkey-faced mute. He wasn’t good at this kind of stuff, or actually facing up to his mistakes, things had always come so easily to him that when things got hard he was completely and utterly lost as to what he was supposed to do. He didn’t want her to leave, he didn’t want to let her go because that was the only thing that he could actually make sense of and that letting her go would be The Exact Wrong Thing To Do. But apart from that…well, common sense and the ability to verbalise had completely abandoned him. So he did what any other stupid male ruled by the blood in his veins and three weeks of moon-eyed celibacy would have done and leaned forward and kissed her.
She pushed him away, fingers touching the edge of her mouth and she stared up at him for a moment; he felt like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar before dinnertime. He’d gotten half way through a stuttered apology before he felt her hands on his face, strangely clammy and slick and he wasn’t sure if that was his fault or hers but he really didn’t care all that much at the moment, not when she was doing that thing that she did, that thing that he’d once told Sirius he would write an ode to.
She’d grabbed a fistful of his hair and was using it as leverage to pull herself up to kiss him better. It smarted a bit, but he wasn’t about to say anything to her. His hands were frantically running themselves all over her, down arms and across her back like deranged spiders; Retracing steps desperately as though he mightn’t get another chance.
He didn’t pause to think or consider why she was doing this or if there might be consequences because to be fair, she wasn’t really putting him in the mood for a long, hard ponder. Talking things over never seemed to get them anywhere and this they were good at. He pushed her up against the kitchen counter so she was sitting on the edge, still rather engaged in things that tended to make him forget his own name, let alone that doing anything like this in the place where he prepared food was really not the best of ideas.
“Ow,” Lily said sharply and stopped her current activity; she squirmed around a little and produced a cheese grater from beneath her legs. Red-faced and puffy, she leaned her forehead against his shoulder and laughed awkwardly. Before he could do anything with his hands or say anything possibly condemning, Lily straightened herself out and looked up at him, still flattening her hair. “I…um, do you think we should talk?”
The answer that came to mind was ‘No!’ in giant, flashing letters adorned by a full choir and trumpets, but looking down at her uncertain, confused face he again was struck by the damning influence of common sense. James sighed and extricated himself from the tangle of robes and limbs to lean against the counter next to her.
Lily smiled shyly and placed one of her dainty hands on his. After a few moments of hesitant starts and apologies that trailed into nothing, Lily looked down at her feet dangling above the floor; he watched the blush rise in her cheeks. “Do you think we should give us another go?”
He couldn’t quite believe that she was asking him – it should have been the other way around and with a great deal more begging and incredibly manly weeping at her feet, but instead she was asking him and there was a tremble in her voice like she was actually afraid he might not say yes.
He grinned widely and pressed his forehead to hers. “Yeah,” he replied, trying hard not to sound too like a pathetic letch and failing miserably because the ‘yeah’ was accompanied by a nervous and very girlish giggle.
Lily laughed out of relief and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. “No more screw ups,” she said warningly.
James pulled back to look her in the eyes. “I’ll be a good boy,” he told her and he meant it. He knew the consequences of losing her and didn’t care for a future as a perverted old bachelor with loads of cats and an eventual death after choking in a hairy mint he found behind the couch. Because he was useless without her. He kissed her again, because he had a lot of making up to do, and after he’d knocked his head on the cupboard the second time, decided to carry her to his bedroom and carry on in the business of getting carried away.
A/N: SORRY! Moved to Sydney and therefore have not had much time to update, nor really been in the mood to make corrections BUT have found souce of inspiration at the RPG and may actually get to the business of seeing this completed soon. I have ideas, but they are vague and if ther are are any particular routes you can imagine this story going (or ways you could think of torturing James), please throw them in with your reviews (which, by the way are amazing, thank you to everyone who reads and reviews this story, it's gratifying to have so many people 'get' you) as they may help my ideas come out of the ether.
I can't promise a speedy update for the next time, but I promise to work on it. After all, I do have to reunite Sirius and James properly.