Chapter 3 : A new Dawn
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Chapter image by the Stellar Invisibleforest @ TDA
"Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness."
"You have five seconds to explain why you are here Potter, or so help me I will curse you into the next Millennium!" Lily said angrily. How dare he invade her privacy like that?
"I followed you." James said simply, surprising both Lily and himself, at the calm and honesty in his tone.
"And why, pray tell, did you to do that?" Lily asked angrily, still pointing her wand at his chest.
"I was sitting in the common room, I saw you sneaking out in the middle of the night, I was curious, and so I followed you," James said, still in the same cool and sincere voice that was not his own. "Can you please stop pointing your wand at me so we can talk properly?"
James didn't know what possessed him to say the things he was saying, but it seemed to be having the right effect. Then it occurred to him that it was probably because he was talking to her one-on-one. There had always been someone else there when he talked with Lily; her friends, his friends, or half of the Hogwarts population. Talking to her now in the dead of night, all alone on the grounds, and with her wand pointing at him, felt ridiculously natural to him.
Lily paused for a second, biting her lip. A part of her wanted to make James wish he'd never been born, but another part of her knew that her heart wasn't really in it. She lowered her wand, but she didn't put it back into her pocket. She did, however, help him to his feet.
"Thanks," James said surprised "Look Lily, I'm sorry..."
"Save it Potter," Lily said cutting him off "I'm going back in, go find someone else to spy on!"
"Oh, come on Lily!" James said rolling his eyes at her "You know, damn well, that if it was you who saw me sneaking out at this time of night, you'd have followed me too!"
"No Potter," Lily said distastefully "I would have given you detention! I wouldn't have invaded your privacy!"
"So, you want me to give you detention?" James asked amused.
"If that’s what it takes to buy your silence." Lily said heavily.
"Buy my silence?" James asked, laughing out loud now "So you like to sneak out from time to time, big deal! You couldn't be Miss Perfect all the time! What's so wrong about that?"
"I broke a rule Potter." Lily said coldly "It's wrong, not that you've ever been able to grasp the concept of right and wrong!"
"Everybody expects you to break a rule every once and a while," James said unfazed "Nobody can be perfect, and it's not like you're hurting anyone by unwinding a bit."
"I'm Head girl!" Lily said, nearly stomping her foot in frustration.
"Yes, you are," James said, with an annoying grin "but, even the Head girl is not supposed to ware a Halo,"
"Just forget about it would you Potter?!" Lily said exasperatedly. "Let's just go back inside and forget this ever happened."
"What happened? You just broke a rule! Why do you have to be so uptight?" James said becoming, quite, exasperated himself.
"I'm not uptight!" Lily fired back.
"Yes, you are. I've never seen anyone more fussed about the rules then you!"
"Then why do you keep asking me out then?" Lily asked a victorious glint in her eyes.
"Because, I have feelings for you; I always have and I always will. Don't you get that by now?" James said kicking a stray pebble from in front of him. That question had hit a nerve; he couldn't believe that she still didn't realize how much she meant to him.
"Oh, come on Potter. We both know that's just a game to you. You just want to toy with me." Lily said quietly. However, there was a hint of in-conviction in her voice, as though she was looking for conformation, or perhaps denial.
"You think this is a game?" James said angrily "It's been over three years Lily! Don't you think that's a rather long time to be toying with you?"
Lily didn't answer; she just let James's anger wash over her. The look he had on his face was positively murderous, but she wasn't the least bit scarred. She felt oddly safe, terribly uncomfortable, but safe.
"I mean how thick can you be? Why are you doing this to me Lily? Why? Have you got any idea how much it hurts every time you say "No Potter, I'd rather go out with the giant squid"?!" James asked imitating her, the Fury he'd been bottling up after years of rejection breaking through "Do you really think I'm so terrible? What did I ever do to you? Tell me Lily why am I so terrible?"
"I never said you were terrible…" Lily said growing terribly uneasy, at the sheer anger and frustration, surging through him.
"Then why, Lily? Why do you keep hurting me? Even if you want to say 'No' why do you have to step on my dignity in the process? Do you have any idea how much it takes out of me to ask you out? Every time I get my hopes up, I go through hell just to persuade myself to ask you again. And, every time you say no, the disappointment is almost enough to kill me! Forget being beat up, forget falling fifty feet off a broom, nothing can compare to what it feels like when you say no, NOTHING!" James screamed, nearly pulling his hair out in frustration, how could she not see what she was doing to him?
Lily was frozen solid in her place; she could only stare as James walked away from her, going to the nearest tree, and started kicking at it in frustration. The pain etched on every muscle of James's face was horrifying, his eyes were overflowing with tears of fury; knowing that it was her own fault that he was hurting so much was hurting her in turn. And that not only scarred her, it nearly overwhelmed her.
Her first impulse was to go over to him; she had to apologize. She had to take his pain away; she couldn't hurt him like that. She’d broken her promise to herself; she was never supposed to hurt anyone, she was supposed to make sure no one would get hurt. And instead she does this to Potter and to herself. But then, her insecurities got in the way.
"Don't fall for it, it's an act! This is Potter we're talking about! He's just going to use you, he'll hurt you…"
"You're already hurting, aren't you? Just look at him! He's a wreck! You did that Lily, you did. Are you just going to let him keep suffering like that? Do something!"
"Are you high? This is Quidittch star Potter! He has a fan club of girls waiting in line to go out with him! Do you really think he could care about someone like you?"
"What's wrong with you? He likes you and you hurt him, you did that! And, you're wasting your time fighting with yourself! While the only guy who'd ever cared about you enough to put up with everything you threw at him is in that state, has they're been anyone else like that for you? The guy has feelings for you and you have feelings for him, do something about it!"
"You don't have feelings for Potter!"
"Oh, really? Then why have you been coming out here every other night just to think about him? And why do you feel so terrible because he feels terrible, wake up and smell the potion, already!"
James was still pounding the tree for all it was worth; how could he not make her see? She was just inches away, INCHES! And, still he couldn't make her understand how much she meant to him.
He forced himself to calm down, and to look at Lily again; she looked like she was having trouble absorbing what was happening. She was biting her bottom lip again, and she was running a hand through her flaming red hair. He'd never seen her look so confused and unsure. Another wave of anger and guilt washed over him, he was supposed to be trying to tell her he cared about her, not scare her!
He took a few calming breaths, and turned away from the poor tree he'd nearly destroyed. He turned to her, willing himself to relax. He couldn't believe he'd let it all out like that, he'd never explained all of this to anyone, not even to the Marauders. He looked to Lily hoping to see that his tantrum didn't do any permanent damage. But, Lily's face was unreadable and her eyes were set to the floor. Suddenly a look of resolve crossed her face.
"I'm sorry" Lily said softly, not meeting his eyes.
"Don't be sorry, just tell me why. I just want to know why you hate me so much," James managed to croak "And don't tell me it's because of how I used to be. Because, if I said it once I've said it a hundred times. I've changed Lily, I may have disserved what I got back then, but do I still disserve the way you treat me now?"
Lily was flabbergasted; completely, and utterly, flabbergasted. When did he get so serious? When did she become the bad guy and when did he become the innocent victim? Something was terribly wrong in this scenario, and then it hit her, she wasn't solely responsible for this mess.
"How was I supposed to know?" Lily asked quietly.
"What?" James asked.
"I asked you," Lily said taking a step closer "How was I supposed to know?"
"I stopped hexing people, I'm not mean to anyone, I don't embarrass you anymore, I actually do my job as Head Boy, how is that not noticeable? How can this me compare to the airhead I was back in fifth year?!" James asked incredulously.
Lily cracked a small smile, and James's heart, despite the seriousness of the conversation, nearly fluttered out of his chest in happiness, he had been right; making Lily smile felt amazing. And, if insulting himself meant making her smile again, then he was prepared to use every insult he'd ever learned against himself, just to get another look at that smile.
"That's not what I meant," Lily said, the corners of her mouth still twitching slightly "What I meant was that you never talked to me, so how was I supposed to know what you really felt?"
James was bursting to contradict her, but she silenced him with a look.
"And, I mean like this, you've never talked to me without half the school watching, so how was I supposed to know?"
"But, we're talking now," James said steadily, taking a step closer.
"Yeah, we are" Lily agreed quietly.
"I've been a git," Lily said earnestly. "I shouldn't have been so prejudiced against you. I should have treated you better."
"And, I should have talked to you sooner," James said looking into her eyes. "It's not your fault, if I hadn't been a git in the first place, you wouldn't have mistreated me, so don't blame yourself; it's my fault that things worked out this way."
He scanned her eyes, looking for any shred of hope that her opinion of him had changed, gone up from toe-rag to weasel perhaps? Hoping beyond hope that she might, someday, be willing to give him a chance. But, her eyes were too confused and cloudy, he could tell that she didn't know what to do, so he made his choice, he'd take his small victory for the day, and he'd let her think, and maybe, just maybe, he'd have a better chance with her tomorrow then he had today.
Lily was frozen in her place; she didn't know what to do, should she say something? Should she keep her mouth shut?
"He's going to leave! Stop him you stupid idiot!"
"Let him go, it will never work, you're too different! You'll just end up hurt!"
"Are you prepared to keep wondering, from here on out, what would have happened if you'd said something?"
"If you let him in, you can't ever turn back, it would be too late! Are you just going to ware your heart on your sleeve and hope that he wont give it back to you on a silver platter?!"
"Take the leap, what are you so afraid of? That you may actually like him? Have a little faith, it's better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all!"
"You had to let someone in sometime, why not him? Why not now? Isn't it time that you did something that wasn't by the book? Something to try and make yourself happy?"
James steeled himself and said "I think I'll head back in now, I'm sorry I invaded your privacy, it won't happen again."
Lily instinctively called out "Pott…James?"
"Err…I wanted to ask…would you…err…" Lily said timidly, searching for the right words.
"What?" James asked, torn between extreme nervousness and building excitement, Lily had called him James! She never used his first name before. He walked back to her slowly, as though hardly able to believe himself. He was beginning to wonder, fearfully, if this was just some twisted dream, he crossed his fingers hoping that he won't have to wake up now.
"Oh sod it!" Lily said giving up on finding the right words "Will you go out with me?"
James froze for a moment, and then as her question began to sink in a smile appeared on his face and it started to, steadily, transform into the happiest grin that the Hogwarts grounds had ever witnessed. James becoming seized by his euphoria scooped Lily up, fireman style, and spun her around, causing her to giggle and laugh in his arms.
"Put me down!" She ordered him laughing. She had never felt so carefree in her life. It was a new feeling, a new experience, and for once that didn't scare her; if anything, it excited her.
"As you wish," James said promptly dumping her in the lake. He was bursting with joy; he finally has his chance. It was one date, but one date could change everything, this one night had certainly turned their world upside-down.
Lily fell into the lake with a small splash; lucky for her, the water was only knee deep.
"Would you please help me out?" Lily asked getting up, soaking wet.
James, anxious that he had already angered Lily, stretched his arm out to her, which she used to pull him in with.
When he resurfaced, he found that she was laughing fit to burst at him; her emerald green eyes sparkling in the faint sunlight. She took his hand and led him out of the lake; he conjured a towel and put it around her shoulders, so that she wouldn't get a cold; he brushed aside a few stray locks from her face and drew her closer.
She closed the small gap between them and placed her lips on his. It was a just a small and gentle kiss, but there was something about it that felt so right, to the two, that it slowly started to turn more passionate and exploratory.
When, they finally pulled out, both out of breathe, and both smiling. They sat down together to watch the sunrise. Each blissfully aware that this new dawn brought with it the promise of a new and better future, full of something new that could, very possibly, bloom into Love.
A/N:So this is the final chapter of my first ever Lily/James Fic, so do you guys think I should try to write more of them? Or should I stick to my normal genre? I really don't know so any input would be welcome.