Chapter 9 : The Beginning of the End
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Note: By the time this chapter takes place, James and Lily had been dating for several months. Summer is drawing neared and the Quidditch final is only a week or two away. You'd think it would be perfect, wouldn't you? You are so wrong!
Lily entered her dorm room, tears welling up behind her eyes. Why couldn’t she just leave him alone? Why couldn’t she just let James be James and walk away, calm herself down and then talk to him? Why couldn’t she just tell him that she needed some space, have some time with her thoughts? Why did she have to yell at him when he tried his best to understand her?
One part of her was screaming for her to get a grip, another for her to let him sort out his own problems, but no matter which side she listened to, neither suggestions sounded as good as lying down in self-pity.
Lily heaved an aggravated sigh and lost her thoughts when she gave into the salty liquid that was falling down her cheeks like water on a windowpane. She leapt onto her bed and buried her head into her pillow, wanting so much to scream, to curse and to lose herself whilst insulting her decisions. But she didn’t have time to do any of that; there never was any time to do that when she shared a dorm with people like Hannah, Lucy and Alice.
As if on cue, Lucy entered the room, and rushed straight towards Lily’s bed. “I heard all about it!” and with that she began stroking Lily’s back. Lily mumbled something along the line of, “I thought you would,” or "is it impossible to keep something secret in this place?" but due to her voice being muffled by the pillow, Lucy thought it was more of a “I can’t believe I could be so stupid,” or a “What did he do that for?” rather than in insult.
“Shh, it’s okay,” Lucy whispered, trying to be as supportive as possible. “Now, tell me what happened.” She said kindly, her hand in Lily's shoulder.
“I can’t say! It was awful! He was being lovely, I can see that now, he was trying to understand … I called him heartless.” Lily added, lifting her head up from the pillow.
“What? Again? Oh, sorry, wrong answer! Do you want me to go and see him? Let him know that you’ll see him when you’re feeling better?” Lily raised an eyebrow, and then realised that her friend (well, sort of) might actually want to help. “Lils, it’s okay, I’m fine with you and James … honest!” she added with eyes full of honesty.
Lily lowered her head and gave in, “Okay, just make sure you tell him that I take back everything.”
“Will do, now, Hannah is on her way back from her meeting with Dumbledore, and she told me she’ll help sort you out for meeting up with James.” Lucy stood up and strode towards the door.
“Yes, Lils?” Lucy said, turning around to face her blotchy-faced friend.
“Sorry,” Lily said, “For everything.”
“Don’t mention it, I was being a Slytherin,” Lucy said, “jealousy doesn’t suit a Gryffindor.” She smiled and said, “Just wait for Hannah, I bet she’ll let you borrow her skirt!”
“Oh, joy of joys!” said Lily, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Go sort out James, then!”
“Yes, sir!” said Lucy saluting, and then she shut the door behind her, leaving Lily to finish sorting out her face.
Hannah came to accompany Lily within the next few minutes, her face red and blotchy and her eyes wide. “Oh, Lils, come here!” and she pulled Lily into her and stroked her hair affectionately. “You know what you’re going to say?”
“Nope, but it’s not really one of those ‘rehearse the speech’ occasions is it?” Lily said, pulling away from Hannah and looking at her, thanking Merlin that she had at least one friend other than Alice that wasn’t prone to jealousy.
“Ah, well, you know best!” Hannah replied, flashing Lily a heart-warming smile. “Now, where were we? Oh, okay, we’ll start with your hair!”
Lily returned the smile and sat down on the edge of her bed, knowing full well that Hannah would not go over-board with the make-up and hairdo. Hannah pulled back the loose (and rather soggy) tendrils of fiery hair away from Lily’s face and began to twist and curl each section and arrange it into a loose and relaxed but surprisingly pretty knot on the back of her head. After magically sorting out all of the frizz and flaws of the fringe, Hannah moved onto the make-up. She gently removed all evidence of the previous application of mascara, and then re-applied it to Lily’s lashes. After a quick application of gloss and a bit of foundation, Lily was ready to go.
“You look great,” said Hannah, “just make sure you don’t look too happy.”
“Darn! That's me screwed!" Lily exclaimed, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "You know what? I think I can manage that!” Hannah giggled.
“You’ll be fine! Just remember not to speak too fast or to break down whilst you’re talking!”
“You make it sound easy!” Lily remarked desperately.
“It is. It’s James we’re talking about, not a troll.”
“I’d rather it was a troll, they’re too thick to reject anything, let alone an apology.”
“That makes no sense, Lils.”
“I know, I suppose I should go.” Hannah nodded and Lily began to walk towards the door. Hannah called her back.
“Good luck!” They smiled at each other; little did they know that that would be the last time Lily would smile for a long time…
Lily walked down the stairs, rubbing her hands on Hannah’s skirt, which she nearly refused to wear, trying to stop them from being so clammy – no such luck. She knew the boys dorm was only across the Common Room and that the room would virtually empty due to the fact that most of Gryffindor would be watching Sirius complete his nightly Quidditch training on his own with a crowd of squealing girls watching his every move. When Lily walked into the open space of the Common Room, she noticed two young girls squabbling in the corner about some boy who Lily had never even heard of.
"Oh give it a rest!" she snapped. The girls looked at her, clearly surprised. She rolled her eyes and began to climb up the stairs to James’s dorm room. She paused for a second outside the door, and she inhaled the musty spring air in through her nostrils and closed her eyes. She shook her head, opened her eyes once again, and entered.
At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But then she heard a giggle. A giggle that she recognised. A lady-like giggle. Followed shortly by a manly “shh!” Lily knew that sound. It brought a smile to her face, at least, it usually did, but this time, it brought a dagger to her heart, breaking the surface and ripping her apart.
She stood with her mouth open. Although she could not see what damage was being made to her relationship, she could hear it, and sometimes, that’s worse. She turned on her heel and walked out, not having the strength heart to wrench open the drapes on his bed, not having the strength to interrupt them from whatever they were doing, so she slammed the door, and slid down it, her knees tucked up to her chest and her head in her hands. From there the tears seemed to spring into her eyes and trickle down her cheeks, and a sob escaped her lips.
Lily tried not to hear what was going on inside the room, tried to ignore the aggressive whispers, the raised answers to inappropriate questions; she succeeded.
James came limping out of the room, his zip down, his top absent showing his muscular torso, yet this sight stirred nothing inside Lily, because for the first time, this person wasn’t hers. She no longer had him to herself.
Lily looked back down at her feet and said one sentence; one sentence that would determine what would happen between them as a couple. “I hate you.” Her voice didn’t even waver, even through the tears. She didn’t turn her back from him; not yet, she wanted to see his response. His face twitched and blanched, and Lily, thinking his response was no match for the words she had just spoken, turned her back on what used to be, and walked away.
Hey! Well I hope you liked that - it literally killed me writing it, but hey! It had to be done!
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