Sunday was the most miserable day James had spent at Hogwarts. He’d driven his friends away, he’d lost the only girl he had ever loved and he was numb. He wandered the hallways aimlessly, trailing a hand over the roughly hewn stone walls, pitying himself, wallowing in his melancholy. He didn’t attempt his homework, despite his fast-approaching NEWTs, he didn’t go flying, and he didn’t visit the kitchens. He couldn’t go to Hogsmeade without the Map; he couldn’t sneak around playing pranks on the Slytherins on his own. By Sunday evening, James was bordering depression. He’d never been on his own for so long. He sat in the Heads’ dorm, which was devoid of a certain redhead, for the majority of the evening. When he sat at the Gryffindor table for dinner, hoping his friends would give in and come and sit with him, he noticed them laughing and joking together at the other end. Lily was unusually quiet, and yet James failed to notice even that blatantly obvious detail.
Monday morning came and went. James had an epiphany. He should apologise. It was so simple. He had missed the obvious while he was wallowing, but now he was sure that an apology would solve all his problems. So sure was he, that his solution was the right one, he set off towards his friends at the Gryffindor table at lunch immediately.
“I’m sorry.” He said, looking at Sirius. Sirius turned around and looked at him, with something akin to disgust on his handsome face.
“I don’t care.” He said, turning back around and putting an arm around April, continuing his conversation. ‘How could James be so ignorant?’ He was thinking. James needed to apologise to Lily
. When he did that, Sirius would be his brother again. Until then, he didn’t want anything to do with the idiot.
James stared. He considered punching Sirius, but, shaking his head and clenching his fists to control them, he managed not to. Embarrassed, he mumbled another feeble apology and walked away, hanging his head. He hadn’t noticed Lily staring straight ahead, not looking at him, gripping her knife and fork so hard her hands were shaking. He was too wrapped up in his own problems, unaware that they were hers, too.
He moved away and found a seat in between two groups of chattering first-years. Picking up a roll, he tore pieces off and shredded them, until all that was left was a pile of crumbs on his golden plate and his own misery. He glanced up the table towards Lily, and saw her put down her knife and fork, looking shaky. She was pale, paler than usual, and drawn. The corners of her mouth had a definite downturn to them, a sad smile gracing the contours of her tired face. She leant down to hook the strap of her bag between her fingers, and as she raised her head caught his eyes. She looked away immediately, blushing red. She seemed unable to move.
It was the first time he’d seen her since breaking up with Becky, and as he looked at her, the solution came to him in a crashing wave of clarity. Making his peace with Lily, that was what he needed to do. He had to make it right. He had to tell her. It was like Karma had been dragging him, kicking and screaming, to this point, destroying every good thing he had, until he realised that there was only one thing left to do; put himself out there. He’d stripped away his options, his arrogance, his ego. It was no longer huge and all-encompassing, James thought, his ego was now roughly the size of a small walnut. What better time to expose his heart for ridicule than when he had nothing to defend himself with? He was weak, vulnerable, tense. He had no armour, no shell to protect him, and he hoped that his fragility was enough. Enough to convince her that he’d changed, that he needed her, that he was, truly, the person he’d claimed to be for all those months of arguments. He’d finally become the person he’d been pretending to be. Inside and out.
He saw Lily get up and hoist her bag onto her shoulder, beginning to walk to her next lesson. He didn’t know what was telling him to do it, but he found himself wrenching himself out of his seat and running to her, shouting her name. It didn’t matter that everyone was watching. This was his redemption.
“Lily!” He shouted. She carried on walking, ignoring him. She was nearing the Hall doors, and he quickened his pace to intercept her.
“Lily, wait. Listen to me!” He called again, desperate. Back at the Gryffindor table Sirius and Darcy had stood up, in defence mode. But they hadn’t moved, they were watching carefully, assessing the situation. Lily whipped round, facing James with stone-cold eyes.
“Leave me alone, James.” She said, forcefully, her voice shaking. He took a few extra steps forwards, reaching for her hands, but she withdrew them.
“No. Lily, please.” He said. She had to listen to him, she had
“Just go.” She said quietly, looking over his shoulder at the faces turned their way, inquisitive and malicious. She couldn’t deal with this now. Turning away from him she walked to the threshold of the Hall, but was rendered incapable of movement by the desperation in his voice.
“No, Lily. Lily, stop. Look at me. Talk to me!” He demanded, fearfully. She walked slowly back into the Hall, keeping her eyes trained on him. When she reached where he was stood, in between the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor tables, she quietly responded, her words laced with exasperation and embarrassment.
“There is nothing
left to say, James. I have nothing left. You’ve heard it all.” He bit his lip, casting around him for something to make her stay, some words to make her love him again.
“This can’t be it, Lils.” He pleaded, but she wasn’t giving anything to him.
“It is.” She said flatly. “There isn’t going to be a fairytale ending for us. James, don’t you understand? It’s over. I have nothing left to say to you.”
“What’s over?” He responded quickly, brow furrowed in confusion.
“This…thing between us. Whatever it is that’s broken my heart. It’s over.” She said eventually, considering him, and the distance between them, very aware of their audience. She couldn’t believe she was even talking to him, he’d humiliated
her beyond anything she’d ever felt before. And yet she found it so hard to deny him her words when he asked for them.
“Don’t do this, Lily.” She heard him say, voice shaking. She was so close to giving in, every pore was itching to just fall into his arms shouting “I LOVE YOU JAMES POTTER”, but her brain was simultaneously hurling flashbacks of his rejection, to stem the flow of revolutionary cells. It was working.
“I didn’t do this. You
did this, James. You finished this.” She said, finality in her tone. And with that, she turned on her heel and walked away. Straining her ears above the whispers of her classmates, she tried to hear his footsteps chasing her. But she heard nothing. Was he letting her go?
And then, over the whisper-breeze, she heard a ‘thunk’
; the sound of rubber on wood, and following it, the sound of plates turning over, glasses shattering, and the unmistakeable sound of cutlery clattering to the floor. Was he angry? Taking his frustration out on lunch? But, then came the sound. The best sound of all.
His voice. Shouting her name.
“LILY EVANS!” He yelled, standing with his foot in a plate of mashed potatoes, towering above his classmates, arms outstretched, on the Gryffindor table. The teachers behind were watching with amused expressions on their faces. “I am an idiot. I was a pig-headed, egotistical, GIT
. And I’m sorry.” He said loudly, emphasising the insults she’d used against him, but not in a mocking way. “Lily Evans, I love you with everything that I am. I love you. I LOVE YOU.” He bellowed. The volume then dropped, and he said quietly, in a carrying voice, “I should have told you everyday since the moment we met. I’m yours.”
Lily stopped on the threshold of the Hall, physically affected by his words. Her hands were clammy, she was shaking instantly, and yet she couldn’t turn around. She was breathless. She couldn’t look at him.
“I’m yours.” He repeated.
Panicked, she began to run out of the hall, dropping her bag and books in the process. Behind her she could hear the shattering of her ink bottles, the heavy thud of her books hitting the ground, and then pounding of his footsteps, leaping off of the table after her.
She ran into the Entrance Hall, and, without thinking, through the open doors into the pouring rain and out onto the lawns. In seconds she was soaked through. Above her a dark sky threatened lightning, and she ran a hand through her hair, brushing water out of her eyes. James had stopped some fifteen feet behind her, rain dripping down his nose and splattering his glasses, mashed potato covering his school shoes. He stared at her turned back.
“I meant every word of it.” He shouted into the peace of the downpour. She didn’t turn around. Behind James, the crowd from the Hall, including some teachers, were standing in the doorway he’d just vacated, watching intently. Their friends were at the front, Sirius the most prominent, face set, praying that it would work out.
“A long time ago you asked me why I wanted you
, and I said I didn’t know. I said that I just did. Ask me again and I’ll tell you what I should have said.” He continued loudly, his voice ringing clearly above the sound of the falling rain.
His words had the desired effect. She turned around, opening her arms and shrugging, giving a small, bitter laugh.
“Why me, James?” She asked acerbically, humouring him. She could feel the rain on her skin now, her clothes were heavy and her hair was straggly, plastered to her face. The cold February air was chilling her, but the goosebumps she felt next were nothing to do with the wintry air.
“It’s you because every time I look at you I realise that I don’t want anyone else.” James started, staring Lily straight in the eyes. What he hadn’t been able to say in that dusty corridor, he could finally say now. It came pouring out of him, as though his brain had been rehearsing it secretly for months, without telling him.
“To me you are beautiful. Even when you’re crying. Or tired. Or yelling at me. It’s because I can’t stop thinking about you. Because I have never been as happy as when I’m with you.” He took a deep breath and carried on, more confident now she hadn’t stopped him. “It’s you, because even when you’re screaming at me, you’re still more classy and incredible than any of the girls in this school. Because you’re kind, and you’re funny, and I can talk to you for hours. Because you never accept that you’re wrong!” He said, chuckling. “Because…” He cast around for the words, “Because you’re rude to me, and because you throw things at me, and because it’s worth acting like an idiot
just to be around you and hear you laugh.” Lily was frozen to the spot, but he wasn’t done yet.
“Because I don’t want
you, I need
you. I can’t ask anyone else because I need you
. I’m not going to hurt you, Lils. Believe me.” He finished, pleading, but smiling at her all the same, feeling freer than he’d been in months. Lily looked at him through the rain, smiling at her, so happy.
“I believe you.” She said finally, her breath coming out in icy clouds. “But I promised I wouldn’t fall in love with you.”
Panic appeared in James’s eyes, he searched her face for a contradiction to what she was saying.
“You did, though.” He said desperately. It was a question, masquerading as a firm statement.
I did.” Lily said, backing up at the speed of light. She was pulling up her façade with frightening pace, speaking just to have something to say. “And look where it’s got us! We’re just as…as pathetic
as those couples we laughed at months ago! I mean, come on James.” She said, looking around half-laughing, even though her insides felt like ice and it had nothing to do with the weather. “Its raining and we’re stood in the grounds making a scene, all because we felt something that we mistook for love! Could we get more clichéd?” She asked, rubbing the water out of her eyes and looking at him again. He was very still.
“But what about all that ‘I figured it out’ stuff?” He said slowly. “You know, the ‘I love you’ speech you gave me. You must be a damn good actress, Evans ‘cause that looked real from where I was standing.”
Lily gulped. Behind James the crowd, in the safety of the doorway, were deadly silent, waiting for her reply.
“Maybe you were mistaken.” She said quietly, looking away from him. That was it, she thought. It’s over. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes and brushed them away impatiently. Why was she even rejecting him? Why? Even many years later, she could never say what had driven her to deny him on that rainy February day. What she tended to add, as she told the story, was that James surprised her more than ever, standing on the lawns. He didn’t give up. He fought, where before he’d run away.
It was fight or flight, and James Potter had finally made his decision.
“Don’t walk away from this, Lily. Not now. You can’t leave it like this now.” He battled on, raising his voice so she could hear him over the increasingly heavy rain.
“It’s for the best, James.” She replied quietly, putting his shouting to shame. He started forwards, getting closer to her. He was radiating heat, the intensity of his emotion at that precise moment was emanating from him like a fever.
“No, it’s not.” He said forcefully, closer now. “You can’t leave this now! I think about what my life is going to be like in 10 years and the only thing I’m sure of is that you’re going to be in it.” He stopped, abruptly. He’d surprised himself. And yet, it was true. Even when he’d told Becky he wanted to fight Voldemort, his future had had Lily in it. “Don’t think that I’m going to give up on this. I’ll fight for you.” He finished.
James’s talk of the future had scared Lily. What if she lost him? How could she cope without him?
"We won’t last 10 years, James.” She fake-scoffed. “Be realistic. What if we break up in a month? What if we argue like we do now and can’t stand it and have to split up?”
James looked at her incredulously. Above them the rain had begun to ease up, and he could see her dripping form clearly now, looking at him wearily, fearfully. Still standing ten or twelve feet away from her, he replied with the most perfect answer Lily could have hoped for. It was everything she wanted to hear. Unconventional, completely the opposite of reassuring, but James all over.
“So what?” He said coolly. At those two words her eyes lit up, emerald green again. It meant everything she wanted it to mean.
“‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we’ll never break up, it just means we’ll always get back together.” James continued. “Yeah. We’ll fight. Come on, it’s us
.” He laughed a little. “We’ll probably throw things and curse a lot. You’ll probably say things you don’t mean and one of us might walk out. But if it’s me,” He said slowly, “I promise I’ll always come back. That’s what love is.”
There was a long, quiet moment, but finally, after seven years, she believed him.
, Lily.” He urged quietly. She looked at him, waiting for her in his soaked school robes, his tie hanging wonky, his hair dripping wet, his glasses covered with raindrops. Above them the clouds began to clear, and Lily was momentarily distracted by the beauty of the scene, fresh after the downpour. “Pathetic fallacy if ever I saw it,” She murmured to herself, turning back to James.
Behind them, a shout was heard. They both turned around to see Sirius standing on the top step, hands cupped around his mouth yelling, “What are you waiting for?” And suddenly, Lily began to laugh. James looked at her, bewildered, captivated by her musical laughter, taking in her appearance, savouring the moment, committing it to memory.
Stomach aching, tears of mirth wetting her cheeks, she pulled off her heavy, saturated, outer robe and deposited it on the thawing ground and, after what seemed like and age; she ran, crossing the ten feet between them and throwing her arms around his shoulders, clinging to him shakily, still laughing. Every inch of James’s body was tingling uncontrollably and he too, began to laugh. His heart was beating impossibly fast; he was jubilant, rejoicing, euphoric. She tilted her head up from his shoulder and pulled him tighter, their laughter echoing in the grounds. Behind them the crowd in the doorway whooped and clapped and wolf-whistled, but they were oblivious, savouring the contact, -finally
After a long moment just standing together, laughing, he lifted her chin with a long finger, brushing his nose against hers in a long-buried, familiar gesture. She let out a small, final laugh, and, with the practised air of a couple meant for each other, they kissed. It was simultaneously totally familiar to them, and earth-shatteringly new. It was somehow more
than the other kisses. Everything about it was matched; the way they moved, their heights, their lips. Everything fit. It was a kiss that needed no practise; it was perfect simply because it was right. It was meant to be.
And so, Lily and James, standing on that cold lawn, wrapped tightly in each others’ embrace, filled with happiness, optimism, love, had finally found home.
This story does not finish with a happy ending, a fairytale utopia or a blissful disappearance into domestic contentment. None of the characters ‘lived happily ever after’. They all suffered the effects of a war that would shake the wizarding community to its very core, and the simple trials and troubles of life. They found that existing without each other, was a great deal more difficult than they’d expected from inside the safety of Hogwarts, and that losing people you loved was a fact of life. They did, however, share the good times with the bad, and, at the end of the day they realised that good days made the bad ones worth enduring. They loved and lost as though everyday was their last.
April and Sirius eventually went their separate ways, but neither could settle in one place for long. Bad luck plagued their divided existence; the memory of what they’d given up haunted them for the rest of their short lives. Both died honourably, fighting for the only cause that had ever seemed worth it; freedom. Perhaps, it’s not too much to wish that they were together again in death.
Remus and Darcy remained awkward throughout the remainder of their time at Hogwarts, Remus’s ‘condition’ creating a barrier between them that he could not overcome. Her love for the tormented man eventually waned, and she settled in a comfortable home near Manchester with a man called Thomas Goldstein. Her son, Anthony, would go on to be in the same year as Lily and James’s, but would never know the bond their mothers had shared in their own school days. Remus eventually taught himself to forget the colour of her eyes, and in the midst of the war, he fell in love with a woman who accepted him the way he had never asked Darcy to. A little part of Darcy died with him during the battle of Hogwarts.
The Potters were torn apart by violence and terror, but it marked the beginning of the end for the dark age they had all lived through. It was their sacrifice that gave the wizarding world ‘the Boy Who Lived’; a boy who would later go on to prove himself a saviour and a hero in his own right. Lily and James’s love lived on in Harry; in his heart, and in his dreams.
And that, Dear Reader, is where we shall leave this story. I am certain you already know what happens next, the story of Harry Potter is almost universally known, among adult and child alike, but I urge you not to forget his roots, his family, and their own stories when being astounded by his heroic deeds. Do not forget those that laid down their lives for young Harry, and, in the thick of the action, spare a moment for those lost heroes. You can be sure that Harry, will be doing the same.
So that's it. Finished. :) Thankyou to EVERYONE who read it, and reviewed it. You made my first story so much fun to write.
Final time- please review! I'd love to know what you thought of the entire story, the writing, the ending. :) Thanks.