Chapter 3 : In Which Everything Changes
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A/N: I have to apologise for the long absence – when am I ever not apologising for that? But I am back – for now – and with a vengeance! As you all know, I’m not JK Rowling, despite my many prayers; and as mentioned before, this is written in response to an incredible (and probably now finished) challenge by maraudersmap – but this chapter was also inspired by a Taylor Swift song – “The Way I Loved You” which, although it’s about two separate guys, I have turned around slightly – oh, and do I really need to say that I don’t own the lyrics (or the amazing blonde hair)?
So here goes, wish me luck!
“Well?” James and Remus urged in unison. Lily didn’t answer, waiting for several third years, which had just entered the common room, to head up the stairs to their dormitories; throwing glances over their shoulders to the three distressed faces that watched them as they vacated the room.
“I…I” Lily spluttered, her eyes darting around the room in search of an escape route, a lie buzzing around in the air, waiting to be used. “I, I lied. He … he didn’t dump me.” Remus, although he had already reached this conclusion, still groaned inwardly.
How could she lie about something like that? How could she justify lying about that? Did she not realise the rift she had planted between him and James? How it would affect all of the Marauders? Or was she so far past caring about her boyfriend that she hadn’t even thought about how James would feel?
“I just couldn’t, couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted to get away. It’s not the same anymore, James,” her voice was dead, ashamed. But any shame she felt wasn’t enough, James thought. He was ashamed, embarrassed, betrayed, disgusted, angry … broken.
“Oh, it’s not the same.” James said, forcing his voice up an octave mockingly. “Fair enough, something went wrong, I understand.” He paused, steaming. “You just went to one of my best friends looking for all your problems to be solved? It doesn’t work like that! If something’s wrong, you come to me! We can talk it out, we could change-”
“But I didn’t go to him James!” Remus’ head snapped up to look at her, scared of what she was about to admit. If she said that Remus went to comfort her, well … that would cause an even larger rift to occur between the two Marauders. “You don’t understand – he, he came looking for me!” Remus shook his head – not to deny what he did, but more in hatred of his actions. James glared at him with flashing eyes. “I was crying, and he, he just came up to c-comfort me and, and it just happened!” Tears raced down her cheeks, her eyes raw.
Remus sighed and shook his head. How did this even happen? Yesterday everything was so much easier – and now James would never forgive either of them, and Lily … well Lily would never be with either of them.
“Okay then Lily – why? Why did you kiss him? Why didn’t you just tell him to back off?” James asked; his voice hard.
Seconds passed in silence, with only faint sounds drifting into the room from up the stairs.
“It’s like … like you’re someone completely different! As soon as we started going out you … changed! Like you don’t need to try anymore, like now you have me that’s it, you don’t have to make me fall in love with you every day, you just have to treat me like a doll, kiss me and hug me, show me off to your friends, and I won’t walk away!”
James’ eyes flashed as tears he could no longer control leaked in frustration. “I changed for you. For Merlin’s sake – you hated me, Lils. You cursed me everyday, you slapped me, you argued – so I changed so you wouldn’t have to do it anymore. I was there for you! I don’t drop you for pranks, or, or Quidditch ... I’ve s-supported you, I’ve STUDIED for you!” The humour in his words was lost – caught up in the webs of betrayal that Lily had wound tight around them. Lily stumbled back, scared of the intensity of emotion in his eyes.
“I know James. I know.” How could he not see that that was what the problem was? How could he not sense that he’d changed so that even Lily – who had talked about him, moaned about him, since first year – could not recognise him behind all of his facades.
“Then why, Lily, why did you go and kiss him? Why him of all people?” he gestured to his friend, the distress evident in his cracking voice – “Am I really that crap a boyfriend? Do you really hate me that much?”
James ran his hand through his already dishevelled hair, a reflex Lily thought he had long lost, and momentarily, Lily saw what she always used to see in him. His passion, his joking cockiness, and she felt that same feeling in her stomach. That gentle twist and flutter – this was the James she loved, not the James that cradled her head gently, not the James that stroked her cheek – but the James that grabbed her, kissed her roughly, poured his love into her, yelled at her when she was an idiot, knowing she’d give as good as she got. That James. That was who she missed, that was who she was looking for back in his room.
But I miss screaming and fighting
And kissing in the rain
And it’s two am and I’m cursing your name
You’re so in love that you act insane
And that’s the way I loved you
“No. You’re not a crap boyfriend.” Lily said, finally recovering her voice. “You’re a perfect boyfriend. That’s why I did it.” She exhaled in a gust, kneading her temples. “I regret it, but that’s why. You aren’t you. You aren’t the guy I hated to love, but couldn’t NOT love. You aren’t the James that stopped all my … all my crap, or, or imitated me in class. You aren’t the guy that chases after me in the rain when I’ve ran away crying, just to carry on the screaming match.” He voice rose as she continued. “You aren’t him, you’re the guy that holds my hand in corridors … walks me to class even if it means walking to the other side of the castle or, or missing the start of Quidditch practice, you’re the James that turns down opportunities to curse Snape! What the hell is that about?” She left him no time to answer her question. “And for the five seconds before me and Remus kissed? For those five seconds, he was you - the you that used to make me want to kill you and kiss you at the same time. Remember him? Why can’t you be that guy?”
At this moment, a first year stumbled down the boys’ staircase, his eyes widening at the scene in front of him – James Potter and Lily Evans standing opposite each other, one crying, the other flailing their arms in anger … and the paling Remus Lupin slouched on the sofa, his head in his hands. Slowly the boy edged back up the stairs backwards, wanting no attention to be drawn to him just yet.
“I AM him! I always have been him – just him trying to change to make you happy. I don’t get how you can hate me for that! You hated who I used to be, so I changed. And you never even spoke to me about it – you never even gave me a sign to make me think there would be a problem!”
He can’t see the smile I’m faking
And my heart’s not breaking
‘Cause I’m not feeling anything at all
“And what was I supposed to say to you?” Lily laughed; her voice harsh without humour. “That I don’t love you any more? That I want you to yell at me? That I wanted a break? You really think you would have appreciated that?”
“All of those seem a little more acceptable than making out with Remus, to be honest, Lils.” And for some reason, Lily broke into a smile, not caring that now the little boy had returned with a gaggle of immature cronies. She didn’t care because … James had finally said what he meant. And yes, his voice was aggressive, sarcastic, and condescending, but Lily felt as though she knew that voice.
And for the first time in a year, Lily tripped, stumbled into that little hole of uncertainty that James kept just for her, just for when he said the words that only meant anything when he said them, and when he said them to her.
So, what did you think? Was it as good as the first two chapters? I just want to know what you think, thanks for reading! :D