Chapter 6 : Chapter 6
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The loud crack of someone apparating resounded through the new alley in which he had ended. James looked around quickly and found the door he needed to enter right on his left hand. He entered and started climbing the stairs. Lily lived on the fourth floor.
He climbed the stairs quickly and stopped outside the door. A little sign reading ‘Lily Evans’ written in neat handwriting was the only thing on the door. He titled his head slightly.
He stood a few seconds, unmoving, but thinking. He prepared himself to whatever would meet him on the other side. Would Lily be mad? Would she let him come inside? If she didn’t he’d have to do it here, or make her let him inside.
If he knew her as he did once, he was sure she’d sooner or later let him come inside. She’d had a weak side for him once, just like he had for her. A side that couldn’t say no, a side that wanted to please the other. And she probably wasn’t even aware of it. She never had, but James had noticed long before they even were dating. It was the small things, those things one don’t even think about. And in some way, he had come to use that.
Though not only for own winning. He tried to make everything he did with Lily for Lily. Those sides, they worked together. One pleased the other over and over again. It was inevitable. It was why they had worked so well together. They both had a side, wanting to please the other, even if it wasn’t for their own best.
He hoped she still had that side in her.
He raised his hand as if in slow motion. Then he knocked. It was just faint, but in the silence it sounded much louder. A second passed, then steps were heard from the other side. Two seconds later the door was opened.
Lily stopped dumbstruck when her eyes met James’. She stood perfectly still, her thin lips slightly apart. She was more beautiful than James seemed to remember, and he cursed himself for not having been able to do the reality just in his mind.
“Um.” He cleared his throat. Slowly he lifted the bouquet. “These are for you.”
She took them without a word. James scratched his neck nervously. Lily didn’t move. She hadn’t even looked at the flowers yet. Then, slowly she opened her mouth.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“May I come in?” he asked.
“Answer my question.”
“I came to apologize,” he answered. “Look... I have a lot to say, please Lily, let me in.”
She did as told. Slowly she moved to the side and James entered. She closed the door after him. He threw his jacket on a chair just inside the door and looked at her. She was looking at the flowers.
“You bought me white roses,” she said quietly. She was smiling so very faintly it was almost impossible to spot on her lips, but James knew her and could see it. “You remembered I love those.”
“Yeah.” James had totally forgotten, but if it made Lily happy, he had remembered.
She walked to what James assumed was the kitchen. James followed her and sat down on one of the chairs there. Lily put the flowers in a vase and then turned, though not nearing him. She was leaning against the counter.
“You came to apologize?” she asked.
He nodded and then got up. “Yeah. Look, Lily...” He took a deep breath, fighting with the words in his head. “What I did is unforgiveable. I know that.”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“But.” He swallowed. “I want you to try. I’ve never felt so bad in my life after that. It still makes me want to go dig a grave or something for me.” He licked his lips. “I didn’t sleep two nights after that. I felt horrible, so shameful.” He looked at her for several long seconds. “Do you think you in any way ever would be able to forgive me, honestly?”
She had her arms crossed. “I don’t know,” she said with a faint shake of her head.
He nodded. “I understand that.” He scratched his eyebrow, thinking. “But I came here to tell you more than that. I’ve stopped drinking,” he said slowly. “I haven’t had a single drop since that day... And I don’t intend to either.”
“That’s good. Can you do that?”
“I think so,” he said. “I’m also talking to the guys again. And Sirius is helping me train. I’ll try to start Quidditch again. Maybe.” He almost laughed. “I’m trying.”
“It sounds good,” she replied.
He looked at her. Even though she was trying to keep it polite there still was a slightly cold edge in her voice. He didn’t like it, but he had known it’d be there. He had to soften her, and he had to try harder.
“Lily, I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “I’m truly sorry. I’m didn’t know what overcame me. I was not feeling good. I’m better now and I want you to know how terrible I’ve been feeling about it. Please,” he begged in a whisper. “Don’t give up on me. I can do this, but not with you feeling this way towards me.”
With a frustrated sigh she pushed her hair away from her face and looked at him. But she didn’t speak.
James recognised the expression though. It was the same as the one he’d talked to Sirius about. It was the same she’d had those weeks ago. After the kiss. She wanted to forgive him, but at the same time she didn’t.
Very slowly he stepped closer to her, and when she didn’t move he took yet another step, coming very close to her. “Please,” he said. “Think about it.”
She didn’t meet his eyes. Instead she was looked down, avoiding his eyes. “Yeah...” she said. “I can do it.” She looked up at him. “Yeah. But I still need some sort proof.”
“You’ll get it,” he assured her with a faint smile. “Listen. You challenged me, Lily. In one of my weakest states you challenged me, making me less of a person. I wouldn’t want anyone to see me like that. But you did, and in some way I guess that angered me.”
She moved uncomfortably. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“Tell me the truth, Lily.” He cleared his throat. “If someone in your own house was challenging you, making you less of a woman, what would you do?”
“I’d make sure they saw me as a woman,” she answered truthfully.
“Oh.” She looked up at him. “Oh!”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I really am, but now you know, and I hope you can understand a little more of the awful me you saw that day.”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “Thank you.” She took a deep breath, steadying herself.
So far so good. He nodded to himself, looking away. Lily was looking at him, but he didn’t return her gaze. He was thinking. Thinking over every words that circled in his head, but he was not able to put them together.
He looked at her.“Yeah?”
“Is there more or are you just standing there frowning for nothing?”
Her fingers touched his forehead shortly and the frown disappeared immediately. He was suddenly smiling, and so was Lily. Very faintly, but it was there, giving James the last push he needed.
“Yeah, there’s something more.” He swallowed, touching her hands she’d gathered in front of her.
She didn’t pull away from his touch, but her hands, in some way, welcomed his touch without really doing anything. “Yes?”
“I want you to think about this before answering, okay?” She nodded. “Good. Look, Lily, you’re the reason I chose to change my life. The shame of what I’d done was what made me take the decision. I had gone for a long walk and during this walk I suddenly came to realise something.” He took a deep breath. “I think we should give it another shot. You and me.”
She stopped breathing. She just looked at him, not even blinking.
“No,” she said unsteadily. “James, you must be out of your mind. No.” She moved away from him, towards the door. “No,” she repeated. “That’s... No.”
“Stop saying no,” he said calmly. He had known this wouldn’t be easy. “Think about it.”
She faced him. “James, maybe you should go. I was on my way to shower. I’m off to a date with Marlon. I- I have a tight schedule.”
“It’s two in the afternoon,” he said. “Who goes on a date at this of the day?”
“My head can’t think to this,” she muttered.
“Don’t think,” he answered. “Just do what feels right.” She turned and exited. “Hey!” he exclaimed. “Don’t walk away. I have more to say.”
He ran after her through the little hall and into a small bedroom. There was barely enough room for her bed and the small closet in the corner. Clothes lay scattered all over the floor and the curtains were preventing the sunlight from entering. Lily was pulling out different dresses from the closet, not acknowledging him.
“Lily,” he begged.
She stopped, but didn’t turn or answer him. She was breathing unsteadily.
“Talk to me, please.”
She dropped the dress on the floor and supported to the closet with a hand.
Then she turned. Her eyes were teary and she looked on the edge of breaking. “Really, James?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yeah, really.”
She nodded, running both of her hands through her hair, pulling it away from her face. She took a very deep, unsteady breath. “This is not a good time.” She looked at him. “Why now?”
He shrugged. “Because I wanted to do it before time runs out.”
“Because I’m still into you,” he answered. “I still want you. To just hold you or talk to you. Kiss you. Be with you.”
“Okay.” She nodded. “Do you love me then?”
“Do you love me?” she asked again. “James, it’s not a hard question.”
He clenched his jaw. “I miss you,” he answered. “But it’s been so long time. I can’t say I love you like Marlon maybe can do. But I can say that I think a lot about you. And I can say that you have a special place in my heart. I do believe you’re the one for me.”
“But you don’t love me,” she said with a nod.
“Lily, don’t,” he begged. He stepped closer, almost able to touch her. “I can’t say it, because I don’t know. But I think we deserve yet another chance, don’t you think? We left of way too early. I was stupid and it was my fault all of it. I shouldn’t have done what I did. I should... I should have been more mature. I am now.”
She slumped against the wall, her gaze empty, in a kind of shock. Slowly, she ran her right hand through her hair again, now more unconsciously, as a reflex. She wasn’t looking at anything in particular. He took the last step and reached out for her hand.
She didn’t pull it away, but turned her gaze to him. “But why, James?”
He shrugged, trying to find the words. “I’ve already told you,” he ended with saying. “You tried to help me. You were there for me. And you’re everything I could dream off.”
“I can’t, James,” she whispered, faintly.
He touched her cheek softly. “Don’t do this,” he said. “Listen to your heart for once, Lily. I’m begging you.”
She met his eyes. “But I can’t hear it.” The tears in her eyes grew, threatening to fall. “I don’t know, James.”
His heart sank. He realised that Lily had no idea what she wanted. She didn’t even know that she didn’t know what she wanted. She was so confused it was scaring her. And he could only blame himself.
“Yeah.” Slowly he dropped his hand. “I understand. You need time.”
He had turned halfway when Lily reached out and touched his arm, making him turn again. Very slowly, she stepped closer and then raised a little, softly pressing her lips to his.
He could feel her anxiety in the kiss. She was over thinking it again and she didn’t even know what she was doing. Slowly her hand slid around his neck, pulling him closer. Then, much against his will, he broke away.
“Lily,” he breathed. “I-”
She pushed away from him. “Yeah, you’re right.” She looked at him. “James, you have to go. I can’t do this.”
She shook her head. Her breath speeded up for a second. “You have to go,” she said. “I’m sorry, but... Marlon... I can’t have you here w-”
He bit hard together for a second. “Yeah, I understand.”
He turned and walked out of the bedroom.
How could he forget? Maybe, in the back of his mind, he had hoped that Lily had been lying previously. Maybe she had just said so to get rid of him, but apparently, she hadn’t. And she intended, after having kissed him, to go on a date with that other man. He couldn’t believe it.
“James, just wait...” She ran after him.
He turned and looked her into the eyes. She wasn’t smiling, but she wasn’t sad either. It was some sort of mix between thoughtfulness and regret. He knew that look. Only Lily could do that one till perfection. Pretend she cared for them and what she did was against her will, but in reality she had long decided what to do.
“Forget it, Lily,” he said bitterly. She dropped her hand and he walked for the door without looking at her.
Next when she spoke her voice was sharp, but with a clear edge of sadness in it. “James?!”
He grabbed his jacket and apparated without exiting the apartment. He dropped the jacket on the floor in his kitchen, looking around.
How had that happened? He’d opened up to Lily, he’d told he wanted to be with her, asked her to take him back. He had opened up to her, letting her close, and in return, she’d sent him home. Rejected him once again. She had a date to go on.
And without any further notice he aimed a kick for the chair which broke two places. He yelled out and hit the wall next, only achieving pain in his hand.
That’s what it was. She had taken pity on him.
He was so frustrated he didn’t even sense the pain, less feel the few drops of blood, running down his hand. He didn’t even think more about the absent of Sirius. The only thing he felt was the pain of once again letting Lily get away.
But he could have stayed. He could have stayed there, asked for her to drop the date, to drop Marlon and be with him, James, instead. In a way he already had asked that of her. But she had wanted to go. She had wanted James to get out and be left alone.
She didn’t want him.
He slumped down on the floor, his back against the wall. I closed his eyes. “Why does it all have to be so bloody complicated?” he muttered. He banged his head softly against the wall a few times.
Suddenly, a need overcame him. It was a need he had worked hard to bury through the last few weeks, but suddenly it was growing stronger and stronger. It was becoming a pain to him. He wanted it. He needed it.
The last push came when he accidentally thought back at Lily – her face – and the self pity overcame him.
“Accio bottle.” The words came out as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
He looked at it in his hand, and without waiting another second, he took the first pull from the bottle. Warm and welcoming. Those words were perfect for this, he decided.
He smiled softly and suddenly the feeling of being so down wasn’t so dominating. Yet, he couldn’t remember ever having been so down before. Well, once, and the reason was the same then. Lily.
He remembered with dread the very last week of school, three years back. Really, it was Sirius who had put the thoughts into his head, but the Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain had given Lily a lot of attention throughout the previous few weeks. James hadn’t noticed before it was pointed out to him, but when he saw, he was surprised he hadn’t noticed before. And he certainly wouldn’t have Lily associating with such a guy. Who knew what he could be up to?
James wasn’t afraid of losing Lily, he trusted her, but he had a problem with this Greg Sandoval. Of course there was bound to be some hostilities between the Captains of the rivalling teams, but it was more than that. James had come to loathe him.
He had asked Lily nicely, if she couldn’t try to stay away from him. He only realised too late that one never tells Lily Evans what to do. So of course she told him to shut it and they didn’t talk more about that in the following days, though there of course was a little tension in the air between them whenever this Sandoval was around.
It all collided two days before the end of the year when James caught Lily talking to Sandoval, and Sandoval was getting a little too close in James’ opinion. Not missing a beat James rushed forward and simply did what muggles do; he punched him. Sandoval was up again in a second, but before he could punch James back Lily stood between them, asking him kindly, thought sternly, to leave. He did. Then Lily turned to James and he knew exactly what was going to happen. Lily yelled at James, he tried to explain, Lily yelled some more, James’ voice grew louder, Lily yelled, James yelled, everyone looked at them...
“Yada, yada, yada,” James muttered at the memory and once again banged his head against the wall. He drowned half of the bottle.
It wasn’t as if he meant to upset Lily. But he had really believed that Sandoval was up to something, and any guy would have marked his territory. And the whole fight... Well, now he could see he had been a little unfair, but so had Lily. Surely Lily could get jealous too, and he was sure that it was not only him who could be a “jealous bastard” – her words. She should know.
But when thinking about it now, he could see it had been such a trivial thing they were fighting about, or at least it had become. Such unimportant thing. But it didn’t change the fact that they had broken up and hadn’t spoken for several years.
But what did it matter now? He was back to where he started three years ago? Down and without Lily. Cast aside.
With a fresh wave of sadness he took another swing from the bottle. And yet another. He refilled the bottle.
He lost track of time. It could have been an hour later when he got up, or it could have been five... But he was to do something. What exactly it was he was to do, he had forgotten when he got out of the house. Something with... no, he couldn’t remember. Dropping the bottle he stumbled forward. One step, two steps. Then he fell over.
He chuckled to himself before getting up, moving on. Yeah, it was clearly something outside. What was he doing again?
It came out of nowhere.
The screeching tires. The faint pop. The deep honk. The pain. And then the darkness.
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