Chapter 8 : Summer, again
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So she wrote. They all said relatively the same thing (I’m sorry! Please, let me apologize in person. I miss you) in different variations. With every letter, a twinge of excitement coursed through her. Each time she saw a bird flying even vaguely toward her window, she held her breath. Her hopes were continually dashed by migrating birds and occasionally letters from her friends.
However sore her disappointment, she held her own. She knew he would respond eventually. He simply had to. He would respond to her letter, and forgive her, and all would be well once again. It would work out, because they had great sex, and they laughed a lot, and they shared secrets, and he comforted her when she needed it, and he left her cute notes, and that, that… was actually something she didn’t want to think about.
She was certain it would happen, once he had had time to cool off. It just had to.
He surprised her, a few days later, by responding. It was far sooner than she had actually expected, she had prepared to wait most of the summer. It was shocking to say the least. She hadn’t really believed it at first, but there it was: clear as day in her hands.
Fine. Leaky Caldron. Two o’clock. Saturday.
She noted his angry tone, and began bracing herself for the confrontation that was sure to meet her Saturday.
The three-day-flu struck at least one member of the Evans family at least one a year. It was always the same, and though every one of them knew exactly how to deal with it, there was no possible way to shorten its lifespan.
It always invaded in the dead of night, while its unsuspecting victim slept. It would awaken them quite rudely in the morning, with muscles so sore and heavy they could hardly be moved, and a throbbing head, which rendered thinking mostly impossible. Upon finally mustering enough energy to sit up, the entire contents of the stomach would be emptied. The commotion would generally stir at least one worried question. The worried question would actually cause more concern, as it would reveal to the victim that one ear (generally the right, though that was one of the few variables of the three-day-flu) seemed to have been submerged in water. The victim would then reply, which would cause even more worry, their voice would have disappeared, and forcing it out caused a great deal of pain. However, none of this would diagnose the dreaded disease. Suspicion may be aroused, but to truly know, the victim must continue back to their bed. If it were indeed the three-day-flu, as soon as they entered the room, the victim would sneeze. And that was how the Evans’ knew they were in for it.
The thirty-six hours following the sneeze were some of the more miserable days any one could experience. Confined to bed, and hardly able to move, any other plans, no matter how major flew out of the window. Slipping in and out of sleep, there was nothing anyone could do. Sneeze, vomit, cough, grown, until exactly three days later, it would completely disappear.
It was always, always the same.
When she was seven, a favorite neighbor asked Lily and Petunia to be flower girls in her wedding. Lily raved about it for weeks, she was so excited. The morning of the rehearsal, Lily sneezed. Their neighbor had only one flower girl.
Several years ago, Albert Evans was up for manager at the factory. He was informed that he, along with a couple others, would be observed over the course of a few days. The day the observations were to start, Albert awoke victim to the dreaded disease. He returned to work three days later, in the same, mundane job.
After months of planning, Iris Miller was scheduled to visit her daughter, Daisy Evans. They day before her mother’s arrival, Daisy worried her youngest daughter as she heaved early in the morning. They both held their breath as Daisy walked back into her room. The resounding achoo! marked the beginning of the worst visit to date.
The day before Petunia’s best friend’s sweet sixteen, she succumbed. Petunia has still not been forgiven.
The three-day-flu was always vicious. It was always stealthy. It was always marked by a single sneeze. It always lasted exactly three days. And it always had impeccably awful timing.
Friday morning, Lily woke up with a headache so bad; she cursed the sun for being too bright, and the birds for singing too loudly. She attempted to roll over, but found it was far too much work. She lay back for a moment, summoning all of her strength. After she had pushed herself into a sitting position, a wave of nausea passed over her. She ran to the bathroom, and emptied the contents of her stomach. Her mother appeared in the doorway and asked if she was okay. Lily had to turn her head, and ask her mother (in an unintentional whisper) to repeat the question. Daisy winced, and told her daughter to go back to bed.
She braced herself as she returned to her room. She brightened considerably as she made it through the doorway. Her happiness was short lived, however; Lily and Daisy wore identical grimaces as she sneezed a moment later.
Grudgingly, she returned to her bed, prepared to spend the next three days there.
Lily slipped through dreams, and consciousness; a state of delirium in which she was not quite sure what was real. In a few moments of full alertness, Lily tried to eat, wiped her runny nose, or emptied anything that had managed to travel to her stomach. These moments were few and far between, never lasting long before Lily slipped back into oblivion.
A resounding crack snapped her back to reality. She groaned, and opened her eyes, ready to glare at whatever had disturbed her temporary peace. Her gaze landed on the source of her agitation. “What are you doing here, James?” She was vaguely aware that she sounded angry; she hadn’t meant to.
“What are you doing here?!” His carefully placed mask of calm was slipping a bit, though for the most part, he seemed more annoyed than angry.
“I live here.”
“Well, yes, Lily,” he snapped, gradually becoming more angry, “I’m aware of that.” Lily lay back in her bed, attempting to muster enough energy to ask him why he would ask such a stupid question, “I’m wondering why you’re here, as opposed to say, the Leaky Caldron, at a meeting which you were desperate to have.”
Lily sat straight up, “That was today?”
“An hour and a half ago, actually. It was splendid, sitting there by myself. Stimulating conversation. Honestly.”
“Merlin.” She breathed, “I’m sorry, okay! I’m sick.”
“And you didn’t think I deserved to know about this?!” The mask of calm had completely vanished, revealing the anger that only Lily could unleash.
“I forgot! Okay? I haven’t left my bed since-“ she sincerely thought, but could not find the answer, “I don’t even know! Goodness! I’m surprised you didn’t thoroughly enjoy your date with yourself. That’s all you ever think about anyway.”
“Is that a fucking joke?” He kept a distance from her, though Lily could tell from her bed that he was visibly shaking with anger. He was glaring directly into her eyes, daring her to respond.
“No. It’s not.” She rose from her bed, but did not move toward him. “Why do you think I always say no? Because you’re a selfish fucking prick. I can hardly stand to be around you when we’re not fucking.”
“Is that so?” He was eerily calm. “I’m glad to know where I stand with you.” He shot her another murderously haunting look, “Don’t bother writing.” With another loud pop, James was gone.
Lily sat back on her bed, cradling her throbbing head in her hands. Eventually, she lay back down, and after a while, she even drifted into a restless sleep.
Monday morning, Lily rose happy and healthy, as if she had never been ill at all. She smiled at the sunlight pouring through the window, and practically bounced to the kitchen for breakfast.
The dreaded disease seemed nothing more than a distant memory, a dream that had had a profound impact once upon a time, but has since faded into the dust. Lily sat, chewing her breakfast and mulling over the past three days. Most of it was a filmy haze, although several dreams stood out clearly.
In one, she was riding an owl. She had to deliver a letter, it was urgent, though she did not know why, or even who was receiving it. She had gotten nearly to her destination, when Petunia had shown up, and plucked her off of the owl.
In another, she had been playing at the park, the same she, Petunia and Sev had frequented as children. They were teenagers now, but all of them were there, playing as though they were seven, and the pain of the world had not affected them.
The most realistic, Lily mused, had contained James. He had apparated into her room, and told her off for missing their meeting. They had fought; the words were burned clearly into her mind. She thought it was particularly odd, because their meeting was definitely not until Saturday, and today was… Well it didn’t matter, exactly, she was certain that she would’ve remembered their meeting. Even through her delirium.
“Well, you’re up early.” Her mother’s voice brought her out of her daze. “And looking much better. Three-day-flu run it’s course?”
“Of course,” Lily smiled, “It always does. That’s why we call it the ‘three-day-flu.’”
“Right you are, darling.” She sat down next to her daughter, and began devouring her breakfast.
“What’s the rush, Mum?”
She had finished her food, and was already moving toward the sink, “I’m just running a bit late is all. Have to be into work early on Mondays, remember?” Lily nodded her head, as she swallowed another mouthful. Daisy checked her watch, “Well, best be off. Have a nice day, dear.” She rushed past her, pausing only to kiss her daughter on the head.
“You too, Mum.” She called after her, hoping she had heard.
She looked at the clock in the kitchen for the first time that morning. It was early, although, Lily’s mother did need to be to work early on Mondays… Monday… It was Monday? Lily flew to the calendar to check. Indeed, it was Monday. And that meant…
With a faint pop, Lily arrived in the parlor she had talked to James in the previous summer. She had hoped that he would be there; she didn’t know where else to look. Her hopes were not disappointed, he was hunched over a desk she hadn’t noticed the last time she was there.
“I’m almost done, Padfoot,” He turned just a moment after the sound announced her arrival. His demeanor had been easy, playful, but as soon as he laid eyes on her, it changed. His eyes narrowed, and his features hardened.
Standing in the center of this room, with nothing to hide behind, and his glare burning holes into her, Lily had never felt more vulnerable. “I’m sorry.” She whispered. If possible, his face contorted into an even angrier expression. “I didn’t,” she took a deep breath, “I didn’t mean anything I said on Saturday.”
“Then why,” his words were drawn out. He was trying to control himself, and for the moment at least, he was succeeding. “Did you say it?”
She shrugged. “Because I was sick, and I was tired, and really, really confused as to why you were standing in my room.”
She noticed him biting back a smile, but he remained silent. She continued, “but I don’t – you’re not selfish. At all. I know that. I think you’re rather selfless actually. And if I could take it back I would, but I can’t.”
“Well,” His face was emotionless, “I’m glad to know that at least you don’t think I’m selfish.”
Her face brightened. She moved toward him, and picked up his hands. “Of course I don’t James! After everything that you’ve done for me,” She paused, “How could I think that?”
He snatched back his hands and turned from her. “Well, I don’t know, Evans!” He turned back, his face finally revealing his fury, “there seems to be a lot of things that you can do, despite,” his voice took on a vicious mocking tone, “’everything I’ve done for you.’”
Lily started, aghast, but James cut her off, “Like refusing to be seen with me in public! Or calling me a prick. That’s- that’s a great ‘thank you’ right there.”
Lily’s face contorted into a glare as vicious as James’ “If you need compensation for helping me, I don’t want your help in the future.”
“I don’t, Lily. I just-“ He sighed; cradling his head in his hands, before bringing them up through his hair, “It’d be nice to know that I’ve proved to you that I’m not some kind of terrible person.”
“I don’t think that.” She moved closer to him, and decided against putting a soothing hand on his shoulder.
“But you still think I’m a prick.”
She sighed, “It’s complicated.”
She turned from him, and took a deep breath. “It’s like,” she took another breath. “There’s two guys,” She turned back toward him, “and one of them, is wonderful. He’s sweet, and caring, and” she smirked, “a killer shag.” This earned her a smile from him. “And I like him, quite a bit. But then, there’s this other guy,” her voice became more serious, and James’ smile disappeared. “And he is arrogant, and he picks on people, and yeah he’s funny once in a while, but other than that, he’s just foul. And him, I don’t like at all.”
He stared blankly at her. “You have to understand, James, that those people, that you pick on, they come to me for help. And how am I supposed to- how are they going to feel comfortable coming to me if I’m dating their tormentor?”
He ruffled his hair, “I didn’t think of it like that.”
She went to him, grasping his hands, “I wouldn’t expect you to.” He didn’t respond, but seemed satisfied. Daringly, she moved closer, dropping his hands in favor of his neck. “I missed you, you know.” She nuzzled against his chin, and noticed the hair there had become rather rough. Gently, she brushed her lips against his. He smiled slightly. “Am I forgiven?”
“I suppose,” he smirked.
“Good,” she whispered against his lips. “Because I really, really missed you.”
“Did you really?” His voice revealed his raised eyebrows, “Then how ‘bout you show me?”
She pulled away and bit her lip, smiling, “I think I can do that.”
He shouldn’t have forgiven her. He shouldn’t have agreed to meet her. He shouldn’t have given her the chance to manipulate him again. He shouldn’t have even answered her letters. He knew it was a bad idea. Because she sweet, and lovely, and sickeningly sincere in her apology. And now, they were back, in exactly the same position he had tried to wiggle out of at the end of the year.
He shouldn’t have forgiven her, but when concerning Lily Evans, there were a lot of things that James Potter shouldn’t have done. It was the basis of their entire relationship, really. If Lily had done what she should’ve in fourth year, James would’ve had a black eye and would probably lack the ability to have children. But to be honest, James probably shouldn’t have kissed her in the first place.
He shouldn’t have done it. He should never have started this torrid fling with Lily Evans. He’d be free of too much frustration, anxiety, and embarrassingly, heartache.
He shouldn’t have fallen in love with her.
But he did. He did all of it. He kissed her when she was mad because she looked exceptionally pretty, and he kept doing it because it was so much damn fun. He had actually started liking her in fifth year, because she was as sneaky as he was, and owned it. She made him laugh, and he made her laugh, and they were merry. He put up with all of her shit, because by that point he was in love with her. And he was pretty sure she knew it, and felt the same. Which may be why her constant refusals hurt so bloody much. She hurt him, again, and again, and again, and when he was almost free of the pain, he went and forgave her.
Because, to be honest, being with out her hurt much, much worse.
Smiling and chuckling, the pair stumbled through the parlor into James’ bedroom. Lily’s sundress was discarded as soon as they made it through the door, and James’ tee shirt broke something as Lily hurled it across the room.
James pushed her down on the bed, relishing the sight of her before his glasses would inevitably come off. She grinned up at him, and James went back to work on her neck, while she made quick work of his belt. Reluctantly, he reached up to his face, removing his spectacles before Lily could. It may have caused him a few moments of pleasurable vision, but at least he would know where they were.
She caught his hand as it travelled to his bedside table. “Stop,” she commanded, “Leave them on.”
He grinned at her before continuing on their best shag yet.
“Oh, oh merlin, James,” She panted. He pushed a single ringlet out of her face as he lay on top of her, “That was, was,-- There aren’t even words to describe that!”
He chuckled from his position on her neck. “It’s amazing what can happen when I can see you, isn’t it?” He asked between kisses down her throat.
“Apparently.” She gasped as a well-placed nip sent shivers down her spine. He chuckled again. Lily tilted her head back, basking in her afterglow, and enjoying the tingles he was still giving her. “You’re incredible.”
“Why, thank you, love.” He moved from her neck, back to her face, and kissed her lips lightly before finally rolling off of her. “But really, it takes two.”
She laughed and rolled onto her side. He brushed the hair out of her face, and picked up her hands. He pecked her nose, and she crinkled her face; it was so unbearably cute, James thought it should be illegal. The pair stayed like that for a bit. Laying together, staring at each other, playing, laughing.
All too soon, Lily frowned. “I should go,” she whispered.
“No, you shouldn’t.” He kissed her deeply, attempting to distract her.
“I have to though.”
Once before, they had had this conversation. She had tried to leave, and James had prevented it. He had told her to stay, and she had listened. At that point, she was frail, and needed to stay with him every bit as much as he wanted her to. It hadn’t taken much persuasion.
He watched her search madly for her clothing.
Today, he debated once again preventing her departure. He wanted to spend more time with her, to smile and laugh and play with her. He wanted to tell her to stay. But she wasn’t the frail girl who needed to stay with him anymore. She was happy and confident, and though he liked this Lily, a little part of him wanted her to revert, simply so she would stay again.
She dressed quickly.
He couldn’t make her stay. She wouldn’t listen so easily anymore. He couldn’t ask her, either. He knew what the answer would be, and he couldn’t stand to hear it.
She moved over to him, and kissed him one last time.
And though he thought it might kill him, he watched her go.
An: An: So, I think that I should get an award for the fastest update ever. :D I know some of you will be disappointed, but I promise, it needs to happen. Feel free to tell me how you feel about it, I promise not to be offended. :) So, I hope that you enjoy this! Please review!
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