The library was a common location for Lily and James to be found together. The quiet atmosphere and large tables were extremely conducive to their Heads’ work, and the window near their favorite table offered a stunning view of the Lake. That table was also the one farthest away from Madame Pince, and therefore, the one where they were least likely to be scolded. Because of this prime location, the pair would often take the opportunity to work on their schoolwork after their meetings. They worked, chatted, laughed, and helped each other where need be. Occasionally, they would just sit, working on different projects, immersed in silence and enjoying each other’s company.
Because it was common practice for them to work there, it also became common knowledge, that when one wanted them, that was one of the first places to look.
“Hey, James,” someone purred. After a split seconds hesitation, he realized it was not Lily. The voice was far too high-pitched, far too whiny, and far too flirtatious for Lily to use ever. Let alone in public. And besides, Lily was sitting right next to him. If she had wanted his attention, she would have just nudged him.
He finished the sentence he was working on, and looked up. “How can I help you, Alyssa?” He smiled at the tall, blonde sixth year. He noticed Lily’s eyes dart up at them.
Alyssa shifted her weight to one leg, and twirled a finger into her hair, “I was just wondering if you would help me with this Transfiguration assignment, McGonagall said you were the best at it.” She bit her lip playfully.
“Yeah, I can do that.” She broke into a grin, and, instinctually, he smiled back. “Bring your stuff over here, and we’ll get to work.”
She scampered away like an excited puppy, effortlessly ruining the sexy façade she had tried so hard to create.
Lily chuckled from her work. “What?” James questioned.
Lily looked up, “Nothing.” She shook her head gently, and went back to work.
James shook his head, and put his own work away. Just as he had finished clearing an area, Alyssa came scampering back. She set down her book, and her wand, and sat down.
“We’re supposed to be conjuring simple life forms,” she exclaimed, “but I just can’t do it!”
James and Lily both flinched at her screech. “Well, show me what you can do then.” She smirked a little before waving her wand in a complicated, elaborate motion. It produced nothing.
“See?” she screeched again, “I just can’t do it.”
“Well not waving your wand around like that, you can’t. It’s much more precise. Watch.” James himself performed the motion, and a perfect white mouse appeared, scurrying around the table.
“Oh. Like this?” She made the same motion as before, with the same result. She looked at James pathetically.
“No,” he rose from his chair and stood behind her, gripping her hand and her wand in his own. “Like this,” Slowly, he moved her arm in the correct way. He did it once more, and then let her try.
She produced an ugly, but living brown mouse. It scurried around with the one James had produced and the two began squeaking together.
“Oh, thank you James!” Alyssa leapt from her seat and pulled James into a tight embrace. From over her shoulder, James could see Lily unceremoniously vanishing the mice. As Alyssa pulled away, she left a peck on his cheek. He thought he saw a hint of anger in Lily, but she just looked back down at her work. Alyssa gathered her things and scampered away.
“Sorry about that,” he muttered as he sat back down and began to pull his work out of his bag.
“Don’t apologize for it.” Lily said kindly.
“I didn’t mean for that to be so…”
She looked up from her work, “Don’t apologize,” she smiled, “You’re perfectly free to flirt with whomever you like.”
Without any more ado, Lily went back to her work.
James was taken aback. He hadn’t been flirting with Alyssa. At least he didn’t think he had… Flirting was sometimes second nature to him. He didn’t realize he was doing it until someone (usually Remus) pointed it out to him. He certainly hadn’t meant to, anyway.
He opened his mouth to tell her he was sorry, but stopped before a sound could come out.
That’s what she had said to him. For the first time that James could recall, Lily did not want him to apologize.
Lily always wanted him to apologize. Even when he hadn’t even done anything, he was constantly either apologizing, or refusing to apologize. Her not wanting him to was entirely new.
And it completely caught him off guard.
Lily was angry. Furious, fuming, livid, irate, enraged and every other adjective that she simply could not be bothered with thinking up at the moment. She was that upset.
How dare that smarmy little slut invade their space and shamelessly throw herself at him like that? As if Lily wasn’t sitting right there with them. And how dare he let her!
She wanted to tell him off, tell him that it was not okay to flirt so shamelessly right in front of his… She couldn’t complete the sentence. What was she? Not girlfriend, certainly. Friend, maybe, but at this point it was undetermined. They were strictly partners.
She had absolutely no right to tell him what it was acceptable for him to do. He was free to do as he pleased. So that’s what she told him.
After regaining his composure, James was struck by confusion.
He and Lily shared a romantic, if untraditional, relationship. He knew she didn’t like to label it, but she could not deny that it was present.
It was wrong to flirt (even unintentionally) with someone else when in a relationship (no matter how untraditional). Especially right in front of them. If he were Lily, he would have been extremely angry, and he would have every reason to be. He would have shouted and demanded an explanation and an apology and even then given himself time and space to stew. Of course, he would have given into her much more quickly than he would have liked, but the sentiment remained the same.
Lily had every right to be angry with him.
Lily should have been angry with him.
But she wasn’t.
It was very confusing.
Wasn’t she jealous?
Wasn’t she upset in the least?
Didn’t she care at all?
He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answers.
The first Quidditch game of the year approached much more quickly than anyone but James had anticipated. This was usual, of course, as the excitement of the new school year always pushed Quidditch to the back of the mind. James though, had been counting down to this match, since he had last faced these opponents: Slytherin.
He drilled his team relentlessly; pushing them farther than they had ever gone before. Not one of them ever complained; they, just as much as James, were out for revenge.
The day of the matched dawned early, and the team marched in solitude to the pitch. There was no pep talk as they readied themselves; they all knew what they had to do.
They flew. Ferociously, viciously, almost savagely, taking no mercy on the Slytherin team. They took the quaffle by almost any means necessary, avoiding good sportsmanship to toe the rules. The keeper was on excellent form; he blocked nearly every shot at him. The cry of joy was almost too sweet for James to stand as their seeker closed his hand around the snitch.
“Dance with me.”
The victory party was in full swing. Music was blaring, people were dancing, there was a general hum of talking, occasionally interrupted by a victory cry.
He didn’t need to cut across the room, the Gryffindors parted like the Red Sea for the quidditch hero. She sat with her friends, talking and laughing, determinedly not looking at him. She turned slowly at the tap on her shoulder. She didn’t need to see who it was.
“Dance with me.”
Her expression was confused, and almost disappointed, “James.”
“Lily.” She raised her eyebrows and her expression changed to one of complete skepticism. “I’m not asking you to marry me. It’s just one dance.”
Cautiously, she placed her hand into the one he had extended for her, and let her lead him on to the dance floor. Immediately, the upbeat rock song that had been playing morphed into a slow, romantic number. James put a hand gently on her waist, and pulled her as close to him as she would allow. Lily cautiously put a hand on his shoulder, keeping their position formal, and at a safe distance. Slowly, they began to move to the music.
James never let his eyes stray from her. She tried desperately to look at anything but him. Eventually her gaze met his molten gold eyes, and he broke into a grin. She couldn’t help but return it. Subconsciously, she moved a little closer to him.
“I’m really proud of you, you know.” She whispered.
“For slaughtering the Slytherins? The pleasure was mine.”
She chuckled, “Well for that, of course, although your sportsmanship left a lot to be desired.” She cut off his objection, “But also for being such a great Head Boy. You’re really owning up to the responsibility.”
He smiled, “I’m doing it for you, you know.” She gave a small, sincere smile, and shook her head.
The song came to a close, and Lily pulled away from him. “It’s late, she said, I think I’m heading to bed.”
“Oh, goodnight, then.”
She did not respond, but turned, and mad her way through the crowd. He watched her leave, weaving through people, until she finally made it through, and began to ascend the staircase.
It took him almost a full minute to realize where she was going.
“It took you long enough.” She rose from his bed and met him halfway between the door and the bed.
“I thought you were going to bed?” He asked, kissing her before she could answer.
“I did go to bed.” She responded. She continued to kiss him and her hands went for the hem of his tee shirt.
“Pardon me for assuming it was your own.” His shirt fell to the floor; he pulled hers up as he moved closer to the bed.
“You should never assume you know.” She spun them around, and pushed him into a sitting position on the bed.
“Consider my lesson learned.” She climbed into his lap.
Somehow, they maneuvered so that they were both free of clothing and comfortably on his bed. James remained sitting; Lily straddled on top of him. Their foreheads and noses were pressed against each other; their eyes were perfectly and never broke contact. They moved in harmony, peacefully and beautifully. When it became too much for her, she moved away slightly, never breaking eye contact, and allowed him to watch her release before collapsing on his shoulder. She continued moving until James too had had his release, and even then remained resting on his shoulder.
She opened her eyes, taking in every detail. The way his hair was messier than usual, and the line it formed across his neck. The beads of sweat that glittered and occasionally rolled down his back. The way his whole body rose and fell with the deep breaths he was taking. The faint white lines splashed across his back that she had never noticed before. She ran a finger across one of them; he shuddered.
“What are they from?” she asked tenderly.
“I suppose saying ‘nothing’ is an unacceptable answer here.” She nodded her head,
“They’re from roughhousing with the boys.”
“Really?” she looked skeptical. James nodded. “Well, it saddens me to know I’m not the only lover in your life.”
He furrowed his brow in confusion. “But I just told you they’re from the boys.”
She grinned mischievously. “Exactly.” The appalled look on his face sent her into hysterics. She fell away from him, which allowed James room to begin tickling her.
“Hey!” she shouted between laughs, “That is unnecessary!”
“It’s perfectly necessary!” James responded from his station hovering above her.
After a few shrieks and peals of laughter, Lily managed to regain her composure enough to catch James in a kiss. It was incredibly effective in stopping the tickling.
“That’s unfair.” James pouted.
“It’s perfectly fair.” Lily responded. Her remark spurred another round of laughter, which again concluded in a kiss. Lily rose and grabbed his hand, still chuckling,
“What?” She pulled him from the bed.
Lily was frustrated.
She hadn’t met with James since the last quidditch match, and that had been more than a month ago. For the past two years, they had met as often as possible. This year, though, it seemed as if they were lucky to meet once every three weeks. It seemed as though their schedules were purposefully keeping them apart; and while they saw each other often, they rarely spent time alone.
She didn’t like it.
She wanted badly to- ahem, have fun. She went through her options, but found none of them viable.
Picking a fight with him would no longer work. The pair had hardly argued at all this year, and every time they had had drawn a large crowd that refused to disperse the way that it used to.
The only time she saw him outside of class and head meetings, he was doing homework. She too was suffering from the overload of NEWT work, and understood that at this point, homework really needed to be finished. So she left him to it.
Every time she thought to surprise him after quidditch practice, she was scheduled to patrol the hallways.
None of their free periods were together.
After head meetings, they usually had more homework to do.
It was quite the dilemma.
She thought about it more, and came to the conclusion that, if she wanted to, well, you know, (and she did, very much), then she had to ask him.
“James!” she yelled as she sprinted down the deserted corridor, “James! Wait!”
He turned around as he registered who was calling for him. When she caught up to him, she lightly kissed him on the mouth. “I can’t right now, Lily, I have class.”
“I know.” Her face fell slightly, but picked back up into a smile shortly, “but Friday, well, neither of us is scheduled to patrol, and I don’t think you have practice…”
“I can’t then, either.” He stopped her.
“Oh, okay, then.” She still smiled. “I guess we’ll have to find another time, then.”
Before he could agree, she turned on her heel and left.
Of course this would happen.
Of course the one night that could be free to spend with Lily would happen to fall on the full moon.
Of course he would have something better to do.
How could she have been so rash? so stupid?
He was a busy man. She should have asked him when he was available.
But that sounds so formal, so desperate!
She couldn’t have him thinking she was an idiot! Which he would have if the conversation had gone in that direction.
“Lily, wake up.” He kissed her lightly, and she responded a little, and opened her eyes.
“James?” Her voice was groggy, and her eyes would not open all the way.
“Yeah,” he kissed her again.
“I thought you couldn’t tonight.” She sat up to see him better.
“I couldn’t stay away.” He smiled. He wasn’t sure that she could see him. He thought she smiled too. “Meet me downstairs in five minutes.”
He made his way to the common room half expecting her to fall back asleep and leave him waiting. Merlin knew he was tired enough to fall asleep right there. He didn’t sit, knowing that if he did, he would be a goner.
It seemed like forever, but eventually Lily came stumbling down the stairs, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She slowly came right to him, wrapped her lovely arms around his neck and kissed him. She had obviously brushed her teeth, and the thought made him smile.
“Come with me.”
“Where are we going?” she asked, she still had not let go of his neck.
“Just follow me.” She removed her arms, and he took her hand, gently pulling her with him.
He dragged her through the portrait hole and a maze of corridors. He hoped that at some point she would guess where they were headed, and the look of recognition on her face told him he was not disappointed. When they arrived at their favorite classroom, he opened the door to reveal mountains of pillows and blankets.
He saw Lily’s lips tilt into a smile, and heard her beautiful chuckle. “This is awkward and terribly romantic all at the same time.”
“Let’s just go with romantic, yeah?”
She smiled again, and answered him with a kiss.
“Mmmmmmmmm” she murmured while nuzzling into his neck and kissing him briefly. He turned his head to kiss her lips. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. He remained looking at her. “Why don’t we do this more often?”
He didn’t speak, but responded by pulling her closer to him. He felt her smile against his neck. She whispered “I love making love to you.”
James found that he could not move.
He could not handle this any more.
He didn’t know where he stood with her. He was just a desperately in love with her as before, but didn’t know how to act around her anymore. She was different. She talked to him in public now, without yelling; she actually sought him out to do it. It seemed that she wanted to be friends. And they were definitely still- whatever it was they were before.
But she still didn’t want to date him.
And it didn’t make any sense to him.
Surely if she actually enjoyed spending time with him, and she still enjoyed “making love to him” as she said he did, then she would want to let everyone know.
But she didn’t.
And that phrase, “making love,” James didn’t know how to take it. He thought that it should be reserved for people who were in love with each other. He was in love with her, but he was fairly certain that it was one sided. He knew she wasn’t just saying it to have something call what they did, she had always thought of other ways before.
So the only conclusion that James could come to; was that she thought there was something more there, than she had before. The thought thrilled him, but only for a moment. He wanted there to be something more, but Lily still didn’t. Yet, she was acting like there was.
It was all very confusing.
And he couldn’t handle it anymore.
He feels her nose scratch against his stubble, and a smile through the light kiss she leaves on his jaw. Her finger moves to his chest, and begins to draw. Circles, flowers, stars and smiles; not hearts. Never hearts.
His glasses are still on, he breathes deeply and evenly. He isn’t sleeping, and despite his best attempts at faking, he’s sure she knows. He does not play with her; he couldn’t if he wanted to. Instead, he stares off into the canopy of her bed, thinking.
He feels her press into his side. He ignores it. She rolls away from him, and he can hear a yawn; through his peripheral vision, he can barely make out her stretching form. Again, he ignores it. She rolls on top of him, attempting to look into his eyes. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” he mumbles, avoiding her gaze.
“You’re lying,” she scolds, playfully. Her finger moves to trace his face. “No secrets, remember?”
He can’t help but scoff. Their whole relationship is based on secrets.
“James,” she’s pleading with him, “what is it?"
He can’t take this anymore. He grunts and violently sits up. He knocks her off of him, but at this point, he doesn’t care. The curtains are thrown open, and he climbs out of bed. He searches frantically for his clothes. He doesn’t look at her; he’s sure to change his mind if he sees the hurt he knows is there. He finds his boxers and puts them on.
“James!” she begs. He can hear the tears in her voice.
He whips around and finally looks at her as he finishes pulling his trousers on. He really isn’t angry; he hopes that his face shows that. He is confused, and sad, and frustrated. He sighs and brings his hands to his face. Eventually, he pulls them up and through his hair.
He can’t find the words to say to her. He closes his eyes; her face isn’t helping him at all. He takes a deep breath, “I can’t do this anymore,” he finally says.
“W-what do you mean?” she stammers.
“This, this,” her hurt expression is robbing him of any words he might have had, “thing!”
he spits at the only word that could possibly describe their situation. “Whatever it is. I can’t do it, Lily. Not anymore.”
She doesn’t speak. Her expression says it all for her. She knows what he’s talking about. He can’t face her any longer. He turns on his heel and walks away.
As the door closes behind him, he swears he can hear her cry.
AN: This chapter is a gigantic win for me. YES! WE ARE FINALLY BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm pumped. And kind of sad, this means that it's almost over... :( But I'm happy to have made it this far! Yes! Anyway, please, please, please review!