Chapter 1 : I pondered the sky
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Disclaimer: I do not own anything Harry Potter...rather, Harry Potter owns me XP. However, I do claim the poem, "Can We Pretend" at the beginning. Enjoy!
l=l= INSURMOUNTABLE =I=I
for megan2u's Romantic Situation Challenge
: : incredible chapter image by littlemissy @ TDA
Can we pretend the leaves won’t fall?
They bloom just once and soar forever
Forever, staying high as ever
Forever never falling down.
Can we pretend the sun won’t set?
It rises once and shines forever
Forever, staying bright as ever
Forever never falling down.
Can we pretend the moss won’t grow?
The walls are tall and strong forever
Forever, staying smooth as ever
Forever never falling down.
Can we pretend the time won’t pass?
The hands will hold their touch forever
Forever, staying still as ever
Forever never falling down.
Forever never falling down
Forever, staying here forever
We live this moment now forever
Can we pretend forever never falling down?
I pondered the sky on top of the Astronomy Tower with James Potter last night. Our first date, so to speak. Not by choice, mind you, I was dared, though it turned out to be a surprisingly civil experience on the verge of vaguely enjoyable…though I’d never admit that on my life. Not yesterday, anyhow, nor the day before that. But today…well. We’ll see.
Last night, the stars were out and about, glittering and littering the world above ours, completely in and out of tune with the world below theirs. Yet they never said hello. They never need to. They glow long enough, bright enough to fill an eternity of hellos and goodbyes and see you next times.
“If you crane your neck any further, your head will rip right off the back.”
If I ever have to define the meaning of “ruining the moment,” I’ll use this scenario as my prime example. It can’t get better than this.
I sighed, bemused. “If you sink any lower, you’ll hit rock bottom.”
“If your humor’s any dryer, Lily, you will wilt.”
Oh, Merlin, it was one of those days.
I glared daggers at him, sharp ones. “You know precisely what you’re doing, don’t you?”
He nodded, smirking all the while. Ugh.
“Then wipe that insufferable sneer off your face. It’s unbecoming of you.”
Needless to say, he kept his lip muscles tightly elevated. Which irked me to no end…though my heart was beating fifty times faster than normal. This was exciting, arguing. It had almost become a sort of game over the years, for me, at least. At any rate, I’d take it over the usual “will you go out with me, Lil’s?” any day of the week.
He never fails to surprise me.
“If I knew what’s becoming of me, I wouldn’t be on a date with you on the Astronomy Tower.”
Oh, one has to love the classic I-could-care-less-about-you comment. Thank you, Potter. Now kindly fall off a cliff, will you?
My amusement at his antics boosted my confidence a notch as I retorted smoothly, “You get more action up here with me than anywhere else.”
He laughed a rich laugh that required almost every muscle in his Quidditch body…or he used them all, anyway, needed or not. “What do you know? The only action you get never leaves the page.”
“Oh, alright, since you clearly know, would you care to enlighten me?”
His eyebrows quirked up for the briefest of moments before coyly settling down just above his deep-set, chestnut eyes. “Is that an invitation, Ms. Evans?”
Good Merlin, he was much too close. He was looming over me like a predator. Again. But I would not back away for fear of him leaving with the upper-hand…and for fear of fainting over the edge of the tower and tumbling down to my unfortunate demise. Though I’d take the latter over the former any day.
Don’t give me that look, you.
“Oh, that,” I chuckled, waving it off, then motioned to my left, “Yes, of course you’re invited…you’re invited to fly off the edge here. No brooms allowed.”
His heat had well enveloped me entirely by this point, and as I watched a bead of sweat sink down his moonlit face, my head began to throb in time with his racing heart. Or was it mine?
He frowned. “No brooms?”
“No brooms,” I repeated proudly, then added for good measure, “or thestrals or dragons or…hell, no owls, either.”
His eyes were too intense for my liking.
“Then would you care to give me my wings, Ms. Evans?”
That one caught me off guard. Don’t get me wrong—I was used to this treatment. I was used to the flirting, which was anything but suave. I was used to his ridiculous one-liners that he, no doubt, dished out only in order to boost his seating with the bloody Marauders and anyone else thick enough to look up to him. You can see it all going through his mind: his tactless lines are always followed by a wink to a fellow or his eyes move to everyone for approval, to bask in his “glory”. It’s sickening, really.
He may not have been on the top of my hit list yet, but he was most definitely playing with fire. It would be a lie to say he disgusts me, yet he is rather disgusting. And I can't say I hate him, though he is rather hateful. But one thing I can say about him is that he is terribly misunderstood...
Though I can’t say I quite understand him.
For instance, Inter-House meetings: as Headboy and Headgirl, Potter and I have to throw together a speech and pretend that we care about each other and about bringing the houses together for each meeting. It’s old hat for me—Mum had me acting at the local theatre as a child since before I could remember, so I thrive up front and center. One would think that Potter, considering his haughty lifestyle, would jump at the chance of over-exposure, but it’s no secret that he gets jittery when he has to speak in front of all those people. Somehow, he gets nervous. Really nervous. And that is what I don’t understand: what does he have to lose, anyway?
But from what I’ve seen, it’s much, much more than that. He’s bored as hell when he’s preparing with me, piecing everything together last-minute, but when he steps behind that podium, he’s on fire with a whole lot of something I can’t explain. When he steps behind that podium…his eyes, his face, his hands, his lips…you wouldn’t believe. And his voice—what a voice. His voice—it’s alive. In a world where living feels deader than dying, his voice lights up the sky with L-I-F-E. We don’t forget how to live, not really…we just forget the why. Because it’s hard to live life if we don’t like what it looks like. Reality pales in comparison to the great “what if”.
But I digress. As often as Potter has asked me to Hogsmeade or to join him for meals or take a walk by the lake or sneak into the Forbidden Forest with him, as if rules were only guidelines, I just couldn’t bring myself to say “yes”. For all the times he pouted his smart arse lips or tried to sneak a kiss or sent me flowers on special occasions or for no reason at all or generally just…gave me the time of day, all I wanted was for him to leave me alone. Even when he defended me day in and day out in front of poor Severus…
…I couldn’t, wouldn’t give in.
It’s moments like this, however, when his eyes speak the truth, when I wonder why it took a dare to give him the answer he wanted, why I didn’t just give him a go from the start. But then, I remember it’s just a game to him, too. Right? It’s just a challenge. I’m the only girl who has ever denied him anything. It’s been the same every year; yet he still is at loss as to why I keep turning him down. If this is all a show for his friends, I’ll have no part in it. Although, sometimes, when we’re completely alone with no audience, with no one to witness his “triumph” finally…it’s moments like this one, when his words hold far too much gravity to be a lie, that I forget why I hate him so.
But then, he always blows it a beat later, and I feel the fool for forgetting.
“You’re a flighty lass…take me under your wing, eh? What say you, Miss Loverly Lilyflower?”
Yes, it’s the attention he wants. Not me.
“Evans, bloody answer me or I’ll answer for you.”
It was all over when I looked at him.
Somehow, for whatever reason, in that split second on that late September night of our seventh and final year at Hogwarts, the truth hit me with a force that shook me to the bone, and I rounded on him:
His smirk faltered. “Wait, what—”
“Leave me, leave me alone!”
“Lily, I didn’t mean—”
“For the last time, just go away, you…” I hated the tears forming in my eyes, but I let him see this time, not thinking…just hating him for making me feel. “…g-get your slimy, pureblood arse out of my sight!”
He was clearly taken aback as I shoved him toward the tower door.
“I would,” he retorted, his voice raised and more vulnerable, more hurt than ever, “but I’m not about to give up on you, not now, not seven years later, not when you finally said y—”
“Oh, stuff it, you know I don’t want…I didn’t come willingly!”
“But you said y—”
“Sirius dared me, you idiot! I have a lot to gain from this, none of which involves a twat like you!”
“Merlin, fancy that!”
“Would you look at yourself?! You wouldn’t know the diff—”
“Dammit, Evans, you’re being such a—”
“Don’t even go there, Pothole…”
He clutched his cheek where I slapped him and stared at me with wide, disbelieving eyes, as if he had never seen me before.
Suddenly, the lingering summer breeze seemed to freeze over as time stood still. Was that boy being serious! Is he even capable of being serious? I can’t remember him ever speaking so…harshly. It was so very uncharacteristic of him that I stumbled over my thoughts for a moment, and no words would form.
“I can’t believe you,” I seethed finally, going for a menacing effect but failing miserably with a strangled sob. Somehow, someway, I was hurt by his lack of tact and wittiness. I was used to negativity when it pertained to him. Pride, yes. Frustration, yes. Spite, hell yes.
Not until then.
It was something I wasn’t used to, for he always had a snarky comeback, another trick up his sleeve. He always kept his composure and infernal smirk set in place like there was no tomorrow. But now? His vocabulary had hit the fan.
Not bothering to gauge his response, I turned back to the night and leaned on the tower railing with my face in my shaking hands. Crying…it doesn’t solve anything, but it certainly was part of the equation, for I couldn’t stop. What worried me was that I did not dwell on such things—his lack of tact, his wit-be-gone—at the time. Not really. Disappointment was the least of my worries. It was…pain. I suppose. His words hurt me. Not his degradation of wit, but rather the words, themselves. And they—the truth—hurt a lot.
A lot more than his silence.
Yet, his silence proved to be a healing mechanism as we stood there glaring at one another, glowering, fuming on the verge of bursting and forgetting to breathe. The world must be ending when our vitals don’t seem so vital anymore.
But before the world ended, my world ended, the war ended, and that barrier broke down between us, maybe not forever, but for a moment, anyhow. That was more than enough.
That single tear drifting slowly down his untouched cheek spoke volumes.
I didn’t say anything. Neither did he. We simply stood there, lost in the silence as it chiseled away our inhibitions and let us breathe again.
I am a girl who loves her share of stories. Reading them, writing them, living them…they’re captivating and beautifully laid out, though entirely impromptu. They’re so simple, yet so complex, so raw, yet so mechanized. It is a wondrous thing, how they connect and weave through everyone and everything and encompass every moment in time. They connect reality to a dream and make dreams come alive and are so interwoven that you cannot tell the difference. My story is your story, your story is her story and his story and their story and our story.
Stories endure, and stories prevail. But no stories end. Not once, not now, not ever again. They are timeless and so connected, they’re one in the same. It’s unreal. It’s imaginary. It’s impossible.
But it’s possible, alright. It’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
And it scares the hell out of me.
The boundlessness—it’s insane. Where are the limits in a limitless reality? Where do we draw the line of decency, formality, sanity, of anything in an indecent, informal, insane, nothing and everything of a world?
But I digress. I have to. We all do when our pondering reaches this masked territory of speculation. While we continued staring at each other, James Potter and I, teary-eyed and altogether spent, the stars still bore their all into the night sky, washing us in beauty and wonder and endless possibilities.
Then, I wondered…
While the universe had nothing to hide, I sensed that he did. Come to think of it, so did I. We were keeping some chapters of our stories under wraps, hidden even from ourselves, some, many, not even written. Up until last night’s chapter of my own story, I had never really…well, I had not wandered past the safety zone of the familiar and the expected and the no man’s land…but in that silence, in that intent gaze, I wandered, captivated, wondering:
How high can a rooted flower like me grow?
Potter blinked once. Then again.
My blossoming heart soared.
“James?” I prompted as he moved to lean on the railing beside me.
He exhaled audibly through his nose, then waved it off with his wobbly, apologetic tone, “I—nevermind. Not worth your time. Never was.”
“Oh, really?” Turning my head and catching his eye, I responded, smiling at the corners of my salty mouth in spite of myself, “Contrary to popular belief…and I never thought I’d say this but…”
“You’re worth it.”
Everything in his face screamed surprise. I saw him, saw James, and all of a sudden, he was that scrawny, crazy-haired boy again, cheering beside me at that first Quidditch match, completely and totally in awe as he watched genius in its budding stages. He was that boy whose eyes grew to flying saucers the first time he used a spell and narrowed in resolve when dueling with the enemy. He was that boy…
...and I was that shy girl who went against everything she believed in and put up with him that first Quidditch match, completely and totally terrified that someone would get hurt on the field. I was the girl whose smile rivaled the sun when she finally mastered her first potion and lips pursed when pureblood prejudice proved the upper hand. I was that girl…
…and suddenly, he was that boy of that girl’s dreams.
He was smiling, still too close and smelling entirely too wonderful for words. And looking ready for anything and everything, and…open. He wasn’t holding anything back, which took away the mystery in a mysterious situation. Which made the situation terribly absurd and ridiculous and so painfully ironic, that the shock rendered me speechless.
And close to fainting.
The moment seemed to be hanging by a thread that could all-too-easily be carried away by the subtle wind and into the night. But finally seeing, finally believing that there was that something there that wasn’t there before or perhaps had been there biding its time since the first Quidditch match or perhaps, it was something…just something insurmountable…
That had me holding onto that moment with everything I had.
When he didn’t say anything—he didn’t need to—I broke the lingering silence:
“There’s something wrong, isn’t there…something terribly wrong with…with…” My words trailed off, for I did not have a clue what was wrong or what was being wronged, only that something was wrong and we both knew it now more than ever before.
Slowly and most assuredly, Potter leaned his arm against the railing and faced me outright, taking me, all of me, in. Only my head turned to face him as I let my eyes deceive me in his earnest ones.
And that was when I knew I’d be there. There was no way around that. Whether James Potter knew it or not, he would know it soon enough. He mightn’t care either way, but it was nice to pretend that he would. And somewhere deep down, he probably did, he probably does…or would if he could. Or perhaps, he has all this time. Perhaps, the attention had little to do with his advances. Perhaps…
The funny thing about that moment, about us, if you could call it that, was that I knew we would be there for each other, inevitably, even when we weren’t together and even when we weren’t there and even when we weren’t altogether there. There’s a mountain of difference between fate and choice, and I think we had a pinch of both, with a side of bittersweet and sour sauce.
You see, it’s a storm, Potter and me, if that’s what we are or what we could or would or can or will be. We’re stormy people with stormy schedules and stormy circumstances and stormy just-about-everything. I could write up a storm just thinking about it all. I can’t tell you how many elephants are in the room when we’re together. And these are stampeding, self-important, stormy elephants with masks and drab-y clothes, yet we refused to confront them with each passing day. You see now?
You see now why I’ll be there from now on? I have to. What’s there to gain? Well…at any rate, there’s nothing to lose. I’m supposed to be there, but the world won’t end if I’m not. My world won’t end, neither will his. But that world, our world, our story…it would never exist. And that should be reason enough.
Then why the hell shouldn’t I?
It wasn’t his name that stopped me. It wasn’t the puerile pranks he pulled through the years that I always frowned upon. It wasn’t the casual insults or sappy one-liners or his unkempt hair or beyond-the-pale sneer. It wasn’t his persistence or pride or plentiful possessions, nor was it his uncanny ability to ward off any promising prospects, leaving me to resent his constant advances all the more. No, it wasn’t any of these irksome things that held me back.
What stopped me from dropping everything and jumping him in that moment was, well…ME.
“This,” I swallowed, tears flooding my eyes again as they fearfully searched his for a way out of the past, my past and his. “This is all so wrong.”
As he tucked a few stray locks of red behind my ear and gently cupped the side of my face is his balmy hand, his sure eyes brushed that ME aside. He could not have been more unwavering in those last, crucial beats before he spoke:
“Let’s make this bloody thing right, then.”
Shivering as Potter lowered his hand from my face to capture mine, I pulled my wand from my back pocket with my free hand and brought it up to his face, lightly placing the tip of it on his swollen cheek.
My breath mingling with his sweet peppermint one, I stowed my wand away and laid my hand against his healed cheek. Butterflies plagued my stomach when his eyes closed, then fluttered open, receiving my gaze once more.
There was no need for words. Holding my breath, I brought his face down to mine, diving headfirst into the first chapter of a fairytale. When our lips finally met, our hearts did, also. It was remarkable. Here he was, having prayed for this moment for nearly seven years, and he would have watched and waited with baited breath for a thousand more. And I? I was praying up the wrong alley. Isn’t this what I had been waiting for? I cannot relate how elated I was when I felt his hands brush my hips, timidly at first, before his arms wrapped his heart about me. It wasn’t just anyone’s attention he was seeking all those times…it had been mine. His hair was much softer than I’d imagined, like silk through my fingers, and he let me explore his neck before drawing his lips away, allowing them to linger for a beat. Or two. Or three. As timeless as the moment was, I had to hold back the urge to cry. The hell I must have put him through…
I peered up, he peered down, and our eyes locked. Merlin, was I captivated. Who was this charming stranger? Why had I turned my back all these years, searching for what was literally right in front of my nose?
It wasn’t long before his lips twisted into the most pronounced smirk he could manage. I laughed, and he laughed, only stopping when he brought one of my hands down from his neck and placed it above his heart.
“Lily, I’m so sorry—”
I shushed him with another kiss, then leaned my forehead against his.
In the little space between us, I whispered, “Let me take the blame for this one.”
And then, he asked me to Hogsmeade. Again. Just like yesterday and the day before that, only this time, our hands were touching and our hearts were racing and our souls were seeking to make up for lost time. As we gazed out at the night and gathered the stars in our eyes, I felt so simple. I felt so simple leaning my head on his shoulder and smiling a kaleidoscope of various shapes and shades for him. Although I couldn’t see it, I could feel his simply ridiculous smirk and knew it was simply more than enough.
There is something beautiful about simplicity, a beauty we are aware of but often overlook. That beauty can be found in writing or in the physical pen-to-paper contact where the pen flies across the page, giving it a sky-like quality where there are no limits—just the here and now. This precious moment where nothing comes between your heart and the paper is the writer’s bliss. In everyday life, that moment when you look around you and think “Wow. Just look at this world. Just look at this beauty” or that moment when a singer holds a note, that note, the note you can’t help but bask in, especially that moment when two people are laughing away, completely content and filled with such a boundless, insurmountable something for each other…
“Alright, Ms. Evans—you owe me a pair of wings.”
…these moments make us soar.
A/N: Heya! I hope you enjoyed this little moment made of moments! Please REVIEW with any thoughts or bothers...though if you have too many bothers, just go bother Snape [LOLicopterz]. Apparently, I was done with fanfiction two fics ago...can't help coming back for more :). Thanks for reading!