Disclaimer: I don't own anything!
I was having an out of body experience.
My tongue was swollen. My mouth was dry. The words she wanted to hear were stuck in my throat, lodged there indefinitely. Because I couldn't tell her.
I just couldn't.
Lily had never been that good had hiding her feelings. I would know — I was always at the end of one of her death glares or insulting remarks about my over-inflated ego. I would always see the way her eyes sparked with fury, the way her mouth went flat, edged with rage.
I used to get a thrill every time she even looked my way, that it didn't matter what sort of look I got, didn't are if it was a glare, if it was her lips curling with disdain, if her eyes were shining with disappointment. As long as she was looking. It didn't even matter what she said to me, as long as she was.
But that sort of changed during sixth year. When we started bloody snogging like a pair of hormonal fucks. It was crazy — I thought I went through most of that in a dream like state, wondering how in the bleeding hell Lily Evans was snogging me.
All I remember is how messed up and twisted everything was.
I didn't know what had happened after fifth year. I didn't know if maybe I had matured. I didn't know if maybe I'd grown up. All I knew was that Sirius had left his parents, left his little brother, because everything had become too much.
I think that was the first time it all became real for me. When he showed up at my door step, nose bleeding and crooked, a blossoming purplish bruise under his left eye, his words tumbling out in a mad rush, James, my parents are fucking pricks, can I stay at yours for a while? I think that's when it really hit me.
My parents were old — I won't even tell you how old because it's embarrassing and I'm only seventeen — like some wizards, so they'd seen a lot in their lifetime. They'd seen maniacs like You-Know-Who, filled with their pureblood supremacy bigotry. The'd seen wizards and witches who distrusted and hated Muggles and believed they were better than Muggleborns.
My parents had lived long enough to realize that that was a load of bullshit. Yeah, so we're purebloods, but that doesn't mean anything.
Take a look at Lily, for example. She's a Muggleborn and she's the smartest bloody witch I know. In fact, I'm pretty sure half of the Ravenclaws in our year were Muggleborns.
…Anyway, what I'm trying to say is — blood really doesn't matter.
But it mattered to Sirius' parents. It mattered so much that You-Know-Who became a real person to him. Real enough for him to run away from his home. Real enough for me to realize that people were actually listening to his lunatic ravings.
That's when it registered, with a glaring clarity, like a punch in the face. You-Know-Who was real. The war was real. I wasn't going to graduate Hogwarts and play Quidditch, Sirius was never going to become a playboy supermodel (he said he was only joking, but we all thought he was secretly telling the truth), Remus wasn't going to travel, Peter wasn't going … do whatever he planned to do. Follow me or something.
Point is, all our plans had gone to shit.
I had been so secure, so safe in the knowledge that with people like my parents out in the world — people who didn't care and refused to listen to You-Know-Who — that he couldn't be a real threat.
But he was, and he was getting stronger.
So, I don't know if it took Sirius running away from his home, I don't know if took finally realizing that our time was being cut horribly short, I don't know if it was because I finally understood that people like Lily were in danger of stupid fucking prejudiced arseholes… but I realized that I was in love with her.
That I would literally do anything for her. I couldn't just dick around anymore — I didn't even want to dick around anymore.
And it was the most terrifying thing in the world.
To know that that it wasn't my parents, it wasn't my friends, it wasn't even what little self-preservation I had for myself that kept me tethered to this world. That it was Lily fucking Evans.
The girl who occasionally snogged me in abandoned class rooms and her dorm room (she still didn't know how I got up there and I wasn't telling her anytime soon) or mine.
I was fucking in love with her.
And … and it was the scariest thing in the world to realize how much she meant to me. Because when it hit me, and I mean really hit me, all these thoughts and questions rushed through my head all at once. And a panicked emotion started to creep up on me slowly, inch by inch as I'd started to wonder.
What if she didn't love me back? What if she only saw me as the-boy-who-asked-her-out-like-a-ponce-a-million-times-and-then-snogged-her? What if, for some reason, things didn't work out?
How was I possibly going to live without her?
It was the scariest thing in the world.
And I couldn't tell her.
'James?' she prompted, her emerald eyes large and vulnerable. I read her like an open book, and she didn't even attempt to conceal anything.
'I don't know,' I answered hoarsely. I cleared my throat, but I couldn't look away from her. Her beautiful, pale skin, her dark red hair, tumbling down in uncontrollable waves, her green eyes that pierced right through me.
'James,' she said again, her voice barely above a whisper. Her eyes filled with tears and she shut them quickly, squeezing.
I took a step towards her and when she didn't take one back, I put my hands on her shoulders. She didn't open her eyes. Sighing, I tilted her face upwards so she would look at me. Finally, her eyes flickered open. Oh, and Merlin, those fucking eyes.
'Why won't you tell me?' she asked, tone deadpan. 'It's okay you know. I think I know why, anyway.'
My heart twanged like an elastic band snapping back. I felt all the blood run from my face. 'You — you do?'
Lily reached up and pulled my hands away. 'You got what you wanted.'
Lily sighed and tangled her hands in her hair, looking thoroughly weary. The action sent me into an inexplicable state of euphoria. Lily never used to play with her, never even used to run her fingers through it—not before she started snogging me.
But that quickly ended.
The euphoria, I mean.
'James,' she said. 'I know the only reason you stopped asking me out was because I gave in.'
I didn't say anything because, honestly, I had no idea what she talking about (again) and I really didn't know what to say.
'I gave in to my stupid impulses and threw caution out the fucking window and started the whole …' Lily waved a hand vaguely. I presumed she meant the snogging. 'You got tired of me. Isn't that right?'
My eyebrows shot up. I couldn't help myself — I started laughing like the fucking idiot that I was.
Lily's expression immediately turned angry and I backtracked hastily. 'No, no, wait,' I managed to say between laughs. Damn it! CONTROL YOURSELF JAMES. 'I just — I can't believe you said that!'
'Said what?' she asked, irritated. Her eyes searched mine, looking annoyed. 'What, James?'
'You're such an idiot,' I said softly, stepping even closer. My heart leaped when she automatically drew into me. My hands cupped her face as hers wrapped around me. I could tell she'd given up trying to stay away, and this made me grin.
I liked the way he was so warm. That's the only reason why I didn't move away when he took a step closer to me. He was towering over me now, a stupid, silly grin on his face.
I don't think I'll ever understand him.
'Anyway,' he said. 'I don't think you want to know why we … broke up.'
'I do,' I persisted, my arms tightening around him as I looked up. 'I really do.'
He hadn't denied that he was tired of me, he had just called me an idiot. Which was something I didn't get at all because it really wasn't the greatest way to get him in my good books.
…And can I just ask if this was normal? To feel this … pliable. One second I'm raving on about hating this boy, the next I'm saying I don't care, then he's kissing me and I'm kissing him back, and when I get mad at him for it, he just blabbers for a bit and I'm perfectly content with it. I felt like I was just moulding to his actions, finding the appropriate things to say and do, to whatever he did.
What was wrong with me?
Here I was, pressed up against James once more, not caring in the slightest that he hasn't told me that he wasn't just using me for his needs, not caring that he called me an idiot. I was just revelling in the heat of his muscled body being so close to me. Just pleased with the scent of soap wafting off him.
He won't even answer my question and I don't care.
And I knew I should still be mad. I should be furious with him. I should be letting out all my anger for being such an all round git-face. But I just couldn't.
I didn't have any energy left in me to get all worked up about anything. Just — just him being here is like Novocain, numbing all my senses, dulling out my thoughts.
But in a good way.
When I was around him like this, I didn't think of my parents, I didn't think of Petunia. I just thought of him and he was enough.
If you're questioning this, if you're frozen in utter disbelief asking yourself Lily? Are you sane? This is the-boy-you-hated-turned-boy-you-snogged-turned-someone-you-maybe-cared-about and you're acting like you're in love with him! You can't love him! You barely know him!
Which is very true, so join the club because I'm wondering that —
'Lily,' he said, his voice low.
'You really want to know? You'd be prepared for anything?'
I looked up at James, curious. 'Anything.'
'I'm not sure you know what anything entails exactly …' James trailed off, looking nervous.
My expression turned flat. 'James, just tell me.'
James sighed and ran a hand through his hair, squinting his eyes at me, his lips twisted in a grimace. 'Okay … I love you.'
Oh god. He said it, didn't he? Merlin — I knew this would happen! Of course someone as popular as James fricking Potter wouldn't actually respect me as a human being, of course all he's interested in is snogging and here he is, telling me that I meant —
My eyes flickered up to meet his gaze, my mouth open in shock, my eyes going wide. I involuntarily took a step back, numb to anything but the growing sense of horror pitting itself in the bottom of my stomach. My heart grew leadened as lodged somewhere in my throat.
'What?' I choked out. I felt my blood run cold.
James' eyes were closed now, and his jaw was clenched. Swallowing, he repeated, 'I love you. That's why I broke up with you.'
'What? James —'
'I didn't get tired of you.' James smiled emptily and looked at me. 'I could never get tired of you, Lily.' He moved closer to me, and I didn't move away because I couldn't. I was frozen. His fingers ran lightly over the line of my jaw, trailing up to the back of my neck. 'But I knew I couldn't stand it if you got tired of me.'
I felt a sudden urge to say something — to say anything. I didn't what, because there were so many possibilities. I didn't know what to express, or even how to express it. My stomach was all knotted up, my chest was on fire, my legs were weak.
I couldn't stand it if you got tired of me.
I felt like crying and running away all at the same time because this was not happening to me. James did not love me! He didn't! He couldn't!
How was it — that someone could say one small thing, one little sentence, and change absolutely everything? How was it possible that they could change the way you feel in an instant? Just a few words that could hurt you so much or make you fall in fall deeply in love forever.
He had changed everything, and he may not know it, but nothing between us was ever really going to be the same again.
'James,' I said imploringly, struggling to fight the desperation in my voice.
'I didn't stop asking you out,' he went on, oblivious to my silent pleads for him to fucking stop. 'Because I "got what I wanted" or whatever. In fact, far from it. I did it cause I knew you didn't want me to. That didn't mean I didn't want to. I swear I had to bite my tongue every time the urge came because Jesus, Evans, you can snog.'
Despite myself, I let out a breathless laugh — which scared me. What was I doing!
'Sirius sort of told me what you said about me,' he said softly now, brushing a curl away. My heart started beating quickly. 'To Polly.'
It felt like someone had punched me in the gut or I had fallen into ice cold water. All the breath got knocked out of me. 'Oh. Oh — I'm sorry —'
'No,' he laughed. 'Don't be. It's okay. I guess I needed to hear that.'
I just nodded because I didn't trust myself to speak.
I looked up at him, biting my lip.
'You don't … you don't have to say anything back. I mean — you know you don't. I know I'm just going to have to live with … it.'
I could never get tired of you.
'But I do love you, Lily,' he said, looking nervous. 'That's why I couldn't keep snogging you randomly. It just … it was … painful. To know it meant nothing to you.'
There was a pause. He was waiting for me to say something. But what I could I say? What could I possibly tell him?
How had this turned out so fucked up? How had this harmless conversation turned into blurted out 'I love you''s and shocked silences? I wanted so badly for him to take all his words and swallow them away, I wanted to erase my memory, pretend like it never happened—
But I couldn't. The words were out there now. They were floating between us, choking me, freeing him. And I couldn't say them back — because I wouldn't mean it. And James needed someone to desperately mean it.
I didn't deserve him. Someone so … open, so easy. I had been such a horrible person to him most of my life, I had only just recently become his friend-snog-buddy thing. I was too young, too broken for any of this. And he didn't mean it. He couldn't because he would have told me. He would have told me before.
Not once — not once in those horrid months I had holed up in my stupid house had I received anything in his letters that told me he loved me. And he would have told me.
'Fuck you,' I said quietly, pulling away from him. I kept my eyes down, staring at the floor. My chest clenched and my heart started beating so hard it hurt.
'What?' It was shock, hurt, and confusion all meshed into one word.
'You love me?' I said, trembling with rage, fury simmering just beneath the edge of my skin. My gaze flashed up to his, spiting fire. 'Well fuck you, James Potter. Fuck you for leaving me when I fucking needed you!'
'What?' repeated James, still looking thoroughly stunned, like he'd been hit with a bludger to the back of his head. 'What are you—'
'My parents are dead, James!' I cried, pushing him, my hands slamming into his rock hard chest, so he would just stop coming closer. 'My parents are dead and you left me!'
…And that was around the time I broke down and started sobbing hysterically.
'Your … dead?' James said stupidly.
He stared at me as I sunk to the floor, hugging myself, pressing my lips together in an effort not to cry out loud. My eyes were squeezed shut, the tears falling faster. My body rocked and shuddered with sobs. Every bit of pain, of heart-shattering, soul-tearing pain I had felt over the months collided together in this one moment.
James went down on his knees, his face pale, and eyes wide. He wrapped his arms around me and I leaned into him, soaking his shirt, crying, once again, for the things I'd lost.
I held her close to me. I let her cry.
And I just sat there, wondering what the fuck just happened.
So that's why Lily didn't come back after the Easter holidays. Her parents had died and she dealt with it all on her own. Had she even told her friends? I had never even bothered to ask them about her. I'd lost whatever interest I had in them after Lily didn't come back.
I was such an idiot.
Not that they would have told me anything anyway — especially since I broke up (for lack of a better word) with Lily not even a week before.
I felt Lily's breathing slow down and her watery sniffling become less laboured. She pulled away, wiping her tears. Avoiding my gaze, she pressed her lips together. 'Sorry.'
'Lily,' I said, my heart wrenching, watching her like this. 'Don't apologize.'
'Sorry — oh — er —'
'Are you okay?'
'Clearly, I'm not okay. Are you stupid or something?'
'Right,' I said, taking her hand because it seemed like the only thing I could do. 'Right. I'm sorry Lily. I didn't know —'
'Of course you didn't,' she said matter-of-factly, sounding very much like the snarky Lily Evans I knew back at Hogwarts. 'I didn't tell anyone. Not even Polly.'
'Why?' I couldn't help but ask. And then more questions were rushing out: 'Why didn't you owl me back? I sent you a letter every single day but you didn't —'
'What was I to you, James?' she asked, her voice clear, genuinely curious. Her eyes met mine, unchallenging, and hollow. 'Who was I, to the great James Potter?'
I swallowed. 'I … don't know.'
Lily flinched like I'd physically hit her and I panicked. 'What am I supposed to say Lily? What can I say without sounding like a total berk —'
'You don't,' she sliced across me, her voice toneless. 'Have to say anything.'
But I wouldn't give up that easily. 'Do you want me to tell you that you're the smartest, funniest, prettiest girl I know?' I said fiercely. 'That you're the bravest, the kindest, the most stubborn person I've met? You are everything to me, Lily. And I know I'm only seventeen and I'm an idiot, but that's what I feel.'
There was a pause.
'I don't love you.'
The words seared across my chest, plunged into my stomach like ice. I only nodded in response.
'I don't want to love anyone,' she continued, her glassy eyes fixed on the floor. 'I don't want to snog you anymore, either. I just want to be left alone.'
'Do you want me to go?' I asked, already getting up.
Lily's hand shot up and grabbed mine. With a dirty look, she pulled me back down so were both sitting on the floor. 'Don't fucking leave, you arsehole. Didn't I just cry like a moron about you leaving me the first time?'
I opened my mouth to reply, but I didn't really know what to say.
'I like it when you're here,' she admitted to me after a few seconds of silence. Lily didn't sound particularly homicidal — always a warning sign — she just sounded tired and reluctant. 'I don't know why so don't ask me. I wish I knew, but I'm in no mood to fight it. I should be really angry with you for pretending like you didn't know me. And I should probably kill you for yelling at me like that tonight for getting mad at Sirius because you know I'm right. But I'm not. Angry or feeling murderous, I mean.'
'That's … good.'
Lily sighed. 'I'm so confused.'
So am I.
'You still haven't told me why you kissed me.'
I looked up at her, relieved I could actually tell her something now. 'I don't know why I did it. I was actually honestly coming over just to talk to you — to apologize for acting like an idiot tonight and the day before. But when I saw you I just … I don't know. You had that look on your face that meant you were about to hit me or something.'
'So you kissed me?' she asked dryly.
'Yeah, sort of.'
'I'm sorry for being stupid,' I said quickly, before she could tell more about how she didn't love and never would. 'And for not knowing the right words to say to make you stay.'
Lily's eyes flickered up to meet mine.
If you asked me last year where I saw myself in a year, I would promptly tell you that I would be studying to be a Potioneer, that I would have a boyfriend and that I would be living in Central London. I would tell you that this wasn't it.
Everything I was right now was nothing like I thought I would've been. The way things were in general was nothing like I thought they'd be. I certainly didn't think I would've had history with James Potter. I didn't think that my parents would be dead.
I looked at James and wondered how the people I couldn't live without last year walked away from my life and became strangers, I wondered, my gaze flitting over his long, sharp nose, his bowstring lips, his hazel eyes, how people that were once strangers, now meant more than the world to me.
Sirius. Remus. Peter. James.
Seeing time fly by and feeling like nothing ever changed. Feeling like everything had stayed the same through out these days, yet looking back at where I was around this time last year and realizing everything was different.
I told James I didn't want to love anyone. But I was lying and I knew it. I lied to myself all the time. And I never believed me.
If there was just some way … some way to get past the emptiness in my heart … then maybe—
'I read all your letters,' I said finally. 'I read them all and then burned them.'
James grimaced. 'I agree they weren't exactly poetic or note-worthy but burning? Really, Evans—'
'I had gotten letters from Polly and Ella,' I interrupted, taking a in deep, shuddering breath. 'But yours were the ones that I hated the most. You never asked me if something was wrong—' I raised a finger to silence him when he opened his mouth to protest '—and it made me angry, that you of all people realized I wouldn't want to talk about it. And you—of all fucking people—made me talk about things I never told anybody. Despite my best efforts, you just … snaked your way into my life. You suddenly became a part of it. And I like you, James. I like you as my friend. I really do.'
James looked at me, his lips twisting. Then, slowly, he began to nod. 'I can be … friends.'
I let out a breath of relief I hadn't realized I was holding in. 'Thank you.'
James started to get up and a wild, frantic fluttering erupted in my chest. He must've seen the panic in my features because he broke out into a grin. 'Don't worry, I was just getting up.'
'Will you stay with me tonight?' I blurted out before I could stop myself.
James' expression faltered but then he nodded again. 'Yeah, of course.'
Suddenly, the door bell rang.
I looked up, startled. I pushed myself up and ran over to the door. I pulled it open and —
'Room service?' said a young boy, barging in and pushing his cart of food through to the living room. He strutted back out without another word.
I closed the door and turned around slowly. I looked at James, my cheeks flushing inexplicably. 'Er … are you hungry?'
James' grin widened. 'Starving.'
END OF DAY 2
A/N: OMG. Okay, so if this is horribly short then I would like to say that THIS IS NOT MY FAULT! (and that I'm terribly sorry). But the whole chapter submitting thing is being weird! This chapter was actually really long but they wouldn't let me submit it because it had too many characters in it which is just totally confusing because I've seen chapters waaaay longer. But anyway, I'm so sorry! I'll get the next part of this chapter posted as soon as I can! :)