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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 3 : Head Boy and Girl
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 65


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Amazing Chapter Image created by Pheonixn @ The Dark Arts.

Chapter 3 - Head Boy and Girl



Lily made her way with James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Alice, Belle, and Frank into the Great Hall. The astounding appearance of the bewitched ceiling captured her and coaxed the corners of her full lips to tilt up by just a fraction.

A million stars shined against a sky full of royal purple and black, with a barely there sliver of a moon resting contently on the night. The feeling of happiness felt so foreign to her that it took a moment of acceptance before she realized that she was, in fact, experiencing the warm sensation of joy.

“Welcome home, Evans,” James whispered to her, grabbing her hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze. The easy touch of affection caused her heart to do a small leap inside her chest.

No, the word jumped from somewhere in the back of her mind to the very front, focusing all of her thoughts on it. No. It wasn’t time to think about exactly what had happened between her and James during the last three weeks. The essence of her parents still strangled her with nearly every breath, and wondering why her heart had leapt so willingly just had no place.

Something crept up behind the odd contradiction of emotions, and as soon as she recognized the feeling, she willed herself to stop thinking: guilt. It slowly surrounded her on all sides; her parents were less than three weeks in the ground — why had she even felt that small leap? Was she so cold that she could just move on with her life? The idea blurred out the chaos of the Great Hall and for a moment she became terrified it would overtake her.

“What do you think, Lily?” Sirius's voice cut through her thoughts, and she silently thanked God for small mercies.

“Ehr, sorry, about what?”

“Where do you reckon Dumbledore is?” Lily’s head shot up to the front of the room where the professors sat. The gold, throne like chair in the middle was indeed empty. She frowned a bit, trying to remember if there was ever a time when they arrived with the Headmaster absent.

They continued to make their way through the crowded chaos of the Great Hall, finally getting through the swarm of bodies and taking their places at the Gryffindor table. Lily pushed back the tangle of emotions playing within her and sent a wave to the friends that she hadn’t seen over the summer. And even through the handfuls of condolences that poured in, despite her own fear that she was forgetting her parents too easily, the happiness of being home hummed through her.

Her eyes danced over the staff table as they all waited for the Headmaster to appear, and fell upon a new face.

“It looks like we have another Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Lily mumbled, her gaze still lingering over the woman. “I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. No one really expected Professor Goldbard to stay after the boggart incident last year. Isn’t that right, Frank?” She directed the comment to her friend, one eyebrow raised.

“Come off it, Lily. He didn’t have two sickles of sense. Was it really my fault that he couldn’t handle a boggart?” Frank asked, trying to maintain a serious expression.

“I think she was referring to the fact that you pointed out to the entire class that he couldn’t handle the boggart, then showed him up by dealing with it yourself, mate,” Sirius answered through large gulps of pumpkin juice.

“Well, what kind of bloody Defence Professor are they giving us that can’t manage a simple boggart? What happens when we need to defend ourselves against an actual threat?” Frank asked, looking around the table at them all.

“Excuse me, Mr. Potter, Ms. Evans,” the stern voice of Minerva McGonagall brought them to a quick hush. “The Headmaster requests to see you. If you would just step outside, you will find him waiting in the corridor. As for the rest of you, do try to behave yourselves. Mr. Longbottom. I believe this year's professor should be up to your standards.” Her cat like eyes fell directly onto Frank, causing him to blush. “Welcome back, students,” she said with something that could have been close to a smile, then turned on her heels and continued to the staff table.

“Uh.. sure thing professor,” James muttered, even though she was already out of earshot. He swung his legs over the bench and stood with a stretch, then reached a hand down to help Lily up. Her palm meeting his forced a small spark of electricity through her, which she immediately vowed to ignore. Instead, she muttered something about being able to get up on her own, and lengthened her strides to pace herself ahead of him.

They made their way back through the Great Hall, Lily’s eyes wandering over all the faces of Hogwarts.

“Do you reckon Dumbledore will make an announcement about the attacks this summer?” James asked her, referring to a few deaths that had been in the Daily Prophet.

“I’m not sure, they were all Muggles, and there isn’t really much he can tell us about it that we don’t know,” she answered, shrugging her shoulders. In all honestly, she had thought very little of the darkness that had fallen on their world. Her own suffering had been too great.

Being a Muggle born did worry her, but she was at Hogwarts, under the watch of the world’s greatest wizards. She was confident there was nearly nothing that could harm her here, and by the time she made her way into the real world, the Ministry was sure to have a handle on it. She knew James was taking it more seriously, though.

“What do your parents think about it all?” she questioned.

She felt the hesitation in his movements. Was there something he didn’t want to tell her?

“James?”

His voice was quiet when he answered. “They spent the better part of sixty years fighting against dark wizards, and played a large part in rescuing and housing witches and wizards that fled from Grindelwald during his time. I think now that they're retired and this is happening, it makes it harder. There have always been those nutters trying to start this kind of thing. I think this one is just a bit more organized, it worries them. But, they're my mum and dad, everything worries them," James joked. Lily still felt him holding something back from her. Before she could push the topic further, Professor Dumbledore came into view.

“Ah, Ms. Evans, Mr. Potter, good evening to the both of you.” Albus Dumbledore stood near the entrance of the castle, one hand stroking his long silvery beard, the other held out in greeting. His dark purple and gold robes had small flecks of light being cast on them from the flamed torches decking the wall behind him. His appearance always stunned Lily. The way someone could seem so gentle, yet commanding.

She glanced towards James, surprised to find his eyes on her. She immediately looked back at the Headmaster.

“As we have students waiting to be fed, I shall jump straight to the point of why I requested a moment of your time.” When neither James nor Lily protested, he continued. “Now, as you know, I am fully aware of your situation Ms. Evans. You have suffered a great loss. If there is anything I can do for you, all you need is to ask.” Lily nodded, her eyes glued the twinkling blue of the Headmaster’s.

“To endure such a loss at an age as tender as yours is not something I would wish upon my greatest of enemies,” he paused, letting the words fade away before continuing. “Alas, loss is part of life and our hearts must remember the beauty of it, and let the darkness that death creates inside the soul slip away.

"I am sure you don't wish to dwell on this. Let me address my reason for disturbing your first evening back. I sent along twenty-two letters informing twenty-two students of their new position: Prefect. Now, I have two more letters to deliver to offer the position of Head boy and Girl,” Dumbledore paused, and seemed to be very focused with something on his sleeve.

James and Lily glanced at one another, neither uttering a word as they waited for their professor to continue.

“Ah ha!” Dumbledore pulled a star from his robe. It reminded Lily of the way a child would peel their sticker from its holder. “Now, those two letters were, of course, destined for the both of you. It was my prerogative to appoint you to this new challenge. However, due to the hardship you faced this summer, it is something I wished to speak with you directly about. Students are meant to use those few months of summer and away from our castle as a chance to gather themselves and prepare for another thrilling year ahead. That option was taken away from you both. Therefore, if focusing strictly on your studies is as much as you wish to take on, you have my absolute understanding.”

Lily waited to see what James would say, but after a moment of silence, she answered. “Sir, I believe we can handle it. If you still think we’re qualified.” James nodded at Lily’s words.

“Excellent! Excellent!” Professor Dumbledore gave his hands a small clap, the star still tucked between two fingers. “I am are aware of the extra stress placed upon the two students that are awarded this title. The responsibility of it, along with your other necessary commitments to your classes and preparing for your N.E.W.T.s, balancing your personal goals and, for you Mr. Potter, your Quidditch obligations… I know that a significant amount of pressure is placed upon the two awarded the title of Head Boy and Head Girl. To make up for the burden, I offer you both private dormitories, each having a washroom, and a shared common area below both dormitories. You are of course just as welcome to spend your free time in the Gryffindor Common Room.

"However, it isn’t often that a Head Boy and Head Girl are chosen from the same house. The shared and private common area for the Head Boy and Girl usually allots the opportunity to discuss Prefect schedules, to arrange plans for monitoring students' conduct during our Quidditch matches and of course the outings to Hogsmeade. All of which require an environment that allows you to speak freely without the prying ears of other students. You will have a number of sensitive things to discuss, and the privacy of a protected and shared room to do so. Your things will be waiting for you in your new dormitories.

“If you follow the main staircases up to the second floor then another staircase to the third…the smallest staircase, I believe. Or is it the shortest? No matter, you’ll happen upon it one way or another. You’ll then locate a portrait of the both of you. Stick this star anywhere you wish on the painting to let it know that you are the two I’ve assigned this new adventure.” He held out the thin, sparkling piece of watery cloak and Lily took it gently between her fingers.

“Then state your full name, a secret about yourself and a password of your choosing to gain access. And this—” he reached a wrinkled hand into one of his cloak pockets and produced a large white envelope, green cursive dominating the front of it, “should tell you all there is to know about your new positions. Now, if you will now excuse me, I believe it is time to get our feast started!” Professor Dumbledore clapped his hands together and smiled kindly before turning on his heels and disappearing back into the Great Hall.

Lily felt another rush of the newly found guilt-coated happiness flooding her. Head Girl!

Though part of her couldn’t help but wonder about Professor Dumbledore’s choice for Head Boy. James had never done anything to show a desire to enforce rules… in fact, he had always partook in quite the opposite. Maybe Dumbledore, like her, had seen more sides to James Potter than most?

*

As the sky grew darker and night beckoned the students to rest and sleep, James and Lily walked through the castle to the area described by their Headmaster. The dinner had, in a way, been like a turning point. A kind of marker in their lives.. the start of their final year in Hogwarts and a new sense of responsibility with the position they’d been awarded. What would this year hold for them? What would it be like to know as the days ticked on, they would reach a point where this would no longer be their home?

Deep thoughts weren't something James enjoyed dwelling on too often, and he was relieved when, after what felt like hours of searching, they came upon a large portrait with their pictures painted into it. In the portrait Lily was sitting on the grass, ignoring James as he swooped around on his racing broom.

Their new quarters were in a convenient part of the castle, James mused. A much shorter walk to the Great Hall than it was from the Gryffindor tower.

“So, any ideas for a password?” Lily asked, glancing at James.

“Let’s do something simple that isn’t too easy to notice if someone overhears us,” he suggested. “What about Chudley Cannons?”

“That seems rather obvious…” Lily mused, trying to think of something a little more creative.

“That’s the beauty of it!”

Lily shrugged, not entirely convinced. But at the same time, if someone wanted to learn the password badly enough they could always try to follow them and listen in.

“Sure,” she agreed, ready to be done with it all and be tucked in her bed for the night. “Lily Evans, I enjoy Country Western music, Chudley Cannons.”

“Country music? Really, Evans?” James said with a snort before taking his turn. “James Potter, I didn’t actually snog Pippa in sixth year, Chudley Cannons.” Lily raised an eyebrow at James's secret, then motioned for him to enter first.

“Blimey,” James muttered under his breath as he walked over to an enormous fireplace, though it was the bookshelves on either side that caught his attention. Old, rotting wood was lined with hundreds of books from novels to encyclopedias.

Surrounding the fireplace were two sofas atop a deep red, lion embroidered rug. The rug was nearly as large as the room. An ebony colored table between the two sofas was set up with ink, quills, parchment, and everything else they could need to study.

“He must’ve been certain we’d accept,” James mumbled as he nodded his head toward the lion decorating the rug.

After another few seconds of exploring the room, James motioned for Lily to head up the spiral staircase.

Lily checked out her room first. It had a very traditional feel with a huge four poster bed against a large window and an enchanted wardrobe that, according to the instructions in Professor Dumbledore’s letter, would hang and fold her clothes. All she had to do was toss them inside.

The bathroom was similar to the others in Hogwarts, made mainly of stone and mirror. Next, she walked down her hall to a smaller staircase that curved to the side a bit. At the top of the staircase sat the door to James’s room. She peeked in as he stood in the center, the set up being very similar to hers. Lily smiled as she noticed what James was fixated on. In the corner of his room was an entire broom cleaning and storing station.

“Do you remember Peter telling us that the castle forms to our needs?” James asked as they headed back down the spiral stairs.

“Erm, I think so. That was after one of Professor Binns’ painfully long lectures that none of us quite understood, right?”

“Really, Lily?” he asked with a cocked brow as they reached the floor of their common area. “All of his lectures are like that. So yes. Anyway, he was telling us that Hogwarts has so much old magic, it can form to its students’ needs.

"Dumbledore’s a great Headmaster and all, but I don’t think even he could put so many details into this place to make it fit us this well. I reckon he must have told these rooms we would be the next Heads, and then it transformed to fit us,” James said, as he threw his body onto one of the sofas.

“Since when do you know so much about Hogwarts, Potter? That means that Professor Dumbledore must have already assumed we’d accept the position,” Lily replied, laughing as he pulled her down onto the sofa next to him.

“Stick with me, Evans, and you’ll know all the secrets. Anyway, I think I might ask McGonagall about it in the morning.”

Lily knew he had meant sticking with him as a joke, but she couldn’t stop the quick feeling of anxiety starting build. Hadn’t she proved the last month between her parents leaving her and Petunia further ostracizing her that she couldn’t stick with anyone?

Was it fair to let their friendship continue building?

Somehow, through a summer of grief, a boy that she’d started considering a somewhat friend during their sixth year had turned into much more. She trusted him. He’d started acting slightly less deplorable last year, and she’d been able to see the glimpses of the smart and funny boy that he was described as. And yes, he could even be kind. But the summer had taken a whole new turn. Between the secret her and Sirius carried, and the absolute goodness she’d witnessed in James… she just couldn’t convince herself to view him as the annoying, cocky boy that she’d spent years ignoring.

But his feelings for her weren’t something he hid. And now, especially now, that she had started respecting the man he was turning into, she couldn’t let him foster a false sense of hope that they’d ever be anything but friends. Friendship was all she wanted from him, right? Sure, maybe she got those occasional tugs of… of what? Of something when he looked at her a certain way, or brushed his hand along hers, but that didn’t matter. Practicality was more important, and she couldn’t handle any more pain. Falling for James would not end well, so it wasn’t something she would allow herself to do.

“James, lets talk.” She knew this probably wasn’t the right time, but she glanced up at him and pushed ahead anyway. “I can’t imagine what would have happened to me without you this summer. You and your family have done so much for me, I just don’t want you to get the wrong idea about…” she let her words fade away. Where did she go from here?

“About what, Lily?” James asked, a hint of impatience flickering in his eyes.

“Just about, um, our friendship?”

“Our friendship? We had a friendship last year, too. I think we even went an entire six months with enjoying each others company. Why would I get the wrong idea now?” Lily wanted to think he was being kind, but the tone in his voice, the arrogance seeping through, told her otherwise.

She wanted to stop and just leave it at that, but felt like he deserved better. He really did have an incredible heart, and she knew that there was spark deep within her he could easily ignite.

But that didn’t matter… she shouldn’t think about things as childish as a crush she may have on James Potter after both of her parents died in front of her. She needed to make sure he understood, then maybe the gnawing guilt would let her be. The guilt that asked her over and over how she could possibly feel happy to be at Hogwarts, how she could possibly feel excited about the days ahead, when the parents she’d loved so deeply were gone forever.

“I guess just because we spent so much time together the last few weeks, and I just didn’t want you to think that because…” She lost her words.

“Let me help you,” James stood from the couch as he spoke, backing away from her towards the fireplace. “Because now that you realize I do care about you, you’ve decided it’s best if I don’t and that you wanted to squash any intention of that now?” Lily was a bit surprised about the sudden bite to James’s tone.

“No, I didn’t mean it to sound like that, I don’t think… I just, I’m really grateful that you kept me company, that all of you did. I just want us to stay friends like we are now.” What was she even saying anymore?

“Oh, so now that you’re back at Hogwarts you don’t need my help anymore?” James looked annoyed and amused all at once, and for some reason it had waves of anger crashing toward Lily’s surface.

“I didn’t need you, or your help, in the first place, James. Now I think we should just go back to getting to know each other as friends,” she whispered in a colder tone than intended.

“Because you’re so damn perfect? Lily Evans doesn’t need help from anyone, right?” His hazel eyes ate away any annoyance and sparked straight to anger.

“That’s not what I said, Potter. Did you expect because you were there during an incredibly difficult time, it would mean that I’d fall into your arms and beg you to ask me to be your girlfriend?” Lily stood as she answered, heat filling her words.

“Right, Lily. I’m that awful, am I? So terrible that you think I could be simply waiting to use your dead fucking parents as leverage to date you? You’re the one going off about getting to know each other as friends and some other shit. I already know plenty about you. And I would never have brought up the idea of a relationship if you didn’t start it. But since you did, might as well continue.” He was angry, too angry to see how pale she’d gone at the mention of her parents. “You did need my help. You still do, and you don’t have to date me to get it. But since you think that’s what’s happening, sure, you might as well come over here and snog me. We’re probably headed that direction anyway.”

“Go to hell, James Potter.” Lily couldn’t maintain the quiet tone of anger the way James could, and she felt her voice ebb toward shouting with every syllable. “If you really knew plenty about me, then you’d realize that we don’t know where this is headed because it isn’t heading anywhere.”

“Let me tell you what I know about you, Lily.” He turned slowly and moved closer to her, forcing her to look up to keep her eyes locked into his. The heat of the argument slashed through her and gave her something she hadn’t felt in weeks — it made her feel alive.

“I know that, despite everything you just said, if I kissed you right now you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself from kissing me back. I know you’ve thought about it, felt what’s between us, just as much and as strongly as I have.” His body backed hers against the couch, and she was forced to look up at him as her eyes shot angry spears of fire through them. “And maybe I would do just that, kiss you right now,” as he spoke he tilted his head toward hers, his breath warm against her cheek. “Maybe I would show you exactly how wrong you are in deciding we can be nothing but friends, but I won’t give you the satisfaction. I won’t let you think that the pain you went through this summer, the pain you’re still going through, has anything to do with you and me”

She couldn’t respond. Speechless, she supposed. She had annoyed James, offended him even, exhausted him countless times - but this was the first time she had ever seen him truly pissed off at her. And she couldn’t help but think that it was rather exhilarating.

“I get that it might not be the right time. But don’t act like, because you don’t want to face your feelings, that the feelings I have for you are selfish, or that I would use what you went through as some sort of sick fucking blackmail to get you.” James backed away as he spoke the words, his fingers finding their place in his hair and running through it.

Part of Lily wanted to thank him, to tell him to keep fighting, to let her yell, because for whatever reason, is was helping. It was helping all those lingering back-droppings of anger and finally giving them a reason to come out, it was helping her heart remember what it was like to need blood so much, that it pumped faster and faster. She wanted to yell, she needed to. And why shouldn’t they keep yelling at each other? It wasn’t as if she could yell at her parents for leaving her, yell at Sirius for the secret they now shared between them, so why not James?

Before she could think of any response, James turned around and stormed through the portrait, both hands shoved in his pockets.

*

James made his way through the nearly deserted halls of Hogwarts, his hard steps muffled by the dense stone floors. He was thankful that it was barely after nine and not yet curfew; his desire to get away from Lily before he said something he regretted had been too strong and caused him to forget his cloak.

The walk through the dimming halls was usually one he enjoyed. Coming from a pure-blood family didn’t mean that magic still didn’t astound him, it did. Hogwarts was by far the most magical place out there, and he usually liked to take his time moving through the rarely deserted corridors. But this evening he just wanted to get the hell away from Lily and up to the Gryffindor common room.

The Fat Lady came into view, and he gave her a half smile as he told her the password that had been written in the letter Dumbledore handed him earlier.

The size of the common room always surprised him. The way the ceiling never seemed to end as the sets of spiraling cases disappeared into the wall. Tonight was no different, and for a moment he nearly wished this was his one and only common room. He and Lily wouldn’t have started a row if they’d been surrounded by their classmates. Well, they may have, but it wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand.

He waved to Margaret and Alexander, the star Beaters of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and made a mental note to ask why a Captain hadn’t yet been announced. Unless whoever it was, was simply not telling anyone that they received the letter awarding them the position just yet.

He tried to ignore the sting of that thought. Part of him had really thought he’d made that position, but maybe McGonagall assumed it was too much with being Head Boy too?

He filed away those thoughts for another time as he glanced around for his friends.

He saw Sirius’s head from above the couch, with Alice and Frank next to him. He just wanted his best mates. Not everyone else, not right now. He stayed in the background for a moment and thought on the best way to get his lot away from the rest. Luckily for him, Peter looked up from his conversation with Belle and James caught his attention. He motioned his hand forward and pointed at the backs of Remus’s and Sirius’s heads.

Peter quickly gathered the other two and headed towards the boys dormitory. James followed up behind them, ignoring Sirius’s questioning look.

When they opened the door to his friends’ dormitory, he was annoyed to see a few of their other classmates already in it.

“Listen up," Sirius began, "unless you want us to test out a new stinking spell, clear out for a bit." His eyes fell on the two boys unloading their trunks. Tig, who understood Sirius didn’t make idle threats, glanced at the other seventh year and nodded his head toward the door.

When the room was clear Sirius opened his trunk and knocked out the false top, allowing a flask of Firewhiskey to tumble free.

James was even more impressed with his friend then usual.

“So, trouble already?” Sirius asked with a smirk as they all got comfortable around Sirius’s trunk.

“You could say that,” he sighed and reached over to grab the bottle from Sirius.

“Lily kick you out of bed?” Sirius dangled the bottle an inch from him, waiting for an answer.

James just glared at him as he snatched the bottle and drank down a large swig of the cinnamon flavored alcohol.

“No, you arse, she didn’t kick me out. She can’t even get into my room to kick me out. Well, she could, but she’s not supposed to. Bewitched, just like the dormitories here. Not exactly the same enchantments, but similar enough. She didn’t even tell me to leave the common area. It seemed like a better solution than throttling her, though.”

“Seems sort of lonely, having to sleep in your own area.” Peter mumbled, grabbing the bottle from James.

James didn’t comment, just grabbed the bottle back from him and took another swig. His eyes traveled over the faces of his friends. Remus, patiently waiting for it all. He’d be irritated with James when he finally got around to telling the tale. He always sided with Lily— bloody annoying, actually.

As he drank from the bottle again, something in his eyes must’ve told Sirius it wasn’t the time to try for another joke about shagging Lily. And so, silence dominated the circle they formed.

He needed the silence. He used it, used the patient and curious faces of his friends to try to help center his mood. After a few more seconds of letting the comfort of being surrounded by his mates wash over him, he took a deep breath and passed the bottle to Sirius.

“We had a fight…” he began, and launched into the story.

When he was done, when anger was sparking to life again after going through it all, he let out a frustrated moan and waited for the first of his three friends to chime in.

“James,” surprisingly it was Sirius that spoke, not Remus as James had anticipated. “It’s been hell for her, you know? Probably the worst thing she’ll ever go through. Maybe you should’ve just let her say what she wanted to say and then left it at that.”

“Do you hear yourself?” James shot back. “She acted like I killed her parents myself, let her cry on my shoulder, then demanded she promise her undying love to me!”

Sirius winced at James’s words, another thing that surprised him. It wasn’t as if Sirius was any stranger to angry shouts and temper tantrums.

“What does that matter, though? She’ll date you when she wants, no sense starting out the year with a row,” Sirius countered.

“Well,” Remus began, drawing the attention to him. “Oddly reasonable, coming from you, Sirius.”

“Hey, I can be reasonable. Doesn’t make sense for them to bicker already, unless the bickering ends with a makeup shag,” Sirius added with a wink.

“Ah, now that seems more in character for you,” Remus said with a nod. “And you’d know all about that, because you’ve had so many makeup shags, have you?.”

“More than you,” Sirius muttered as he tossed the empty bottle at Remus.

“I just thought once she realized that I do care, she’d get over the just friends thing,” James continued, ignoring the glass bottle now being propelled back and forth.

“Sure,” Peter began, missing the bottle that was tossed to him. “And even though we know this isn’t true, it basically sounds like you’re saying exactly what she accused you of. That now, because she’s seen you don’t always act like a git, she should be with you.”

James was silent as he let himself dwell on Peter’s words. His friends let him have his mental space and turned the topic to the more familiar talk of tomorrow’s first day of classes.

*

An hour and a half later, James made his way back through the halls. He was half an hour over curfew, still semi buzzed, and didn’t need to get in trouble his first night as Head Boy.

Once he was finally within touching distance of the painting, he let his body relax against the stone wall. The cold, uneven texture felt remarkable on his back.

As the buzz continued ebbing away, he couldn’t stop from lecturing himself for the way he had treated Lily. She was fragile. She’d been through hell and back. He should just be happy she was alive considering it had seemed like she’d simply slip away at any moment during the last few weeks.

The kicker was that he wasn’t even angry about her not wanting to deal with her feelings. That didn’t bother him, not really; James was patient. It had been the fact that even part of her could believe he would use her parents’ death to try and corner her into that relationship that made him feel sick.

But was that because maybe, just possibly, a tiny part of him had been thinking exactly along those lines? Not like she’d made it sound, like there were strings attached… but maybe he had thought now that they’d shared something so… huge… maybe it would be enough to convince her to give him a chance.

That thought had him frustrated with himself, with her… with everything.

But, one thing was absolutely undeniable. He needed her friendship. So if he had to be patient, if he had to let her think that this wasn’t going anywhere, fine. It was worth it to keep that friendship.

On that thought, he moved his back away from the wall and faced the painting.

“James Potter-" he paused to think of a secret. “I lied and told Peter a Hufflepuff girl had a crush on him in sixth year because he seemed so down about not having a girlfriend. Chudley Cannons.”

The frame moved aside and James crept into the room. He turned left to face the towering bookshelf and, using his wand as a light, chose one quickly. How To Be An Unstoppable Chaser and Other Quidditch Tips. He wasn’t ready to sleep; he needed to wind down.

When he stepped towards the sofas, he saw a small body curled under a blanket.

“Lily?” he whispered, unsure if she was already fast asleep. When he saw the form move he gave his wand a flick and set two of the oil lamps adorning the wall aflame.

“Hi,” she mumbled as she pulled the blanket from her head. He had to hold back a chuckle as the static forced stray bits of her hair to the blanket, causing it to stick up in every which way.

“Hi,” he answered as he sat on the couch opposite to her, his hands moving over his legs, unsure where to rest. “Listen, I’m going to get this over with. I’m sorry if I took things too far, okay? You’re a good friend, Lily. I’d rather keep you as that instead of you pretending to hate me.” He looked up at her, happy to see she was staring back.

“I shouldn’t have yelled at you, either. It’s not your fault, I just — I’ve just been like that. I meant what I said, about not needing your help, so don’t feel like you have to give it,” she paused, probably letting herself think of the perfect way to choose what she’d say next. “But, I appreciate it. And I like knowing that you’ll talk to me about my — about them. And that you’ll understand. Friends?” Lily smiled as she said the words and held out her hand across the table to him.

________________________________________________________________


AN: Rewritten as of June 2017. Thank you so much to Cambangst for his editing work!




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Before They Fall: Head Boy and Girl

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