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The Art of Surviving. by AC_rules
Chapter 19 : Disintegrate
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 27


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Hello! Just wanted to say that I've messed around a bit with chronology in this chapter. Hopefully it's obvious what I've done (although if it's not feel free to tell me it's a bit crap; wont' be offended I promise!) but just... bear that in mind. Also, I feel the need to apologise for some of the fluff in this chapter. I'm quite disgusted with myself for all its cuteness and feel the need to write a good solid angsty novel to recover from its fluffy effects. AND another sorry - this isn't edited as much as I would like but I've got two exams this week and I wanted to update so... yeah.
 




  “Morning.” James muttered, kissing me on the cheek.

“What are you doing, Potter?” I asked sleepily, wrenching my eyes open and blinking around the dark of the dormitory feeling the usual dazed confusion that came with having just woken up and finding my damnable boyfriend hovering ominously in front of my bed.

“Valentine’s day.” James said, as if that explained anything. Which it didn’t. Not at all.

“What?” I muttered, sitting up slightly and kissing him properly. “We said,” I yawned, “that we weren’t going to do anything until Hogsmeade on Saturday.”

“That was a lie.” James said. He didn’t look half as sleepy as he should do; as anyone should do, in the middle of the bloody night. I frowned at him slightly.

“They destroy a relationship, Potter.”

“Hmm,” James said, “my bad. Like your bedroom, Evans.”

“Join me,” I said, reaching up and kissing him again before turning over in bed, “it’s warm.”

“Don’t you want to hear about my plan?”

“Don’t you want to get in my bed?” I countered, feeling him slip under the covers and wrap his arms around me, smiling into my neck. I was too tired to ponder on how nice it was to have him there, all I really wanted to do was turn over and go back to sleep… but evidentially James had made alternatively plans.

“Now can I tell you about the plan?” James breathed. I could feel his breath on the back of my neck. I wanted to bottle the moment and live in it forever. It was nice to feel safe and protected and so very not alone.

“Is it going to be really cute?”

“Unforgivably cute. So, can I tell you?”

“Definitely.”

“I figured if we’re going to Hogsmeade on Saturday then I can’t cook you dinner.”

“So you’re going to cook me dinner?”

“Nope,” James said, “it’s already cooked. You hungry?”

“Considering Peter spilled that damn potion all over the table and everyone had to be evacuated then yes. Wait, James, you didn’t –“

“-you can’t prove anything.”

“You’re an idiot.” I said affectionately, deciding against chastising him for the fact that the entirety of Gryffindor had gone slightly hungry and Peter had been quite, well, unpopular for the rest of the night. It was tempting to tell him he had to cook for everyone, but I’d just been woken up in the middle of the night by him being particularly cute – so it was hard to stay too mad.

And I was so very, blissfully comfortable.

“I’m not wasting cooking efforts if you’re not even going to enjoy it.” James muttered, wrapping his arms tighter around my waist. It made me feel more solid. I closed my eyes and felt that, with this new found knowledge of James’s somewhat elaborate dinner plans, some of the groggy exhaustion had been replaced by a giddy nervousness.

“Can we not just sleep?” I asked hopefully. “Save your undoubtedly lovely food for breakfast?”

“No,” James said, detangling his arms from around me and throwing back the covers, “you’ll enjoy it, I promise.”  The dormitory room was freezing cold but with James being how he was it wasn’t necessary to wake me up properly. I was beginning to become more aware of how hungry I actually was. Damn, lovely, adorable James.

“What time even is it?”

“Two,” James said, “we’re two hours into Valentine’s Day and we haven’t started celebrating yet.”

“It’s a stupid holiday,” I retorted, groping around the dark to find my duvet again, “we already agreed that it was commercial and pointless and we were just going to have dinner in Hogsmeade and have done.”

“Lily,” James whined (in the whispered voices we were both using, for fear of waking everyone else up), “we’ve never been on a proper date.”

“So?” I asked, giving up my cause of wrapping myself in my duvet and sitting up right.

“So, we just spend time studying together, or over lunch, or patrolling, or in prefect’s meeting and I think we should have a date. So I’ve cooked you dinner and I have it all set up. You can sleep in Transfiguration tomorrow!”

“Okay,” I agreed, pulling myself up properly and smiling at him slightly, “just give me a minute to put on some clothes.”

“You can just wear your pyjamas; no one’s going to see you.”

“Yeah, I don’t wear bras in bed and I’m not wondering around Hogwarts without one. Two minutes. Entertain yourself. Look through my trunk or something.”

James sent me an amused smile and sat down on the edge of my four poster.

*

“A girlfriend?”

“No,” James said dismissively, “just a date.”

“And that’s okay, is it?” I asked, feeling the confusion and shock hit me slightly as I blinked at him. “And we’re... okay with that.”

“Lily,” James said, “as much as I’m glad you’re thinking of us as a we, I’m entirely sure we’re going to have different opinions about this. I think it might be good for him.”

“I don’t,” I muttered, glancing at Professor McGonagall at the front of the classroom wondering why he’d decided to spring something like this on me in the middle of the lesson, “he’s not...ready.” I wanted to have a chance to freak out about this accordingly. Perhaps that was why. Even though he’d promised me I could sleep in transfiguration. More irritatingly, he’d known about this last night and just had negated to tell me until I was quite literally the walking unconscious and couldn’t even react properly.

“No, Lily,” James countered, “you’re not ready. Sirius has to make his own judgement about that. I don’t think he wants to spend all Saturday crying in a ball on his own.”

“Maybe we should have cancelled our plans.”

“Lily, don’t be ridiculous.”

“We already celebrated Valentine’s day last night anyway! We don’t have to go out on Saturday if -”

“He’s going on the date now.” James said, sounding reasonably put out by the whole thing. I nudged him with my shoulder with the intention of reminding him that I very much didn’t mean I’d rather spend time with Sirius. James rolled his eyes and began doodling distractedly on his piece of parchment. “He’s going with the others, anyway. Remus, Peter and two other girls.”

“Hope you don’t feel left out,” I added, “if you ever feel like I’m driving a wedge between you and your friends –“

“Do you just not listen to the stuff I say?” James asked, an amused sparkle in his eyes as he turned to look at me. “After all that bloody cooking effort yesterday and then you don’t even remember.”

“I remember perfectly,” I countered, wanting to pursue the Sirius can’t date part of the conversation as much as I wanted to let my mind switch off from transfiguration and real life and messy complicate things, to just think about the dream-like date that had been last night. “I just think that you’re being slightly kind about the whole thing. I know my presence makes general marauding more difficult for you guys and that you’re worn out, James, and don’t deny it.”

“My picnic plans probably didn’t help.”

“No,” I agreed, grinning at him, “but they were a bit lovely.”

*

“I decided against looking through your trunk,” James whispered when I remerged from the bathroom wearing an old T-Shirt and at my pyjama bottoms, “wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to find that would be so entertaining.  I was a bit scared, really.”

“Right,” I said, stepping forwards and letting James wrap his arms around my waist, “how did you even get up here?”

“Balancing act.”

“On a slide?”

“No,” James grinned, “I’m not that good; bit of transfiguration, does the trick. The balancing was the whole invisibility cloak issue.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Keep insulting me all you like, Evans, but you know you’re secretly thrilled I’ve crept up to your dorm in the middle of the night to whisk you away for a romantic picnic.”

“Picnic? Outside? That’s going to take a lot more dressing.”

“No,” James said, smirking slightly, “don’t get dressed, Evans.”

“Shut up.”

“We’re not leaving the castle.”

“Not much of a picnic then.” I said, raising my eyebrows as James reached forwards and kissed me.

“You brushed your teeth.” James commented. I wasn’t entirely sure what the appropriate response to that was. I raised my eyebrows. James grinned.

“Won’t our fabulous dinner be getting cold?”

“Point,” James conceded, letting me pulling him up into a standing position and pulling me closer to him, “ever been under an invisibility cloak, Evans?” James threw the cloak around my shoulders, making a point of circling his arms around me and generally being a prat.

“You’re not going to transfigure with both of us under the cloak?” I asked, dubiously stepping towards the stairwell with a James attached to me.

“No,” James agreed, sounding much too amused,” I’m not.” Then, James stepped over the door to the dormitory, pulling me with him and suddenly the floor wasn’t a floor anymore and we were both flying down the staircase-slide, under an invisibility cloak.

God, my boyfriend was an idiot of the first degree. Then again, that wasn’t exactly anything new.

 *

James had fallen asleep with his arms round me, his head had since lolled against my shoulder in a way that wasn’t all that comfortable and was altogether making it slightly more difficult to talk to Alice about her wedding plans whilst trying to do this stupid set of questions about the history of unforgivable spells (the effects had been easier, given I’d had two out of three performed on me and the description of the third wasn’t exactly complicated – there’s only so much you can really say about instant and immediate death).

James had been looked tired for a while and it wasn’t difficult to see why: he was still regularly visiting his Mum in hospital – all though she was due to come out soon and last time I’d went, she’d been complaining about the food and looked completely healthy – and then there was the school work which had increased tenfold, the Head duties, the Quidditch, a full moon (which finally made sense to me), practicing the Defensive spells that Dumbledore had told us about and trying to find time to spend with me and the others. When you added in the fact he’d been up till two in the morning cooking me dinner, then abducting me from my dorm for a picnic which had lasted until it started getting light… it was no wonder he was exhausted. In fact, if he hadn’t been dropping off continually I’d have started to think he wasn’t human. Still, this was the third time he’d fallen asleep today and I was very close to visiting Professor McGonagall and asking her to relieve him of his Head Duties for a while so he could catch a break.  

He’d cooked me dinner; the least I could do was ensure he didn’t collapse due to over exertion.

“So,” Alice said, looking up from the bundle of pieces of parchment and muggle pieces of paper in her wedding planner and glancing up at me, “have you started believing in weddings yet?”

“What?” I asked her, feeling slightly startled.

“Lily,” Alice said with a slight sigh, “you’ve been saying for years that you never want to get married or have children and I’ve always wanted to see someone melt your perspective.”

James shifted in his sleep, pulling my body closer towards him and pressing his face into the base of my neck. My body’s instinct to tense away from his arms around my waist was beginning to lessen, and it was much easier these days not to notice his breath against my skin as he slept, or his hair tickling the bottom of my chin – I was used to him, in a nice way.

“No,” I said, just as James inhaled deeply, “it’s only been like a month and a half, it’s going to take a bit longer to break me.”

“Hmm.” Alice said, not sounding entirely convinced as she returned to her organising the lists of potential wedding guests.

“James,” I muttered, poking him gently, “it was cute, but now you’re drooling on me,” James remained perfectly unconscious but lessened his hold around my waist. “This is stupid,” I declared, frowning at him. It was horrible to see him look so damn tired: I wanted to tuck him up in bed and let him sleep, but it was only a free period and there were still another two lessons to get through and then Quidditch practice. No Prefects meeting, given it was Valentine’s Day, but that also meant it had fallen to the pair of us to patrol. “I’m going to go see McGonagall,” I said finally, working my way free of James’s vice like grip and giving up my role as teddy bear, “he needs a break.”

I was quickly replaced by one of the pillows. Poor James. He looked adorable.

Alice looked at James for a few seconds, smiling slightly, “good job Sirius’s got Runes,” She said, “you know he’d charm something obscene across his face whilst he was unconscious.”

“He’ll probably still find a way.” I sighed, kissing James on the forehead, smiling at Alice and heading for the Portrait hole.

*

“You’re not actually serious?” I asked quietly, blinking around at the huge expanse of the Great Hall before turning back to James. “We’re having a picnic in the Great Hall?”

“Yup.” James said, smoothing the picnic blanket on the floor in one of the far, empty corners of the hall. “The House Elves are sending up the food in the usual way and... I figured there might be a nice atmosphere.”

The Hall looked even bigger in the dark with only two, tiny people in it. The sky stretched up above us and heightened the impression of insignificance and the sublime that the place seemed to produce. It wasn’t a particularly cloudy night. You could almost see the stars.

“Yeah.” I agree, sitting down quietly and leaning into his arm – I half wanted to cry, half wanted to laugh, mostly wanted to wrap my arms around James’s neck and never let him go. It was oddly perfect. A picnic for two in the great, vast, empty space of the great hall.

*

I knew that James was irritated. He wasn’t exactly hiding it – more, making it as obvious as possible with his continual sighs and running his hand through his hair – and it’s not like I couldn’t understand why he was annoyed... sure, spending your Valentine’s day stalking your best friends probably wasn’t top on the list as far as romantic executions went. But, still, there was part of me that wanted him to continue to be understanding Mr Perfect and just go with it, instead of making it so abundantly clear that if he had his way he wouldn’t be watch me strain my neck to see how Sirius’s date was going.

So, with one successful Valentine’s related picnic under our belts our second attempt was quickly disintegrating to absolute shit. We’d ordered food and neither of us had eaten it, James was growing gradually more irritated and blocking my view of the others (no doubt on purpose) with his head and I now I was beginning to get annoyed too. We were both exhausted and tired and frustrated and, really, we shouldn’t have bothered at all.

“How’s Quidditch going?” I asked, even though I didn’t really care all that much. We’d talked about Quidditch plenty before, but now talking about anything was marginally better than talking about nothing at all because the silence was painful and awkward and a stark reminder that this wasn’t going very well.

“Okay,” James shrugged, hands in pockets, “we should win next week.”

Sirius’s date was a fifth year Hufflepuff called Joanna. I didn’t know anything about her other than her name, but from what I’d seen of their date she was neither exactly slutty nor particularly prudish. Her two friends, Pete’s and Remus’s dates, seemed okay too. Joanna was the classically pretty one, but didn’t seem to be the most confident. I’d skimmed some basic information by nagging James – that apparently Sirius had been talking to her for a while (which, obviously, he’d been keeping from me on purpose) and that she was quite lovely.

I hated her.

“Lily,” James sighed with an irritated glance behind him, “why are we here?”

“It’s the fifteenth of February and we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day.”

“No, we’re not,” James countered, “we’re sat in a crummy restaurant so you can spy on my best mates date. Believe me when I say this is not celebrating Valentine’s Day.”

“We already celebrated Valentine’s day.”

“This is our second date ever,” James deadpanned, “it’ll be a great story to tell the children.”

“Oh fine,” I said, folding my arms over your chest, “if you don’t want to be here, you don’t want to be here. Let’s just go.”

“Please tell me you’re serious.” James said pointedly. There was no point to this, really. I didn’t have the slightest bit of control over Sirius’s actions and me making it clear that I thought this was a terrible idea would probably just encourage him further, so irritating my boyfriend – who was always unquestionably lovely – was illogical and pointless.

“Sure,” I said, sending one last look to Sirius and his date before forcing myself to look elsewhere, “let’s go.”

*

“So, the others know about your picnic plans?” I asked after we’d cumulatively finished the glorious picnic (James was an even better cook than I’d previously realised; I needed to marry him immediately).

“Not exactly,” James said, “I just told Peter I’d give him five galleons if he spilt the potion, but Sirius woke up just as I was sneaking out the dorm and from what he said, I think he knew it had something to do with you.”

“What did he say?” I asked. James was lying down and I was propped up on my elbows, watching him. The picnic blanket was twisted around our feet, forming a sort of cocoon enclosing both of our ankles. Everything was sort of perfect.

“It was crude.” James grinned, reaching out and brushing a lock of hair behind my ear.

“He thinks you’re going to get laid.” I grinned, reaching down and kissing him. James’s hand automatically went to my hip and the next few minutes were spent caught up kissing James on a picnic blanket, with the fake-sky stretched above us and it felt so wholly perfect that the idea that life wasn’t always going to be precisely like this moment made me want to grieve all over again.

“You’re a tease, Evans.” James grinned when I pulled away, wrapping an arm around me as we returned to lying next to each other and looking up at the ceiling, or there lack of, above us.

“Valentine’s Day is much too cliché.”

“Precisely.”

“You don’t really think I’m a tease, do you?” I asked, turning onto my side and resting my head on his shoulder.

“No, Lily. Of course I don’t.”

*

Sneaking out past Sirius and the others had been mostly unsuccessful and I’d accidently made eye contact with Sirius who, upon seeing the pair of us leaving the restaurant, sent me such a malicious glare that it reminded me he had an actual blood link to Bellatrix Lestrange. Then my brain started trailing off down the dangerous path of being tortured and a dull echo of the pain accompanied the thought. I half wanted to mention this to James, but given the circumstances it didn’t seem like the wisest move.  The torturing incident was always going to be a sore subject and considering James was already mad at me… Damn, I’d really messed this up.

“You want to go somewhere else?” I asked once we were out on the street and the silence between us still hadn’t lifted.

“Honestly?” James asked, one hand distractedly messing up his hair. “I just want to go back to the castle.”

“Okay,” I answered coolly, wrapping my arms around myself and frowning at the floor, “look, James, I’m sorry about wanting to spy on Sirius’s date. I just really think it’s a really crap idea for him to start dating again.”

“Yeah, well,” James said, shoving his hands in the pockets of his robes and not looking at me, “it’s not just about that, is it?”

“Isn’t it?” I asked heatedly. “Because I’m pretty sure there was nothing wrong until a couple of hours ago.”

“Well that’s bullshit.”

“What are you talking about, James?”

“It doesn’t matter.” James said, his shoulders hunched slightly and an expression that didn’t suit him across his features. He didn’t looked like himself. James didn’t suit being unhappy. No, discomforted. Something was bothering him.

“Obviously it does,” I said, pulling on his arm to make him turn towards me, “James, just tell me what’s wrong.”

James looked as though he was seriously considering clamming up and not speaking. Then, maybe he remembered his previous lamentations that talking was the way forwards or maybe it was the Gryffindor courage but he didn’t stay silent for long.

“You and Sirius!”

The silence that followed that was so sharp and painful that it actually hurt.

“You’re not... please tell me that’s some kind of joke.”

“No, I know that there’s nothing... I just...I heard some stupid conversation –“ James said, not looking at me again. That irritated me more than what he was saying; why couldn’t he just look at me?

“What conversation?” I demanded, feeling my confrontational nature kick in without really wanting it to.  I hadn’t had a proper argument with James and apparently my instincts were sparking up again. If in doubt, call him a big headed prat.

“You said... you said that Sirius had told you to break up with me and I just...”

“Jesus,” I muttered, my mind racing back to that conversation with Sirius in the empty corridor,  finding James talking to Sirius about patronus charms, the strange look on his face, “I knew there was something wrong with you.”

“And then Sirius said there was some secret.” James said finally, turning back to me looking pained. This had really been bothering him which was understandable, but why the hell hadn’t he just asked what it was about? Why play happy couples with that bloody picnic if he was really bothered by some conversation he’d heard?

“James, it’s not what it seems like.”

“I know, I know, Lily. And I wasn’t eavesdropping either; I was looking for you... I had the map. I thought you might be talking about Mary so I just... and then you want to go about stalking his bloody date, and what am I supposed to think?”

I was no good at any of this. None of this relationship stuff... James had made it all seem so easy, had lulled me into a false sense of security where everything felt just fine and okay and then, all of a sudden, he was angry and of course he was angry and I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do.

“Will you just explain,” James muttered, his voice had a strange hollow quality that I didn’t like, “if you can.”

“Well, you’ve got it all wrong about the Sirius thing,” I said. My mouth felt dry. “Obviously... nothing like that. Neither of us... we wouldn’t.”

“I know that,” James said, pausing in our walk, “I don’t doubt you I just... I feel like you’re making me look like an idiot. That everyone thinks you and Sirius are having something and... That’s what bothers me. But, that’s not important... what’s going on, Lily?”

We were nearly at the castle now and I was beginning to realise with an accompanied sense of dread that there was literally no choice but to tell him everything.  Our second date was going to end in me telling James that I knew Remus was a werewolf and it was most definitely not going to be comfortable.

“I...” I frowned, “I ran into Snape the other day and he reminded me of something he used to say and then I couldn’t stop thinking about, so I went to the library and Sirius found me reading this book... about werewolves.”

James recoiled. The lump in my throat seemed to double in size. It was very, very likely that I was about to burst into uncontrollable tears.

“So, despite everything I said, you still -”

“I didn’t know, James, it was just a thought. Then Sirius found me with the books and he was so mad, so then I knew.”

“So it’s Sirius’s fault?” James asked challengingly.

“Of course not!” I said, throwing my hands up in air in frustration. “It’s not his fault in the slightest, it just –“

“Snape’s fault?” James suggested, his lips twisting.

“I know how much you enjoy blaming Sev,” I countered, “but it’s – ”

“Back to Sev again now?”

“For God’s sake, James! If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”

“I know.” James snapped irritably, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking up at me, “so you decided to stick your nose in my business -”

“- it wasn’t like that.”

“-and then not tell me about it?” James asked. “After everything I said about how we need to talk to each other?”

“I know, James. It was stupid... but, I wanted him to be able to tell me when he was ready. He didn’t want me to know, so I didn’t... I thought it would be better if I pretended I didn’t.”

“And what about me?” James asked. “You could have still told me, Lily.”

“You didn’t want me to know either!”

“Because Remus wasn’t ready for you to know. It’s not like I was purposefully keeping you in the dark.”

“I knew you’d be mad.”

“So you thought I’d be less mad if you lied about it?” James asked. “Like you thought I’d be mad when you decided to go and get yourself fucking tortured.”

“James,” I said, grabbing hold of his hand, “please, it wasn’t like that. I didn’t find out on purpose.”

“Then what happened?” James asked, not closing his fingers around mine like he usually did.

“Sirius.... Sirius thought I’d taken it badly,” I continued, feeling the worst constrict in my throat, “so he told me to break up with you, like you heard. He was mad at me. But, I haven’t... I mean, I don’t care and so he’s not... he’s not mad anymore. James, please, I’m sorry. It was just bad judgement – I didn’t mean to...”

“You never mean to, do you Evans?” James asked. “Remus is like my brother.”

I nodded. I knew that. Even before I’d liked James I’d had to respect the Marauder dynamic – idiots, they may have been, but they were also entirely and wholly a family. Anyone could see that they were crazy about each other. Anyone could see that they loved each other more than an outsider could really comprehend – and ever since I’d started this relationship with James, I’d been acutely conscious that I was weakening the bonds between them slightly. Taking up James’s time with them. Shifting his priorities slightly.

Now, though, with Sirius keeping things from the two of them, with me keeping things from James and James failing to keep things from me... I’d thrown a grenade in the midst of their perfect relationship and it looked like I might be the first thing to get blown up.

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” James said heavily, “I don’t really want to talk to you right now.”

“Okay,” I said, deciding that I was definitely going to burst into tears the second he disappeared, “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” James said, fluffing up his hair, “you said. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, or something. I need to think.”

“Well,” I said, my shoulders slumping downwards, “happy Valentine’s day.” I finished, leaning forwards and kissing him on the cheek before shoving my hands in my pockets in a very Jamesesque way and walking the rest of the distance back up to the castle on my own.

*

“James,” I muttered, rolling over so that I was lying on my front, propped up by my elbows, “this is a really lovely picnic.”

“Yeah?”

“And you’re really, really lovely,” I said, resting my forehead against my shoulder. “I’m almost glad that you woke me up.”

“Why d’you change your mind about me, Lily?” James asked quietly, looking me with his most beautifully intense I’m-just-about-to-kiss-you-expression that made me want to pre-empt his movements and initiate the kiss myself. “I mean, I guess I’m not the worst person on the planet anymore?”

“I think you might be the best,” I said, reaching out and kissing his cheek, “you didn’t really give me a fair chance to judge you, James. With all your arrogance and such. But then, I’m… I’m not exactly perfect. I don’t know, James, but I don’t think my mind has ever processed such a dramatic change about my view of a person.”

“Snape?”

I didn’t answer that. I didn’t want to talk about Snape right now. I wanted to talk about James and me and the future and the past and all the murky grey areas in between. It was incredible to think about where we’d been and where we now stood.

“I think you’re the best decision I’ve ever made.”

“You know how I’m a chaser?”

“No,” I said, closing my eyes, “don’t use that line, it’s too cringey for words.” James grinned, the smile transforming his hole face so beautifully.

“We’re good together,” James said, lips brushing my cheeks, “then again, I’ve been telling you that for years.”

*

“Lily,” James said hotly, “why has McGonagall relived me of Head duties for the rest of the week?”

I hadn’t talked to James yesterday. He hadn’t wanted to talk to me and, given that I was most definitely in the wrong, I thought it was probably best if I let him not talk to me.  Still, now he was approaching me in the corridor with all guns blazing and this time it wasn’t my fault. I’d been doing the right thing.

“You were tired,” I said, “come on, James, you’re exhausted. I just... I asked her on Friday. I thought you deserved a break so you could concentrate on Quidditch...” I trailed off, folding my arms over my chest and suddenly feeling defensive. I had, after all, done nothing wrong.

“Right,” James said with his usual irritated posture; one hand in the hair, one in the pocket of his robes, his lips twisted downwards, “whatever.” James said eventually, looking far from pacified as he pulled his bag back up his shoulder and stalked off in the direction of the dungeons.

“Well,” Sirius commented, stretching out his arms, “that was awkward.”

“Oh shut up,” I spat venomously, “this is all your fault.”

“Is it?” Sirius asked lightly, “don’t blame me for your shit, Evans.”

“Don’t screw things up in my life then!”

“Feel free to continue with the projecting, but if you remember I gave you perfectly sound advice that you ignored.” Sirius said, his irritating air of nonchalance doubling my levels or irritation instantaneously. How Mary had ever been able to stand him I did not understand.

“Shove your advice.”

“Quit with the damn accusations, then.”

“Oh go shag fifth year Hufflepuff girlfriend.” I spat, folding my arms and glaring at him. Sirius’s eyes narrowed slightly. He took a step forward.

“Have you ever considered, Evans, that I didn’t want people to know about that? Actually, let’s widen that – have you ever considered anyone, ever.”

“Have you ever considered anything but your -”

“-don’t even finish that sentence, Evans,” Sirius said, sending a look at Remus as he tried to pass off his irritation as amusement, “I don’t want to disappoint you with my answer.”

“You perpetually disappoint me, Black.”

“Good,” Sirius said, raising his eyebrows at Peter, “are we done, then?”

“No.” I said firmly.

“I think we are.”

“I want to talk about this, Black.”

“No, Lily,” Sirius countered, “you want to justify your stupid actions by making them seem acceptable. It’s bull. I’m not getting involved. James told me you’d be looking for a fight and he told me not to fight with you. So, Lily, that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing.”

“Oh, don’t act so high and mighty Sirius. If you didn’t want to argue with me then you’d just have shut up.”

“Want some more advice? Don’t mess in my life, Evans, and then everything will work out just fine.”

“Well if you weren’t such a perpetual screw up then I wouldn’t feel the need to interfere,” I said starkly, taking a step forwards and narrowing my eyes at him, “if you stopped repressing all your emotions all the time and acting like a moody git then maybe -”

“- don’t give me that. You don’t control me, Evans. And you know what? Mary didn’t control me either. So just leave it out,” Sirius never mentioned Mary first. My throat constricted slightly, “thanks to you ridiculous spying, James is mad at me too. I suppose it doesn’t matter to you that I’m implicated, huh? That, thanks to you, I was lying to him too? And frankly, you’re not worth it.”

“You could have told him.”

“And so could have you! I know driving people away is instinct for you, but I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t mess things up for me.”

“Don’t be a bastard.”

“How many people is it we’re on now? Your sister, Snape -”

“Don’t you dare!”

“Why the hell not?” Sirius demanded. “You want a fight, well let’s bloody fight Evans; you know I can’t stick you so don’t push me.”

“Why don’t you just face up to your emotions, Black?”

“Oh, go sleep with my best mate in the middle of the Great Hall!” Sirius said. I was suddenly acutely aware that given this argument was in the middle of a semi-public corridor, this was going to spread through the castle so quickly that by the end of the next lesson everyone would know. And it wasn’t true. And the worst part is, given I’d brought up Sirius’s date with Joanne that hateful Hufflepuff, it was an entirely fair thing to say.

And everyone would believe it. And I hated Sirius Black.

So then I slapped him round the face.

(In retrospect, given James’s bizarre belief that everyone believed Sirius and I had something going on, having a loud, public argument ending in me slapping him round the face wasn’t exactly helpful towards my cause... but the time I’d realised that I was fuming with anger at the back of a Charms class).

*

“We going to be like this forever?” James asked; hand in mine, foreheads pressed against each other, feet hooked around each other in a small, quiet corner of the Great Hall.

“Are you gonna break my heart, James?” I countered, closing my eyes for a second and listening to how silent the place was with just the sound of our breathing and our soft, sleepy voices. I wasn’t entirely sure how long we’d been talking, but the sky above us was beginning to get lighter.

“Could I?”

“You could crush it,” I muttered, pressing a kiss on the corner of his lips, “easily. Daily. Permanently.”

“Do you trust that I won’t?” James said, grinning.

“That’s a little irrelevant, at this point.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah, I think so.” I admitted, closing my eyes and trying not to think. It was almost easy, with James here and the lack of sleep beginning to take it’s effect. But, it was okay.  I liked not thinking. I liked James. I liked this.

And I could only wish that it would last forever.





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