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Disclaimer: I own neither Lily nor James.

Never Let Go

I have to ask, 'Why are you doing this?'
'Because I care about you,' he says, then frowns. 'No.'
'No? You don't care?'
'What I meant to say was, I'm doing this because I love you.'

The Key (page 407 American hard back edition) -- Marianne Curley

“’Lo, Evans.”

The redhead girl looked up, startled, and then sighed as she realized who had addressed her. “Potter. Can you please bugger off? I have work to do.” She gestured to the open book on her lap, emerald eyes flickering with annoyance.

James Potter looked from her face to the book, then rolled his eyes. “That’s just typical, Evans.”

“What is?” She had not anticipated this response.

“That you’re reading the next chapter in the Herbology book, and we don’t even have Herbology for three days,” he explained patiently, hazel eyes catching hers. “Even you aren’t normally that ahead of things.”

Lily dropped her gaze feeling her breath catch for two reasons. The first being that his eyes were so piercing, silently conveying a message that she did not understand—or did not want to understand. The second why she was doing the homework so early. “Merlin, can’t a girl even read without being interrupted by James sodding Potter?” she snapped. “And how would you know my habits, anyway? Maybe I do this all the time.”

“No, you don’t,” he said calmly, “and I know because I’ve watched you.”

Her cheeks flushed, partly—mostly, she comforted herself—out of anger. “Whatever, Potter. Just leave me alone.”

“Why? Why do you want to be so ahead?” he asked curiously.

“Merlin, Potter! Why do you have to be so damn annoying?” she barked furiously, slamming her book closed and standing.

“Well, I’m sorry, Evans,” he said with a mock bow, his voice dripping sarcasm. “I was just wondering. You don’t have to bite my head off.”

She let out something that sounded like a half-hiss, half-groan. “Fine, Potter!

That’s just bloody fine! I was done anyway!” Her cheeks were now nearly the color of her lips: dark red.

Lily stormed out of the Gryffindor Common room and onto the grounds. She made it as far as the beech tree before her anger faded and her strength gave way. The knowledge of what she had been keeping at bay by immersing herself in homework crashed through the barriers she had created in her mind, and tears began streaming down her face.

Her knees folded beneath her, but a moment before she hit the ground, a pair of strong arms caught her and pulled her up again.

Lily blinked and managed to hold back any more tears. She looked up into the face of James Potter.

“Are you okay?” he asked, and she glared at him.

“I’m fine, Potter,” she said icily. Her voice was detached.

He gave a crooked half-smile. “People who are ‘fine’ don’t cry, Lily.”

She blinked again, startled that he had used her first name, and said repeated, “I’m fine.” Her tone was softer this time, and she moved her gaze to the tree.

Realising that she was still in his arms, she pulled back quickly, and as a flash of emotion—was that disappointment?—crossed his face, she wiped her eyes quickly and added briskly, “And I wasn’t crying. Thank you, Potter, and good day.”

She turned with every intent of going back towards the castle, when his voice stopped her. “My name is James,” he said.

She blinked—she seemed to be doing that a lot lately—but did not turn. “Well, then, James, thank you.”

She could feel his eyes boring a hole in the back of her head. She sighed and spun to face him, meeting his hazel eyes. “What?” she asked.

“Huh?” he said.

“Why’re you starting at me?”

“Because you’re beautiful,” he answered honestly. This time it was he who dropped his eyes, and Lily smiled to think that he was embarrassed at his blunt answer.

Instantly, his hand jumped to his hair, a habit that did not seem to annoy her as much, of late. It was even kind of cute—No! She would not go there, now or ever.

Oh, what's the use? she thought despairingly. She knew it was too late; despite her best efforts, she had fallen for him.

“What’s wrong, Lily?” he said again, and this time she did not bother to lie. Instead, she dug into the pocket of her cloak and thrust a piece of parchment at him.

“Here. Read it,” she said when he made no move to take it.

Reluctant to delve into her personal business that she quite obviously didn’t want him to know about, he took the parchment and read aloud, “Dear Miss Evans… It is my misfortune to inform you that your parents, Mr and Mrs Shaun and Ammaline Evans, were killed the night of last. The Dark Mark was cast above your house, signifying that this murder was by ‘Death Eaters,’ or followers of the ‘Lord Voldemort.’ Of late, he has taken to killing muggle-borns and Squibs. Your sister Petunia was not home when your parents were murdered, and she has adamantly refused to speak to our officials. Again, I am very sorry for your loss. Condolences…” James trailed off. His eyes found hers, sympathy and something more in them.

Lily bit her lip, feeling the moisture build up behind her deep green coloured eyes. “I just can’t…” she whispered, and swore mentally as the tears cascaded down her cheeks.

She felt James’s arms, hesitant at first, go around her shoulders, and without thinking she pressed her face into his chest, just crying.

She couldn’t be sure how long they stood there like that, even after the tears had dried up, but when she eventually pulled away, the sun was setting.

“Thank you, James,” she whispered as she stepped back.

He said nothing, but his eyes sought hers, and she knew now what was in that piercing gaze; it was what always had been there, waiting for her to notice it, something that she was scared to admit was really there: love.

A shiver ran through her, and she stepped into the circle of his arms once more, touching her forehead to his. His arms strong around her, she whispered, “You won’t let go, will you?”

“Never,” he whispered back. “I’ll never let go of you, Lily.”

A/N: Hmmm...
Written at my friend Nicole's request to make a pointless fluffy one-shot.

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