Chapter 18: Heart to hearts
The kiss was soft and gentle, almost innocent; had it not been involving James Potter. It ended almost as quickly as it began, with James pulling away and lowering his body so that his eyes were level with Lily’s. His deep hazel irises flashed between both of Lily’s eyes, trying to read exactly what she was thinking.
“Urm…” she stammered, her eyes widening in realisation of what had happened. Lily wasn’t really sure of how to react. She felt she couldn’t start shouting because she’d made no move to stop it, not that she could of; it was so quick. But even so, she had seen it coming and showed no sign of not wanting it to happen. Not that she wanted it to…
“Lily,” James began as he reached out for her hand; she immediately moved it to fix her hair and he sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said as he shrugged and moved back. Obviously what he had done had been a mistake; but he couldn’t help himself. She was so close and he always had a soft spot for her when she was angry.
“Lily?” he repeated, moving closer as she continued to stare wide eyed.
“Don’t.” She replied quickly but softly, moving further back. James drew back slightly and tilted his head, the look in his eyes made Lily cringe. He was so…hurt.
“Save it Lily,” he told her firmly as he turned to leave.
“No,” she said as she grabbed his wrist and turned him to face her. James looked down at where she was touching him until she let go, then he looked into her face, but not quite at her eyes. The look he was giving her made it seem as though he really couldn’t bear to be facing her. It was a look like none Lily had ever seen before and she couldn’t stand seeing it. “I didn’t mean to do that,” she said gently.
“Do what?” James asked calmly. “Flinch away as though I was going to hurt you?” his voice was the epitome of calm. “Lily, do you seriously think I could ever hurt you? I would never have kissed you if I thought you were going to react this way…” his voice got muffled as he turned to walk off again.
“Please just listen,” she pleaded and ran to catch up. James listened as the small heels of her shoes hit the marble flooring and crossed his arms as she caught up. “I-I know we’ve never exactly got on,” she began and James watched her out of the corner of his eye. “But can’t we just make a shot out of being, well, just friends?”
James came to a sudden halt which had Lily spinning to look at him curiously. His eyes had narrowed at her in a look worse than the one he was giving her when he couldn’t met her eyes. “Friends?” he snapped. Lily nodded. “I would have done anything for you to agree to be friends with me at the beginning of the year. Anything. I knew that if you got to know me you’d give me a chance but you wouldn’t spare me two minutes. So now, when it’s convenient for you, you decide that you want to be friends?”
His eyes, the ones which Lily had contemplated their unusual colour over, were flashing dangerously. “Well you can shove it Lily,” he said harshly causing Lily to gasp. “I don’t want your friendship. I didn’t particularly want it to begin with. I can’t stand looking at you; do you understand me? Being around you just makes me, well it makes me…”
“It makes you what exactly?” Lily asked calmly but with a fiery edge to her voice. James, seeming to snap out of his tamping rage, snapped his eyes back to her face before looking down at the floor.
“The point is,” he started. “I can’t be just friends with you Lily Evans.”
“Why not?” Lily asked, really wishing that the kiss had never happened and fearing the emotion his voice now held a hell of a lot more than when he was angry.
James closed his eyes and took a deep breath, only opening them when he felt ready to face the intensity of her bright green eyes which he could feel boring into his eye lids. “It just can’t happen,” he said as his final word.
Lily bit into her cheek as she felt the corners of her eyes sting. “So this is it?” she asked with a shrug.
“It is,” James replied as he run his tongue over his teeth, a movement which could be interpretated as his way of keeping the tears away. He hated this, but he was sure it was the only way to go. After that kiss there was no way he could be just friends with Lily. He still wasn’t one hundred percent sure what his feelings for her were, but he was determined to turn them into dislike. He thought it’d be a lot easier to not like the girl than…well, than to fall even further for her. “Later Evans,” he said coldly and barely moved as Lily stormed past him, bumping into him as she went.
Winters hands seemed to creep un-knowingly into the grounds of Hogwarts and the students woke one morning to find snow like they’d never seen it before. Dripping icicles hung from the branches of trees and the Whomping Willow had been frozen still.
Inside Hogwarts though, the corridors were just as warm and inviting as ever. Many students were entering through the main entrance, sopping wet and shivering but their laughter echoed around the spacious halls.
One, Lily Evans, stomped her way back from the ball meeting with a face like thunder. She made her way not-so-quietly back to the Gryffindor common room and went straight upstairs.
“Ergh!” she exclaimed, slamming the girls’ dorm door behind her. “I can’t stand it any more!” Celina, Alice and Zayda turned to look at their friend sympathetically. “I just wish he would stop flat out ignoring me.”
“But Lily,” Celina began cautiously. “I thought you never wanted to be friends with him anyway; I though you would prefer it this way?”
“I do. I did. I…Oh I don’t know!” Lily exclaimed, throwing her arms wildly in the air and flopping back onto her bed, pulling a pillow over her face. “Pah di o so ong!” she shouted a sentence which was muffled by the material covering her mouth. When she got no response from her friends Lily slowly removed the pillow and eyed them. Their curious and worried faces told her they’d not understood a word she said. “What did I do so wrong?” she asked with a shrug.
“Hmm, let me think,” Zayda began sarcastically, scratching her chin. “You have consistently turned him down since 3rd year; he professes his love for you, you scream that you hate him; you admit to his best friends that maybe you have a thing for him, and he’s clueless and then, when he can, understandably, hold back no longer and kisses you, you kiss him back and then act as though he’d forced himself on to you. Before, might I add, almost begging him to be friends with you for reasons you don’t even understand.”
Lily had stared at her friend with her jaw almost hitting the floor as she trailed off all these things. Alice slapped her mouth shut and she blinked her eyes a few times before responding. “Well, when you clump it all together like that…”
“He’s confused Lily, okay?” Alice said with a rather snappy tone which surprised Lily. “You may pity yourself because you haven’t quite worked out your feelings for him yet, but I feel for James,” she told the room.
“Since when did you begin calling him James?” Celina asked slowly. The four girls had always been known to be on last name basis with the Marauders. That is, apart from Lily and Celina when it came to Remus.
“I don’t know,” Alice said with an impatient shrug. “Does it matter?” she stared down the three girls, daring them to object. “What matters is, Lily, James Potter has every right to be a little pissed off with you right now. I mean, he’s spent basically three years asking you out and over the last year has been trying really hard to show you that he does really care for you-”
“Only so that I’ll give in!” Lily testified.
“Is that really his motive Lily? Do you seriously believe that the only reason James wants to get with you is so that he can prove he can get whoever he wants? After all these years you’re still using that excuse. Ok, fair enough, maybe to begin with that was his reason; but he’s grown up. And if he wanted so much to prove that he is the ‘Almighty Player of Hogwarts’, why hasn’t he tried it on with Celina or Zayda?” Lily bit her lip but refrained from answering.
“What I’m trying to say, Lily, is that I think you really did hurt him when you backed away. He’s tried to show how he would never hurt you and would do anything to protect you, but you cowered away from him-”
“It was just a reaction,” Lily muttered.
“I know,” Alice said softly. “But I think you need to understand his feelings for you. Why do you think he stopped so abruptly during the Quidditch match? It most certainly wasn’t because someone had made a noise; it was because he thought something was wrong with you. I think you need to get used to the fact that whether you like him or not, he’s not going to stop caring for you Lily and will do anything in his power to show you that you’re wrong about him,” she stopped almost short of the last word and sighed. “Would have done anything to show you it,” she corrected. “I think you’ve really done it this time Lily.”
Lily stared down at her crossed legs and took a deep breath before looking up. “I guess I’ve got what I’ve always wanted eh?” her voice almost sound saddened. “Peace from Potter. No more confessions of his un-dying love for me at mornings; no Lily-will-you-marry-me at the most inopportune moments; no evil glares from the Potter/Black fan club-”
“No one worshipping the ground you walk on and no one caring for you so much that he’ll put you before himself every time,” Celina input seriously. “I’m not sure that’s exactly what you wanted Lily.”
“No,” Lily breathed as she started inspecting her nails. “That’s what any girl would want. But Potter’s just not the guy for me,” she felt her eyes sting and didn’t wipe the tears away as they began to fall down her red cheeks, her shinny green eyes turned towards her best friends. “He’s not the one.”
She wasn’t exactly sure what had made her used those exact words; the one. Maybe it was because James always referred to himself as being it. Lily also wasn’t sure why she was crying. Maybe it was because she thought James being it would have made things a lot easier, she’d have found him already and wouldn’t have to worry about never finding the right guy; that’s what every girl wants, right? Maybe it was because some sort of feeling was developing for him and she was quite sad to be letting it go. Maybe she felt sorry for him; chasing the wrong girl all these years. Or maybe…Maybe secretly she really wanted him to be the one.
The days towards the ball were numbered and before they knew it, the Hogwarts students were desperately rushing around to find themselves a date at the last minute, just three days before.
“Me and Zayda are going as Cleopatra and Mark Anthony,” Sirius pronounced to the room of his friends.
“Who’re they?” Peter and James asked. Sirius shrugged, his head still bent over the charms work he was meant to have in yesterday.
“Cleopatra was once the queen of Egypt and Mark Anthony was the ruler of Rome,” Remus told the boys. “They were lovers and more famously known from Shakespeare’s play “Anthony and Cleopatra”.”
“Ooo, lovers!” Peter shouted, giggling madly as he looked to James who he expected to laugh along with him. However, James carried on staring into the fireplace, his favourite pastime over the last few days. Peter shook his head as he looked at the other two marauders.
“So, Prongs, urm,” Sirius began, not quite sure whether or not to ask this question. “You going to ask Evans to the ball?” He sucked in his lips and furrowed his forehead, expecting an explosion.
“No,” was James’ simple answer.
“Why not?” Remus started wryly. “You’ve asked her to every one since third year?” James spun in Remus’ direction and narrowed his eyes.
“I can’t stand the sight of the girl so why the hell would I want to spend the night with her?” his eyes flashed around his friends.
“You can’t stand the sight of her?” Sirius asked sceptically, raising his brows.
“I hate her,” James snapped as his attention was returned to the fire. Sure enough his words were coming out harshly but he wasn’t fooling the boys; his eyes were flashing with a fire full of hurt but certainly not hate.
“You don’t hate her James,” Remus said with a shake of his head.
“And how exactly would you know that?” James asked as he turned on the bright eyed boy. “Enlighten me?” Remus took a deep breath.
“There is no way,” Remus began, with a strong tone to his voice as he attempted to explain this in a way which would get through James’ stubborn head. “That you can like the girl from third year and then hate her at the drop of a hat. For the last year you have pranked so little I wouldn’t be surprised if the thought of playing up has been wiped from your mind. Not once have you gone out of your way to send a hex at Snape and you’ve only been out past curfew at the full moon. There is no way on this earth, or any other world which may be out there, that you, or any guy at that, would change him self so much for a girl,” he was speaking slowly so that James took in every word. Now came the bit he had been waiting to tell James since school began. “Unless, of course, he loved her.”
The room went so quiet the drop of a pin would have echoed as Peter and Sirius stared at Remus and James kept his eyes trained on his shoes. A strange gurgling sound from Sirius broke the silence.
“You’ve got to be joking?” he struggled to choke out in disbelief.
“Ye,” Peter began with a slight laugh which sounded like he was doubting him self. “Prongs couldn’t be in love.” Remus shrugged simply and stood up, gathering his papers as he eyed Sirius who stared straight at James.
“I’m going to dinner,” he announced. “And Peter’s coming with me so I guess we’ll see you two there.” He jammed his hand under Peter’s arm and pulled him to a standing position. Peter stammered something about staying but Remus ignored him, his werewolf strength making him pull the chubby boy along with ease.
The room fell to silence once again and James continued to ignore his friends gaze. Sirius watched James curiously, the question shouting out in his head. But he didn’t need to ask it; James’ downward gaze and the tears threatening to spill from his eyes told him everything he wanted to know.
“So,” he began slowly. “You got it bad huh?” he asked with a tight smile. James lifted his gaze to meet Sirius’ and a shuddering breath rose to his chest.
“Ye,” he answered with a sigh and a small laugh, almost bitter in tone.
“That’s cool,” Sirius told him with a nod of his head.
“Not quite,” James replied as he turned to look at a group of people huddled in the corner of the room. His eyes strained as they squinted to keep away any unwanted tears. “She didn’t hate me,” James said softly after a short pause. Sirius said nothing, knowing this was a time to keep his mouth shut. James hadn’t told them about what had happened in much detail. “She will now though,” he looked back at his friend. “I told her, after she said we could be friends, that I never want to be friends with her because I can’t stand the sight of her,” Sirius bit down on his lip, knowing full well that that was a bad move. “I didn’t mean it in the way she took it. I just meant, after the kiss, that I could never see her as just a friend.”
“You kissed her?” Sirius asked incredulously. James nodded.
“I couldn’t help my self. She was so close it was as though she was waiting for me to do it,” he shook his head. “I’m so stupid,” he punched his fist into the couch and put his head into his hands.
“Hey,” Sirius soothed as he strode to his friends side and proceeded to awkwardly pat him on the back. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You can’t help the way you feel. If you really are in…well, I mean if you do really…oh Prongs,” he said with a shake of his head. “Do you seriously love the girl?” he watched his friend with rising anticipation and wide eyes.
James wasn’t really startled by the question, he’d been expecting it. He began chewing on his cheek at the mention of the question and stayed quiet for some time afterwards. He didn’t even spend this time wondering about what had been asked of him, he spent it thinking of, well…nothing. He was doing that a lot lately, staring off into space and thinking of nothing. It was a hell of a lot easier than thinking of everything.
“Do I love her?” James repeated but it came across more as though he was questioning him self, which he was. “I’m not sure,” he said as he turned to Sirius. He saw something in his eyes fall. Maybe the ladies-man wanted to know all about love? To experience it, even? Or…had he experienced it already?
“But I’ll tell you what I do know,” he said as he shifted in his seat so that he could face his friend. Sirius bit down on his lip, refusing to move and focusing his full attention on James. “I know that when she’s in a room I can sense her before I see her. And when I do see her, no matter what mood I am in, I can’t help but smile and feel happy. I could see her a million times each day but every time feels like the first. And when she looks at me,” a smile flickered across his face. “I can feel her trying to work me out. It’s as though her eyes act as windows which allow me to see what’s going on in her head. I can tell you everyway to piss her off and everyway to make her smile,” his smile dropped. “I seem to have problems with telling my self about the latter. When I am around her I struggle for words and I find my self speaking but not actually hearing what I say. And when we’re talking I don’t find myself glancing around and nodding absent-mindedly, I find myself drawn in to her every word and my eyes never leave hers. Everything she says interests me and if I could I would spend every millisecond of every day with her. I would do anything to make her happy, make her laugh, make her smile in that way which reaches the corners of her eyes.”
James took a deep breath and laid his head back on the seat, waiting for Sirius to talk. “So,” his voice came. “Why the sudden hatred?” James slowly lifted his head and turned to look at his friend. The look deep in his hazel eyes told Sirius he was hurting…really bad.
“It’s so much easier to hate than love,” he said slowly. “It’s easier to hate someone and never interact with them when you love them, than like them and have to be around them when you still love them.”
“I don’t think I understand,” Sirius responded with his mouth twisted to the side.
“Neither do I,” James replied with a shrug. “But what I do understand is that no matter how much I try to hate her, I’m always going to be completely hers. I can’t stand the thought of her being hurt and I’ll stand in the way of anyone trying to her hurt,” his eyes were again trained on the dancing flames. “So, do I love her?” he repeated the question again. “If wanting and willing to put Lily before my own happiness and safety, if wanting to be around her 24/7 and if hurting myself to make sure that I never hurt her means I love her, then I guess I do.”
“You guess?” Sirius asked with raised eyebrows. James lifted his head and looked at him, shook his head and sighed.
“I know I love her,” he said firmly. Sirius let out a low whistle and rubbed a hand over the back of his neck.
“Prongs!” he suddenly exclaimed, jumping to his feet and causing James to stare around worriedly. Sirius suddenly flung himself at James and pulled him into a bone crushing hug. “You’re finally growing up!” he shouted in his ear. James gave a small laugh which made Sirius lean back and survey him with a very worried expression.
“I know,” James said bitterly. “And it sucks.”
A.n. Uhum...SORRY! It's been what...almost 2months? But i moved last month some time and the internet guy only came last week and then we had to wait for our telephone line to connect and blah blah blah....BUT, i did right this chapter in the mean time =] Unfortunately it was the only one i wrote =/ I went out a lot more because i didn't have the internet to read stories on this site so couldn't write. But im back now and totally ready to shoot out lots of lovely chapters...i hope =P Hopefully not too many of you have dawdled away from this story!!! So ye, i would really appreciate reviews...even though i probably don't deserve them =] Next chapter shall be up shortly!
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