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Lily froze at the sound of James’ voice.

What the hell was she going to say to him?

What the hell was he going to say to her?

Taking a deep breath, she turned around to face James.

She took a step back in surprise at his close proximity and stumbled over her bag, which she’d set down in anger at Sirius’ flippancy.

James grabbed her before she ended up on the floor but as his hand touched hers, a huge shiver ran through it, causing her to pull swiftly away.

Clearing her throat, she said, “Sorry about that. Can I uh…Can I come in?”

James nodded and stood to the side to let her pass. She grabbed her bag and went in.

She could feel his eyes on her as she took in the state of his dormitory.

“You er…you decided to have an um…a clean out?” she said faintly, turning round to look at him.

“Something like that,” he replied coldly, walking past her and taking a seat on his mattress.

Lily stood apprehensively, uncertain as to what to do.

James regarded her expectantly.

“Um,” she said, staring at her feet as though they fascinated her, “I just wanted to say that I’m…I’m sorry for earlier.”

James expression did not change.

There was a pause.

But James still didn’t say anything.

Lily was completely stumped. She’d assumed he’d say something after she’d apologised. She hadn’t anticipated having to do all the talking – normally it was James that did that when they were together.
After a minute of awkward silence, Lily decided that it would be a better idea for her to leave.

“Well…I should go! I’ll see you around…”

As she turned to leave, James finally spoke.

“That’s it then? That’s all I get?”

Lily looked round to see James staring at her with intense dislike on his face.

Or was it something else?

“What else am I supposed to say?!” she asked angrily. “I’ve said I’m sorry and I meant it!”

“Sorry for what, exactly?” asked James.

“Well, for…for earlier of course!”

“Which part of earlier, precisely?” said James sweetly.

James saw Lily’s nostrils flare – a sure sign that she was starting to get angry.

Lily knew James was trying to provoke her and it was damn well working!

“Oh, for crying out loud! Trust you to milk the situation for all it’s worth, Potter!”

“Perhaps,” said James unsmilingly, “But it was you who created it in the first place.”

Lily gaped at him.

“How was I supposed to know that you weren’t trying to nick my stuff or whatever?! It’s not like you haven’t done it before!”

For the first time since Lily’s arrival, James appeared to lose some of his cool.

Lily noticed a flush had started to creep up his neck.

She couldn’t resist a smirk.

“Ah ha. Not quite as innocent as we’ve been pretending, are we Potter?”

James glared at her.

“Ok, so what if I’m not?! At least I have the guts to admit it!”

“Are you saying that I don’t?!” asked Lily furiously.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” said James coldly, getting up off of the bed and walking over to stand in front of her. “You punish and you preach: to me, to Sirius, even to fucking Peter! And yet, you’re the one who’s guilty of the worst behaviour!”

“Wh-how is that?!” asked Lily in bewilderment.

“You hurl an insult at me at least once a day. You humiliate the Marauders on a weekly basis. You don’t ever seem to have any fun Lily and because you don’t, you try and stop everyone else from having it too!”

“I have fun!” said Lily indignantly. “I have a whole broom-shed full of fun! And I don’t try and…stop people having fun, but there’s got to be a limit!”

“Does the limit always have to be zero and harsh words aimed in my direction?” asked James quietly.

“It…I…” began Lily, but the same realisation she’d felt earlier coursed through her again.

“It doesn’t and…and it… it shouldn’t be,” said Lily, looking James straight in the eye.

James look stunned.

“Wh-what?” he stuttered, evidently taken aback by Lily’s sudden change in attitude.

Deciding to take advantage of his temporary speech impediment, Lily said, “I’m in the wrong. I didn’t realise it before and I’ve been pleading blamelessness since I arrived (which I think is actually just down to habit) but I’m not blameless and I realise that now. And I’m sorry. When you left earlier, I felt so awful! I mean, I’ve said some pretty harsh things to you in the past – I admit it – and I didn’t really think much of it (except, you know, ‘oh boo hoo, poor me, why won’t Potter leave me alone??’) and you pretty much always bounced back after a few minutes…but the look on your face when I said that stuff to you today…I’ll never forget it. I jumped to conclusions straight away, instead of asking your side of the story first and I shouldn’t have done. I was in the wrong and I’m sorry. I am; I-I really am.”
James nodded.

Heartened by this, Lily went on, “I’ve just become so accustomed to your immature pranks-”

James raised his eyebrows at this but didn’t comment.

“-and never really tried to…find any other side to you. But these past few weeks I have seen another side to you and I’ve actually liked what I’ve seen. What I’m trying to say is that…well…if-if you want to be friends – and I would really like that – then well…maybe we could be. If you want.”

James, whose heart had lifted at the words ‘maybe we could’, found himself crashing back down to earth with a very large bump.

‘Friends’. That was all that Lily wanted them to be. The disappointment that flooded through him was almost unbearable.

He so badly wanted to accept her offer – surely friends was better than nothing?

But he knew, deep down, that he and Lily could never just be friends. To be so close yet so far from her…he wouldn’t be able to stand it.

So, knowing that he’d probably be miserable for the rest of his life, James said sadly, “I can’t.”

Lily blinked.

“You can’t what?” she asked him uncertainly.

“I can’t be just you’re friend. I…I love you too much.”

He regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. He wanted to take them back but the damage was already done.

Lily looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

She didn’t know what to do.

“I think you should go,” James said quietly, walking past her and opening the door.

Lily turned around and walked towards the door still looking stunned.

“I-” she began, but James just looked away.

Pressing her lips tightly together she walked past him and through the open door.

As soon as she’d crossed the threshold, James closed the door and slid down it, tears pouring down his face.

He didn’t realise that Lily was still stood on the other side of the door and could hear every one of his sobs.

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