No Headlights in Paradise
Chapter 2 – Love Decided They Didn't Belong
Song choice: Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Ray
Lily had pretended to be asleep when Mary and Marlene had walked in post her second vicious argument with James because everyone was always going to side with James. She was after all Lily the Gryffindor outcast. She wouldn't put it past Mary to confront her even in her moment of utter despair but she heard the hushed whispers and maybe tonight they would reprieve her. She was miserable all on her own; there was no need to add to it.
Her fight with James followed her into the night, allowing her to stare blankly at her canopy as the twinkling dawn passed her by and the blazing light of the summer morning remaindered her not so gently that fights with James Potter did not make time stop. The idea of facing everyone sent dread into her, and faking sleep seemed like the better option of facing a House that she was sure never believed she belonged with them to begin with.
Her two roommates woke with the morning light and headed to breakfast as usual. As they made their own morning commotion, Lily tried not to huff into her pillow as it seemed her sleep was of little concern to them. She hugged her pillow more fiercely and when the door was closed shut she released the desperate sob she had been concealing. Hugging her pillow did nothing to soothe the deep stirring ache in her heart as if it refused to dissolve but instead spread more forcefully and thoroughly as if acid.
She gulped as tears leaked horribly down her face, and she had never felt more alone at Hogwarts then she did in those moments for even if she needed a friend, she had none. It was an all-consuming misery that would not resolve itself until she left Hogwarts because with a deafening clarity she knew it wouldn't be all right. It wouldn't be as long as James walked these halls and she witnessed him laughing in class, riding his broomstick or flirting with the teachers.
So she continued to cry and allow the aching, painful mess that she had become to be all encompassing as she skipped breakfast and lunch and ignored all responsibilities. And they hadn't even been together, she reminded herself spitefully.
"Lily," she heard as a shadow appeared at her drapes.
She didn't answer but couldn't pretend to be asleep as she sniffled into wetly into her pillow.
"Lily," she heard again but she rolled over and contained her sobs momentarily until the person drifted away.
As the day turned into night and the darkness engulfed her, she wondered if James was thinking about her. If he would see the silhouette of the moon and think about her in the same moment she was thinking about him. Yet, as the day passed into the next day, she reminded herself the ache would stop if she could escape Hogwarts. Escaping Hogwarts involved surviving her NEWT's. NEWT's, she reminded herself, would also distract her from the misery cutting into her bones.
With that, she got up, pulled her hair into a ponytail, put on her father's old college jersey, a pair of ripped jeans and sneakers. She laughed when she looked at herself in the mirror. She looked anything but magical but an ordinary Muggle, but they weren't all ordinary, were they… She tried to hide away her distressing purple eyes but gave into them. Maybe the misery look was in style these days.
As she began packing her school bag of all the materials she needed she mused that she knew it would come to this. Her alone, messing it all up all over again by choosing the person that she just wasn't meant to be with. First Severus, now James. Sometimes, in her darkest thoughts, she wondered if she had just gone to school with the Muggles, squashed out the magic and allowed herself to be normal like Petunia, if it all would have been okay. Her and Petunia most certainly would have been on better terms. Yet, even as the thoughts would seep into her, she dismissed them immediately. There was no squashing magic that essentially reminded her that the Wizarding world was where she belonged.
She smiled at her self sadly, and then reminded herself that she would not be victim of her circumstances. So she mustered up a deep breath and made her way down to the common room and ignored the stares on her skin that made her itchy, avoided any glances that would have allowed her to stumble upon the messy hair of James Potter and made her way to the Great Hall.
And even though she ate her food silently and was convinced that people were not only staring but also pointing, Lily continued to eat and ignored the sinking, isolated feeling in consuming the pit of her stomach that liked whispering how she had no friends. It was moments like this that forced Lily to have self-reflection. She was keenly aware that she had a few admirers at Hogwarts. Her lack of trust, her reserved attitude and the fact that entering Hogwarts she had pre-chosen best friend had always made Lily defensive.
This has changed since James embraced her and took it upon himself to ensure she was a well-liked student but it also depended on James approval apparently. Breaking James Potter's heart didn't seem to bode well for her school popularity. And she was quite positive that James would not come to her rescue in this instance.
Finishing her porridge, Lily got up and left the room and walked towards the library. She was mentally outlining her preparations for studying when she ran into a solid wall. Or not wall, human chest that was made of cement, she concluded. A secure grip took her by her elbows and she was faced with the brown eyes of Sirius Black.
She wasn't exactly sure what she was supposed to say to her best friend's best friend? The Marauders, for their good will and intention, were James' friends primarily. What did they have in common without him? Not much, she concluded with a sad lump in her throat. So she remained staring stupidly at him until he would break the silence. Silence was always the firmest tool she believed to get people talking.
"Lily, hey," he said gently as he straightened her and let go.
She decided a tight smile sufficed.
"How are you?" he asked kindly. Don't confuse kindness with pity, Lily remarked darkly in her thoughts.
"Sirius, you don't have to do this."
"This… standing?" he joked and Lily cracked a small smile.
She shrugged her shoulders and pointed at her self. "We're not friends."
"Lily," he said amused. "I'm sorry to break it to you, we're friends."
His affectionate words caused tears to spill over her eyes and Sirius laid a hand on her shoulder and hugged her with comforting arms, as if he knew exactly the despair she had been feeling. Lily found herself hugging him back as her misery was acknowledged with gentleness.
As she finally controlled herself, she smiled brokenly. "Thanks, I needed that."
He laughed but he wasn't smiling and then hugged her again.
"Library?" he asked.
So they walked silently to the library, arm in arm and Lily took comfort in the camaraderie between them and found herself joking and studying next to him all day. Momentarily forgetting about James. And as they walked back to the dorm and were about to part he hesitated before saying, "James, he's more miserable than you."
"I doubt that," Lily said as a tremor raced through her heart, unwilling for hope to linger.
"He is, Lily. I probably shouldn't even tell you this but he sits on his bed all day and stares at the ceiling. I know him, he feels like he's missed his chance."
"But- but he hasn't!"
Sirius shrugged his shoulders because they both knew there was no telling James what to do, and when he saw the sparkly tears in her eyes again he hugged her. "I wish James would let me comfort him this way."
Lily laughed but didn't say anything in addition and they separated making their way to their respective dormitories.
Entering into her room, she found Marlene and Mary sitting on Mary's bed. They both looked up at her as she walked in and for some reason their gazes made Lily shrink inside.
"Hey," Lily said hoarsely, making her way towards her own bed and laying down against the cushion of her mattress.
Marlene quietly acknowledged her with a nod but Mary scowled at her. Lily confusingly glanced at Marlene but Marlene wasn't facing her, actually she was looking at anything but her.
"What gives?" Lily asked reluctantly.
"We saw you with Sirius," Mary accused as she ignored Marlene's hiss to shut up.
Lily was too tired for these dramatics and after her good day with Sirius she decided to just not say anything. Instead, she lay back in her bed and picked up the first book she found, A History of Magic.
"You're just going to lay there? Don't you have something to say for yourself?" Mary continued.
"Nope," Lily uttered, and seriously considered drawing her curtains but thought better of it. Maybe her haughtiness wasn't worth it. The two girls after all were her roommates, her somewhat friends for the last seven years.
With that thought Lily closed her book and faced them and was about to make a peace offering until Mary opened her mouth again. "You don't see us hanging around James."
Lily's mouth hung open at the claim and she strained herself from rolling her eyes. "That's rich but by all means hang out with him. I don't care."
"What?" Lily said sharply to her roommate, looking at Marlene for some sort of reprimand but it didn't come. Her and Mary always quarreled but this seemed to be taking it too far.
"It's like you don't care about any of your friends feelings. I mean hanging around Sirius even though you know how it hurts Marlene!"
Lily looked over at her for a second before literally laughing humorlessly as she collapsed with her hands up. "I give up."
"You think this is funny?" Marlene said as she looked over at Lily. When she didn't answer Marlene snorted. "You're so full of it, Lily."
"Wh-What?" shocked, Lily twisted her head and looked at Marlene whose face was usually so kind.
"You're laying there looking miserable and crying for days, and you and James didn't even go on one date! But you're my friend and I respect you enough to know that me hanging around James would probably make it worse," Marlene began, her voice only getting higher and higher as she yelled at Lily. "And here I am trying to the considerate thing by not hanging around James and here you are spending the entire day with Sirius!"
"Marlene," Lily started, uncertain how to approach the delicate subject. "I would never ask either of you to not hang out with your friend."
"Lily, he cheated on me!" the words quieted Lily immediately and caused her to swallow her retort as Marlene attempted to compose herself with tears. "Sirius cheated on me and you're out making pottery with him and he cheated on me or did you forget?"
"Marlene… it's not like that… I just I needed a friend."
"Just shut up, Lily!" Marlene huffed as she glared at her. "I mean for god sake, I'm your friend. It's like your magnet, you keep choosing the people who can't help you."
Lily crossed her arms around her stomach and looked down. "Please, stop."
"Whatever, Lily," Marlene said turning away from her and back at Mary.
After a moment of silence, Lily found the little corner of courage left in her. "Don't play this big game as if the three of us are best friends. We all know I'm not in your little clique and never have been."
The silence that followed wasn't tense, or awkward or even frustrating. The air was timid and confusing with the air that these girls only had two more weeks of each other before the finality of Hogwarts concluded and it was sad after seven years Lily couldn't call Mary or Marlene her friend.
The following days Lily spent the majority of her time in the library studying. Studying to escape or remove herself from the maudlin feeling that everything in Hogwarts seemed to be emitting. She had been so excited when she had received her letter to Hogwarts and now… well now sometimes she wondered if Petunia was right. That she was a freak. In the Muggle world and the Wizarding one.
Finals were a welcome distraction, and Lily found herself spending increasingly less and less time with, well, human creatures. Lily had locked herself in an empty classroom on the fifth floor and transfigured a chair to make a less then comfortable mattress, but it did the job. And though normally, Lily thoroughly enjoyed looking up new spells, reciting the history of magic or rereading old Wizarding culture, the use of finals were spent trying not to think about everything had gone wrong in the last few days. Which, she was aware wasn't healthy but it allowed her to focus on something outside of her sorrow even though she was going a bit mad. With limited social interaction, and living on coffee and stale breads leftover from what the house elves brought her, she realized if she reread the word 'wand' one more time her eyes would burn through the page and her brain would literally melt.
With that realization, Lily acknowledged that she desperately needed a decent night's sleep as avoiding clean sheets, hygiene and food were doing her little favors expect. It seemed that Lily had truly entered the isolation she had constantly felt in her time at Hogwarts, but every time the thought trickled into her mind she quickly picked up a quill and began taking notes. She didn't want to be distracted during finals and if she remained in her empty classroom that meant no roommates, no running into people who were "off limits", and particularly, no James.
The first exam was Transfiguration, the perfect subject to keep her busy for hours on end. And though Transfiguration remained her toughest subject the distraction ensured that she almost enjoyed researching the field. Thus, on the day of the exam she quickly seated herself far away from any familiar faces and began scribbling her answers, and when she handed in her paper to Professor McGonagall, who frowned at her appearance, Lily had never felt so confidant in handing over a Transfiguration exam. And when the application portion of the exam concluded and she saw the groupings of friends together, Lily reminded herself that she shouldn't have expected anything else. James friend's weren't actually her friends. Even though Sirius said otherwise, he was still James' best friend, not Lily's. Marlene and Mary never had considered her within the bounds of their own friendship, so she forcefully swallowed her sadness.
"Miss Evans," she heard behind her and turned around to face Professor McGonagall.
"You seem ill," Professor McGonagall began and Lily tried not being mortified at her teachers observation.
"I'm fine, truly, Professor. I uh I just…" but Lily didn't really know what to say because she couldn't confide in her teacher, could she?
"Miss McKinnon has informed you haven't been sleeping in your dormitory, is this true?"
At this, Lily had no words. Why would Marlene tell McGonagall this? "We had a row… It's nothing, Professor."
"Well, I don't know where you have been sleeping, Miss Evans, but students at Hogwarts sleep in their dormitories. I will have to insist that you return there tonight."
"I uh, yes, Professor."
Lily turned away then but heard behind her, "Miss Evans, Mr. Potter helps me tutor the First and Second Years," Lily didn't say anything at her words but remained with her back turned. "And for the spirited boy that he is, he has become extremely subdued to the point that he took me as a confidant. You must be patient with James, Lily dear. He is after all still a boy on the cusp of adulthood."
Lily returned to her dormitory at Professor McGonagall's instructions but would wake at the crack of dawn and would return well past midnight that entailed she would avoid her two roommates and sleep.
As her NEWT's continued, Lily had History of Magic, Charms then Care of Magical Creatures. She was faced with most of her class during the Potions exam but her confidence and capabilities in the course gave her little trepidation when facing them. She was after all almost top of her class at Potions that was proven when she completed the Draught of the Living Dead potions successfully. Lily watched as her fellow classmates persisted as she handed in her potion to a delighted Slughorn. Expect Snape, who she felt frowning at her behind her back.
When the class was given permission to leave, Lily packed her bag slowly waiting for the crowd to disperse before exiting the classroom. She found herself face to face with Marlene.
"Lily," she said as she blocked her pathway.
"Marlene," Lily said unsurely.
"I've been trying to catch you all week," she said conversationally, kindly.
"Well you've caught me now."
Marlene took a deep breath before saying, "I've been wanting to apologize for last week. I was out of line. Mary too."
Lily tried to quell the surprise before shaking her head. "No need."
"There is," Marlene said gently before touching Lily's hand. "Me and Mary were being overdramatic and I… well I shouldn't have been mad at you for talking to Sirius. And anyways, I should focus my anger on who I'm actually angry at, which is him, not you."
Lily nodded her head numbly not really sure what to say. "Marlene… I uh… Sorry my brain has been kind of fuzzy recently."
Marlene chuckled at her, shrugging her shoulders. "I just… well you weren't coming back to the dormitory and I didn't want to leave Hogwarts with how we left it. I've always considered you my friend, Lily. It makes me feel horrible that you felt excluded."
Lily was sure the shock appeared on her face, as she remained speechless. Marlene seemed amused though unsure and Lily figured she might as well say something though she was left baffled. "I'm sorry too it's just that I'm trying to wrap my head around… it's just I figured everyone hardly tolerated me to begin with, I figured now that me and Ja- well that we weren't friends anymore no one needed to tolerate me at all."
"Lily, don't be silly!" Marlene remarked and hugged her suddenly, and Lily realized in that moment that no one had touched, talked, or hugged (expect Sirius) since her and James' spat in the common room and she tried desperately not to tear up again at the comfort of someone's arms around her. Fighting with friends and finals together was hard after all.
So Lily and Marlene stood there in the middle of castle with their arms wrapped around each other, laughing and crying until they made their way back to the Seventh Year girls Gryffindor dormitory. Mary was sitting on her bed and rolled her eyes at the display.
"You girls make up, then?" she drawled and Marlene smacked her over the head. "Ouch, well, yes, Lily, sorry I was a bit dramatic before but well, we saw you with Black and I figured witch hunt it is."
Lily laughed at her apology as she snuggled into her lush mattress and almost groaned at the comfort. How silly to deny herself this over a school fight.
"And anyways," Marlene added diplomatically, "Sirius is your friend and none of us should be forced to adhere by false bravado."
Lily scoffed. "Barely."
"Me and Sirius are barely friends."
Mary groaned loudly and Marlene jumped onto her bed and straddled her as she shook her shoulders. "Lily! You must stop with this self-deprecation."
"But it's true!" Lily insisted as Marlene rolled off and lay next to her. "We aren't… I mean he only spoke to me because of well you know." The quiet in the room caused her too look up and she saw Marlene and Mary looking at her with equal expressions of exasperation. "It's the truth!"
"Lily," Marlene said softly. "We all saw what happened, no one thinks James is totally in the wrong especially those who actually matter. He never asked you out, he never declared his feelings and therefore, he never gave you guys a chance to exist."
"No, Lily!" Mary added. "No buts. You might have been hasty in letting that Snitch go, sure, but James is prune to overreaction and he definitely overreacted."
"And Lily," Marlene added, "You should know that James has been quite… well-"
"Stupid," Mary suggested and Marlene laughed.
"His eyes are roaming the castle all the time as if he is searching for a glimpse of you. He leaves randomly and walks the castle opening random doors. He doesn't tell us why but we all know and he knows that we know."
"Bit stalkerish if you ask me," Mary instigated, and Lily couldn't help but crack a smile even as her heart thumped at Marlene's words.
"If he wanted to find me it wasn't like he wouldn't be able too. I'm sure, well I don't know but I'm sure he has ways," Lily said.
"Lily, he studies in the dormitory and stays awake watching the portrait hole opening hoping the next person who crosses it will be you and it never is," Marlene said, as she stroked her friend's hair lightly. "Lily, he thinks about you all the time."
"But what about exams…" Lily said biting her lip as her insides crumbled and a thousand butterflies squirmed through her heart.
"Lily," Mary laughed. "You haven't noticed? We were all sure you had!"
"He just stares at you," Marlene smiled. "He almost messed up his Transfiguration application because he was watching you perform your spells and almost tripped over himself trying to get you just to glance in his direction."
"Then why hasn't he said anything to me?" Lily demanded because this was insanity. James could easily have found her, she was sure of it. All the antics, the lost schoolboy was for nothing but dramatics because James always got what he wanted.
"I don't know but Lily, but I'm surprised he has made it this far honestly during exams because he just isn't studying."
"Not like he needs to study," Lily grumbled.
"Maybe," Marlene said. "But you should know he is constantly looking for you."
Lily shook her head in refusal because the entire thing seemed preposterous. "I have to study."
Mary laughed and Marlene looked on a bit sympathetically. "Yeah, but you can study here now, yeah? No matter hideouts."
"And you look terrible too," Mary supplemented.
And even as Lily opened her Alchemy book and tried focusing on the words, the only ones that pounded through her brain were those of Marlene's making her shiver with anticipation that she was sure was false. But she couldn't help but wonder… Was he looking for her because he wanted to apologize? Or because he missed her? Or maybe they had got it wrong and he wasn't scrounging the hallways looking for because Lily was positive he would have found her; no one knew the hallways of Hogwarts better than the Marauders after all. The yearning ache reminded her not to jump to conclusion, as her expectations always seemed to be her doomsday.
So with that she focused on her Alchemy book and paid attention to the swirling silver and blue pictures, and decided that obviously James wasn't looking very hard. And now that she was back in the dormitory it would be much easier for him to find her, if he was actually looking, she reminded herself firmly…
With Alchemy completed, Herbology next, Defense Against the Dark Arts was last. The exam had an hour theoretical in which Lily breezed by. It was the three-hour application test that left Lily heaving towards her final task and vehemently reminding her this was why she would become a Healer and not an Auror. Her hand was shaking as she approached her final task and the examiner smiled kindly at her in understanding.
"Almost there dear, and then you can join your friends," the wheezy wizard said as he pointed to the line of finished classmates along the hall who weren't allowed to leave until all the students completed the task. With all the eyeballs on her, and considering she was one of the last students, she felt as if it was a cheers and jeers section.
"Your final task is to perform the Patronus Charm. The best of your ability now, even if it's just a wisp."
It would be her fate to be forced to do the one spell that had constantly been the bane of her existence. Because Lily was good at magic. But she was not good at the stupid, 'have a happy thought', Patronus Charm! It made her surly to sit in class and watch people around her accomplish the spell as she barely forced silver streaks out. How James had sent a solid Patronus after a few attempts. Lily acknowledged privately that not many happy moments had happened to her, nothing to the extent to effectively produce a Patronus anyways.
So Lily closed her eyes and took a deep breath and when she opened them her eyes locked with James, and she instantly remembered what Marlene had said: He thinks about you all the time. Giddy affection melted across her chest as his hazel eyes bore upon her and the memories from the past year seemed to elapse into hazy pictures through her mind. And she remembered his hands on her shoulders as he gently nudged her between classes and send her notes, or their snowball fight before Christmas that forced them to huddle by the fire for the rest of the night and the way his hands always felt so tender against her own.
It was as if Lily's hands acted on their own as she raised her wand and faced the instructor. Because looking at James entrapped her and without thinking too much she said: "Expecto Patronoum!"
And out her wand glittered a hardening silver light that formed into solid doe that instantly swept her in a shield of warmth. The doe came galloping towards her and she found herself caressing the mystical creature as the instructor gave an excited squeal.
"Well done Miss Evans! Well done. And fully formed! Not a wisp in sight."
Lily's eyes locked again with James, and she remembered his own galloping stag charging across the Charms classroom. And James was looking at her, his mouth agape as his eyes flickered between her and the doe and then back again. The glow of her Patronus encouraged the strength and security she had been lacking as the two of them made the connection. Even as the instructor moved on to the next student and Patrnous faded from view, she was left staring at James and collecting herself enough to remind herself that she was a capable witch that didn't need to be dependent on the attention of a singular male wizard. The glow between them was vanquished and the feeling of detachment increased tenfold.
The instructor dismissed the class, and Lily watched as James hastened to leave, not even waiting for his friends. She collected her belongings and was about to exit when she felt a shadow befall her. It was Severus. She exited anyways and he followed her out.
"Yes," she said icily.
"I saw your Patronus," he stated.
Standing in front of him, Lily looked at him more closely than she had in almost two years and even with meters between them she immediately noticed that his gaze was darker, more threatening than intimidating.
"It's a doe."
Lily raised her eyebrows and waited for the continuation but he provided no further explanation. "Right, well if you have nothing to add I'm going to go."
She made to turn but he seized her wrist, and held it tightly around his closed hand. Her hair whipped him in the face as she glared at him and tried to pull her hand but he clenched her more aggressively.
"Let go," she said roughly, and tried to push him away but he didn't budge. "Let go or I'll scream." At the threat, Snape snarled at her and effectively removed his hand from her wrist that caused her to fall backwards and hit her head harshly against the wall. She stood up slowly and glared at him. "I don't understand why you corned me in the hallway but it's annoying. Don't do it again."
She turned to leave but his snarling voice rang behind her. "So you have a doe and Potter has a stag, how charming. How disgusting of you to completely go back on every word you had said about him."
Lily knew she shouldn't have turned around because this wasn't the Severus from her past but it seemed she couldn't help herself. It felt as if her and Severus had been on the verge of this argument for two years now.
"Not really your business though, is it?"
"If a rude, bullying, obnoxious know it all is your style then by all means. But don't fool yourself, Lily. His ego is what carries him around, not his legs though it seems you can't control what's between yours."
Lily looked on disgusted. "I don't even recognize you anymore. You're standing there in this fake glory but at least James respect me enough not to call me names, Severus."
"Respects you," Snape spat, moving forward but Lily took a step back that only seemed to drive him forward. "Potter doesn't respect you, Lily. But the way you practically whore yourself out too him gives him exactly what he wants. You're just one of his slags and the sad part is you were the stupid one to fall in love with him."
The echo of Lily slapping Snape rang down the hallway. She watched dazedly as Snape reacted and instinctively and pulled out his wand and pointed it at her. She flew backwards, her head bouncing against the cement wall in protest. She looked up to see him standing over her with a fake sense of authority that seemed to astonish even himself. She waited for her next curse as he once more pointed his wand at her but it never came.
Snape was lifted into the air and hung there with his robes billowing around him, and Lily opened her eyes to see James blazing furiously as he pointed his wand at Snape.
"You're filth, Snivellus," James' fumed, maintaining his wand pointed at his adversary, before releasing Snape into a semi unconsciousness collapse onto the ground. He rushed over to kneel besides Lily who he instantly took in his arms, and she wrapped her arms around him as he protected her.
"Are you alright?" he whispered anxiously as his arms moved up and down feeling for bruises. Lily flinched in his arms as he reached the back of her head, yet the way his hands bundled around her made her heartbeat simmer slower and the focus on his eyes on her thawed the fear drumming against her heart.
And she would have continued staring at his eyes, falling deeper into his embrace when a flicker in the side made her realize that Snape was no longer sprawled on the floor. He was standing vivaciously over her and James. At Lily's widened eyes, James twisted around and Snape cursed him: "Sectumsempra!"
James crumpled in her arms as blood splashed against her robes and hands, blubbering everywhere as Lily horrified yelled for James to maintain consciousness, not paying attention to the billowing robes of Snape walking away.
"James! James, you need to stay awake, you, you…" but his body was growing paler by the second and Lily sagged against his dead weight, pressing her hands uselessly against the massive gash across his chest as the red ink of his blood dripped onto the floor leaving a trail of evidence. Lily tried to move from under James' heavy body, gripping her wand and desperately hoping magic would spring from it.
You're going to be a Healer! You're going to be a Healer! She repeated through her brain at a constant. Those words took hold of her own body as she calmly moved from under James and examined his wounds. Taking him the hospital wing was out of the question as he would never make it that far with a sudden remedy and would potentially cause further damage.
James moaned in his comatose state as she moved her wand against his chest, whispering incantations she felt she had read a lifetime ago, spells she had sat in the library at twilight and read with Snape. And gradually, James wounds eased and stitched themselves together as the stream of blood discontinued.
Amazed, she momentarily stood in disbelief before James bleakly opened his eyes, and even in his shattered state touched her bent knee, "Lily."
"Shh," she said, caressing his hair. "I need to get you to the hospital wing. I need you to lean on me, 'kay? Think you can get up?"
Mutely, he nodded his head as she helped him stable himself with one arm wrapped around her shoulder, the other around his waist. With steady steps they moved down the corridor towards the hospital wing as she allowed James weight pressure against her shoulders and suppressed her tears of relief. For a few second there, it had felt so close, so close to ending because of what? Because of her friendship with Snape? The further she felt from that friendship, the more foolish she felt too enter it to begin with.
James and Lily made it to the hospital wing, and Madame Promfrey rushed forward uttering her rubbish of appall. She used her own magic to carry James to a bed and turned to face Lily in which she demanded to know what happened. But had happened? James tried to save her and he lost half the blood in his body because of it?
At her stalled response, Madame Pomfrey walked back to where James lay and pulled the curtains around him close and left her alone in the deserted corridor.
The rumors of the fight between James and Snape spread like wildfire around Hogwarts. The factoids about that fight after their Defense Against Dark Arts final were less than accurate, and it appeared no one even knew that Lily had been the catalyst.
Lily had not tried to visit James, unsure what her reception would be, and instead allowed herself to fall into the self pity pool as James remained in the hospital for his second night. Lily couldn't even lie to herself as she took a stroll around Hogwarts that she was deliberately leading herself towards the hospital wing to get a glance of him. But as she stood behind a statue and observed his three friends leaving for the night, Lily quietly moved towards the window of the door and smiled. Madame Pomfrey was serving James strict orders, and he had the most adorable pout.
She figured she had tested her luck enough at her stalking skills and was about to turn away until his head tilted to the side and made eye contact with her. She bit her lip and shuddered at the intensity of the gaze. She opened the door and walked towards his bed quietly so Madame Pomfrey wouldn't hear her.
"Hey," she murmured, coming forward. She found herself tucking herself into the seat by his bed. She played with the edge of the blanket that had fallen from his bed and once more made eye contact. The burning sensation sent shivers to her lungs. She tried not to pay attention to his bare chest that defined his athletic muscles. The burning sensation seemed to lower down her stomach.
"Hey yourself," James murmured. He tugged the blanket out of her hand and replaced it with his own as he twined their hands together.
"How are you feeling?"
At her question, he squeezed her hand and brought their intertwined hands to his cheek that forced her to lean more closely over him. "Better, thanks to my savior."
Lily blushed at his words and nuzzled his cheek. "Don't exaggerate."
"I'm not," he said plainly, and Lily squirmed at the sincerity in his voice. "Why didn't you come sooner?"
Lily looked at his cheek instead of his eyes before raising them again and shrugged her shoulders. "Wasn't sure you wanted me too…"
"C'mere," he murmured and brought his free hand around her waist and lifted her effortlessly into his lap. He released his hand on his cheek and laid it down with his hands wrapping around her back. She looked into his eyes and he kissed her nose as she twined one hand around his neck the other clutching his bicep.
She snuggled into his neck, ignoring the sensation that something in the air had determinately changed between them. The ideology of their feelings were floating somewhere in the mist and were closer to the edge then ever before, and Lily was sure ignorance would no longer work for either of them. But momentarily she allowed herself to have this heartbeat.
He shifted their bodies that allowed them to face each other, their bodies still wrapped securely around each other with every inch of their bodies still touching. She could feel the heat between her legs, and held in her moan as he pulled her closer as his hand was splayed near her bottom. James ran a hand across her cheek before Lily copied him and traced the scar that now bore across his chest.
"Just another false alarm with Lily and the Dark Arts," she joked but her voice cracked.
To Lily's astonishment, James eyes filled with tears but he quickly pulled her into his chest and hugged her strongly. She curled her arm around his shoulders and pulled his head to her neck, feeling his hot tears splash against her skin as she cradled him. He continued to sob quietly until finally he sniffled wetly and she heard him chuckle soberly into her neck. She kissed his head and pulled back to see his bloodshot eyes and stroked his messy, messy hair.
"Goddammit," he groaned.
"James," she said softly, and touched his forehead gently. "Tell me."
"I just, Lily, I saw you laying there and all I could think was this was just the start. In a few months I'm going to be going off and one day, someone, something… I don't know- I just know I won't be there."
"Don't," she said, laying a reassuring hand against his hand. "You can't make predications like that."
Taking a deep breath, he rolled away from her and looked up at the ceiling. Lily remaining leaning at his side and continued stroking his hair. "All I want is for everything to be okay and I know it won't be."
"James," she said, pulling his chin and forcing him to stare into her bright green eyes. "You saved me this time. You can't think about the next time. You can't expect yourself to always be saving everyone around you. That's not your responsibility."
The words made sense, she could see it but the logic behind them didn't provide full impact because the notion of protecting those he cared about wasn't logical. The responsibility, the maturity of needing to protect those he loved would never be reassured with words.
"James," she whispered breathlessly, making an instant decision in the mist of their uncertainty. Their eyes locked as she leaned into his chest and kissed him. She pulled back and felt his breath hitch against hers as their eyes met. He brought his hands up to her face and brought her lips back to his. His lips were soft and warm against her own, and Lily sighed into his mouth as he deepened the kiss. His hands traced down her body, over her back to her hips down to her bottom and then back up again. Lily climbed more firmly atop him and felt him groan as she pressed against him. She felt every contour of his hard body against her own, and her breasts swelled as his hands moved closer to their sides.
His mouth sucked gently against her bottom lip, and she felt his tongue slip inside as he gently teased her before pressing more firmly against her mouth. She felt his body tense as her palms glided against him and up around his neck, pushing herself closer to him as his kiss became more demanding. Lily moved her hips against him, pressing her thighs between his legs as his hands moved over her shoulders and pushed her harder into him as she felt his hard length between them. And James explored her like a man starved, she moaned hungrily against him as if this was their chance, there very last chance for utopia together.
So they kept kissing, kissing for forever and a day until James slowly pulled away, breathing deeply as he stared intently into her eyes.
"Lily," he said sensually as he wrapped his arms securely around her. He moved them together to their sides once more, and kissed her lightly and she smiled as she lightly kissed him herself. He grumbled bringing her body into a hug and sucked at her neck. "I'm supposed to be mad at you," but his words remained useless as his hands couldn't seem to stop working themselves over her body, and his lips kissed every inch it could reach.
"I'm sorry, James," she said softly, moving her hands down his back and then up again. She pressed her chest more firmly into his. "Please don't-"
But he interrupted her less than heartfelt apology as he started kissing her again and the spark between them simmered deep in her body because Lily could feel the tangible chemistry between them. The way his lips floated over hers and moved to her cheek, neck, leaving soft trails of heat as they moved back to her lips.
"Lily," burning a path down her throat, he repeated her name with every kiss, sending nerves down her spine she didn't know she had. His fingers slid over her hips, his hand grasping her thigh tightly as she felt the intimate pleasure that made her shiver into his embrace.
"I need you," she whispered, slipping her hands around his neck as he lifted his head and looked down at her with his hazy eyes that left her vibrating. "Always have."
He groaned roughly into her neck and pulled away. He once more faced the ceiling with his hands bunched tightly to his sides. Lily was left staring at him in surprise that quickly turned into mortification as rejection swept through her.
"I'm sorry if I said too much…" the awkwardness left her unsure where to turn. At his continued silence she began to sit up. "Is it because of Snape? Because I didn't, I mean I wasn't spending time with him… He was just following me again."
"Again?" James demanded as his head snapped in her direction.
She nodded slowly. "But, there was never anything between us if that's what you are worried about. So not tainted with that dark arts stuff," she rambled dully.
"Tainted, where did that even come from?" James asked with a mixture of annoyance and exasperation.
She bit her lip and looked at anything but him and reminded herself that she was Lily; she was strong and she wasn't going to be crying about boys anymore. Well not in front of them anyways. "It's the reason everyone at Hogwarts has ignored me for seven years," she mumbled rolling away from him and swinging her legs off the bed with her back turned away from him.
She felt him get up, his body pressed against her back and move his hands smoothly up and down her shoulders. "You're not making a lot of sense, Evans."
She shrugged out of his embrace but he continued to sit up against her and his presence was soothing that stimulated her of admitting the thoughts she had never dared say out loud. "I came into Hogwarts with a Slytherin best friend and everyone thought I was this weird Muggle kid who seemed naïve and stupid for being friends with someone who was so obviously involved in Dark Arts and seemed destined to join the Death Eaters the second we graduated. So for seven years people haven't acknowledged me because I confuse them. And now I look stupid because everyone was right and I was wrong but I'm still disregarded because well, I was the one stupid enough to believe that a Slytherin could turn out alright."
James turned her around, his eyes soft as he gripped her firmly in his arms and held her quietly as she found herself inadvertently relaxing in his arms. He reached for her chin and forced her to look into his soft gaze.
"Lily," he said earnestly. "I don't care who you were friends with. Its just none of this was how I imagined it in my head."
"Us, this. We're in the hospital wing. Madame Pomfrey is around the corner getting ready to curse us I'm sure and I just want you so bad. That rubbish with Snape? I don't care about any of that and I liked you even when you were friends with him. You know I always have? Why do you think I've been so angry with you? Lily, you've had me wrapped around all your fingers the second I saw how powerful, beautiful and smart you were at the same time."
Lily looked up at his warm expression and kissed his bare chest. He cupped her cheeks and brought her lips towards his again as he ravished her mouth, the waves of happy pleasure reinvigorated as they spread through her veins as if her body was pulsing against his. She moaned loudly as his hands moved down to un-tuck her shirt when she heard the loud shriek of Madame Pomfrey.
"Are you MAD? OUT! OUT! In the hospital wing like scavengers. Have you lost your decency, Miss Evans? OUT!"
Lily jumped up and raced to the door as she heard James laughing loudly behind her as Madame Pomfrey continued shouting obscenities. Lily paused at the doorway and turned to face James they shared a quiet smile before she sprinted down the hallway, Madame Pomfrey's voice echoing in her wake.
James was released the next morning that left exactly two days before the Seventh Years would be whisked away from Hogwarts. And though she wasn't sure what exactly she had been expecting after their stolen moment in the hospital wing, what did happen was her worst-case scenario. She had fallen asleep dizzy with anticipation thinking about how his lips had traced over her face and how his hands had moved over her body.
So when James was released and he entered the common room with his arms raised like a champion, Lily waited patiently for his acknowledgement. But it never came. Oh, he wasn't outwardly ignoring her but was actively ensuring that she was surrounding by their group of friends. The constant surrounding of their friends guaranteed they wouldn't have a moment alone.
Disappointment swelled in her gut as she realized that James was actively avoiding her and his friends were helping him because as soon as she approached him Peter would pop up. Lily tried desperately to regain some posture hoping no one noticed how the prospect of her and James together had erupted all her senses and left her stripped. Their kiss had insured that she could no longer deny the volume of her feelings for him. The companionship James offered was so encompassing she was stricken that she had denied herself this sort of happiness for so long.
It seemed she had waited it out too long though. She should have kissed him years ago, and now they were about to leave. For all Lily knew, James was more than happy to get onto the Hogwarts Express without addressing their relationship at all. And maybe James hadn't felt that palpable chemistry. Maybe after all these years she really had left it too long.
Lily desperately tried not to let it get to her but as she lied uselessly in her bed the last night before they would board the train home, she stared despondently and explained to herself rationally that James just didn't want her. Her rationality was extremely harsh causing tears to fall rapidly down her face that only encouraged sobbing. The noisy tears encapsulated her last month of heartache and reminded her this was exactly what she had been trying to avoid to begin with.
As the sobs increased, the curtains to her four-poster bed were pulled violently open. Marlene and Mary stood over her then concerned. Marlene got right into her bed seeing her distress and hugged her tightly as Mary sat at her side and stroked hair.
"What's wrong?" Marlene asked as Lily continued crying ardently in her arms as Marlene and Mary looked at each other worried. It seemed this past month Lily had cried more than ever before.
Lily cried instead of answering because either way she wouldn't have been able to catch her breath, and instead responded to comfort the two girls provided her. As she begin relaxing in thier arms she finally croaked, "James." Though Mary didn't stop stroking her hair the tension was immediate. "We, we finally kissed and now he wants nothing to do with me."
A smile broke over Marlene's face as Mary jumped up and pointed at her. "You and James kissed?"
"Yes, but he wants nothing to do with me," she whaled.
"This is so stupid," Mary said to no one in particular. "I'm tired of waiting."
"Wh-What?" Lily hiccuped.
"Mary," Marlene intoned and pointed her gaze to Lily.
"Ugh, you girls. No. No more waiting! And I'm talking selfishly here. I want know the end of the story before its too late and all we have is a few hours tomorrow. No, no. We are going to solve this once and for all."
"Mary!" Lily chocked, jumping up after her before Mary reached the door. "Y-you can't just-"
"I can and will," she determined and Lily almost wanted to smile at her audacity that only spurred her own courage.
"I need to face this alone without everyone watching… this time."
"Maybe he needs everyone to make a decision!"
"Maybe, but I would prefer to do it alone," Lily persisted. "Maybe the problem has been that it's been so public, maybe we need to do it privately. I don't know but you're right."
"I am?" she asked shocked.
"Yeah," Lily said warmly. "I'm going to talk to him tomorrow no matter what. I promise to tell you all about it."
Mary hesitated but let the subject drop and pushed Lily's hair back from her forehead sincerely. "You deserve more than you're allowing yourself."
Lily smiled and hugged her. "Thank you, Mary."
As Lily went back to bed she agreed with Mary on one thing, this definitely deserved a conclusion. It was also her last chance. It was that determination that had Lily marching down the stairs to breakfast and looking around for James. Surprisingly, he wasn't congregated around friends.
"Where's James?" she demanded as they looked at her stupidly with food in their mouths.
"Uh," Peter mumbled and Lily raised her eyebrows at him.
"If you don't tell me I will curse you."
"Lily…" Remus began but Lily switched her gaze to him asking her to test her.
A moment of silence before Sirius revealed, "By the lake."
With that Lily turned around and made her way. Nothing was going to stop her now. And she found him easily enough sitting alone with his back to her, his feet in the water. She wanted to smack him against his head but restrained herself. She plopped down next to him and he didn't even flinch as she stared at him.
"James," she said when he didn't turn to face her. "James," she repeated and when he didn't answer her she glared fiercely at him. "I deserve more than this… please. Please don't do it this way."
He finally turned to face her, and his face was unreadable. "What do you want to know?"
Lily's fight evaporated at his apparent disinterest and suddenly Lily knew what was going to happen. "Right, so this is pointless."
He was caught off guard at her words, and she saw his jaw twitch as she stood and looked down at him. It was an act, she knew it was act but if was going to pretend that she didn't matter or pretend they didn't deserve a decent conversation then she would rather live in the unknown.
"So this is goodbye. So," and Lily looked at him and shrugged. "Goodbye."
"Lily," he said firmly, and got up. They stood facing each other and Lily desperately wanted him to make the grand gesture. Anything. "You were right before."
She remained silent as the settling reality that no grand gesture was coming just more tears.
"We are going in different directions and its unfair of both of us to be dedicated to each other when we will barely see each other."
She remained silent, refusing to acknowledge his baseless words, and her silence seemed to be the weakening tool to break him because when she didn't respond his gaze shifted from blank to distraught.
"Are you going to say anything?" he furiously demanded into her silence.
"What's there to say? It seems you've made all the decisions for us," she stated with a cool demeanor she didn't feel.
"Goddammit, Lily! Don't you see why can't be together? I am about to entire into a losing war. I'll be fighting VOLDERMORT! For god sake, say something!"
She stood there, arms crossed. "Good for you."
His eyes grew impossibly wide as he strode towards her and vehemently took hold of her shoulders. "Lily."
And then he kissed her, pushing fervently against her body. Lily gave in immediately as her arms wrapped automatically around his neck. His arms held her tightly to his chest as his mouth opened and his warm breath seeped into her own. The attraction, Lily told herself, was irresistible as each kiss deepened and she was wrapped more solidly against him, her entire body reacting against his in hinted potential pleasures. She arched as his hands splayed over her uniform, gripping her lightly as his hand moved to her bottom that made her tighten her hold on him. He let go lightly and looked deeply into her eyes but Lily brought his lips back to her own as his hands cupped her face and kissed with a desire Lily was sure would never be replicated.
She leaned against him as the pleasure of his touch seeped into her stomach, down between her thighs and James twisted his head away from her as he held her in his embrace. "No, Lily, no."
Lily refused and kissed his neck and she heard him moan in protest as he scrunched his hands in her hair. "Lily."
She released him and looked into his eyes that were dark with desire, but she could see the tug of war in his eyes, the desperation for her to discontinue. "James, don't do this."
"I, I. Lily this is the hardest, believe me the hardest thing I have ever done."
She pushed him away and the force of the unexpected inertia caused him to trip over his feet and fall on the ground. "If you do this I am not waiting for you."
He got to his feet, not breaking eye contact and with a resolve she wished he didn't have. "I don't want you too."
Her breath hitched and she glared at him as tears pooled around her eyes and with a wretched heart she saw tears in his eyes. "But I love you," she whimpered pathetically as she finally succumbed to sobs.
He started but she flinched away from him. "Lily." He grabbed her and brought her back to his embrace. "You know, you know how much I've been in love with you. I don't remember not being in love with you. I'm doing this for you."
She only further cried at his words because how had it come to this? How could they be so close but separated so far from each other? She let him hold her because there was no changing his mind and she would allow herself his arms now, this moment, because she knew it would probably be the last. So she let him stoke her hair in front of the lake and then hold her on the Hogwarts Express and when they exited the train and stood in the platform embracing for what felt like the last time ever she looked into his eyes with desperate tears as she clung to him as if the image of him would disappear, as if it had all been a dream.
"Please," she said and clutched him.
He hugged her tightly, and she felt his own tears on her skin and with the dust of the platform and the steam from the Hogwarts Express, James lowered his head once more, one more kiss to memorize the feeling, the one she was sure would haunt her. And she kissed him back with everything she knew to make sure he would never forget, because she would never forget. And when he released her, he looked at her once more before he was gone from between her fingers.
AN: I am sorry for the long wait! The summer proved crazier then expected. I promise the next one won't be that long... I have it all planned so hopefully smooth like butter.