|The Head Boy
Author: Telemachos PM
[Ch.8 Up] It's Lily Evans' last year at Hogwarts, and while James Potter isn't the prat he used to be, she still doesn't want to date him. Can Lily make him forget about her before she ends up falling in love with the very person she promised to hate?Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - James P. & Lily Evans P. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 41,032 - Reviews: 31 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 06-18-07 - Published: 10-10-06 - id: 3193086
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Head Boy
Chapter Eight: Confrontations
If there's one thing that I dislike above all else it's people hating me.
It all began in first grade at Muggle primary school when I accidentally turned Wanda Phillips' hair bright purple. No one knew quite what had happened since this was before I received my acceptance letter to Hogwarts, but Wanda immediately blamed me, mainly because we had gotten in a fight the day before about our reading books. (I had been positive that she had switched them out when she discovered that hers had tattered edges and several ripped pages compared to my new copy. She, of course, insisted that mine was ripped from the start and the teacher took her word over mine.) Either which way, Wanda made sure the rest of my time in primary school was a living hell. She spread nasty rumors about me that made the girls whisper behind their hands and the boys pull my hair when I sat in front of them at lunch. By the time I found out that I was a witch, almost every girl in my class had given me the classic line of "We don't want to be your friend anymore."
So you see why my Hogwarts letter was received with a mixture of excitement and relief. Finally, I thought, I would get away from Wanda Phillips and people would start to like me again! Unfortunately it was then that Petunia decided that I was a freak and didn't deserve her confidence. Magic, witchcraft, and everything that had to do with my "abnormal" world was out of the picture. I was out of the picture.
Disheartened, certainly, but nonetheless hopeful for a better future, I set out to King's Cross on the first of September only to discover that there was no such thing as Platform Nine and Three Quarters. After standing there helplessly for at least ten minutes, my parents scratching their heads confusedly while I scrambled around in a panic, I came across a group of hugely tall boys dragging trunks and cages with owls in them. Breathless, I watched them go through the barrier one by one until all but the last had gone through. Right before he broke into a run, his eyes caught mine and he smiled maliciously, glancing at my clueless parents before sneering, "First year, Mudblood? Well, good luck—you're going to need it."
Looking back on it, I don't even really remember if he said "Mudblood" or not. But I do remember his green and silver tie and his mean eyes as they glared down on me, so I suppose it's not too impractical to suppose that he did. Shortly after that I had my first run-in the Potter and Black, who I'm quite sure detested me from the start due to my rule-abiding standards that were so different from their own. Even discounting them I was always a "favorite" of the Slytherins and other Pureblooded maniacs—that is, if being a favorite means that hexes constantly get fired after you in the hallways and you get called all manner of obscenities.
After seven years, I've gotten used to bearing the hatred of Wanda Phillips. I've grown accustomed to the constant taunting from the Slytherins. I've even resigned to Petunia's continual nastiness, although it still strikes me hard every time she says something particularly abhorrent. But James Potter hating me…that's something I haven't gotten used to. James had always treated me fairly well compared to other people, despite the constant pranks and date proposals. He's generally liked around the school, thought not by the Slytherins, and for me to do something to hurt him, Hogwarts' golden boy, Quidditch star, and all-around hero, was despicable. Especially when he had done nothing to earn it apart from falling for the one girl that least deserved him.
Come to think of it, I don't even know why I gained James' attention in the first place. I'm just Lily Evans; nothing too extraordinary there. Even though I wasn't exactly a hag, Lauren Laffontein was much prettier than me. And I hardly think that boys these days go after brains and prudish know-it-alls rather than people like her. Because that's what I am — a prudish know-it-all. Why would anyone, let alone James, want to go out with that?
And now I've proven it to everyone that I'm not good enough for him. Poor old Lily Evans; she could have had James Potter at her beck and call but she gave it up for a selfish whim that she hadn't even planned out. Now there's no going back for a second chance.
Alice asked me the other day why I was so bothered by the fact that James hated me. Honestly, I don't have an answer. Maybe it's because I really started to like him—as a friend, mind—in these past few weeks when I was trying to be civil rather than instantly jump to conclusions. All I know is that I miss him now. It's hard to keep myself from looking over there at himand Sirius and Lauren, with whom he's begun hanging out. I know that Alice has seen the looks and probably suspects something, but honestly, I just miss his company. That's all.
I suppose it was a bit of a lie the other day, then, when I told Alice that I was feeling depressed because of my sister. I think that was just the final card that toppled the castle. I couldn't deal with it all—Petunia hating me, Sirius hating me, James hating me, Alice feeling left out by me… But most of it, I think, had to do with James. It's just that I've never had someone that close to me feel so crushed because of something I did. I can't get it out of my head; that expression on his face several weeks ago when I told him I would always want to be friends, nothing more. It doesn't sound so bad when I word it like that, but it was. It was much, much worse than that.
It doesn't seem like he's been much affected by it, though. Every time I see him he's with Lauren and Sirius, laughing like nothing happened the other week. Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm being watched, but every time I look in his direction he's facing the opposite way talking animatedly, usually with Lauren. I finally decided that the feeling's just because I want to feel like I'm important enough to be watched. That being said, I ignored him as much as possible.
"As much as possible" being the key words.
"Hey, Lily, can I copy your Charms notes?" Emmeline Vance said, coming up from behind me and sitting down by the Gryffindor table next to me.
"Oh, er, yeah," I stuttered, reaching in my bag and absentmindedly leafing through a folder of mixed papers while my eyes wandered up the table.
James was even eating with Lauren now.
"Here," I said, turning away quickly and forcing smile to accompany the short stack of papers clasped in my hands.
"Thanks, I was sick. So what's up with you and Potter now?" Emmeline said, her mind clearly on things other than Charms.
"I—er—I don't know. Nothing," I stammered, my voice higher than usual as my eyes swept inadvertently to my left. I looked away quickly when I realized he was facing my way, my heart hammering in my chest. She raised an eyebrow.
"Nothing? So what's with the…" She mimed my constant twisting around exaggeratedly, wriggling her eyebrows up and down. "You fancy him now?"
"No!" I said quickly. "Why is everyone keep asking me that?"
She smirked. "Sounds like someone's in de-nial!" she chirped in a sing-song voice as Alice came up from behind her and plopped her bag on the seat across from Emmeline.
"Who, Lily?" she said breezily, grabbing a dish full of mashed potatoes and scooping them onto her plate. I made a choking nose in my throat that made it sound like I had a deranged parrot stuck in my craw. Not a very pleasant thing to hear, I might add.
"What? What are you talking about?" I squawked, blinking tears from my eyes as I gulped down a glass of water in an attempt to clear my throat.
"Face it, Lily, why else would you be so bothered by it?" Alice said practically.
"I—I don't like people hating me!" I squeaked as soon as I got the water past my throat. "Honestly, I'm not in denial—"
"Are we talking about Lily?" Rebecca Clearwater said, sidling up to us and carrying her plate and her book bag.
"Argh!" I released an incoherent, half-strangled cry and dropped my face into my hands. "Some mates you lot are!"
"Come on, Lily, it's fairly obvious to anyone with eyes," Emmeline said. "You stare at him all the time. I have only, what, one class with you? And even I can tell." She elbowed Rebecca in the ribs. "Can't you?"
"Yeah, it's pretty obvious," Rebecca agreed. Then, twisting around in her seat to look around conspiratorially to make sure no one was listening, she added, "Although, I don't know what he's doing with Laffontein. What does he see in her, anyway? They never hung out before."
"Come off it, she's way prettier than I am," I said before I could stop myself. They all looked at me, stunned into silence for just a second before they burst into laughter. Groaning, I hid my face in my hands again and resolved never to lift my head again.
"You're jealous, aren't you!" cried Emmeline.
"No, I'm not, I'm just stating a fact—" I began, but it was too late.
"Lily, you are much prettier than her," Rebecca assured me. "Look at her! Blonde, blue eyes, completely skinny—"
"Are you saying I'm fat?" I demanded at the same time that Alice yelped, "What's wrong with blonde hair and blue eyes?"
"Nothing, I was just saying her type's pretty common," Rebecca said, rolling her eyes. "And please, Lily, you are anything but fat. You're like a twig, for heaven's sakes! She just looks more unnatural than you. I mean, look at your hair and your eyes, they're bloody gorgeous—"
"Hi, do you mind if we join you?"
We all stopped talking mid-sentence, staring guiltily up at Lauren Laffontein and Piper Anderson. Lauren appeared not to notice, taking the seat right next to me and grabbing a roll off the plate. Actually it was more like daintily taking the roll; I swear she moves like a weightless princess. A beautiful, flawless, weightless princess. Blegh.
"So what were you talking about? We could hear you laughing all the way down from the table," Piper said conversationally. She winked at me and added, "Well, we heard you all laughing; we saw Lily getting red as a tomato."
True to her words, my entire face reddened when she said that. Everyone started to laugh again, though it was considerably more forced than before.
"So." My head jerked towards Emmeline, who had a calculating smile on her face as she stared at Lauren. Crap, I thought, crossing my fingers and sending her a vicious glare out of the corner of my eye in the hopes that she wouldn't mention James. Please, please, please—
"When did you and Potter tie the knot?"
Damn. Well, I suppose it was too much to ask for. I had to restrain all of my senses to keep from turning towards Lauren in the hopes of giving the illusion that I didn't care what her answer was. As it was, I don't think I've ever been listening so hard in my life.
"Oh!" said Lauren. She sounded slightly disappointed but nevertheless didn't pass up the opportunity to relay a scrap of gossip. "Well, he hasn't asked me yet or anything, but he's definitely talking to me more now." She frowned. "Actually, it was more Sirius that pulled me into the group. He said something about James needing a girl but so far James hasn't really been himself or talked all that much lately."
I listened disbelievingly. Not been talking all that much? Good grief, every time I looked over there he was laughing along next to her. And let me tell you, I don't glance in his direction only once or twice a day.
Not that that means anything.
"Wait a second," Alice chimed in. "I thought Sirius asked you out last Hogsmeade trip."
"Yes, well, that sort of fell through," Lauren said. "But I'm okay. I mean, I never stopped liking James anyway."
"Doesn't match up with what she told us a few weeks ago," Alice mumbled under her breath so only I could hear. I fought back a smile, not that it was too difficult. Hearing James' name from those perfectly glossed lips made me feel sick for some reason.
"You know what, I'm going to head over to the library," I said quickly, standing up grabbing my bag with one last glance in James' direction. Was it just me, or did it look like he had just turned his head rapidly in the opposite direction? Then again, I was sitting next to the Beautiful, Flawless, Weightless, and Utterly Perfect Lauren Laffontein.
"Oh, I'll go with you! I have to finish that dreadful essay Binns gave us," Lauren said, standing up as well. "Do you mind?"
I followed her with a hollow, distant sort of feeling drumming through my ears. When I looked back at the table Alice, Emmeline, and Rebecca were grinning wickedly and giving me cheeky thumbs-up signs, apparently not noticing that Piper had just begun to talk about Edmund Patil. Then again, I don't blame them; she's been talking about him nonstop for weeks now. I stuck my tongue out at them and sped up so that Lauren had to take longer steps to keep up with me.
"So how are you doing lately? I just wanted to ask you in private—I mean, I really do have an essay to do, but I wanted to know if you were okay," Lauren rambled as we walked up the third corridor steps. "I mean, I heard you had a blowout with James the other week—"
"You heard about that?" I sputtered, almost forgetting to skip the trick step as I turned to gawk at her. "Who told you?"
"Well, I didn't mean to find out, really," Lauren said, not noticing my outburst. "It was just that James and Sirius were acting a bit strangely and when I asked them what was wrong they just glared in your direction."
I felt oddly deflated.
"So you're okay then?" she continued, blithely ignorant that my self-confidence was currently plummeting to negative one thousand feet. "I was fairly certain that you were; I mean, it couldn't have been all that awful if you were over there having fun with your friends—"
Pfft. I resisted the urge to snort at her comment. Having fun? More likely being slowly tortured on a long walk to the guillotine.
"—just wanted to check if you were still okay with that. I mean, I know nothing's really happened yet, but I'd date him in a second if he asked me."
I looked up from my avid perusal of the ground, slightly annoyed. Was it just me, or did she just ask me if I would be all right if she and James dated in the same sentence that she said she would do it anyway? I didn't know what to say.
"I—yes, go ahead, I don't really care what you do," I said, the words falling out of my mouth unthinkingly. I didn't try to stop them. After all, what claim did I have over James? I was only the snot that repeatedly turned him down and shoved it back in his face with a sharpened spade full of hippogriff dung.
Or something like that.
She smiled in a way that made me think that she hadn't heard a word that I had said. "Right, thanks. He's gotten so much better looking over the summer, have you noticed? Much taller, and you can just tell those muscles didn't come from driving an aumotobile." I didn't bother to correct her; merely walked along and thought miserably about what a boring conversation this was. It never really occurred to me before but I was just realizing now how completely different we were. I don't think we have anything in common now.
"…I'm just surprised he's moved on. I figured that you never liked him much so it's about time, but still! It feels a little unreal."
"What?" I said, snapping back into the conversation.
"You can't tell me that you don't see it?" she said, smiling at my perplexed expression. "He's chased you for years, Lily; I'm shocked that he gave up so fast. I doubt it's even permanent. Honestly, the most I'm looking for is a fling. I don't have anything to compare to you—you're bloody gorgeous and you're Head Girl!"
I decided to overlook the fact that Lauren appeared to be under the delusion that one could not be both smart and pretty. It felt odd enough hearing her call me gorgeous, especially since I was a bloody hag next to her.
"I—I'm not—" I floundered, searching for words. Even though I was Head Girl and hardly plain looking (though I was nowhere near "gorgeous" like she described me), no bloke would date me after they found out that I had a horrible temper, one that even managed to hurt James Potter. Though, a tiny voice in the back of my head whispered, you said yourself that he didn't look too upset by the information. I shook it off. Maybe I was more traumatized by the events than James, but that didn't make my actions any less despicable.
We reached the library doors and began the long and strenuous search for an empty table, attempting to find a space left exempt from the post-lunch scramble. We located one in the back and sat down, leaving me to mechanically pull out my parchment and my Transfiguration textbook. I didn't really have any homework to do; I had just wanted to get away from Lauren. Bloody well that worked.
Taking out her quill and her History of Magic essay, Lauren managed to scrawl three words down before launching into a gossiping spree about some Ravenclaw or another. As I pretended to pay attention, my eyes not really focusing on anything in front of me, I mulled over what she said. He's chased you for years, Lily…he's not going to give up that fast…I don't have anything compared to you!…
Stop it! I thought fiercely, shaking my head and scratching the quill viciously across my parchment in a violent pattern of meaningless dots and squiggles. Why do you bloody care anyway, Lily? You don't fancy him. He's your friend and that's all it's going to be. That's all it will ever be, because of what you've done. Because of your stupid, egotistical, selfish personality there won't be any more late night discussions, or comfortable Head meetings, or quick-witted bantering—
I shut my eyes to keep the sudden tears from leaking out.
I fancied James Potter.
Alice, Emmeline, and Rebecca were all right; I had been in denial all along. All of those times I had been insisting that we were merely friends only prolonged the inevitable judgment: that I had finally given into Potter, my childhood adversary. I don't know what did it—the sudden change of heart; his mature, clever, charming personality… All I know is that I now have a mammoth problem on my hands that I could have avoided if I had only realized it sooner. I couldn't go back now and expect to be able to beg forgiveness and have him to feel the same way he had before our argument. Besides, I told Lauren only minutes ago that I didn't care if she dated him. Not, of course, that she had been listening.
Distressed, I pushed back my chair and made to grab my things. Lauren's chattering dissipated as she glanced up, surprised by my troubled expression. "…And then she—are you all right?" she broke off, momentarily jarred out of her spiel.
"Yes—yes, I'm—you know what, actually, I'm not fine," I said, the words escaping from my mouth before I could help it. "I do have a problem with you dating James," I continued, knowing I was going to regret this later. This sudden epiphany would most likely prove more destructive than helpful. I pressed on anyway, ignoring my throbbing intuition. "I know I said otherwise earlier but I do have a problem with it. And I know I'm probably sounding like a completely psychotic, impulsive idiot right now but I just can't stand the thought of you dating James," I finished, burning as I felt the stares of a half-dozen second years that looked much more interested in our mini-soap opera than the Herbology textbooks in front of them.
"Er, what?" Lauren said, at a loss for words for the first time in her life.
"I—" I couldn't think of anything to say. And what could I, really? I don't really know how I could make it any clearer to her that I HAD A PROBLEM WITH HER DATING JAMES.
"Lily, I honestly don't see what the big deal is. You had a fight! Besides, you said you didn't like him," Lauren said dismissively, her tone suggesting that she was speaking to a very dim-witted person. "Anyway, my relationship with James was just going to be a fling. A few dates here and there and that's it. You're acting like a jealous girlfriend. Get a hold of yourself, Lily!"
"Hello, Laffontein. Evans," a voice addressed us from somewhere behind me. I whirled around, furious at the interruption. Sirius Black raised an eyebrow at me. I was quick to notice that his expression was the closest to teasing as I had seen it in the past several days.
"Who are you talking about?" he said, drawing the words out and making me flush from embarrassment.
"No one," I spat, hurling my things in my bag once again and shoving my chair in the table. Typical me, to push in my chair after a fight with someone. Sometimes I amaze even myself. "Not a bloody thing, Black, now get out of my way."
He smirked. "Not until I know who you were talking about."
"None of your business—" I snarled, only to be interrupted by Laffontein.
"Actually, Sirius," she began stupidly, batting her eyelashes up at him. I resisted the urge to roll my eyebrows. Couldn't keep off flirting to a second, could she? I felt reduced to the status of a dung beetle knowing that I had ever felt any semblance of jealousy for her. "We were talking about James."
I glared at her through my eyelashes. Sirius wasn't even involved in this! What did she want, for him to come in on her side? Somehow I doubt she would have much trouble with that.
"Prongs?" Sirius asked, the smirk slipping off his face before he hitched it back on. "Well, well, well, Lily, getting a little possessive?" His eyes, a shade darker than what I remembered, dared me to comment. As it is, all I could do was glower and hope that my cheeks weren't as red as they felt. "You're not really in the position to feel that way, are you?"
"Sod off, Black; I don't need you to rub it in," I snapped, rubbing my hand over my face in a futile attempt to clear my emotions and my watery eyes. Honestly, what was it with me and crying lately? Maybe I needed to go see a therapist. Then again, maybe not—imagine what that would do to my already flailing reputation.
He took a step toward me. I didn't break my eye contact, although I could see Lauren standing across the table from me with her arms crossed, waiting eagerly to see some sort of explosion that she would be able to spread around the school. It seems odd to think that we had gone from being on completely civil terms (outwardly, at least) to practically biting each other's throats out. Then again, I suppose that sums up girls for you.
"Don't think," I began, my voice wavering treacherously for a bare instant before I managed to calm it, "that I don't regret it, Black. Don't even begin to think that. You can tell your stupid best friend that I'm sorry for what I did and I've wished a thousand times I didn't do it, but don't you dare think that I don't regret it."
Sirius' eyes flashed oddly, but his gaze remained stubbornly unreadable. Something in it seemed to have softened in between now and the time of his last words, though. "Maybe," he said, speaking slowly and meaningfully, "you should tell him that, Evans. You never did, did you?"
And with that he dropped my arm, which he had grasped without my noticing, and departed from the library, leaving me to stare after him vacantly with his words swimming around in the empty space between my ears.
"Hello, Remus," I said an hour later, having found the only Marauder I was on speaking terms with sitting next to the fire in Gryffindor Tower. "Might I speak to you for a second?"
He looked up at me, his eyes hooded with dark circles and his clothes hanging rather dismally off his thin frame. He looked awful. "Go ahead," he said warily, nodding to the space on the couch next to him.
I sat down gingerly, pulling my bag into my lap in a sudden bout of insecurity. "Er—I know that we haven't spoken in a while, what with…" I trailed off, not wanting to elaborate on everything that I had spent far too much time analyzing already.
"I know," Remus said wearily. I bit my lip.
"Er, yes. I just wanted to—" I broke off and ran my fingers through my hair, wondering how to ask this without somehow turning this into another Sirius fiasco. "I'll understand if you don't want to answer this, because I know you're probably ticked with me as well, actually I'd be shocked if you weren't, but I just wanted to ask you…"
I hesitated again, fully aware that Remus looked impatient. "How's James?" I blurted suddenly. Remus frowned, which I immediately took as a bad sign. "Right, that was a stupid question. It's none of my business, sorry for asking. I'm betraying your trust as his friend right now. I'm sorry, I'll just be going—"
I hoisted myself off the couch and made to make a quick released only to be stop by Remus' voice. "No, you don't have to go. Hang on a second."
I turned back slowly to give him an appraising frown. An expression of amusement accompanied his normally somber face. "Listen, Lily," he began, leaning forward and carefully marking the page of the book he had been reading. "I don't think that you got into this whole mess because you're a particularly malicious person. Oblivious, maybe, but not malicious."
I winced. It wasn't a very complimentary picture of me, but I suppose it could have been worse.
"The main problem with what you've been doing is that you haven't talked to James at all," he continued. "You've spoken to virtually every other person between the two of you about your fight except for him. You've talked to me, Sirius, Lauren from what I heard a minute ago, Alice, and God knows how many of your other friends. But it seems to me that there were only two main parties involved from the beginning. Maybe you should just start there for a change." His eyes looked up at me bemusedly, dark gray or brown from the firelight; I couldn't tell.
"I…" I didn't know what to say. Remus had always been rather deep and observant, but I don't think I've ever really paid as much attention to it as this time. But, as usual, he was right. I had been leaving out the most important person in this situation largely because of my own cowardice.
My mind made up, I said, "Thanks, Remus. Do you know where I can find James?"
When I found James just after Quidditch practice he was still out flying around the pitch while the rest of the team went into the locker room to change. I watched him for a while, wringing my hands in front of me while trying to collect my thoughts. I had no idea what I was going to say to him.
Finally, as I watched him swerve into a steep dive and pull up neatly on the freshly mowed lawn, making me gasp into my hands before I realized he was too good on a broomstick to fall off, I knew that I had to speak to him now. I didn't want to risk another week going by without saying anything. Quickly jumping down from the bleachers, I ran in the direction of the locker room, coming up behind him right before he reached out to open the doors.
"James," I said to get his attention. My stomach knotted with anxiety as I waited for his response.
He turned around, broom over his shoulder, not looking surprised in the least to see me. He nodded to me once, just enough to be polite. "I saw you on the stands," he said shortly by way of explanation.
"O—oh," I said. My tongue groped around in my mouth, searching for words to say. He didn't care. He didn't care at all anymore. What was I here to say again? I couldn't remember—that expression on his face, the completely unreadable one, threw me off.
"Er…so what do the odds look like?"
I nearly hexed myself right then. Quidditch, at a time like this? I berated myself, feeling my face turn brick red in embarrassment.
His eyebrows jutted together for the briefest of moments, reflecting my own surprise back at me, before his face returned to that awful, apathetic expression. "Dunno," he said expressionlessly, waving the hand not clasping his broom vaguely in the direction of the Ravenclaw stands. "They've gotten a bit better. Chang's improved over the summer and McKinnon's arm isn't half bad."
"Great, that's great. I'm sure you lot'll bag it," I said miserably, probably making no sense at all as I was only half-listening. I tried to focus in on the swirl of panic encompassing my brain. (Or what remained of it, anyway. I think all this fretting has diced it into Swiss cheese.) "I, er," I started, wracking my brain for another topic of conversation. "It's really lovely weather today, isn't it, perfect for outdoors—" Thank God for the weather!
"It's bloody four degrees, Evans, and it looks like it's going to rain any minute now."
"Oh," I said, at a loss as to what to say, my mind stuck on the way he had called me "Evans." I stared at my feet, noting absentmindedly that there were large, distinctive prints walking in the direction the door was in with huge Xs in the middle. I wondered if they were his.
He sighed audibly. I looked up to see him running his hand through his hair and looking up at the sky as though wishing he could be anywhere but here. Anywhere but near me.
My throat tightened again.
"James—" I began, at the same time he started to say, "Look, Evans—" We both broke off again.
"Go ahead," he said after another short burst of silence.
"I—I've missed you," I said suddenly, looking away. I felt almost as surprised as he did, judging by the expression on his face. I hadn't really meant to say that.
"What—what I mean is—" I stumbled, searching for the right words. My eyes unwillingly flicked back to see him standing awkwardly next to the door, looking everywhere but at me. "I—I hate patrols now!" I said finally. His eyes shot up to meet mine for the first time in a month. I felt relieved and oddly liberated. Now that I'd started I just couldn't stop.
"It's just me and that Ravenclaw fifth year, Susan Bones' little sister, I can't even remember her name. Amy or Andrea or something. All we do is walk up and down the same corridors in the same order on every Monday and Wednesday and Friday and we don't speak at all, except to take off points, for two hours. And I can never talk to her about classes or people I know because she's in a different year and deathly shy at that. And I hate having to share a bathroom with my entire dormitory and wait for everyone to finish up before walking down to breakfast so I'm not on my own. And I hate that whenever I'm finished with my work in Charms or Transfiguration I don't have anyone to talk or pass notes to, and when I don't understand something I don't know who to ask for help that will bother trying to help me before we end up mucking around for a half hour since I can't stay focused. I—I just—"
I ran out of steam, my breath short and my cheeks steaming. I pressed my hands to my face, eyes trained on the ground, not daring to see what he might look like. The sudden silence hung in the air like it would in a graveyard.
He wasn't saying anything.
I finally dared to look up, nervous from the silence and wishing that anything, any type of distraction, would come and somehow obliterate this stillness between us. Never, not once in my entire relationship with James Potter, had our conversations reached this lack of action. Whether we were arguing or talking amicably there was always something going on between us, and now I wondered if this meant that I had screwed things up forever.
"What do you want me to say, Lily?" James said finally, meeting my eyes for the second time with a look far too intense to have accompanied his impassive face from before.
I noticed dimly that he said my first name. Lily. Not Evans anymore. Relief coursed through me.
"Really, what do you want me to say?" he continued. "I'm done with it. Maybe you're not, but I'm through. You loathe me; we've already established that, so I'm not going to bother getting mixed up with it again."
Something pricked in the back of my eyes. I could feel the anger starting to bubble, rising with far too many weeks of pent up emotion.
"Are you even bloody listening to me? I just went through—I just said—" I broke off, not being able to bring myself to say it again. He really thought that I hated him? A wave of sickness replaced my sudden burst of anger. I wouldn't be surprised to know if my posture slumped visibly.
"I'm sorry," I said, my entire voice laden with exhaustion. He didn't react, but somehow I knew he was listening. Or maybe that was just me hoping he was listening. "I'm so sorry, James. I can honestly say that I thought it was all a big joke before, in fifth year, and that I didn't figure it out until—well, until Hogsmeade."
I swallowed and glanced away, my eyes fastening on a leaf floating in the air a hundred meters away. "And then I—I don't even know why I did it. I tried to hook you up with—with Lauren—" My voice soured even to my own ears, but I kept on, hoping he wouldn't notice. "Here was everyone around me saying that I had to stop leading you on, which I hadn't meant to do in the first place, and I just went along with it. I didn't realize—didn't realize what was going on then. I just wanted to be friends."
He still wasn't looking at me.
"I didn't fully realize what I was doing by using Sirius. It sounds incredibly stupid, but I didn't. All I wanted to do was to try and make it so you wouldn't get hurt. Right good job I did of that," I added bitterly. "I was so stupid. I've felt awful for weeks now, just thinking about, thinking that I could have made things better from the start if only I—"
My eyes snapped up to meet his pained ones now only a foot and a half away. "Stop, Lily. I've—I've moved on. I was being serious about that. I've forgiven Padfoot, and I'm forgiving you. It doesn't matter anymore."
I looked down, surprised at how disappointed and absolutely crushed I felt with that tiny string of sentences. It seems odd that so few words can make or break your day, but they can.
Break it, at least.
"So that's it?" I said, my voice monotone. "Everything goes back to the way it has been?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I think that would be best," he said, his own voice strained. I tried to disguise the confusion from my face. Did that mean we weren't speaking or that we were going to pretend to be friends like before? He attempted a grin as he knocked my chin very gently with his fist. "You can move back in the Head Tower now without worrying about running into me, at least."
Oh. So friends then. For some reason that didn't sound nearly as comforting as it would have a week ago.
"I wasn't worried about running into you. I didn't think you'd want someone like me hanging around," I said, forming a lopsided smile and shrugging my shoulders.
"Oh. All right, then," he said, unable to find words to combat my blunt statement. I laughed, a grating, fake sound that I hoped he wouldn't notice.
"So we're good, then?" I said.
"Yeah… yeah, we're good," he said, scratching his head and smiling sadly at me.
"Okay," I said, still standing there awkwardly. Not knowing what to do, I leaned forward and gave him a half-hug, not nearly as casual as the ones I exchanged with him before, and backed away again, feeling like I was about to cry. "So…I'll see you around."
"Yeah. Bye," he said, rubbing a hand underneath his glasses to wipe his eyes as if tired.
I only managed to take a few steps before I turned around, stopping him before he could make it to the locker room. "Are you—are you seeing Laffontein?" I cursed the words as soon as they left my mouth. Stupid, stupid, stupid question.
He looked surprised to hear me say her last name instead of her first. "No," he said simply, and then let the door bang behind him so he could take his long-overdue shower.
As I walked back to the castle, I couldn't help remembering that I hadn't told him the one thing that I needed to the most throughout that entire conversation. Hinted at it, yes, but not said it. If I had it would have sounded utterly mad. It was too late to go back, anyway, and what could I say?
"Sorry to barge in on you again, James, but I forgot to mention it. I know you've said you're over me, probably because I'm such a horrible person, but I've recently discovered that I like you. Would you consider forgetting your intense dislike at my loathsome betrayal and ask me out again?"
…Like I said. Completely barmy.
An extra long chapter, that, with an absolute TON of action (for me, at least ;P). Hopefully you enjoyed all the drama – we're closing in on the end, now, so it won't be too long. If you guys review I'll try to update quickly—it's summer now, anyway, so I'll have slightly more time on my hands.
Review, please! Good luck to everyone on exams!!