"As Lovers Go"
The buzz and flow of the Gryffindor common room was doing nothing in the favor of James Potter and his Potions essay. He had been trying and failing for nearly an hour to secure as much as a paragraph on the parchment before him.
He eyed his friends with an ever building contempt.
"No, no, watch THIS!" Sirius boasted gleefully to the group before him as he produced another of the endless explosions he had been making for the past hour. James could find nothing funny about it, but he was obviously alone in that opinion as all of his friends were rolling off their respective seats in crippling laughter. Sirius laughed hardest of all, overtaken by his own hilarity.
James exhaled in frustration and slapped his sadly blank parchment over his face.
"Jamesy not feeling well?" Sirius cooed once he regained control over himself.
James lowered the parchment and glared as Sirius girlishly batted his eyelashes. "And just where is your Potions essay? I didn't see you working on it at all."
"Oh that's because I didn't," he replied casually. "I just copied Moony's."
James shot a look of disgust at Remus, who, without even looking up, replied, "Don't look at me. I copied Marilyn."
Marilyn gasped and swatted him. "You git! I just copied Scarlett, anyway."
All heads turned to Scarlett, whose face was dripping with guilt. "I sort of copied Lily's."
Now the heads turned to Lily. She looked quite exasperated as she dropped her face to her hands.
"Don't tell me you copied me, Lil!" Sirius exclaimed, his expression scandalized. "You know I take the utmost pride in the integrity of my work."
"Apparently you all do," Lily said accusingly.
James jumped up. "You guys can duke it out all you want, but I'm going to the library."
"I'll go with you!" Lily said as she jumped up as well.
"Fantastic idea! Going straight to the source, James, smart," Sirius said. "I had to decipher Remus's chicken scratch, and let me tell you, that's a workload unto itself. Lily has much nicer handwriting."
"Oh shove it, Sirius," Lily rolled her eyes as she went to catch up with the quickly disappearing James.
Once out of the portrait hole they walked in an undetermined silence for quite some time, until James found fit to initiate conversation.
"Lily—," James began in a strictly business tone.
"Yes James?" Lily countered just as cordially. "You know, I was wondering when you were going to notice that I was here."
"Lily—," apparently her sardonic words were lost on him, "I don't think this is such a good idea."
"What are you talking about?"
"You. And me. Alone. Together."
Lily brought her walk to an abrupt halt. "And what do you mean by that?"
James stopped, too, and turned to face her. Lily found herself startled at how close his face suddenly was to hers.
"You know perfectly well what I mean."
Of course she did. It's not that she was counting on it or anything… except that she really, really was. And having James's heavily breathing lips only inches from her own – that wasn't helping much.
"What, so now we can't ever hang out just because of…of…" she gestured her hands about in an attempt to catch the words she was lacking, "…that?"
"No, it's just…" he sighed and fiddled with his hair. "I don't know, maybe we should… just… give ourselves some space."
"This is ridiculous," she shook her head. "I refuse to allow this silly... whatever it is, to come between us. You're my friend, dammit, and I'm going to spend time with you." She crossed her arms and stared defiantly into those eyes that had, so many times, overwhelmed her.
James could not hold the gaze. He turned away and dropped his head, muttering, "Lil, I dunno…"
"What? James—," she grabbed him roughly by the shoulder and spun him around to face her once more. Narrowing her eyes, she uttered, "You don't trust me?"
"No, Lily—it's myself that I can't trust!" he cried. "Not around you."
Lily wasn't entirely sure how to respond to this. She bit on her lower lip as she studied the floor awkwardly, then flicked her gaze back up to his.
"See—don't do that!" James exclaimed quite frantically, backing away immediately.
"What!" Lily asked, quite alarmed at his sudden state of bother.
"That—that thing…with your lip…" He was pacing now, tugging anxiously at his hair.
Lily placed her hand over her lips self-consciously and continued to stare timidly at him. "I'm…sorry. I'll just—I'll go."
"No, don't!" James grabbed her by the arm.
"But I thought you—?"
"I know, I know, but…" His eyes darted back and forth between hers, as if a proper excuse lay hidden in one of them. "Just, stay—please?"
Lily furrowed her eyebrows. "You are a most frustrating boy, do you know that?"
He smiled crookedly. "I guess you just throw me a bit out of whack."
She gently freed her arm from his hand that was still holding her firmly in place.
"Then I guess that makes two of us."
She set off once more in walking, feeling the eyes of James following mutely behind. Deciding it was wrong to enjoy this attention as much as she was, she turned and barked at him, "Are you coming?"
"Right behind you!" He answered haphazardly, skipping a bit to catch up.
The library was dotted with students, most being frantic fifth years scrambling to cram one last spell into their brains before OWLs. Both Lily and James scanned the area immediately for any sign of a friend or acquaintance, to which they were relieved to find neither. Though they weren't sure why such anonymity was necessary. It's not like they were going to do anything wrong, right? Just… study. And stuff.
"This table is as good as any, eh?" James said, choosing to sit at a table quite out of the way.
"It's a bit… in the back, isn't it?" Lily observed curiously.
"Yeah, well. A lot more quiet back here. Better to concentrate," he shrugged, though not meeting Lily's shrewd stare. She was about to point out that the library was always quiet no matter where one sat, but thought better of it. James was obviously not in the most rational state of mind.
She seated herself and scooted the chair close to James's so as to be in accessible view of the parchment he had placed on the table. "This is the essay on sleeping drafts, yeah?"
"And you're just starting on it now?"
Completely unfazed, James draped his arm over the back of Lily's chair as he watched her read over his paper.
Right around the third sentence, however, Lily found it nearly impossible to concentrate. Her eyes moved blindly across the parchment, taking in nothing but the slow and sweet movement of James's fingers over her back. Back and forth and up and down, circling over the wrinkles of her shirt, teasing the bare skin beneath. She was back in that room, that unused classroom, and she was kissing James and he was kissing her, and his hands were crawling over the small of her back, craftily untucking her shirt to reach beneath and oh, how she wished he would and—
"Don't do that!" She suddenly snapped at him, whacking his arm with the essay she had been 'reading.'
James recoiled the guilty arm, clear alarm in his eyes. "Sorry, Lil, I didn't realize—"
Lily dropped the paper and hid her reddening face in her hands. "Oh, God, I'm sorry. I just, I flipped, I don't know."
"No, no, it's fine, really, I shouldn't have been—um," he quickly crossed his arms tightly against his chest as if to contain them from further mishaps. "It's my fault."
Sighing, Lily peeked through the cracks in her fingers to look at him. "This isn't working is it?" She dropped her hands heavily to her lap. "I don't know why I thought it would…"
"Look, Lil—" James began, only faltering when he noticed several pairs of eyes from around the library watching the two of them like a dishy soap opera. Clearing his throat, he pulled Lily up by the hand. "Let's, uh, go look for that book over, er, back here," he managed anxiously.
Once safe behind a rather monstrous and dusty bookcase, James found fit to finish his thought. "This can work. I'm determined that it will."
"But how? You saw what happened out there, what happened in the hall, what always happens when we're together? We can't be just friends, James, no matter how we try to fool ourselves into thinking otherwise. I don't—" she paused to collect her next words correctly, "I don't think I want to be just friends with you."
She looked up into his eyes pleadingly, clinging to some silly hope that maybe now everything could be okay, now everything could work out the way she wanted. Sadly, all she found reflected in his eyes was the persistent truth that never seemed to be in her favor.
James leaned his back against the bookshelf and dropped his eyes to the floor. "I dunno what to say."
Lily moved herself directly in front of him, hands on hips. "That's all you have to say? That you have nothing to say?"
He flicked his gaze up to meet hers. "Yes… do you?"
They stared blankly at one another for a moment until they came to the conclusion that maybe they weren't supposed to talk anyway. Lily took a step closer, biting her lip in the way she knew James loved, which prompted James to grab her by the waist, just in that spot that he knew drove her crazy, and just like that they stared at each other. With every moment the tension and guilt of "this is wrong" dwelled and escalated in them both.
But suddenly that didn't matter. Nothing mattered, because they were behind a large bookshelf and no one had to know and they were so close already and what would it hurt?
Such was the halfhearted reasoning that initiated a very wholehearted kiss. Grabbing James by the tie, Lily pulled his head down to meet hers, though with relative ease since his head had been voluntarily moving in that direction anyway. One hand still tugging on the tie, she snaked the other up the back of his neck until her fingertips were tickled by the ends of his hair, and in that way she made sure James' lips stayed right where she wanted them.
Not that James was showing any signs of wanting to get away. He was making it clear, quite audibly, how much he was enjoying himself every time Lily gave a nibble to his bottom lip. She could feel his hands perusing their favorite spot on her waist, pulling her closer and closer to him. The heat radiating off his body, right up against her own, felt insanely delicious and comforting, like nothing she had ever known.
Releasing the tie, Lily instead curled her arm around James's neck and pulled herself up to press her lips more firmly against his. In doing so, her shirt lifted up slightly, allowing James contact with the bare skin. Lily could feel his hands squeezing more firmly around her, and she gasped, forgetting to kiss him for a moment. She took a step backward, right into the opposite bookshelf that was suddenly closer than she remembered. James moved forward with her, everything about him looking a perfect mess.
"Are you alright?" he asked, very much out of breath.
Lily felt an odd sense of empowerment, knowing it was she who had taken his breath away. She didn't bother with answering verbally, merely nodded as she took in the sight of his face in the dim lighting. His eyes looked different, darker somehow, so that they almost blended right into the dying candlelight air surrounding them. They flickered just so, dancing with tiny bits of golden light, giving away only glimpses of the fire hidden underneath.
Lily felt a shiver run through her. More than anything else is the world, she found herself wanting to be that fire in his eyes. She wanted to be the only one to ever see what she saw now, to be the only one to ever be held like this by James Potter under dim lighting when no one is supposed to know.
She wanted to have him as her own little secret forever and ever.
She went to resume kissing him, but found her lips landing on his cheek when he turned away. Before she could register any feeling of rejection, she felt the soft warmth of James's lips near her ear.
"I'm sorry…" his words trickled slowly into her ear like grains of sand. "I guess my conscience finally caught up with me."
His conscience. Oh yeah. Lily had forgotten about hers precisely the moment James's lips met hers. It was simply much more fun kissing him that way. But now it seemed hers was coming back, as well.
"Oh, God," she muttered, quickly untangling herself from the lingering embrace. She ran a hand through her hair and held it there as if clutching a security blanket. "I'm such a stupid girl, stupid…"
"Hey, no," James cooed. "Don't say that. You're not even the one doing something wrong here, I am."
Despite her fret, Lily felt herself smile. It wasn't that she felt any better about the situation, but there was something infectiously warm about James that she couldn't deny.
"Now that's better," James said, smiling now as well. "I, uh, I don't believe we'll be getting much work done tonight, though."
"Mm, no, probably not."
"So I should go," Lily finished. "So that you can finish your paper."
James didn't seem very fond of this idea. "Well—wait, do you have to—?"
"Yes, I have to go," she grinned. "Not that I want to, of course," she added, peering up at him flirtaciously.
To this, he raised his eyebrows. "Well what if—"
"See you tomorrow, James," she said, giving him a shove in the chest. But before she could properly walk away, James tugged her back by the arm and gave her one final kiss on the lips.
Lily hardly knew how she managed her way back to the common room with her head so dizzy and light, but in only a few minutes time she was plopping herself back on the cushy couch next to her friends who hadn't made much progress past their useless sitting around. She curled her legs up beneath her and smiled vaguely at her lap. Looking up, she saw four pairs of eyes staring at her quite wickedly. Only Remus sat unaffected, reading his book mutely.
"What?" she asked warily.
Marilyn, Scarlett, and Cherise shared identical smiles that needed no explanation. Lily cursed them silently; how did they always know! She flicked her gaze to Sirius, who also expressed extra interest in her return.
"Have a nice time in the library there, Lils?" he asked with all pretenses of innocence.
"I… suppose," she answered carefully. She felt like she was being circled by hawks.
"So where's James then? Too exhausted to make his way back here?"
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
He shrugged. "Oh you know. Homework can be very wearing, that's all."
She narrowed her eyes. Sirius was always a randy git about everything, she should've expected exactly this reaction, but there was something about his demeanor that didn't feel quite as playful as usual.
"For your information, James is still in the library finishing up his essay," she said, matching his shrewd gaze. "And I am going to bed."
She removed herself from the couch under the continuing scrutiny of her friends' eyes. As she walked away she could hear the shrill giggle of what had to be Marilyn. She didn't bother to look back. Before she could turn to hike up the stairs to her anxiously awaited dorm, someone stopped her.
It was Sirius, standing so close behind her that she nearly bumped noses in turning around. It was quite startling, actually, she hadn't even noticed that anyone had followed her. As he spoke his voice was low, almost conspiratorial.
"The next time you decide to help James with his homework, try fixing your shirt before you come back." Lily's hand flew defensively to her waist where her shirt had come undone. "Wouldn't want anyone getting any ideas, eh?" Again, his usual humor was absent as he spoke, prompting Lily to stiffen in quiet alarm.
He stared at her quite intensely for a moment, but Lily could not determine what emotion he was trying to convey. The tone of his voice was empty and indifferent, but the burning in his eyes spoke something of anger... or sadness.
Before Lily could even begin to think of a response, Sirius was off and up the stairs to the boys' dormitories. She stared at the recently evacuated space in front of her and exhaled – apparently she had been forgetting to do so. She glanced over into the thick of the common room and spotted her friends' heads turning around abruptly; of course, they had been watching. She had expected that much.
Lily's head once again felt dizzy, but this feeling was much different from earlier in the evening.
She was beginning to realize that kissing James brought increasingly complicated consequences.
Not too long, I know, and a blunt ending, but I'm going on vacation for two weeks and wanted to get something up before I left. Thanks to all who still read! Means the world.