A Change of Heart
Chapter 45: Pathetic
"At least let me explain," James pleaded, knocking on Lily's door again. His knuckles were red and slightly sore from tapping on her door for so long. He sat on the floor, just outside of her room. He glanced at the clock on the wall, checking the time—again. One hour, 23 minutes, 43 seconds…and nothing, he thought feeling defeated.
"Please, Lily. Shouldn't I at least get a few words?" He sighed deeply. James pressed his ear to the door, listening for any sign of movement, which would translate to him as Lily finally giving up, offering some hope to James. His heart tugged painfully as it jumped to his throat when he heard rustling.
"I just want to talk," he urged, willing her to move to the door.
Thud—he retreated quickly from the door, rubbing his ear tenderly.
She smiled, despite the situation, at James' almost silent "Ow." Her heaviest book lay upside down on the floor after its successful landing on the door with a loud thump. "Go away, Prongs!" she yelled, emphasizing her last word to make her point.
"Come on! You can't just not let me explain what happened, and you can't stay in there forever!" His brow stitched together in a glare, examining the oak of her door with forced patience.
She leaped from her bed and stormed to the door, swinging it inward violently. His glare instantly softened to nothing, staring at her face. She looked madder than he had ever seen her. Her face was red and her hair was a mess. Her breathing came out in loud slow huffs and her fists were clenched tightly, one around the book that had previously been thrown, and the other on the door it had been thrown at. Still, looking like a mess and an angry bear who had just been woken up from hibernation all at once, he wanted nothing more than Lily Evans.
"Don't tell me what I can't do," she spat venomously. Her knuckles burned white as her grip around the door's edge tightened.
"You have no idea how much this is tearing me apart. Talk to me, that's all I want. Hell, yell at me if you like that idea better," he begged, braving a step closer to her.
"No," her voice cracked, but her glare never faltered.
"No? Why not?"
"You don't deserve it. You've been listening to me talk for days. You heard every single one of my insecure and vulnerable thoughts. Had I known that the stupid animal was you I would have kept my mouth shut and stayed as far away from you as possible. You tricked me, and all for your own sick pleasure. How hard did you have to fall off your bloody broom to not understand that I want nothing to do with you?"
"You don't mean that. Not if what you've been telling me was the truth," he swallowed hard, trying to find his words. Now that she was actually in front of him, he lost everything he had meant to say to her.
"Forget everything I told you, James, because it wasn't you I was saying any of it to. That's when I thought you were different. Now I realize that I've been right about you since day one. You're nothing but a lying git. You lie to get what you want for everything—especially when it comes to women. How could I have been so stupid to think for even a second you were different? That I was different than every other one of those girls? That you really did care about me…and that I was the one who should be feeling bad," her hand shook slightly, and her grip on the book broke. The book lay clumsily at their feet, pages bending and its binding slowly twisting awkwardly. She looked down at her book, but James' eyes never left Lily's face.
"I do care about you, Lils, more than I've ever cared about anybody or anything," he said quietly, but she wasn't listening. There had been a knock at the door. She lifted her gaze away from the book to the door. "Oh, he's early."
"Who's early? Are you expecting someone?" James asked instantly, feeling defensive.
"Yes. Is that a problem? I live here too so I assumed I was allowed to let people come over."
The visitor knocked again.
Lily left the doorway to her room finally and opened the door for her guest. She cracked the door just wide enough for her body to squeeze through, blocking James' view of who was on the other side.
"Oh, great, I'm glad you found the place all right! I'm sorry though, it'll be a minute or two. I didn't expect you to be here already," Lily said, a false warmness developing in her voice.
"Oh, not a problem! You want me to wait out here for you?" her guest said, trying to peer inside the room over her shoulder.
"Yes!" she answered, a little too quickly, she noticed, judging by the look on his face. "I promise I won't be long. I just have to get my books ready and I'll be right out," she added, hoping to fix the awkwardness between them.
"But don't be ridiculous, Lily! I'll keep your friend entertained for you while you get ready! We've got plenty of couch space in here for him," James said with a false but believable enthusiasm. He appeared by Lily at the door, tugging it open to reveal who her guest was.
"Oh, it's you, Michael," James exclaimed, nudging Lily aside gently and reaching through the doorway to clasp a hand around his shoulder, pulling him into the room. Lily looked mortified. "James! What are you doing?"
"Just helping out, of course. Come, come, Mikey, lets sit. Go on, Lily, you go ahead and get ready."
Her face went red again, her fists tightened into balls, and her face clearly read: You're going to regret this, James Potter.
She stormed into her room, gathering random books and throwing them hastily into her book-bag, thinking up the cruelest curses she could to throw at James once she got back.
"So you live here with Lily, huh?" Michael asked, plopping across from James on the love seat while James sat on the larger couch.
"Yes, you caught onto that quickly, didn't you?" James said, sizing him up, while puffing out his own chest and straightening up, doing his best to look any bigger than he really was.
"That's wicked, mate. Do you totally get to see her walking around naked all the time?" He looked around the room, before averting his attention to James, a grin widening on his pimpling face.
"What? You have got to be joking around, right?"
"No! Come on tell me the truth, guy to guy, is she really as sexy as I hope she is under that uniform?" He winked playfully, his smile growing at an alarming rate.
"Can you really be this dense?!" James' eyebrows stitched together again, rage rising in his chest. He shot from his seat, knocking into the coffee table between them clumsily, pain rushing through his shins. He did everything possible, however, not to show any sign of pain.
"Calm down, Potter, it was only a question, honestly. If you don't want to tell me you don't have to. Hopefully I'll find out for myself soon or later."
"What's going on out here?" Lily entered the room, all thoughts of hexing James to oblivion vanishing when she saw their facial expressions. She searched both of their faces, anticipating an answer. "James?" She turned to face him.
His expression is what confused her most. He was mad, that was obvious to her, but he looked like he was troubled, or torn between something. Not that I should care in the least, she thought, Although I can't really help that I want to care so badly.
"Are you two okay?" she asked, realizing her previous question was going to remain unanswered.
"Of course, sweetheart," Michael said cheerfully, smiling at her. "You look amazing; did you do something different to your hair?"
"Um, not really, no," she managed to respond. "Thank you though." She smiled politely at him and then refocused back to James. Her stomach pulled strangely as their eyes met. His face softened like before, but that same troubled-look could not be wiped off. She hated what his stares did to her, despite how physically sick she was with anger toward him for the incident in the Forbidden Forest. "And are you okay?"
He responded with, "You two have a good time," and tore his eyes away from hers, heading toward his room.
"Wait!" she said, rushing to catch up with him. "What's with you all of a sudden? You're having mood swings like a crazy person." She met up with him just as he was about to enter his room. She touched his arm lightly, turning him to face her again.
He obliged, locking eyes with her again, giving her the same tugging sensation in her stomach. He glanced over to Michael for a moment before staring at Lily once more. "I just…don't think he's a great guy, especially not for you."
"What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?" Lily snapped. "Especially for someone like me?"
"You just deserve so much better than him."
"Well obviously I can't find someone very well suited for me, so I guess I'll try out Michael for a change." She huffed loudly turning on her heel sharply. In her attempt to make a dramatic exit, her ankle gave way, popping loudly as she collapsed onto the ground, her books flying.
James rushed to the floor beside her, grabbing her books and speaking faster than Lily had ever heard him do before, "Are-you-okay?-Well-of-course-you're-not-okay-what-a-stupid-question-can-you-stand-up-on-your-own?-I-can-help-you-up-Maybe-you-should-lie-down." He knew he was over reacting, but he could not suppress the overwhelming desire to help her.
Lily's mouth hung open as she stared at James rushing around gathering up her things. She opened her mouth, and then closed it, opening it again, trying to think of what to say.
"Here, let me help you," James said not as quickly this time.
"Uh, um…well, no-no…that's okay—" Lily began to say, but her voice came out so faint James did not manage to hear her. He scooped Lily off the ground, one arm hooked under her knees, the other supporting her back. Their eyes locked again. Lily's face burned red again, her heart thumping loud enough she worried James could hear it.
Michael cleared his throat loudly, bringing both James and Lily back to reality. Lily stared from James to Michael in a trance-like state. She shook her head lightly before realizing the situation. "L-let go of me! What do you think you're doing?"
He set her down gently, his cheeks going pink. "Sorry, I was only trying to help."
"I don't need your help, just…just leave me alone," Lily said, sighing deeply. She grabbed her book-bag from the floor with her books neatly tucked away.
"Uh…that only applies to James, right? Because we have a study date still," Michael said from the corner of the room by the door.
"Yes. Just James." She looked up again where James had been before to see that he had already left. Her eyes traced the room until it landed on his bedroom door, finally closing with a ghostly 'click.'
"Come on, let's go to the library to study," she said, motioning for Michael to leave the Common Room with her. She stepped into the corridor, tension rising in her chest.
"Potter has quite the mood swings, doesn't he?" Michael said, staring back into the room they had just left.
"Can we not talk about Potter?"
"Sure thing, uh, can I hold those books for you? A girl as delicate as you shouldn't be straining herself with heavy books." The cheesy smile had returned.
Oh brother, this guy really is pathetic, she thought, but allowed him to take her books for her.
"You're being pathetic," Sirius complained, flicking a bit of corn at James from across the table.
James picked the corn out of his hair, rolling his eyes. "I am not pathetic, Padfoot."
Sirius barked a laugh, scooping another pile of corn onto his plate. "You are in denial, you're totally pathetic."
He glared at Sirius looking wary of the new mass of corn. "How am I pathetic?"
"Well, someone who wasn't pathetic wouldn't be writing their love-obsession's name with peas. Oh, by the way, the 'y' is a little off, just move it to the left a little." He leaned across the table to examine James' plate better. "Yes, definitely to the left. Just by like a pea or two."
"Shut it," James grunted, smashing his Lily-peas with his fork, shoving his plate aside.
"So…what is it this time? Did you and Lily shag but something came up?" Sirius joked, stuffing a spoonful of corn in his mouth, chewing loudly with his mouth open.
"No…she's on a date."
"On a date—who's the guy?"
"Michael Johnson. Hufflepuff. You know the guy?"
"Yeah, I know the guy. He's a total moron. Have you seen the guy try to pick up a girl, too? I don't know how he manages to do it. Although, rumor has it, any girl he's dated he's gotten a great sh—oooh…yeah, never mind," Sirius said, abruptly stopping to pick up whistling a choppy version of "Oh Susana!"
"Never mind! You can't 'never mind' me! He's gotten a great what?" James grabbed the front of Sirius's shirt, pulling him a ways over the table.
"Whoa! Whoa, chill, Prongs! Let me go and I'll tell you, you just have to promise me you won't try to kill me once I do," Sirius said, forcing James to loosen his grip on his shirt and allow him to return to his seat.
Sirius leaned back as he mumbled quietly, "He ummm…usually gets umm a good shag out of 'em." He winced throwing his hands over his face in preparation of what was to come.
Nothing came, however. He cautiously opened his eyes again to see James pale-faced, staring off blankly. Sirius waved a hand in front of James' eyes. "Mate, are you still alive?"
"A shag? You're—you're kidding…right? That moron? B-but how?"
"I don't know, I really couldn't tell you. It's one of those unsolved mysteries of the universe. Obviously he is not up to my standards with women…but he's not half bad."
"That's it…I'm going to the library," James announced, leaving the table in a hurry.
"The library? Wait! Prongs! We don't go to the library. We just don't. It's not in our blood! Why would you need to go now?" Sirius left his seat, following James hastily trying to keep up.
"That's where they're on their date." James said simply, taking longer strides.
"Wait! You can't just break up their date; Lily will murder you on the spot!"
"I'm not going to break up the date; I'm going to spy on the date, just in case I need to break the kid's neck half way through it."
"And how are you going to accom—Oh. The invisibility cloak. Of course. Sometimes I can be as dense as you, Prongs."
"Oh gee, Padfoot thanks. Now are you coming or what?" James asked picking up his pace so that Sirius had to jog beside him.
"Of course I'm coming. I have to be there to stop you from doing something stupid that you'll regret. Really, it's for my own personal reasons because I don't want to hear you moping about it afterwards for weeks so this way it's a less painful process."
James elbowed Sirius in the side, glaring, but never faltered in his pace. He was on a mission.
"Lily? Hello? Are you listening to me?" Michael said as loud as he dared to, being in the library.
"Huh? What? Oh yes, of course, of course! What were we talking about again?" She shook her head, flipping to a random page in her History book as she did.
"Well we were talking about the homework. You know, on the Troll War of 1432, but you zoned out on me again. Is there something bothering you?" he asked, putting an arm around her shoulders, pulling her seat closer to his. "You know…if ever there's something wrong, I'm here if you need anything, especially if it's a shoulder to cry on." He patted his shoulder with his free hand, smiling at Lily. "I'm a great listener."
"Uh…I can see that," Lily lied. "You just send out an 'I'm-a-good-listener' type of aura about you. But really, I'm okay, I was just thinking."
"I like that about you, Lily," Michael said, scooting himself closer to Lily until their bodies were touching.
"You like what about me, exactly?"
"You're always thinking and everything. I'm always listening, and you're always thinking! We're the perfect match!"
"Yeah, sure, something like that," Lily replied, burying her face in her book.
He turned towards her, moving her chair dramatically, so she'd be forced to look at him. "Lily…" His voice trailed off dramatically, his face growing somber as he tried to peer deeply in Lily's eyes. "I don't think I've felt this way about anyone before. You're so beautiful and smart and everything I could have hoped for." She tried to look back down at the book, her cheeks beginning to flush red out of embarrassment for him.
He slapped his hand across her book, preventing her from using studying as an excuse not to look at him. She sighed deeply, forcing herself to look at Michael again. He placed a hand on the side of her cheek, rubbing her skin softly with his thumb. She had the disgusted feeling that every word and action coming out of Michael was religiously rehearsed and stolen almost word-for-word from an overly-sappy romantic movie.
While Lily attempted to keep a straight face that appeared to be interested in what her study-date was saying, James was hanging onto every word. He and Sirius were under the invisibility cloak, behind the nearest bookshelf to Lily and Michael. "Do you see that? What does he think he's doing? Oh, Lily will never fall for a stupid line like that. Wait—would she?" James whispered desperately to Sirius, who was examining the books with a scared look on his face. In the fifteen minutes they had been in the library, they had spent five minutes finding a spot that they could hear everything that was going on, yet see everything as well. The other ten minutes had been spent with James whispering comments about every movement at their table. "Oh Prongs, pull yourself together already," Sirius whispered back, rolling his eyes, fully aware James would not notice, as they were both unable to see each other at the moment.
"Shut it, so I can hear." James pressed himself closer to the bookshelf. "…and everything I could have hoped for," rang in James' ears as it left Michael's mouth. His stomach lurched uncomfortably. "Bloody, hell he's going to try to kiss her!" James whispered frantically, searching the room for any distraction to prevent this from occurring.
"It's not your place. Don't try—" Sirius was cut mid-sentence due to the shock of being de-cloaked suddenly. He looked down at his body, shocked that he could again see himself. "What are you doing?!" Sirius whispered after James, noticing he was no longer with him by the bookshelf. He had a fairly good idea, however, of where exactly James had left to.
"Uh…oh, really? That's…um…very nice of you to say, Michael…really, but—"
"Stop!" Michael said dramatically. He moved his hand from her cheek, moving it to her lips to silence her. "I don't want to ruin this moment. You look so lovely, Lily darling."
She looked around, his hands still pressed to her lips, searching desperately for a way out. He leaned in closer, moving his hand from her lips to behind her head. She had no way out. It was coming. He parted his lips slightly, beginning to close his eyes as he approached. She gripped the sides of her chair tightly, bracing herself for what was to come.
Whack!—the book, where Michael's hand was still placed, was smashed down with a powerful force, squeezing his fingers and palm painfully. He shot out of his seat, stumbling onto the floor, looking at the book in horror. Lily, however startled, stayed put, her eyes fixed on the book. She opened the book which saved her and looked around suspiciously. That could nothave been a draft, she thought.
She looked back down at Michael who was nursing his hand pitifully. "Are you all right?" she asked, moving from her seat to crouch down by Michael.
"No, of course not—did you see what the demon book did?" His voice squeaked slightly. He raised his hurt hand to Lily to show what damage had been done. It did not look pretty, to say the least. His hand was red, and it appeared like his entire hand was throbbing. Definitely, not a draft, she decided.
"Have you gone completely mad?" Sirius scorned as James returned to their hiding spot, throwing the invisibility cloak over him again.
"What are you talking about? I didn't do anything," James said calmly, a smile heard in his voice.
"Oh don't pretend to be all innocent with me."
"What? Did you see me do anything? No. Therefore, I did nothing." James pulled a book from the bookshelf and tossed it to the floor. He peered through the crack the absent book provided, staring intently at Michael and Lily.
"Are you kidding? You mutilated his hand! What did you do to it to make it swell up to that size anyway?"
"I had to practically throw myself onto that damn book, and when that didn't work, I placed a swelling hex on his hand. He got off easy anyway, it barely did anything."
"You're delusional, mate," Sirius whispered, shaking his head disapprovingly.
"Maybe we should reschedule," Michael half-whimpered, cradling his injured hand as he stood back up.
"Yeah, sure, that sounds great," Lily said, swallowing hard, forcing a smile to her lips and what she really wanted to say back in her throat.
"That sounds wonderful. I'll walk you to your room and then head to the Hospital Wing."
"Come on, did you hear that! We have to follow them!" James whispered, feeling for Sirius under the cloak, and dragging him along with him, trailing behind Michael and Lily by a few steps.
"We're going to get caught!" Sirius hissed, as he was dragged by the collar of his shirt.
"Not if you keep quiet, we won't."
Michael and Lily reached the entrance to the Head's Common Room after a painfully slow walk. "Well, I'm sorry about your hand again," Lily said for the fourteenth time, looking around the corridor awkwardly.
"Don't you worry your pretty head about it. You know, it's just my hand that's injured…there's nothing wrong with my lips," Michael cooed, throwing her a smile that he considered kissable.
"Oh, heh, imagine that, huh? Well, I can see that. You've got no problem talking; you do that more than most people. It's quite a talent, really." She inched toward the wall, backing away from Michael's intense gaze.
He over-faked a laugh, approaching Lily again. She was fully against the wall now, pressing herself as tightly to it as she could manage. "I can do more with these lips than just talk," he said seductively, placing his good hand just above her shoulder on the wall, leaning over her body, caging her into the corner. There was no escape now.
"Stand still! Lily will murder you if she sees you trying to stop him!" Sirius whispered, grabbing hold of James, holding him back from sprinting to where Michael and Lily were posted against the wall. James continued to fight against Sirius' hold on him, however. "Listen, I'm only letting go of you if you promise not to run off and just listen to me," Sirius huffed, out of breath now, his strength quickly draining as James' endurance began to dwindle as well.
James became rigid, and warily Sirius loosened his grip around him. "You good now?" Sirius asked, straightening the invisibility cloak around them to ensure they were still unseen.
"Only if you assure me that you're still my best mate," James asked, in a manic voice.
"Uh…of course, you know I am, Prongs. But what's that got to do with—" James shoved Sirius roughly from underneath the invisibility cloak, whispering loudly "Stop him!"
"Hey! What is wrong with you?!" Sirius shouted. He felt his cheeks burn as he realized that no body could see who his yelling was intended for, and the only two people in the corridor, Lily and Michael, were fully aware of his presence now.
"What in hell are you talking about, Sirius?" Lily said uncomfortably.
Sirius turned around slowly, facing Michael and Lily. He flashed his best smile. "I meant, what is wrong with you, Lils…not even saying hello to me?"
She cocked an eyebrow at him, staring at him like he was speaking a completely foreign language. "I'm, um, sorry. I didn't see you there. How did you get there anyway? You weren't there a moment ago."
"Oh, don't be ridiculous! Of course I was!" He forced a laugh out, hoping it sounded natural. He approached them, cautiously, feeling James' eyes on the back of his head. "C'mere and give old Sirius a great big hug!" he said, awkwardly nudging between Michael and Lily to hug her. Michael backed off instantly, obviously unhappy about another intrusion. He glared at Sirius, clearing his throat loudly. "Excuse me, Black, but me and Lily were in the middle of something," he growled.
"Yeah, I know, I got in the middle of it! You don't mind me borrowing her?" Sirius said, allowing Michael just enough time to open his mouth before Sirius continued on without allowing him to respond. "What a good guy! Thanks, Mikey—Ooh that hand doesn't look too good, you should go to the Hospital Wing."
"What a great idea," Michael said through gritted teeth. He took a deep breath, trying to retrieve composure again. "I'll see you again soon, I hope?" Michael said more charmingly toward Lily, ignoring Sirius as much as humanly possible.
She nodded her head once and smiled apologetically, secretly relieved. Michael left quickly, holding his hurt hand tenderly again.
"You can let go of me now, Sirius," Sirius informed, wiggling free from his grasp.
He dropped his hold, quickly. "Well, it's been good seeing you!" Sirius said, starting to move back down the corridor.
"Wait! What did you want?"
He winced like someone had just hit him in the gut. Turning back around to face Lily he forced his smile back onto his face. "What was that?"
"What did you want to see me for?" Lily asked, suspicion growing quickly.
"Oh! That? I just wanted to apologize for the other day and see if you were okay. I wouldn't be a very good friend if I didn't, now would I?" he quickly lied.
"I'm just fine, even better if I didn't have to see James anymore though."
Sirius' smile faltered. Maybe James didn't hear that? Sirius thought doubtfully before responding with, "He didn't mean to cause any harm, Lily."
"You have no idea what happened out in that forest, Sirius. He knew exactly what he was doing. He must have been waiting years to humiliate me like that, huh?" Lily felt her jaw tighten and her eyes begin to sting with anger again.
"What are you talking about?"
"Tricking me like that—getting all of that out of me, just for laughs. He's pathetic…and I'm pathetic for falling for his act."
"You really have no idea what you're talking about. If you had any idea what goes through his mind, you would realize you couldn't be more wrong. I've never see James more passionate and crazy over anything like he is over you. You're right about one thing though, you're both pathetic. When will you two ever get it right?"
Lily straightened up, startled by Sirius' sudden reaction to her words. She meant to yell at him for being so rude and saying something like that to her, but she found she was frozen to the spot. "Bye Lily," Sirius said after a moment, finally leaving her. He walked through the spot where James had been standing before, realizing he had long since left.
Lily bit her lower lip tenderly, sliding against the wall slowly until she sat on the floor of the corridor. She leaned her head against the cold stone, looking up at the ceiling. She blinked once, a trail of tears running down her porcelain cheek.
A/N: Okay, so I just rushed to get this out. It's 2:30 in the morning over here, and it's blizzarding, which in turn cancelled school. This is fortunate for you readers, because it means you guys got this chapter! But I won't be very motivated to write again unless I get some reviews? So review, please! Also, sorry if there are more mistakes than usual in this chapter, I was rushing to get it out to you guys so I can sleep!