This isn't mine; it's J.K. Rowling's.
Sunshine in the Dark
Chapter One: In which Lily is Depressed
Lily Evans sighed as she looked out the window; it was raining. She hated rain. She used to love it. It was so fluid and carefree; it lowered her inhibitions and allowed her to trapeze around like she didn't have a care in the world. Nope, there was nothing more satisfying than dancing in the rain. At least that's what she would have said if you asked her last year. Now she hated it. It was so cold and abusive; she'd never seen that before. She sighed again, this time not at the rain, but at herself. She'd changed so much and honestly the old Lily had been better.
"What is it?" Her best friend Ally asked from where she was sprawled on her bed.
"Oh, nothing," Lily replied, "It's just raining."
"What's wrong with the rain? You used to love the rain." Ally said sitting up and looking piercingly at Lily.
Lily hated it when Ally did things like this; she hated lying to Ally, but when conversations took this turn she was always forced to.
"I just don't anymore."
"Lily, tell me what's wrong. You haven't been yourself since you came back from summer break. What happened? And I don't even want to hear you say you haven't changed because I know you have."
"I wasn't going to deny it," Well of course she would have, but she obviously couldn't after what Ally said.
"So what's bothering you? What happened this summer?" Ally asked her with such a concerned look on her face that Lily was almost tempted to tell her what had happened; what she'd been through, and why she couldn't find the energy to laugh anymore. Almost. As quickly as the urge came it faded; Ally was happier not knowing. She didn't need to be burdened with Lily's problems. Ally just wouldn't understand; the most pressing thing in her mind was the upcoming quiz in Transfiguration and who would be Sirius Black's next girl.
"People change you know!" Lily shouted angrier at herself than at Ally. "Just because I'm not exactly the same doesn't mean something's wrong with me. So you know what? Get off my back about it. It's not your concern."
"You know what Lily? I'm sick of this," Ally shouted back, "I'm sick of you denying something's wrong because something is. You never laugh anymore and gods I don't think I've seen you smile all week. And I don't even know what's going on with you and Potter. You two used to have so much fun annoying the hell out of each other and now all you do is snap at him. It's one thing not to talk to your best friend because I'm going to be here for you no matter what and I've known you forever and I care about you, but it's another thing altogether to ignore and yell at a man who loves you. DON'T you dare look away from me Lily Evans! You know as well as I do that Potter loves you! You owe him an explanation, even before me. Ugh! I've had it. If you don't want to talk, fine. If you decide you do, you know where to find me." With a final huff Ally turned at stormed out of the dorm room.
"Great Lily," she thought, "Now you're alone and friendless. Are you happy about that?" The sad thing was Ally was right. Lily did owe Potter an explanation. Last year she'd practically promised to go out with him and now she couldn't. The problem was of course that Potter wouldn't care for her reason. Not that it wasn't a good reason, it was, but it wasn't one that would stop someone like James Potter. No, things were better as they were. She may be alone, but at least no more people would die because of her.
The next morning at breakfast Lily sat by herself; it was best that she encourage the growing rift between her and Ally. Lily hadn't had the strength to break off their friendship before, but now that the opportunity presented itself she intended to use it. Life had changed so much over the past few months. She'd left Hogwarts so oblivious, so happy. Now she was a complete wreck, depressed, snappish, and on the verge of falling apart. She'd learned a lot about darkness over the past few months and knew she wanted nothing to do with it, but sometimes, when she let her mind wander to that painful subject, she wondered if after being immersed in the darkness for so long would she ever be able to get out. There had to be a way, she had to believe that, it was the only thing she had to cling to, that one little ray of hope. If she lost that she would drown completely. Lily was so immersed in her thoughts she didn't hear anyone come up behind her, so when someone laid a hand on her shoulder she let out a cry of surprise and cringed as though expecting a blow.
"Damn Reflexes," She thought. Sure it was a useful reflex where she'd been a month ago, but back here at Hogwarts it was decidedly out of place. She really would have to work on controlling it. In fact she was doing rather well; yesterday she managed not to desperately shift away while Flitwick helped her with some complicated wand work, but it had been a near thing. Turning around she said one word, "Potter."
"Are you alright? You seem kind of jumpy."
"I'm fine," Lily snapped, "So back off!"
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize I'd gotten too close," James whispered backing up a step with a tender look of worry on his face. Lily couldn't take it, she looked away. "Can I take one small step forward Lily flower?" His reference to her favorite childhood game of Mother May I was so surprising she couldn't help bursting out in laughter. She hadn't laughed in ages. It felt so good. When she looked up at James she saw he was smiling and taking a great deal of care in pretending to sneak forward, which only caused her to laugh harder. She finally managed to stop as James slid onto the bench next to her and said, "It's good to hear you laugh Lily, it lights up my world." Gently he brushed a lock of hair out of her face. "You're so beautiful when you're happy. I wish I could help you laugh more often."
His words pulled Lily back to reality, back to herself. She'd let James weave a dream of happiness around her for those brief seconds, but she knew it was an illusion. She could never be happy; she could never be with him.
"I don't need any help from you Potter," She snapped trying to make it look like she meant it.
"Why do you always push me away Lily? It's so obvious that something's wrong and I want to help fix it. Please, just give me a chance," He said pulling her hand into his.
"I don't need help," Lily repeated. It was almost like a mantra; if she repeated it enough it might become reality. She needed help more than she needed her next breath, but she couldn't give in. She couldn't hurt him, even if it killed her.
"Yes you do! And I'm going to try and help you even if it kills me," a sentiment so similar to her own. There were tears in her eyes. She wanted this so badly. She leapt to her feet pulling her hand from his; she had to get out of here. As she reached the door to the great hall she looked back and for one blazing second her eyes met James'. The whole world seemed to fall away. It was as if she was standing in front of him without her lies without her carefully constructed walls and without her mask. It was too much; she turned and flat out ran. She finally stopped near the transfiguration room and caught her breath while she waited for her tears to stop falling. She wouldn't be able to hold herself together much longer if this kept up. He was so sweet and wonderful and just plain perfect. She wanted him to help her; she wanted him to say she wouldn't hurt him, but she would and that was a risk she couldn't take.
She slogged through classes that day ignoring everyone and burying herself in work. Even in History of Magic when they didn't do anything she kept busy finishing other homework. Being busy kept her mind off the mess she called her life. Lily dropped her over flowing bag of books on her bed and grabbed her old worn cloak. She owed herself a treat. Taking a side exit from the castle, Lily began to aimlessly wander the grounds, enjoying the brisk cool air as it penetrated her cloak. Maybe it would snow for Christmas. The day after next nearly all of the students would be leaving for the holidays. Not that she would be celebrating, but it would still be nice to have a white Christmas. After all, this would be her first Christmas at Hogwarts and snow might make it a little less lonely since all of her friends were going home for Christmas. No, no, all her former friends. Even her own mind was conspiring against her. She couldn't be friends with them; she had to accept that. Although maybe the total isolation she'd thought was necessary at the beginning wasn't as crucial as she'd assumed. It would probably be alright to have acquaintances. Yes, acquaintances would be very nice indeed. Even He wouldn't go after them. Would He? Lily wasn't worth the risk of friendship. Oh, but what a blessing it would be to finally have someone who knew what she'd been through. Someone to tell about her nightmares and comfort her fears. Settling by the lake the cold winter air gave a particularly harsh gust and whipped through her thin cloak like an icy knife. Shivering, Lily hugged herself. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back letting the wind flow around her, tangling her hair behind her. Shaking her head, she tried to block out the image of the cold black water that was imprinted in her brain. It was so tempting. She could just drown her problems and never have to face the world again.
"Cold?" whispered a voice as warm arms enveloped her from behind.
At first she struggled, yet another reflex, and then she realized who it was, "James."
"If you're going to stand outside in the freezing weather then at least wear a decent cloak, so I won't have to worry about you." While he talked he tucked the edges of his cloak around her, pulling her closer to his chest.
"You're so warm," Lily said wondering at the warmth that she'd been without since this summer. She could feel his laugh rumbling up through him as he chuckled in her ear.
"Well, I am wearing a winter cloak. And it probably doesn't hurt that I was just at quidditch practice." The laughter left his voice as it deepened into what Lily could only call seduction, "You see, I couldn't help but notice while I flew that a beautiful angel was standing here by the water. So I had to come investigate. Imagine my surprise to find that the beautiful enchantress who had ensnared me was a mortal." As his last words drifted away he lowered his lips to her cheek and said, "I want to help you."
"No, Potter, you don't. What's wrong with me would take years of help to overcome. I know that you have other plans for your future James. There's no need to throw that all away for me." Lily let out a wet laugh here. She couldn't explain why, but she had started to cry. "World class quidditch player, James Potter," she whispered. "I'll join your fan club and I'll cheer in the crowd when you catch the snitch. That's all I want. That's all I ask for."
James spun her around so she was facing him, "This may come as I surprise to you, but that's not all I want you to ask for. I don't even want to play quidditch after Hogwarts. It's not that there's anything wrong with it, but that's not what I want." His eyes left hers as he looked over her shoulder, like he was visualizing a future only he could see. "I want to be an Auror, like my dad and I'm hoping to bypass on the fan club. I want to settle down and start a family," His eyes refocused on her, "With the woman I love."
Lily looked away.
"Lily, I know you're in pain, but I want you to know I would never hurt you. Give me a chance; let me love you."
"James," she whispered, her voice cracking unevenly with emotion, "I don't want to lose you."
"I'll never leave you Lily. I love you."
Pulling away, Lily stumbled backwards and her feet were soaked as she reached the edge of the lake's icy water. "James, you don't mean that."
"I do. Lily, listen to me, please. I don't know why you changed your mind about us over the summer, I don't know why you barely smile, and I don't know why your grades are dropping. Hell, I don't even know why you're standing out here trying to catch your death, but you know what I do know? I know that the Lily Evans I fell in love with is inside you somewhere and I want to get her back. I know you want her back as well. You don't like who you've become, I can see it every time you grimace at your reflection. I'm not asking much Lily. I'm not asking for your love or friendship, I'm not even asking you to like me. All I want is a chance to help you. Please, please, give it to me."
For some inexplicable reason Lily was mad. Maybe it was because everything he'd said was true, but whatever the reason it made her shout, "You want a confession James! Alright, here's one, lets see how you like it! The Dark Lord's after me. Oh, and of course, it's not only me, oh no, it's anyone and everyone I'm close to. Well guess what James, that's not something I'm going to stand for. I'm not going to let anyone get hurt because of me. I plan to make sure that he has no one to kill, but me! And you are messing up my plan!"
James took a step closer. Probably not the brightest idea because she was so mad she felt like snapping him in half. "He's really after you?"
"Oh, no, I was joking," she said sarcastically, "Of course he's after me you dimwit."
James, much to her vexation, was looking like he'd just discovered enlightenment, "So that's why you won't let me help you. You're afraid he'll hurt me."
Lily nodded looking at her feet; the anger had disappeared as swiftly as it had come. Suddenly she was enveloped in a bear hug that lifted her completely off of her feet.
"That's really sweet Lils. That means a lot to me."
"James, I don't want to hurt you. I've already lost so much; please I don't want to lose anymore. I don't want to lose you."
"I'm not going anywhere," He said setting her on her feet.
"Even you can't control death James."
"Lily, what kind of life would we live if we lived in constant fear of death? If you ask me, it wouldn't be much of one." Pulling back, he looked her in the eye, "Death will come to us all Lily. I want to die knowing I lived life to its fullest. I want to know that I savored each day. You know, 'live each day as if it is your last', that kind of thing. Life's an adventure Lils, and I want you on that adventure with me."
Shivering, Lily clung to James, burying her face in his chest. She never wanted to let him go. But still, should she do this? Should she let herself love him? Should she risk his life for their love? Should she set herself up for another heart break? To her surprise she already knew the answer and it wasn't what she'd thought it was. "Yes!" Her heart and mind yelled so loudly he lips felt obliged to voice the sentiment as well.
"Thank you, thank you." James breathed pulling her close to him. Lily wrapped her arms around him snuggling into his warmth. They stood there for what could have been a minute or an hour, it didn't matter. They were together.
Finally James pulled away, "I better get you inside before all I have for company is a Lily Popsicle." Keeping one arm securely around her, he pulled her toward the castle. It was quiet except for the squishing of their shoes, wet with lake water.
Once they reached the main hall Lily looked around, "What time is it?"
"Thank you Mr. Obvious."
"You're welcome Ms. Sarcastic."
They both giggled. They always had so much fun making fun of each other. Things were almost back to normal, except for one thing. James was holding her had tightly in his. It was nice.
Hey this is my first HP fic, so reviews would be appreciated.