Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JKR.

Author's Note: Hello! Chapter 14 here for you is finally here… I hope you like this chapter, because I sure do!

Chapter 14: Time to Waste.

Lily climbed the staircase towards the dorms with mounting dread. She didn't want to be back here. But then, she didn't want to be anywhere else.

Where do you want to be, Lily? she asked herself mockingly. Nowhere?

Scowling, she entered the dorms and made to unpack. That was, until she caught sight of somebody she had no desire to see sitting on the bed next to hers, reading a magazine.

Marlene McKinnon.

Lily decided the best plan of action would be to ignore her. So, with newfound determination not to show any emotion, Lily began to unpack.

It took Marlene about a minute to notice her. Lily was folding some socks when Marlene finally spoke. "So," she said slowly, putting down her magazine. "Have fun with James?"

Lily ignored her as she smoothed out the wrinkles in one of her blouses.

"You wouldn't believe the things people are saying, Lily. Apparently, Potter had some big party. A lovely to-do, I heard."

Lily said nothing, but continued unpacking. Reaching inside her suitcase, her hands felt something silky. She pulled the material out slowly and carefully. It was her dress robes.

As if someone had hurled them at her, memories flashed before her eyes: Dancing people; herself, laughing as she hadn't laughed all year; and James…James, looking slightly helpless with two glasses of punch…James, grinning at a laughing Lily as a gaggle of girls glared ahead…James, his arms around her…dancing…

Lily closed her eyes, bidding herself not to cry.

"How convenient," Marlene said in a low voice, pulling Lily out of her reverie. "I tell you that you won't need dress robes, yet you bring them anyways, and James just happens to have some great big party…How very convenient."

And for the first time since their fallout before Christmas, Lily looked Marlene directly in the eyes. A boiling anger rose inside her. How dare she…How dare she…

"Did he snog you senseless?"

"Oh, shut up, Marlene," Lily whispered, her voice shaking slightly.

"Did he? Did he? Did he declare his undying love for you? Did you snog his brains out? Did you have a wonderful, kinky shag?"

"Shut UP, Marlene!"

"Well, did you?"

"If you must know," Lily shouted, standing up and throwing her dress robes onto the floor, where they landed in a heap, "James and I are hardly on speaking terms!" Why was she telling her this? Why, why? Marlene would just taunt her, or say horrible things about James, or…Why wasn't she just hexing her smug, horrible face off and leaving? Was it just that she needed someone to confide in, anyone?

A look of satisfaction rested in Marlene's bespectacled eyes. "Is that so?" she said quietly and haughtily. "Well, I hope you don't expect to come crawling back to me, because…"

Lily let out a shriek of rage. "Oh, don't worry Marlene! There is nothing in the world you could do that would make me even consider crawling back to you! Whatever thoughts I might have had of fixing our 'friendship' were destroyed with that…that…that bloody Howler! Crawl back to you!" Lily was laughing now, a hard, hateful laugh. "I don't even want to see your face right now, but seeing as we have to share a dorm, I thought I might try to be the mature one and just ignore you, but no…Marlene McKinnon always has to have the last word! I should've known…"

And with a disgusted look at her former friend, Lily stormed towards the door.

"Lily, don't you dare! Get back here! Don't you dare leave this room…" Lily heard Marlene yelling behind her.

But Lily didn't stop once she got out of the dorms. No, she stormed right through the common room, slightly scaring a group of second years near the fire. And once she left the common room, she stomped her way through the corridors, down the stairs…Where was she going? She didn't even know, until she found herself standing in front of the Head's Lounge.

"Shrieking Shack," she said, her voice breaking. Praying James wouldn't be in there, she entered. He wasn't. Thank Merlin. For a few minutes, Lily simply stared around the room, but then she collapsed onto a chair, her head buried in her hands, and cried.

She cried for Marlene. She cried for her parents. She cried for James. She cried for…

"Lily?"

Startled, Lily jerked her head up. James Potter was standing in the doorway. He didn't say anything else; he just stared at her with that sad look in his eye.

Embarrassed at being caught crying, Lily wiped her eyes with her sleeve. The silence was too much. "What are y-you doing here?" she asked, trying to sound casual. "I hope we didn't schedule a Prefects' meeting tonight?" She tried to laugh, but coughed instead.

"Nah, not for another week," he said, offering her a weak smile.

Lily hiccupped.

"I -- saw you, er, leave the common room."

Lily ventured a smile. "I can't imagine very many people didn't."

"Are you…okay?"

"I'm fine."

"Look -- I wanted to -- to talk to you about what happened."

Lily stood up rather suddenly and turned away, her arms clutched tightly to her stomach.

"Listen," he said, walking towards her, a note of urgency in his voice, "I'm -- I'm sorry. I didn't mean…what it sounded like. I was stupid, and…upset. And I -- I was frustrated. You know that I don't think -- that I didn't mean…"

"I know," Lily said quietly.

James looked relieved. "So, you…ah, forgive me?"

"Of course I do. And I'm sorry for losing my temper…again." Without looking him in the eye, Lily walked past him and out the door.

She was about halfway down the corridor when James said, "That's it?" Lily turned around to see him standing outside the Head's Lounge, his shoulders slumped in a desperate sort of way. "That's all?"

Lily smiled at him sadly, a mournful smile. "I'll see you around, James," she said. And she walked away.

The next week went particularly slowly. Every morning, Lily wished for it to be night, and every night, Lily wished for it to be morning.

She found herself being perfectly friendly towards everyone, while on the inside, she was thinking horrible, dreadful things towards them. Her grades escalated, as most of her time was spent in the library, to avoid both Marlene and James.

Whenever either of the aforementioned spoke to her, Lily answered with placid smiles and inscrutable remarks. She was polite and guarded on the outside, and chaos on the inside.

But her careful shield over her emotions was broken when Mick McKinnon confronted her at last. She was leaving charms, one of the few classes she and Mick had together. She had been very careful not to look at him throughout the entire class, but as she quickly exited the classroom as the bell rang, she found herself face to face with her ex-boyfriend. He didn't look angry exactly, but…

"Lily, we need to talk."

Lily was silent for a moment, then said, "Fine." They continued walking down the hallway, in silence for a bit, Mick watching her, and Lily looking determinedly away.

Finally, he said, "Are you and Potter going out?" Lily laughed, because it had been exactly what she had expected. Mick looked slightly offended. "I think it's a fair question," he said.

"Oh yes, certainly -- a fair question. No, we're not going out. We've never been going out, and I doubt very much if we ever will go out."

"And yet, you went to his house --"

"As a friend," Lily said indifferently. Mick eyed her suspiciously. "Look," Lily said, "I don't really care if you believe me. But let's get something straight." Lily stopped walking, and glaring up at him, her hands on her hips, said, "Despite what Marlene has told you, I did not, and have not ever, 'shagged Potter.' But don't listen to me, listen to your darling, idiot sister --"

"Don't you call my sister an idiot!" said Mick rather heatedly.

"I'll call your sister whatever I bloody well like!" Lily retorted, her voice rising dangerously. "As she's clearly taken that liberty with me!"

"What are you --"

"Mudblood," said Lily through clenched teeth. "She called me a Mudblood. So don't you tell me not to --"

"She what?" said Mick, looking horrified.

"Oh yes," said Lily, regaining her composure. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to --"

"I'm not done," Mick said quietly.

"Then go on," Lily said, sighing. "This is much more enjoyable than lunch, anyways."

"You're not going out with Potter."

"I thought we had established this?"

"Yes. Then I suppose my question is…Why not?"

"What?"

Mick cast her a sideways glance. "You can't tell me you don't have any feelings for him. I've seen you around him. Your face is red and you look very flustered, and…you went to his house for Christmas. You obviously have feelings for him."

"I do not."

"You're wasting time, Lily. I would've thought you'd learned by now that there's not enough time to waste."

"I don't have feelings for him," Lily said, but she was now talking to a vacant spot, for Mick was no longer there. She glanced down the corridor, to see him walking away, shaking his head slightly.

James sat in the Great Hall looking sullen. Really, he looked sullen most of the time. Though to be fair, he had reason to be. His father's death had been announced in the Daily Prophet this morning, and all day he had had people coming up to him (mostly fifth and sixth year girls), offering their condolences. Well, that was all very nice, but their condolences were more a constant reminder of his pain.

He had passed Ellie, the girl from the party, in the hallway this morning. She had been talking to a group of friends, and he had caught a few words as he walked by.

"Poor James," she had said. "I just feel so bad. I was there, you know, when they found out. At his party. It was just so sad, I wanted to cry. But James knows he can talk to me, of course. If he ever needs a good cry, he knows I'm here…"

James hadn't even attempted to repress a snort.

He sighed, his lunch sitting untouched on his plate. What was it his mother had said to him before he left? "Your father's gone, James. It's your time, now. Your time to make us both proud."

Well a bloody good job he was doing so far.

"Potter." James looked up to see Mick McKinnon standing across from him, frowning. "Can I have a word?"

James considered saying no, just to be spiteful, but thought better of it. Shrugging, he stood up and followed McKinnon away from the prying eyes and ears of the nearby Gryffindors.

"Okay, Potter, I'll be frank. I don't like you."

James opened his mouth to retort, but McKinnon cut him off.

"But I love Lily," McKinnon continued, and James noticed a bit of sadness in his voice. "I really do -- Even if I can only love her as a friend."

"Wh --"

"I want her to be happy. And if -- if you're what it takes to make her happy, then so be it."

"Lily and I aren't --"

"Yeah, yeah. So I've heard," Mick said bitterly. "Look, just … stop being an idiot, okay?"

"I'm not --"

"Later, Potter." And he left, looking very unhappy.

Well that was a very one-sided conversation, thought James, slightly bewildered. Was McKinnon…giving him the go-ahead with Lily? Not that James needed it of course, but nonetheless….

He always liked that bloke.

Though, there was still the minor problem of Lily avoiding him at all costs.

It was the Prefect meeting Friday evening when James finally lost it. "Lost it" being what Peter had called the fiasco after he recounted the Prefect meeting to his friends.

It was a regular meeting. Really, the meetings were quite useless, but there they were. It was a relatively short meeting, as there was little to say or do.

"One last thing before you go," Lily said as several Prefects headed towards the doors. "There's Hogsmeade trip this weekend. Any of you who are going --" James noticed she worded this carefully, as Elsie Mockridge's parents had forbade her to leave the school premises -- "We'd like you to watch out for the other students, especially the younger ones. Make sure they don't go wondering off too far, or anything."

"Well," she said, with a glance at James. "I think that's all. Anything to add?"

"Nope, I think that covered it all."

So, with cheerful 'Goodbyes' (mostly from the girls, directed at James), the Prefects filed out of the Head's Lounge. Lily made to fellow them, but James grabbed her arm.

"Hang on a moment, I have something I need to say."

"I'll have my arm back, thank you," said Lily, and James let go immediately. He closed the door. Lily was leaning against the wall, looking rather tense.

"Alright. I'm just going to say it --" James took a deep breath. "I love you. And -- I don't care anymore."

Lily stared at him. "You don't…care?" she asked softly.

"I don't care what other people think. I don't care what you think, and I don't care whatever the hell I may think."

"James --" Lily said quietly.

"No, listen to me. I love you! Merlin curse me, I love you. I love you, and there's nothing anyone can do about it, so we both might as well just accept it!"

"James, no, I…" But her voice faltered, as James was standing right over her, looking intently into her eyes. "Can't --" she tried, weakly, but James would have none of it.

"Do you love me?"

"James, just --"

"Do you love me?"

Lily opened her mouth, then closed it again. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

James put his hands on her shoulders. "Answer me. If you say no, I -- I'll leave you alone, I promise. Just answer honestly, that's all I ask."

"Gosh, James --"

They were very close. James was staring into her eyes, searching them. And though she gave no answer, he found one, there, in the depth of her brilliant green eyes.

And before either could say anything to the other, they were one…his lips found hers, and they kissed furiously.

But then Lily pushed him away.

"No!" she cried, "Don't you see -- don't you -- it won't, we can't -- we just can't!"

"Why?" James demanded angrily. "Why can't we?"

"It will never -- it just can't -- it won't work, James!"

"Why not?" James half shouted.

"I don't -- You just -- Merlin, James. How am I even supposed to know what to do?"

"What's there to know? I tell you I love you, and then I kiss you, so you kiss me back," James said. "I don't know why you're being so --"

"Me! Don't you act so -- so victimized!"

"Victimized? How the hell am I acting victimized?"

"What's there to know! What am I supposed to do, James? What? You tell me you love me when just before you act like you don't even want to be seen with --"

"If you mean this last week, you were avoiding me, as you very well know!"

"Yes, I was. But I don't mean this last bloody week, I mean you're Christmas Party!"

"I --"

"You know what I think, James?" Lily said, breathlessly. "I think you just want what you can't have! When we hated each other, you wanted to go out with me, but as soon as I start to -- to like you, you go and act all distant, and -- and leave me alone on some bloody dance floor!"

"You know that I --"

"And then!" shouted Lily, her voice raising. "And then we don't talk for a week, and here you are professing your love!"

"It's not like I was trying to avoid you! You wouldn't talk to me! Maybe I've wanted to say this to you all week! But you wouldn't know, would you --"

"Do you really think I believe that?"

"You know what Lily?" said James angrily, losing his temper. "I don't want to be in love with you! But I don't have a choice. Merlin knows if I had a choice, I might've picked someone who wasn't so pig-headed!"

"And if I had a choice, I wouldn't be in love with someone so arrogant and --"

She stopped mid-sentence, having just realized what she had said.

There was silence.

"I love you, Lily," James said very, very quietly.

Lily didn't say anything.

"And now, you're supposed to say, 'I love you, James,' or something along those lines," James said rather irritably.

"I -- can't," Lily whispered.

"You just did!" he cried incredulously.

"I don't mean -- I just -- I can't do this…"

"And we're back to this!"

"It just won't work! Look at us! It won't work, James! It's too --"

"Hard? It's too hard? I guess you'd rather go back to your nice, boring Mick. Because he's safe; it's all rainbows and butterflies, and you never have to worry about anything with that git --"

"Oh, now I hate you, I hate you for that! How dare you --"

"Well, I'm right, aren't I!"

"Gosh, James! Don't you see? Look at us! How could this ever work? We're fighting again!"

"Well, that's what we do! You call me an arrogant prick and I call you an obstinate swot! And then," he said, moving towards her, "then, we kiss and make up."

Lily took a step back. "No, James," she said, shaking her head, tears just visible in her eyes. "No."

Author's Note: Another chapter down! This chapter was a lot of fun to write, but very difficult. Mainly because I fought with myself constantly. You can blame Remus for the reason this chapter took so long. He just wouldn't cooperate. Psh. Werewolves…so temperamental.

On thing I had to cut from this chapter that I really miss was the interaction between Remus and Lily. Originally (and for about two days until I finally had to kick him out!), it was Remus who followed Lily to the Head's Dorm, not James. To appease an angry werewolf, I'm going to put a bit of it here. It went something like this:

Startled, Lily jerked her head up. Remus Lupin was standing in the doorway. He didn't say anything else; he just stared at her with that sad look in his eye.

Embarrassed at being caught crying, Lily wiped her eyes with her sleeve. The silence was too much. "What are y-you doing here?" she asked, trying to sound casual. "I thought you hadn't g-guessed this password yet?" She tried to laugh, but coughed instead.

"Nah, we figured this one out ages ago…Shrieking Shack, I ask you…We just haven't told James yet so we could jump in on him sometime." Remus grinned sheepishly.

Lily hiccupped.

"I -- saw you, er, leave the common room."

Lily ventured a smile. "I can't imagine very many people didn't."

"Are you…okay?"

"I'm fine."

"Sirius told me what happened."

Lily stood up rather suddenly and turned away, her arms clutched tightly to her stomach.

"Look -- I just came to…James was upset, Lily. I mean, his…his dad just died."

"I know that," Lily said, feeling both angry and ashamed.

"I know you do. And I…I understand why you're upset. He had no right…I mean…" Remus sighed. "James acted rashly. He wanted answers, and he wasn't thinking about anything other than that. He's just…he's…frustrated. You know he doesn't believe that you --"

"I know."

Remus looked very relieved. "So…you'll talk to him?"

"Talk to him?"

"Well, yeah…He's just as upset as you are, Lily. You have to talk to him. It was just another silly fight…You two don't seriously mean to stay angry…right?" He gave her a hopeful look.

"I'm not angry at James right now," Lily said, not meeting his eyes.

Remus opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again.

"Marlene," Lily offered with another attempt at a laugh.

"Oh."

And then I was stuck for two whole days, unsure of where to go from here. It just wouldn't work. Soooo, I had to say goodbye Remus and hello James. Unfortunately, while the plot kept moving, there were only about three characters in this chapter. Well, four if you count Marlene, but she was hardly in it. (By the way, guys, I still love Marlene ;) )

Poor Mick…he's such a nice guy, and he suffers such abuse at my hands…heh.

Well, I'd really love any comments and critiques you could give me on this chapter, especially the last section. I had a lot of fun with that, but it was also difficult, trying to make it intense.

Bah, it's late. (11:00, oh my!) And a school night.

Hugs,

-Chloe.