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Walking Alone

Chapter 1

"You did what?" Sirius was shocked.

I was remembering the shocked and crushed look in her eyes, and each time I did my wretchedness doubled. Immediately, I went on the defensive. "She started it."

Sirius sighed. "James," when he called me by my first name I knew that he was either furious with me, or had some infinite wisdom to part, "they always start it." He was talking to me like I was a child. "But that doesn't mean you use Potter's putting-down procedure on every girl you're fighting." He shook his head in amazement. "What I can't get is that it still works… after all these years. And I thought you'd turned over a new leaf."

"What was I supposed to do? She said she'd take the matter to Dumbledore!"

Sirius looked thoughtfully at me for a while. "You know Prongs," he said this slowly and carefully, "wouldn't it just be better to…" for the first time in my life I saw him hesitate, "… you know since she did say there was no way in hell she would go out with you… the smart thing to do is to leave her alone, isn't it?"

Let me take you back a few hours.

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I knew there was something different about Lily the moment I first saw her; something different about her thick red hair, and those intense green eyes… I couldn't help being fascinated by her in that first instance.

And yet, for the first four years I ignored her totally and utterly. She was nothing to me. There were enough girls who were crazy about me – I did not need to go after the one who wasn't. But then, I started to notice her and this difference between her and other girls her age made her to me more desirable than any other thing I had ever wanted. She wasn't like other girls. I placed her far above them – and so gradually I fell in love with her in our fifth year. And believe me, when a fifteen year old boy thinks he's 'in love', then it's serious. While other boys 'fancied' girls, I was totally and utterly, head over heels in love with Lily Evans. How could I have possibly resisted the inevitable?

Let me tell you the whole story.

I was walking to lunch when I saw her ahead of me. She was alone. Lily was a loner. Sure she had friends, but I knew that she didn't feel like she belonged with anybody. Her thoughts and feelings and views were so vastly different from other girls her age. She was… mature really.

It was late afternoon. The next trip to Hogsmede had been announced, and as usual I was the first to ask her if I could accompany her to the village. This was in our seventh year, and for the past two or so years, Lily had been refusing me.

"Evans, hi!"

And immediately Lily sighed. I was slightly put off by her less-than-warm welcome.

She looked up at me – I was taller than her.

"What do you want Potter?" She made no move, not even moving aside on the path – as politeness dictated – so that we could walk side by side. As it was, I was left walking slightly behind her – following her – like a dog. The thought angered me slightly.

"Um…" now that I thought about it, I had no idea what to say. All that Sirius had told me – something about roses and eye colours – had fled my mind, and as I walked, looking like an idiot, I mentally kicked myself.

"Well?"

On an impulse, I stepped forward and pushed her gently to one side so that I could walk beside her. She glared frostily at me, then looking at the ground, she started to walk faster. I kept up with her easily. I could tell she was irritated by her height compared to mine. I smiled.

As I looked at her, I found myself fascinated. I could hardly keep my eyes off her. Her thick, red hair fell down and across her shoulders as she walked. It hid her face. Leaning forwards slightly, I looked at her green eyes, and there was a pleasurable squirm in my stomach as I did so.

Lily, throughout all this, had been looking at me through the corner of her eyes. She had seen me lean forward, and look at her face. Uneasily, she still pretended to ignore me.

Finally, after this had gone on for several seconds, she broke the silence.

"Potter what do you want? Stop bothering me!" This was rather unfair, since I hadn't actually said anything to annoy her.

"Want to go with me?" I was trying to sound casual – like I didn't care how much her answer meant to me. Of course, I probably sounded desperate.

Lily stopped, spun around and glared at me. I liked a lot of things about her. Her thick red hair, her intelligence, her stubbornness… but then there were those eyes… those beautiful green eyes… I would admit many times to myself: sometimes, I would irritate her just to see those eyes fire up. And as she glared at me, and told me off or insulted me – or gave me a piece of her mind for that matter – I would secretly… inwardly enjoy the whole thing. Nothing could beat watching her. There was something about the animation that danced in her eyes when she was angry or excited… Did I mind? Not at all. I could have those eyes staring at me all day long and still not mind. "You know how many times you've asked me that Potter?"

Of course I did. Each rejection was stamped across my mind like the crosses stamped on my Potions' homework. "By my count, this should be the sixth time."

"Exactly; and I'm sure someone with your great intellectual capacity should be able to figure out something those other five times have in common?"

Of course I knew what they had in common. I wasn't going to say it though. I still had my dignity. I acted puzzled. "What?"

She heaved an exasperated sigh. Like I knew she would. I knew her – know her – you see. In our fifth year I had no idea about her… the only thing I could think of then was myself. But all that staring at her in Potions had made her familiar to me, and two years later, I knew her with great awareness. "I refused, Potter. I said 'no.' Do you really think this time it's going to be any different?" She started to walk away, but I followed. It wasn't going to be any different. I knew that as well. Despite her best efforts to make me look thick, I wasn't. I cannot be faulted for trying though can I?

"Oh come on Evans." Why did I call her Evans? I suppose because as long as I'd known her she'd called me Potter and I'd called her Evans. It was instinctive really.

"No!" She shouted back to me (causing a few passers-by to be surprised). Professor McGonagall passed us by, with a mischievous smile playing about her stern – and usually expressionless – face. Of course… nearly everybody in the school knew of our 'encounters.'

"Why?"

"What do you mean Potter?"

"Oh slow down!" I ran to keep up with her, my long strides reaching her in no time. She looked sideways at me, her green eyes observing me. There was a silence as she promptly and all too palpably ignored me. And when this happened, I always asked her one thing.

"So where are you headed?"

And she would always reply: "Away from you." This time it caused a young third year Slytherin to burst out into laughter. I wanted to go and curse him into smithereens, but settled for memorising his face for later retribution.

I was hurt. She didn't know how much it upset me when she said this. It always made me feel like I was a rodent… and that Lily couldn't stand being near me.

I covered it up with a smile.

"No, seriously?"

"Yes Potter. I was serious."

I became slightly angry. I was being nice! "What's the matter with you, Evans? Can't you hold a decent conversation?"

She shook with silent laughter. "Of course I can Potter. Ask anybody. Just not with you." I was left standing there, wondering why she'd left and why she was being like this. A moment later, however, I ran up once again to catch up with her.

"Why are you like this to me Evans? What have I ever done to you?"

Suddenly, a sly smile came to her face. "Well," she said, and after a deliberate pause continued, "it's more the fact that you exist, if you know what I mean…"

"Ouch Evans." I grimaced as I remembered my very own words from nearly one and a half years ago. I'd been so arrogant and big-headed then… Of course, Snape did sort of deserve it. She didn't know the amount of times he'd done something similar to me. And it wasn't even as if I hated Snape… well maybe I did. But it wasn't like the feeling wasn't entirely mutual. Snape would curse me to hell if he ever got the chance. I didn't doubt that. Some of the things I'd heard about Snape… about the amount of Dark Arts he knew… it was enough to give you nightmares.

"Exactly." With a knowing smile, she again went ahead of me.

"What? What? I'm not like that anymore! Evans! Oi! Stop walking so fast! You'll set the bloody floor on fire!"

"Language Potter," said a passing Professor Flitwick. I flushed.

"Sorry sir."

"I should hope you are."

Lily was breathing a sigh of relief when I suddenly appeared beside her.

She stopped and turned to me, looking at me directly, her green eyes piercing me. "Potter, why are you stalking me?"

I was shocked. Stalking? I wasn't stalking. Merely trying to hold a conversation. "I'm not stalk–"

"Then what would you call it? I've gave you my answer. Stop following me."

"Evans, tell me why you don't want to go with me?"

"I already have Potter."

"Be serious Evans."

"I am perfectly serious Potter," there came into her voice a dangerous edge and I stepped back involuntarily. "Just leave me alone ok? I don't understand why you don't understand the fact that there is no way… no way in hell… that I would ever go out with you!"

I looked at her silently. There was nothing I could say to that. It was all too obvious…

Uneasily, she looked away and walked on. I grabbed her hand.

"Evans just give me a chance!" I was aggravated.

"Let go off me Potter!" She struggled against my hold, but I held her tighter.

"Please…" there was almost desperation in my voice, but she snatched her hand away.

"Potter, if this goes on any further, I am going straight to Professor Dumbledore. Do you understand?"

I was stunned. This was all wrong. I'd never seen her like this… so angry.

But finally my temper snapped. "No I don't understand Evans!"

"Oh really?" Her eyes were narrowed dangerously. Everybody was skirting around us on the path, with downcast eyes. When the Head Boy and Head Girl were having a fight, it was best to get out of the way… quickly.

"Yeah!"

She put her hands on her hips, all the while glaring at me. I stared right back.

"Then let me make it perfectly clear to you Potter," she hissed, stepping forward. "If you don't leave me alone, and by that I mean if you don't stop talking to me every chance you get and asking me out, I swear…" there was a tremor in her voice, and her cheeks were flushed, "I swear that I will go to Dumbledore and tell him everything."

"Oh and I can't just… um deny it?" I snapped back.

She faltered. Only for a second though. "And you think he'll believe your word over mine?"

This time I was the one who hesitated. As I looked at her – she was to me at that moment the most appealing thing in the world with her vivacious eyes and her reddened cheeks – I knew that there really wasn't any hope. She would never feel for me what I did for her. She was stubborn. More than even I realised. And like she'd said, there was no way she would go out with me. The past couple of years should have taught me that. I should have realised it sooner. But like an idiot I'd been chasing her when really there hadn't been any hope. The thought made me feel like my heart was braking, and as I looked at her staring defiance at me, I visibly sagged, defeated. She'd won.

"Alright Evans. Alright." But then, as I thought about it, another surge of anger coursed through me. "You are the cruellest, most heartless person I know. God forbid I ever talk to you without necessity again!" I hissed. Perhaps it was a tad bit too dramatic. What could I do? I was caught up in the moment. My emotions were all over the place, and anger was still rushing through me. I gritted my teeth, and then I did what I should never have done. I utterly and totally dismissed her. Even now as I think about what I did, I groan.

You see, I still had an arrogant streak in me. And over the past seven years, I had perfected what Sirius called "Potter's putting-down procedure." I'll admit, the coined cliché does sound a bit pathetic, but believe me it is perfectly justifiable. As I looked down at Lily and into her eyes, contempt entered mine and I turned away from her, with such arrogance and conceit that I am utterly ashamed of it now. I then stalked away from her, my head held high. It was one of the most disgusting things you can do: while in a conversation – no matter how heated – turning away from the other person as if they are so far beneath you that they are not even worth being talked at by you. Utterly repulsive.

However, I stopped after a few strides, and turned. I couldn't help it. It was like each step I took was ripping me to shreds. She was staring at me, with shock and tears in her eyes. But as soon as I stopped and met her eyes again, she picked up her bag – it had fallen when she had put her hands on her hips – and walked off, her head down, not looking around her.

I felt… awful, and so totally abhorred myself at that moment that I cannot find the word to describe the intense self-hatred I felt.

I followed her every movement with my eyes. I knew that she knew that I was looking at her. Although one as stubborn as her wasn't going to show any sign of it. A silent battle of wills call it if you will. I lost. A few minutes later I was still looking at the place where she had disappeared around the corner

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WELL, I wasn't one of those people who held their feelings to themselves. So I went straight to Sirius and told him everything.

I was disconcerted. If Padfoot – an already infamous womaniser – told me I had no chance, then why should I think differently? We were in the common room, in a corner. I turned away from him, and sighed, putting my head in my hands in frustration. Sirius remained silent.

"I can't!" I looked up at him.

"What?" He regarded me curiously.

"I can't just leave her."

Padfoot shook his head sadly. "Why not?"

"I… I…"

Suddenly, his tone turned serious. "You really like her don't you Prongs?" he asked me. I nodded miserably. "Then tell her."

"But you should have seen her Padfoot," I moaned, "I told her she was heartless. And when I turned around to look at her, I could just see she was absolutely crushed." I groaned out load at my stupidity. "I can't even speak to her anymore. She won't even look at me. It's like I don't exist for her."

Sirius whistled. "You've got yourself in deep Potter."

I nodded despondently. "I know."

There was a silence as each of us thought his own thoughts. Suddenly I asked Sirius: "How do you do it?"

"Do what?" he replied absent-mindedly.

"How do you have half the girls in the school crazy for you?"

Sirius shrugged, and then grinned. "I turn on the old Black charm…" he muttered.

"Oh? And what's that?" I asked him genuinely curious.

"'The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black,' he quoted bitterly, "you know what the family motto is?" he continued not waiting for an answer, "'Toujours Pur.'"

I stayed silent.

"'Always Pure.'" He spat out. "You know how much that sickens me Prongs?" I nodded.

Sirius' life was a – in one word – tragedy. He hated his family, a feeling they returned manifold. He didn't follow their 'pureblood' doctrine, you see, and for this they had disowned him, much to his delight. That's why he stayed with my family and me, not that my parents or I minded… at all.

"So tell me Padfoot, what's the 'old Black charm?'" I asked him to lighten the mood.

He smiled, and replied: "There isn't one. I lied. The only reason people like my family is because they're stinking rich, ancient and totally 'pure.'"

"So that's why all the girls like you?"

He grinned again. "No Prongs. I said there wasn't a Black charm. I didn't say that I didn't have my own charm."

I snorted, disbelievingly. "I'm not the only one who needs to turn over a new leaf."

"Oh come on Prongs. It's not like I'm insatiably attractive to womankind on purpose."

I looked at him incredulously. "Oh really?"

"Yes really," he smirked, "it's natural. They see me and it's love at first sight."

I leaned over and snapped my fingers in front of his eyes. "Oh wake up Padfoot! You're dreaming."

We both quickly sobered.

"Well Prongs. What can I say? But you're Head Boy, and she's Head Girl. Don't you have meetings together and stuff like that?"

"Yeah we do. But they're always with a teacher, Dumbledore or McGonagall or somebody like that, and then she goes off straight after it's finished."

He was silent for a few moments and I imagined I could just see and hear the cogs turning in his head. "This is what you're going to do. Listen carefully," he leaned forward, and so did I, "in your next meeting write her a note to stay behind after everybody's left, but don't sign it. If she knows it's you she won't listen. And when you're alone, pour your heart out to her."

"Huh?" I stared open-mouthed at him. "That's your suggestion?"

He sighed. "Trust me Prongs. Tell her how sorry you are and all that rubbish."

"I dunno, Padfoot."

"Oh come on James. It'll work! Believe me I know. The amount of girls I've won over using this… it's fool-proof."

"But…"

"But what?"

"She's different Sirius."

"Oh that's what every boy thinks about the girl he likes. Trust me." His expression and tone turned serious, "when have something I've ever said gone wrong?" There was a silence. And then both of us burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the statement.

I quickly sobered. "This is our last year here, Padfoot. She still thinks I'm arrogant and big-headed."

"How do you know?"

"Remember just after we did our Defence Against the Dark Arts OWL? And we went out by the lake, and we saw Snivel– Snape, and all the things we did to him?" Sirius nodded. "And she asked me why I was doing what I was doing. She asked me what Snape had ever done to me. And I rep–"

"You said that it was more the fact that he was alive or something like that!" Sirius burst out laughing once again. "That was brilliant!"

"Exactly. Well she said the same thing to me this afternoon. It's like she still thinks I'm the conceited bighead I was in our fifth year."

"You have to prove to her you're not James. And call her by her first name, not 'Evans.' And look into her eyes when you're talking with her, and do not under any circumstances," his voice was more serious than I'd ever heard it, "do not under any circumstances start showing off or start spouting off your achievements because she's the sort of girl who doesn't like that sort of stuff."

I nodded. He stood up and started to move off, but as a parting shot said: "And remember she's a girl. They get emotional. If she starts shouting at you, you don't start shouting back. Understand?"

I nodded.

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IT looked fine to me. I'd tried to make the handwriting as elegant and neat as I could, and it could easily have been written by a teacher, I thought to myself, proudly. I showed it to Sirius.

Miss Evans

Please stay behind after the end of the meeting. There is something I must tell you. I will not take up too much of your time.

"Not bad. Doesn't give away too much, and yet still has an air of mysteriousness about it. She'll stay behind – if not for anything else – to satisfy her curiosity." So that was that. Our next meeting was two days from now. I paced the common room wondering to myself how on earth I could wait that long. And all the while – in my dreams, in my waking moments, in lessons, at meal times – I could see a red-haired, green eyed, beautiful girl…