Summary: Mild James/Lily angst, with a generous dollop of foam fluff on top. Give or take 3000 words.
Pairing: Just in case you didnt get it yet. James/Lily.
Rating: Safe for most all, except little kiddies who still go "eeewww" at kissing.
Notes: This really would have read better if it were one chapter of a long fic, but since I havent got the inclination to write something that long, I had to write in a tiny bit of backstory, which I hate doing cause I think it spoils the flow. But hopefully its none too obstructive.
"James?" That was Remus' voice, James noted. Calm and quiet and patient.
"James!" Peter - desperate and hopeful.
"Ja-aaa-ameeee-es…" That was definitely Sirius: Loud and petulant and demanding.
James was sort of listening to his friends, but it was this, the noisy, annoying whining that finally got his attention, making him realize he was wanted, and he snapped his head back to face his friends. "Huh? What?"
"Finally," Sirius rolled his eyes. "We're going down to the kitchens, Prongsy."
"Oh, yes, that sounds good," James said absently, his eyes returning to where a curtain of brilliant red hair was sitting amongst a group of giggling girls. Because of this, he didn't see the way Peter scrunched up his face in confusion, or the way Sirius smacked his head with frustration or the way Remus tried hiding a smile.
"Pete here is the proud father of the giant squid's child," Sirius tried. "And Remus isn't a werewolf anymore."
"Really? That's great, guys." He was now watching as Lily, looking suddenly and decidedly despondent, was climbing out of the portrait hole.
"James," Sirius sighed exasperatedly. "Are you -"
"Hey, listen, I'm going to step out for a bit," James said abruptly, standing up and making his way after Lily. "Um, don't get into trouble or anything," he added as an afterthought, making Sirius squawk with indignation.
"Wha – did you – did he – grah!" Sirius sputtered, throwing his hands up in aggravation.
Peter backed away.
Remus just smiled and patted his boyfriend's hand as they watched James hurry out of the common room.
"Lily?" James called out, jogging down the corridor to catch up with her. She turned her head quickly, wand held out, but lowered her hand when she saw who it was.
"Oh, James. Hello." She gave him a wan smile, and he was immediately worried, approaching her cautiously.
She had lost her parents at the end of last year, and become very withdrawn and depressed after. James had taken it upon himself to cheer her up, and they'd struck up a tentative friendship; he'd even invited her to his house for the summer. To their mutual surprise, she'd accepted, and it had been an interesting three months – seeing him out of school seemed to make her see him in a better light, and she'd even gotten along with Remus and Sirius when they'd paid their traditional visit to his house.
He'd gotten to know her better, and learnt all sorts of things about her: she was left-handed, she liked Sugar Quills, and she knew a surprising lot about Quidditch, which made him extremely pleased. She also drooled in her sleep, and was an awful drunk, which somehow – and he felt it extremely odd - made him even more in love with her than he'd already been. She had never had a proper boyfriend, or a proper kiss, either, and this was something that made him slightly weak in the knees, desperately wanting to be the one to change that.
But he genuinely enjoyed her friendship, and wasn't about to screw it up just yet. So he'd been careful to resist all temptation – even when she'd climbed into his bed every night, either sobbing about her parents or just scared of the future. When they'd returned to school a couple of months ago, he'd simply been her friend, nothing more – even if it killed him. She had been better recently though, and spent time with him willingly, so he was contemplating asking her out.
The way she was looking right now, however, gave him pause – for all he knew, she could still be fragile. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.
She looked at him for a long moment, but said nothing.
"Do you want to talk?" he prompted. "We could take a walk," he offered.
She bit her lip, making him feel light-headed, then nodded. Shaking his head to focus, he began to walk beside her. They were in a companionable silence as they maneuvered the stairs and corridors, until they reached the main doors, and wandered out onto the grounds. She led him over to the Quidditch stands and climbed up. He followed her as she made her way to the top and leant over the railing, resting her arms on it.
A light wind gusted past, ruffling his already messy hair and making strands of her crimson hair flutter past her face. He gently tucked a loose strand behind her ear for her, and she blushed slightly, looking very cute when she did, and making him smile.
"So, what's on your mind?"
"Nothing, really. Stupid girl stuff," she admitted.
He felt himself reddening. "Oh. Um, girl stuff?" He couldn't help the slight rise in the pitch of his voice. "Well, maybe I shouldn't -"
Lily suddenly realized what she had done. "Oh! No! Not like girl stuff," she assured him. "I meant, the girls were talking, and I felt kind of left out of it all."
"Were they being mean?" James felt a protective surge overcome him. "Because if they were -"
She shook her head. "No, they were perfectly nice. But they were talking about boys, and you know me – I've never even dated, so I just kind of felt…left out."
James had to bite his tongue to avoid saying that it was her own fault, she certainly wasn't short on offers to go out, least of all from him. She didn't need to hear that right now. And anyway, she acknowledged it just then.
"I know its sort of my fault -" she shot him an apologetic look, "but it's just that I've never really wanted to before. But just now…they were talking about all the things they've done, and I just -" she paused, looking slightly embarrassed. "I mean, I know its silly to be so worked up about it, but I was just thinking about how I had never done anything like it, and well -" she hesitated again, blushing quite a bit this time. "Never mind."
"No, tell me," he encouraged gently. "I won't laugh or anything, I promise."
She paused, then, definitely blushing fiercely, said in a rush, "I just sort of wished I could do things like that – that is, that I had someone to do them with."
He stared at her and swallowed hard, trying to repress his immediate response to her admission of wanting to do things. His body had a very definite opinion about it, but his mind – after a brief moment of fantasizing – managed to remind him that he was not supposed to do anything just yet. Stay down, he commanded himself.
She squirmed slightly under his gaze, steadily turning redder. "Okay, I knew I shouldn't have said anything, you can just forget it, god -"
"No," he choked out. "I mean, I'm just – kind of – you know."
She probably didn't really know, he was hardly making any sense at all, but she nodded anyway, probably grateful that he hadn't made fun of her or anything. "Yeah, I know – thanks," she said quickly.
"You – you're welcome. I mean - you know you can tell me anything, alright?"
She nodded again. "Thanks," she repeated, smiling gratefully. "You're a good friend, James."
Friend. There was something both comforting and very painful about that word. He listened in horror as his mouth opened of its own accord and said, rather bitterly, "Yes, I'm your friend, aren't I?"
She widened her eyes at that, and so did he, snapping his jaw shut immediately. "James," she began nervously.
"No, I – I'm sorry. That just came out. I don't really mean it," he said hurriedly.
"Oh," she said, sounding almost disappointed; then licked her lips anxiously. He stifled a groan. Was she doing this on purpose? Because that would just be unnecessarily cruel. "Well, I -" she started, before seeming to correct herself, "- alright, then."
There was an awkward moment, where he focussed on not thinking about her in that way, and she averted her eyes and looked out at the field, where the sky was turning a pinky-orange.
"It's hard, you know," she said softly, and for a panicky second, he thought she'd meant him, and his first thoughts were oh Merlin help me, its incorrigible. But then he snuck a surreptitious glance down at his pants and saw that they were perfectly fine, no incongruous bulges or tenting, and he turned back to her to see her still gazing out over the pitch. He breathed a soft sigh of relief; right then, she's not talking about…that…it.
"What is?" he asked, unable to stop himself from admiring the way the sunset made her fiery hair glow, like smouldering embers, or shooting stars, or when Sirius and Remus had accidentally set Peter on fire…
"Just being friends with you," she answered quietly, and he started slightly, he hadn't realized just how long he'd been staring at her in the silence, until she'd just broken it. Then her words sank in, and he found that he had, in the span of two seconds, forgotten how to breathe. She couldn't mean – could she?
"Nrh?" he managed to articulate, kicking himself mentally in the process. Excellent, Potter. Simply excellent. Lily Evans just said something that might have meant your wildest dreams have all come true, and you can't even say anything remotely human to her.
But she was looking at him now, her green eyes burning with a whole lot of unidentifiable things – he couldn't even spot anger or hatred or resentment among them, which worried him a great deal. But not as much as how some of what he was seeing appeared to be genuine like, and caring, and hope, and – ohmydeargod – he swallowed hard – want.
Her eyes really are like emeralds, he found himself thinking rather inanely, unable to stop staring at her. They were framed by long lashes which alternately appeared dark and dramatic or pale and angelic, and which curled up slightly at the ends, and they were just so pretty, she was so pretty – and oh sweet mother of god, that smile should be illegal –
It wasn't until she laughed a little – and he loved how she didn't ever giggle vapidly, but she laughed, properly, although he was sure that if she ever did giggle, it would still be absolutely adorable and perfect – that he realized he'd spoken aloud. His immediate instinct was to find the nearest rock to hide under, or maybe to run into the Forbidden Forest, but the look she was giving him…
"Well, yeah," he mumbled awkwardly, shifting his eyes away for a second. "Y'know."
"James Potter, the romantic," she murmured, and he felt his face burn up. In fact, he was quite sure his glasses were going to turn into a great gooey mess of melted wire-rim, and he kept his gaze averted, because surely, he thought, it was rather unattractive to have great gooey messes on one's face. It was only when she let out what sounded an awful like a frustrated sigh that he turned back to her. She was gesturing wildly. "See, this is what I mean! This is why it's so difficult – why I'm falling in love with you – why I cant stop!"
He rather thought that he was going to die, right then and there, a happy, happy man. Sure, that whole bit with her not really wanting to is a little worrying, but…
"Damn it, James," she groaned quietly. "Why did you have to manage to make me fall for you?"
"Do you really not want to?" he asked anxiously, suddenly realizing that her falling in love with him might not be as perfect as he'd hoped, if she was going to hold it against him.
"Yes!" she cried, then paused. Maybe a look of hurt had registered on his face, because she softened. "No. Not really. I don't know!" He remained quiet, letting her explain it. "It's just – I never meant to, what with you being an absolute prick for years -"
"I've changed," he interjected hopefully. She scowled.
"Yes, exactly. For years you've been after me, and for years its been easy to turn you down, because you were always such a prat -" As she took in a deep breath he briefly wondered if he'd really been that bad. "But then, then you had to go and become one of the nicest guys on earth. And it became harder to say no to you, because I'd lost my reasons to not like you – you're so sweet, and funny, and you're not even remotely ugly, for god's sake!"
She spat out the words like they were poison, and he couldn't help but grin, although he managed to resist the urge to preen. "You know, its funny how you make that sound like a bad thing."
"It is a bad thing!" she said furiously, "Because it just makes it so easy to like you, and now, for some reason, all I can think about is you – do you know how absolutely horrid that is?"
He wasn't quite sure whether to be insulted or pleased by that, but he did know what she meant. "Yes, I do. That's how I've felt for the past six years," he reminded her softly.
She froze, suddenly looking very unsure of herself, and he found himself spilling out his innermost thoughts.
"Do you think it's been easy, being in love with you all this while, and having you brush me off like I mean nothing to you? Do you know how useless and hopeless I felt every single time you looked at me like I was beneath you – or worse, when you just ignored me? I used to cry each time, you know?"
She looked completely wretched. "James," she whispered.
He didn't stop. He couldn't stop. "I got the hang of hiding it after a while. But that doesn't mean that it hurt any less. I've been in love with you for six years, Lily. For six years, I've practically worshipped the ground you walk on. And for six years, I've been rejected. I didn't understand it, and its taken me a while to figure out I was going about things the wrong way. I mean, I may have taken my frustrations out by pulling pranks or starting fights, but I'm a good guy, I just never found the right way to show you that."
"James," she said again, more urgently.
"But now I've got you to see what I'm really like, and apparently you like it, but you don't want to like it? I don't get it – I don't want to get it, I just want you to accept what you feel and love me back, damn it. I cant go through another year of not having you, especially if I know that you want me, but you're just being stupid about it -"
She let out a frustrated noise. "James!" she half-shouted.
He blinked, and looked at her almost dazedly, still caught up in his rant. "What is it?"
"You -" she shook her head. "You're really annoying, prattling on like that, you know?"
His jaw dropped. After all of that, after all that he'd just confessed; she was still – his mind reeled. She's impossible. "Well, excuse me -" he began heatedly.
She cut him off. "I mean, I really wanted to kiss you, but that sort of went out of the question, what with you being unable to shut up, so -"
"So," it was his turn to interrupt, "You should have done something like this."
She stared at him, wide-eyed, as he stepped towards her and gently touched her cheek. She's really beautiful, he mused, as he brought his face closer to hers. Her face was flushed under his cool fingertips, and her lips were trembling, so he decided to still them –
It was like he'd died a very early, but entirely pleasant death. Her mouth was as warm as the rest of her, and sweeter than he had ever imagined. She tasted like Sugar Quills and strawberries, and her breath on his lips sent a tingle running through his blood, spreading out all over him. If his spectacles hadn't melted before, they were probably doing so now.
When they pulled apart, he noticed that her eyes had shut during their kiss, and they were fluttering open now, revealing her deep green eyes, slightly glazed over. He also noted with great pleasure that her lips were looking very red and well kissed. She was looking at him shyly, and he smiled tentatively at her.
"Oh," she breathed, and he resisted the urge to kiss her again, to hear her breathe like that, especially when she sighed, "James…"
But she was tiptoeing, bringing her face up to his, and he captured her lips again, running his tongue gently over them, making her gasp. Her hands had somehow made their way to tangle in his hair, and his hands cradled her face as they kissed again.
"James," she whispered when they had parted again.
"You're utterly wretched."
For a brief moment he worried that she meant at kissing, but there was a flicker of a smile on her face. Raising an eyebrow, he asked curiously, "And why is that?"
"Because you couldn't leave well enough alone, you had to be a brilliant kisser on top of everything else." She gave him a mock-irritated look. "Just how am I supposed to keep from falling absolutely head-over-heels in love with you?"
He couldn't help it; he laughed. "Well, I know it's tough, but I reckon you'll just have to try." He grinned and pulled her close again. "Or, maybe you should give in…"
She allowed herself to be drawn nearer, and smiled warmly at him. "I suppose that might be the easiest course of action," she murmured against his lips. "You're a relentless little bugger, after all."
"But look where it's got me," he said smugly, and smothered her laugh with a long, lingering kiss, until the sun went down.