A/N: Happy Super Bowl Sunday! But sad that this is the end of this story...I can't believe it's finally over; makes me sad. But there IS a sequel coming up so you can stay tuned for that, but unfortunately, it's taking me longer to write so it probably won't be uploaded for a while; probably for another couple of months. But enjoy this last chapter until then!
Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling, but YAY FOR THE LAST BOOK COMING OUT ON JULY 21, 2007!
Tears on the Balcony
Chapter 51: Of Lily, James, Sirius, and Riley
Another few weeks went by with, surprisingly, no notice of the James and Kristina break-up or the James and Lily get-together. And on top of that, Sirius and Riley were happy that their relationship was still a secret, probably because their friends were focusing more on Lily and James than them thankfully. They spent a lot of their time sneaking down to a private dungeon in the basement. Sirius always made sure to grab the Marauder's Map before doing anything with her in order to not be caught.
"Hey guys," James greeted, walking into the seventh-year dorm room a few Fridays later. He stifled a yawn and plopped himself down on his bed. "Where's Sirius?"
Remus rolled his eyes and barely looked up from his textbook. "In the bathroom where he's been for an hour."
James laughed. "Thank God I don't live here anymore."
"Well, that's great for you but I really have to pee,!" Peter whined, pounding on the door for the hundredth time. "Padfoot, you've been in there forever! GET OUT!"
"Does he have a date tonight?" James asked, grabbing a Quidditch magazine off of Sirius' desk. He flipped it open and started to read the first article.
"Of course he does," Remus snickered. "But he's being very secretive about it. He won't tell us with who or where or when or what they're doing."
James snickered. "Probably with Rachael in the Astronomy Tower in an hour having sex," he pointed out with a laugh. He hesitated. "Wow, that was easier than I thought."
"Except he's not dating Rachael anymore," Peter pointed out, continuing to slam his fist against the bathroom door.
"What?" James cried, dropping the magazine to the floor in surprise. "Since when?"
Remus laughed. "For about a month now, James."
"What the hell happened?" James demanded to know.
Remus shrugged. "Not sure, Sirius never told us," he claimed. "But you know Sirius: he probably got bored and just decided to let her go and find a new girl to mess with."
James shook his head. "But he was with Rachael for three months. Why would he have been all-of-a-sudden bored after three months of her? That's the longest he's ever been with a girl before."
Remus shut his textbook. "He wasn't exactly with her. Just sleeping with her."
"Still, it was about three months longer than any of his other flings."
Remus shrugged. "I have no clue, Prongs. Maybe...maybe he dumped Rachael for some other girl. Who really knows what goes through Sirius' head?"
"That can't be it because Sirius hasn't been with any girls in at least a month," Peter pointed out.
"Sirius hasn't been with any girls in four weeks?" James spoke incredulously, his eyebrow arching.
Remus shook his head in disbelief. "Damn, that whole Lily situation really put you into a whole other world, didn't it."
"Yep," Sirius said, emerging from the bathroom, practically being thrown to the ground as Peter zoomed right past him and into the bathroom, slamming the door loudly behind him. "James' head was not in the right place."
"Gee, thanks for speaking on my behalf," James said sarcastically.
Sirius gave him a look, sifting through his clothes in his trunk and throwing the ones deemed not good enough on to the floor. "James, you know it's true. Your head has been in the clouds for over a month now. In fact, I'm pretty sure ever since you kissed her before the holiday break, the second time you kissed her I mean, you've been debating a relationship with her."
"That's not true!" James argued.
Sirius shrugged curtly. "Well, I guess we can call the brief period where she punched you and you two were avoiding each other a little sabbatical from debating a relationship with her, but other than that-"
"How about the brief period when we were avoiding each other during the week leading up to Christmas?" James pointed out.
"Hm…okay that, too."
James gave him a look. "That gives me about a day of debating a relationship with her, Padfoot."
"A-ha! So you admit you were debating a relationship with her!"
James rolled his eyes. "I'm with her, aren't I? But I reiterate the fact that I was only really debating for a brief period of about a day."
"To be fair, you were actually debating a relationship with her for about six years before that," Sirius corrected, grabbing a pair of slacks and a cotton sweater from his trunk.
"Was not. Just because I had a crush on her doesn't mean I was debating anything. She hated me and I hated her at the time."
"You only pretended to hate her," Sirius snorted, throwing the clothes on. He tossed the towel on to the floor, earning a look from Remus. Sirius gladly ignored him.
James opened his mouth to retaliate, but found himself shutting it. "You are so aggravating, y'know that?"
"Why? Because I'm right?" Sirius said with a teasing grin.
James hesitated. "You being right doesn't happen very often so I'm willing to give this one to you."
Sirius pumped his fist into the air. "Alright! Score 1 for Sirius Black!"
"It's sad when he gets overly exciting about being right for once," Remus murmured, shaking his head incredulously.
"It's sad that you're sitting there with your head in a textbook on a Friday night while I'm going out," Sirius responded almost immediately.
Remus shrugged. "Hey, someone's got to do the homework around here."
Sirius grinned sheepishly. "How is our Potions essay coming along?"
He wasn't surprised when Remus flipped him off.
"So, Prongs, before you rush out of here to go be with that new girlfriend of yours," Remus interjected, throwing the textbook off the bed to the floor just to spite Sirius, "Please give us all of the details."
"The new girlfriend details," Remus snorted, wiggling in eyebrows with intrigue.
"Oooh, yes!" Peter agreed as he wandered back into the room. He jumped on to his bed in excitement.
"Yes, please give them to us before Peter wets himself," Sirius snickered, earning a look from Peter.
James rolled his eyes. "What new girlfriend details?"
"Is she a good kisser?" Sirius snickered, winking at James.
"Sirius!" Remus cried out.
"What? You know you're wondering the same thing," Sirius pointed out.
Remus hesitated. "So James, is she a good kisser?"
James groaned and buried his head into the magazine. "Why do you want to know?"
Sirius snorted. "Uh, because I'm sure every guy at this school is wondering if she has a great set of lips considering I'm pretty sure only one person has ever made out with her. And you've snagged her."
Peter nodded ferociously. "Yeah, so tell us. Is she any good?"
"You guys are perverted," James replied, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Avoiding the question, hm?" Sirius contemplated. "That bad, hm?"
"No! She's a bloody amazing kisser! That doesn't mean I need to talk to you lot about it." But his last words were drowned out by his three friends high-fiving and jumping off their beds to dance playfully just to tease their best friend.
James groaned. "Why are you guys so immature?"
"Hey, we've been practicing this dance for seven years!" Sirius said, attempting to do the moonwalk. "Seven years we've had to listen to you drone on and on about her. Seven years we've had to help you come up with innovative ways to ask her out. Seven years we've had to make plans around where Lily was going to be. Seven years-"
"Okay, okay, I get it!" James interrupted, scrunching up his nose. "I was annoying."
The three guys burst into laughter. "Annoying?" Peter protested. "No, that doesn't even really begin to describe what you were."
James scowled. "Can't you guys just be happy for me?"
Remus stopped doing his robot dance move to offer his friend a pat on the shoulder. "We are happy for you," he said with a smile. "It's about damned time."
"Just don't screw it up," Sirius spoke as he and Peter pretended to do the tango.
"Well, thanks for that sound advice," James snorted.
Sirius shrugged, halting his dancing for a moment to catch his breath. "Hey, seems to me that whenever you guys take one small step forward, you take one hell of a giant leap back. I'm just waiting for this to all blow up in your face."
James scowled. "Thanks so much for the support, Padfoot."
Sirius grinned sheepishly but before he could retort, Remus chimed in. "Besides, James and Lily dating is not a small step forward, Sirius. That's like a Bigfoot-sized step. A Giant's step. A fleet of Giants' steps if you will."
"Okay, I think we got it," James retorted with an unamused glare.
Remus grinned. "I'm just reiterating the fact that this is pretty huge for you two. So don't screw it up."
"Why are you two so convinced I'm going to screw it up?"
"Oh, I don't know, because you slapped her, nearly called her the M word, punched her, and tore down her psyche by mentioning her nonexistent family to her in just four weeks time?" Remus suggested, glancing curious at his other two friends. "Am I missing anything?"
"Nope, I think you about covered it," Sirius sniggered.
James glared at them. "It's a New Year. We're putting the past in the past."
"Until you screw it up again," Peter teased.
James' glare intensified. "I knew I shouldn't have come up here," he groaned.
"Here," Remus said. "Let me do the honors." He slapped Peter on the back of his head.
"OW!" he whined, shooting Remus a look before turning his attention back on James. "Why did you come up here?"
"She's doing rounds," he replied with a shrug. "I figured I'd come visit you guys for the hour."
"Okay…but shouldn't you be working on getting Lily into bed?" Sirius questioned with a teasing grin, jumping on to the end of James' bed with such force, James' body jumped into the air.
James threw Sirius' pillow at him, who was laughing hysterically, along with Remus and Peter. "No!" James cried, joining in with the laughter. "We're taking it slow."
Sirius groaned. "Why is everyone taking things slow?"
"Who's everyone?" James asked.
"You. Remus. Apparently Lily and Jillian, too."
"There's nothing that Jillian and I can take slow, Padfoot," Remus argued, frowning. "We're just…friends."
Sirius rolled my eyes. "Oh, please. Were you two just friends last night when you went on a moonlit stroll around the grounds? Were you two just friends the other night when you were snogging in that broom closet in the fifth floor corridor? Where you two just friends when you brought her into Hogsmeade with us last week and danced the entire night with her?"
A hint of red shone on Remus' ears. "Oh, shush."
Sirius lifted an amused eyebrow. "Did you just shush me?"
"Why are you so determined to label whatever the hell it is you and Jillian have as just friends when you so clearly are more than that?" James asked curiously.
Remus hesitated, furrowing his brow. He was determined to just be friends with Jillian. He couldn't let it be anything more. Not with his condition. "Does it matter?" he murmured. "Just let it go, alright?"
"You like this girl, right?" Sirius pursued.
"Sirius," Remus warned. "Let it go."
"Fine," he responded, sensing agitation in his friend's voice. "But tell me: is she a good kisser?"
He grinned. "Sorry. I was just glad to steer the conversation away from James and Lily's mushy relationship."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with mushy!" James whined. "I can't help it that I love just being with her. Holding her hand. Stealing kisses from her. Cuddling in bed. Our late-night talks. Our strolls around the quiet hallways."
The three boys stared at him blankly.
"He's being emasculated and he doesn't even know it," Sirius said with a sigh, throwing his hands in the air.
James rolled his eyes. "I'm not being emasculated," he argued. "I'm in a relationship."
"Hm, yep, same thing."
James glared at him. "Back me up, Remus," he pleaded. "You and Jillian are-"
"Not in a relationship," Remus reminded, glaring at him.
James frowned curiously. "Jeez, you really are terrified to classify it as a relationship, aren't you?"
"I'm not terrified, we're just not in a relationship. Hence why I'm not classifying it as one."
He rolled his eyes. "Fine, but let's face it. You two are starting to act a tad lovey-dovey."
"Oh, good Godric, just admit it, Remus, and stop this ridiculous bickering," Sirius whined.
Remus fell back onto his bed with a grunt. "Alright, maybe a little, but I don't talk about any of that lovey-dovey crap with you guys like you just did."
James shrugged. "But you still do that lovey-dovey crap with her whether or not you like to admit it, hm?"
"Oh, good, so you both admit that being lovey-dovey is crap?" Sirius teased.
James shot him a look before glancing back at Remus. "Answer the question, Moony."
Remus made a face. "Maybe…"
"And does it not feel good?" James urged with a knowing grin.
"Hm, I guess," he murmured, squirming.
"And do you not like kissing her and holding her hand and being with her?"
"Okay, I don't want to be included in this conversation anymore," Remus whined.
James rolled his eyes and sat up. "Fine, but you do know what I'm talking about."
"I think I'm going to hurl," Sirius muttered, shaking his head.
James sighed. "You guys know what my relationship with Kristina was like. It was just-"
"Sex," Sirius finished.
"No," James argued. "It was more-"
"No," James said firmly.
Sirius gave him a look.
"Well, maybe a little," James agreed with a sheepish chuckle. "We rushed into a lot of things before ever spending time just getting to know each other. And that's what I'm doing with Lily now. I don't want to jump into a physical relationship with her and suddenly realize I don't know what her favorite color is-"
"Green," Sirius answered.
"-Or her favorite book-" James continued.
"Little Women," Sirius replied.
"-Or her favorite number-" James persisted, getting irritated.
"Five," Sirius responded."
"-Or her favorite subject," James added, giving Sirius an annoyed look.
James stared at him.
"What? You didn't know any of that? I thought everyone knew that!"
James pouted. "This sucks. How come you know more about her than I do?"
"Because she didn't hate me for six years," Sirius pointed out matter-of-factly.
He sighed, running his fingesr through his hair haggardly. "Well, maybe you know all this stuff about her. Good for you. But I don't all this stuff about her," James continued. "And I want to know it."
"You do now. I just told you. And now you can sleep with her!"
James gave him a look. "Do you honestly think Lily is that kind of girl?"
"Well she went for you, so I'm not really sure what kind of girl she is," Sirius snickered. "Delusional, perhaps?"
"Neurotic," Remus jumped in.
"Ooh, insane!" Peter added with a snicker.
"We might want to consider getting her checked into Bedlam," Sirius teased.
"Gee thanks, you guys are a big help," James whined, but the ends of his mouth were tugging upwards. "You might think I'm being emasculated, Padfoot, but I want things to be different with Lily. I-I want to prove to her that I'm not some jackass player with a womanizing reputation."
"That's going to take a lot of work," Sirius sighed, ducking as James threw his pillow at him.
"Don't you have some date to get to?" James whined.
"Yes," he snickered. "Thank Merlin. I don't need to sit here and listen to any more of your mushy details."
"Eh, that's fine. I'll just finish up the details with Remus and Peter."
"Dammit," Remus cursed. "I wish I had a date with Jillian right now."
"I thought you weren't dating," Sirius snickered, standing up and flattening his hair as he glanced in the full-length mirror.
"We're not," Remus agreed. "But if I had to label Jillian as my date to get away from James, I'd be willing to do so."
"Good luck with him," Sirius smirked as he grabbed his jacket and wallet and walked towards the door.
"Who are you going out with tonight?" James asked curiously, suddenly realizing he never figured out whatever happened with him and Rachael.
"A girl," Sirius snickered, opening the door, hoping to get away before they interrogated him further.
"Rachael?" James asked, hoping Sirius would give a reply as to why they broke it off.
Sirius laughed. "Hell no. We've been so over for a month now. Where the hell have you been?"
"In Lily-world," Peter snickered.
"Ahhh, right. Shoulda guessed," Sirius snickered. "See you guys later." He opened the door and headed out.
"Who's the girl?" Peter shouted as Sirius closed the door.
"No one you need to know about!" he shouted back, shutting the door hard behind him, practically skipping down the steps as he thought about meeting Riley in an empty dungeon room, one they've claimed as their own earlier that week.
"Damn," Remus swore when Sirius was out the door. "Why is he being so secretive? Usually he's so willing to divulge the information about who he's about to sleep with."
"It didn't seem like he was planning on sleeping with this one," James said curiously. "In fact, it actually looked like he cared about his appearance tonight. He took a shower! And was in the bathroom for an hour. Doing what, who knows? Something is up with him."
"Check the map," Peter said curiously.
"He took it with him," Remus said with a curt shrug. "And if Sirius doesn't want to tell us who he's going out with, we should respect his privacy."
James blinked. "Well, that doesn't sound like us."
Remus couldn't help but laugh. "Believe me, we'll find out eventually. This school doesn't keep secrets very well. He's bound to be seen by someone and then it'll get around the school in 3.5 seconds."
"Yeah…" James sighed. "That's what I'm worried about."
"The school is going to find out eventually, James," Remus said with a sympathetic smile.
"I'm beginning to hate the word 'eventually,'" James muttered.
"Well, look at it this way: it hasn't gotten out so far and it's been a month. That's got to be some sort of record."
James smiled, wishing that her rounds was over so he could be with her again. "Well, we live in the same place so it's really easy to hide our relationship. We don't have to sneak around the school or anything because we live a door away."
Remus grinned and stared at his friend pensively. "You really like her, don't you?"
James was grateful that someone finally understood and he smiled even wider. "Yeah," he eventually replied, just thinking about it. "I do."
"Well, I'm happy for you," Peter pointed out.
Remus nodded. "We all are. Sirius just has a weird way of showing it."
James laughed. "I can see that," he agreed. He bit the inside of his lip and continued, "It was never like this with Kristina. I almost feel like I was with Kristina just to be with someone. She was there and I jumped at it. It could have been anyone. But with Lily…oh man, it's so different. I can talk to her. I mean really talk to her. And I don't mind it! Which is the weird part."
Remus threw back his head and laughed. "That just means you're in a real relationship, Prongs. Believe me, it's not always going to be an uphill slope. There will be some rollercoaster moments."
"Oh gee, that's comforting," James replied sarcastically. "And what about you? Why not ask Jillian out? And I mean for real."
Remus sighed and stared at his hands. "I thought we were over this?"
"Remus," James said softly, giving his friend a look. "What's going through your mind?"
He frowned, turning away from James' scrutinizing look. He sighed, biting down on his bottom lip hesitantly. "I can't start anything with her," he muttered. "Because…every time I get close to a girl, it always ends. It has to."
"Why?" Peter questioned.
Remus gave him a look. "Oh I don't know, maybe it's because on full moons I turn into a werewolf."
"Eh, minor setback," Peter joked, waving his hand dismissively.
"If the girl really likes you, she'll understand," James pointed out.
"Yeah maybe, but I wouldn't be able to risk telling her. Because if she doesn't understand, it'd be around the school in seconds and I'd have to relocate to…to Cambodia or something."
"Cambodia?" James questioned with a smirk.
Remus shrugged. "It was the first thing that came to mind," he snickered. "Listen, I plan on hanging out with Jillian as much as I can without putting any type of label on it. That way it won't be too hard to end it when the time comes."
James sighed. "I just hope you don't get hurt because you feel the need to end something that can be avoided entirely by telling her the truth."
Remus made a face. "Jeez, Lily really has turned you mushy."
James laughed. "Speaking of, I better get back. She'll be done with rounds soon and I want to be there when she gets back."
Remus made a retching sound.
James threw his magazine at him. "The good news is maybe she'll see Sirius wandering the halls with his secret woman and we can then find out who it is."
Remus gave him a look. "When was Sirius not good at tiptoeing around the Heads of the school?"
James sighed. "Good point."
Lily was wandering through the halls, a smile on her face and her head in the clouds. She was barely paying attention to her duties and practically missed a fourth-year couple making out in the corner of an empty hallway earlier. She couldn't believe how perfect her relationship with James was going. She thought it would be more awkward, with him being much more experienced than she, but it wasn't like that at all. James made her feel special and that's all that really mattered. She had spent the night in his room every night and James hasn't made any move on her. It's like he knew that when Lily was ready she'd come around. In the beginning, she didn't want the school knowing for obvious reasons: a) Kristina, b) she didn't know if it would last, and c) she didn't want to be involved in the gossip chain. However, now she wondered if they should just get it over with and tell the school. Hopefully the judgment wouldn't last long.
She was surprised that the gossip about James and Kristina hadn't gotten around yet. She hadn't heard even a rumor about it, but she was certain that Kristina's friends knew and knew more than Lily had bargained for. They were forever giving her evil looks and whispering behind her back. It bothered her for a few hours until she realized they were just supporting their friend. It's exactly what Lily would have done if it had been Kay or Riley.
Lily was pondering the thought of Kristina's friends so intuitively that she didn't notice where she was going and ran into someone just as she turned the corner. "Oof!" Lily cried, stumbling backward slightly. "Oh, I'm so sorry!"
She brushed herself off and glanced up, her face freezing in horror. "Kristina."
Kristina stared at her and then quickly down at the ground. "Lily."
They both stood there awkwardly as nothing but silence passed before Lily took a deep breath. "Bye," she said, quickly brushing past her without taking off points for being out after hours.
She was surprised to hear Kristina call out after her.
Lily froze at the sound of her name, uncertain whether she should turn around or not. Eventually, she did, staring at the ground the whole time without replying.
Lily was taken aback. "Er…what?"
"Why my boyfriend?" she asked desolately.
Lily bit her lip nervously, feeling really guilty, not saying anything for fear of being lashed out at.
"There are hundreds of guys at this school and you had to go after James," Kristina practically cried out, a feeling of repression in her voice. "Why is that?"
Lily stared at the ground.
"Answer me!" Kristina cried out, a melancholy, hurt waver in her voice.
Lily sighed. "I-I didn't go after James."
"Oh really?" Kristina snorted. "Because I'm pretty sure you're with him, and I'm not."
Lily felt the sudden need to cry, but refused to let Kristina see that. "I'm sorry about that," she said slowly. "It wasn't my intention for you and James to break up."
"Then what were your intentions?" she demanded. "What exactly was your big plan when you decided to ruin our relationship?"
Lily snorted. "I didn't have a plan, Kristina," she snapped. "Maybe you should be asking James that."
"James wouldn't tell me he loved me and then break up with me the next day for the fun of it, Lily," Kristina growled. "You did this. You put some bullshit story in his mind about how I'm not good enough for him just so you could swoop in and be there for him in the aftermath."
Lily sighed, wishing that she could accept that responsibility, feeling sudden sorrow for this girl. "I…I didn't do anything, Kristina," she muttered.
Kristina stared at her. "Of course you did!" she cried out vulnerably.
Lily shrugged and bit her lip nervously. "Kristina, I…I wish I could say that I did," Lily mentioned. "I wish I could say that James…that he was a better boyfriend to you. I can't say that I'm totally innocent in all of this, but…but he made the choice in the end," she murmured.
Kristina paled, realizing that Lily had to be right. "What?"
Lily simply nodded, the guilt weighing heavily on her.
"He chose you," she whispered, her heart breaking at the thought.
Lily didn't say anything, realizing that maybe telling her that wasn't the best decision.
Kristina sighed. "Treat him well, Lily," she said softly.
Lily's eyebrows arched. "Heh?"
She shrugged. "No hard feelings?"
Lily whipped her head up and stared at her. "What?"
Kristina shook her head with a warm smile.
"But…but I thought you hated me?" Lily blurted out.
Kristina chuckled. "I thought I did," she admitted. "But it wasn't you I hated. It was the situation. I took a lot of my frustration out on you because it was easier than taking it out on him. Still is. As much as I tried fighting for him, I knew I was losing him. I realized a while ago that you'd be better for him than I ever was."
"No, Kristina, that's not true," Lily argued, wondering where this compassion was coming from.
Kristina shook her head. "Yes it is, and you know it," she protested. "You hated me with him. I think a lot of people did. For good reason. I was just refusing to admit that we weren't right together."
Lily didn't know how to answer. She just sighed, suddenly feeling a wave of sympathy for this recent ex-girlfriend of her now boyfriend. "Kristina, if it makes you feel better, I don't think I hated you with him. I was just jealous."
Kristina gave her an impressed look. "Most people wouldn't admit that."
Lily smiled. "I'm not most people."
Kristina looked at her curiously before answering, "No, you're not."
They stood there smiling at each other, for once being able to understand each other for a few comfortable seconds before Lily broke the ice again.
"I'm sorry, by the way," Lily blurted out, wondering why she hadn't thought of apologizing before this for taking the love of her life away.
"For what?" Kristina asked, perplexed.
"For how things turned out," she explained with a sympathetic half-smile. "I'm probably not your favorite person right now and as much as you're standing here talking to me, you'd probably rather be anywhere else. And I really appreciate you not having any hard feelings because I don't think I could take the guilt of knowing that you were disturbed by the fact that I am now…well, you know," she said in embarrassment.
For a second, Lily thought Kristina would go back to her cold, distant self, but she eventually just shrugged nonchalantly. "I never meant to blame you for what happened, Lily," Kristina admitted. "Like I said, it was just easier."
"I understand," Lily agreed.
"And besides, James and I were never really good together. You and him will have an actual relationship. All we ever had was sex."
Lily forced out a laugh, but it made her a little uneasy knowing she'd have to top Kristina. "Thanks for being so understanding, Kristina."
Kristina shrugged. "It's the least I could do. I was a bitch to you this whole year."
"Well, that's true," Lily agreed with a hint of a smile.
"I'm sorry for it," Kristina muttered. "I just hated being upstaged by you."
"I upstaged you?" Lily asked, shocked.
"Of course," she mumbled. "All the guys worshiped you. Especially Sirius, Remus, and Peter. And they hated me. James' friends never really liked having me around but they liked you. In fact, they chose to hang out with you. You just have some sort of…of presence about you. An independent attitude about how you hold yourself that I never had."
"How I hold myself?" Lily repeated intrigued. "You mean like how I was horrible to you? That's not exactly the best attitude to have."
"Again, it was probably only because I was horrible to you," Kristina chuckled humorously. "But I hope you know that I was only horrible because I, too, was jealous of you."
Lily was taken aback. "Why were youjealous?"
Kristina bit the inside of her lip and sighed. "Because…he never paid as much attention to me as he did to you. He…he…never looked at me the way he looked at you. He never talked to me the way he talked to you! He might not have known it, but I knew he fancied you way back in September. He probably always has."
Lily thought back to last May when he confessed that he had had a thing for her for a while and wondered if Kristina was right. "Maybe so…but I'm still sorry. I never meant for this to happen."
Kristina smiled. "Thanks. That means a lot," she admitted. "You…you guys can tell people, y'know? I'm sure you're hiding it for my sake, but please don't feel the need. I think I'm okay now and you don't want to go hiding your relationship. Get the gossip chain over with."
Lily laughed. "I was hoping to avoid that."
Kristina gave her a look. "No offense, but it's Lily Evans and James Potter. There's no way of avoiding that."
Lily gave her a lopsided grin. "I guess I should have expected that."
Kristina smiled and simply nodded.
Lily smiled back and again they stood there in a comfortable silence, however it was Kristina's turn to break it.
"Please take care of him," she pleaded.
Lily smiled. "I will. And don't be afraid to stop by the Gryffindor table once and a while."
Kristina bit the inside of her lip and looked at Lily with a skeptical look. "You know I probably won't be doing that."
Lily shrugged, deep inside happy about that. "Maybe not, but I'm still offering."
Kristina nodded. "Thanks again."
"And thank you, Kristina," Lily repeated with a warm smile.
Kristina hesitated. "Okay that was weird," she snickered. "First we were arguing over who was more sorry and now we're thanking each other."
Lily paused. "Yeah, something's definitely wrong with this picture."
Kristina just laughed and they said their good-byes and walked in their separate directions, both feeling better about themselves.
Riley walked into the empty dungeon room, where Sirius was already waiting for her.
"Hey there," Sirius greeted, lighting the last candle.
"Ooh candles," Riley said with a smile. "How romantic."
"I'm a romantic kind of guy," Sirius said with a wink.
Riley gave him a look.
"Okay maybe not always, but I can try to be on occasion, can't I?" he suggested with a smile. He grabbed her arm and brought her close to him so he could kiss her.
When they pulled apart, Riley smiled warmly at him. "Well, you're doing a good job so far," she agreed.
He pulled her down into his arms to a blanket he had spread out on the floor, kissing the exposed back of her neck. She moaned at the gentle touch, smiling alluringly. "You do a pretty good job at that, too," she whispered, intertwining her fingers with his.
"Oh, yeah?" he asked, amused. "What about this?" He led a small trail of kisses up her neck and jawline until his lips met hers.
"Mm," she agreed. "Yeah, that wasn't so bad either."
He grinned and wrapped his arms tightly around her, never wanting to let her go. "You know what I decided while waiting for you earlier?" Sirius said.
"Do I want to know?"
Sirius grinned. "Probably not," he joked. "But I think that the letter 'A' is by far my favorite."
Riley turned her head to stare at him. "How do you wake up every morning without falling over?"
"Not sure," he said slowly and jokingly. "Maybe it's because I achieve everything without flaw. Good A word, huh?"
Riley snorted. "Here's an A word for you: you're aggravating."
He paused. "I think you mean absolutely breathtaking."
"No I mean aggravating. Oooh, and annoying."
"No, but appalling and atrocious work, too."
"How about just awful?"
Riley stared at him. "Yes, Sirius, you're right. Apple describes you perfectly."
"I ran out of words!" he cried with a laugh.
"I still have plenty," Riley teased, winking at him.
He stuck his tongue out at her. "Hm," he searched. "Ooooh, amiable! Affable! Agreeable!"
He paused. "Anteater?"
Riley burst into laughter. "I think you need to stop."
"No way, I'm on a roll!" he argued, making her laugh even harder. "Alligator! Oooh, airplane, artichoke—disgusting by the way—and…uh, antler. Adverb, alumni." He paused. "Oooh, and Aborigines!"
"And what?" Riley exclaimed with an amused laugh.
"I know, I know. You're probably thinking where the hell that smart answer came from."
"No…" she said slowly. "Actually I was thinking, do you even know what the Aborigines are?"
Sirius paused. "Nope, not really."
Riley laughed and gave him a short, succulent kiss on the mouth. "Why am I dating you again?"
"Because I'm so utterly handsome," he said in a deep, seductive voice, eying her up.
"Hm…no that's not it," she replied with a laugh.
"Well, we've declared that it's not because I'm smart," he teased, tickling her neck with his lips.
"Nope, that's definitely not it," Riley responded, giggling.
"Well, it could have something to do with the fact that I exploited you to Rhett Davies, scared him away, made you understand that I did it because I was jealous, told you I wanted to be with you, kissed you, and then promised you that I'd never hurt you," he said quickly with a nonchalant shrug.
Riley laughed. "And you say that so openly."
"It's because I know you'd rather be with me over him," Sirius teased.
Riley shrugged. "Eh, it's a close race."
Sirius pouted. "As long as I always come out on top."
"Well, we all know you like being on top…" Riley said slyly, winking at him.
Sirius roared with laughter. "Oh, you think you're so funny."
"Well yeah," she replied arrogantly.
"Oh come here," he said, pulling her closer to him as he pressed his lips to hers firmly and passionately. He still couldn't believe how much he enjoyed kissing Riley. When they pulled apart, Sirius looked at her with a smile of content on his face. "I'm really glad we're making this work, Riley."
"I'm glad, too," she agreed with a nod. "I really like you, Sirius."
"Well then we have a problem, because I think I like you, too," he said softly, brushing a strand of hair from her face. He glanced down at her nostalgically, meeting her gaze.
Riley smiled, blushing at the way he was staring at her. "What are you thinking about?" Riley questioned.
Sirius didn't reply right away. He continued staring at her longingly before smiling at her warmly. "The first time I laid eyes on you."
Riley blushed a deeper shade of red and looked down in embarrassment, trying to contain a grin.
"I was leaning against a pillar, bored out of my mind as James incessantly harassed Snape, when-"
"Wait, are you sure that was you? Because being bored while someone harasses Snape does not sound anything like you," Riley teased.
"Well, we had been doing it all during the train ride," Sirius laughed. "So the material was getting a little stale."
Riley laughed. "Okay, continue then."
"It was at that moment, when I just happened to be glancing through the crowds that suddenly I saw you. You had just walked off the train at the Hogsmeade station, with your hair in a long ponytail, cascading down your back, and the moonlight was hitting you just right. You quickly shoved past Hagrid and practically dragged Lily to one of the boats, talking and laughing animatedly the whole time, not looking nervous one bit," he continued.
"You were staring at me this entire time?" Riley asked with a chuckle.
"Shh, don't interrupt," Sirius said, winking at her.
She simply smiled.
"You climbed into an empty boat with Lily and…and I grabbed James' arm and practically ran to your boat in order to share it with you," Sirius added, chuckling as he thought back to so many years ago. "I remember Lily not being so happy with that, what with some chocolate still on her robes. She was yelling and screaming at James for, I believe, sharing a boat with her."
"You believe?" Riley snorted. "Every first year in those damn boats could hear every word she was saying!"
Sirius merely smiled. "Except I wasn't focused on her," he said softly. "You were...the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. I was enthralled by you. By your smile, your eyes, your hair, your laughter, your energy. You were this beautiful, confident girl to me at the time. And I vowed that one day in the far future you'd be my girl."
Riley blushed a deep scarlet, exhaling loudly at the thought of how perfect her boyfriend was. "Oh, Sirius," she said breathlessly, "When did you become such a romantic at heart?"
Sirius held her tighter in his arms. "It's all because of you," he whispered in her ear. "But don't go spreading that around. My reputation would be ruined." The ends of his mouth tugged upward.
She smiled, running her hands down his arm. "You're in a relationship, Sirius. I think it's safe to say your reputation is already ruined."
"Yeah, but no one knows about that. Therefore, my reputation has remained intact."
"Not to me."
Sirius snickered. "Yeah, but somehow I'm okay with you knowing my romantic, relationship reputation."
She grinned, interlacing her fingers with his, bringing the back of his hand up to her mouth to kiss lightly. "Somehow, I'm okay with that, too," she said softly.
His smile wavered as he thought about everything the two of them had been through. It amazed him that she trusted him enough to try and make a relationship work. He couldn't be more grateful to her. If he were her, he would have laughed in his face and stormed off. Granted, Riley tried doing that but ended up back at his door. He knew he had a lot to prove to her. He knew that he had a lot to prove to himself. But he was going to take every chance he could to show to her that she wasn't making a mistake. That he was going to work his ass off to earn her trust and forgiveness for his past actions. "Riley?"
She stirred slightly, glancing up at him. "Hm?"
"I just wanted to let you know that this thing with you and me? I…I'm in it for the long run. I want it to last forever. I…I don't ever want to lose you again. You mean so much more to me than I ever thought you could and I don't want that to ever change. I…I don't want to ever let you go again. It destroyed me the last time. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you again."
Riley's heart skipped a beat. Those were words most girls swooned over. And those were words that should have frightened her. Relationships scared Riley. They always had. She was always the one left hurt and alone in the end. And yet, somehow his words comforted her. They made her heart flutter in excitement. She wanted to be with him. And there was nothing else to it. "I don't plan on ever letting go, Sirius," she whispered back, staring up at him longingly.
He smiled and they sealed it with a kiss.
It was perfect. Riley couldn't help but wonder when the last time she liked a guy this much was. Every time she was around him, her heart constricted with delight and a smile automatically came to her face. Everything about him made her feel good. She even stopped thinking about how he humiliated her two years earlier and just started focusing on the good, which was everything else in him. Sirius was kindhearted, intelligent, romantic, fun, funny, and he knew exactly what to say and do to make her feel special. She was really starting to fall for him. She just hoped that she wouldn't screw it up like she so often did in all of her relationships.
It was perfect. Sirius smiled at her as she closed her eyes and they sat there for the remainder of the night. He was thinking back to what James was saying that night about just being with a girl, and although he never would have believed he'd be that guy, he was that guy now. He just loved having Riley in his arms. He loved being close to her. Every time she walked into the room, he lit up. He couldn't believe how lucky he was to have found her and actually kept her. She was perfect in every way and she didn't even know it. He was really starting to fall for her. He knew that he couldn't screw it up. Because this was already his second chance. And as he glanced longingly over at her, he could guarantee he wouldn't get a third.
Lily stated the password and walked into her common room with a dazed smile on her face.
"Why do you look so happy?" James asked, putting a bookmark into his book and setting it down on the table.
Lily glanced up at James and smiled wider, knowing she didn't want to divulge the conversation she just had with Kristina to James. "I'm just glad I get to come home to you," she chose to say instead. She walked over to him, kissed him quickly, and cuddled beside him on the couch.
James grabbed a blanket off the side of the couch and placed it over them. "I'm glad we're finally together after all of our ups-and-downs," James concluded.
"A lot more downs than ups," Lily laughed.
"Hey, we had a good run of a month this year," James pointed out.
Lily gave him a look.
"You're right, that's not much," he said shaking his head with a laugh.
Lily smiled. "But we're making up for it now."
James smiled warmly down at her, wondering how he got so lucky. "Yes we are," he said softly, kissing her forehead pleasantly. "I want to make this work, Lily. I don't want us to fight anymore. I like being on your side rather than against you. You're an amazing woman, Lily. And I…I don't want any of my past relationships to be a factor into the future. Because…because I really like you. I don't want anything to get in the way of that."
Lily gave him a passionate smile. "How'd I get so lucky to end up with you?"
James grinned. "I'm not sure…but I think Sirius had something to do with it."
Lily laughed and kissed him sweetly. "Sh, don't tell him that," she teased, slinging her arm over him. "I really like you, too, James. We've had a difficult past together but that doesn't mean our future needs to be difficult, also. Like you said, I like being on your side far more than I enjoyed being against you. I…I don't plan on letting anything come between us."
James nodded, agreeing with everything she had said, kissing her gently on the top of her head and wrapping his arms around her tightly as Lily laced her fingers through his and stared dreamily at them as if she were lost in thought.
Eventually, James spoke. "Lily?"
She stirred. "Hm?"
"When did you realize you had feelings for me?"
She blinked, the question throwing her off-guard. She shifted her weight slightly to glance up at him, contemplating his question curiously. "Reginald Cattermole," she finally said.
James' eyebrow arched slowly. "Am I supposed to know what that means?"
Lily chuckled. "It was on Christmas and Reginald Cattermole, a Hufflepuff first year, was crying because he hadn't heard from his mother. You...you comforted him in a way that just tugged at my heart. You exemplified so much compassion and decency in that single moment that I could no longer deny it. So...so I didn't."
"Let me get this straight," James sighed. "For six years, I have tried getting your attention and all I needed to have done was comfort some poor bloke for a few seconds?"
Lily shrugged, a smile playing on her face. "Guess so."
He swore. "Damn, and all that time I thought torturing poor blokes was what got you off."
Lily laughed. "And what gave you that idea? The numerous times I called you out on it?"
"Hm, you would have thought that that should have beem my first clue to lay off them," James said, stroking his chin contemplatively.
"You would have thought," Lily teased. "Alas, you weren't so smart back then."
He pouted. "I've changed though, have I not?"
"The laying off poor blokes part maybe..." she said with a playful grin.
"I dont' think you can get way with calling me not smart," James said with a laugh. "I am Head Boy, am I not?"
"Five months later, I'm still shocked by that one."
James laughed, kissing the side of her face. "But look how it ended up for us in the end," he spoke softly, his heart skipping a beat as he thought back on the past few months. A lot has certainly happened but he was just glad that this is where they ended up.
She gazed at up at him, taking his hand in hers. "Yeah," she agreed with a smile. "This isn't so bad afterall."
They did have a difficult past in the six and a half years they spent together. They had years of monotonous hatred. Years of screaming debates, insults, and hexes. Years of never listening or understanding the other. Years of constant frustration and aggravation. Years of never wanting to be around each other. Years of selfish loathing.
They were never able to understand each other because they were always in a competition. They envied the other deep down for having a life they always wanted. Lily wanted people to like her; she wanted to be recognized for her talents. And James wanted Lily's confidence and independence more than anything. Yet they both had similarities they never made any connection to: they were both determined, opinionated, and hated being wrong. And most of all, they both hated weakness. For the past six years, they never showed any emotion to each other and kept their vulnerability on the inside. That's why it was so hard for them to get together. Neither one wanted to admit their feelings to each other for fear of rejection. For years they hid their feelings with screaming matches and verbal abuse and hexing matches and feuds.
But things change. People change. That was all in the past and in each others' arms is now where they belonged. Their future lay ahead of them and they were excited to wake up every morning knowing they would share that future with each other. Life was just beginning for Lily Evans and James Potter.
A/N: Well we end on a happy note. No, the group doesn't know about Sirius and Riley yet. They found out in the sequel (I have to leave SOMETHING for you guys to want to keep on reading!). I'm going to miss this story! So this story's officially over (sad!) but I present you with the title of the sequel to hopefully hold you over: Kisses on the Balcony. In the sequel, heartbreak occurs, secrets are unfolded, promises are broken, a marriage is planned, an unfortunate death occurs, love is in the air, long-term fights break out, denial becomes significant, a funeral occurs that brings even more surprises, graduation rolls around, and huge surprises are in store for the characters. Please review this chapter, AND the story in general, and I will attempt to upload the next story as soon as possible! Your suggestions are greatly welcome. I would love to hear what you guys want for these characters. Thank you for reading my story and I hope you will all continue with the sequel when I post it.