28 February 2012.

All rights reserved to JK Rowling.

What does James have to say?

These words might be a little too late
and I'm afraid I have already lost you.

"I should go." He'd hardly muttered before he was on his feet, throwing the Prophet on the coffee table. The force wasn't behind it as he had anticipated, instead it tumbled off the side of the table, folded and forgotten.

"Right" Lily muttered, watching James' erratic movements with a clinical eye. He was stiff and busy as though trying everything in his power to extricate himself from his current position. This wasn't how she'd imagined their reunion. For one, she imagined herself hopelessly in love with another man, someone much more gentle than James. She would be happily married, perhaps a mother – she'd imagined herself stuttering and smiling until her husband would wrap his arm around her waist and introduce himself to James, ever the bigger man. Then James would glare – as par usual – and puff up his chest and make some smart aleck comment that would only further justify that their split had been more than right, but utterly predicted. This, however, was not anything like her imagined theory. First off, where was that gentle husband of hers? And why hadn't she made more of an effort to date! But really, where was the James that was too cocky to even admit failure?

This bumbling man in front of her was a tragic excuse of her long lost lover. In fact, despite the resemblance, he wasn't James at all. She caught his arm as he finished pulling on his cloak, jolting him into near asphyxiation. She bit her lip and caught his gaze.

"You can't leave yet." Her grip stayed as he nodded once. He didn't remove his cloak, but turned to face her. Her mind flew into motion as she took in his stature, still unbelievably tall and proud, but now the pride was a weight on his shoulders. No matter the pain she felt as it tore her heart into pieces, she knew 'to forgive and to forget' was more than just her mother's favorite phrase, it was a function of life and more so, healing.

The realization stole any other thoughts and she was focused on closing the fissure that had developed between her and this man – this man that had morphed her once gray world into something full of life and beauty. This was her chance to repay her debt. If she could look at it objectively and not allow herself to dwell on her pain, then maybe they'd be able to both move on and recover. Because God knows that this heartbreak must end.

"I'm drained. Grab some coffee with me?" Lily spoke, forcing her voice to be cheerful and ambivalent. "Do you mind if I shower first?"

"Be my guest." James shrugged, padding over to the couch and fishing for the Daily Prophet.

"Latte with three sugars, please. And a blueberry muffin." Lily ordered at the counter, James had already made his purchase and chosen a table near the window of the local café. He seemed to be extremely interested in the cars stopping at the light, before they proceeded onward in their daily journeys. His coffee was finished when Lily received her receipt and she brought it to him. She dropped in to the chair opposite him and smiled lightly. Her hands finally settling as they clasped each another.

"If you want cream or sugar, it's over there." Lily pointed to a station filled with a plethora of sugar-free sugar substitutes, stirring sticks and milks. James shook his head and went to sip his black.

"So, I um." She blew the air out of her lungs and looked back at James. "I want to apologize for running away-"

"Today?" He muttered, setting his mug down. Lily paused and nodded. Yes, today she'd ran from him, but that wasn't the only time. She'd made a run for it that horrid December when her whole world crashed down.

"Sure, today." She followed still nodding. A barista brought over her latte and muffin and glanced at James before telling Lily about butter being at the sugar bar. As the barista walked away, Lily would have bet her month's paycheck that rhythm in her hips was not her normal walk.

"Are you really looking for an apology from me, James." Lily asked, hostility edging her words as her thoughts revolved around that Christmas and the barista's size two ass.

"Actually," Lily met his eyes and finally found herself looking at the usual James. Not the shell she'd had to tote around the last hour. "I'd be an ass to assume I'd get as much – but well, frankly I don't know what to say. I thought I knew, but now, with you –" His words turned to mutters and Lily sighed, taking a sip of her latte. It was terrible. Or maybe she just imagined she'd picked up a beer and not some awful sugar stimulant.

"We should have gone to the pub." Lily muttered her thoughts as the sun shed light on their quaint table. James chuckled his agreement. "I don't know what I was thinking. This kind of mind-fucking deserves intoxication."

"I think maybe if we make it though this, we could get a lager the next time. " James replied, smirking lightly as he went for another taste of his black coffee.

"Forget the lager, Potter, I want something that'll put hair on my chest." Lily joked, finding a natural rhythm in discussing something abstract rather than their tattered hearts and swallowed pride.

"As attractive as that image could be-"

"Let's not." Lily finished. "So, I've read your articles, they seem to be popular. Cheers." Lily raised her mug at James. He grimaced in return, as she'd predicted.

"It's a load of bullocks. There're so many regulations now that I can't even claim literary license about the truth now. Allusions, even historical accounts are cut from my articles. I almost feel as though I'm working for his campaign than against it, you know? My articles are being misconstrued for propaganda."

"They are not." Lily replied. "There's always been a bit of crazed rebel in your words and they can't remove that. I find sarcasm to be my best defense."

James nodded, running a hand through his hair. It was shorter than she'd remembered, but then, she wasn't staring at the eighteen-year-old James anymore. But she'd been over this in her mind more than the healthy amount today.

"I'm lucky to still be employed I suppose. There's some comfort in that. I need another cup." He remarked before standing.

"James-" Lily stopped him. She couldn't sit still anymore. "James, I –" He was frozen in front of her with a gaze that tore through her heart. "What is it? Why are we doing this?" She pled. He slowly sank back into his seat, eyes never leaving her face.

I gotta go and you're talking in code. Saying I know where you've been and I know where you go. But I've been tired from the minute I woke, I've stopped listening the moment you spoke and said I'm long gone. Yea, I'm long gone.

They stared, the words materializing before them but never spoken. Losing themselves to the structure of their thoughts, the would haves and what ifs; the justifications and validations.

"We're long gone. They made sure of that." Lily finally muttered, standing so fast the table shook. Having already paid and suddenly feeling the café suffocating, quickly threw herself through the door. The bell chime overtaken by the slam the door made as it rebounded against the wall.

If ever Lily was good at something, it was running.