Thanks so much to massyblackhair66, Pip-2250, annna and apotterlover for reviewing the last chapter:D

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Ch 4: Kiss and Tell

"Kiss me."

James' lessons in the fine art of dating had most definitely moved in a direction that, while definitely not unpleasant, were far beyond what he'd initially envisaged. Somehow, he'd pictured a few helpful pointers, maybe a shove in the right direction at most. Yet, here he was, in an empty classroom well past curfew – a little sinister in its own right – being asked to kiss one of the prettiest girls, in his opinion anyway, in the school.

Casting his eyes upwards, he pondered her request. Well, it most definitely was a command to make any self-respecting guy weak at the knees.

Was it terrible that he found it incredibly sexy when she ordered him around? Well, if it was a request like that anyway.

She looked mind-bogglingly beautiful illuminated in the flickering half light of the surrounding candles. Her hair itself glowed like the burning flames and her eyes were watching him expectantly.

He certainly didn't need asking twice.

"Wh-what?" James stuttered dumbly, his face shining beet red. So much for cool and in control.

Lily shook her head, the corner of her lips twitching as if she were about to smile but was trying hard to hold it in. "Did you want to go through the theory first?"

He grimaced. "Like what? 'Move your head two inches to the right. Press your lips against hers for 3 seconds before immediately mo-'"

"No." Lily cut him off mid sentence with an over exaggerated eye roll. "A kiss is pretty much the crux of the relationship, if there is one. A kiss will tell a girl whether or not she wants to continue. A good kiss – she'll be weak at the knees and eating out of your hand. A bad kiss – and she'll be running to the nearest bathroom."

A slightly startled look crossed James previously relaxed stature. So, no pressure or anything. He had to give the perfect kiss or he was pretty much screwed for life. And unfortunately that wasn't meant literally. Because everyone knew that girls had big mouths.

Honestly, it wasn't fair. You gave one lousy kiss and then suddenly the girl in question's best friend knew, who couldn't help slipping it to her boyfriend, who accidentally mentioned it to his friends, who incidentally discussed it in a note during transfiguration, which unfortunately got read to the class by McGonagall, who… you get the point. Word spread like Snape's trails of hair grease. Almost like the old muggle story of Hansel and Gretel. Only no bread crumbs – and an unsightly, lanky teenager in place of the witch.

"Okay. Ready?" Lily asked, her voice strangely soft. James nodded, not trusting his voice. "Now kiss me.

Instantly, James' hands started sweating profusely and his heart rate was thumping about a mile a minute. He was scared it was about to leap out of his chest and land with an unattractive squelch on Lily's cheek. That would hardly merit a good kiss.

Leaning forward, James pressed his lips to Lily's. A heat flooded him and he desperately wanted to remove his jumper. But that might look a little weird.

It was the weirdest kiss James had ever had. He opened his eyes, just to check that it was really happening. Yep, she was right there, her eyes closed delicately and he suddenly had the urge to count the freckles lightly splattered across her nose. One… two… three… they looked like Siamese twins so he'd count them as two… six… seven –

"James?"

In his freckle counting trance, James hadn't noticed the absence of Lily's lips pressed to his own and he stared dazedly into her puzzled green depths.

"In the nicest, most affectionate way possible," He didn't like the sound of this one bit, "that was like kissing a dead fish."

James raised an eyebrow, hoping it distracted from his flushed cheeks. "Ew. Something I don't need to know Lil. Next thing you'll be telling me you snog trees or something."

She cast him an exasperated look and flicked her hair behind her shoulders in a brisk fashion. "Now, try it again but put some emotion into it. Move your lips, kiss me like you mean it. Don't be afraid to touch me. Don't just jut your head out and stand there like a stunned mullet."

Feeling determined, James rolled up his sleeves. Her eyes were focused straight into his, her moist lips parted slightly and beckoning to him. Reaching out a hand, James took her by the shoulder and pulled her towards him. And then, his lips were on her again, kissing her furiously and passionately, his tongue tracing the curves of her mouth.

"Whoa, down boy." Lily managed to detangle herself with a firm push as she tried to hold in a small bout of laughter. "This is not a race against time."

James examined his hands, his gaze straying to the walls. The shadows surrounding them on the white washed wall were littered with small flickering shadows, like mice dancing across the walls.

"If a girl wanted her tonsils cleaned she'd go to the dentist. When you caress a girl, do it gently, savouring the feel. Not rummaging around like you're searching for your keys."

James blamed his red face on the sweltering heat of the fire. He was not embarrassed. Honestly. He got told by girl everyday that kissing him was like kissing a dead fish, or going to the tonsil-wash.

"That doesn't mean you're a bad kisser." Lily added gently, her eyes boring into his slightly unsettlingly. "You're just nervous that's all. Take a deep breath. Relax. Pay attention to what you're doing. Be gentle and sincere. Savour it. Enjoy it."

Shifting uncomfortably, James gave his shoulders a small shake and let out a long slow breath of air.

"Now kiss me again." He voice sounded slightly husky and incredibly sexy.

Locking his eyes onto her, James leant forward until his body was nearly flush against hers. Every inch of his skin tingled tantalisingly but he shoved it to the back of his mind. Carefully he reached up to smooth the hair out of her face, running a finger languidly down the length of her cheek, feeling her lean into his touch.

Her eyes fluttered closed in contentment. Leaning forward that fraction more, his lips brushed hers before leaving a single hot kiss on her jaw. A low sigh, like a whisper of wind, escaped her faintly parted lips. Snaking a hand around to support the back of her head, his fingers tangling into the silky strands of her luscious hair, he pressed his lips to hers in a sweet kiss.

Encouraged by her instant response he kissed her deeper, his tongue flicking over her wet lips as she opened to allow him access. Slowly, taking all his time, he picked up pace as his fingers wove through her hair, running down her spine and back up again.

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There was something wrong with this scenario, at least in his mind. Here he was, your average red-blooded male teenager, heatedly kissing one of the hottest girls in school. This girl, who just happened to be his former-crush (very off-limits) and his friend (so off limits it was wrong).

He was beginning to wonder if she really was his friend after all. He hoped not because he had the strange feeling it was very very wrong to want to tear off your friends' clothes and kiss them so passionately that even their enemies felt pleasure. He certainly didn't want to do that to Sirius. Urgh!

Pulling back he noticed a definite flush to her cheeks and her breathing was laboured.

"How was that?" He asked hoarsely, wanting desperately to grab her by the head and keep kissing her. Instead, he watched her anxiously.

"That," She managed as her breathing regained regularity, "was one hell of a kiss." She smiled at him, almost shyly and somehow the whole mood between them shifted.

"You – really?" James asked, feeling a warm glow inside him that had little to do with her praise and everything to do with the kiss. And suddenly, without even thinking of what he was doing, James was pulling his face into a grimace of uncertainty. "I dunno. I mean, what if I stuff it up and then I'm history?"

He looked doubtfully at her before turning his gaze to the licking flames of the fire. Did he dare? Well of course he did.

"I think we should practice it. You know, so I really have it for Sophia."

Now it was Lily's turn to look doubtful as she studied him carefully as if trying to make out some hidden meaning behind his words. When she appeared not to find anything, she nodded, slowly at first then more defiantly.

"Okay." She agreed. "You're right. You have to be completely ready. For Sophia." A tone he'd never heard in her voice before startled him. Was it anger? Jealousy? No, it couldn't be. Annoyance that he was even asking?

He was being completely ridiculous. Lily didn't like him that way, something she'd been quick to drill into him with such force that he was likely to never forget her loving sentiments. Why was he imagining that she did? More importantly, why did he even care? He was over her.

"Now?" James' voice came out sounding pathetically hopeful and he prayed she hadn't noticed. Instantly, he amended his stance to look casually interested, but not like he cared or anything.

Why did the sight of her shaking head fill him with bitter disappointment?

"Not tonight. I have that mammoth potions essay to write but how about tomorrow if you're free?"

It sounded like they were scheduling a business meeting, or a tutoring session or something.

James nodded casually. "Same time, same place?"

"Sure. See you then."

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A deep moan reverberated in his chest as her tongue tangled with his in a hot kiss. A lock of her dark red hair tickled his cheek pleasantly and he longed to laugh out aloud at the sensation. Without thinking, he ran a hand through her long tresses, sweeping them away from her face and allowing his fingers to tangle in their silky masses.

Her fingers moved delicately across his chest, sending his skin searing with pleasurable hot trails. Swirls of euphoric dizziness filled his mind as her lips caressed his; teasing him, making him beg for more. Recklessly he kissed her deeper, faster, hotter, never wanting this desirous fever to end.

Both gasping, panting, she broke away. Pink stained her cheeks and her lips were dark and swollen. A dazzling spark in her eyes made it impossible to draw his own away.

Neither spoke, James because he didn't think he could trust his voice to come out steady just yet. He wondered if it should be awkward; that their relationship could be so confusing, intoxicating and bizarre all at once. That they could go from platonic easiness with each other during the day to kissing frantically each evening.

"Well, I definitely think you've got it." Her tone was all business, as casual as if she were commenting on the weather. Her slightly laboured breaths and swollen lips were the only evidence of what they'd spent the last twenty minutes practising and no outward signs that she was at all affected were visible to James.

Faint stirrings of anger seemed to cut through James' thoughts. She kept saying it was good, but was she really as unaffected as she let on? The thought sent another twinge of anger through him, dampened by the weight of his disappointment. He was just about to lose it from merely snogging her. How could she act as if it all meant nothing?

"Yeah. I think we should stop practising." There was a definite coolness to his tone that seem to startle her but other than that she nodded agreeably.

"It's just nerves." She said consolingly, breaking the short silence that followed his words. His startled brain tried to latch on to what she was saying but it made no sense to him. "If you kiss Sophia like that, I guarantee she'll be head over heels."

James scowled. Sophia. That's what all this was about. Damn Sophia. How could he have forgotten their intentions so easily? How could he have misjudged the entire situation so badly?

Her brow furrowed, clearly taken aback by the anger etched into every crease of his frown. "Is something wrong James?"

Was something wrong? Nah, everything was just peachy.

"No. What's wrong with you?" He hadn't meant for the bitter words to be spoken but they tumbled out before he could stop them. James noted her surprise, and hurt at his tone, and a revolting sort of victory filled him. If he could hurt her, maybe it would take away some of what he was feeling.

"Have I done something wrong? What have I done to make you angry at me?" Asked Lily in a tone of confusion.

James struggled to put his thoughts together and form them into coherent sentences.

"How can you just sit there and look like it means nothing? Like it's all just fake?"

He hated it. He hated how she made him feel, how he felt stupid for enjoying their snogging sessions together when she felt nothing at all. Stupid for forgetting what this was.

"Well," Her voice was gently but something like uncertainty hung in her voice. "It is fake James. It's not like we're doing this for kicks are we? It's not supposed to mean anything. That's the whole point isn't it?"

"But, don't you like enjoy it at all?" He asked a little desperately.

"That's not really the point is it?"

"Stop answering question with questions."

Irritability was getting the better of him, making him sound snappish and rude.

"I'm sorry." Lily looked down at her lap.

He waved aside her apology, hating himself for causing the sorrowful look on her face. Guilt niggled back at him, growing stronger that he had to break his gaze away from her downcast face.

"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that." Amended James. "It's just, I really owe you for everything you've done for me and I feel bad that you don't even feel anything at all. I mean, not that I do. I mean, I do a bit but only because you're a really good kisser; nothing else. And I wish you got some… you know, physical pleasure out of it too."

James was sure his cheeks were glowing as brightly as her hair and he fought to keep his voice casual.

A small but real nonetheless, smile appeared on Lily's face. "Don't worry about it. It's hardly a chore having to kiss the most popular, not to mention good-looking guys in our year." She said, her eyes twinkling at him.

"So I guess we're finished then?" James had to force the words out and strangely, they sounded more like a curse than anything else. Or maybe a death sentence.

"Yeah. I guess so."

The tension had not dissipated and seemed to hang heavy in the air.

"So I'll, er, see you around then." James said awkwardly, his hand resting on the door handle. Instinct was screaming at him to leave before he made an even bigger mess than he already had. But somehow, some indefinable feeling filled him that kept him where he was. A feeling that told him that one he left that was it.

For a minute they just looked at each other, the floor, each other, the wall, each other…

"You've come a long way James." She said kindly, her eyes crinkling back into that small smile of hers. "Sophia's a lucky girl."

He wanted so badly for there to be some meaning behind those words but he knew he was a fool for hoping. Feelings he hadn't even known existed before very recently still stirred inside him but he refused to give them any more thought. He put it down to the past. How this had been everything and more than what he'd wished for just over a year ago.

"Right, well, thanks Lil." The door was open, the cool air from the corridor acting like a wave, pulling him away and leaving everything else behind.

"You're welcome James."

As he closed the door behind him, the sounds reverberated down the long corridor. It was the sound of finality. The sound of ending, of goodbye. James hated it.

Unable to dwell on it and loiter outside the room, James set off for the common room. He wondered what the strange emptiness inside meant. Maybe it was the thought of what could have been but never would be. Maybe it was letting go, finally detaching himself from the girl he'd wanted for so long and finally let go of. Maybe all the feelings he'd felt in their recent 'lessons' had simply been stirrings of his fifth year crush and nothing more.

But despite all the maybes, the inexpressible feeling still lurking inside him, this was the end. The end of trying to define what he felt, the end of trying to decipher if he ever had a chance, the end of hoping. The end of Lily.

Lily was the past. He was beginning to doubt whether Sophia would ever play a part in his future, or if he even wanted to but hanging on to the past was just to damn hard. All it left you with was emptiness, regret and confusion. Which was, incidentally all his crush had ever led him to. Disappointment.

Letting go is never easy, but maybe we all have to let go of who we were to become the people we will be.

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It's been a while since I've updated this but I'm not so keen on this chapter. I'm rather wondering if I've lost the tone to this story. I don't know, maybe the ending of this chapter is a bit sentimental and sappy but I just finished watching a really sad movie and I think some of those sad vibes seeped into my writing. Hmm. Please review anyhow!