"How am I supposed to let go?"
Lily and James were up in the Astronomy Tower. It was their last night at Hogwarts, as they were graduating the next day. They had been going out for seven months and had agreed it was best to break up. They thought it would be better for them to go out into the outside world with a clean slate, they could both grow and move on. They didn't want their relationship to fall apart in a few months and go through a painful break up, they wanted to end things well while they still liked each other.
"We should get back to the dorms, we have a big day tomorrow," said Lily quietly.
"We should," said James, but he made no effort to move. He was sitting looking out of the window at the stars with his arms around Lily.
"I did mean now," said Lily a few minutes later, after James still hadn't moved.
"How am I supposed to?"
"How are you supposed to what?" asked Lily confused.
"How am I supposed to let you go? Physically, I'm not even sure I can let you up," said James sadly, he wasn't looking at her but at the stars.
"I know… we still have tomorrow," said Lily, trying not to cry again.
"We're not going to have any time tomorrow, this will be the last time we are alone together."
"You don't know that… we're still friends, friends see each other… it's not like this is really goodbye. We'll still see each other," said Lily, sounding like she was trying to convince herself more than James.
"It just won't be the same," sighed James, stroking her hair. "It'll never be the same."
"Don't, you'll make me cry again," said Lily, her eyes filling up.
"I'm sorry," said James, wiping her tears with his thumb. "I didn't mean to. This is just so sad and I'm sorry."
"It is sad," said Lily, cuddling even more into James. "I'm just sorry it took me so long to say yes… we would have had longer together…"
"I was an arrogant prat, if you hadn't turned me down so often I would still be that idiot."
"You're still an idiot, but you're my idiot," said Lily, trying to lighten the mood but failing miserably. "You'll always be my idiot."
"Come on, we have to be up in a few hours for graduation," said James, loosening his grip on Lily. "We should get some sleep."
"Okay," said Lily, getting to her feet.
They walked back to the common holding hands, trying to be as near to each other as possible while they could.
"This is really it," said Lily tearfully as they stood at the bottom of the stairs that led to the dormitories.
"Don't cry again," said James, sadly wiping her tears. "Like you said we're still friends, we'll see each other again."
"It still won't be the same though… I know we agreed and everything but it's not easy," said Lily, stepping closer to James, so that she was almost standing under his chin.
"I know it's not easy, we knew it would hard… even harder than I thought it would be," said James, pulling his arms around her waist.
"You were my first… you'll always be my first… you know what they say, you'll never love anyone like you loved your first love," said Lily. "And I sure hope it's true."
"Me too," said James, resting his chin on the top of her head. "I don't think I could love anyone like I love you."
"Goodnight James," said Lily, pulling away. She knew if she didn't leave him now she wouldn't be able to do it.
Lily gave James a soft lingering kiss on the lips. It wasn't a grand passionate last kiss. It was sweet and full of sorrow. There was no future and no promises, just the end.
TWO MONTHS LATER
James was in the Leaky Cauldron with Sirius and Remus. He was standing at the bar waiting to be served and he let his mind wander back to Lily. He missed her so much, he thought about owling her at least once a day but he always chickened out. He couldn't help but think that letting Lily go was his biggest mistake, and that he would spend the rest of his life wondering what would have happened if he hadn't been so stupid. He slept with her photo under his pillow so that she would still be the first person he saw when he woke up, and while he knew it was pathetic and he couldn't go on like that forever, but he still couldn't bring himself to move that photo of her.
Normally he didn't allow himself to think about Lily until he was alone, but tonight wasn't a normal night. Over at his table two of Lily's best friends were talking and laughing with his best friends. They said they were expecting Lily to join them after her date. Her DATE!! Lily was dating, so to James this was definitely not a normal night. He would see Lily for the first time since graduation and get to hear her gush about her date, because that is what girls do. But at least he would see her… but he wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand he was dying to see her, to see that she was alright, he missed her so he really wanted to see her. But on the other hand, she would probably look amazing but… she wasn't his anymore he couldn't tell her how good she looked or hold her or kiss her or anything.
Twenty minutes later, Lily walked into the bar. James just held his breath when he saw her, she did look amazing. She was wearing a classic little black dress and heels. James had to close his eyes and count to ten to stop himself from getting up and punching the guys at the bar that started to whistle and shout at her as she came over to them.
"Are you alright James? You seem weird…" said Lily quietly. She had been there for an hour and James hadn't been able to look at her once. He had gone to the toilet and when he came out he found Lily waiting for him. "You said we could be friends."
"We can… we are," said James, looking at her left shoulder instead of at her. He couldn't bear to see that hurt look in her eyes, he couldn't look at her. If he looked at her it would all come rushing back and he couldn't handle that yet.
"You've barely said a word to me all night… you can't even look at me now."
"I'm sorry… it's just strange seeing you… you're dating and it's weird for me to hear about that. So we can be friends we really can… I just need a little time to get used to it."
"I'm not really dating," said Lily, knowing she really shouldn't be saying this to him, but he was just there and he looked so sad. "I went on one date and it was awful."
"Why?" asked James, surprised she would tell him that. They both took a step closer to each other so that they were so close their toes were almost touching. "Did he hurt you or…"
"No, nothing like that. I just… didn't really like him… I was bored mainly," confessed Lily. "I guess after dating James Potter I have impossibly high standards."
"No… if anything you lowered your standards to date me," said James, stroking her cheek tenderly.
"No… no I didn't," said Lily, leaning in and kissing him.
Before Lily knew what was happening they were back at James' flat, ripping each others clothes off. When they had finished Lily lay down next to him, knowing he would have a little nap like he always did, she rolled over and almost rested her head in the nook in his neck. She stopped herself just in time, she couldn't cuddle into him anymore, she wasn't allowed to sleep with her head in his nook. She shouldn't even stay. She got up, pulling the bed sheet with her. She couldn't see her dress in the bedroom, so she made her way to the living room to look for it.
James was falling asleep fast; in fact, he was barely conscious when he felt Lily suddenly pull away from him. He was only vaguely aware of her getting up, but he didn't really wake up until he heard his bedroom door slam shut. He suddenly bolted upright in bed, he didn't know what he was going to say or do, all he knew was that he couldn't let Lily go. He couldn't let her leave again. He pulled on a pair of boxers and ran into the next room.
"Lily…" he gasped. He wasn't too late; she was still in the flat, she had her dress back on and was looking for her left shoe.
"You're awake," she said, obviously surprised. James was always unconscious for a few minutes after sex, he liked to call it a power nap.
"Just about," said James, going over to her. "What are you doing?"
"I was just going to… um…" said Lily, looking round, just trying not to look at James. He was her weakness and he knew it, she couldn't look at him. Looking at him had been what started this.
"You were going to leave without saying a word," said James, moving his head, trying to get Lily to make eye contact with him, but she wouldn't.
"It would be less awkward."
"Awkward… this is me, we aren't awkward."
"I just… I just didn't want to stay only to wake up and find that it was a mistake. I don't…"
"It wasn't a mistake," interrupted James. "Not for me… I don't think it was mistake."
"I still love you Lily. I have missed you so much for the past two months… I miss you all the time. I never thought it would ever be this hard and painful not having you in my life…" said James, stroking her hair slowly, trying to put her at ease. She was biting her bottom lip, a sure sign that she was conflicted and troubled.
"You could have called or written… or something," she said quietly, looking up at him.
"I thought about it… I thought about it everyday, but you didn't get in touch either… I guess I didn't want to bother you," said James, trying to work out what she was thinking.
"I was waiting for you to get in touch… I was scared to do it in case you didn't want another ex girlfriend hassling you," said Lily, only then realising how silly it was.
"You could never hassle me."
"You could never bother me, I'll always be happy to hear from you," said Lily honestly.
"I don't want to go this long without talking to you again."
"So what do you want to do, Lily?" asked James, he was trying to be patient and not rush Lily but he couldn't let her leave without knowing.
"I don't know… we talked and agreed…"
"I know… but now our reasons for breaking up, they just… just don't seem good enough reasons to be in this much pain," said James, looking Lily straight in the eye. "It broke my heart to hear you were on a date with someone else."
"I'm sorry," Lily whispered, looking up at James and seeing the pain in his eyes. "I'm so sorry for hurting you."
"Just tell me what is going on in that pretty little head of yours," said James, stroking her cheek. He loved being close enough to touch her again.
"No," said Lily, shaking her head but not pulling out of James' reach. "I can't."
"You can… tell me you miss me," said James, seeing that she was in as much pain as he was.
"I do miss you," said Lily, weakening. "Of course I miss you… I miss you every day, every night… I miss you so much it has stopped hurting, I just feel numb. I miss you every night, I miss waking up with your arms round me. I miss your smell… I miss how you can make me laugh no matter how I feel at the time."
"Do you love me?"
"How can you ask me that?" said Lily, looking genuinely shocked. "Of course I love you… the only reason I'm so miserable is because I love you. I knew I didn't want to lose you… at the station before we went home, I knew it wasn't right…"
"What do you mean?" asked James, this was the first he had heard of this.
"I mean when we were standing on the platform, I changed my mind and I didn't want to let you go. But you told me we were doing the right thing… even though I knew we weren't. I knew I loved you too much to be okay after you walked away. But I thought that you wanted it, you didn't want me holding you back… and now you're saying things to me…"
"Why didn't you tell me you didn't want to?"
"Because I didn't need to hear that you didn't want me anymore!" sobbed Lily, tears streaming down her face.
"I did… I never wanted to let you go… up in the Astronomy Tower I didn't think I could even do it."
"But you did."
"I did," said James sadly, hanging his head.
"We need to stop hurting each other… maybe stay away from each other for a while…"
"No," said James powerfully. He grabbed Lily wrists and looked her right in the eye. "No, we shouldn't stay away from each other. That's what is making us miserable… what will make me happy is to see more of you… much more. Do you want to stay away from me?"
"Then let's start again, forget about the past few months. Let's be together again… give me the chance to show you that I never stopped wanting you. I love you and I'm miserable without you."
"But we talked…"
"I know we had reasons. But don't we at least owe it to ourselves to try?"
"I know you Lily. I know you love me, I know you are in just as much pain as I am you're just too scared to say anything," said James, curling his finger under chin and lifting her head. "Come on, let's give it a try. I promise I'll do everything I can to make it work, I love you too much to go through this again. I promise you'll wake up every morning with my arms around you whether you like it or not. We belong together, we aren't supposed to be apart."
"Okay," said Lily, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him hard. "But I better wake up with your arms round me every single morning"
"You will," said James, holding her close, cherishing her. "I'm not going to let you out of sight for any longer than necessary."
"I love you," she whispered to him. "Don't ever leave me again."
"I love you more," said James.