Disclaimer: I only own the plot. Not my fault.
Warning: This is a bit cheesy, but you'll get over it.
"Potter! Why won't you leave me alone?!" shouted Lily Evans, screaming at the top of her lungs in the middle of the Great Hall during dinner for the fourth time that week.
"Why should I, Evans?" he asked with his Potter smirk.
"Ugh, you prat! I hate you!"
"You couldn't hate me, Evans."
"Don't I already?"
She wrinkled her nose. "You disgust me. Of all people, why did you have to choose me to pester?"
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret," said James, sitting down beside Sirius, but facing the outside of the table, looking at her still.
"I don't give a damn about secrets."
"Now, now. No foul language in front of the first years."
"Since when did you have morals?" she snapped.
"I've always had morals, Evans. You just never cared to see." For once his voice was cold.
"I can't see what doesn't exist."
"Yes, you can. It's called hallucinations. But, nevertheless, I do have morals."
"A guy who tortures those weaker than him doesn't have morals."
"I've never done such a thing."
"Snape is a lot stronger than he appears."
"But you take advantage of him when he's in a weak position."
"Watch out. I don't think he likes being called weak," he said sincere concern.
"Oh, you don't give a damn about morals, you don't give a damn about Snape being weaker than you, and you don't give a damn about me, Potter."
"And you don't know me as well as you think you do." James then stood up, looked her straight in the eyes, and said, "Fine. You win. I won't bother you anymore." His eyes icy, he stormed out of the Great Hall.
Lily, still shocked, sat down next to her friend Marlene McKinnon. "Do you think I was too harsh?" she asked quietly, as the room was still nearly silent. She glanced at the remaining Marauders as she awaited a response: they were all glaring at her; Remus's glare was softer, and he quickly looked away, a disappointed look on his face. She turned back to Marlene.
"I think so—a little," her friend replied in an equally hushed voice. "But, hey, he'll leave you alone. That's what you wanted, isn't it?"
Lily nodded, now beginning to smile.
The first couple weeks were heaven, except the mail she received from girls that claimed they were in love with James and that she broke his heart. Generally, she ignored them and had a wonderful time. James hadn't said a word to her since the episode in the Great Hall, for which she was very thankful.
However, when they were assigned as Transfiguration partners, Lily nearly blanched. She looked at James, who stared right back at her, his eyes revealing no emotion whatsoever. She moved to meet him by his seat, as he made no move to get up.
"Hello," she said almost nervously.
He just nodded.
"Well, we need to study Animagi and write a 6-foot paper on them. Would you rather take notes or write the paper?" she asked, genuinely wanting his input.
He merely shrugged, not emitting a sound.
She sighed in slight frustration. "Say something!"
"Something," he mocked coldly.
"Why are you being such a prat?" she snapped.
"So I'm a prat now, and I'm a prat when I bug you all the time. When am I not a prat, Evans?"
"Apparently never." Lily then gathered up her book bag and walked out of the classroom, her head up high.
"Please, Marlene," begged Lily, stopping her friend just outside the Great Hall. "You have to help me."
"A few weeks ago, you were asking me to help you murder him. Now you want him to help you?"
Lily stuck up her nose. "I don't want nor need his help," she said. "I just don't want to get in trouble for doing the entire project by myself."
"Don't be such a wuss. Just go out there and talk to him."
"I'm not a wuss! I'm in Gryffindor for goodness sake!"
"That's my girl. Now go on out there."
With smug determination, Lily waltzed into the Great Hall and over to the Gryffindor table, right to where the Marauders sat. "Potter, when are we working on our Transfiguration project?"
The four boys immediately stopped talking and looked at her. "What was that, Evans?" asked James. At the look she gave him, he said, "I'm sorry, but my world doesn't revolve around you."
"Our Transfiguration, Potter. When and where?"
"Fine. Tomorrow after Advanced Potions."
"How long will this stupid thing last?"
"Until I say otherwise," she replied pointedly, before walking away.
After five minutes of waiting, James finally trudged into the common room. "There you are," said Lily as he sat down beside her.
"Oh, pardon me for not being punctual," he replied, rolling his eyes.
"Well, let's go to the library," she said, gathering up her papers.
They walked to the library in silence. Several times, Lily glanced to James but he paid her no mind, continuing, face forward, without a word. "Listen, Potter," she began.
He gave no sign that he had even heard her.
"Alright, don't. But whether you're listening or not, I'm still talking." Inhale and continue, she instructed herself. "Okay, I don't want to hate you. But I don't want to love you either. Why can't we just be friends?"
"I can't," he responded.
"Can't or won't?"
"You wouldn't understand."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You just wouldn't understand."
"How do you figure that one out?"
"I doubt very much that you've ever been in love."
"What's that got to do with it all?"
"And I'm supposed to be the dense one here." He shook his head in slight frustration.
In the library, they chose a table in the back and set about searching for books on how to become an Animagus. Not too long later, they were sitting and reading through texts.
At half past ten, the librarian shooed them out upon discovery. The return was silent, and the halls felt so empty. At the portrait hole, they were scolded by the Fat Lady until Lily said the password and they entered.
"Hey, Evans," said James as they made their ways to their respective staircases.
"Do you prefer me ignoring you to annoying you?"
"I'm not completely sure. I don't really like either."
He nodded before disappearing into his dorm.
Lily stood still a moment before retreating to the comfort of her bed.
Lily woke up around five o'clock in the morning. She couldn't sleep. His question still hung in her mind. She couldn't get him out of her head. "Damn," she muttered, sitting. With a deep breath, she pushed back the covers and got up, making her way over to Marlene's bed.
After shaking her friend awake, she sat on the edge of the bed. "Please don't be angry, Marlene," she said, "but I need to talk to you."
Marlene wiped the sleep from her eyes and said, "What is it?"
"I can't sleep."
"That's why you woke me too?" whined her friend.
Lily didn't respond.
"Fine. Why can't you sleep?"
Hesitantly, she said, "I can't get James Potter out of my head." She groaned, lying back across the bed.
"Is he ever out of your head? You're either complaining about him or…. Wait, that's all you do."
"It's weird. I don't like him ignoring me."
"You were happy and chipper a week ago. What happened?"
"I've spoken to him since then, and he's not being a git. He's actually rather nice. Well, he was being a total prat at first. But…."
"I think he told me he loves me."
Marlene was wide awake. "You think?! Don't you know?"
"But at the same time I think he's punishing me for being mean to him all the time."
"If he loves you, why would he push you?"
"Sometimes you have to hurt the ones you love."
"Lily, you're really starting to scare me."
"Thanks, Marlene," she said, jumping up and rushing from the dorm.
A couple minutes later, she reached the seventh year boys' dormitory. Knocking on the door, she heard no reply. Quietly, she opened the door barely and glanced in. Finding the coast clear, she entered and located James's bed. She pulled open the hangings and saw his sleeping form.
He's actually quite cute, she thought.
He moaned when she lightly shook him, and his eyes slowly opened. "Evans?" he asked in surprise.
"Hi," she said quietly.
"What's wrong? You looked scared."
"Fine has a different definition than I previously thought," he said.
She hadn't realized how nervous she actually was. "Did you mean before that you love me?" she asked in a small voice.
"Yes. I wouldn't lie about something like that."
"Oh," she said, her voice growing more high-pitched. She sat down on the floor leaning against his bed, her breathing somewhat shallow.
James quickly scrambled out of bed and knelt down before her. "What's wrong?" he asked, his voice full of concern and worry.
It was then that she noticed, as he placed a hand on her shoulder, that he wasn't wearing a shirt. "Oh, please go away," she squeaked, averting her eyes.
But he held her firmly by the chin and turned her head so he could look into her eyes. "Oh, come on. It's not like I'm that ugly."
After a quick glance, Lily shut her eyes tightly. "No," she said. "Stay out of my head, Potter." Flashes of his bare chest came into her mind. "Please."
"I'm sorry," he said quietly, letting her go and standing up. She heard him walk away.
Opening her eyes in surprise, she said, "Where're you going?"
"You obviously don't want me here." He entered the bathroom but neglected to shut the door.
"Wait, come back. No! Stay there."
"With you talking like that, I don't know what I'm to do."
She stood up and approached the open door. "Listen," said Lily. "I don't know what I want. All I know is that I hate it when you pester me, and I hate it when you never talk to me."
"You don't get it, do you?" he said. "If I can't be with you, I don't want to be able to see you at all."
"That's the most romantic way to say goodbye."
"I only say goodbye if you do."
"Don't put this pressure on me."
"You'll have to make the decision sooner or later. How is now any different?"
"I don't want to say goodbye now. I've only just really met you."
"Why does it have to be goodbye anyway?"
"I don't think I could handle anything more than friendship."
"Well, I love you, whether you can handle it or not."
"Damn you, James Potter! Why did you have to go and say that?"
"What's all the damn noise?" yelled Sirius from his bed.
"Sorry," called James soothingly.
With a sign, Lily crawled into his bed and pulled up the blankets.
"What are you doing in there?" asked James.
Before she could respond, Sirius pulled open his hangings. "Prongs, you never bring girls in here—oh, hello, Evans." He winked at her and said, "You two take your sweet time," as he pulled at the curtains and went back to bed.
Lily flushed slightly at his insinuation. Recovering, she scooted over. "Sit down," she said to James, patting the place beside her.
He obliged. "What's all this?"
"Alright, here's the thing. I don't know if I love you, but I do know that I've needed to do this for a long time." She leaned over and kissed him lightly on the lips, but pulled away before he could move.
Still surprised, James relied on his instincts to pull her into an embrace, just happy breathing in the scent of her hair and feeling the warmth of their bodies beside each other.
Lily sighed in contentment and leaned against him.
Even without realizing it, she had always relied on him to be there. He was always concerned, and he was always there, even if she had found it annoying. It was just wrong without him in her world.
"This is perfect," she sighed.
"I love you too."
"I never said that."
"You don't have to. I can feel it."