Summary: Falling in love is giving someone the power to break your heart but trusting them not to. Lily's about to learn her lesson: in love, the reward is far greater than the risk.

Fair Game

Euphoric butterflies dance crazily in your stomach as the heat rises in your body until you feel positively giddy. Suddenly, like a strike of lightening, or maybe just a slap of reality, you realise the compromising situation you are in. James Potter. More importantly, James Potter's lips on yours. And just to top it all off, put the cherry on the cake, you're kissing back.

Squeals of delight and whooping cheers fill the room around you and a sinking feeling plummets down inside your chest cavity. What had seemed like a good idea at the time now feels equivalent to the burning pits of hell. The dread of pulling apart and facing the reality of your rash actions and lack of reasonable thought is building now.

Maybe you can just keep kissing him forever so you never have to explain your actions. The idea doesn't sound so bad. It's hardly a chore really and you wonder why you never kissed him before. Oh, right, because you're sworn enemies and kissing him should be the last thing on your mind. Ever. Yet recently the what-should-be-gag-inducing thought was growing ever more enticing.

It's him who breaks the kiss first and you don't know whether to be insulted or relieved. You see the Cheshire cat grin covering his handsome face and the exhilarated sparkle in his dark eyes and you feel nothing but regret. He thinks this is the moment when you will agree to go out with him.

"Well, erm, thanks Potter. I think I need to use the bathroom now." The disappointed flicker in his gaze doesn't surpass your own but you pretend not to notice and hurry as fast as humanly possible up the staircase to the bathroom.

You lean your head against the cool tiles of the wall and wait for your heartbeat to return to normal. What have you done?

Tears prick your eyes and the overwhelming reality bowls you over hard. You don't like him. You know you don't. You won't deny he's hot. And that the thought of him pressing you up against a wall and kissing you until you can no longer see straight has most definitely appeared in more than one of your daydreams. But you still don't like him. He's obnoxious and silly. And now he thinks you've fallen for his charms.

You're cruel. You know you're cruel. Just the way you kissed him and now wish with all your might to turn back the clock proves that. He's going to ask why you're now avoiding him, why you still won't go out with him, why you refuse to meet his stare. You can't tell him you don't like him. It'll break his poor, pathetic little heart that you don't deserve the love of anyhow.

Slowly, with your heart heavier than your feet you descend the stairs to meet the crowded common room. Quidditch win or not, you think all parties should be banned. They're stupid. The atmosphere gets to your head, the butterbeer makes funny thoughts swirl in your mind and suddenly things you would never do under any normal circumstances seem like great ideas. Like kissing James Potter.

"Lily?" He's standing at your elbow, trying to look cool and charming but his uncertainty is written on every inch of his face.

I'm sorry James. I never should have kissed you. I don't like you like that and I never will. Let's just forget it ever happened and try to be friends.

No, you can't say that to him. You can't be that cruel, that heartless.

Feeling suddenly daring, you seize a shot of firewhisky and throw it down your throat, feeling the satisfaction is it burns on it's way down. Your head is spinning, but pleasantly so and kissing James Potter is beginning to feel less than the horrific incident you were thinking previously.

He hasn't left your side and he's watching you curiously now. You glance around quickly. People dancing, laughing, drinking, eating, having fun. Why are you sulking about something you can't change? You should be having fun too.

Grabbing James' hand in a reflex action you drag him towards the crowd dancing in the middle of the room.

"I forgot to tell you something." You lean up close and whisper flirtatiously in his ear. You can sense his shiver and the power you hold over him astounds you, and scares you just a little too. "Congratulations."

You just catch a glance of his smile, not a grin, but a smile, before your lips are on his and you no longer care about anything else. Tomorrow seems so far away that it doesn't deserve your energy now when it is much better spent enjoying the hot sensations that are kissing James Potter.

---

You don't know what to call you anymore. You and him. You're not friends, you never have been. You're certainly not enemies anymore. Everyone knows you don't kiss enemies like that. You're far from dating, in your books anyway. He can call it what he wants but you are simply there. There isn't really a name for what you are.

Alice tells you that he talks about you all the time but he hasn't asked you out in weeks. Not since that night. You haven't really spoken either but that hasn't seemed to dampen his spirits. He's besotted in a way you never thought you'd see.

There's another quidditch match in two days. Gryffindor against Hufflepuff. No one has any doubt that James has put forward the strongest team in years. Hufflepuff don't stand a chance. The Marauders will never pass up the opportunity for a party. You tell yourself you shouldn't go; you know how the party atmosphere affects you but a thrill of anticipation fills you anyway. You know what will happen. You will never admit it though.

"Three guesses to who you're thinking about." Alice says knowingly, but a smile doesn't cross her face. That's the thing with best friends. Sometimes they know you better than you know yourself.

"I'm not." You argue but you know it's pointless. She sees right through you.

"So, what's the deal with you two anyway? Are you dating or what?"

A surge of guilt washes over you. Alice is your best friend in the whole world. You used to tell each other everything. Now you're secretive, distant and it's all because of him. You can't explain it. Not to yourself, not to her.

"No. We're just… us. We're nothing."

Alice nods. She knows what you're trying to say even if it doesn't really make sense. She wishes you'd talk to her like you used to, when you'd stay up all night giggling about your latest crushes and who you'd just been asked to Hogsmeade by.

"Just be careful Lily. You're playing a dangerous game here." She offers you a small smile of comfort and you appreciate it but your throat constricts and you can't talk.

Sometimes you wish you could take on somebody else's life just for a day. Yours seems to be so confusing lately. Everything is a random mess of emotions that you can't sort out like you used to. You wish you'd never kissed James Potter. Despite what you told yourself, it changed everything.

---

That's it. From now on you may never be in a room with James Potter ever again. You must especially never be in a room with James Potter alone. You can't control yourself. It's as if some pressure is forcing you to leap into his arms and kiss him and who are you to resist? You're weak. You wish you could be stronger but somewhere in the back of your mind you know you're resisting too.

He's getting restless now. Why are you happy to kiss him, but you won't go out with him? How can you be so close one moment and so distant the next? Why must you put him through this torture?

You don't mean to be teasing him, playing games with his heart but you are anyway. But you're playing with your own heart too. You don't know what you feel for him anymore. You used to hate him. Everyone knew that. Then you started to fancy him but it was little more than a superficial crush. Now you don't know what to think. You're certainly attracted to him in some way or you wouldn't keep coming back to him. But you know you just aren't right for each other. That's why you won't give him a chance. It'll all just end in disaster. You don't know if you're trying to save his heartbreak or your own.

Sometimes you wonder if you just like the attention. It sounds awful and you hate to think it but maybe it's true. You don't like him. You'll admit he's a great kisser but his arrogance and stupidity annoys you. You've never had a boy look at you the way he does, want you the way he does. It makes you feel beautiful and special and you love that feeling. But that's not really fair on him is it? That you use him for the attention and the hot kisses. That you feel nothing else but physical attraction and flattery when it's so much more for him.

He wants to be able to hate you for the way you treat him, the way you make him feel but he's far too in love with you for that. He told you. The other day when he cornered you in an empty classroom after transfiguration and you wound up kissing on the desk. You're not sure he wanted you to hear and you pretended not to anyway. You're still not sure if it was for your sake or for his.

"What are you doing messing around with James?" Sirius asks you aggressively once James has disappeared from lunch. You're startled by his tone but don't look into it too closely. He's James' best friend.

"I don't know." You answer honestly. Are you messing around with him? Is that what it is? Kissing but not dating?

"Do you like him?" He asks bluntly.

"I don't know."

You wish you could say something else but you can't. These are the same questions you've been asking yourself for weeks but can't find the answers to.

"Well then what the hell are you doing with him?" He bursts out angrily. "Can't you see he's completely in love with you? He thinks he has a chance but I've been telling him all along that he's dreaming. So what is it Lily?"

You shrug, taken aback by his anger that guilt fills you. What are you doing?

"Bloody hell woman! Stop playing these games with him. If you like him, then just bloody get over your damn pride and admit it. And if you don't, then leave him the hell alone and stop messing him up, thinking he might stand a chance."

You know you deserve everything he said but it doesn't stop it from hurting. Tears well in your eyes and you scold yourself for being so pathetic. You've brought this upon yourself.

---

As you sit in your silent dormitory while everyone is at dinner, you stare out at the beautiful half moon. You're pretty sure you don't like him but are you certain? You know that if you can't be sure you should just leave him be, stop hurting him, and stringing him along like a puppet. But you can't. It's selfish and you hate yourself for doing it but on some strange level you don't want to stop whatever it is you're doing with him.

You're too addicted. You want him but you still don't want to date him. But that's not really fair. It isn't all about you. As much as you hate it, it's about him too.

Why did you kiss him in the first place? Curiosity maybe. Certainly not longing. But that was once and it's been going on since then. Why do you keep going back when you know you can't, or maybe it's won't, give him what he wants? Your heart.

Fear. That's what's eating you up. The fear of not being in control, of falling in love, of giving someone else the power over your heart. Fear in knowing that you're too different to ever have a relationship. Fear in falling for someone so wrong for you yet so right all at once.

But you're a Gryffindor. Doesn't that require bravery? You weren't sorted into that house for nothing.

Uncertainty. He's always been besotted with you but he's never really known you. You've never let him get close, pushed him away before he could. What if you do and he's disappointed? What if you realises you're really not as extraordinary as he always thought? You don't think you could face that.

Most of all you wonder if just the uncertainty of your own feelings. How can you be sure? You think you're falling for him, despite your better judgement, but you're not certain. Maybe you're falling for the idea of him, the idea of love but not really him.

"Lily?"

It's Alice again. You know she disapproves of how you're treating James. Hell, you disapprove of how you're treating James. But she's worried about you too. You used to laugh. You used to enjoy life. Now you're quiet, pensive. You talk less.

You don't move as she sits down beside you. You've been avoiding her, thought you won't admit that either. She knows you so well that you fear her honesty, you fear the truth.

"Things don't go away if you just ignore them."

Damn. Why does she have to be so wise?

"Why? Can't I just hide myself in my bed until it all just goes away?" You're only joking and offer a small smile that doesn't reach your eyes.

"Just remember something Lils. Maybe it's true that if you don't fall in love then you can't get hurt but it sure is lonely all by yourself. It doesn't always seem like it but maybe, just maybe, the reward is greater than the risk. But only you can decide if that's the case Lily."

She's gone again and you feel even worse than you did before. You hate decisions. You're a procrastinator, you always have been. You wish that someone could just make the decision for you and be done with it but only you can make it. And then you have to live with it.

---

You thought leaving him alone, ignoring him would be easier. You thought that letting him go would make things better. You drew up the pro and con list, you made your decision and you were living with it. But what if it was the wrong decision?

Would he ever take you back? Would he be able to love you again? You want to cry for losing your chance but you're still not sure if you want it anyway even if you can have it back.

You've spent your whole year procrastinating that it's nearly over. You thought it would be a magnificent year, full of memories to keep. Instead it was a disaster. And you have no one to blame but yourself. That was the worst thing. You can't even feel sorry for yourself without feeling guilty because it's all self-inflicted.

The scarlet steam train pulls into the station and tears well up in your eyes. As you step onto the platform you catch a glimpse of his messy head but it's gone in an instant, swallowed up by the crowd. You find your luggage and walk towards the barrier separating your world from your parents.

In one heart stopping moment you halt. A horror, a terror freezes your insides so you can't breathe and before you know it, you're running, tearing through the platform in a desperate rush. Tears are falling down your face thick and fast and sobs are choking in your throat.

People are staring at you in shock but you don't care. You're sick of pride anyway. Your eyes search frantically for him but he's gone. You're too late. A shuddering sob tears through your body and everything seems to crash around you.

"Lily?"

Your eyes snap open in surprise and you stare unseeingly into his face. The face you thought you've never see again. The face that could still look at you with love and kindness after everything you've put him through.

"James I love you." You blurt out, without thinking of the consequences of your words. It was supposed to be romantic, a beautiful moment. Instead, his face seems to freeze and he looks as if you've slapped him.

"I'm sorry?"

This time you mumble it to your feet, feeling your face turn hot as you speak. You wait for his reaction, any reaction but it doesn't come.

"You think that just makes everything better now does it?" His voice is angry and it startles you into looking up at his face. It's hard, not a trace of his usual smile in place.

"You think that you can treat me like shit, toy with my feelings, string me along and then cut me off suddenly and that all just hasn't happened because you tell me you love me?"

You nod. That is what you thought. You thought he'd come running back to you. You're selfish and cruel and you deserve everything his harsh tongue lashes out at you.

"I'm sorry." You look sadly into his face, the face you will never see again. "Goodbye James."

Your shoulders slump and it seems to take every ounce of your strength to propel you away from him. The sobs are rising, ready to take over in a moment of weakness, when you can break down completely.

This is why you never wanted to fall in love. This is why you fought so hard against it but in the end you only fell harder. That's the way these things work isn't it? Completely without your consent. This awful pain that is cutting your heart in two and blinding you with sorrow is what you wanted to protect yourself from but you failed at that too.

"You think you can just leave? Just like that?" You didn't notice him behind you but there's no doubt it's his voice.

"Why not?"

You're sick of this. You're sick of him and you're sick of stupid love.

"Well that's just it isn't it?" His voice, some emotion you can't name evident in his tone, draws your eyes to his. "You're just damn lucky that I'm so hopelessly in love with you too aren't you?"

You don't remember dropping your luggage, or flinging your arms so tightly around his neck that you're surprised he can breathe. But you know you must have because you certainly remember kissing him like you'd never kissed before. You remember your heart thumping like a rhinoceros running, your head swimming with happiness and you couldn't possibly forget the smile that lit your face like a light house beacon.

As you pull apart, you're both breathless and James holds you tightly to his chest as if afraid that you'll run away. You have no intention of running this time, except back into his arms.

That's the thing with love. The more you try to stop yourself from falling the harder you fall. And in the end there's no doubt: in love, the reward is always far greater than the risk. Even if it does take you a while to get there.

---

I apologise. This is not the best written story I've ever written. In fact, far from it. This is just a random little idea that came to me and I wanted to write it. Actually, it's sort of similar to a situation my friend is going through and it gave me this little plot. So, yeah, here it is. I wrote it quickly and all in one shot which for me is pretty big because I've never done that with a story before. I always write a bit here and there and then post it weeks after I started writing it. But I just thought I'd post this one now and apologise profusely for any mistakes because I didn't go through to edit it.

Please review, they're my friends! And we wouldn't like me to be friendless now would we? xx