A/N: All right...now, to me, this is a very, very, very stupid idea, if you stop to think about it – it's dramatic/cheesy beyond belief. I think it could even be AU. I don't know what possessed me to write it, but the scene kind of hit me yesterday evening, while I was listening to Vanessa Carlton and flipping the laundry from the washer to the dryer. It was like, bam, even though I really don't know what's so romantic about laundry, lol. So I wrote it that evening & edited it at my obscenely early hour of 4:30 AM – I don't sleep anymore, lol.
And thanks a bazillion to Rissa (hpobsessedrissa) for beta-ing this for me, and for helping me (okay, giving me) the title, since I couldn't think of it myself. You're brilliant, luv; I've told you before, but I'm reminding you again, lol.
Enjoy the fic, and remember to review!!
It was the very last day of school that day, and as was inevitable, the seventh year students were in utter chaos, surpassing any other year in the castle – cramming things into boxes, saying good-byes, sobbing uncontrollably. Every one of them was going to miss Hogwarts crazily, and there was no point in denying it.
She was among them, wiping her tears as she packed up the bomb-blast sight that was her Heads dormitory hastily into her trunk. She didn't know where her fellow Head Boy/friend-teetering-on-boyfriend was, which was one of the reasons for her distracted packing, but that wasn't the only thing that was driving her nerves wild.
The real rationale was the medium-sized envelope with her name written in careful cursive across the front, sitting on her bedside table. She'd found it there in the morning, when she awoke, and instantly, she could tell from the handwriting that it was from James – who was gone.
Clearly, it was something important, but she couldn't bring herself to read it yet. Too much was going to change today; she wanted to wait until she was mostly ready to go before she opened it.
So that was what she was doing – getting her things together as quickly as she could so that she could read the letter in peace, without the weight of this job sitting on her head. All her clothes, all her books, all her toiletries, all her papers; each of them found a place, though some were more comfortable than others, in her trunk when she finally closed it and stood it up by the door. She glanced at the clock above her – it told her that the time was nine thirty. She still had enough time, then. Was that a good or a bad thing?
She had probably bit her lips to oblivion by now, but that didn't stop her from doing it again with a sigh as she approached the letter sitting innocently on her night-stand – waiting for her, promising her a little bit of the boy she knew she was going to miss insanely.
She could barely breathe as she sat on her bed and opened it, a handkerchief next to her just in case; and with fresh sobs mostly unrelated to the castle she was going to leave in a few hours, she began to read the most passionate words she'd ever read in her life.
For the fourth time now, she read the letter on her bed, her entire face a blotchy pink and her eyes slightly swollen.
It had taken her four times to be able to look at this piece of parchment, and not want to explode into tears. It wasn't really the words that did it for her, although they certainly didn't hinder the process; if she was honest, it was all in the little things about the letter that set her off, the things he didn't do advertently. Like his handwriting, and how pain-stakingly neat it was for someone who usually wrote in chicken-scratch; like all the lines he kept crossing out when it got to the more important paragraphs; like the way he so affectionately made the loops for the cursive L he used in her name.
Her lips noiselessly formed the words of the second to last paragraph of the letter – the most painful lines: "I've tried my best to leave anvil-sized hints, drop clues, make a little line of breadcrumbs back to me in the hope that you might follow them, but for some reason, you always strayed off the path, always found a way to get rid of me. It killed me, and I'm not afraid to admit it, but I'm still willing to forget it if you are."
Willing to forget it if you are...
Then she read the very last paragraph/line again, the one right before his signature: "Meet me in the courtyard at around ten in the morning, yeah? I want to say good-bye properly, if that's all right with you."
She blew her nose on her drenched handkerchief again, and checked the clock once more. It told her the time was a couple of minutes to ten – she could still make it to the courtyard if she ran.
She tried her best to pull herself together as she gathered the letter up tenderly, tucking it away in her pocket to look at for maybe a fifth time on a later date. Abandoning her luggage in her room, she began to sprint out of her dormitory and dashed through the corridors towards the courtyard. She felt like one of the heroines from one of her favorite romances, and the feeling was more surreal than she could have ever imagined.
When she reached the courtyard – a quaint, grassy little square of land with a fountain, located near the center of Hogwarts – she was surprised to see so many people lined around it, seemingly waiting for something.
She was even more surprised when they smiled to see her. It appeared she had an audience. Had he told them, or did the rumor spread? How long had he been planning this?
Here, when her head was spinning and tears were running, she couldn't even attempt to guess. All she could do was search the premise for him – restless, frantic. She couldn't be too late; he'd waited for her for years, what difference did a few minutes make?
But then, she suddenly saw him – standing there at the end of the courtyard.
Solidly, dependably, calmly there.
"I've always been here; always. All you had to do was look for me."
One hand was in his hair, the other in his pocket. His shadow-tinted hazel eyes – a stunning mix of auriferous, moss, and mahogany – were crystal-clear, penetrating her deeply with only a casual glance.
His hair, of course, was its usual, woeful mess, but she wouldn't have it any other way and knew it.
He triggered off something so profound in her in that one moment – something incredibly lustful, pure, and desperate – that she couldn't bear him just standing there in his would-be-laid-back stance, waiting for her.
He had, as the clichés put it, truly killed her with his kindness, and now she was ready to fall into the precious abyss of his arms.
It was surrender of the sweetest type.
She ran to him, nearly flew to him, racing towards him as fast as her legs could physically carry her.
Her white-hot lust for him showed all the way through her, as though she was transparent, and he could see it for everything it was. A corner of his rosy mouth turned slightly upwards to create a shy half-smile, and his hands came out of their respective locations to invite her in, to let her know she was going to sink into a safe place.
With an air of heavenly submission, she rammed right into him, without caring that he stumbled very slightly under her weight, and she threw her arms tightly about his neck, tears of enormous emotional magnitude lining her porcelain-coloured eyelids.
Shameless in front of him for the first time, she was quick to jump up and wrap her long, thin legs around his waist to tumultuous applause and several 'awww's.' But, she ignored them, and only held onto him more forcefully; he, in turn, supported her from under her thighs, and let his chin rest on her shoulder, breathing in the ambrosial perfume lingering in her neck.
She squeezed her eyes shut and he did as well, as they just stood there and hugged the other as hard as they could. He smelled like fresh grass after a rain, mixed with something sharply fragrant but uniquely his, and his breathing was warm in her ear.
The haven she found in him was almost ethereal in its bliss, but just to make sure she'd found an oasis rather than another mirage, she said, "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," he responded at once. His tone was almost bemused, but she could hear the genuineness behind it – it was undeniable.
He rocked her there, in front of everyone in the courtyard, for a couple more minutes before he finally said her name with a little bit of hesitation; "Lily?"
"Mmm?" She loosened her arm's grip on him and looked him in the face this time.
She waited for him to say something. But he didn't.
Instead, he did what he'd always wanted to do – he didn't wait for her to protest, or comply, or give her opinion at all. He didn't think, he didn't ask, he barely even breathed – he just kissed her.
His lips were so warm, and too soft for her to find any resistance in him or in herself. Had this mouth, that had been responsible for teasing her and bothering her and other people for so many years, always been this soft? She didn't know, she didn't care; she only let him kiss her, here in this strange, fleeting place of warmth in the middle of yet away from the rest of the world, and applied her own pressure back at him.
Her blood rushed, surged to levels beyond what was appropriately healthy, and she was sure she was getting to be too heavy for him, but she didn't particularly care. Neither did he.
All that mattered was the fact that he was kissing her, she was kissing him, people around them were cheering and saying things like, "Finally," or "How adorable," and they were at peace.
Leaving Hogwarts was still going to be painful, and she knew it, but at least she wouldn't have him on her conscience when she left.
She would know she'd finally taken her leap and fallen where she knew he would willingly catch her.
She trusted him.
She even loved him, after all the time she'd spent with him and all the things they'd been through together.
She was all he needed, he was all she needed.
And for the first time in her life, that was enough for her.