I'm not going to make the mistake of saying I'm back. I'm just--making a phone call? This is definitely not my best work, but it's the only thing I've written in ages. I wrote the first half months and months ago, and was finally driven to finish it. While it's not super, I'm hoping that maybe--just maybe?--this can be the starting block.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy. The first part was inspired by my angsty, I'm-graduating-high-school feelings. The second part? Sigh. Not so much.

--

--

A Twinkly Bright Future

Her heart was doing that pittery-pattery thing that hearts do when confronted with the things they fear. She felt like a humming bird, her heart beating as fast as her wings, hovering over something fragile, something that would break if she didn't approach it just the right way.

She sighed, a habit of late, doodling absently on a spare bit of parchment, and her eyes drifted (as they so often did) towards the bane of her existence, the object of her desire, the reason she was currently not sleeping peacefully like the rest of the students in Gryffindor tower...

Lily Evans sighed once more, and tore her eyes away from the box of chocolates sitting on her bureau. She couldn't, she wouldn't…and yet, she felt drawn to them. There they were, innocent little things, beckoning her, calling her, taunting her.

Lily wasn't even much of a chocolate fan, to be honest, nor was she the type of girl to eat for eating's sake. And yet, the candies had tormented her for a week.

She supposed it wasn't the actual chocolates themselves, really. The chocolates had a deeper meaning—these chocolates were tainted!

It was her seventh and final year at Hogwarts, and these chocolates were a present from her parents. They congratulated her on making it thus far, and wished her good luck in all of her future endeavors. They weren't plain old chocolates. These were you-are-soon-leaving-the-safety-security-and-comfort-of-your-childhood-years-and-will-inevitably-be-thrust-into-the-terrifying-adult-world-all-on-your-own-and-you're-still-not-even-sure-what-you-want-to-do-with-your-life chocolates.

Try saying that without vomiting and wishing for your teddy bear.

Lily's brow furrowed into now-familiar lines of stress, and she turned away from the horrifying chocolates of doom and towards the window. She looked out at the beautiful, well-managed, moonlit grounds of Hogwarts, and felt a tug at her heart. This was her home, this was her comfort zone, this was the place where she had truly discovered herself. This was the place that would unceremoniously toss her out on her rear in a matter of months.

She wasn't really certain where all these unsure, prickly thoughts had come from. Lily had talked a great game up until this point in time. Lily had been in the top of her classes since the beginning, she had been Prefect, she was Head Girl! A bright and promising future twinkled before her, welcoming her into its mature and comforting arms.

Or at least, it had twinkled; now it glared. What had once seemed like such a sure thing now wavered uncertainly, like a thin flame in a fire that could soon die out. She had been so confident, so assured of her success that she hadn't stopped to really ponder what she would be so successful at. Should she pursue a career in medicine, and intern at St. Mungo's? Should she explore a dangerous and exciting field, and study to be an Auror? Or maybe she should become a teacher, and help the promising minds of tomorrow?

Or maybe, she pondered miserably, she should purposely fail all of her classes and stay here indefinitely. Get expelled and become the helper of the gruesome-looking groundskeeper. Anything, anything at all that saved her from the unknown horrors of the future.

Lily shook her head at the self-pitying path her thoughts had taken, and in doing so caught another glimpse of the dreaded chocolates. She harrumphed softly and stalked over to the bureau, grabbing the colorful box with a little more force than was strictly necessary. Her thoughts were scary enough—she didn't need those cruel candies on top of everything else. Maybe she couldn't make the issue go away, but she could do something about those blasted little chocolates.

---

An hour later, Lily lay sprawled on her back near the fire in the common room, the box of chocolates resting neatly on the floor beside her. Her hands plucked plaintively at the well-worn carpet and she stared up at the ceiling. It was late and she had classes tomorrow, but she had come downstairs with the intention of burning her chocolates and she wouldn't rest until she had done so.

It was going to be a long night.

She sighed, and to her dismay, heard a familiar sigh answer her own. It was a sigh she had known and dreaded for many years, it was a sigh that plagued her almost as much as the chocolates beside her. She shot up from her horizontal position and stared uncertainly at the figure in front of her.

Without invitation or greeting, James Potter plopped down beside her and the chocolates and shot her a stare of his own.

"Can't sleep?" he asked lightly, and Lily noticed suddenly the way the fire reflected off his glasses. The discomfort the chocolates had been causing seemed to suddenly pale in comparison.

She shook her head. He nodded casually. "Me, neither. Been thinking about a lot of things lately, and it's keeping me up. You?"

Wordlessly, she pointed to the chocolates between them. "Chocolates of doom," she said quietly, the first words she had voluntarily said to him in months.

He nodded wisely, seemingly unperturbed by her doom-ridden chocolates. They sat there for a few minutes, awkwardly comfortable, if that was at all possible, and Lily took the chance to reflect on the situation at hand.

Here was James Potter, also top in all of their classes, also Head Boy, also possessor of a twinkly-bright future. Here was James Potter, wordlessly sympathizing with her sleepless anxiety, staring into the fire with as much uncertainty as she felt fluttering in her stomach. Here was James Potter, the cause of so much immature bickering and anger, the first boy—and admittedly, one of the very few—who had ever asked her out.

Was he feeling what she felt? Was insecurity niggling at his gut, too? Or was he merely concerned over the next Quidditch practice, the homework he had never done, the fact that he had accidentally forgotten to feed his owl for the third day in a row?

Before she could ask (not that she probably would've, anyway), James picked the chocolates up and examined them carefully. He rattled the box and sniffed carefully, he studied the box at all angles, he plucked one of the milk chocolate nightmares out and nibbled the edge. Then he nodded.

"I see what you mean," he said gravely. "These chocolates are full of doom."

She cracked a small smile. "Don't mock me, James," she said softly, realizing as the words left her mouth that it was the first time she had ever called him by his name.

"I wasn't, Lily," he said evenly, and she struggled to find significance in the way he said her name. When she came up short, she shrugged.

"I suppose the chocolates aren't actually doomed," she admitted in a rambling, embarrassed sort of way. "It's what the chocolates represent that really seems cursed to me."

"I hate chocolates with a deeper meaning," he dead-panned. At her wry look, he grinned and said, "Maybe I was mocking you a teensy bit that time."

She rolled her eyes and let it go.

"My parents sent me those chocolates," she told him, trying to explain for reasons she couldn't fathom. "'Congratulations,' the note said. 'You'll go far,' the note said." She shook her head and sighed mournfully. He blinked at her.

Hastily, she added, "It's not that I don't love them, it's not that I don't appreciate their support, it's not that I don't like chocolates. It's just—"

James shook his head to silence her, and pulled out sizable box of Every Flavor Beans out of his robe's large pocket. "Trust me," he said lightly. "I get what you mean."

They sat in silence for a moment. Lily was paralyzed by the companionable intimacy of the moment, the undeniable bond that had suddenly formed between them. Here they were, James Potter and Lily Evans, top in their classes, Head Boy and Girl, blessed with the love and high expectations of their friends and family. Here they were, James Potter and Lily Evans, terrified of tomorrow, kept awake by taunting candies.

It was enough to drive one mad.

"I didn't always feel this way," she said softly, staring at the beans in his hand. "My future was assured, I thought. I was out to prove myself—to my parents, my sister, my teachers, the other students. To me. I concentrated so hard on proving myself that I hadn't had time to realize till quite recently that I had no idea what I was trying to prove. I didn't notice that the promises I made were empty, that I really had no idea what I was doing."

"Oh, Lily," he sighed, shaking his head at her. "You're an idiot."

She was momentarily dumbfounded. Then,

"I know! Isn't that what I've been saying?" She was frantic now, her eyes wide and piercing, her breath coming quickly. "Everything I've been working for, all I've been doing for the last seven years has prepared me for—this! This moment, this year, being a student at Hogwarts! Not life after! I don't know about real life, being on my own, paying my own bills, making my own decisions. It's scary, and for the first time since I found out I was a witch I feel completely uncertain about the future."

"Lily," James said softly, a sincerity she never would have thought possible softening his voice, "you're only seventeen!"

"Eighteen, actually," she interjected with a rather imperious air.

He rolled his eyes. "So sorry. You're only eighteen. You're young and you've got your entire future ahead of you. Miles to go before you sleep, and all that."

She furrowed her brow in frustration. "Well what about you, Robert Frost? Nice reference by the way, love the poem."

James grinned. "Thanks, it's one of my favorites, my mum read it to me when I was younger."

Lily was so disconcerted at this autobiographical fact of her previously sworn enemy that it took her several seconds to regain her steam. "Er…what was I saying?"

Obviously amused, he said, "You were saying something like, 'What about you, Robert Frost?' I think a comeback was imminent."

She blushed. "Right. Well, it's true! What about you, Mister I-know-what-you're-saying-I've-got-doomed-magical-jellybeans-of-my-own?"

He wrinkled his forehead in mock confusion. "I thought my last name was Potter…" At her furious expression, he hastily added, "Well, I do have, er, what did you call them? Doomed magical jelly beans of my own."

Well, Lily had to admit, the statement sounded rather silly when it wasn't coming out of her mouth. She smiled rather sheepishly, and said, "Go on."

He shrugged. "I guess I do the same problem you have." At her obvious confusion, he rolled his eyes, "Oh, you know—loving and devoted parents who truly believe I can accomplish anything."

Lily blushed. She was starting to hear how utterly ridiculous she sounded.

"I sound utterly ridiculous, don't I?"

He smiled softly, looking down at her. The firelight made his entire face glow, and something inside Lily's stomach twisted into a rather pleasant knot.

"A little," he admitted. She ducked her head, and was surprised a moment later when a large, warm hand suddenly gripped her own.

"It's okay not to know everything, Lily," he whispered. "And it's okay to ask for help."

She vaguely registered the fact that her heart had started to do cartwheels. Wordlessly, she handed him the box of chocolates. A moment later, she smelled burning chocolate.

It was an oddly pleasant smell. (Well, not really. But the warm, glowy fog that had obscured her brain was also dulling her sense of smell.)

A few more minutes passed in silence. After a moment she looked up at him again, only to find him staring at her.

"Want me to do yours?" she blurted out sudden. James coughed out a laugh, and she hastily added, "Your, er, jelly beans?"

He briefly scrutinized the box, and then decisively shook his head. "Knowing Sirius, they'd blow up."

Lily nodded.

Then what he said registered.

"Wait, what—Sirius? I—I thought those were doomed magical jelly beans!"

James grinned, an innocently naughty look on his face. "Oh, they are. I ate all Sirius's Chocolate Cauldrons, so he cursed my box of Every Flavor Beans."

She was positively spluttering now, quite sure she was reminiscent of a gold fish. "But—but I—"

James shrugged. "Well, I didn't lie. They were cursed, and the bit about my parents was true, too. I just—didn't really clarify." At her silence, he added, "It just seemed like you needed someone to talk to."

She gaped, torn between fury and something far less easy to identify. "I—I—oh! Good night, James!"

He looked momentarily crushed, and the unidentifiable feeling suddenly got a name. Lily grabbed his hand, gave it a good squeeze, and said, "Talk to you tomorrow then?"

And she positively bolted upstairs, only vaguely hearing his faint, "O—okay."

Twenty minutes later, under the covers, Lily groaned into her pillow.

Brilliant. Something new to plague her.

--

--

Reviews are always appreciated!

-SWW