when i think of you, i don't feel so alone
(four boys lily evans kissed, and one she didn't.)

by Crystallic Rain

Notes: Yes, the title is from Owl City's "Vanilla Twilight". And if you've never listened to Owl City.. go do it. =D

This piece goes along with the "canon" I'm creating in my novel-length piece. Which, by the way, is still in the works. I just feel horrible for having disappeared forever, and since I had all these in my notes, I figured I'd turn it into a story for you all.

Enjoy!


v.

"The other day her boyfriend from university was over, and I saw them," she says, pulling a face. "Kissing."

"Eugh," Sev responds, cringing, dropping the grass he'd pulled out of the ground.

"Kissing isn't that gross!" Lily giggles, smiling broadly at her friend. They are sitting by the river again, just as they had in summers past. She briefly wonders how long it has been; they are fourteen now, preparing for their Fourth Year in just a few days. It seems like just yesterday they met.

"No," Sev agrees, "but snogging your sister?"

Lily playfully smacks him on his arm, and he smiles warmly at her.

"What do you think it's like?" she asks suddenly, and he tilts his head to look at her questioningly. "Kissing, I mean."

He shrugs, a slight pink tinge appearing on his cheeks. "I dunno," he says, picking at the grass again. "I've never kissed anyone."

"We could try it," she says innocently, and Sev drops the grass, staring at her nervously. "I mean, I got to thinking when I saw Tuney and Vernon, and well.. when we start dating people, and then we start kissing them... we wouldn't want to find out that we're rotten at it, would we? Imagine how embarrassing it would be if we have no idea what we're doing!"

Severus stares blankly at her, his voice seemingly stuck. "I, er... I mean..."

"We don't have to if you don't want," Lily says quickly, her cheeks turning as pink as Sev's. She knew it was a stupid suggestion. They were best friends, he wouldn't want to kiss her, no matter the reason.

"No!" he says quickly. "I mean, I want to."

She smiles warmly at him, and immediately begins to lean in toward him.

"Now?" he asks her, and she pauses. She watches him quickly prepare, hearing his breath quicken, seeing him quickly run his tongue along his lips to moisten them.

She nods. "Why not?" she asks.

She can think of a million reasons why not, in fact, and she is sure he can as well, but she doesn't want to say anything, afraid that she'll change her mind, or else he will, if they hesitate.

"All right," he says in response, and for a second she swears she can hear his heart desperately beating in his chest.

"Ready?" she asks him, just above a whisper; he nods slowly.

The small amount of space between them quickly disappears as Lily closes her eyes and leans further in, pressing her warm, soft lips gently to his suddenly dry ones. They stay there for a moment before she pulls back, frowning slightly.

"Something wrong?" he asks, licking his lips, and she wonders if they taste like hers.

She looks at him thoughtfully. "Maybe we ought to give it another go," she says.

He nods eagerly, closing his own eyes as their lips meet again. She parts her mouth slightly, moving smoothly against the skin right above his lip. He quickly mirrors her actions, moving his own mouth against hers.

After what seems like ages, she pulls back. He excitedly opens his eyes, but again there is a strange look on his face.

"I'm horrible, aren't I?" he asks awkwardly, and she laughs, shaking her head.

"It's just.. weird," she says bluntly. "You're like my brother."

He is silent for a moment, and she is curious if she said the wrong thing—but no, this is Sev. "Yeah," he says at last. "I know what you mean."

iv.

"Library's closing."

Lily looks up and sees a small Hufflepuff girl smiling kindly at her, carrying an armful of books. She nods tiredly. "Thank you," she says to the girl who quickly runs off with her Ravenclaw friend.

Lily sighs, looking at the clock on the wall, hardly believing it's nearly midnight. She sluggishly picks up her books, sliding them into her bag; she can finish Slughorn's essay tomorrow night.

She glances around the room and sees a jumper and bag over at a table across the room, recognising it by its slightly tattered state. She smiles softly, abandoning her own bag at her table, venturing off into the shelves to find the only other remaining student at this late hour.

She spots him down an aisle on Animagi, which she finds curious, certain that they had no Transfiguration work, but perhaps he's doing some extra credit for McGonagall, so she writes it off.

"Happy birthday," she says, and he jumps slightly, whipping around to spot the redhead behind him.

"Merlin, Lily," he laughs. "You scared me."

Lily smiles gently at him. "I'm sorry," she says.

He shakes his head. "Is it already past midnight?" he asked her off-handedly.

"In fifteen minutes," she says.

"Well, then," he smiles, "it's not my birthday yet. How did you know anyway?"

Lily laughs. "I heard Black taking the mickey out of you and how you'd be turning sixteen without ever having been kissed."

He sighs. "Yes, well, he's never had much sense for knowing when to keep his mouth shut..." he mutters, blushing furiously.

"I think it's cute," Lily smiles. "You're just waiting for the right girl."

Remus sighs. "Yes, well, explain that to Sirius."

"Yes, because the boy who was caught snogging a Fifth Year when he was still only thirteen would obviously understand."

Remus laughs. "That's Sirius for you..." He pauses. "Honestly, it's all a bit embarrassing."

Lily tilts her head, looking at him curiously. "What is?"

"That I've never been kissed," Remus admits, blushing.

"How so?"

"Well, with friends like Sirius, who's kissed half the school, it makes you feel like nobody wants to kiss you," Remus says in a small voice.

Lily looks at him, feeling her cheeks redden suddenly, and her throat suddenly tighten. "I'll kiss you," she says before she can stop herself.

Remus's head snaps up, staring at her with amber eyes. "What?" he asks.

She desperately wants to tell him that the truth is she's fancied him for the better half of the two years they've been friends, and she'd love more than anything to go to Hogsmeade with him if he'd just ask, but she knows he never will because he'd never like her like that, and even if he did, there's James Potter standing between them because Remus would never hurt his best friend.

She wants to tell him, but she swallows her words and her pride and says, "You know, so you can say you were kissed before you turned sixteen," she lies, and she turns away from him, ashamed for not telling him the truth, but telling herself it's better off this way.

He's silent and she's afraid of what he's thinking, wishing she'd never said anything at all.

"Okay," he says after what seems like years, and she looks up at him, trying to read any emotion on his face, any hint at feelings or anything of the sort, but she knows by now how good he is at hiding things. He takes a step toward her and they're so close now her heart feels like it's pounding straight through her ribs.

She gives him no time to take it back, quickly closing the gap between them, their lips meeting softly. Her mind tells herself it would be wise to stop after a chaste, brief kiss, but she finds herself hoping for something more; she carefully parts her lips and though at first he pauses, as though unsure of what to do, he quickly understands.

She's surprised at how lucid her thoughts remain as he weaves his fingers through her hair, and she hesitantly places one hand on his chest, the other arm snaking around his neck. The kiss is so sweet, so pure, she feels as though she'll simply melt into a puddle on the floor.

At last they part, and they're silent, staring at each other; Lily desperately tries to find some words, wanting more than ever to tell him how she feels if only to kiss him like that again.

Instead, she hears the chimes of the Library clock deeming it midnight. "I should go," she whispers. "Happy birthday, Remus."

iii.

"I can't believe it! Here it is!"

Lily turns around, standing on her toes to try and get a look through the crowd. She knows what it is she'd be able to see if she were closer to the portrait hole: the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team parading through the entrance, holding the Quidditch Cup high above their heads. She could already hear the cheers erupting from the other side of the room. It had to be there.

"Come on!" Alice cries, taking one of her hands, grinning broadly and dragging her through the crowd, pushing through the other students. Quickly they found themselves through the crowd, facing Seventh Year Ian McLaggen, who's standing atop one of the coffee tables in front of the fireplace. She can see the rest of the team there, standing around in their scarlet and gold robes and gear, and a couple of the older students appear to have already begun to celebrate, with nearly empty bottles of Firewhiskey, standing a little less straight. Lily is briefly amazed that a few of them are able to stand at all without using their brooms to prop themselves up.

"Oi!" McLaggen calls, and the room quiets, everyone staring at the handsome Quidditch Captain, holding the trophy in his arms. "Gryffindor, we've done it!" he cries.

Students are swarming him now, reaching for the cup until at last he lets it out of his grasp, jumping off the table. Immediately a gaggle of giggling girls surround him, a few coyly placing their hands on his shoulder or something of the sort, trying to win a smile out of him. Lily can't help but roll her eyes; it seems silly to her that they were all getting so worked up over a boy. Granted he is tall and handsome, smart and talented, but she is sure there was something wrong with him. There has to be. He can't be perfect.

He's a git, she tells herself. He must be. That would explain why Potter likes him so much.

She looks to Alice, but she's waving Frank Longbottom over, and Lily knows she's being replaced at that moment. She sighs.

McLaggen smiles smugly again, and holds up his hand, and though she can't hear his words, she's sure he says something sickeningly charming and again she rolls her eyes, turning away, trying to make her way back through the crowd; perhaps now she can find Dorcas, someone who wouldn't be completely worked up over some stupid bloke.

"Hey Evans!"

Lily turns around, McLaggen taking a couple steps toward the girl, having apparently escaped the others. He's still holding the Firewhiskey in one hand when he puts his other arm around the redhead, pulling her into him, crushing his lips against hers.

Lily's eyes widen in shock and she can hear Alice gasp somewhere close by. And as much as Lily squirms and tries to pull away, she catches herself thinking that it would be really nice if only he didn't taste so much like Firewhiskey, feeling her own mouth burn from it, and she reminds herself of what a jerk McLaggen is, proof lying in such an action.

Finally she feels him being pulled off her and she stumbles back a little, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. Then—WHAM.

Girls scream as McLaggen stumbles back, James Potter standing over him.

"What did you do?" Lily cries. James opens his mouth, but McLaggen is already getting to his feet, and James puts his fists back up to prepare to defend himself.

"Potter, you're off the team!" McLaggen bellows.

"I'd rather quit then ever have to put up with scum like you!" James shouts back at him.

Lily's preparing herself for the fight about to ensue, considering which of the boys she could pull of the other more easily, when a tall figure jumps over the table, shoving the Cup into the arms of the nearest student, quickly making his way to McLaggen. He puts his hands on his shoulders, and Lily recognises him to be Sixth Year Kingsley Shackelbolt, fellow Quidditch team member.

Lily can see him reasoning with the Seventh Year boy, McLaggen glaring at him the entire time. When he's finished, Kingsley gives him a small push toward the dormitory, and he departs.

"Look, Evans," comes the voice of James Potter again. "I was just trying to help—"

She rounds on him. "Help?" she asks vehemently. "Just keep your nose out of my business, Potter! I don't need or want your help!"

And she turns on her heel, running up to the girls' dormitories; she quickly wonders if she was too hard on him, but she quickly shakes her head. She's said worse to him, and he hasn't left yet.

And she wonders if she's thankful.

ii.

"Everything okay?"

Lily blinks, her mind returning to the boy in front of her. She forces a smile.

"Of course," she laughs, and he grins back at her.

"What are you looking at?" he asks, turning around in his chair at the Three Broomsticks.

She swallows quickly. "Nothing, Benjy, I—"

But Benjy Fenwick's eyes fall upon the couple which Lily was staring at: Bethany Gilly, with her light brown hair and blue-green eyes, freckles spotted across her nose and cheeks, the Fifth Year Ravenclaw Prefect, giggling and blushing with none other than James Potter.

Benjy turns around, frowning slightly. "You and Potter still rowing?"

Lily nods, staring down at her Butterbeer.

"What's all of that about anyway?" he asks her gently, taking her hand in his. "You never told me."

Lily bites her lip, unable to look at the boy in front of her. She likes him, she does; he is sweet and handsome and she knows of at least three other girls who fancy him, yet he'd chosen to ask her out a few weeks before.

And she'd said yes.

Yet she can't bare to look at him because she'd said yes for only one reason, and that reason is, at that precise moment, sitting just a few tables away.

She can distinctly remember hearing two gossiping Hufflepuff Fifth Years in the girls' bathroom talking about how James Potter had finally strayed from his obsession with the redhead and chosen to ask out Bethany. She'd deducted House Points from them for spreading rumours, told them to get back to class, then sat beneath one of the sinks and simply stared at the toilets in front of her.

She convinced herself that it didn't hurt that he'd given up on her, because she didn't fancy him anyway (right?), but she was so pained by the fact that he'd not told her, when he was supposed to be her best friend.

For days she avoided him until at last he cornered her in the Prefects' bathroom; he'd just taken a shower after a very muddy Quidditch practice, and she'd just been on her way for a relaxing soak in the massive tub when he caught her, and she knew there was no use running.

"What's this about?" he asked her indignantly.

"Why don't you go snog your new girlfriend, Potter?" she retorted venomously.

He froze, his wet hair dripping into his face. "Who told you?"

"Not you," she said, glaring at him.

"Look, Evans—"

"No, Potter," she spat. "I've had it with your excuses. You can date whoever the bloody hell you want, it's not about that, but I thought we were friends. You didn't care enough to tell me."

She pushed past him, through the door, and for the second time in a week she just sat numbly in a bathroom, unable to bring herself to move.

And though news quickly spread of the latest Evans-Potter argument, nobody seemed to know the real reason this time, and Lily is still thankful.

She looks out the window, still avoiding Benjy's gaze. She can't explain to him how empty she feels without speaking to James for over a month, because she's afraid he'll take it like she's using him to make James jealous.

Which she isn't.

She bites her lip more nervously then before.

She isn't... is she?

Her gaze automatically snaps back to James and the tiny girl in front of him. Almost immediately he looks up at her, and their eyes meet for a moment. He looks at her sadly for a moment before returning to the conversation he was having, and Lily feels at though she just might cry.

"Come on," she hears Benjy say, taking her hand and leading her to the door of the Three Broomsticks. "Being in here is just upsetting you."

And she's thankful that he asks her no more questions.

It's cold and windy when they reach the door, and Lily just desperately wants to go back to the castle, which Benjy seems to immediately sense. As they reach the end of the path, he turns to her, smiling softly at her.

"I hate to see you so sad, Lily," he says softly. "You're so wonderful, you don't deserve it."

Lily blushes, and there's a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach. This is wrong, she tells herself.

"I really like you," he says, brushing a strand of hair out of her face a little awkwardly. He leans in, and before she can react, his lips are on hers.

The kiss is energetic and forceful, more so than she remembered her kiss with Remus being, yet still kinder than hers with McLaggen; he is kissing her hungrily, with so much fire and feeling that it shatters her heart because as hard as she tries to mirror his passion, she simply cannot, and it is more evident than ever that this is wrong.

i.

"Hey."

Lily looks up, feeling her heart stop momentarily as James Potter sits down beside her in the quickly accumulating snow. She doesn't ask him how he found her, hiding between two of the greenhouses, able to hide from the wind and the world at the same time.

"Hey," she responds hoarsely. She knows he can tell that she's been crying, but she doesn't care. She wonders briefly if she should.

"I broke up with Bethany," he tells her, and she stares at him, taken aback. Hadn't they seemed so happy together just a few hours ago?

"What happened?" she asks quietly.

He laughs somberly. "It's ridiculous, really," he says.

"What?" Lily presses on.

He tilts his head as he looks at her, smiling sadly. "She went in to kiss me," he tells her, "and suddenly, it occurred to me how wrong it all felt. So immediately I stopped her."

Lily nods, staring at her hands, which are slightly red. She withdraws them into her jumper, sniveling slightly and squeezing her eyes shut tight. "I broke it off with Benjy."

"What happened?" he asks delicately.

She smiles a little at the humour of it. "He did kiss me," she says. "It was just... it was all wrong."

"That bad at snogging, yeah?" James asks, and she laughs.

"No," she says. "It just wasn't right for me."

James nods, and the two sit in a comfortable silence for several minutes.

"I'm really sorry, Evans," he says after several minutes. "I should have told you."

"Yeah," she says. "You should have."

"Will you forgive me?" he asks. "I promise to be a better friend."

She nods, smiling weakly at him. "I forgive you," she responds. "And you'll forgive me for going off on you?"

He laughs. "As always," he tells her with a wink.

She looks at him, his glasses perched on his nose, his raven hair covered in a dusting of snow. He smiles softly at her, so different from his usual smirk, and she feels herself blushing slightly. She hesitates, then reaches out her hand and brushes some of his hair out of his face, letting her cold hand rest on his warm cheek.

He pauses. "You know, Evans," he says just above a whisper, "you're upset. If... if you did anything right now, you wouldn't be held responsible for any of your actions."

She simply stares at him, taken aback by his words. Certainly he isn't suggesting what she thinks he is.. is he?

"How can I trust you won't say anything?" she finds herself asking. "And that we can just go on and pretend this never happened?"

He smiles. "It's about time you started trusting me again," he tells her.

And he places his own cold hand on her cheek, rubbing it with his thumb; it's now or never, she tells herself...

She quickly decides, and she shakes her head. "I can't," she tells him, and for a moment he looks saddened. "I won't hurt you like that," she says.

He smiles down at her, pulling her close to him, and she's overwhelmed with feelings she's sure she shouldn't have, unsure what to say or even think.

Instead, she closes her eyes, resting her ear against his chest to listen to his heartbeat as he leans down and gently kisses the top of her head.