A/N: As you can see, I am not very good at titles or summaries. This was literally going to be titled "The Way She Told Him She Loved Him" (in fact, that's what the document continues to be called), but as I finished it "You Picked Me" by A Fine Frenzy came up in Pandora and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought about it before. I think coming up with a title took longer than actually writing this so thank you Pandora and A Fine Frenzy (also, shout out to user "names are overrated"! Thanks for pointing out my mistake!)! All in all, this is just how I imagine Lily finally realized and told James that she was in love with him.
Before I begin I want to thank everyone who has read, reviewed, and/or favorited (that's not even a word but oh well) any of my stories. I know I've said this a thousand times but there are not nearly enough words to express my gratitude. Also, to those of you who read, review, and/or favorite this story: thank you in advance.
Okay, I'm done rambling, I swear!
Disclaimer: These characters/settings belong to JKR and not me.
Ever since she began dating James, Severus' constant staring became much more constant, unabashed, and, Lily noticed with dismay, more resentful. It distressed her so much that she grew to dread Potions, once her favorite class, not only because he was there but because the subject represented one of the very few things they once shared in common.
That Tuesday was no exception.
Lily sat in her usual seat next to James. They had agreed to leave their seating arrangements unaltered when they began dating, him continuing to sit with the rest of the Marauders and she with her friends, Marlene and Hestia. The only exception, of course, was classes they needed each other's help with. For James it was Potions and for Lily, undoubtedly, Transfiguration. Her uneasiness was appeased by James and his attempts to make her laugh, which succeeded more often than not. He was not exactly aware of what was unnerving her but he wasn't stupid; he knew it had something to do with Severus. Miraculously, he hadn't gone on a rant about what a "greasy git" Severus was. Although, if Lily was being honest with herself, she wouldn't have minded it.
James would do or say something intentionally silly and Lily would laugh until she met the pair of cold, black eyes glaring at her from the back of the cold dungeon room. The rest of the period elapsed like this.
And when the hour had expired, James walked her to the library where she was to spend her free period studying while he practiced for Quidditch out in the field. He kissed her when they parted, like usual. And he left her dizzy and craving more of his lips, like usual. "I'll see you at dinner, alright?" And when she nodded, he kissed her forehead and left.
Her hand froze on the door handle of the library's entrance. She could feel his black eyes boring into her before she turned around and realized he was standing in the shadows of a tapestry, watching her.
Lily could have easily walked into the library to look for Marlene and ignore him as she always did, but she would only prolong the inevitable. She was tired of running. "What exactly is your problem?" Her tone was frosty, so unlike her usual warm one.
"You know perfectly well what my problem is," he shot back just as coldly. He did not approach her and she was grateful for at least that. "How could you be with—"
"That," Lily cut in fiercely, "is none of your business."
"After all the things he's done!" Severus continued as if he hadn't heard her.
For a brief instant she was transported to almost two years ago, before Severus had insulted her irreparably. She remembered the many conversations they had like this one. None, however, involved the surge of white hot anger Lily felt now. Her hands clenched at her sides and she spoke through gritted teeth. "If I remember correctly, you're not entirely innocent either."
"I don't hex random students just for the hell of it."
"No," she retorted, slowly so he could hear every word she uttered. "On the contrary, you hex specific people for your and your mates' twisted amusement. You hex them for their sick pure-blood propaganda."
And they both knew there was no denying it. Severus said nothing.
"Besides," she went on, "James has changed."
"He's obviously got you fooled."
"You're wrong," she replied, the mad urge to defend James spreading through her like fiendfyre. "His worst quality was his affinity to curse you whenever he had the chance. That's it! Mind you, he was fifteen years old. He's finally grown up and let that go." She was speaking faster now. "James is a really good man, Severus." James, in fact, was a magnificent, wonderful man that had inspired many things in Lily—things she could only deem good. But she didn't elaborate this for Severus; he would never want to see it the same way she did.
"You're so blind," he replied.
"I don't care!" she retorted, aware of how childish she sounded. She was done with this conversation anyway.
"No!" he interrupted, a small but distinguishable wave of panic in his voice. There was a long pause. One in which he looked fixedly at her as if trying to find something in her face to tell him he was right. "No," he said again, trying to convince himself and not her. "No, you don't love him. You don't."
Lily couldn't reply. She had never considered whether what she felt for James was love. She cared for him immensely and he drove her crazy in many fantastic ways. When they were apart she thought of only him and every time she saw him, even if he was only a short distance away, she felt a tugging at her chest, something beyond her control that moved her to him and only him. Lily had up to that moment only basked in the feeling, never truly naming it. And even if she had, Severus had no right to know.
Another reason why she could not reply was because she felt a large hand at her shoulder, gently but protectively pulling her back against a broad and firm chest.
"Is there a problem?" he asked Lily, loud enough for Severus to hear.
"You don't," Severus repeated, this time more fiercely. He was looking solely at Lily, as if James wasn't there at all.
Out of the corner of her eye, Lily saw James had his wand drawn, his knuckles white from grasping it so tightly and ready to use it if it came down to it. "No, dear," Lily said, placing a hand atop his on her shoulder. "There's no problem. Snape was just leaving."
And her tone was so firm that he did turn to leave, without another word or glance at Lily. Once Severus had vanished, James released her. "Are you all right?" he asked.
She felt a flutter of panic at the base of her stomach. When she had been friends with Severus, even the smallest interaction with James (or as she called him then, "Potter") would result in a row. Severus' intense dislike for James would fuel endless arguments that Lily feared and sought to avoid. For a wild second she thought James too would be upset at seeing her speaking to the person he disliked the most in all of Hogwarts.
But he was not angry. Instead, he looked worried. "Lily?"
"I'm all right," she replied, suddenly aware of how cold she felt. "What happened to Quidditch?"
He simply shrugged. "Benjy Fenwick told me he saw Snape following us after Potions," he replied. "Did he say something to upset you?"
She shook her head but he was unconvinced. Without another word, he enveloped her in his arms, stroking her hair soothingly with one hand. Lily did not cry. Mostly because she had parted ways with Severus almost two years ago. His insult that day so long ago had been the real goodbye. Instead she focused on the beating of James' heart as he held her and how she didn't feel cold anymore.
He asked her something about skipping dinner to which she nodded absentmindedly. Her mind was still spinning with the remnants of her conversation with Severus. Lily mentally reprimanded herself for thinking of good things to shoot back only after the argument was long over.
Before she knew it, they were climbing through the portrait hole into the common room. Since most of the Gryffindors were having dinner in the Great Hall, finding a couch for themselves by the fire was no problem. James propped his feet up and Lily snuggled against his chest, listening to the thumping in his chest, which she noted had become the best panacea for her uneasiness.
His fingers stroked her hair once more and her lids dropped slightly in appreciation. For the second time, her mind drifted to what Severus had told her.
You don't love him. You don't.
Lily's hand, which rested on James' chest, faintly clutched at the fabric of his tie as a sudden current of thoughts inundated her mind.
Lily, in her eighteen years of existence, had only had one true life-altering epiphany. It had occurred when she was ten and she realized, as she lay in her tiny bed, that the boy at the playground had been correct. That everything he had said made sense and she was indeed a witch. How ironic that the second and most important revelation of her life would be thanks to the same person. Because this time Severus Snape could not have been more wrong.
She did love James Potter. Truly, she did.
I love him, she said to herself and she knew it wasn't a lie.
All there was left was to tell James.
She always imagined that telling someone you loved them would be as it was portrayed in those Muggle movies she used to watch with Tuney so many years ago. But in reality, the way she told him was sort of anticlimactic.
Lily lifted her head from his chest, pausing briefly only to study his face. He was looking at the dancing flames in the fireplace, lost in thought. The firelight cast shadows across his already handsome face that quite literally took her breath away.
This was how she was going to remember him forever, she decided then. Even after she ceased to exist, when time had taken away the inconsequential matter that was her body, she was convinced her memory would survive, like some abstract entity left to wander forever. And in that the memory of James would always be present. Noticing she was staring at him, James looked away from the fire and kissed her forehead. He always did this as reflexively and naturally as his own breathing.
Her eyelids dropped and she relished the way his breath caressed her face. Then she said, "James."
And he smiled at simply hearing her utter his name.
"I love you." It was a whisper but as far as whispers went it was loud, clear, sincere and it shook his whole world. "Just thought you ought to know that." She took a moment to take in his stunned face and smiling, she leaned in and kissed him on the chin. Then she lay her head back down against his chest, sighing contently. James soon recovered from his initial shock because his arms around her tightened, appeasing and warming her more than ever before.
He felt it, too. He didn't have to say it back for her to be convinced. It was as clear as water in the fierce pounding of his heart and the unmistakable smile she felt as he kissed the top of her head. It assured her that James loved her, too—that he always had.
A/N: There you have it! This was one of those ideas that rendered me an insomniac. Quite literally, I could not fall asleep until I wrote the mini outline down. But it was fun so no complaints here. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
As always, thank you if you've made it this far. And thank you even more should you decide to review this.
Until next time!