~*~Back To December~*~
I think it's kind of obvious from the title that what this is about. If you haven't heard the song than I suggest you do, though you don't really NEED to listen to it for the story to make sense. I just love the song xD. Anyways, hope you enjoy.
Characters: Lily & James.
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling is the rightful owner of all characters.
The final bell of the day rang and I stood from my seat, wordlessly gathering my things. There was a commotion at the end of the hallway, so I headed towards it. There was a small crowd, with James and Sirius in the middle, showing off as usual. I pushed through the crowd, trying to get to the other side. As I did I glanced toward the boys. My eyes met those of James, and it felt like someone stabbed me in the chest. I looked away, avoided his gaze and tried not to let the pain show on my face. I knew it was my fault. And that just made the pain so much worse.
"Hey Lils," Alice said as she came up beside me. I looked over and plastered a smile onto my face.
"You see James and Sirius?" She asked, shaking her head. "They're such show-offs."
I knew she was trying to make me feel better, but the mention of James just made the lump in my throat grow bigger. I just nodded, looking out the window so Alice wouldn't see the water pooled in my eyes. I knew that nothing would ever change if one of us didn't step up. I didn't particularly want to be the one to confront James, but the pain was getting to be too much.
"I'll be in the library," I told Alice absently and then turned down the corridor leading to the library. But I didn't continue that way. I turned again down an empty corridor, my steps echoing against the cold stone floor. Once I was in the middle and was sure no one was around I stopped and leaned my forehead against the wall. I let the tears fall, hot and wet down my cheeks. They made soft trails over my skin before they dropped off my chin and melted into my robes.
As I wiped my tear-stained cheeks I went back in time to a month and a half ago – back to December, two days before Christmas vacation.
"James Henry Potter!" I shrieked, fuming, and the entire common room went silent. I barely even noticed as I swooped on James, who had been studying beside Sirius and Remus. All three of them had startled expressions, and James also seemed a little fearful.
"Y-yes, my love?" He asked, looking up at me from his chair. I pointed towards the Fat Lady's portrait where I had entered the common room seconds previous.
"Outside. Now." Spinning on my heel, I traced my steps rigidly, no waiting for James. Moments later we were in the hallway, three meters away from the Fat Lady.
"What's wrong, Lily?" James asked, slipping his hands casually into the pockets of his trousers.
"What's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong!" I lowered my voice to barely above a whisper as I crossed my arms over my chest. "Remus is a werewolf?"
James looked bewildered and frowned. "It wasn't my place to tell you. You're mad because I didn't tell you something I had no right to tell?" He asked indignantly.
I shook my head. "No, I am not. I'm angry at you for what you did to Severus in third year."
"We did a lot to old Snivelly in third year, Lil, and you know it. It's not that big of a deal."
"That's an entirely different conversation." I said with an air of dismissal. "But I'm talking about a specific event; one that could have ended with Severus being attacked."
I saw understanding flash through his eyes and James looked down at the floor.
"I had nothing to do with that," he said darkly. "And incase Severus failed to mention, I saved his life. He probably wouldn't be here if I hadn't have saved his oily skin that day."
"You only stopped him to save your own hide!" I said fiercely. "I've put up with your and Sirius' cruel jokes for the most part, but –"
"'Put up with'?" James scoffed. "Is that what you call lecturing us on right and wrong and turning us in 'anonymously' to professors? That's hardly putting up with it. And what does this have to do with anything? You haven't talked to Snivellus since fifth year."
"I won't stand by and let you endanger students' lives, James! He told me about your little trips, too. You have to stop. What if he got out of control? What if he attacked someone?"
"Stop?" He asked, defiance sparking in his eyes. "Who are you, our mother? We know what we're doing, Lily. Nothing's going to happen."
Anger seared through me. "You can't know that. You have to stop or I'll –"
"Do what? Tell Professor Dumbledore?" He asked, raising his eyebrows, mocking me. "No you won't, and you know it."
"You always do this!" I said, stamping my foot. "It's infuriating. And you wonder why I don't like you?"
"Like me? You told me you love me." James' tone only held a note of anger, but I detected the panic as well.
"….I did." I said slowly, cautiously. "But that was before I found out about your wild antics. I know you love a thrill, but at the expense of other students and townspeople? I thought you were better than that, James."
"Oh, so this is 'find James' s faults' day? Well you're not bloody perfect yourself, you know! You have plenty of faults."
"And what would those be?" I demanded, cocking my hip to the side. I was only humoring him; I knew I wasn't perfect. But I sure was bloody better than him.
"For starters, you have to have your nose in everything! And if someone doesn't do what you want, you explode in their face, threatening them into following your will. You're bossy and you annoyingly follow rules to their exact degree. If anyone puts one toe out of line you punish them for it."
I scoffed. "That is not true! I've let you off plenty times! At least I'm not an arrogant bastard who prances around thinking the world should bow at my feet. At least I don't carry around a damn snitch when I'm not even a Seeker! Just because you have good looks and you're a bully doesn't give you a free card to do whatever the hell you want, James!
"I do not act like that." He said. "What do you want me to do? Apologize to him for not hurting him? That was four years ago, Lily. If he can't get over it it's his own problem."
"You sound like Sirius – he's always been a bad influence on you."
James glared at me. "What would you have me do, Lily? Stop being friends with him?"
"Well, it wouldn't –"
James held up a hand and his eyes flashed dangerously. "No. I've known Sirius half of my life. He's like a brother to me. You have no idea what he's been through."
"Are you really asking me to abandon him?" James sounded hurt.
"If you love me," I started, but then faltered. James looked nearly murderous across from me and I knew it was the absolute worst thing to say. But anger makes you say crazy things. "Just because he's had some rough patches doesn't give him a pass for his actions."
"You judge everyone you meet, and if they don't fit your standards immediately then you write them off forever. How can you hate someone who has never harmed you?"
"I don't hate him."
"It sure seems like it."
"Well maybe if you two didn't go around cursing everyone you didn't like, I wouldn't hate you. And if you still think I'm going to meet your parents over Christmas vacation, you're bloody wrong!"
Tension crackled through the air like lightning as the muscle in James's jaw twitched. Slowly he brought his eyes up to meet mine. Their usual warm, mischievous sparkle was no longer there. Now they were hard as granite and had darkened to a near black with anger. But there was something else there too – a deep, deep hurt.
"Well if you still thought I wanted you to come meet my parents over Christmas vacation then you were seriously misled. I don't need an over-bearing know-it-all accusing me and breathing down my neck. Sirius and will have more fun without you, by any means." His tone was empty and emotionless. Then he turned and started to walk away.
Tears spiked at my eyes and I realized that I may have overreacted. I turned to go after him.
James stopped but didn't turn back towards me.
"I-I'm…." I was what? An idiot? Sorry? I wasn't sorry, so why should I tell him that. New anger washed over me. How dare he call me an over-bearing know-it-all! Finally James turned.
"You're what, Lily? You're sorry?" He laughed humorlessly and shook his head. "No, you're not. I thought that our differences were settled. But I guess it was just wishful thinking. Differences can never be settled with someone like you."
"Someone like me?" I demanded in indignation, putting my hands on my hips and raising my eyebrows at him.
"Proud. Stubborn. Thinks you're never wrong. I knew this day would come; I was just kidding myself thinking it wouldn't. Have a wonderful Christmas. " And with that he walked away. My face crumpled and my shoulders went slack. He was right. I was all those things, and now my pride and anger had forced a wedge between us. I feared that it was permanent and I suddenly I couldn't breathe. My throat closed up, my chest constricted. What had I just done? James would never forgive me after this.
I had been right about that last prediction. It'd been over a month and James still refused to talk to me unless it was absolutely necessary. Every time I entered the same room as him he stood up and left without so much as a glance in my direction. I had known when Severus told me he was hoping it would reconcile us. But I was past reconciling with him. The crowd he hung out with now days was worse than ever. Still, I wasn't sure if I could forgive James. He had no right to endanger other people because they wanted to have some fun. At least, that's what my pride told me. I pushed away from the wall and started down the corridor again.
As I walked it occurred to me that I already had forgiven James. It was myself I hadn't forgiven. It was me I was still mad at. How could I have asked James to choose between me and Sirius? It was beyond selfish; especially because Sirius truly wasn't that bad, not these days. He still loved mischief and philandering, but the latter was none of my business. He and James had been best friends since first year and now James was the only one Sirius had. How could I have been such a jerk?
I pushed the tears away and wiped my nose on the end of my robes as I headed to the Common Room. The next day I was just as miserable; I'd been miserable since the day James and I had made a tacit agreement to end our relationship. But I put on a smile and pretended like nothing was wrong – like there wasn't a huge gaping hole in my world. When I stepped into the Common Room with Alice I saw the Marauders gathered in their small group of four near the portrait hole.
"I'll meet you in class," I told Alice, who nodded and exited the Common Room without me.
Taking a deep breath I braced myself before walking over to the four boys standing two meters away. Sirius' laugh died on his lips and they all stared at me as I approached.
"—a Grindylow….." Remus trailed off from whatever he was telling Peter, an arm wrapped around the books at his chest.
I cleared my throat and glanced at my feet before looking back up and finding James's face. There was an air of awkwardness and I just stood there a moment.
"Um…" I wasn't sure how to start. "I want to apologize. For, you know, what I said…..last month."
James looked as though I'd suddenly hit him with a stun jinx. Then he wiped the shock from his features and glanced at Sirius as if remembering the fight and nodded. He looked up at me and crossed his arms over his chest.
"I'm sorry too." He said finally after several more minutes had passed. I stopped myself from sighing. What was that supposed to mean? Was that an "I'm sorry but I'm still mad at you and we're still broken up" sorry? or an "I'm sorry too; can we work things out?" sorry? James didn't say anything more, so I assumed it was the first kind. Just as he was about to say something I cut him off.
"Well I'll just be going then." I said, pointing towards the Fat Lady. James nodded and stepped back to let me pass. I bit my lip to keep the tears in my eyes from spilling out before I made it out the portrait hole. My chest felt heavy. I was such an idiot. How could I expect him to forgive me after all I had said? I shook my head and scoffed, wiping a tear from my cheek. It was my own stubborn fault that James was gone and now I had to deal with the consequences. I pulled myself together and wiped my face again before entering seventh year Charms. It didn't surprise me to see the four Marauders already at their usual desks. I'd long since gotten used to their unusual knack for finding shortcuts to classes.
Regret stabbed me like an icy dagger to my gut as I walked past James. I had to force myself to not turn my head in order to see if he was looking at me. I sat down and kept my head forward even though all I wanted to do was turn around and look at James.
I had been sitting for only moments when I heard someone stand up behind me.
"Okay, that's it!" It was the voice of Sirius. With a frown I turned, only to see a bewildered James and Sirius with his arms crossed. He pointed to the door.
"Both of you with me, now." He said as he pulled James out of his seat and started towards the classroom door.
"But –" I started to protest. "I can't just leave. Class is about to start!"
"Now!" Sirius bellowed and I sighed, picking up my bag and following them out the door. Sirius was already halfway down the corridor and I had to jog to catch up. Once we were at the end and out of earshot of the open classroom door Sirius stopped.
"Now what?" I asked.
"Now you two are going to work out your shit and then everything will go back to the way it's supposed to be, that's what!"
My eyes went wide at his blatant words and angry expression.
"What does it matter to you?" James demanded, but his voice sounded dull.
"Because you haven't been the same ever sense! You barely talk, you're hardly eating, and I can't count on you for anything! I want my best mate back. You have to stop moping around. You've been pining for Lily since first year. So prove you mean it."
Sirius turned to me. "Lily, I know you love him no matter how you may try to deny it. I don't know what happened, but I'd guarantee it had something to do with you overreacting. If you don't fight for James then eventually he'll move on. I know you don't think that because he's been drooling over you since first year, but it will happen. If you don't want that, then I suggest you fix it!"
"Now I'm going back to class and you two better not leave until you've talked everything out or I'll hex you both!" With a small huff Sirius turned and stalked back down the corridor. I looked up from my hands after a moment, but had no idea what to say.
"Look, I really am sorry." James finally said. "I think we both overreacted a bit."
I nodded even though I didn't think it was true. It was all my fault. If I hadn't have said those things then James wouldn't have had to defend himself and criticize me.
"No, it's all my fault; I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said those things even if some of them were true. And I had no right to ask you not to be friends with Sirius. It wasn't fair to either of you. I was just upset that you would run around at night with Remus changed. But I know you're responsible and wouldn't let anything happen. And even if it did then it wouldn't truly be your fault. What you did in third year doesn't matter either. Nothing happened and even though it was reckless on Sirius' part, I know you wouldn't have done something like that."
I stopped and took a breath. Timidly I met James' gaze. His eyes were guarded and it was hard for me to read them. He was leaning against the stone wall casually and didn't seem to be effected by my apology. I bit my lip and tried to keep the tears from my eyes. Had I really expected him to forgive me? I wasn't sure, but it still hurt knowing that he hated me. I nodded.
"Right. Of course. Well I just wanted you to know. I understand if you can't forgive me."
I turned and took a step forward. Then I felt James' hand circle my arm.
I took a deep breath before turning around, expecting him to berate me some more. But next thing I knew his arm was around my waist and he crushed me to his chest. Our lips moved desperately together. I buried a hand in his soft hair and put the other against his neck. I wasn't sure how long we kissed, but eventually I pulled away and wrapped my arms fiercely around his chest. James circled his arms around me as well.
"I'm so sorry." I said, looking up at him. James smiled down at me and kissed me on the brow.
"I know. And I forgive you. I'm sorry too."
"Of course I forgive you," I said. "You were right the whole time."
James shook his head but didn't say anything, only held me in his arms. It was indescribable, what it felt like to have been away from him for so long.
"I love you, James." I whispered. He pulled away and smiled, brushing his hand along the side of my face.
"I love you too. I always have and I always will."
I smiled back and put my lips to his again, just to prove this wasn't a dream. Although, I suppose in a way it was a dream—a dream come true.