A/N: Last chapter, guys! Thank you to all my reviewers and everyone who alerted/added this to their favorites! Also, ChocoFrosty has pointed out that the song "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles fits this story perfectly. Go check it out ;D
The rest of the year went by slowly. Rose's friends tried to comfort her, but she refused to tell them what was wrong. How could she? They'd judge her horribly and never want to speak to her again. She spent the majority of her time holding back tears whenever she saw James.
He was in no better shape, to be honest. He didn't cry anymore after that fateful day, but he grew distant- even resorting to quitting the Quidditch team. They were lost without their star Keeper, but he couldn't handle all those people around him anymore. Eventually, even his best mates stopped trying to get him to say more than two words at a time. He was broken. And he was pretty goddamn sure that his heart had been split in two.
James threw himself into preparation for his N.E.W.T.S- anything to keep his mind off the pretty redhead who had broken his heart. When his exams rolled around at the end of the year, he was pretty sure he passed them all with flying colors. Before he knew it, it was time for graduation.
Rose watched her cousin graduate with a guarded expression on her face. He was leaving. Even though they weren't speaking, she'd still seen him all the time. Not anymore. From now on, they'd only see each other at the Burrow for family events. She didn't know what would hurt more- not seeing him every day, or when they would have to pretend to still be best friends amongst family.
Their eyes met as he received his diploma, and she managed to force a small smile. He nodded tersely. Her eyes flooded with tears, wishing she could see his smile one last time. She missed him to so much that it was painful.
Al and Lily threw James a surprise graduation party, and, naturally, Rose was expected to attend. The second she entered the backyard of the Burrow, she was ready to leave. Everyone around her was excited- for James, for summer, for their own graduation. But not Rose. She couldn't remember ever being truly happy since she realized she was in love with her cousin.
James wasn't happy either. He didn't want to leave Hogwarts, never to see Rose every day again. He'd go crazy. He wasn't completely convinced that he hadn't already. Faking a smile, he attempted to socialize with his large family and various classmates.
Hours later, the party was still raging on. Finally giving up on small talk, James retreated indoors. He flopped down onto a battered couch, his head pounding from the noise outdoors.
"James! Geroff me!" came a strangled voice from under him. He scrambled up hurriedly, wincing slightly when he saw who he'd accidentally sat on.
"Shit, Rosie, I'm so sorry!" he exclaimed. Her face flushed and she looked down.
She flattened her skirt nervously, and he noticed what she was wearing. A pretty navy dress adorned her lithe figure- it was casual, but James thought that she had never looked more radiant.
Sitting awkwardly beside her, he whispered that she looked beautiful. Her cheeks went pink again as she muttered her thanks. She felt like crying again. No contact besides a few lingering looks and tense nods for months, and he was acting like nothing had happened. She was sick of pretending she was okay. She'd never been good at it anyway.
Rose stood up abruptly, desperately needing to get away from James before she did something stupid like hex him; or worse, kiss him. A warm hand caught her wrist, pulling her back and into his lap gently.
Burying his face in her soft red hair, James tried his best not to cry. He was usually so in control, but never around Rose… Touching her for the first time in so long made him want to laugh and cry at the same time. She started to pull away, but something in his face stopped her.
"Never let go," he pleaded quietly. Rose shook her head, holding back her own tears once more. He closed his eyes.
"I have to, James."
"Please," he whispered brokenly. "Stay with me."
"For what? Sex?" His eyes flew open. Did she honestly think that was what he missed?
"What? Rose, no."
"Then why?"She sounded so tired, like she'd given up on everything already. Hearing her like that, seeing the defeat in her eyes, it killed him. What happened to his lively, energetic best friend?
"Because…" How could he ever sum up how he felt? He couldn't think of anything that would show her just how much he cared. "Without you… I… I'm lost."
She still wasn't looking at him.
"And… about what you said, back at school… You've never been second best," he declared with conviction. "You've always been the only one that ever really mattered."
Rose let a few tears slip down her face. Did he mean what she thought he meant?
"I… I love you."
She looked up, chocolate eyes meeting hazel at last. "You love me?"
He was crying now too. "Yeah, I do."
"I love you too."
James gave her a small smile, pulling her tight against him once more. After a few moments, Rose pulled back a little to gently wipe the tear tracks off his handsome face with shaking hands. Tenderly, he did the same.
"Now what?" He asked. Admitting they loved each other didn't mean they were suddenly a couple- it was never that easy with them.
"We… We're cousins," she pointed out unsteadily. "If we ever got together, no one could know."
For her? He'd do anything. Then he got a crazy idea. A wonderful, crazy idea.
"But what if we didn't have to hide it?"
"What- what do you mean?"
"Run away with me." Before she could protest, he elaborated. "You can finish school first, but just think about it! We could live among Muggles- somewhere far away, where no one knows about Potters and Weasleys! Somewhere we could be free."
"James…" She was breathless. He would leave everything behind for her. She didn't even have to think about whether she would do the same. "The second I graduate," she promised.
A huge grin broke out across his face- the first in months. Rose grinned back, hugging him tight around the middle.
"I love you." She didn't think she would ever tire of hearing him say that. He opened his mouth to say something else, but she cut him off with a kiss.
In that moment, it was like time stopped. Their lips moved together easily- it was so familiar, but they had a feeling it would never get old. It felt perfectly right.
Rose's seventh year was the dullest of her life. Having no James around to distract/entertain her, she mostly focused on studying for her exams. She was alive again- bored, but alive. She was talking to her friends again, though she never told a soul what had brought her back from her depression.
Every Hogsmeade weekend, she would meet her secret boyfriend in one of the rooms above The Three Broomsticks. They would kiss and tell each other everything that had been going on in their lives (James was worked at a shop in Diagon Alley- a job that would get them some money but could be easily walked away from at the end of the year.) Though they spent hours together every chance they got, they didn't have sex. This time, they wanted everything to be sacred- and that meant waiting until they didn't have to sneak around anymore.
Barely a week after she graduated school, Rose was packed and ready to go. She hadn't told her parents, but she'd written them a note explaining how she was leaving to "go see the world." James left his parents a similar note. Before anyone even had the chance to notice their rooms were empty, they were in another country.
Being cut off from everyone they knew and loved was hard. They knew their families would be distraught- they'd already lost loved ones to the war all those years ago… But they had each other. That was enough. They didn't have to hide anymore. They could truly be together. Finally, everything felt okay again.
And whenever anyone inquired about their relationship, they'd smile and laugh, and say "It's complicated." But everyone could tell it wasn't- it was just love.