a/n: originally, this was suppose to be a lighthearted and funny story, but instead, this came out. Blame my muse, Cheese. It was all his fault. ;) {heck yah, i named my muse Cheese - got a problem with it? ;P} the italics are flashbacks; and all flashbacks are in order from the beginning to the end of the summer before James' sixth year at Hogwarts, so as not to get things confused. :P

characters; louis and james
blue skies - calamity - opaque - demanding - pour it out - 'the incident'
for the
family & friendship challenge, by take c h a n c e s, over at the harry potter fanfiction challenges forum.

dedicated to; maddi (flip-flops & forever plans) and sunday/summer (take c h a n c e s.
happy engagement darlings! andandand don't forget to name your one hundred children after me, mkay? cuz 'Rachel' is like, the sexiest name e v e r and junk. ;)

"Family gathering my ass," James Sirius Potter muttered to himself as he leaned against an old oak tree, taking a huff of the clove cigarette in his left hand as he went. His brown eyes stayed glued to the dirt road he was standing on, just off the old pathway he and his cousins used to walk as kids to get from the Burrow to the nearby river. Now, fresh out of Auror training, at the ripe age of twenty, James felt as if those days were a thousand years away. Even if the last time he was there was only four years ago.

But, four years had come and gone. He hadn't been to the river they played at as kids since 'the incident.' Even now, four years later, he'd still avoid that place with his life. There was no way on earth he'd ever willingly go near it. After what happened last time - it was all just too much and now, well, now he was regretting even coming.

The memories were just as fresh and powerful in his mind as the summer he made them.

"Shh," her voice was hushed and her eyes large, wide open, like the blue skies that surrounded them. Her giggles echoed around them as she lead him to a patch of green, surrounded by trees and woods. You could still hear the river from where they were.

He only had a few seconds to glance around at the towering trees and soft green grass. He caught a glance of a part of the river behind some bushes. But that was it, because, the next thing he knew, she was kissing him. Her lips were soft, warm even, as they touched his own briefly. It was quick, their first kiss.

He was only sixteen at the time.

He quickly kissed her again, a few seconds after she pulled away. More passionately this time. All the pent up emotions he felt, he poured into that one kiss. Her arms wrapped around his neck and he lifted her up onto her tip toes to get better access of her mouth.

"I think I love you," he had muttered stupidly, afterwards.

He remembers her reply, exact. The way she said it. Her eyes, her lips as she formed the words, the way the wind blew her blonde hair around her, the way her eyes shined like the stars in the sky, the smile on her face as she said it. The pure, raw love she was feeling. He could see it all.

"I think I love you, too," she had smiled, as her eyes locked with his for a minute, before she pulled him back down for another kiss.

"Still smoking those cancer sticks, eh?" The cocky voice of one Louis Weasley brought James out of his thoughts. Said boy was still as blonde as ever, and still as handsome. The eighteen year old smirked, his hands shoved in his ripped up jeans as he stood there in front of James. "Long time to see, cuz."

James, in turn, didn't reply. Instead, he took a long drag of his 'cancer stick,' as Louis had called it only moments before. One of his eyebrows raised in matched-cockiness. "I thought you were in Romania with Uncle Charlie," James said, after a long silence, in which both boys stared the other down, as if trying to prove the other less of a man.

"Mum wanted me home. Said something about a family reunion of sorts. Uncle Charlie came back, too." Louis remarked causally, kicking a nearby rock. "I think, the real question here is, what are you doing back here? I thought you swore to never return after the whole calamity that went down, or some junk like that?" Louis said, ever the sensitive one.

James rolled his eyes at his cousin. "It's been four years," he muttered, blowing out smoke. "I've moved on," but both ears could detect the pain in his voice. It was east to tell, James Sirius was no where over anything that happened that summer.

Especially not her.

Her eyes were opaque as she stared straight ahead. She was scary still as she sat straight up, her legs dangling off the edge of the cliff. Her hands laid on her lap, fiddling with the tons of bracelets and rings she always wore. He could tell easily, as he sat down gently beside her, dangling his own legs off the edge of the cliff, that something was heavy on her mind.

"You alright?" He asked her, gently taking a hold of her right hand and untangling it from her left, before covering it with his own. He could practially feel the worry in his eyes as he stared long and hard at her.

"Fine," her voice was quiet, hushed, and she didn't glance his way once. "I'm just fine. Don't worry about me," she muttered, looking up at him through her eyelashes for the first time since he got there. It was hard not to worry with that arguement, but he shoved the concern away, and he forced a smile onto his face.

"I love you," he muttered, leaning forward so his lips lightly grazed her ear as he spoke.

"I love you, too," she said, smiling a little, as her eyes roamed over the valley below. It had to be at least a two hundred foot drop, he remembered thinking as they stood to go find the rest of their friends.

She stopped once, as they started heading back to the river. He remembers her eyes lurking at the spot on the cliff they were only just sitting at. assuming she was checking out the view one last time, before they left.

But, oh, how way off he was.

"Denial," Louis Weasley sung horribly off cue in a joking manor, but there was this underlying seriousness to his playful tone, and anyone could tell how really concerned he was for his older cousin. "For real, man. You alright?" Louis asked, pushing his blonde fringe out from his eyes.

"Fine," James muttered shortly, before dropping the cigarette butt on the dirt and stomping his foot on it once. Louis watched as the flame died out. In it's place, smoke rose. "I am just fine," James muttered, dragging out the last word, before he turned and started walking away.

Louis watched as his cousin walked for a few moments with a raised eyebrow, before said boy turned around, still walking, and said, "well? You coming?"

Louis rolled his eyes, but shrugged to himself and followed anyway. After all, this boy was kind of reckless and still going through some emotionally tramatizing crap. Who knew what he'd get up to next.

The greenness of the place seemed never ending. All around them there were trees, bushes, and grass- nothing but green, and the blue of the sky void of any clouds above them. James paid no mind to this. Instead, his attention was focused on the girl lying underneath him, her blonde hair spread out on the soft grass like a halo of sorts.

She smiled up at him for a few moments as she watched him watch her, before she got impatient and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his lips down onto hers, effectively making him lose his balance and fall completely on top of her. Before he knew what she was doing, she flipped him, not breaking their kiss.

James had no idea at that certain moment that he'd think back on this day for as long as he would live. He'd relive it, try and etch every single detail into his brain. All James knew was that he was young and in love, and maybe he was only sixteen, but for a split second, he could see himself spending the rest of his life with her.

He pulled his lips from her own and looked her in the eye. He wanted- no, needed her to know how serious he was about her. "I love you," he said, looking her in the eyes.

Her lips were only inches from his, and he could feel the warmth of her breathe and the beat of her heart as she spoke. "I love you," she echoed, her eyes wide with a vulnerability he had never seen from her before then.

They just laid there for a few seconds, staring at each other, until her lips came back down onto his, caressing them gently. Gentle soon became a little more, and before either knew it, clothes were being shed, skin on skin contact was being made, and there in the quiet green of the forrest near his Grandmum's house, James Potter took Emily Longbottom's virginity.

The memories were still painful to even think about. Everything about that summer was. It was all just so much emotion - pain, heartbreak, sadness, yearing. Emotions James would have rather not had. His hands were starting to shake as he walked further and further down the old path they used to walk barefooted as kids. Behind him, Louis was walking a bit slower, taking everything in, James would have guessed.

Searching his pockets when the memories became too much, James tried to find his clove cigarettes. The only reason he smoked them was because they calmed his nerves and helped him keep himself in control of his fits when everything became too much.

"Damn it," James muttered, ignoring Louis completely. "Damn it, damn it, damn it," he cursed, before he turned and punched the nearest tree.

"James," Louis said, shocked as he watched his cousin as he unraveled at the seams. "What on earth?" Louis muttered, pulling James from the tree before he could do anymore damage to his now bloody fist. "What did the tree do to deserve being hit?" Louis demanded after a minute of silence, trying to lighten the mood.

James looked up, and Louis was shocked to see unshed tears in his eyes. Tears, Louis was sure, had nothing to do with his bloody and probably broken fist. Before Louis could even speak, James had.

"I loved her, Louis! I loved her!" He said, only to scream the last part. Louis watched in a stunned sort of silence as his cousin broke down in front of him. He had never realized how strongly James felt about Emily. Sure, they were best friends, but he never realized the were anything more.

Then again, he never thought she'd die that summer, either.

The summer was almost at an end. Louis Weasley, fourteen at the time, was hanging out by the river with Alice Longbottom, James' best friend, Emily's younger sister, who was also fourteen. The breeze was starting to turn cold as it ruffled their hair around in the air. Alice's ash blonde hair would blow into his face occasionally as they sat together on a rock, quietly watching the water as it ran down the stream and watching his cousins play in it.

It was almost nightfall, and something just didn't feel right to him. Louis could tell he wasn't the only one- Alice felt uneasy too.

"Where's Emily?" Alice had asked, her blue eyes wide and filled with worry. For a second, Louis just wanted to hug her.

Wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, Fred opened his mouth to make a sex joke about Emily and James, before realizing James was right behind him in the cool water. "I have no idea," he said, instead, while everyone else stayed quiet for a few moments.

James glanced around wildly, before screaming out her name. "Emily?" There was no answer, though. Anyone could see the worry in his eyes - the worry in all of their eyes. It wasn't like Emily to just disapear like that. And she had been acting really weird the last few days; giving away her things, and she'd even cut her long hair up to her shoulders.

It seemed as if everything had just clicked into place. They all realized what could have been happening at he same time. James wasted no time in jumping out of the water and scrambling towards a place Louis didn't know. He still followed; all of them followed.

Fear coarsed through his veins; for James, for Emily, and for Alice. Without even thinking, he grabbed Alice's hand and held tightly as they ran.

"Where are you going?" He had screamed to James, who was running faster than all of them. It felt unreal. Louis was running on adrenalin and fear, and all he wanted to do was scream. This could not have been happening. But it was happening.

"The cliff," was his short reply.

James had gotten there before all of them, but when Louis and Alice, and everyone else arrived, it was too late.

"She jumped," he cried, laying on the dirt, tears streaking down his face.

Louis remembers Alice falling into his arms without a word.

"I loved her, God damn it, and that wasn't enough for her. She still jumped. Why did she jump, Louis?" James demanded, looking more like a five year old than a twenty year old. Louis had never seen his cousin look so broken - not since that cold summer night.

"Come here," Louis muttered, opening his arms. Sure, they were guys, and this would probably be the only time he would ever see James cry like this, but Louis was James' cousin, and it wasn't like he could just turn and walk away. James was broken, and someone had to help him pull his self together.

"You will get through this," Louis muttered as he hugged his cousin, trying to ignore the blood James was getting all over his shirt from his hand. "You just need to grieve. You need to understand that she's gone and that there's nothing you can do to bring her back. Don't wonder 'what-if,' don't replay that moment in your mind for the rest of your life." Louis said to his cousin.

"That summer changed everything for everyone. But, James, it may have been the worst summer for you, but, wasn't it also the best? She loved you, too. Think back on the good; it'll help you through the bad. And, one day, you'll see her again. But you have to let go, James. Her death wasn't anyone's fault. She wasn't happy and she hid it well - no one could have known. You cannot let this get you down. Live your life, James. The way she never got to."

"I- when did you get so smart?" James muttered, cracking a small smile as Louis stood and helped him stand.

"I know, I know. I should become, like, a monk or muggle therapist, or some junk like that," Louis smirked, as they started heading back to the Burrow. "By the way, you should probably get Grandmum to fix that hand of yours," Louis said, eyeing James' hand with minor disgust.

"You're such a girl," James muttered, shoving Louis lightly, before letting out a cry of pain when he realized he had shoved him with his broken hand.

"Yeah, I'm the girl," Louis smirked, shaking his head. In the back of his mind, he was thinking, maybe, just maybe, James will be alright, after all. He just needs some time. Because, time does heal all wounds.

Too bad nothing can ever heal the battle scars left behind.

a/n: please don't favourite without reviewing.