Little Talks (of Monsters and Men)
"There's an old voice in my head
that's holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks.
Some days I feel like I'm wrong when I am right.
Your mind is playing tricks on you my dear."
The rain didn't let up, instead the days turned into a spread of grayness where the only indication of time's passage was the interval darkness. Trekking across campus proved to be near suicidal for many as the wind increased with each passing day. The grass uprooting and dirt turning into bogs. The dampness seemed to fill every crevice of the building and the air was turning sour. Lily constantly wore her sweaters, clutching her elbows in class and hugging them close. It felt like a constant storm had been sitting atop them for days, a ravaging that refused to let up. He knew it wasn't so and there was sure to be an end in sight soon. He only needed to wait it out.
That seemed to be his constant line of thought these days, 'waiting it out'. Just like you wait for the pain to stop hurting behind a bruise and the color to change from blue to green and yellow; for the cuts to scab and eventually scar. Waiting was perhaps the hardest thing he'd ever done. To sit next to Lily in class every day and watch her battered body perform its usual tasks with discomfort and a coldness he wasn't used to. He didn't want to think that she'd shut down or turned off some emotion, but apathy seemed to be creeping into her expressions and it was only a matter of time before it entered their conversations too. She glared as she passed the girls responsible, angry at the justice system for deeming the case 'circumstantial'. He wasn't aware she could be so quiet and reserved. He missed her smile and spark, the music constantly blaring out of her room and in her headphones. He wanted to shake her and get rid of the numbness that had settled into her bones, like the dampness from this relentless rain had settled into his.
Two weeks wasn't enough time for her bruises to disappear nor did it heal her broken bones. But it was enough time for the rumor mill to move on to a new victim. Someone with a past almost as lavish as James' – someone else who had turned their nose at convention. It was a warning, James knew, that his indiscretions would not take a blind eye. Despite the warning, James would not take heed. Instead he committed to spending more time with Lily, between classes he'd walk with her, running through the mud or tucking low in the library, hidden and warm. They spent their meals in the kitchens, eating whatever leftovers the house elves had. It was nice; it was personal – like a little vacation away from the raging crowds of hormonal teenagers.
But it wasn't a vacation. And Lily wasn't keen on him becoming akin to glue. She sighed a lot when he sidled up to her, tucking his arm around her waist and grabbing her books. She rolled her eyes as his hands found her hair during class. Worse, she'd refused to look him in the eye when they spoke for fear he would see her true thoughts. See that she was beginning to crack, the strain of keeping up their relationship was arduous and too much for her plate. The stones she'd packed on over Christmas were gone and she couldn't force herself to eat any more than she could force herself to sleep.
The limelight had lived up to its name: she indeed did have lime colored bruises to show for it.
She wasn't one to judge who dated whom and why some people chose to remain in relationships that continued to hurt them, but she knew that it wasn't what she wanted. Sure, James had never laid a hand against her, nor even a look, but his presence and his position in society made up for that. How was she being fair to him if he too, had to constantly watch his back? When was the last time he genuinely smiled? Could spend a night stag with his mates? It wasn't right, this wasn't normal and in the end, this wasn't how it had to be.
Truly. She was just being selfish.
She had had enough rough patches in life to understand when she had something good. Something extraordinary, to be frank. But how do you justify love when it hurts everyone else? It felt like the antithesis. Hidden love, subterfuge, revolution! It was for the books, not for a girl who had too much pain to being with. This wasn't a Shakespeare life she lived, that was a joke. Lily shook her head, a sad smile on her face; James noticed.
"Alright Lily?" James muttered, looking at Lily seated across the table from him. He'd looked up from his maths work to find her shaking her head and grinning. It seemed a rare sight these days, Lily's smile, and it made James happy to see it now.
She glanced up, her green eyes finding his and her smile grew wider. She licked her lips and reached for her tea. James followed her movements, his eyes staying on her lips. He leaned slowing, closing the distance and found purchase on her lips. They were sweet and milky; no doubt a compliment of her tea. Her hand came up around the back of his neck and wound into his hair. Holding him close. They broke away, but not before James treated her forehead with a peck. His hands took her cheeks and he held her there, gazing into the green pools. Her lips were parted, waiting and sultry rose. Her cheeks were flushed, hiding a few of her softer freckles on her nose and cheeks. His lips in turn formed a lopsided grin matching the twinkling of his eyes.
"Missed you." He whispered, smoothing the lingering bruise on her temple. Her eyes flickered toward his hand, but in the end fell closed. They broke apart after James memorized her face once more. The release of his hands brought a sudden chill to Lily. She shivered, finding it hard to open her eyes. When she did, James was still there.
"I'm sorry." Lily mouthed, a sullen smile tugging at her lips. James nodded but didn't seem to understand their impact. "I'm sorry for this mess. For making everything so tense—"
"Forget it, Lily." James returned, not interested in her apologies. "I think I've come to realize that life is too short for this shit."
Lily grew quiet, the words on her lips dying in her throat. Perhaps he, too, understood?
"I spoke with Kerr. He's a right bastard. But he knows his shit, Evs." James glanced around the room, searching for an object to distract him. He did not want to have this conversation. But he knew that if they didn't have it, he would lose it.
"I haven't done enough. I've sat back and played the martyr and I—I've. Fuck." James found her face. Her eyes were diverted, focused out the window behind him. Her jaw clenched. "I made it worse because I let things happen. I enjoyed the feeling of it, of us fighting to be together."
She looked at him, her heart hurt. It had moved up into her throat. She couldn't survive with it there.
"I'm supposed to know what the hell I'm doing, not dragging you down too." James added. She made a grab for his hand, when they connected their grasp was weak. "I let you fight my battles."
"I've always been a fighter. That's why this," She motioned between the two of them. "works. Why we've made it so far. You're –- I'm stubborn." There was a silence then that gnawed at his soul. She wasn't making this easy. After some time, she tightened her grip on him and pulled him out of his reverie.
"How—?" Her throat clenched, not allowing the words to come. How can we continue? How can you be you and me be me? … I want to end this. What she couldn't say was screaming inside her head. Over and over again. She jerked with realization and let out a sob. "You can't be you…" she finally released. There, now his eyes connected with hers. "I want you to be James Potter and be, fuck, be all that you are. I'm a fucking dead weight." Lily wanted to choke. She wanted to vomit. She wanted to die.
James narrowed his eyes, finding things suddenly quite clear and shiny. The moisture in his eyes limited his view. "No. God, no." he whispered, crushing her hand in his. "No." He wasn't understanding her desperation.
"Fine." Lily muttered, struggling to keep her eyes on his. "I deserve better." Her tone was bitter and mean. His eyebrows rose into his bangs, obscuring them from view.
"Excuse- what? Excuse me?" His hands slipped from hers, grappling with the air. Suddenly so empty and cold. "What the fuck?"
"This is love, we have that. We did find it. I know it. But now, right now – we can't have it." Emotionless.
"James, listen to me." Now she pled, but why? She didn't even understand.
"No, you listen to me Evans. I'm playing the game now. I want to fight."
"You shouldn't have to." She was reaching now.
"Bullshit, I will. Lily, there's no me without you. So fuck you." He grabbed for her hand. This wasn't going to end here, he'd be damned if it did. How did this get so out of control!
Lily couldn't speak. She hadn't meant to go this far. She hadn't meant to give in to the opposition. To really suggest they end it, to give him up. Her voice was gone, her free hand covering her mouth as she played over and over his last words. She'd never really taken the time to understand him and his love. Yet, she played the scenarios in her mind, how to continue walking the halls hand in hand. How to justify the life they led and the treatment they received. She turned it over and over in her mind, but the conclusion kept coming up the same: they were children playing in an adult's world, a world that was vicious, cold and completely separate.
"This is a mistake." She whispered behind her hand. His response should have scared her, but all she felt was a slight release of the heart in her throat. His eyes glared into her soul.
"I'll do anything. We can make this work, it's just another few months until we graduate. Then we'll move in together, get married! They can't touch you then, you'll be one of us." His eyes burned in his face, he truly believed every word he spoke. She wanted to believe it. Oh, how she wanted to believe that life wouldn't be an uphill battle. In all the hell, she knew he believed himself. Maybe that's all that mattered.
She shouldn't have let it get this far.