How Could He

How could he? How could he dare? Did he have any idea how hard she had worked on this? And to watch him just strut in and take it from her!

There was a knock at her door. She had been lying in bed for hours now, too many tears had fallen and now she was too furious to sleep.

How could he?

Knock, knock, knock.

He had seemed so different! He was so happy to be there, with her, and then… She had slaved for weeks to make that night perfect and he—

Knock.

"WHAT?" She screamed at it, kicking her mattress in frustration.

"Lily?"

"Oh you have got to be kidding me," she yelled, more to herself than to the person behind the door. She did not want to deal with him, right now or ever. "WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU WANT?"

"Lily. Please open the door."

"NO!" How could he sound so calm? Didn't he even know what he had done to her? She glanced at her watch, yelling "IT'S BLOODY FOUR IN THE MORNING AND I AM NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, YOU BLOODY ASREHOLE!"

"Lily, I'm not just here to bother you, I actually want to talk."

James stared at her door. A gold plaque was right under his eye level reading Lily Evans, Head Girl, the paneled mahogany was far thicker than he would have liked - especially considering what it separated him from, and the door knob jammed as he tried once again to turn it. He was desperate. His heart was pulling him down, a weight he couldn't bear. He couldn't leave it like he had a few hours ago.

Why was it so hard for him to be nice to her? He wanted nothing more than for her to know what she meant to him. How just the memory of her smile could light up his world. How every time they talked he couldn't help but beam. How even when they fought he still wanted to be with her more than anything. James knew this was not the time to bring that up – he should be apologizing, not trying to get her to fall in love with him.

"Lily, please."

Last night had been perfect (aside from the fact that Lily hadn't fallen in love with him). The music was superb, the Great Hall looked fabulous, and everyone was so blissful. There was dancing through out and people singing along to the bands. She had looked so beautiful in that purple dress, and when she felt the success of the night… Why did he have to ruin it?

James leaned his back against her door, wishing more than anything that he could make her understand how sorry he was. He hated his pride sometimes. He hated that it made him look like such a bad person in her eyes. Her view was the only one that mattered to him, and yet he just couldn't get it right. He closed his eyes and slid down, landing on the floor gracefully.

"Lily."

"Potter. What. Do. You. Want." He could tell she was at least out of bed. She wasn't going to open the door but at least she was moving.

"Lily… I, I'm… I'm sorry." James pleaded, gently banging his head against her door.

Oh Merlin. Why was he even trying? "Ha! No, you're not sorry! You just don't want me to hate you! You can't bear the thought of someone thinking you're not Mr. Perfect," she said.

She wanted to laugh he was so pathetic. She wanted to pull her hair out she was so mad at him. Her hands were shaking in fury.

"No, Lily, please." His heart sank even lower, he couldn't bear her words. It was horrible knowing how much she believed in what she said. It was even worse knowing she had such good reasons for believing them. "Lily, please. Can we talk?"

"We are talking!" She screamed at the ceiling.

"Right. Okay… Lily. What I did… It was… I was…"

"Really stupid and selfish and so horribly idiotic beyond belief?" Lily offered.

"What…? I, um... yeah." James was so flustered. Fatigue was beginning to reach him, but he wouldn't dare let it overcome him until this was fixed.

Lily stopped her pacing. What? He had agreed with her? Well, that was new. Maybe he was too weary to understand what he was saying.

She rolled her eyes and resumed her pacing, trying to put her anger into words. "Okay. You're sorry. You've said your piece. Now leave."

"No. Lily, you don't understand. Why won't you understand?"

"What don't I understand? I'll tell you! I don't understand how you could take the credit for all my work! That you could yank the blanket out from under me and ruin the whole goddamned night while you're at it! How could you do that to me, Potter?" Lily felt like she was making herself a little vulnerable by telling him this, but she didn't care. She had her wand and if he dared put one more toe out of line in the next decade…

"Lily, I know! I'm so sorry—"

"Oh please! Save it! I don't want to hear how sorry you are about ruining my good graces with everyone at this bloody school," Lily said, tears starting to form in her eyes again as sharp memories from the past twelve hours began to flood her mind. "It's like you don't even care about anyone but your self."

I care about you, James thought.

"You probably only told Dumbledore it was your hard work and dedication that put the whole bloody ball together because your ego was running low."

That struck a chord. "No, Lily, listen to me! Dumbledore didn't—"

She cut him off again. James was starting to get frustrated now, too. Why wouldn't she listen? Why couldn't she try to accept his desperation? But she continued. "Dumbledore didn't what? Dumbledore didn't help your poor self esteem when he told you how wonderful the whole thing was?"

"Lily, I..."

"WHAT?"

"I told Dumbledore."

"I KNOW YOU BLOODY TOLD DUMBLEDORE! FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN I—"

"I told him that it was all you."

Lily froze mid-step in the middle of her room, her body suddenly incapable of moving. But her insides were melting, ever so slightly. She stared at the door, behind which there was a boy who, until quite recently, she had wanted to be friends with. She was so beyond disappointed when he had ruined this night for her. They had danced, for the love of Merlin! She had hope of a friendship with that boy not 8 hours ago! Why was he making her feel like this?

She began to soften, her heart so confused and her brain full of hatred. She drew her wand and flicked it at the door, opening it.

James stood up quickly, shocked, and turned toward Lily. She was looking at him, her green eyes ice cold as they glared. She was still wearing her stunning violet dress and her beautiful dark red hair was only a little rumpled. Her arms were crossed and her wand was in her hand. Her face was a little pink and her eyes were red from crying. He hated that he was the reason for that hurt in her eyes.

Lily glared. He was still in his dress robes and his wand was tucked behind his ear. His glasses were a tad askew and his black hair was as messy as ever and she hated that.

"Lily, I'm so sorry."

She didn't even hear him. "You know, for a while I thought you had changed," she breathed. "I knew you didn't think you were worthy for the job, but I didn't think you'd go that far to defend yourself," she said quietly, everything about her was emitting pure dislike and disappointment. They both knew this was true, and he didn't have the heart to say anything. "I knew the moment I saw you on September 1st that you were different. But honestly, James, how could you not be qualified?"

What? James couldn't even begin to absorb what she was saying. His hope had suddenly kick started, his heart rising.

"You're ridiculously clever, you get good enough marks, you're captain of one of the best Quidditch teams this school has seen in decades, all the teachers love you, you've got the reverence of so many kids in this school, and you worked well with the most qualified witch for the position."

James was soaring. He didn't want to smile incase it made her more mad, but it was a loosing battle. "So you're telling me that all this time, for weeks and months, you believed I could do this? And yet you still got mad when I tried to help you?"

He was walking toward her, leaving the doorway. He needed to be near her, and he also didn't want her to feel the need to shout.

She was still mad. "I was right! You didn't think you were good enough so you stole this from me! You haven't changed at all, you selfish arse," she said flailing her arms, new tears forming. She stormed up to him, closing the distance so now they were only two meters apart.

No, Lily, please don't cry. "Lily, I'm so sorry. I told Dumbledore the truth and I'll apologize in front of the whole school if you want me to. I'll do anything, but please don't hate me."

"How could I not hate you? You think you're so high and mighty now that you're Head Boy, even if you don't think it should be you! You still strut around with your stupid mates and you always ruffle your stupid hair and you pride yourself way too much and…"

James sighed, a sad smile just reaching his lips. He looked at the floor, ashamed.

"This is not funny, Potter!"

"No, sorry, it's just… I hate that too. I hate when my pride gets in the way. Sometimes it keeps me from getting close to the people I love, and I hate that," James said, suddenly serious.

"Ha!" Lily rolled her eyes. "As if you could love anyone but yourself and your mates!"

But he was already closing the distance. He grabbed her shoulders and shook them. "That's not true and you know it," he said, almost mad, his desperation coming back as he gazed into her eyes.

She stared up at him, her green eyes wide and her whole being was taken aback. "What? James… James, what are you saying?" she said, much quieter than anything else she had said all night. She wanted too look away, but his hands had moved from her shoulders to her neck, gently forcing her to face him.

"Oh, Lily Evans, when will you get it?"

He looked at her confused eyes as he leaned in quickly, not able to wait another second. He kissed her with such a force that she didn't respond for a few seconds. But when she did, it was magnificent.

Her wand fell to the floor. She suddenly felt all her feelings click into place. Her devastation after he told Dumbledore, her happiness on September 1st, the pure joy she felt when dancing with him all those hours before… She enjoyed his company. She loved his strong arms wrapped around her. She didn't want him to stop kissing her. She wanted him to hold her closer. She liked him. She, Lily Evans, liked James Potter.

His lips on hers; he couldn't have been happier. And then she kissed him back.

James moved his hands down her back and wrapped his arms around her waist, drawing her in. Lily put her arms around his neck, pulling herself up, trying to get impossibly closer to him and knocking his wand off his ear in the process. She raked her fingers through his messy black hair and he smiled.

James had made her understand. All of the things said and done, all past and over with.

She felt his smile as they kissed, and more tears started to form.

All of the things he had said to her in hours, months, years past. All of the ways he had hurt her. All of the reasons he was the only one who could make her feel better. All of the exhaustion and all of tonight's events and all that hard work and his heartfelt apology and all of the things she had said to him… and the tears overflowed.

Her tears touched his cheeks, and he slowed the kiss and pulled back to look at her. He wiped the tears away with his thumb, running his fingers through her beautiful dark red hair.

"Lily, I… I'm sorry… are you okay?

Lily looked up at him, traces of happiness finally noticeable in her emerald eyes. "Yes," she sighed, a slight smile in the corners of her lips. "I'm great."

Their wands lay on her floor together, long since forgotten.


A/N: Hey.

So this is long but I love it. It actually hurt me to write parts of it, because you know, I ship Lily/James like it's my job...

Anyway.

Review, review, review!

Charlotte