“I love you, Lily.”
The silence was killing her. It was heavy in her ears and it seemed to echo menacingly off the walls and off the floor. She could feel it swallowing her whole; she wanted to run from it, because there was nothing she could do. For once in her life, she was helpless. She couldn’t even bear to imagine what it was like for him. He continued to stare at her, his grip on her shoulders weakening as the seconds passed by. Though they didn’t feel like seconds, they felt like minutes; really, really long minutes. She watched him swallow thickly. Watching as the hopeful expression slipped quickly from his perfect face.
She watched as the awful thoughts invaded that beautiful mind of his, she watched as they began to destroy him, as they began to break his heart and wreck his soul. She watched helplessly, because she couldn’t move her mouth – she’d tried and failed again and again.
One last, hopeful glint in his eyes, and he opened his mouth, “Lily? Lily, did you hear what I said?”
She blinked, and with all the strength she could muster, she nodded. It was a small nod; it felt so tiny that she wasn’t sure he even caught it. But he did. There was no way he could have missed it. To James it wasn’t a small nod, it was like she’d knocked him to the ground and pulled out his heart through his mouth.
It wasn’t just a nod; it was what broke James Potter.
His arms dropped limply by his side and he exhaled sharply. He tore his eyes away from her and ran a hand through his hair quickly, before covering his mouth. He felt ill – really, really ill. He turned towards the window; there was a lump in his throat and all the had colour drained from his face as he nodded,
“Right,” He croaked out, his hand running through his hair again, “Right, no worries then.”
“James-” She managed to say, her voice sounded nothing like her own. It wavered, it was small, fragile – it was scared. She was scared.
He held up a hand slightly to stop her talking, he struggled to find the words, “Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to explain.”
He’d put a distance between them, and she’d never felt so alone. She could reach out and touch him, but she knew he didn’t want her to, and that hurt more than anything.
“James – Please…” she whispered, covering her mouth with both her hands as her voice cracked. She wanted to run now more than ever. The look on his face was too much to bear. It was broken. She’d broken James Potter.
“I mean why would you?” He said to himself quietly, with a sad chuckle, “You’re Lily Evans. You’re perfect and witty and clever – why would you love a prat like me?”
“I’m not perfect.” She whispered, tears falling silently from the corners of her eyes.
He smiled sadly as he stared out the window, watching as the snow coated the grass outside, “To me, you are.”
“I’m not,” She argued, not bothering to wipe away the tears as she took a step nearer to him, “I’m a coward, James. I’m foolish and – and horrible and selfish. If I was perfect I – I wouldn’t be afraid to-” she choked, wishing she hadn’t taken that step towards him as he turned around and faced her once more.
“Wouldn’t be afraid to what?”
She sighed, fresh tears fighting their way to the surface as she lifted her head to meet his gaze. The look in his eyes broke her heart, it was loving and kind, despite the fact that she had just responded in the worst way possible to someone telling you that they loved you. She expected his eyes to be cold and resentful, but when he looked at her; she felt warm again, she felt at home – and that in itself was what scared Lily Evans about James Potter.
“Do you know how terrifying the idea of loving you is, James?” She asked quietly, her small hand reaching out and grabbing a handful of his jumper, taking another step closer to him, “I know that once I admit it. Once I admit that… that I love you; there’s no going back. I’m going to feel this way forever; I’m going to love you forever. And when you wake up one day, and you don’t feel the same anymore – I’ll just be stuck here, loving you like I do now.”
The silence was back; but something was different this time. It wasn’t cold and suffocating. Instead it was warm, comforting even. She’d finally said what she needed to say, what she needed him to hear. James’ face had softened as he placed his hands on either side of her face, his thumbs wiping the tears off her cheeks,
“You’re right, Evans. You are foolish.”
“You’re foolish to think that I’m ever going to wake up and not love you.”