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This is not the end

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The first time Lily Evans meets him is at the self-checkout service at Tesco Extra. He’s got these tall, gangly legs that look like they could go on forever and (from what she can tell from the back of him anyways) an unruly bed of jet black hair.

And, if first impressions were anything to go by then he was also an absolute fool. Clumsy and, to be honest, bordering on idiotic.

He’s furiously trying to scan a litre bottle of full fat whole milk and he makes it seem like it’s the hardest and most gruelling task one can take. His back is tense and he’s tapping his left foot against the tiles. She doesn’t know how long he’s been standing there already, but from the way he’s acting she can tell it’s been longer than he intended.

The store is silent apart from his incessant mumbling (she hears a lot of ‘bugger’s and ‘bloody’s amidst the groans of frustration and the sassy voice of the checkout machine). After his fifth try she’s ready to intervene right then and there. There’s a particular art to scanning; you have to be slow, patient. In short, the complete opposite of what that guy is trying to do.

The machine lets out a beep, successfully scanning the milk. Finally. She lets out a sigh of relief along with the guy.

“Unexpected item in bagging area,”

“I just scanned that you absolute -”

“Remove item before continuing.”

He grasps hold of the milk in a fit of anger and plonks it back down without delay. That seems to do it.

The last thing he picks up is a package of pasta from the deli counter, presumably his dinner Lily thinks with pity.

He’s either one of the unluckiest people she has ever met or he just simply cannot cope when it comes to the self-checkout service. Once again she finds herself fascinated and in complete awe by this strange boy and his seemingly never-ending supply of energy, because the next thing she knows his pasta has dropped out of his hands and it’s gone everywhere on the floor.

There’s an aggravated groan of frustration, followed by his large hands going up to his head.

It looks like he’s about to strangle himself for a second, his hands shoot up to his face and he pulls at his hair for a second before they fall limply at his sides. He stares at the splatter of pasta and lets out a deep breath of aggravation.

It’s now all too much for Lily. Instantly she covers her mouth with her hand, trying to stifle the laughter that’s threatening to bubble up her throat. Although this is one of the most hilarious things she’s witnessed, she thinks it’d be rude to laugh at his misfortune like that.

The poor sod.

He looks so lost and utterly helpless and she debates with herself about whether it would it be weird to go forward and help him?
She’s so tempted because watching him is almost unbearable. It’s late, the store is nearly empty, and no one deserves to get covered in pasta at ten o’clock in the evening. But then again, since it’s late she’s not really up for any social interaction; all she wants to do is buy her food, go home, go on Netflix and procrastinate all her uni work.

She doesn’t even say anything as she moves forward; she just kneels down next to him and joins in scooping up the pasta with her hands next to him.

And it’s then that she finally gets to see his face. A breath catches in her throat as their eyes meet. Hazel upon bright green, it’s as if life stops for a second (no matter how cliché she thinks it sounds).

His cheeks are red and flustered now that he knows he’s had an audience for god knows how long of him making a fool of himself. If anything the blush makes him look even more attractive and for a second she looks completely gormless because she can’t stop staring at that gorgeous face.

He looks shocked, like a deer caught in the headlights, but his eyes turn back to the floor in a flash. His cheeks are tinged pink as he continues to pick up the pasta with shaky fingers.

“Thanks for that,” He says once they’ve finished. He throws her a sheepish kind of grin that she can’t help but blush to in response. She would have hardly called it helping, but gives him instant brownie points for being polite.

She intends to whisper back a quick ‘no problem’, but her throat closes up, dry, and she ends up croaking out the words instead. Her hopes of being cool and suave are out of the window. She’s wearing old leggings and worn out trainers for goodness sake.

The boy says nothing. Instead he just stares at the mess of tomato sauce on the floor for a second before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a packet of superman pocket tissues.

Lily doesn’t know what to think.

This guy just pulled out a packet of superman tissues like they were his magic wand. He doesn’t even seem embarrassed by the fact he had them in his pockets, he just kneels to the floor again and starts wiping like a mad-man.

This is such a bizarre and unusual experience for her, and yet part of her feels like it’s completely normal. Watching this guy make a fool out himself and then clean up his mess with superman tissues.

His tongue lolls out the side of his mouth in concentration as he wipes and he doesn’t stop until it’s as clean as he can get it. He ends up using the whole packet before he gives the floor a satisfying nod.

She doesn’t realise he’s talking to her until he taps her shoulder with a new packet of tissues.

Her shoulders flinch, Henry Cavill’s face is pressed against her and she doesn’t know how she feels about that.

“Sorry, what?” Heart hammering against her chest, she tries to breathe as slowly and as calmly as possible.

For some reason this guy is making her feel like she’s got butterflies fluttering around the pit of her stomach and she doesn’t know what to make of that. Or about anything for the time being.

He grins, and repeats his question. “Do you want a tissue?”

The answer is pretty obvious; her hands are covered in the red sauce but she finds it commendable that he felt the need to ask her. She accepts one, refusing to let her shaky hands get the better of her. Deep breaths.

“Sorry about your pasta, are you going to get another?”

They’re still crouched next to each other on the floor, their heads almost touching. The boy clears his throat and moves to get up, stretching all the while. His knees click as he stands and Lily scrambles up to follow his lead.

“Nah,” He shakes his head. “I think it’s best if I do nothing, before I end up doing something else stupid.”

She’s relieved to hear humour in his voice.

He says nothing as he places a tenner into the machine and waits for his change.

Honestly, she doesn’t know why she’s still standing there next to him. She feels drawn to him, like a magnetic pull is between them. The space between them is tingling so much that the hair on the back of her neck stands up on edge.

She can’t help but just stare and stare and stare at him. Her tongue clicks against her lips, watching his long fingers fiddle as he places his wallet back into his pocket.

She should say something…

Something witty so this meeting can be something like in the books or movies. A meet-cute.

He’ll realise that she’s gorgeous and amazing and that life is complete now that he’s found her. He can whisper sweet nothings in her ear as they walk out of the store never looking back-

Her daydream is interrupted by the checkout machine. It gives out a loud and dangerous whirring noise before countless amounts of coins sputter out and the two of them stare at the machine in horror.

In true self-check-out fashion The Handsome Boy gets the majority of his change in 20ps but at this rate it looks like he doesn’t even care anymore, he glares at the machine and it’s like the two of them are having some sort of stand off. When the machine is finally finished he grabs all of his change in one swift movement, hurriedly catching a 2p coin that manages to escape from his grasp before it decides to roll away under the counter, never to be seen again.

He’s not even bothered; he pours the coins into his pocket which is now so stuffy and bulky that she’s tempted to offer to carry some. But that would be weird… and she realises she’s been staring at his crotch area for longer than she had intended. She snaps her head forward and meets The Handsome Boy’s eyes.

He’s smirking at her and she tries her hardest not to blush. Her heart shivers, pounding against her chest as she watches him pick up his bag of shopping. The handles stretch against the weight and Lily holds her breath- waiting for it to snap and for his shopping to crash all over the floor.

Luckily, it doesn’t.

“Well,” The Handsome Boy lets out a deep breath, as if he had been expecting the same thing to happen, and gives her a firm nod. “You really helped me out there, so thanks. Hopefully my night is changing for good now.”

When he smiles his eyes shine like constellations and his face seems to brighten up the dimly lit store.

Sweaty hands. Dry mouth.

She must look like an idiot as he waits to see if she’ll say something.

“Cool, see ya.” She finally manages to choke out, all the while wanting to slap her face onto the counter. What kind of a response is that?

The Handsome Boy’s smile falters a little, hands tightening against his bag. His face is free from any emotion and Lily instantly regrets the words that slipped out of her lips in panic.

Then he’s turning around and she can’t help but breathe in a gasp, shocked at how much it hurts when it feels like there’s no air left in her tight, collapsible lungs.

Why can’t she say something? Her body is shaking, her fingers itching to just reach out and pull at his sleeve and bring him back to her.

She doesn’t even know his name. And she realises with a shock that he doesn’t know hers, either. She’ll forever be just that girl at the grocery store that helped to pick up his dirty pasta… she’ll fade away into his memory until one day he won’t even remember the moment that they shared together at all.

And then, just like that, he’s gone. The last bit of his body is hidden behind the aisles and shelves of the store and Lily has never hated herself more.

Someone coughs behind her. There’s a grumpy looking woman waiting rather impatiently with a basket full of food behind her and suddenly Lily remembers where she is and what she was doing here in the first place.

She scans her items with ease and no problems (honestly, how the heck did He make it look so difficult?!), trying not to think about the distinct smell of tomato pasta coming out of the bin nearby. Then she’s following in his footsteps, it’s as if he’s still next to her.

She can hear the thunderous downpour before she’s even left the building and quickly thanks God that she remembered to bring her umbrella with her (you can never trust the weather forecast these days).

It’s chucking it down outside, the rain hitting the pavement so heavily that puddles are already forming and the cars that are whooshing past spray the sidewalks even more. It’s as if the skies are tormenting her, the pathetic fallacy making her feel even more pathetic than she already feels. With a scowl her brolly goes up and she releases a deep breath before stepping out into the rain.

The sound is so harsh, like bricks falling from a great height and flattening anything in its path. She lets out a surprised shock as her feet tread into a puddle and her socks and shoes become an instant soggy wet mass against her feet.

She stops.

Either her mind is playing a dirty, rotten trick on her or… the guy that had just suddenly turned her world around on its axis is standing underneath the store roof, frowning up towards the sky with his arms folded against his chest.

Dirty and soggy feet are not going to stop her getting her second chance and before she has time to think against it hurries towards him, a smile growing wider and wider on her lips. The giddy feeling in her gut is back and it’s like she’s walking on clouds to get to him.

As if he sensed her presence (or just heard her, but she prefers the former) he glances up in her direction and there it is again: his bright smile that just dazzles her beyond words.

“This has been one of the worst days ever!” He shouts over the intense downpour, his voice sounding so angelic and harmonic that it gives her goosebumps.

She can’t hear him properly against the harsh sound the rain makes against her umbrella, so she has to move forward towards him, not that she’s complaining.

“Huh?” Once again her words fail her, she’s never had a problem with eloquence before. Her throat just instantly dries up and she can’t help it.

She dives under the small ledge that’s covering him, their shoulders inches apart. He has a rain droplet running down his cheek and Lily gathers all of her inner strength to refrain herself from wiping it away with her fingers.

“I’m going to wait until the rain stops,” The Handsome Boy says, glaring at the sky again. Judging from the large dark grey clouds that cover the sky like a blanket it’s something that won’t happen any time soon.

“Because I just realised I forgot my umbrella and there’s no way I’m going to go out in that.” He shakes his head, another droplet falls on his face but he doesn’t seem to mind. He’s got this beautiful smile etched onto his lips, his eyes glowing as he mutters out, “Knowing me I’d probably fall on my arse into a puddle.”

Lily swears, it’s at this moment that she is one hundred percent certain that he has just stolen her heart.

The poor guy is drenched and yet it looks like he just walked out of a magazine shoot, clad in perfection but like he’s had a sexy dance in a waterfall or something. And when he lets out a little shiver and wraps his hands tighter against his chest she has already made up her mind.

“You can come under my umbrella,” She says as smoothly as she can, trying her very hardest not to copy Rihanna and go ‘ella, ella, ella’.

“You’re a lifesaver, you know that right?” He flashes her a grin and she feels light and giddy on her feet. His feet shuffle, avoiding the puddle and he ducks under her arm so he’s under her umbrella.

She catches a whiff of fresh lemons and lavender before she has to hold her breath.

Did he look like this before? Tousled black and wavy hair with hazel eyes as bright as a thousand star constellations… and a smile so soft she feels like he could break at any second.

He’s so much taller than her; he stares down as she stares up and he has to bend his legs slightly so he’s covered by the rain.

“Would you mind if I…” His voice trails off and he puts out his hand, asking silently if he can be the umbrella holder.

She hands it to him in an instant, words failing her anyways so there’s no point in even trying to speak, and gulps as their hands brush. His fingers are cold like ice but they feel… right? Soft and delicate, like she could hold them forever and never get bored of entwining hers against his.

“I’m James, by the way.”

James.

Finally. Finally.

She knows his name. It echoes inside her head and she can’t help but smile; the name fits him perfectly. Although ‘Handsome Boy’ does have a nice ring to it.

“I’m Lily,”

She insists that she walks him home and is relieved when they find out they live in the same student residence halls. It’s about a ten minute walk back.

What would have been a walk of silence and full of dull boredom becomes a walk full of laughter and joy.

James swears he’s not usually as clumsy as he was today, but does recall an incident where he twisted his left ankle after going down some stairs, thinking there was an extra step.

“My friend, Sirius, thought it was blinking hilarious. He wouldn’t let me live it down for the whole week… until he was swinging a computer chair in the library and it toppled over and he fell arse first on the floor.” James laughs, shaking his head at the memory.

The ten minutes have gone in a flash and they’re both standing by the entrance of the student village. James directs her to his halls, building E, floor 4, and she makes a little mental note of it (she’ll have to make a friend in the building and hopefully find him again and call it fate).

“You have definitely been like a knight in shining armour tonight, Lily.”

Her name on his lips causes her heart to swell and she smiles. Her chest still feels tight, her voice giddy and shaky still.

How does he have this kind of effect on her?

“The pleasure was all mine,” She says, hopefully not too eagerly. “I had fun.”

“Me too,”

He puts a hand in his pocket and pulls out his key, handing her back the umbrella. “Maybe we’ll see more of each other.”

Ten minutes isn’t enough.

She wants their talks to be endless. Hours and hours of talks; the kind of conversations where your words trail off, yawns fill the empty spaces and silences and you fall asleep next to each other and wake up and smile because you can talk again.

Lily grips onto the umbrella tight, blinking hard.

There are hundreds of students in these halls, almost a thousand. Suddenly the words don’t seem to bring that much hope to her at all.

“Yeah, maybe.” She says regardless, wanting it more than ever.

It can’t end like this.

They’ve just had the most bizarre encounter; one that she can see telling her kids and grandkids ‘and that’s how Grandpa James and I met’. And yet here he is now, walking away from her.

James gives her a little wave and then he turns the key into the lock and the doors open.

He looks back and smiles and waves again and she feels like a hopeless idiot, standing there and watching him like a stalker as he goes inside the doors.

Maybe he’ll turn back, maybe he’ll be feeling the same way and not want it to end either.

But he doesn’t look back.

He climbs up the stairs and then he’s gone.

Lily stands there, dumbfounded.

The rain has stopped but still she stands there, watching the door of the E building with her umbrella up, no doubt looking like a wally. The handle is still warm from his touch and she can’t help but sigh.

God Lily, she thinks with a grumble. She finally turns her back to the door, takes a deep breath and walks down the small hill to her own building, P.

She’s never going to see him again. And he was perfect.

Chapter Text

The second time Lily meets him, she swears it’s like she’s fallen into a dream.

She’s been imagining what it would be like to see him again; daydreaming about what he would look like (windswept hair and bright eyes and that glorious, wide smile directed just at her).

So, when she sees him there and his eyes light up, it’s like she’s been swept away in a current of feelings. She says a little prayer, thanking God that she actually decided to come to the party after all, because otherwise she would have never have seen him.

Lily realises with a pang in her heart, quickly followed by giddy and abrupt butterflies in her stomach, that their story is finally going to continue.

This is not the end.

Sirius notices in an instance.

Their quick eye contact, like they’re both magnets who connect as soon as they see each other, and the dazzling smiles, like they can’t believe the other one is there.

“Do you two know each other?” He asks with a grin, nudging James with his elbow (who is quick to clear his throat and pretend that the intense redness on his cheeks is from the temperature of the room and nothing else).

“Um.” Lily watches as James bites his lips and brings a hand to his head, messing his already tousled hair.

“We’ve met.”

His voice isn’t like how she remembers it.

Sirius nods his head slowly. “Right… how?”

The question makes James breathe in deeply and oh God… is he embarrassed by her? Lily’s lungs tighten, she’s afraid to breathe in or out.

James’ eyes haven’t left hers at all and she needs to look away, but they're bright hazel and so breathtaking, they entrance her. He widens his eyes at her, like he’s trying to tell her something but she has no idea what.

Her heart hammers against her chest so brutally that she wants to gasp from the pain and hide away in a corner of the room. Her ears ping, a white static noise filling her mind and making the hairs on her neck tingle.

And then, before she even realises it, he’s grabbing hold of her hand. His fingers are hot and sweaty and he holds her hand limply, his palm shaking against hers.

“We’re dating!” James blurts out in a rush.

The ringing in her head, the gongs and bells and whistles and chimes that were all banging and clanging together so loudly making her mind spin, stops suddenly as James says those words.

Is she dreaming?

His voice is high pitched, like he’s been sucking on helium, and she tries to catch his gaze but The Handsome Boy is already explaining to Sirius (who somehow actually believes James is telling the truth?) how the two of them ended up ‘dating’.

His fingers are warm, so different from the last time when they felt like ice buckets as the rain danced around them. And yet… and yet, it’s like her hand is supposed to fit into his; soft and delicate, just like before. She remembers the touch. Remembers how her heart ached… and it’s just like before.

“We err,” James scratches his neck awkwardly with his other hand, he glances at her briefly before turning back to Sirius. “We met in the library.”

“But you never go to the library.”

No, this is definitely not a dream.

If it was, James’ hand wouldn’t be clammy and sweaty in hers.

And yet... here they are, with James clasping onto her desperately, like he’s sinking and she’s his anchor.

James’ awkward laugh fills her entire senses. It’s a soft harmony, so pleasant to her ears.

“Y’see it’s a um, funny story. ‘Bout how we met and all. Really funny… but I haven’t seen Lily in a while so…” James trails off.

It takes Sirius a few seconds to understand, the two lads stare at each other and it’s only when James widens his eyes and cocks his head towards a blushing Lily that he lets out a knowing ‘ooooh’.

"Ah,” Sirius says, realisation hitting him like lightning. "I didn't realise I was cock-blocking." He grins again, giving Lily a friendly nod.

James looks like he wants to strangle himself.

“I’ll leave you two lovebirds to... converse, then," he adds and finally, after giving James a knowing look, leaves.

Only one thing follows immediately after: silence.

Lily is flabbergasted.

James looks horrified.

They’re both still holding hands, frozen amidst the party that’s going on around them.

The music is loud, people are laughing and dancing and Sirius makes a beeline to join a group of six (it’s only a few seconds later that the guy is already chatting with a pretty girl Lily vaguely recognises from one of her classes) who are giggling over a game of twister.

James clears his throat and looks sheepishly at her.

James, who she fell in love with at Tesco Extra, the same boy who spilled pasta over himself and on the floor, who forgot his umbrella when the forecast had clearly said it was going to rain… the same boy whom she had been thinking constantly about since the day she had met him.

He ends the silence by casually asking if she wants a drink.

Dizzy, she says yes.

This is when they drop hands, when he leads her away to the kitchen and she’s facing the back of his head again. His hair is even messier from this angle.

A sudden rush of cold sweeps upon her and she finds herself curling her fingers into her fist, relishing the feel of something against her palm. It’s like they’re still holding hands this way.

“I’m really sorry about… about that.” James says finally after he’s offered her a can of coca-cola.

She takes it with a small smile, sipping it quickly so she’s at least doing something.

She doesn’t say anything, she refuses to. She’s not even sure what she would say, if the words managed to get out and make sense at all.

She can feel his jittery gaze, it’s unnerving. He has these beautiful eyes that she could stare into forever, but when she’s trying to avoid his face altogether it’s something that she finds extremely distracting.

His irritating but divinely beautiful smirk is back. And it’s contagious.

“I am really sorry.” He says again. “I didn’t want Sirius to know about… well,” He trails off at this and she finally looks at him again. He scratches his nose and gives a little shrug. “He’d never let me live it down. That I dropped my pasta everywhere in front of a… ”

“In front of a what?”

James’ cheeks are red, a shade that she’d expect to see on Rudolph the Reindeer’s red nose.

“I mean you. In front of you.” He says quickly and before she can ask anything further he’s already speaking again. “Are you hungry? Do you want some…”

He semi-runs towards the fridge and opens it hastily. He all but throws himself into it, his fingers tapping nervously against the handle. Lily can’t help but smile at him; all she can see are his tall, lanky legs and a rather cute backside.

“Um, cheese?” He pops his head out of the fridge and waves the packet with a sheepish smile. At a shrug of her shoulders he’s already handing her some sliced red leicester on a plate which she silently accepts.

“We have some crackers too.” James is off again and ten seconds later he’s back at her side, handing her some Jacob’s crackers.

She can’t deny it, she is starving and cheese and crackers, although a little strange to eat at a party, does sound rather delicious right now.

“I thought you lived in E4.” She freezes as soon as the words leave her mouth, but she tries to act as natural as possible. It’s not like she’s been stalking him… just that she remembered where he lived and had walked past it at every opportunity. And yet here he was, looking like he owned the place in another flat. She can’t help but be nosey.

James, luckily, doesn’t seem to notice and he’s far too interested in eating cheese to notice her cheeks tinge red. “Oh,” He wipes his mouth with his sleeve and gulps down a bit of cola. “I do.”

He’s speaking with his mouth full, but Lily doesn’t care at all. She could listen to him like that all day.

“But well, Sirius is my best mate and I spend most of my free time here.”

That explains it, Lily thinks with a grumble. Now she knows… she’ll make sure she walks past this apartment now at every opportunity.

“Plus, Sirius’ flatmates are amazing. There’s Remus and Peter, they’re both by the TV,” James points and Lily follows his finger. Remus, the taller one she presumes, has his phone out and the two of them are in hysterics about something they’ve seen.

“Why?”

“Pardon?”

They both reach for the last cracker and their hands brush against each other.

It’s like an electric shock and yet it doesn’t hurt in the slightest. It’s static and surreal and gives Lily a little giddy feeling in her gut all at the same time.

They pull their hands back in an instant. Shy smiles and nervous glances fill the air.

“You can take it,” Their voices ring out at the same time.

James sounds desperate, Lily sounds hysterical.

“You have it,” Lily says again, refusing to look at James because she can feel her cheeks burning already and can hear the smirk in James’ suave and cool tone.

“No, please.” James says with a laugh and nudges the plate gently in her direction. “You’re the guest… and Remus will no doubt berate me if he ever got wind of me eating the last cracker when a pretty guest wanted it as well.”

He’s grinning at her, clearly well aware that he’s causing her stomach to flop up and down like she’s on a roller-coaster and a carousel at the same time. Plus, he just called her pretty and right now she feels so flipping elevated and happy that she doesn’t care that this would be her fifth cracker.

She takes it with a smile.

If she was in love with him before, it’s now a bone-crushing, soul-destroying love that is burning her heart and setting her whole body aflame.

She’s halfway through the final cracker when she finds the courage to speak again.

“You never answered my question earlier… about why you prefer here?” She feels rude asking such a personal question when this is only their second meeting… but she feels as if she’s known him forever. She feels so drawn to him; he’s like a comfort in the storm.

Safe, stable, pleasant… she could go on forever.

James just shakes his head and shrugs.

No reason, he claims simply. But she’s not buying it at all and won’t take no for an answer.

“I just…” He relents finally. “It’s fun with all my mates here, that’s all.” He’s clearly hiding something, that becomes far more apparent when he begins to walk aimlessly towards the fridge, pretending to look for something. He’s mumbling aloud to himself as he opens said device and stands in it for a good thirty seconds before he saunters back to her empty handed.

She can take a hint.

“Then, answer me this.” She knows it’s awful asking the poor boy so many questions, but she’s been daydreaming about meeting him again and can’t help but wonder if she’s in some sort of cliched fairy tale full of magic wells and fairy godmothers.

“Anything,” James says, automatically.

His voice is quiet and when she glances upwards to see him she’s met with… a vulnerability that she hasn’t noticed before. His eyes are open (ok, that’s a given… and it’s not like he’s been talking all this time with his eyes shut… but they’re open); they’re so wide and honest and hopeful and for a second it’s like she’s seeing herself in a mirror.

He bites his bottom lip in worry as he waits for her answer and she’s unsure as to why his reply affected her so much.

Lily takes in a deep breath.

“Why say we were dating? Like, why not just say we’ve met and that’s that?”

He sends her a goofy smile, followed by a sheepish shrug of his wide, broad shoulders. He looks almost relieved.

“I panicked?” He offers, laughing a bit awkwardly. “I’m still being ridiculed for the last time I fell on my arse… and I know I could have said anything but…” His voice jitters, like he’s being questioned by a fearsome detective about a murder investigation. “But I, err… my mind just went blank.”

He’s not making much sense, but she understands him completely.

Because that’s what had happened to her; seeing him there, like he was part of her dream had caused her mind to almost shut down completely.

“Like you had all these thoughts running across your mind, but you couldn’t say anything.” She offers.

“Exactly.” He smiles.


 

Only once during the night does Sirius and the other flatmates come over.

James and Lily are playing a game of snap by the kettle, already on their second cup of tea, when the three saunter over and demand to know how they began dating.

The past few hours has allowed Lily to build her confidence and she really (like, really really) likes James. So she’s willing to tell a few white lies to help the poor guy out.

His cheeks are already red as soon as the three come over, and he whispers a quick ‘oh, balls, I’m so so sorry about this’ to her before he falls silent, fearing the worst.

“Was it when I asked you to join me at the gym that one time and you rang four hours later saying you had ‘lost track of time’?” Remus asks with a grin.

James splutters into his mug.

“Yes.” Lily says quickly, grabbing hold of his hand and entwining her fingers in his.

“James was showing me his action man collection.”

Sirius lets out a bark of laughter and Peter quips out with a snigger ‘is that a euphemism?’.

She blushes, but James strokes his thumb against her palm softly and her words jumble at the tip of her tongue.

He clears his throat, helping her out. “It’s true. I asked her if she really was okay flipping through comic books and she said she couldn’t think of a better way to spend her saturday morning.”

She suddenly recalls seeing James with the packet of superman tissues, Henry Cavill as the popular superhero doing the familiar and infamous superman flying stance amidst bright blues and reds. She sniggers, that is going to be a memory she will not forget in a hurry.

“I mean, I know we’re all a bit geeky but… action man? Seriously?” Peter seems to buy the lie and Remus and Sirius quickly follow.

“My collection isn’t all action man…” James mutters in defeat, his cheeks are so red that if she had a marker pen she could draw dots on him and he’d look like he had two ladybirds on his face.

“Batman?” Sirius asks, carelessly throwing a teabag into his ‘THE DARK KNIGHT’ monster-sized mug.

“Superman.” Lily answers smoothly before James can even open his mouth. “James is a really big fan.”

James looks mortified.


 

At one o’clock, when a few of the guests have already started to leave, Sirius decides to turn the party up a notch.

Lily and James had been competing in some mindless and addictive mobile games (temple run, candy crush and crossy roads are the main three the couple spend hours agonising over) when Sirius makes his loud and dramatic announcement.

The boy grins and holds up a sparkling DVD that twinkles and gleams under the bright lights of the room. The Sound of Music.

James groans beside her and she hears him mutter something along the lines of ‘not again’ before the two of them are ushered onto the sofa in front of the television. Sirius is grinning like a madman as he puts the disk into the blu-ray player and Lily finds herself squashed into James as seven other people fit on the sofa with them.

Peter sits on Remus’ lap, a steaming hot mug of tea in his hands, and the girl Sirius was flirting with before as they played twister sits on the lap of said gentleman as well (the two look very comfy, Lily notices a little enviously as she fidgets to find a comfy way of sitting with the hard end of the sofa on one side and James’ hard and bony shoulder on the other).

“Are you okay? Comfortable?”

Lily has to shuffle awkwardly just to lift her head up to meet his gaze. He bites his lip in an attempt to conceal the laughter that’s threatening to bubble up his throat.

“Peachy,” She manages.

At that moment Peter spills his tea on him and lets out a surprised yelp. Remus is instantly pushed into James, who in turns squashes Lily closer to the side of the sofa. Not that she minds… if there was anyone squashing her it would be James every single time.

“I’m so sorry!” He shuffles a little (or as much as he can) away from her and she’s so tempted to grab hold of his wrist and pull him closer to her again so that their thighs are touching and she can hear the sound of his heartbeat and his bony elbows pressing against her…

He blushes and sends her an apologetic smile, which Lily hastily returns as she curses student flats and their lack of good air conditioning. It feels like a sauna and sitting next to one of the most attractive guys she’s seen is not helping her at all.

The movie starts and all Lily is aware of is James’ heavy breathing and how his fingers dance anxiously against his legs.

Everyone else on the sofa is chatting along to themselves, the main culprit being Sirius who quotes aloud alongside the movie. Remus tells him to shut up every single time but eventually joins him in the quoting.
Sirius’ silence lasts all but two minutes and then the sofa gets into a discourse about ‘how do you solve a problem like Maria?’ or ‘what would it be like to sit on an acorn, we need to try this’.

Conversations dance around the room, but Lily and James are frozen.

They try desperately to look everywhere and anywhere but when James’ phone vibrates and she feels the buzz against her thigh, her cheeks are on fire again. More so when he murmurs out a ‘sorry’ (he’s said that word a lot to her in the past few hours) and has to awkwardly reach into his pocket and if they were close before they’re even closer now and she can almost feel his hair tickling her neck and she can almost count the freckles on his cheeks and nose.

After a few seconds of struggling he finally manages to get to his phone out and she watches as he stares intently at the device. His forehead crinkles in concentration, his nose twitches and he bites his lip.

She's entranced.

He breathes out a dramatic, heavy breath as his long fingers begin to tap against the screen in an almost unbearably slow pace.

Lily’s eyes are glued to his hands; how he takes such a long time to tap out the words, like he should really be a grandma who's gotten a mobile for the first time and has to take ten minutes to type something out as the grandchild watches in agony.

Then she remembers how much she’d like to kiss him, and all grandmother/grandchild analogies fly out the window.

“Everything okay?” She finds herself asking. She doesn’t usually like to talk during movies but since the whole sofa is already talking over the film, she feels less guilty about it.

James seems concerned as he stares at his phone and his problems are suddenly important to her.

“Yeah…” he scratches his chin and sighs. “It was just domino's sending me a text about half price pizza. I texted ‘STOP’ to stop them from spamming me.”

She's not able to say anything in response (although what she would have said, she has no idea) as the song ‘Sixteen going on seventeen’ graces the screen.

Sirius instantly stands up to dance and serenades the broom which is standing next to the bin. As Sirius and the brush dance around the kitchen lovingly together, Peter and Remus secretly film the whole ordeal on their phones and a tall, lanky guy (whom Lily has heard Sirius call ‘Franky-dank’ throughout the night) decides this is a good a time as any to make the party a nice cup of tea.

James’ eyes are glued to the tv screen when she next glances towards him. There's so much more room on the sofa now and yet they're still pressed up against each other and she wouldn't change it at all.

Yes it's uncomfortable and his elbows are sharp and his shoulders are bony… but he's amazing and she's in so deep now she might as well continue on sinking.

She can see his lips moving and she realises he's singing along with the song quietly underneath his breath. She can't help but smile at the image, what with Sirius singing aloud (and in the totally wrong key) in the background and with James pretending like he doesn't know every single word to the song.

She could watch him forever.

And as her eyelids start to feel heavier and heavier she continues staring with a soft and enthralled smile etched upon her face.

She’s as close as can be to being in his arms and she falls asleep to the sound of his breathing and with the sight of his picking his nose.

Delightful, she wouldn't change a thing about him.

The next thing she knows tiredness has taken over and her head drops and she hears a soft bespoken ‘oh!’ in the endless void.

When she wakes up the world is a blur.

Lily opens her eyes slowly, and for a second she can't remember where she is or what she was doing because this room doesn't look familiar in the slightest. It's then that she starts to panic and lifts her head.

James is leaning against the sofa, his head resting against the wall in what looks like the most discomforting angle imaginable. It’s when her eyes drop down to follow his fingers, which are tapping slowly on his phone, that she she notices her own position.

Her face is resting against the nook of his shoulder and there's a wet patch right where her mouth is. If she's been drooling then there is every possibility that she's been snoring too and she can just imagine how horrified James must have been and what a gentleman he is to have not thought enough is enough and abandoned her alone on the sofa.

He must have sensed her small movements because he finishes typing something quickly before he looks down at her. One arm is bent awkwardly at her side… but the other, oh the other is delicately wrapped across his chest.

She can feel his heart beating gently against her hand and it's like the flipping elephant in the room because they both know it's there, that her fingers are against his chest and that he feels warm and safe and so familiar.

She's afraid to move but when he looks down and smiles at her it's like watching a breathtaking sunrise; her heart leaps in her throat and butterflies erupt everywhere.

“Hey,” He murmurs softly and swings an arm around her shoulder.

His fingers are warm and they curl against her in such an intimate way for a few seconds before his hand freezes and goes limp, dropping back to his side as if he had never made the move in the first place.
He shows no signs of embarrassment, just gives her another smile to which she gladly returns it.

“Sorry,” Her body is aching from sleeping in such a weird way and yet she doesn’t want to move away from him in the slightest.

“What for?” His voice is so deep and when she's right by his chest like this she can hear every intake of breath.

The hairs on the back of her neck tingle and she lets her fingers grip onto him just that little bit more. She gulps and all she wants to do is snuggle deeper and kiss every inch of him and trace the lines on his face and pull her fingers through his hair.

They both stay still, no intention of moving at all.

The sofa isn't full anymore, so there's much more room now.

And yet they're pressed against each other at the far right as if there's still ten people squashing them into their close proximity.

“You don't look very comfortable,” is what she says eventually, blinking her eyes and stifling down a yawn.

The sun is only just starting to rise through the cheap and broken curtains, it gives the kitchen a hazy, orange glow and James looks almost ethereal with the light shining against him.

His laugh is soft, just as always, addictive, delectable and as sweet as honeycomb and caramel.

“I chose to stay.” It's a different answer from the one she was expecting, but she can see the truth in his eyes and it's all she needs. “Plus,” His voice rings out and she realises she's been staring mesmerised at his lips for goodness knows how long. “You have a tight-death grip and I don't think I would have been able to move even if I wanted to.”

All she gets from that is he didn't want to move (or that's how she's going to interpret it anyhow) and she's going to continue sinking and drowning because that's all she knows.

They say it takes two to tango, and it also takes two to almost cuddle on a sofa after knowing the person for only a total of twenty four hours ish.

There's a part of her completely terrified that she's in way over her head, that there's a possibility that she's making up all these feelings. That he has no interest in her whatsoever… that their meeting at Tesco that one day was a complete coincidence… that it wasn’t fate, that it was just her helping him pick up pasta from the shop tile floor and not her falling helplessly in love after just thirty seconds of seeing him.

They chatter for a few minutes.

James recounts last night; how insulted Sirius was that Lily had dozed off during the best song of the movie but had forgiven her when he was offered a nice sugary tea off Franky-dank. How the movie had slowly just become background noise as Peter and Remus went through the various filters on snapchat and took a few rather amusing videos that Lily would have to see later.

It’s when Lily covers her mouth to yawn that James reaches down to hold her hands. She stares at him, surprised by how forward he’s suddenly become (but secretly loving it at the same time). His hands envelope hers, warm and soft and rough at the same time and she’s just about to fold her fingers through his when he gently drops them and gets up off the sofa.

His knees click, just like last time, and he lifts his arms, stretching as if he hasn’t moved in a million years.

His shirt rises just a little, but it’s enough for Lily to see a slither of skin and the top of his jeans.

Then she’s blushing and cursing herself because she doesn’t know if it’s from seeing James like this or from her thinking that he was about to hold her hand like they were a couple. When he’s done stretching he plods over to the kettle and gets out the mugs they used last night.

As she watches him make their teas, and notices how he listened and remembered the way she liked the perfect brew (weak and milky with no sugar), she realises that the reason why she blushed was both the aforementioned reasons and more.

It’s that he’s here.

And she’s here.

Together.

Even though they were together most of, or rather all of, the night, she still wants more. She doesn’t care if it’s a selfish thing to think. She doesn’t want to be so shy and embarrassed by a slither of skin.

A hot cup is placed into her hands and she thanks him instantly (tea etiquette is always thanking the tea maker no matter if it’s the right colour or not).

“Is the colour okay?” She swirls the teaspoon around aimlessly and takes a hesitant sip after blowing on it a few times.

He watches like a hawk and doesn’t stop until she gives him a nod and smiles, “perfect,”.

He makes the best brew, despite his own being the complete opposite to hers (so dark with only a dash of milk and one heaped teaspoon of sugar which almost definitely counts as two). The clock reads four a.m. when they’ve finally finished their teas.

Tangled feet and heads resting against each other, their voices dancing back and forth.

She never wants to leave.

But when he fidgets and checks his phone she knows all good things must come to an end at some point.

She places her mug down on the small coffee table, twiddles her thumbs and stands.

“I suppose I best be off,” At the sound of her voice he’s staring at her again. Eyes so open and yet hiding all emotion. He nods stiffly.

“I have an essay due Thursday.”

“Started it yet?” He asks as he places the mugs in the sink.

“I’ve not even looked at the questions yet,” She laughs a little and watches as he reaches over to grab his brand new, sparkling clean and expensive looking trainers.

“Peter once wrote an essay one hour before the deadline. He got a first and the teacher said it was the best damn essay she had ever read. You’ll do great, I’m sure.”

There’s a couple of seconds of awkward silence. James stands there in his shoes with a light jacket clad over his shoulders whilst Lily stands in just her mismatched christmas socks. She spots her scruffy shoes by the hallway and drags her feet over to them, highly aware of James’ heavy gaze on her back. O

nce the shoes are finally on and her bag is swung over her arm James smiles and says he’ll walk with her to her flat. That much had been obvious as soon as he had put on his shoes, but she thanks him nevertheless and smiles giddily when he opens the door for her, the two of them walking out of the flat together like they’ve known each other for years.

She doesn’t want to leave.

Last time ten minutes had not been enough.

This time it seems like twenty four hours aren’t enough either.

She needs weeks and months with him. Years. Endless encounters, conversations that last days and smiles that last ages and over lifetimes.

They walk down the steps in a comfortable silence, listening to the birds sing and twitter in the light glow of the rising sun. Their feet step in unison, gravel crunching under their shoes and the wind twirling around them in a soft, delicate breeze. I

It’s not enough.

He asks her which building she’s in and smiles for some reason when she replies with ‘P’. She doesn’t ask, nor does she want to because she’s afraid that speech will fail her and that she’ll end up croaking and making a fool out of herself.

“Listen,” He says once they’re walking from Sirius’ B flat. “I err, wanted to thank you. About last night.” When she doesn’t say anything he continues on, his voice mumbling. “It wasn’t fair of me to put you into that kind of situation before asking if it was okay. And Sirius and the others believed it and so you really helped me out there.”

He chuckles and this time when he looks at her she swears she can’t breathe.

He smiles and his eyes are alight, shining and she’s so drawn to him like a captivated moth to a flame. “I wonder if we’ll make a habit out of this.”

They stop when they reach P, a shabby looking building with moss growing out of the bricks.

She fidgets and puts her hands in her pockets, watching James as he kicks a small stone onto the grass.

“Well,” She says at last. “This was uh, fun.” She means it, and more. But words fail her, not for the first time.

Once again James smiles and with the sun behind him, the light gleaming through his glasses and brightening his dark hair, he’s like the perfect happy ever after ending to any story.

When he doesn’t say anything and only stares at her she feels like she’s now overstayed her welcome.

She grips onto her bag tight, needing some kind of support, before she gives him a nod and a quick smile and turns away.

She hates how it’s like déjà vu, turning and walking away. The realisation that it’s over hits her hard like she’s just slammed into a brick wall and broken every bone.

But there’s no reason for her turn back. He’s not calling out her name or tugging at her hand. It’s just like before and yet it’s not.

Instead of being filled with giddy daydreams it’s the hard, nitty-gritty realism that fairytales and wishes do not come true. Lily bites back the tears and glares at the door. It’s the end, if you want it. She thinks bitterly and grips onto her keys tight, full of anger.

It’s the end.

It’s the end.

And he wants it.

Her keys fumble into the lock and then she hears movement and a flurry of angry and foul swear words before James is suddenly by her side, breathing as if he’s just ran a marathon.

His eyes are dancing with fear and hope and expectation, just like hers. She’s too scared to say anything, but her hands pause.

The key stays in the lock.

“I was thinking,” He breathes out, his eyes refusing to leave hers in a trance-like state. “If you wanted to, that is, if we could… we could meet. Again? Sometime.”

She should be angry, but as soon as she sees how sincere and desperate he looks it melts away and an unbearable wave of emotions swallow her whole.

“I would love to.” It’s amazing, saying those words. They’re true, they scream out into the void and ring for all to hear it.

He smiles and damn, she loves his smile. He looks exhilarated and ecstatic and she would bet on anything that she looks exactly the same.

Like two fools hopelessly in love. But they don’t care, they’re sinking together and it’s the best thing in whole world.

“You should go and work on your essay first though. I don’t want to be the reason you don’t get the mark you deserve,”

In a single movement he’s taken out his phone and after a few seconds later passes it to her. He’s created a new contact and after her name is the sun emoji, smiling up at her in such a cliche way that she hates and loves it at the same time. Once she’s done she creates a new one for him, James, followed by the sun emoji because she’s trash okay.

“I guess I should go in then,” They stare at each other and God, they can’t stop smiling.

Shy smiles, smirks, wide grins and soft chuckles.

It seems like hours go by before her phone makes a sound and she finally pulls her eyes away. Her flatmate asks if she’s okay since she never returned back.

She types back that she’s never felt better.

“I’ll see you then. Soon.” He says and it’s a promise, as he watches her turn the keys in the lock.

She gives him a wave and then another and then one more before she turns to climb up the stairs, just for good luck.

He stands there until the sun is risen, smiling at the door with the goofiest, most elated smile he can muster.


 

The third time she meets him he greets her with a bouquet of white daisies and soft yellow roses.

This time, they both know they’ll meet again.

That they have their whole lives ahead of them.

That this... well, that this is not the end.