it all comes down to whether or not you give a damn. for ria. xx
One dull and dreary day in late September, James finally gets sick of waiting.
(that’s not true at all; he could honestly wait for her forever.)
Dark clouds crawl across the sky, thunder rumbles ominously in the distance, but she’s laughing, joking about finishing their patrol outside before the heavens open and it’s the best sound he’s ever heard and he can’t hold back anymore.
He catches her hand suddenly, and she whirls around, her hair tracing a graceful arc in the air.
“I love you,” he shouts into the howling wind. Part of him hopes desperately that the brewing storm drowned him out; that she hadn’t heard such a brusque confession from him, that he has a chance to confess more romantically.
(another part hopes that she heard because damn, that was terrifying to say.)
He waits; he’s not sure if it’s approaching thunder or his own heartbeat, but there’s a thudding in his ears and he can’t breathe.
Lily drops his hand and he has his answer.
The rain pours.
“Well, what was I supposed to say?”
Even with her head buried under a pillow, her dorm mates decipher the muffled moans of anguish.
“Anything’s better than ‘thank you’. I mean, really, Lils?” Marlene tuts and Lily screams into her mattress.
“‘I love you, too,’ probably would’ve been a good place to start,” Mary suggests offhandedly.
Lily huffs as she surfaces and sits up. “But I don’t, though.”
Mary, by now accustomed to the ongoing drama of Lily and James’ relationship, simply rolls her eyes, sighs in resignation and continues her Transfiguration homework.
Quirking a brow, Marlene says sceptically, “Okay.” Lily slumps back onto the bed in defeat, and she repeats, quieter, “Okay.”
They suffer through about a week of painful awkwardness before he catches her alone.
“Listen,” James turns away from her, his hands shoved uneasily into his pockets. “About… the other day. We can just, y’know, forget it. Pretend it didn’t happen. If you want.”
She watches as he gently kicks at the castle walls. She’s not sure why, but something tightens inside her painfully.
(she could start something here, she could say, no, let’s not pretend…)
(she could, she could, but she doesn’t.)
“Okay,” she whispers to her toes.
She feels, rather than sees, his body deflate. He exhales, long and slow.
“Okay,” his voice cracks, and something inside her does, too.
“Please don’t tell us you said ‘thank you’ again.”
Lily sniffs irritably. “Of course not.”
“… I said… ‘okay’,” Lily admits and prepares to dodge pillows turned into projectile weapons, but they never come. Instead, Mary drops next to her on her bed and wraps her arms around her. “Mary?”
“It’s going to hit you one day, Lily,” she whispers. “There’s going to be a moment where you have to decide if you give a damn about this, about him, and you have to brave enough to admit that you do.”
“It’s going to hit you,” Marlene says gently as she sits on Lily’s other side, “and it’s probably going to hurt.”
The girls sit there, arms in a tangled mess, until Lily breaks the silence, her voice barely audible.
“It hurts now.”
One dull and dreary day in early October, Lily takes James’ hand. She traces his palm with her fingertips, feels his pulse quicken and stutter under his skin, although it’s hard to distinguish between his and hers.
Finally, she admits quietly, “I don’t know if I can say it.”
“Say what?” The huskiness of his voice does little to calm her.
“You know what,” she mumbles, ashamed that she can’t even vocalise it as a hypothetical.
“That’s not…” he ran his free hand through his hair, “that’s not the reason I told you I love you, Lily. I said it because it’s true and I thought it was the right time to tell you which, given everything that’s happened since then, probably wasn’t actually a good time…”
She watches him ramble on adorably, his hand still in his hair, a trademark gesture of nervousness; his glasses are lopsided and sliding down his nose. Everything about him is so perfectly James, the mere idea of losing him stings.
And that’s when it happens.
And it doesn’t hurt (in fact, it makes everything stop hurting); it hits her like lightning, starting like a spark in her chest and growing and blooming until her whole body feels tingly and alive. She glances down at their hands, still connected, and squeezes tightly.
James stops ranting to look at her. “Lil?”
She shyly lifts her eyes up to his, bright green meeting warm hazel, and smiles beatifically.
“I love you,” she yells. There’s neither thunder nor a roaring wind to compete with, but she wants to make sure he hears her, wants her words to ring in his ears forever.
His smile grows slowly, broadening into the widest, cheekiest grin she’s ever seen on his face. He pulls her flush against him and she laughs delightedly at his response.