~~0~~

Lily-By-Lily

~~0~~

March 2nd

It won't sink in.

And I'm dreading it when it will.

He's gone. Leon is gone.

It's so hard to believe that he's not coming back. That's what mum and dad say. That's what Dr Gates said.

It's what everyone is saying.

Apart from me.

He's not coming back.

He was there. He always was. But before I even blinked my eyes, he was gone.

To the place where people go after life is finished.

But despite he's gone and there's no more happiness, just a few cherished presents and memories, it's like he still haunts me.

I haven't been out of the house in four days, ninety-six hours, five thousand seven hundred and sixty minutes, and three hundred and forty thousand six hundred seconds.

Since it happened.

Rhys and Jesse are the best.

They're trying to take my mind off of the 'accident', but it won't work. It's permanently printed into my mind.

Even though I can't recount anything what happened.

Despite staying in the house, I know exactly what's going on outside.

Flowers by the pavement where Leon spent his last minutes before being struck by a car to his death. Prayers at school being said. Prison. Guilt. Court statements.

The police say it was an act of stupidity.

I say crap to that.

For one thing, Leon was the smartest person I will ever know.

He had it all.

A girl, popularity, looks, personality, grades, a gorgeous voice and a caring family.

And the girl was me.

Lillian Byanca Bewers.

Not B-ee-anca, By-anca.

Otherwise known to Leon, family and closest friends as Lily-By-Lily.

See how it fits?

I have a jumper with Lily-By-Lily stitched on the front.

He was the first to really take notice of my weird name.

Leon had given me the jumper so it's at the back of the wardrobe along with all the other presents he had given me.

But I can neither hide nor forget the memories.

~~0~~

March 5th

Mr and Mrs Emerson came over today to ask if we wanted to attend Leon's 'Leonardo's' funeral.

Leon's brother is nice. He tagged along with his parents.

I've met him once and seen him twice.

I've never talked to him before apart from a brief hello.

He's sixteen, two years older than me.

He's good looking. He reminds me of Leon.

Same dark chocolate eyes, light brown hair and tanned skin which somehow manages to survive the English winter.

But they all look awful.

Same puffy, sleep deprived eyes, tearful, coarse, exhausted.

Much the same as me.

Properly in the midst of mourning.

Mrs Emerson broke down in the middle of a conversation and mum, dad and Mr Emerson escorted her to the kitchen for a cup of strong, sweet tea.

It left me and Eric, Leon's brother, for an hour to kill.

6 o'clock and the Simpsons is on though me and Eric aren't watching or talking either.

Grief has taken our words.

I'm in the armchair, Eric is on the floor, despite there's a free couch.

And I can't help but feel selfish.

I knew Leon for a year since he and his family moved in and went out with him for three months.

Eric knew him for fourteen years. Lived with him for fourteen years.

And though I'm dying to ask about Leon's life, I can't. I'm too shy, too weak, too feeble, too grief-stricken to ask.

And Eric is too grief-stricken to listen.

And so the two of us just sit in silence, too deep in thought, too deep in our grief, to care about anything.

(6:45PM)

The silence is swallowing us whole though we couldn't care less.

He remains cool and calm but inside I know that Eric is broken.

So it surprises me when he decides to speak first.

"You really liked him didn't you?" He murmurs quietly though he doesn't look away from the football game I had purposely put on for him to watch.

I can't talk, only blink and bob my head once in reply, his dark eyes meeting mine and holding my gaze for a second, capturing me in his dark pupils, looking so much like Leon a pain burns in my chest making me wince and making him look away just as his mum and dad enters the room teary-eyed and bids goodbye.

Cue Eric to stand as quickly as possible and waltz to the front door in a few strides.

"Elerik!" His mother scolds. He cringes at his name but turns round.

"Say a polite goodbye to Lillian."

He sighs to himself, me being closest to the door so I'm the only one that can hear him as he meets my gaze once more.

"Goodbye Lily." He mutters before turning and walking out the door.

And it surprises me.

No-one hardly ever calls me Lily. Always by my first name. Lillian. Or, rarely, Lily-By-Lily.

They stopped that since the accident.

But I can't help but keep the shock from my face, causing Mrs Emerson to throw herself into a full hearted apology for Elerik's disgraceful behaviour and says it's a phase from Leon's death and that it will soon pass.

Though as she leaves I can hear her mutter words to Mr Emerson like 'grounded' and 'disgraceful' and gather that Eric never was the favour of the family.

And once again, I feel sorry for the brother.

~~0~~

March 8th

Dr Gates has been over again and thinks that it will be 'healthy' for me to return to school again after Leon's funeral.

Mum is practically Dr Gate's worshipper and follows anything he does so naturally I return to school two days after the funeral.

In a week and a day's time.

Whoopee for me.

Dad doesn't like the idea of me going back to school so early but thinks it will be good to be back around my friends again.

Who knows?

~~0~~

March 9th

I almost cry when Eric comes round at twelve with a box of Leon's stuff asking if I wanted it.

I take it anyway despite I want to slam the door in his face and bawl my eyes out and instead carry the box to my room, leaving the door wide open as I carry it, Eric taking it as an invite to follow me.

Mum is shopping and dad is working whilst I stay in. The outside world is all too much for me.

So I feel almost nervous as I set the box by my wardrobe, determined to tip the contents into the back of it as soon as Eric's left and watch as he takes in my cramped bedroom and sits quietly on the end of my bed, looking at a few posters which I've pinned on a few of the walls.

"I'm sorry about the other day," He mumbles, looking down at his faded trainers, the hem of his trousers hanging low over his ankles as Mrs Emerson had bought them in two sizes up, insisting that he'd grow into them. "It was all just a bit too much y'know?"

I nod and stand awkwardly, fiddling with my hair and scratching my arm, a habit I perform when nervous.

"Anyways," He says, clearing his throat. "How have- How have you been coping?" He fidgets a little. "Leo always said that you were a fighter."

I shrug, feeling more than a little uncomfortable with the question. It's the hundredth time I've heard it in a few days but it's weird it coming from an almost stranger.

"OK I guess," I mumble. "I'm eating, I don't speak much or go out the house but I'm coping," He nods as I close and then open my mouth again. "I just- I guess I just don't fully think he's gone for good. That he's not going to laugh as he steps through the door and peck me on the cheek again," His expression makes me feel even more awkward. "Weird huh?" I say embarrassed.

He shakes his head.

"No. Not at all. I don't think that he's not coming back either. It's hard to believe."

I nod once more and exchange my weight onto my left leg and hold onto my arm as I stand and he sits nervously.

And I know he's not just here to ask how I am and drop off some of Leon's old stuff.

"You still don't remember?" He says quietly.

There we go.

I sigh and shake my head.

"No. Sorry Eric. I still remember only up until the accident. Where me and Leon are laughing on the pavement and then it's just all blank," I shrug. " The memory of the accident should come back in a few days hopefully." I mumble unenthusiastically, though I want to keep his hopes up.

Though we both know differently. It's a very low chance that my memory of the accident will return.

Even Eric knows that.

"I know," He sighs as well. "It's just... killing me. The only other view I have is the driver's which is unbelievably biased."

I nod. God knows how many times I had heard the driver's side of the story, claiming that Leon was the guilty party. When really, it's all my fault.

"I'm sorry about what happened," I mumble. "I should of stopped Leon from walking, at least I think he was walking. Like I said I can't remember what happened. But I should of stopped him anyhow. I just-"

"It's not your fault Lily." He interrupts sharply.

I jump at the tone, my eyes widening.

"I-" He sighs. "It's going to kill me for saying this, mum nearly had a heart attack when I said it. It's Leon's fault. He should of looked before crossing."

I frown in confusion.

"But you just said-"

"I said exactly what everyone else wants me to say. What they think I'll say."

He breathes deeply.

"It's unfair that you're taking the wrap here. Some people respect the dead more than should be allowed."

I wince at the mention of death and open my mouth to say something when the sound of keys jingling, a door opening, heavy breathing and loud footsteps interrupt my sentence. Dad's home.

"Lillian?" He calls. "You home?" He sounds a bit hopeful that I might of veered a step back towards the outside world.

Obviously not.

But again, old habits die hard and dad was always a wishful thinker who always thinks of the positive things in the future and overlooks the negative. He 's just wishing that I'm out.

"Yeah," I call back. "I'm in my room," I hear him sigh quietly and pause for a moment before adding, "Eric's here."

I can almost see a smile on his face and then a confused frown as he adds: "Eric? Eric who?"

Before the accident he would of added 'your boyfriend?' but I'm far too sensitive for that to happen now...

"Eric," I shout back as it's the most obvious thing in the world. "You know... Eric? Leon's brother?"

I swallow down the lump in my throat, hearing the cogs whir to life inside dad's brain.

He pauses and then replies.

"The Emerson kid?"

"Yeah."

I hear him hurriedly walk up the stairs as if he's going to catch me and Eric doing something that should not be allowed for a fourteen and sixteen year old to do until he's standing in the doorway, brown hair sticking up all over the place despite his heavy dose of hair gel to try and flat it down, his suit now crinkled from a day at the office though his shirt still remains tucked in tight over his skinny body and face as clean and stubble-free as ever.

The only thing abnormal about his appearance is the tight grim line his mouth is shaped. In fact he hardly ever smiles anymore, and once again I feel selfish.

"What's Eric doing here?" He asks politely though his voice has a harsher tone to it than I've never even heard before. He didn't talk like that to Leon.

Stupid favouritism.

"He dropped a box of Leon's old stuff over," I say, gesturing towards the box by the wardrobe. "Asked if I wanted it."

"Oh," He replies, leaning against the doorway, his way of showing he's not going to leave the room just yet. "What have you been doing?"

"Talking," I shrug. "About... what happened." I add.

Eric nods in response.

Dad's green eyes flicker over Eric and then me, obviously comforted by the fact that me and Eric are stood/seated far away from each other.

"Cool," He smiles. "I'll be-"

"In your office," I say, rolling my eyes. "As per usual."

Dad mutters something about being cheeky and walks back downstairs.

"Sorry about him," I mumble when dad exits. "He's overprotective since the... you know."

Eric nods and then stands from the bed.

"I've got to go anyway. Mum will be... well, she'll be being mum."

I nod, noticing the small flare of something in my chest at the mention of him leaving.

I stand and follow him out the door.

"I'll see you out."

"You don't have to." He frowns.

"I have to protect you from my dad somehow." I say.

His mouth curves a little as in a smirk and then fades away again.

I walk down the stairs, aware of his chocolate eyes fixed on my back and open the door awkwardly.

"Right um... well I'll see you." I mumble.

"Yeah," He nods. "Thanks for the talk."

"Thank you for the stuff." I reply.

He smiles once and then walks out onto the street, his hands shoved deep in his pockets, hands still red from the handles of the box digging into his fingers.

The box.

I cry myself to sleep that night in a tight ball with my face buried deep into Leon's old T-Shirt, his musty scent surrounding me in a musky haze.

That's when I properly know how much his lack of existence is affecting me and how much I need someone to comfort me and tell me that everything is going to be all right again soon.

Like that's going to happen.

~~0~~

March 12th (4 days to Leon's funeral)

I'm in a bad mood the next morning.

I hardly got any sleep as a figure which looks both like Leon and Eric haunted my dreams.

The first thing I did was throw the box of Leo's stuff in the back of the wardrobe, along with the Leo-scented T-Shirt.

In the first hour awake, me and mum get into a fight, me arguing against going out and choosing a funeral outfit, mum trying to persuade me to get out of the house, first in soothing tones and then in loud shouts.

So I stay in my room all day. And I truly believe that all the happiness has been sucked from the world.

~~0~~

March 15th (1 day to Leon's funeral)

According to Eric who I've been talking to via email, the whole school is attending the funeral which is being held in the school's gymnasium because it's the only place big enough to hold the whole school including family and friends of Leon.

I'm still not talking to mum.

And she's still not talking to me.

Dad is away on business so I don't have any family to talk to.

Eric's the only one I can comfortably talk to.

He's two years older than me and an almost stranger.

Is that weird?

~~0~~

March 16th (0 Days till funeral)

The sun is shining, just as Leon would of wanted it.

And it seems like the entire miniature populace of the town are all silent.

There is not even traffic.

No birds singing.

Just silence.

Silence for the young life which has been taken.

And I would finally have to accept that he was gone.

For good.

Forever.

Mum comes to my room at eight, already dressed in the funeral attire, knowing that I would be awake and places an M&S bag at the foot of my bed.

"For the funeral." She murmurs before slipping out the door, leaving me to my own thoughts and grief.

I clutch tighter to my teddy bear, tears silently falling before I climb out of bed and open the bag, pulling out a short black dress which fluffs out in a small skirt around my knees.

The sleeves are stitched with tiny white laced lilies.

I almost burst into tears on the spot.

8:15 and my, shoes, dress and cardigan are on, my blonde messy hair is pulled into a loose ponytail with bits of hair falling which will easily cover my eyes when needed and the worst feeling of gnawing pain eating through me.

Girl ready for mourning? Check. Girl ready to say goodbye? Unavailable.

The service will begin at 9. Leon will be buried at 10.

I have 45 minutes to prepare.

There's no point heading to the kitchen. Mum and dad know I am awake and I won't eat anything so I just sit on my bed with my duvet around me, staring at the sunrise.

A 'ding!' on my computer makes me turn around.

A message from Eric.

No tears till the funeral.

I smile a watery smile and shut the computer down.

I don't care if I'm ready or not.

This is my final chance to say goodbye.

~~0~~

March 16th (8:55)

The streets and car park are the only sign of human activity on the streets. It takes a full fifteen minutes to find a parking spot.

And once we go inside, I almost lose my cool.

Lilies are everywhere.

I feel my eyes going hot, vision blurry until I spot Eric standing in a black Tuxedo who's mother is talking to an older looking woman, a relative perhaps. He hasn't noticed me yet.

Mum and dad greet our next door neighbour's quietly though I can tell they're watching me from the corner of their eye.

I suddenly feel someone tapping my shoulder and turn round to find Eric who's lips part a little as his eyes trace me up and down.

"Lily you look breathtaking." He murmurs, more to himself than me.

I blush.

"Thank you." I mumble in reply.

I glance at my parents who are now turned away from the woman they were speaking to, watching me and Eric intently.

"I'll be back." I promise.

"Five minutes." Mum replies.

Eric smiles at me as we walk outside by the school sign where a few other kids from our school are hanging around, talking under their breath. They watch us as we head outside.

The weather's changed as we step outside, the wind is cold and sharp against my cheeks, clouds beginning to smother the blue sky.

I pull my hair down to protect my poor cheeks and sit on the pavement, Eric sitting next to me.

There's an awkward silence until he smiles softly.

"Do you- do you think you could help me with my speech?" He murmurs, eyes drooping a little. "You know it's important. It's like a final goodbye."

He pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and holds it out for me to take it.

I glance up from the pavement, looking from his warm chocolate eyes which I immediately look away from to resist their pull and hesitantly take the paper.

I can't help but smile at his scruffy handwriting and crossings out but then frown.

"What?" He frowns. "Is something wrong?"

"No, I just-" I sigh. "I thought that speeches were supposed to come from the heart?"

"They do," He frowns. "Well they're supposed to... Why?"

"No offence, but this doesn't sound like it does."

"How do you mean?" He asks, an eyebrow raised.

"There's no..." I say, searching for the correct word. "Feeling. It's not hard to memorise from bit of scrap paper."

"Yeah," He says slowly. "It's easier."

"Look," I say, getting a little irritated. "This is your last goodbye you know? You have to feel the words. Say what you want to say."

"Give me an example." He says, crossing his arms.

I blink and open my mouth and then close it.

The edges of his mouth pull up as in a smile but fades to their original position when he sees my expression.

"It's hard." I argue.

"So I'm doing it the easy way." He smiles, taking the paper and slipping it back in his pocket.

I roll my eyes.

"The unfeeling way."

"Lillian," I suddenly hear dad call. I turn round. "It's time."

My heart sinks and I look back at the pavement.

"I'll see you afterwards," I mumble, standing up. "Good luck with your speech."

"Thanks." He sighs before standing up and joining his family in the pews.

~~0~~

The service is beautiful. There's no doubt about that.

It's exactly the way Leon would of wanted it to be.

The whole room is full of sobbing mourners but there is a sense of peace in the air along with the strong but sweet smell of lilies hanging softly.

But it's during Eric's speech I finally let the tears flow.

And I lose it utterly.

I lose it for the lonely brother who now has no sibling.

Despite all the girls who are crying loudly, I'm the only one who flees the premises.

And it's Eric who finds me a few minutes later.

"Hey," He murmurs. I don't reply. "My speech had that much affect on you huh?" He smiles weakly.

I don't smile.

"Yeah," I sniff, staring at the pavement. "I was wrong."

"No," He says shaking his head. "You're not. I followed your advice. That wasn't my written speech. I made it up on the spot. With feeling." He adds.

He sits next to me on the concrete pavement and clutches my hand in his.

"You're frozen." He mumbles.

And metaphorically and literally it's true.

I'm frozen. My life is frozen. Time has frozen.

"Mum sent me to find you," He says quietly. "They're about to bury him. Come with me. Come say your final goodbyes."

And somehow his lack of euphemisms seem to wake me up, to make me fully understand that Leon is not coming back. That me watching him get buried is the only time I'll have left with him.

"OK." I whisper hoarsely, pulling my cold hands away from his warm ones to find that he had clasped a single lily into my palm.

And so we both walk to the graveyard to say goodbye to the one who we have both lost and loved.

~~0~~

After the burial, after everyone begins to leave, me and Eric stay behind, our parents talking in low tones behind us, our hands hanging close to each other as I kneel down on the soft, newly-dug earth and place the single lily which rests in my hand by Leo's headstone.

"Bye Leo." I murmur, stroking his name before standing up and saying goodbye to Eric, heading back towards the car with my parents, leaving the lonely family to say their goodbyes behind.

Leaving Leo behind.

For good.

~~0~~

March 18th (Back to School)

I almost both laugh and cry when I arrive at school.

Everyone is wearing black.

Everyone is pointing and whispering at me.

Judging me. Mocking me.

"Hey," Rhys and Jesse smile, walking over to me tenderly, their usual bounciness gone. "How are you?"

"Fine." I mumble though I'm far from it.

That was all I was going to get today. Questions.

I walk into the waves of black clothing, away from Rhys and Jesse, my blue shirt standing out easily amongst the crowd, everyone turning to gape and stare, some even ask me if I can relive the accident just for them.

It seems that bad news travels fast.

It's until break when I've taken all I can handle that I flee to the toilets, shutting the door of the cubicle behind me and clutching my legs tight to my chest, the cold of the loo's raising goosebumps on my arms as tears well in my eyes.

"Hey." I suddenly hear Eric's voice say, his face peering over the top of the cubicle.

I squeal and jump.

"Chill. It's only me."

"Yes but this is the girls toilets." I say, gesturing to the cubicles around me.

"I think you'll find this is actually the boys." He grimaces.

I blink and sigh.

"You kidding?"

He shakes his head.

I sigh once more and unlock the door, sitting on the counter by the sinks.

"So what are you doing in here?" He asks just as the bell rings.

Before I would of rushed to get to class, now I can't be bothered.

I shrug.

"Escaping."

He nods and leans back against the wall.

"Don't blame you."

There is a brief pause before I open mouth.

"What are you doing in here?"

"What any other person would be doing in a bathroom."

I blush.

"Oh. I'll just go then-"

"Talk you idiot!" He says, rolling his eyes.

I rearrange myself awkwardly on the counter, feeling more than a little stupid.

"Why didn't you reply to my E-Mail?" He asks.

"There were too many emails from others asking how I was. About the accident. 'Are you depressed?' 'do you remember?' Yadda yadda yadda..." I reply, waving my hands in the air.

"And are you?" He says, eyebrow raised.

"Depressed?" I shrug. "A little, maybe. I'm not some girl who's whole life revolves around her and her boyfriend, true love etc. Etc."

He nods and pulls out a packet of cigarettes.

He looks at me staring.

"Want one?" He says, holding out the packet.

I shake my head.

I should get going. Mum would kill me if she found my uniform smelling of smoke but I can't go. I simply don't want to.

"When did this start?" I gesture to the cigs.

"Since the funeral," He shrugs. "They get me through the day."

I wrinkle my nose a little at them, unaware that he was watching as he blinks, if not a little hurt and puts the cigarette back in his pocket.

"I better go," He mumbles. "I've got business to attend to."

And I watch him go out the door.

March 19th (12:15) Lunch

Some boys have impeccable timing.

Me and Eric sit opposite sides of the canteen though somehow we still manage to shoot smiles and make eye contact. Until Dennis and Sadie comes along.

"Hi Lillian." Dennis smiles at me.

"Oh," I mumble, trying to swallow both the lump and sandwich stuck in my throat. "Hey Dennis."

"How- How are you?"

I internally sigh.

"OK I guess."

"Cool," He mumbles, running a hand through his hair. "That's cool."

There's an awkward silence.

"Look, I know this is a... bit early and I totally understand if you don't want to but, do you want to go out on Saturday?"

I blink and laugh nervously.

"I-I'm sorry Dennis. I just-"

Like someone else. Someone who is in fact handsome, older and smarter than you. But who also looks like Leo, you remember? Dark sexy eyes, light brown hair, tan skin... you're dead best friend? I like my dead boyfriend's brother and my life is extremely complicated. Sorry.

"-I just think it's too early..."

He sighs and nods, shoving his hands deep in his pocket.

"Right, I thought so. Sorry."

I smile a small apologetic smile as he walks away and look over at Eric who is now looking away, picking moodily at his salad as Sadie blathers on and giggles and laughs flirtatiously.

My smile fades.

Sadie really is amusing.

According to her, Leon's death has affected her oh-so badly.

Even though she cheated on him.

~~0~~

March 25th

I haven't written in a while since everyday is just same old, same old.

Same boyfriend still dead, same confusing relationship with Eric, same school, same lack of happiness, same depression.

Same schedule.

7:00 AM I get up as I'm already awake and take a cold shower which lasts for ten minutes.

7:10 AM I get changed in three minutes and go downstairs.

7: 13 AM Mum tells me to eat, I say that I'm not hungry.

7:30 AM Argument with mum finishes in which I have managed to swallow two mouthfuls of toast and a sip of water.

7:35 AM Headache comes on from lack of food.

7:45 AM I kill time for ten minutes and then begin to walk to school.

8:00 AM I find my usual secluded spot and wait five minutes for the bell to ring.

2:30 PM School finishes.

Eat two mouthfuls of food. Homework. Email Eric. Change. Bed.

Simple.

And dull.

Eric hardly writes to me anymore.

I'm turning into a hard impenetrable shell.

~~0~~

April 1st (A.K.A Not so funny day)

It's all round the school.

Hell it's probably all round the town.

Sadie Jeffreys is officially dating Eric Emerson.

Sadie.

Who cheated on Leon.

My dead boyfriend.

Eric's dead, younger brother.

And if it's supposed to be a secret, that plan has failed epically.

They certainly weren't keeping there 'young love' a secret in the park.

But why do I care?

"Hey," Jesse says, prodding my arm, drawing my attention away from the lovers seated on the same table. "Don't look. It's not healthy."

I sigh and turn back to my salad.

"Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?" Rhys asks.

"The cinema?" I ask, looking up.

"Yeah," And then he frowns and adds hurriedly. "Don't come if you think it's too early."

I bite my lip and look over at Dennis who is seated at the lovebird's table.

He is looking right back at me.

"A night at the cinema sounds good," I say, looking away from Dennis's gaze, meeting Rhys's surprised blue eyes. "Can I bring along someone?"

"Sure," He grins, his strawberry-blonde hair glinting in the light. "Is Lily-By-Lily back?"

"She's getting there." I grin before standing up and walking to the Lovebird's table, leaving behind Rhys and Jesse's bewildered gazes.

Once I get to the table, my heart is practically jumping from my chest though I am firmly confident on what I've set out to do.

"Hi." I smile at Dennis, not looking at either Sadie or Eric in the eye.

He beams back at me.

"Hi," I hear Sadie scowl. "What are you here for?"

I glance at her before looking away.

"I actually need to talk to Dennis about something."

I can feel surprised gazes heating on me, the ends of Dennis's ears going red.

"S-s-sure." He stutters, practically stumbling whilst climbing out of the bench.

"Wait a minute," Sadie glares, her forehead creasing unattractively. "Whatever you say can be said in front of all of us." She says, gesturing to the S&E supporters along the table.

"Sade." Eric murmurs in a warning tone low in her ear.

"No really," She says, folding her arms, ignoring Eric completely. "I insist."

I frown at her.

"All right then since it's really such a big deal," I ignore her small scoff and turn to Dennis's embarrassed face. "I want to know whether you want to come and see a movie with me tonight."

I purposely miss out mentioning that 'Rhys and Jesse' were attending also.

I grin in embarrassment when everyone along the table apart from Sadie and Eric goes 'ahhh'.

"Oh please!" Sadie scowls, wriggling away from Eric's grip and stalking towards the girls toilets, waiting for her followers to follow at her heels though Sabine and Nadal are looking at me with mouths agape as if I had said the most shocking thing in the world.

"OMG!" They squeal.

Sadie scoffs once more angrily and stomps away in a huff.

"'Scuse me." Eric mutters, standing up and walking off.

Not in the same way as Sadie goes though. I know he's going to light a cigarette in the toilets.

No-one took notice of him going.

"Uh yeah, sure," Dennis grins. "Tonight sounds perfect. What are we watching?"

"Ummm..." Because to be honest I actually don't know. "Not sure?"

He grins.

"A secret huh?"

I force a grin and then nod before exchanging details at what time to meet and where before saying goodbye and heading back to Rhys and Jesse's exclamations.

"What in hell's name was that about?" Jesse yells, her dark brown eyes wide as her wavy hair falls in front of them.

I shrug.

"A change I guess."

(6:10PM)

Mum and dad are thrilled when I tell them where I'm going though they try not to show it. Their plan fails miserably however when mum hugs me in the middle of putting plates away.

"Umm?" I say confused. "What's that about?"

She smiles to herself but shrugs.

"Just merely happy I guess."

That makes one of us.

I'm surprised that I feel nervous. Though it's not 'Oh my god what am I going to wear?' nervous. More like 'what will Eric do when he finds out that the trip to the cinema wasn't even a proper date?' or 'what if Dennis tries to kiss me?'

Fortunately Dennis has some common sense, despite it being very little, and knows it's best to not make a move yet.

"Hey," He smiles, walking up to me though it fades a little when he realises I'm not dressed in anything 'girly partyish', Just normal jeans and shirt. "You look uh... good."

I can't help but feel a little insulted but I make sure I don't let it show.

"Thanks," I smile forcefully, eyeing his checked T-Shirt where a faint pizza stain with a damp patch around it looked like someone had scrubbed it repeatedly. "You too."

He shoves his hands deep in his pockets and rocks on the balls of his feet.

"Uh," He says nervously, the large amount of hair gel on his head making his hair shine greasily. "Shall we go in?"

"Oh," I grimace. "Didn't I tell you? Rhys and Jesse are coming."

"Rhys and Jesse?" He pauses, running a hand through his hair. "You mean Rhys as in the- the-"

"Gay one?" I sigh. "Yeah. Him."

"Oh," He frowns, trying to not look uncomfortable. "That's... cool I guess."

I wonder how long it's going to be until people finally get over the fact that Rhys is gay.

So what?

Leon liked him well enough, he didn't have a problem with him.

And as I think of Leon and then look at Dennis and then think of Eric I don't know why I just don't call the whole thing off.

But I can't.

Because this is my official becoming of the new 'Lily-By-Lily'.

The girl who doesn't ditch her friends just for her boyfriend, make everyone depressed, make everyone feel jealous.

Because I don't want to be her.

I want to be a nice Lily.

A lily who's life doesn't wilt drastically.

But I can't help but feel a little annoyed when Dennis murmurs something about popcorn as Rhys and then Jesse walk down the street towards me, Jesse's hair pulled into a side ponytail as Rhys's hair is just as spiky as a hedgehog's, the way it usually is.

"Hey!" Jesse grins. "Did your plus-one bail?"

"Nope," I say shaking my head. "Dennis has gone to get some popcorn."

"Dennis?" Rhys says sarcastically. "You're extra someone is Dennis? Look Lills, I think it's great that you're getting out again and stuff but don't you think it's a bit," He wriggled a little uncomfortably. "Early?"

I frown.

"Well Eric didn't wait long."

"Eric?" Jesse says in surprise, her dark eyes widening. "What's Eric got to do with anything?"

"Well I just- I-" I blush furiously, stumbling through my sentences. "I just-"

"Lillian do you like Eric?" Rhys hisses in exclamation, a grin permeating his freckly face.

"No!" I exclaim, shaking my head. "I mean I like him but not in that way!"

"Does Eric know?" Rhys whispers. "Does Dennis?"

"No!" I say exasperatedly. "Dennis knows-"

"Dennis knows what?"

I swivel round. Dennis is frowning with a drink in his hand, a box of popcorn under his arm.

We pause for a moment.

"My favourite flavour," I say finally, laughing nervously. "Of popcorn."

"Oh," He says sounding more than a little confused. "Umm OK."

We all stand in an uncomfortable silence.

"What movie are we seeing?" He asks.

I inwardly breathe a sigh of relief.

"Don't worry Lillian," Jesse smiles. "I've forced Rhys to choose a film which includes no violence, death etc. Etc. No lovey dovey bits either."

"So Twilight's out of the question." Rhys moans.

"A kid's film then?" Dennis asks incredulously.

"Yeah," Rhys argues, folding his arms, eyebrow raised. "Got a problem with that?"

"No," Dennis shrugs. "Your call dude."

And I can't help but laugh when Reece adds It's always my call.

My first laugh in a long time.

The four of us walk inside, pushing past long queues. Rhys and Jesse immediately head for the pick and mix isle where a large statue of a raspberry slush puppy rotates round slowly whilst Dennis goes to the toilet and I head in the long queue for the tickets.

"Uh uh!" Rhys and Jesse say, butting in front of me and waving a wallet in front of my nose. "The film is a surprise. Go spend your money on some sweeties to fill us all."

I comply and am so busy looking at all the chocolate, trying to remember the last time I had sugar in my system, I don't notice someone sneaking up behind me.

"Where's your date?"

I squeal and turn round, my green eyes meeting Eric's familiar rich chocolate ones.

Those haunting eyes which are set out like a dark but warm ellipse that you could step and sink into at any moment...

Those haunting eyes which are filled with a kind of annoyance.

And I feel a little mischief raging inside me.

"Bathroom," I say coyly, walking by the cinema packs of sweets and chocolate. "But it's really none of your business."

I don't look him in the eye but I can feel torment rolling off of him in waves.

"It's my business if I want it to be my business." He grimaces.

"And why would you want it to be your business? Why do you care?" I ask, keeping my tone steady but questioning which makes Eric squirm uncomfortably.

"I don't." He remarks coldly in a way which makes me blink before I finally grab a bag of Maltesers and push past him, purposely knocking into him on the way towards the long queue.

"Good," I say, knowing that he's following me. "Because you shouldn't."

"And why exactly?" He asks, eyebrow raised, voice low but powerful in my ear.

"Because Sadie wouldn't want you to." And it slips out so fast that I don't even register the words until they fall fast from my lips.

"Sadie?" He pauses in surprise. He looks a little amused but only in his eyes does it really show. And then his face hardens. "Sadie isn't the boss of me."

"Oh really?" I ask, looking at him directly.

"Yes," He grits, a scowl ruining his features. "Really. No-one is the boss of me but myself. Not anyone."

"Then act like it." I breath, my face so inadvertently close to his that I can feel his warm breath on my cheeks, see every dominant line of his face traced in a way so unique that he's now completely different to Leon.

"I try my best," He murmurs, pulling away and running a hand through his lightly tousled hair. "But I just don't seem to impress."

He glances once at me, a heated accusing glance.

Oh if only he knew.

"My parents for example," He frowns and then sighs. "It was always about Leon."

And then another glance at me, one filled with something I can't quite make out.

"It wasn't always about Leon," I say. "I'm sure it wasn't."

"But it was," He sighs again. "Look, I loved my brother. I still do despite the circumstances. But there was always... sibling rivalry between us. He won. He always did. He got everything that I wanted. Popularity, looks, even the girls I wanted." He glances at me in the same confusing way.

"What about grades?" I mumble uncomfortably.

He blinks and then laughs, his hand running through his hair again.

"Grades?" He says, chuckling darkly. "I admit there never was competition in that department. But grades aren't something I want."

And then he glances at me once more, this time so much softer that I finally let myself loose, slipping into a dark brown warm abyss which has me step inadvertently towards him, inhaling his scent without even my comprehension.

And it's only until Dennis pulls me along and mutters apologies to passing people we bump into and brings me to the cashier and pays for the Maltesers himself that I finally come back to earth.

"Sorry." I mumble to him as he takes me silently back to Jesse and Rhys who are looking around for me anxiously.

They spot me with sigh.

"Where were you?"

"Why did you take so long?"

"The queue was long." I mumble in excuse, looking over to try and find Eric even though I know that's he's long gone.

Dennis doesn't say anything.

Rhys and Jesse eye me suspiciously but make no remark and lead me to screen three where our film will be shown.

I sit on the end purposely to escape any time I wish.

Dennis sits next to me, Jesse next to him and then Rhys next to her.

Jesse and Rhys are chatting excitedly amongst themselves.

Me and Dennis are just sitting there.

But then I spot Eric entering the room with... Sadie.

Of course.

His dark eyes meet my gaze and now I know I can't do this as they walk closer towards us, Sadie giggling and flirting and whispering things in Eric's ear until they stop by our row.

"Well, well," She grins maliciously. "If it isn't the Losers. And they're leader." She smiles evilly, glaring at me.

I resist the urge to slap her face.

"And the leader's boyfriend."

Eric's face hardens but makes no other remarks, if not a little amused as Dennis goes bright red.

"Shut up Sadie." I say through gritted teeth as Eric lets go of Sadie's arm and walks two rows in front of us. Their seats no doubt.

"Why should I?" She smiles. "Who's going to stop me now?" She looks over at Eric and then adds in a whisper. "Your dead boyfriend?"

I'm not entirely sure how I got there but all I know was that I was on top of Sadie in three seconds flat, scratching and clawing at her as much as I could until strong grips grapple and heave me up.

"Ladies stop fighting!" An usher yells. "Otherwise you will have to vacate the premises."

But I've already had enough.

I turn and run up the stairs, ignoring calls of 'Miss!' and 'Lillian!' before running onto the street outside the cinema.

Thanks to Dennis, I have enough money to buy a bus ticket home.

Thanks to Eric and Sadie, I am now a quivering wreck.

~~0~~

April 2nd

I pretend to be sick and manage to get off school without bother.

After mum and dad had seen what kind of state I was in when I arrived home last night, they have so far let me do anything I want without question.

So when mum asks if she wants me or dad to stay behind from work today and I say no, she doesn't object or start an argument.

It surprises me though when the doorbell rings at twelve.

I open it and try to slam the door again when I see who it is but Eric stops it easily and holds it whilst I try to push against his iron grip.

"What?" I huff, giving up and folding my arms, prepared for a witty response.

"I came to make sure you got here alright." He says quietly, hand still on the door.

I can't help softening a little at the worry which is obvious in his eyes and tone of voice.

"Of course I did." I say softly, my arms loosening a little and dropping to my sides.

"Why aren't you at school?" He asks, now perhaps a little gruffly.

If he was a girl I would of dismissed his attitude as raging hormones.

I shrug.

"You can guess." I murmur, my arms folding again.

"No," He says, stepping into the hallway a little more, though still keeping his distance from me. "I can't. So please enlighten me."

I catch my breath, hesitating then shake my head before taking another step back.

"There's too many reasons."

"Name one." He says, taking another step, his fingers slipping from the doorway as he takes another step towards me.

"I didn't want to bother with lessons." I mumble, taking another step back, hands behind me waiting for a wall or door to crash into my back.

He scoffs. Another step.

"Another reason."

"You asked for one."

"And now I'm asking for two."

I finally felt the thump of the wall behind me though Eric continues to edge nearer.

"Please," He says softly. "Tell me Lily."

Before I can escape, his hands are either side of my head.

"I-I" I choke. "H-h-her. It was her. What she said."

He frowns.

"Her? Sadie?"

I swallow and nod.

"What did she say?" He murmurs softly though there's a sharper edge to his voice.

"Leon," I stutter. "S-Sh-She said- He's not- back- help."

He frowns.

"Lily calm down. Tell me clearly."

I take a deep breath.

"She's says no-one is going to stop her," I swallow hesitantly, watching his frown deepen. "Not even my dead boyfriend."

His face hardens, eyes blazing with anger.

"She said- what?" He hisses.

I don't repeat myself, just watch his face contort with different series of emotions.

He shakes his head, mouth agape and runs out of the house.

"Eric!" I yell after him, scrambling to the door.

It's no use. He's already half way down the street.

April 2nd (6:25PM)

The doorbell rings, cue me running to the door before mum could get there first.

"Eric I-" I start as I open the door.

It's not Eric.

"I'm not Eric." Dennis grumbles.

"No," I sigh. "You're not."

There's an awkward silence.

"Lillian? Who is it?" Mum calls, entering the hallway.

I look over my shoulder at her.

"A friend." I say before stepping outside and shutting the door.

I sit on the step, Dennis standing with his hands deep in his pockets, rocking on the balls of his feet again.

"So." He smiles sadly.

"So." I reply quietly.

Another silence.

"So where do we go from here?" He mumbles.

I sigh and pat the step next to me which he takes.

"I don't think there is no go." I murmur, taking his hand and tracing circles on it's palm.

He nods, if not a little let down.

"Which is a shame. I thought there was a- a connection." He blushes.

To boost his hopes a little, I nod, though not enthusiastically.

I smile softly and pull him into a small hug but suddenly I see a pair of chocolate eyes staring at me and Dennis.

"Eric!" I gasp, pulling away from Dennis and watching in horror as Eric turns round and walks down the street stiffly.

I jump up and try to catch up with Eric who is walking in long strides, now not caring about Dennis, only wanting to get to Eric, to explain that me and Dennis were nothing and never would be.

To tell Eric that I feel something deep in my chest.

"Eric wait!" I cry, desperate to stop him, convince him.

I try and grab hold of him but he shakes me off.

"You have no right to ignore me!" I shout at him as he walks up his driveway.

He turns round, eyebrow raised, face angry and slightly wet as rain starts to drip from the sky.

"No?" He asks, mouth tight. "Then why am I ignoring you?"

"Because Dennis was hugging me."

"No. No," He says shaking his head. "You were hugging Dennis. I saw it. Watched it. Don't blame it on him."

"But is that the reason?" I ask, an ache firing in my chest.

He stops, opening his mouth and then closing it.

"Don't be ridiculous."

And then he's walking up the drive again.

"Then why?" I shout at him.

He turns round.

"Because you pretended you were on a date with Dennis. Because the only trickle of hope I had that you may have actually cared about me, is now gone."

And then he enters his house, leaving me alone, soaked and heartbroken.

~~0~~

April 12th

It's been one week since I've seen Eric.

And since he lives a street away, it's a pretty bad thing.

I've been off school for a week also, due to the cold I caught after hammering on Eric's front door in the pouring rain for 15 minutes.

I may be ill, but I'm restless.

No calls, messages, emails from him though there has been plenty from me.

Twenty-one to be accurate.

The good thing is that Sadie and him are now officially undating.

They only lasted for eleven days.

I wonder how many days me and Eric would last for.

None considering the way I had treated him.

How had he even found out about me and Dennis's date being fake?

~~0~~

April 14th

I know he's doing it on purpose, but it doesn't stop me trying to find him.

And during third lesson I know where to find him.

So when I make an excuse to go to the toilet, it's genuine this time.

Instead of heading the left on the corridor, I turn right and immediately come face to face with the boy's toilets.

And as soon as I open the door, I see him.

He's standing there with dark purple bags under his chocolate eyes, his face paler and thinner than it ever was before, cigarette in his mouth with white ash splayed all over the floor.

He doesn't even look at me when I enter, only stares at the floortiles.

"Hi," I whisper quietly, my heart thudding so loud in my ears that I'm surprised that Eric can't hear it. "I've missed you."

He looks up then, his chocolate eyes staring deep into my green ones, trailing over my jaw, my cheeks as if trying to memorise a long text.

He scoffs and puts out his cigarette on the floor.

"Oh please." He says hoarsely.

I eye the packet of fags in his pocket.

"Eric how many of those have you had?"

His eyes flick back up to me again.

"Why do you care?" He sneers.

"Eric," I whisper, shaking my head. "I've cared since the day I met you."

He softens but shakes his head.

"That's not true. If you had cared for me you wouldn't have hugged Dennis. You wouldn't have pretended to date him."

"It wasn't anything," I sigh. "Nothing but a goodbye hug. For him."

"And the date?" He murmurs.

"The means to make you jealous." I whisper.

He stops, his expression poker faced and then angry as he pushes past me.

"Well you succeeded."

I stop him.

"Eric you can't keep leaving."

"Watch me," He growls. "You tell me to be more independent. This is me independent."

"No it's not," I say, slipping in front of him, blocking the exit. "The Eric I know is confident. He cares. He's healthy. He doesn't smoke."

"The Eric you know is gone." He says, finally pushing past me.

"Well I don't think so." I whisper, following him to one of the corridor's staircases.

He stops mid-stair, rather intrigued.

"Why?"

For a moment he seems like the Eric I know but then it's gone again.

"Because the Eric I know cares. He feels something."

He blinks and then shakes his head.

"You're crazy." He runs up the stairs again.

"Maybe," I say, running after him. "But you're crazier."

"Look just stop OK?" He says irritatedly. "Stop trying to act like my own personal shrink. I already have one. I know what I feel."

"And what do you feel?" I say, my voice a little louder, echoing all round the empty enclosed staircase.

"I feel something unexplainable alright? Like an ache has resided in my heart and will not fade away. Like I would do anything, anything, to make you happy. But I think we can safely say that I have failed that task. I feel like I could and would defend you against a pack of wolves, against anything," He stops, his eyes blazing, breathing heavy. "I," He sighs again. "I don't know what I feel." He murmurs, his hand trailing through his greasy hair.

"I do," I breathe. "The same thing that has taken place in my chest from the first day I met you. That ache of not having you near me all the time," I notice that I'm even fidgeting to get closer to him. I walk over to him and place a hand in his, eliciting gasps from both of us at the familiar flow of electricity which sparks through us. "This," I say, gesturing to the barely touching fingers. "This is what we feel. Excitement and more importantly, love. Because we can't deny it Eric. This thing between us which always brings us back together is love. This- this... energy between us is unbreakable."

And I know it's corny and could easily be laughed at but we don't do anything. We just stand and stare at each other, our breathing heavy until he does the last thing I ever suspected he would of done.

He kisses me.

And it's better than I would of ever imagined.

The familiar sparks tremble through me as his arms encase me firmly to his chest, his grip so strong that I feel as if he's never going to let me go.

But then there's his lips.

And the feel of them against mine is indescribable.

With the first touch of them we both pull apart with a gasp, a million volts of electricity shooting and prickling our skin, making both our bodies tremble.

His eyes are wide as they look into mine, his lips trembling, not sure whether to stop or kiss me again.

So I make up his mind and reach up on tiptoes again, my hand moving to the light brown tuft of hair on the back of his neck as I pull him back towards me.

He is unsure but then begins to move fully again, his stubble scratching across my jaw as his arm locks around my waist, pulling me closer to him as his other hand winds in my wavy blonde hair

But he is all that I am aware of. Nothing else.

I'm not noticing any of our surroundings, just that everything is hazy.

We're not even aware that we're kissing on a staircase, all we know is that none of us can break the moment as we might not get another chance like this again.

So we don't let each other go, just pull each other tighter to one another, eliciting a whimper from me and a low quiet moan from him.

The only time we break apart is to gasp for much-needed air which he takes in small gulps before murmuring my name and moving back to my mouth again.

I feel like I'm flying. That I'm not ever going to leave this moment.

I feel like fireworks are exploding behind us even though there isn't. All there is is-

"Fu-"

"Rhys!"

And Jesse.

Jesse is going insanely red as Rhys is staring at us, mouth agape.

We both pull away from each other's mouths and look at the two.

"Uhh..." Is the only thing I can say, mainly due to surprise but partly to do with the effects of the kiss.

I can tell that Eric is embarrassed too though he doesn't show it.

We remain standing, his arms still tightly wrapped around me, mine wrapped around him, our mouths still close to one another, cheeks both flushed as we look at my two best friends in the whole world.

Who I never keep secrets from.

Just as the bell rings.

"I'd better," He swallows . "I'd better go."

I don't want him to go but I know he has to. If the school caught us in the middle of 'snuggling' with one another when we're both associated with the dead Leonardo Emerson, it would have a field day.

I frown up at Eric but he only looks back innocently, the edge of his lips curved in a way which makes my heart flutter.

"I'll speak to you tonight." He murmurs before releasing me and stopping me before I could fall and then releasing me again.

"I'll see you." He promises, this time with a small smile which makes my whole body shake

I watch him as he leaves the staircase, the science block's I finally realise, and inhale his scent which he leaves behind.

He smells of cigarette smoke but he also smells fresh. Not minty fresh, but clean fresh.

I finally look at Rhys who still has his mouth agape in shock and Jesse who is blushing a little but has an eyebrow raised.

"So," She says, folding her arms. "You don't like him huh?"

It takes me time to realise that she is grinning and I break out into fits of giggles.

I just can't help it.

And it's my first laugh in a long time.

~~0~~

April 17th

I haven't seen Eric.

Why would you kiss someone and then ignore them completely?

Did I do something wrong?

Was the kiss not good enough for him?

I hardly sleep again due to more dreams which invade my slumber till I wake to soft tapping at the window.

I freeze.

Someone was coming to get me.

I slip out of bed and peer out the window, sighing and finally opening it.

"Lily."

His face is in front of me, his eyes meeting mine easily.

"Lillian to you." I scowl.

He sighs.

"I'm sorry that I couldn't come over. Mum found the cigarettes." He mutters.

"Oh." I say softly.

I can't imagine what would happen if my mum had found out I was smoking. But Eric's mum... it was a surprise he was still breathing.

"Yeah oh," He mumbles. "There was a lot of colourful language flowing between us but the full gist of things is that I've been grounded for four months."

"And on day three you've already broken curfew." I say rolling my eyes though a smile can't keep from curving my lips.

"I thought I already told you, I would do anything to see you."

I can almost see a blush in his cheeks.

My own are flushed.

I smile.

"So when can we meet?"

He tilts his head to the side, looking thoughtful.

"Technically we are meeting."

"You know what I mean." I mumble, blushing furiously.

He laughs quietly earning a scowl from me.

"Lesson two tomorrow in the bathroom," He smiles. "Can you make it?"

"Can for you." I grin.

He grins back and leans forward, planting a small kiss on my lips before turning round and walking back down the street.

I sleep well for the rest of the night.

~~0~~

April 18th

My whole body is alive and tingling with want at the thought of Eric kissing and holding me again.

The only things which makes me feel guilty are Leon, obviously, and then Rhys and Jesse.

Maybe Rhys is right. Maybe it's too early for me to be dating again.

Especially a 16 year old guy.

Who is incredibly clever.

And funny.

And kind.

And handsome.

And also Leon's brother.

But I like him.

Despite what other people think.

Rhys and Jesse.

They probably already know what the situation is between me and Eric but I can't lie to them.

I'll just have to talk to Eric.

Which leaves me wanting to be near him again.

I stare willingly at the clock on the wall, internally begging it to go faster.

10 minutes till the bell goes.

"And so Shakespeare continued his job despite what others..."

5 minutes.

"Sit down Tyler for goodness sake! And Romeo and Juliet..."

1 more minute.

"Pack away class!"

Gone.

The bell echoes, making me stand up and shoot out the door in a matter of seconds. I had packed away a long time ago.

When I finally get to the boys toilets, I wait outside panting from the impact of my running.

Some people look at me oddly but I can't help it.

I'm panting with excitement... and with bad health.

Then a hand grips around my wrist and carefully slides me through the door until the light of the single cubicle is switched on and I'm staring into the chocolate eyes of Eric.

"Hey," He smiles, an eyebrow arched. "Couldn't wait?"

I shake my head, my breath catching when he slips a lock of hair behind my ear, his fingers brushing across my cheek causing a flush to ignite through my body.

He grins knowingly, his fingers resting under my chin to tilt my head up.

"Neither could I." He murmurs before he rests his mouth on mine.

We still end up pulling away with a gasp again, our bodies jolting at the electric volts which ignite through us.

We finally pull away, my head resting on his chest, arms wrapped tight around him, unwilling to let him go.

"How could I ever ignore this?" He whispers against my hair. "Of course I couldn't really ignore it. How could I? You come stalking into the house laughing away, voice as melodic as a harp, hand in hand with Leon, cheeks flushed, green eyes sparkling and my heart is taken away in a matter of seconds. It's later on when I thought you didn't have feelings for me that I began to ignore my own for you."

"You shouldn't have kept it hidden," I murmur. "Besides it's all in the past. As my dad would say, live in the present and hope for the future."

He chuckles, causing me to smile at the sound.

"What?" I ask looking up at him intrigued.

"Somehow I think I would of always gotten together with you," He says. "Like it would always been planned for us. Like destiny. A future with Lily-By-Lily," He clucks. "Dear lord what I thought."

"Hey." I giggle, hitting him playfully on the shoulder.

He smiles and pecks me on my forehead.

"Speaking of the future," I say awkwardly. "Um.. what are we going to do about us?"

He frowns in confusion.

"What do you mean? Do you not want me anymore?"

"Of course I do!" I say hurriedly. "I mean what are we going to tell people?"

He sighs and releases a hand from me, running it through his hair.

"I don't know Lily."

"I just... I can't lie to Rhys and Jesse. They're my best friends in the whole world."

He smiles tenderly and wraps his arm back around me, causing me to snuggle back into his chest and notice that he smelt free of cigarette smoke.

"You really have faith in them don't you?" He says softly.

I don't answer because I know the question is rhetorical.

"Then tell them," He pushes the hair from my wide eyes. "If you really trust them, tell them. Just make sure they don't tell anyone else. It wouldn't look too good on either of us if everyone found out that you were dating the deceased Leon Emerson's older brother. Especially when the deceased is old boyfriend." He smiles.

"Thank you." I murmur sarcastically, his smile luring me to peck him on the lips.

There was a warm feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like a huge weight had been lifted off of me.

We continue to stand there with arms around each other, comforting each other silently because we know that we're both thinking of the consequences.

"Eric," I whisper almost silently. He looks down at me. "Do you think... Do you think he minds?"

Eric stiffens, his breathing stopped.

"Leon?" He asks.

I hesitate but then nod.

He sighs and rests his head on top of my hair.

"Yes. He was, and probably still is, crazy about you. He's going to kick my butt when I go to where he is and try to steal you back." He frowns.

"Did you like Sadie?" I ask uncomfortably.

He looks down at me and then laughs loudly, breaking the tensing silence.

"Of course not. No offence to her, but who would? I've already told you, I've liked you since I first laid eyes on you."

"You can like two people." I object.

He rolls his eyes.

"That's a myth. You can't..." He takes a deep breath. "Love two people at the same time."

I freeze.

Did he say what I thought he said?

Did he say the forbidden L word?

I pause not sure what to say, feeling his muscles tense throughout his whole body and pause, thinking through my response and then smile and kiss him on the shoulder.

"Yes. You're probably right."

I feel him pull me closer towards him so that there's now no room left between us and can see him smiling with adoration down at me.

"Always am." He whispers in my ear, his stubble scratching me roughly against my jaw making me giggle.

And the rest of the time in the toilets with each other were filled with kisses and conversations here and there.

But mainly kisses.

~~0~~

April 22nd

"Hey," I hear Eric whisper over my shoulder as I pull my P.E kit out from my hired locker. I feel him peck me sneakily on the cheek when no-one is looking.

I turn round, remembering to keep the space between us despite I want to jump into his arms and hug him tight to me.

"Hi." I squeak.

He chuckles.

"What are you doing tonight?" He breathes.

"Uh..." I try to think of something but nothing but a foggy memory initiated by his heavy gaze on me conjures in my mind.

"I-d-don't know."

"Wrong," He grins. "You are coming on a date with me. You are seriously failing my expectations Miss Bewers."

I giggle, making a few people look our way but we ignore them.

"Thanks for the homework help." He says a little loudly, making everyone now look away in boredom, their focus now back on memorising their timetable.

I smile.

"Pizza in my tree-house at seven?" He murmurs low enough for me to here.

"You're welcome!" I call out. "Pizza sounds great." I reply in the same tone. By now everyone is focused on their timetable. "A tree-house?" I grin. "What are you eight?"

"Hey," He pouts. It makes him look so childlike but delectable. "A sixteen year old can enjoy a house in a tree once in a while OK?"

I giggle again.

"You get a kiss for punishment for teasing me tonight Miss Bewers." He says in a low enough for only me to hear.

I raise my fingers to my head in army salute.

"Glad to take the punishment sir."

He grins at me before turning round and walking back down the corridor.

April 22nd (5:00PM)

I'm so nervous.

But it's a good kind of nervous.

It's not the same kind of nervous I had on the sort-of date with Dennis.

I'm nervous about the clothes I'm going to wear for god's sake.

I finally choose a yellow T-Shirt lined with a white collar and loose blue jeans but one glance out the window makes me pull on a brown cardigan over the top.

I pull my hair into a low ponytail, loose bits of my wavy hair falling to the sides of my cheeks.

I sigh at my appearance. It's just so dull.

But no makeup. He already likes me the way I am.

By the time I get to the Emerson's home, the rain is beginning to pour down when I hear Eric call my name above the loud hammering.

"Lily!"

I turn and smile at him who is waving and beckoning me over from his tree-house.

I grin and run to his tree, scrambling up branches until he catches my wrist and pulls me up, the familiar electricity crackling through our touch.

He smiles at me and pulls me close, kissing me softly before leading me to the corner where we won't be seen from the house.

"I missed you." He murmurs, placing a lock of hair behind my ear and pecking my cheek.

I smile. It had become a habit to say that when we were alone.

"Me too." I say as I take a seat between his legs, his arms enveloping me in his warmth and comforting scent as I rest my head against his chest.

I hum as I feel his heartbeat against my ear, earning a kiss into my hair.

"Pizza?" He asks, one arm being removed as he pulls a box of steaming cheese and tomato pizza towards me.

"In a bit." I answer, just enjoying the feel of him being wrapped around me.

I feel a low rumble vibrate through his stomach and giggled.

"I'm not hungry, but you are. Come on big boy, we'd better feed you." I grin.

He grins back and lets me go as I grab a slice of pizza and turn round in his legs.

His arms wrap back around my waist as I bring the pizza to his mouth.

He complies and opens his mouth, moaning a little as the taste of the tomato and cheese dances on his tastebuds.

I giggle and feed him the rest of the pizza, licking my fingers afterwards and kissing the sauce from his lips after he swallows.

He laughs and pecks me on the forehead.

"That was possibly the best slice of pizza I've ever had."

I laugh and kiss him once again on the mouth.

"It's you're birthday on the 1st of May right?" He asks.

I pull away with an eyebrow raised.

"Yeah. Why?"

"No reason." He grins.

"What?" I pout.

He laughs.

"I turn seventeen in July. You'll be fifteen in May."

I roll my eyes.

"Well done Einstein. But why do you say that?" I frown in curiosity.

"Fifteen kisses for the big day." He says wiggling his eyebrows.

I laugh and peck him once more, his arm cradling me till he brings a slice of pizza to my lips.

He feeds me and I do the same as he did, moaning when the salt from the pizza rolls over my tongue, the kiss from him after consuming the food sweetening things up considerably.

We sit talking for a while until he pops a question out of the blue.

"Do you miss him?" He murmurs suddenly.

And I know he's talking about Leon.

I look into his eyes, tempted to lie though I know it won't get me anywhere.

"Honestly?"

He nods.

"Yes."

"I thought you would say that," He sighs. "I hate the fact that I can't replace him."

"You don't have to," I say, my knuckles brushing against his cheek gently. "I love you the way you are."

He contemplates that for a moment and then smiles softly.

"Say it again."

"I love you," I say sincerely, sitting up and looking at him. "More than I have ever loved someone before I think."

"Again." He whispers, hand on my chin, raising my green eyes to meet his.

"I love-"

But I'm interrupted when his lips press against mine again.

When it begins to get dark and the rain lightens, I climb out of the tree-house, Eric following soon after. He kisses me chastely and smiles as he goes into the house.

I do the same though I have no idea what's waiting for me when I get back.

~~0~~

April 23rd (1:30AM)

I can't sleep due to the shouting going on downstairs.

And for other reasons.

Why would he do it?

My pillow is soaked full of tears as mum continues to shout at dad, yelling things like 'unfaithful' and 'how could you do this to me?'.

Quite easily by the sounds of things.

Another hour of shouting and then a door is slammed and an engine is started.

And dad has left the building.

I hear mum go upstairs, sobbing loudly and then loud smashing before a bed creaks and she sobs into her own bed.

I want to comfort her but I will only break down into floods of tears. I have to be the strong one.

Again.

I wait for another few hours until I'm sure she is asleep and pull on a jersey before opening the window and slip onto the ground outside, thankful that our house is a bungalow.

No-one is about on the streets thank goodness.

Only Nessie, the neighbour's cat, and the street lamps keep me company.

I feel incredibly sick as tears cascade down my cheeks, my unconscious outruling my conscious mind as I relive everything.

Hearing mum's cries as she discovers the evidence. A white bra which is too small to belong to her and too big to be mine.

And then the screaming as dad comes home.

I relive everything.

As I approach the Emerson's door, my feet are incredibly wet and muddy, the hem of the pyjama bottoms around my ankles ten inches deep in mud.

I hammer on the door repeatedly until a grumble welcomes me in.

Mr Emerson's eyes widen when he sees the state I'm in.

"Lauren?" He croaks tiredly, pulling on his glasses. "What's happened? Are you alright?"

No.

"Yes. And it's Lillian. I need to speak to Eric." I blub, resisting the urge to break down in front of him.

He widens his eyes but doesn't object due to the state I'm in.

I run to Eric's bedroom door and fling it open, the sound stirring Eric until he sits up, his whole body alert as he sees me shaking, wet, cold and heartbroken.

"Lily," He says hoarsely though firmly. "What's happened?"

I sob and fling myself into his arms, noting that he's topless as I feel his chest hair roughly brush against my skin.

He wraps his arms around me, murmuring something I can't make out when I hear Mr Emerson's gruff voice reply a little irritatedly before the door is left open, Mr Emerson is gone and I am being pulled deep into Eric's bed covers.

"Shhh." He soothes against my hair as I sob and bawl loudly into his chest, my nails digging into his shoulders to keep him to me.

I lock my legs around him, his warmth immediately seeping through my numb body.

I feel his hands move towards my own which are clutched tight to his shoulders to try and retract me from his body.

"Don't leave me." I whimper, fighting against his strength weakly.

He stops and sighs before nodding and moving his arms back around me.

"Never Lily."

We both sleep close like that for the rest of the night.

~~0~~

April 23rd

I wake up with my neck stiff, my body a little hot but otherwise comfortable.

I can't remember where I am or what the time is until my eyes land on Eric's closed ones.

And everything comes back in a flash.

Everything what happened last night.

The screaming, shouting.

It's enough for the tears to well back in my eyes.

I don't want to wake Eric up despite I'm feeling hot so pull away to give me enough space to pull off my jersey.

I can't help but smile and stroke the frown lines on Eric's forehead when he frowns and grapples for me to come back.

I pull off the jersey and lie back next to him, letting him pull me back into his arms like a child clutching to their teddy bear and with a sigh, he's in a deep sleep again.

I like the feel of his skin against mine.

His arms feel soft and warm against my own as he stirs and brushes them against my shoulders, the familiar electricity flowing freely between our touch.

I hear footsteps coming towards his bedroom door and close my eyes hurriedly as the footsteps stop by the doorway.

"How long do you think it's been going on for?" I hear Mrs Emerson say behind the door.

"Who knows?" Mr Emerson replies. "They're only young."

There's another silence until Mr Emerson breaks it again.

"He told me he loved her last night." He murmurs.

Mrs Emerson scoffs.

"But does she love him?"

I feel like screaming yes at the top of my voice but I know that that won't score points with the boyfriend's parents.

"Who knows?" Mr Emerson sighs.

Another pause.

"Personally I'm not sure. It's a bit soon for love with these two. They're only young and they've both lost someone they loved. Eric could be a backup for Lillian." Mrs Emerson whispers.

I stiffen with anger.

How could they think that?

Eric stirs causing them to pause before they're sure he won't wake up and continue.

"Don't you think that's a bit harsh?" Mr Emerson replies.

"Well we hardly know the girl." Mrs Emerson mumbles. "According to Cora Partridge who lives three doors away from the family, she says she could hear Lillian's mother absolutely screaming," She pauses. "Something to do with the father apparently."

Angry tears welled in my eyes.

"We'd better call her mother soon." Mr Emerson murmurs.

"Now?" Mrs Emerson says incredulously causing Eric to stir again.

"No. Later," He whispers quietly until Eric is back to sleep again. "If we tell the mother now she will come here and drag Lauren out of bed."

"Oh for heaven's sakes Alfie!" Mrs Emerson hisses as they walk away. "Her name is Lillian."

I lay there in silence.

I'm shocked that some people would have nerve to talk about me and my family behind my back.

Tears silently spill down my cheeks, dropping onto Eric's arm causing him to stir and then wake up.

"Lily?" He says, voice thick and gravelly with sleep, a hint of surprise in his voice until everything comes back to him as well. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing." I murmur shaking my head, wiping my tears away until he rolls me over so he's on top, staring down at me,

"Hey," He frowns, his fingers raising my chin so he could delve deep into my eyes. "Why are you crying beautiful?"

"I'm fine." I excuse myself.

He rolls his eyes.

"Like hell you are. Tell me."

"I-" I swallow, closing my eyes knowing that if I looked up into his chocolate ones everything kept secret will be spilled. "I'm fine."

He sighs and rolls us back to our sides.

"OK. You know you can talk to me though right?" He says nervously.

I nod and sigh, pulling him closer, wanting to feel his familiar warmth.

I shiver when I feel his fingers trail down my arm.

"You're so soft." He whispers.

I smile and touch his cheek, enjoying the smoothness of his skin.

"So are you."

"I need to shave." He says shaking his head.

"I don't mind." I whisper, my fingers tracing down his stubbly jaw.

He leans forward and kisses me softly until the sunlight begins to stream into the room, a warm pool of heat circling us both.

"I like waking up with you." He smiles.

"Don't get too used to it." I grin, giggling at his pout.

The smell of bacon and eggs wafts into the room making both mine and Eric's stomach rumble.

He smiles and pulls me out of the bed, not letting me go even as he pulls on a top and I pull the jersey back over my tank top.

He kisses me on the neck and takes my hand, pulling me into the front room, me hiding behind his tall form.

"Mum?" He calls.

"In the kitchen. And don't shout at this time of morning." Mr Emerson says as we walk into the front room.

I'm sure the sentence added was supposed to be a blow to me.

"We'll call your mother soon." Mr Emerson says, lowering his newspaper and peering over the top, his rim of the glasses resting on the top of the paper.

"No it's fine," I murmur. "I'm going back there soon anyway."

Home could hardly be called home any more.

Eric frowns but doesn't say anything.

"Don't look like that." I mumble as we walk into the kitchen.

"You don't have to go home just yet you know." He murmurs.

"Ah!" Mrs Emerson exclaims as we enter, hands on her hips. "So here are the lie-ins."

I can't help but notice the infamous 'look' I receive.

"Sorry mum," Eric says, the icy edge to his voice telling me that he had noted the look too. "There was a lot happening last night."

Her jaw tightens and eyes slant as Eric sits next to me, his hand still clutched tight on to mine.

"I gathered." She scowls.

I blush, looking down at mine and Eric's joined hands, earning a small assuring squeeze.

Both our bacon is served burnt.

Brilliant.

Eric wrinkles his nose at the burnt bacon, poking the burnt strips of pork with a fork.

Eric had let go of my hand and pushed the chair towards mine. It didn't earn points with Mrs Emerson.

"I really should be going." I say standing up after I politely bite a mouthful of the inedible food.

Mrs Emerson frowns but nods.

"Yes. You should."

"Mum!" Eric cries, his mouth agape at her rudeness.

"Don't worry about it." I murmur.

He ignores me.

"Why should she be getting going right at this moment?" He asks, voice edged with anger.

"Because her mother will be missing her." Mrs Emerson replies.

"We'll call her." Eric replies, his arm slipping around my waist pulling me tight to him.

Mrs Emerson scowls at the arm around me but makes no remark.

"She'll need to get her clothes."

"She can borrow some."

"She has to get cleaned up."

"She can do that here."

"She needs to bring a towel."

"Again, she can borrow them."

"She can't."

"And why not?"

"Because I'm not having one of the Bewers mixing with our family!" Mrs Emerson shouts.

I freeze. Eric freezes.

I shake my head and pull out of Eric's grasp.

"Excuse me." I wheeze, running out of the front door and back to my house, ignoring Eric's calls of my name and then the arguments which I've caused being tossed back and forth between the already-messed-up family.

I can't believe what happened.

~~0~~

When I get home, mum is waiting anxiously on the stairs. Dad's car is still gone.

She looks at me, her face blank one minute and then livid the next as she slaps me hard across the face.

"Where the hell have you been?" She screams.

I can smell the alcohol on her breath.

My eyes are watering from the impact of her slap, my hand automatically moving to the stinging cheek.

"I'm sorry." I whisper.

She breathes deeply and shakes her head laughing.

"Sorry?" She scoffs. "You are sorry? I highly doubt that. It's the exact thing your dad said and where is he now? With a brunette bimbo down in London. Next thing you know you'll be in Paris!"

I glance over her shoulder to find empty Jack-Daniel bottles everywhere.

"So he's gone then?" I ask quietly, tears stinging my eyes.

"Yep!" She hiccups, a bit of vomit being spit up but she swallows it back down. "Gone for good thank god. For good." She nods forcefully, bringing another bottle of Jack-Daniels to her lips and gulping the sweet liquid down.

"So you're getting divorced." I say rhetorically, tears streaming down my cheeks.

"Yep." She repeats, popping the 'P', some of the whisky being poured onto the carpet.

Then she looks at the state of me and actual worry crosses her face.

"Dear god baby! What happened to you?" She says, genuinely upset.

"Nothing to worry about mum." I murmur.

She nods and stumbles a little over her feet until she grips the stairwell.

"Whoops!" She clucks. "Silly mummy! Silly stupid mummy." She whispers, tears turning into heartbreaking sobs.

"Let's get you to bed mum." I say softly, taking her hand and pulling her to her bedroom.

She nods zombie-like and slips under the duvet covers of her bed, asleep in seconds, her snores filling the bedroom.

I jump in the shower, the hot water waking me up.

It' just too much to take in. Dad is gone. For good. And so is Eric. Possibly.

(Noon)

I wake up to shouting and screaming again in the front garden.

I sit up quickly, ignoring a headrush as I stumble outside to find mum otherwise a little sober than she was before, eyes red as she shouts swearwords at the one and only Mrs Emerson. Mr Emerson stands behind her.

Eric runs towards us, his eyes wide as he takes in the sight of his mother and my mother yelling.

He makes a start towards me to get me away from the scene but his father stops him.

He glares at his father and tries to push him away but his father holds him firmly in his grip and shakes his head.

"You are not entitled to be a mother!" Mrs Emerson shouts. "Your family is all wrong. All wrong! You!" Mrs Emerson whispers, pointing at me just as mum hiccoughs and throws up on the front lawn.

Mrs Emerson glares at her in disgust and then looks at me, her eyes accusing as I rush to mum and comfort her, rubbing her back as she vomits violently once more.

"You are not to see my son anymore!" She yells.

I freeze.

No. Please No.

I look at Eric who looks back at me desperately.

"You can't tell me to do that," I whisper, shaking my head. "I love Eric. No matter what you think."

"Love?" Mrs Emerson scoffs. "If you loved my son you would leave with your disgusting family and wouldn't ever come back again."

"You can't do this!" Eric shouts, trying to run over to me though Mr Emerson has a firm grip on him. "Mum I love her. We love each other!"

"Love?" She yells at Eric. "The same love she had for Leonardo? For your brother? Eric it's not right!"

"I love Eric more than you will ever love him." I reply angrily.

Mrs Emerson blinks before she closes the distance between us in a few strides and slaps me across the face.

I stumble dizzily, holding my searing cheek as tears began to roll.

"Sheila!" Mr Emerson cries. "What are you doing?"

The next thing I know mum is staggering drunkenly to Eric's mother and is scratching and clawing at her.

"YOU BITCH!" She shrieks. "STEP AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER!"

I pull mum away from her easily and push her inside the house.

"You listen here!" I hear Mrs Emerson scream as I shut the door behind me. "You see my son and you will regret it! Social services will be on you in an instant!"

And then I hear Eric shout my name repeatedly as they drag him back to their house and the street is once again silent.

Life has officially ended as I know it.

~~0~~

May 1st

Some birthday.

Mum is drinking ten to the dozen plus seeing a psychiatrist and I'm avoiding Eric as well as Mrs Emerson's insults.

I don't care if she's Eric's mother. I hate the bitch.

My cheek is still a little red.

She must practice.

Probably on Eric.

And dad could have just evaporated from my life for all I know.

And the nightmares are beginning to invade. Again.

And mum has forbidden me to ever see Mrs Emerson's family again.

No more Eric.

~~0~~

May 2nd

Eric finally found me.

"Lilly!" He calls as I'm walking back 'home'. "Lily!"

I turn round, my eyes wide. It's him.

Social Services.

I shake my head and then turn back around and continue walking.

"Why won't you talk to me?" He calls.

"I'm talking to you now." I mumble back.

"Lily-" He says catching my wrist. "Lily please." He whispers.

I turn round again, my breath catching when I see his face.

"Are we- are we over?" He breathes.

And though I'm longing to say no and just hold him for as long as I can, I can't. The situation with us is so... Romeo and Juliet.

"Yes." I whimper, looking up into his chocolate eyes which are brimmed with tears of desperation.

But I don't sound convincing.

"Oh really?" He whispers, stepping closer towards me.

I nod.

"Yes really." I breathe deeply.

He pulls me close to him.

"Do you not love me anymore?"

I look up into his eyes and know that I can't lie.

"It's not that."

"Then what is it?"

"Our parents," I swallow. "They've both threatened us. They've forbidden us."

"And when has that ever stopped anyone before?" He exclaims.

"Please," I utter under my breath, moving a finger to his lips. "Don't argue with the way things are."

"Why shouldn't I?" He exhales angrily as I try to walk away, grabbing my wrist and pulling us to a secluded corner of a derelict house's garden where no-one will see us. "I love you. I'm not going to give up fighting for you."

"You have to." I say quietly.

He shakes his head and presses me against the wall of the house, my arms falling to my sides as he pushes my shoulder bag off of my shoulder.

"You feel this?" He says frustratedly, holding my hands in his, the usual crackle of electricity bubbling through us. "You feel that energy there? You can't fight it and you can't break it. Energy is unbreakable. You said that a few weeks ago."

His heavy gaze nearly lures me in, his eyes blazing with desperation and anger.

"Exactly," I murmur. "A few weeks ago. Things have changed."

Eric stops breathing, his body stiffening, his head shaking at my words, his face contorting, tears in his eyes.

"Please Lily," He begs, his hand winding to the back of my neck. "Come back to me beautiful."

I don't know what it is, the desperation, the tears, his actions or just himself but before I know it, I've pushed my mouth against his, trying to feed the needy craving for his lips which have been left when I neglected what we both needed.

He sighs at the feel of my lips against his, moving against mine hungrily, wanting to feed his craving as well as my own.

"Eric." I whisper again and again, my mouth moving in desperation, needing more.

Tears roll down my cheeks at our close embrace. I know I can't deny him any more.

I pull my arms around his neck in an attempt to draw him closer. He complies eagerly.

He lifts me, pressing me against the wall of the house, his hand winding in my long wavy, blonde locks as my hands now move to his hair, winding and pulling the brown tresses and then gently slide to his cheeks, holding him against my lips as we slow down, our kisses more soft and gentle.

We finally pull away, his head falling to my shoulder.

"Happy late birthday Lily." He breaths raggedly against my neck.

I can't help but laugh and press my mouth back to his, not ever wanting to let him go.

We both slip to the floor, still wrapped around each other, our mouths still attached as the sunshine plays with our appearances.

We finally pull away again, our breathing ragged as he sits up and leans back, running one of his hands through my hair, my legs either side of him as I rest back against the wall of the house.

"Your hair shines in the sun." He notes, lifting a lock and watching it shimmer in the light.

"That's because my hair's been washed." I point out.

He laughs, relief filling my chest at the sound as he props us both up with his knees.

"So how's home?" He asks.

I sigh.

"I don't think you really can call it home." I mumble, rearranging myself more comfortably on top of him.

He smiles sadly and strokes away few stray tears that falls.

"Home for me is wherever you are." He responds.

"Right," I nod. "Same goes for me. I can only enjoy myself with you."

He chuckles, eyes hooded as he presses his lips against mine again.

"That's not surprising."

I roll my eyes.

"Big headed much?" I grin.

He shrugs and leans back on both hands now, watching me intently as I run my hands through his silky brown tresses again, enjoying the feel of the hair running inbetween my fingers.

"Come away with me." He whispers.

I stop, my hands still in his hair and look at him bewildered, beginning to laugh.

"You're joking right?" I laugh.

One look at him and I know he's not kidding.

"You're not joking." I gape.

He shakes his head.

I laugh high pitched and then stop, climbing off of him, lying back in the grass.

"W-w-why would you want to do that?" I ask worriedly, staring up at the rare blue sky.

He rolls onto his side, trailing a finger down my cheek, over my lips, down my neck and then tortuously slowly ran down my side, earning a small whimper in return.

"Because there will be no distractions... Well. Maybe a few." He chuckles low in my ear, making me shiver.

"I don't know Eric." I mumble.

"Just think about it," He pleads. "Please?"

I sigh and nod, turning around and crossing my arms around his neck, kissing him softly, my leg latching around him.

"We'll see." I murmur.

"Thank you." He replies against my mouth.

I pull him closer to me and roll him over so I'm on top, watching as the sunlight catches his brown locks and makes his chocolate eyes shine.

He smiles my favourite crinkled smile at my expression as I trail my hands down his face and then down his arms and up his sides before trailing over the top half of his chest, the sun and his skin warming me considerably.

He tilts his head at me, the smile still glued on his face.

"What are you thinking?" He asks, brushing a lock of hair from my eyes.

"That I don't ever want to leave this spot." I mumble.

He sighs and moves his hands to rest on the small of my back where he draws small circles.

"So don't."

"I have to." I whisper softly, a smile lighting my face as he pouts.

"Give one good reason why."

"So my drunken mother doesn't get killed?" I mutter, rolling my eyes.

He smiles sadly and moves his hands to my hair.

"Daughter of a drunken mother or not, I still and always will love you."

I smile and press my mouth to his.

"I'd better go." I sigh, pulling away after a few minutes.

He shakes his head and pulls me closer.

"I don't want you to."

"I have to." I smile, pulling away.

He pouts and kisses me once on one cheek, then the other, then my nose and all over my face.

"What are you doing?" I giggle.

"Fifteen kisses for your birthday remember?"

I giggle and kiss him softly after he's finished his fifteen kisses with another promise that I'll think about his offer and make a start home.

~~0~~

The house is bombarded with boxes.

"Um mum?" I call, pointing to the boxes. "What's all this about?"

"Oh," She she says, her voice displaying that she's in the midst of boredom. "We're moving."

~~0~~

May 6th

I always knew it would be difficult hiding the fact that your moving from your boyfriend who you're secretly dating due to parental misfortunes and who lives a street away.

Just not as difficult as I thought it would be.

I have to swim through boxes now.

And once again I have to keep dodging Eric.

But this time with more subtlety.

So I get a surprise when he knocks on the door.

As usual, I get the door first.

"Who is it Lillian?" Mum calls.

"A friend," I call back over my shoulder. "I'm going out for a bit. I'll be back soon."

"OK," She replies. "Don't hang out with the Eric kid."

As if I'm going to obey her.

I step outside and close the door behind me, quickly grabbing hold of Eric's hand and pulling him to the side of the house, immediately grabbing his collar and attacking his lips with my own.

He moans and pulls me closer, pulling away with a pant.

"You're intoxicating Lily," He murmurs huskily. "Thought much about my offer?"

I sigh and nod.

It was time to tell him.

I pull him to the secluded area of the garden surrounded by bushes, weeds and shrubs with an old broken bench in the corner. All of which can't be seen from the house.

"About that," I say sitting down on the bench. "We need to talk."

"That can't be good." He mumbles.

"Yeah you're in for a shock." I laugh nervously.

He frowns but pulls my hands in his, sitting as close to me as possible.

"Go on," He assures me firmly. "I'm ready."

I take a deep breath, my hand moving to his cheek.

"I'm moving." I say uncomfortably.

He tenses, his whole body stiffening.

I hear him swallow forcefully, a lump in his throat.

"What?" He strangles out.

I don't say anything. I know he's heard me perfectly well.

"I-I," He stands up, my hand slipping off of his cheek and onto my lap as he paces, a hand in his hair. "And when were you going to tell me?"

"I just did." I say quietly.

He stops.

"I-I don't believe it." He murmurs in a low voice.

"I'm sorry." I whisper.

He stops and looks at me again and then at the street.

"Feel free to go." I mumble.

His eyes flick from me to the road then me again before he strides to me in two steps and pulls me up, crushing his mouth against mine.

"Why would I do that?" He whispers.

I frown in confusion.

"Because I'm not worth your time."

He scoffs.

"Why would you think that?" He murmurs before pressing his lips back to mine. "Do you want to go?"

I think for a moment and then shake my head.

"No."

"Then come away with me," He begs. "Please?"

"But where would we go?" I say, panic beginning to set in.

"Shh," He soothes. "I have it all planned out. We'd stay with my uncle. Start a whole new life. Just us two and him."

"Where does he live?" I ask.

"London," He answers. "In Kingston Upon Thames."

I pause, taking it all in.

"Think about it," He begs. "Just us together. We can do anything. No barriers. No boundaries. No-one after us all the time."

I think for a while.

No-one slapping me. No-one shouting. No-one slurring at me. No more having to clean up sick. No more threats.

Free from an uncaring mother.

Free from the empty whisky bottles and glasses.

"What do you say?" Eric murmurs, his chocolate eyes scanning my face.

And a life with Eric.

I think and then smile and nod, kissing him over and over again.

"Yes." I mumble inbetween kisses.

"Thank you." He smiles, pulling me into his lap and kissing me eagerly.

I have a week to be prepared.

~~0~~

May 13th

Running away is such a harsh phrase.

We're simply making a new start.

And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to go with Eric.

No barriers. No boundaries. Just freedom.

A whole new way and chance to be together.

But I'll still miss things.

I'll miss Rhys and Jesse, not so much Dennis though he has become a pretty frequent visitor in my life.

I'll miss mum. I'll miss school. I'll miss educational opportunities. I'll miss being able to have options.

But above all, I'll miss Leon.

And I always will.

~~0~~

"Hey." I say to Rhys and Jesse shyly.

They look at me in surprise.

I haven't talked to them in a while.

A decision I now regret.

"Um hey." They say awkwardly.

There's a silence and then I throw my arms around them, pulling them to me hard.

"I love you guys you know." I say tearfully, sadness beginning to set in as I realise I hardly ever say that to them anymore.

"Are you on?" Rhys exclaims, eyebrows raised at the tears beginning to roll down my cheeks..

"No," I sniff, shaking my head and wiping my eyes. "Hayfever."

"Of course." They say rolling their eyes, grinning knowingly.

"God. Sad much?" Sadie huffs as she pushes past us.

Ahh. And I'll miss Miss Bitchylocks.

Maybe I'll leave a scar on her to remember me by...

~~0~~

Mum goes to bed early again tonight due to a 'migraine' a.k.a hangover.

"Night mum." I say, squeezing her tonight and nuzzling my nose into her unwashed hair.

"Oh," She croaks in surprise. "Goodnight baby."

A last kiss on her cheek and then I'm finished with my goodbyes.

All except one.

So I close my eyes, picturing presenting a lily to my ghostly Ex-Boyfriend and saying two words to him.

"Bye Leon."

"Bye Leon."

I watch his face contort as he realises this is well and truly the end for us and pecks me on the cheek, waving goodbye and mouthing 'hope for the best' to me.

I hesitate, my necessities now nearly all packed away in my rucksack when I pull out something from the wardrobe.

I smile as I pull it on and tiptoe out of the front door before shutting it behind me and hugging Eric tight to me.

He pulls away with a small smile, his eyes scanning my jersey.

"Lily-By-Lily huh? What's she like?"

"She's pretty much the same as me," I grin back. "She's just different."

And then we walk away from our old lives into the new.

~~0~~

"Are you sure about this?" Eric murmurs under his breath as we approach the station. "It's not too late to change your mind."

"I'm sure." I smile.

And I mean it.

"But you're leaving everything behind. Your friends, your family, your education, Leon-"

"Though I won't forget him, Leon's in the past. And why do I need all that other stuff when I have you?" I reply.

He responds with a chaste kiss to my forehead and then we're on a train, speeding away at high speed towards London.

~~0~~

May 14th (Time Unknown)

I wake up pretty much the same way as I did in the Emerson's house, with a stiff neck but cold body.

Eric's warmth warms me thankfully.

"How long have we been on here for?" I mumble sleepily.

"An hour," He murmurs against my hair, ignoring a nosy passenger opposite peering over his newspaper at us. "Another hour and then we'll walk to the underground, take a train, walk to a bus stop and then walk to the road my uncle lives. Overall we have 2-3 hours left."

Internally I groan but remember that it was my decision to come along with him when I didn't have to and instead nod.

"That's fine."

He can hear a soft harshness in my voice and kisses my forehead again.

"I'm sorry I brought you into this." He whispers.

I shake my head.

"Don't apologise. I've already told you. I have you that's all that I want."

He tries to scoff inaudibly but I hear it well and scowl up at him.

He rolls his eyes but pulls me closer all the same.

"I don't seem why I'm so special." He mutters.

I smile and hold his hand.

"You're special because you're you."

He rolls his eyes again but I can tell that my comment flatters him none-the-less.

I smile again and kiss his cheek chastely as we wait for the next hour for the train to slow.

(4:32AM according to Big Ben)

We've been walking and stopping and running and travelling and sitting all in the past two hours but we're still hardly near our new home yet.

We sit down in a doorstep shivering whilst Eric's numb fingers fiddle with the zip of his rucksack as he finally pulls out a large jumper.

I look at him with an eyebrow raised.

"Dad's." He mutters and rips the top collar open a little and fits through it easily before turning to me and slipping my through the same hole.

The sweater is warm and soft but not as soft as Eric.

I huddle up to Eric, still shivering a little and wrap my arms tightly around his bulky form, the shivers stopping immediately.

We're hungry, cold, tired and poor.

"I didn't think it was going to be this way," Eric mumbles, pulling me closer. "Leon went away once for a week and said it was the most exhilarating experience he had ever had," His eyes scan the dark street. "What a fat load of crap."

I don't say anything but look around the people of London who are already up at 4 o'clock in the morning.

People who can see us but yet act oblivious to us and then I realise what they're thinking.

They think we're homeless. That we're vicious teens who deserve it. They ignore us the same way probably any others in any other countries would do.

I can tell that Eric is thinking along the same line to as he wriggles uncomfortably in his spot, causing a business man to look at us and then look away again before sighing and walking over.

"You brother and sister?" He asks.

We shake our heads.

"Got somewhere to live?"

Eric nods.

"My uncle's. We're travelling there."

The man raises an eyebrow in the same way I would do at the sound of the comment.

"He's aware of a possible relative and friend walking the streets of London at four in the morning and doesn't give a damn?" He smirks.

"He's not actually aware of us coming," Eric frowns in irritation. "And the same goes for you. A boss who doesn't give a damn for his employees and has them traipsing around London at this hour?"

The business man blinks, it's obvious he's hit the target as under his breath he mutters 'smart kid' but then he looks up, looking first at me who looks a wreck and then at Eric who's appearance wouldn't be described as healthy.

He smiles softly.

"Runaways huh?"

We maintain poker faces, Eric succeeding a little more than myself as the business man digs in his wallet and pulls out a crumpled £20 note.

"Thank you." I whisper in astonishment, looking at the money as if it was a fortune and then I look up to find that he was gone.

But that small token gives me hope that the world isn't as bad as I thought it was.

~~0~~

Me and Eric scan around for a local corner shop that's open in these early hours of the morning and find a co-operative (Ironic huh?) with no druggies or alcoholics leering or shouting at you outside it.

As soon as we go inside it's like every pair of eyes is on us though thankfully it isn't as bad as it would be with the sweater still on us.

Eric's jaw tightens as he takes my hand and pulls me to a sweet and biscuits aisle where we grab all the crisp and biscuit packets we can get.

We buy three bottles of Evian each and a bottle of diet coke to share between us as a treat before stalking to the long queue.

We don't care about all eyes on us, watching suspiciously as we traipse to the counter. Everyone expects us to steal something but watch in surprise as we finally exit the co-op without making the alarms blare.

As soon as we step onto the street, the co-op bag is opened and a bottle of water and two packets of crisps are consumed in an instant.

"Which way are we heading now?" I say standing up, though my legs are a little wobbly.

"The river Thames is that way," Eric replies, catching me before I fall as he points down a street. "My uncle's flat is seated just on the edge of it.

And so we start walking again.

~~0~~

May 14th (5:00AM)

I'm dragging my feet along the pavement, clutched tight to Eric in an effort not to fall over.

We've already had several breaks to swallow cookies and water and crisps. Junk food isn't so hot on your body when you're walking.

Eric suddenly stops, a smile lighting his face.

"We're here." He says, more to himself than to me.

I look up, my eyelids hooded in an attempt to keep them open.

I'm looking up at a building made almost entirely of glass which overlooks the river which lays just behind us.

"Which flat is he in?" I yawn tiredly.

"Top floor," Eric sighs. "But it'll be worth it by the time we actually get up there."

I'll say.

He leads us inside an elevator. Thank goodness.

Our bodies wont make it up three flights of stairs.

"Won't your parents find us?" I ask, looking at him intently.

He wrinkles his nose a little, arm still around me and shakes his head.

"No. They don't talk to my uncle."

He's deep in thought with a frown on his face and I know better than to disturb his thinking.

It leaves me enough time to contemplate what he means.

I watch as the lights light up each of the buttons until the light hits the 13th floor and then with a ding the elevator doors open, revealing two flats on either side of a glass balcony.

"Which one?" I mumble, my eyes flicking between flat twenty-five and twenty-six.

"Twenty-sixth." He replies quietly, staring at the door before leading us out to it.

He stands for a moment, his eyes moving over the light brown wood and the two brass numbers before his hand moves up hesitantly.

But I feel the same things he does.

Behind this door is a future.

Our future.

A brighter future.

Hopefully.

Just me, Eric and his uncle.

So I clasp my hand over his, the crackling electricity jolting me awake a little as he looks at me, his chocolate eyes staring into my green ones before our joint hands swiftly knock on the door together.

We hear movements inside.

Our breathing is hitching.

Can Eric's uncle be trusted?

Hopefully.

Leon never mentioned an uncle.

Eric never mentioned an uncle until the other day.

Who is Eric's uncle's brother/sister?

Mr Emerson?

Or Mrs Emerson?

What is his uncle like?

And then the door opens and chocolate eyes meet ours.

It's a young woman.

"Can I help you?" She asks, two perfected eyebrows raised above her eyes as she takes in our grubby state.

My heart falls.

But those eyes are so similar, familiar.

Eric frowns in confusion as if trying to remember her name when we hear a voice similar to Eric's.

"Grace?" It calls. "Who is it?"

"You tell me." She replies, her eyes never leaving us.

A man walks to the door and my breathing catches.

The chocolate eyes. The voice. The hair. The skin.

It's an older version of Leon and Eric.

And a younger version of Mr Emerson.

The girl looks over her shoulder, her blonde hair moving swiftly with her actions.

The man squints at me, his square glasses propped on the edge of his nose, trying to place me and then looks at Eric softly.

"Eric," He smiles warmly. He looks at me. "And who's this?"

"This is Lillian," Eric replies. "She's now family."

And then his uncle nods in understanding with a small smile and opens the door wide for us to step into the flat.

Offering us to step into his own future.

15th May

There's nothing quite like waking up in a warm and comfortable bed with your loved one by your side.

So life is perfect.

For now anyway.

Unlike the last time, it's Eric who is awake this time and his chocolate eyes and warm lips are the first thing I welcome to my day.

"Hello beautiful." He murmurs, his voice still gravelly which means he must of woke only a few minutes before me.

"Hey." I reply quietly, brushing a lock of brown hair away from his eyes.

Being so close to him I can see his high cheekbones, the chocolate eyes with the slightly surprising black specks around his pupils which can't be seen from afar. I can see every small speck of slight stubble which is dotted around his jaw, maybe a little more than there was a few days back due to not being able to shave, and I enjoy it as it scratches me softly with each kiss from his lips.

I trail an index finger down his face, marvelling at his rich naturally tanned, maybe even slightly Asian skin complexion and feel the warmth seep through me from his skin.

"Why are you mine?" I ask more to myself than to him as I hook my calf around his leg in an effort to bring him closer to me.

He complies and locks his arms around me, pressing me tight to his chest.

"Because I'm the luckiest guy in the world." He murmurs against my forehead, lips caressing the skin softly.

I scoff, breaking the moment.

"I wouldn't say that. Fortunate maybe." I grin.

He laughs and kisses me again.

"I think you're more fortunate. You've known Grace for a few hours and she's already crazy about you. It took me at least three days for her to get used to me."

"Three and a half." Grace suddenly says, a grin on her face as she enters the room.

I blush and Eric frowns.

"Morning lovebirds."

"Shut up Grace." Eric scowls, throwing a pillow at her which she dodges smartly.

"Chill cus'." She smirks, walking over and sitting on the end of the bed with as much grace as her name.

Her finger and toe nails are freshly painted crimson, standing out amongst her pale complexion.

She catches me looking and grinned.

"Don't worry Lills. I'll paint your nails. Jade I think. Like your eyes."

I blush, earning a friendly smile from her.

"Where's Uncle Jared?" Eric glared.

She scoffed.

"Dad went out ages ago," She smirks. "Whilst you two were all snuggled up. See?" She grins, holding up her I-Phone with a picture of us together in bed fast asleep.

Eric jumps out of bed and runs after her as she squeals and runs away from him.

I smile and climb out of bed, stretching wide as I walk and peer out of the window.

Naturally the guest room had the best view.

I hear the door close behind me and feel Eric's arms cocoon around my waist, his lips on my cheek.

"Like it here?" He murmurs.

I hum in approval.

I turn round and capture his lips with mine, a coolness overtaking me, a feeling I can't name residing in my stomach.

And I know it will sit and rest there for a long time.

He takes my hand and leads me into the front room.

"Are you hungry?" He asks, sitting with me on the sofa.

I shake my head and yawn, resting my head on his shoulder.

"You're still tired?" He says worriedly.

I roll my eyes.

"It's aftershocks from sleeping."

He laughs and pecks me on the forehead.

There's a short silence.

"Are you sure you don't-"

"Jeez Eric!"" I exclaim. "I'm fine. Really."

I hear laughing coming from Grace's room as Eric mutters under his breath.

And automatically I feel guilty, knowing that he's only worried.

"Don't worry about me." I whisper, leaning forward and kissing his lips softly.

"Can't help it." He replies quietly, resting his forehead on mine.

"Hey. You can help me in some way." I smile.

He looks at me and replies hurriedly.

"What?"

I can't help but giggle at his sudden reply.

"You can teach me how to turn on the shower."

He laughs again.

~~0~~

I've kept it in all morning and I can't contain it any longer.

I have to find out.

"Eric?" I ask, looking up at him from the kitchen table as eats some toast opposite me, still in his PJ's.

I brush my clean but wet locks away from my eyes, my finger swirling in my coffee's foam as I bring it back to my mouth, sucking it dry before asking:

"Why doesn't your uncle speak to your mum and dad anymore?"

He pauses and then sighs.

"You can't help but be intrigued hmm?" He mumbles.

I sigh.

I know. I hate that about me too.

"Some people call it nosy." I mutter.

He laughs and then sighs.

"My dad and my uncle had …disagreement a few years back." He murmurs.

No surprises there.

"Anyway they were both in love with the same woman."

"Mrs Emerson?" I exclaim.

He sighs and shakes his head.

"No. My aunt."

"And you're uncle won," I say. "Obviously."

"No," Eric says shaking his head. "He probably wouldn't of won if my dad hadn't gotten another woman pregnant."

He grimaces, jaw a little tight.

"Your mum?" I say, realisation dawning.

He nods.

"She was pregnant with me." He says hoarsely, shaking his head.

I stared blankly at him.

"My mum's family forced her to marry him and then I was born and..." He sighs. "Basically crazy stuff happened and my uncle hasn't talked to my dad in years."

It's no wonder he never felt loved.

"Eric," I say softly, holding and stroking his hand gently. "What happened to your aunt?"

He swallows.

"She died a little while ago. Cancer. I was four, Grace was seven."

A weight weighs down my heart at the sadness and grief which is obvious in his eyes.

He's always felt unloved. Not special. Not confident.

Until now.

I stand up, his eyes following me as I walk towards the bedroom, he following me soon after.

"I want you to know that you are loved," I whisper. "By me. By Grace. By your uncle. But most of all by me."

He closes, his eyes, his mouth meeting mine as I pull him on top of me, enjoying our skin-to-skin contact until his hand moves to my hair as he whispers in my ear that he will never leave me.

Never ever.

And I now know what that feeling is in my stomach.

Peace.

And hope.

Hope for the future.

Hope for the family I would have with him.

Hope for marriage.

Hope that Eric can trust me and one day can tell me everything that's happened in the past sixteen years.

And always, always there will be a content relaxed peace.

For me. For him. For our families.

And For Leon.

Lillian Bewers isn't here any more.

But Lilly Emerson is.

~~0~~

Hope you enjoyed this story!

I've been toying whether to publish it and write a sequel.

What do you think?

Please Review!