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19 August 2009 @ 07:48 pm
where even strangers make more sense  

The newly acquired ring on her finger feels heavier than usual. “We’re not friends anymore, Severus,” she tells him. She’s supposed to be brave now. He’s against her. No, not her, what she stands for. Or who she stands with. Aren’t they all one in the same?-- harry potter, one shot, lily-centric. lily/severus.


growing up is not a burden,
but she's never been good with letting people go.

Remus is eyeing her knowingly. She looks down, heavy-lidded and plagued with exhaustion. If she had a penny for every time James Potter did this or that. The excuses grow tired.

“Lil...maybe you shouldn’t...” But he doesn’t finish his sentence. He rarely does. He just continues to look at her, scrutinizing her.

She’s unwavering in her movements as she tucks the letter to the owl’s talon. It’d be ludicrous to tell him she’s merely writing to her parents. He’s smart. He understands her better than she likes.

The speckled owl takes off, making a loop around the castle. She never even told him where to go. She never has to.

She turns to face Remus, face strong and unflinching. Don’t ask is etched in the lines across her forehead, erasing quickly as she sighs, skin returning to normal.

There’s no need for words. They’ve both been here before.

Remus looks on while she tiptoes out of the room.

When James asks, he’ll say he hasn’t seen her.

She’ll be grateful.

He says it’s officially called the Room of Requirement, but she just refers to it as their place. It’s a hideaway of sorts, a vacation from the social structures abiding within the walls of Hogwarts. Wizards are perhaps more vain than Muggles and she’s struggling to keep her head afloat most days. Sometimes being nice really has its downsides.

“What happened?” he asks, and she clenches at the softness in his voice. He’s not even angry with her. He should be. She hates herself often enough as it is.

She’s squeezing her eyes shut, tears burning inside of her. His arms are around her within seconds and this familiar gesture only warrants more tears.

She clings to him cruelly. How dare she? she thinks.

“I’m sorry, Severus,” she manages, voice wavering. “I’m sorry.”

Cool lips slide over her forehead. Her breathing quickens. She eases, slightly.

“It’s all right,” he promises. “It’s all right.”

But they both know it isn’t.

Her hands tremble all through Charms class. Her mind is reeling quickly but going nowhere at all.

She’s fighting in circles, and it’s useless really, all of this extraneous pondering.

She sighs, exasperated.

Alice peers over at her, concern glazing her wide eyes.

Lily turns away, unable to satisfy her friend with a reaction. She stares at the front of the class reluctantly.

Even Professor Flitwick seems to notice how disassociated she’s become.

I’m sorry,” he says and it’s disturbing, his ability to enunciate these words so completely. When James Potter speaks, the words he utters come to life. His charisma lends vibrance to conversations, or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Maybe she’s just taken with him.

She wishes she wasn’t.

He’s one of the good guys. She knows this.

And he loves her.

“I know,” she says at last. Sadly. They tend to fight a lot. He’s practically royalty at school. He’s not arrogant, at least not in a sadistic way, but sometimes, it’s all a bit much. Watching him gloat over a Quidditch match, girls hovering around him like he’s a trophy or something more than he really is. It’s just that, most of the things she loves about him, well, they’re what everyone else misses.

Or maybe she’s just blinded by affection.

Sirius would roll his eyes right about now and tell her to save the thinking for her studies. Not many wizards or witches had analytical minds. Perhaps it was the Muggle in her.

James smiles roughly, hands sweeping around her waist, fingers running against the warmth of her cotton skirt. “You’re adorable when you're deep in thought.”

She’s all giggles and pigtails again.

It’s everything Severus could never say.

Please.” She’s begging him. She’s never been this desperate before, at least, not in front of him. There’s a certain slant of light in his eyes that makes her think she’s been found out. But it passes as does the guilt. It’s easy to compartmentalize. To see what she wants to see. To be what he wants her to be.

He rolls his eyes, irritated, and shoots her a glowering look. “He called you a Mudblood.”

She winces. Because it’s the truth, even if he didn’t mean it. And she knows he didn’t mean it. What can she say? That he said it to hurt James more than her? That he was expressing the pain of watching her walk arm-in-arm with his enemies? That it happened nearly two years ago? Really, what is there left to say?

“Just let it go,” she breathes, weary from their war. It’s the internal battles that are killing her. She’s being ripped apart and she’s going to have to choose a side. Good versus evil isn’t even half-accurate. It’s all politics and chauvinism and she’s not certain she wants to be on either side. She thinks of Spinner’s End and nights on her rooftops and the freedom that went along with just being.

James pulls his hand from hers out of frustration. It still stings, though, even if she’s guilty of...of what? There’s no definitive answer. She’s done nothing wrong. Or maybe that’s a half-truth.

This has to stop, she thinks. It’s clearly what he’s thinking too.

“Let it go,” she repeats, because he doesn’t seem to want to.

Or because she can’t.

Their apartment’s dim and bare. They’ve only just moved in, and it’s only temporary James says. They’re to get a real house somewhere nice, perhaps Godric’s Hollow. But money’s tight. Magic doesn’t solve everything.

She’s been wondering lately if magic doesn’t just create more problems. Petunia’s crude face flashes over her mind. She smiles. Her sister would call her a damn fool. It’s reassuring, old vices and all.

Her fingers slide across the window frame, trickling down to the cool granite counter top. She flinches, hands darting back to her sides, still burning with cold.

It triggers something.

“I hear congratulations are in order.”

She springs back to life at the sound of his voice, hand rushing instinctively to the wand in her pocket. She turns to face him, unnerved.

His eyes sweep down to her twitching hand.

“You really think I’d hurt you?” His voice is commanding and sardonic, but there’s a hint of hurt in there, too.

James would kill her for letting her defenses down, for dropping the wand back into her pocket and relaxing, or rather pretending to relax. She knows she’s not supposed to trust him. She knows where her loyalties lie.

In fact, she’s terrified that she’s not terrified.

Green eyes crawl up to his face. “Why are you here?”

Yes, why indeed? It’s become the infamous question between them, or perhaps more of a joke. But no one’s laughing. She’s not even sure she’s breathing.

“Is your sister thrilled?” There’s a hint of humor in his voice, a slip only she could detect.

She grins in spite of herself. They both know a thing or two about family insensitivity.

“She’s always been jealous of you,” he adds.

She almost tells him that there’s nothing to be jealous of, but holds her tongue. That remark would be grounds for a dangerous conversation.

The newly acquired ring on her finger feels heavier than usual.

“We’re not friends anymore, Severus,” she tells him. She’s supposed to be brave now. He’s against her. No, not her, what she stands for. Or who she stands with. Aren’t they all one in the same?

She rolls back on the balls of her feet, trying not to look at him anymore. This time there’s a real war coming, one that won’t resolve itself by her choosing a side. She’s already done that. She’s not regretting her choice now, just his.

He doesn’t answer at first, and she wonders if after all of these years, he’s still affected by her. She swallows bitterly, doubting this.

“It’s not too late,” she pleads. “To change. To choose the right side.” She considers reaching out to touch him, but that hideous dark mark is apparent and suddenly she’s remembering why James loathes him so vehemently. She’s worried that she can’t hate him.

Please.” It’s meant as an insult, mocking tone to his voice, but she can hear the hidden desperation. It’s enough to break her.

She looks downward, wind tossing her hair over her shoulder. “I’m not giving up,” she tells him quietly. “You’ll come to your senses...even if I have to make you.”

She’s not sure where the words come from and she certainly hasn’t yet grasped their full significance. But she’s looking up at him brazenly, still not ready to pack away their friendship. She’s still hopeful.

He shoots her a look of disdain.

It’s like he’s daring her to follow through on her threat.

She wonders vaguely if she will.

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