The sheets twisted around Lucy’s bare legs as she laid still on her stomach, sleeping peacefully even as the rapidly brightening sunlight stole through the gaps in her bedroom window’s ancient blinds. A cool draft, likely a remnant of the blustery spring weather that awaited her outside, swept through the house, and it traced up her spine and rustled the minute hairs that dotted the exposed skin of her back. Her blonde hair fell freely about the pillow, a few of the thin strands falling into her face. She heard a floorboard creak loudly and she slowly opened her faded blue eyes, moving aside the hairs that obscured her vision. Now, she could see a glass filled with bright orange liquid displayed plainly before her.
“Orange juice?” Sirius said, holding it right in front of her nose.
“Mmm.” She said sleepily, pulling the sheet around her instinctively as she grasped the glass and sniffed it curiously. It smelled good, but she wanted her coffee instead. “You take the orange juice.” She murmured, almost spilling it as she turned over, moving the glass over the tangled duvet and onto a bare spot on the unsteady end table that marked Sirius’s usual side of the bed.
“Are you sure?” He remarked. “I mean, I’d love to take it, but you’d better make up your mind fast.”
“Why?” She sat up, tucking her hair behind her ears and looking for a spare ponytail holder.
“It’s ten in the morning, Luce.” He replied, smirking slightly.
Her eyes went wide and she stared up at Sirius, leaning back against the wall with his arms crossed and an amused look on his face. Her next glance went to the small clock beside her bed, confirming his declaration. Her modesty forgotten, she leapt out of the sheets and onto the floor, struggling to find a clean t-shirt with which to cover herself above the waist.
“How long have you been awake?” Lucy chastised him as she searched frantically for a pair of pants. “How could you let me be four hours late to work?!”
“It’s Saturday, love. You’re only two hours late.” Sirius countered, his smirk growing ever wider.
“Don’t be a jackass.” She growled, buttoning up her jeans.
“Besides, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that job. You don’t need to waste your life working in a Muggle diner, Luce. You’d be better off moving in with me.”
“Sirius, we’ve talked about that already.” She sighed, running a hand through her hair.
“I know, but I’ve gotten really busy with the Order. Harry’s got his own little gang of misfits now, and some of them have been helping us out. They’re called Dumbledore’s Army. Isn’t that clever?” He went on, seeming to have forgotten that she was in a rush. “It’s just getting a bit much for me to try to help out there and come here to see you. It’d be much easier for both of us if you just left this place behind and moved in with me. The house is much bigger than this.” He paused, thinking to himself. “Though I’m not sure what we’ll do with Snivellus, come to think of it…” He muttered.
Lucy pulled her t-shirt on over her head only to realize that she’d forgotten to fish for a bra. “I’m not joining the Order.” She said firmly, surprising Sirius with her tone.
He frowned slightly. “What, because of him?”
“No.” She countered. “I actually didn’t know he was a part of it, not that it surprises me all that much.” Well, it did a little. It had surprised her when he’d joined up with Voldemort back at Hogwarts, but then she’d gotten used to washing blood out of his clothes and the strangest things had become increasingly natural to her with time. She pictured him with blood on his clothes again, but this time he fought alongside the friends she missed so badly, taking any injuries necessary to further the cause. She smiled a little, and then she remembered that she was late for work and began looking actively for a bra.
Disgust and jealousy churned as one in Sirius’s gut as he watched that slow, sleepy smile spread across her face. How many times had Snape gotten to see that smile, perhaps when he got up to go to work in the morning or late at night when he arrived in the darkness to find her already lost in dreams? Lucy hadn’t looked at him like that until very recently, and only when she didn’t creep out of bed far too early to go check her weight. As teenagers, both of them were usually hung over and grouchy in the morning, unfit for pretty smiles. Sirius clenched a fist slightly as it hit him at last: Snape had stolen her best years from him. He dreaded seeing the man at the next Order meeting. One of them might not make it out alive.
“Then what?” He asked finally, forcing his fingers to loosen from his palm.
“I just don’t want to be a part of it.” Lucy said, hooking her bra and putting the shirt on again. Now all she was missing were shoes and socks, and she turned to look for them now, hoping that Casey would somehow miss the fact that no one had been there to serve any potential customers.
“The Order?” Sirius looked confused.
“The war, Sirius.” Lucy stopped, looking straight at him, and it was her turn to clench her fists with angry impatience. “I can see why you like it. It’s just like you, wanting so much to drag me into a mess I didn’t make. And then you leave me there to figure out how to clean myself up.”
She hadn’t spoken to him like that since fifth year, and it stung him deeply. “No part of me likes this war.” He said carefully, coming very close to betraying the fact that she tested his patience to its outer limits. “But it’s coming. It’s going to infect everything I have left, everything I love. I have to help anyone who wants to fight it. I have to do anything I can to prevent that.” He saw her move for the bedroom door, and he moved into her path. “And if you think they won’t come for you, that they won’t hang every single one of these Muggles once they’ve gotten their victory, you’re kidding yourself, Lucy.”
“I know what it can do. In case you’ve forgotten, that darkness you talk about was my life.” Lucy shot back, grabbing her purse. “I know you find this hard to believe, but Severus was a good husband. He took care of me after you started sneaking around with Ravenclaws behind my back.” Her venomous tone revealed a very tangible humiliation. “He loved me without ever asking me to do or be anything. But then the war came, and it ruined him. All of a sudden, he was sneaking off, but it was so much worse this time. That sodding war destroyed both of us.” She inhaled desperately, exhaling in almost the same breath. “I know it’s coming. I’m not a fool. But I’m damn determined to sit here and wait, to enjoy every second of my life before the past finds me and takes my happiness away. If that makes me a coward, then…” She trailed off.
Sirius stared at her, seeing the full extent of her damage for what seemed like the first time.
“I really have to go.” She paused as she brushed past him, lightly touching his chest and looking desperately into his face. “I’m sorry, all right? We can talk about it when I get home. Okay?”
He looked down at her wordlessly, noticing absently that she’d forgotten one of her earrings but not bothering to mention it. He was not altogether surprised by her reaction, and he imagined that she might be downright amenable to joining him if Lily was still in the picture. He knew that she was no enemy of the good, and she likely cared more about the brewing war than she let on.
What shocked him to the core was the way she continued to defend her estranged husband. She had blocked Sirius’s blows at every turn, dutifully testifying to Snape’s unceasing devotion and patient manner at every opportunity. At first, he had passed it off as a mere self-esteem deficiency, but she had been getting stronger by the day. If she was concerned about Snape exacting vengeance in this isolated Muggle neighborhood, her utter lack of nervous over-the-shoulder glances defied such fears. There remained only one earth-shattering conclusion: Lucy really believed that her husband was a good person underneath his ugly tattoo and cold personality. Even Lily had turned from him once he’d succumbed too fully to the prejudices of his fellows, but not Lucy. She stood faithfully at his side from miles away. It was remarkable.
Sirius thought briefly about how unfailingly kind she had been to him over the past few weeks, and he nodded quickly, letting her go through the door without making any effort to stop her.
Lucy opened the front door quietly, pausing as she realized that he was still standing aimlessly in her bedroom. She mentally blew him a kiss, hoping he’d be waiting there when she came home.