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Chapter 15

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul
You learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security
You begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises
You begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open,
with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child
You learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrows ground is too uncertain for plans.
And after awhile, you learn that you really are strong and you really do have worth.
- Author unknown

Sirius’ eyes fought to focus as Lily’s movements roused him from sleep. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, her bare feet dangling towards the floor. Her back was toward Sirius but he could see her rubbing her arm gingerly. He slid toward her and took her hand in his.

“Let me see,” Sirius murmured, his hands pressing gently around the forming bruises on her tiny arms. His eyes darkened with the realization that the marks were from him.

Lily touched his cheek softly then leaned to give him a reassuring kiss. “I’m fine, Sirius. Just a bit sore is all.”

Sirius looked at her skeptically and, in answer, Lily slid back under the covers with him, resting her head on his chest. “We got rather carried away last night.”

“Yes, I suppose I did,” Sirius answered in a low voice.

Lily gave a soft laugh that filled Sirius with warmth. “I’m sorry, Sirius, but you don’t get to take all the credit for last night.” Her hands drifted lightly over the deep punctures in his chest, left over reminders of where her nails had imbedded into his skin during their passionate encounter. “I would hate to see what your back looks like,” she added grinning.

“These are acceptable,” Sirius said taking her hand and moving it to rest it on the scratches that crisscrossed his chest. “This is not.” He nodded pointedly to the marks he had left on her body.

“Damn, Sirius, must you always be so overwrought with guilt?” Lily shook her head. “It’s not as if we haven’t been needing this for years, is it? So we gave in and acted a bit reckless, is that so horribly bad?”

Although she meant to say it glibly, Sirius knew she was asking for approval of her behavior. He let his hand slide lazily down her arm. “No, Lily. Nothing we did was wrong.”

“Then why must you act like it was?”

“Because needing you is a luxury I don’t have,” he answered, his voice filled with raw honesty.

“Sirius,” Lily kissed him tenderly, “you don’t need me. You never have. You just gave in to a temptation I put in front of you. Giving in to your emotions doesn’t make you weak or needy. Haven’t you learned that yet?”

“Apparently not,” Sirius whispered as her friendly touches became more caressing. “You are tempting me again.”

“Sirius,” the somberness with which Lily said his name made Sirius hesitate. “I’m going to hurt you. You know that, don’t you? You know in the end I’m going to walk away.”

Sirius smiled. “I know.”

“I don’t mean to. I mean, the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you. You’ve had enough hurt in your lifetime for a thousand men,” Lily tried to explain in a rush. “But…”

“It’s inevitable. Yes, Lily, I know.” Sirius kissed her softly.

“Then why?” Lily’s voice was full of confusion. “Why have you let me put you through this?”

“Because it’s what you needed,” Sirius replied simply. “You sought Snape out for the same reason, didn’t you? It wasn’t all about saving him, no matter what you tell yourself. There are some things I am unwilling to let you learn from him, no matter what it costs me.”

“And this is one of them?”

“Undoubtedly.” Sirius’ voice was soft, his touches on her skin growing longer and deeper. His kisses were lingering as he traced the curves of her face and neck.

“You’re saying goodbye,” Lily whispered and, as the realization dawned on her, silent tears began rolling down her cheeks.

Sirius wiped them away and smiled. When he spoke, his voice was quiet, almost reverent, and it made Lily smile. “My, Lily, you are a clever one.”

A/N: Thank you to everyone who has come along and read and reviewed this story. I’ve learned so much throughout writing this and I’m rather sad to see it end. Tanks for everything and I hope to see you (and get your wonderful advice) on my new stories!

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