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Shiver

“All that you measure”- U2 (“Walk On”)


The apartment Lily found herself in was so unlike the one she had been living in for the past year. The walls were the same colours that she had ‘painted’ with Maura and Emily—(“it wasn’t difficult, but it was a pain reaching up for so long” had been their alibi) in actuality just pointing their wands at the brushes while catching up on old gossip and scrutinising every tiny piece of dirt on their former classmates.

The kitchen was not in its normal disarray (the only part of the house Lily just could not keep clean, however she tried: she was always running out and grabbing something at the last moment) but rather, it sparkled, the metal appliances polished and the granite counter bare.

A few boxes were piled in the entrance—the ones that were still waiting to be moved to the house—home—that Lily and James had purchased.

Her bedroom was bare except for her furniture. There was the large four poster bed with the beautiful yellow sheet set, gold detailing fitting around it that looked incredibly appealing to Lily’s tired mind. James did not like the colour yellow and her — their— new bed was to be fitted with red material. Then there was the elegant armoire, and the mirror that Lily had spent so many nights in front of when finding something appropriate for nights out with her friends. Lily wasn’t a high-maintenance girl, but today she was extremely unwilling to have to think of sharing half of her dresser top with James and his combs and colognes.

Suddenly, Lily turned and walked purposefully into her bathroom, evading the mirror that hung on the wall, mocking the wreck she’d inevitably have to face. She turned on the water and jumped into the shower before allowing the knot in her throat to release itself through her eyes. However, regardless of how high she turned the water heat, she still felt cold. Only a few drops running down her cheeks had any hint of warmth, and even then, the saltiness was soon washed away.

Where he had kissed her neck.

She scrubbed angrily at her skin, turning it a raw pink, but the dirtiness that she felt was much lower than that upper layer.

Turning off the water, she tore the shower curtains from their hook as she stumbled out of the shower, the way they rippled down reminding her eerily of last night. She put a calming hand on her throbbing head as she wrapped a big, white towel around herself.

She turned around too quickly, and was shocked at the reflection in the mirror.

This was Lily Evans?

This was the girl who had graduated at the top of her class, excelling in all her subjects, with a steady boyfriend, and many, many friends? This was the girl who had built such a study reputation and was considered by all her professors to be one of the more level-headed and responsible children they had ever met?

If only they could see her now. The face in the mirror was grey and tired, her eyes sunken and red, the green that had launched boyfriends and schoolboy crushes dull, her lips swollen, and her face pale. She looked weak and unstable; her hair was scraggly and unkempt, and the little hand that reached up to brush it out of her face was almost trembling. On her shoulder was an angry, red mark.

This was definitely not that same Lily. That Lily had plans. That Lily knew where she was headed. That Lily would never have cheated on her fiancé a few nights before the wedding, nonetheless with his best friend.

That Lily would not be having second thoughts about getting married now, after the plans were set and the date was tomorrow!

That Lily would have gotten out of an engagement if she wasn’t one hundred percent sure she was in love with the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

A sudden urge to vomit took over, and Lily keeled over the sink, retching. Nothing came out. She splashed some cold water on her face. She just needed some tomato juice and something solid in her stomach – the hangover remedy she’d discovered after a long night with James, Sirius, Remus and Peter in the last days of school – a long nap and a new life, and she’d be just fine.

**

Instead she found herself outside Sirius Black’s flat, having come full circle, fully dressed and looking prim and proper. In fact, she had donned a conservative dress for the occasion, hoping to make this as businesslike as possible.

She knocked on the door three times—two and he might not hear her, four and she sounded desperate, not like a well put together woman who knew exactly what she was doing—and waited.

And then he opened the door. Dressed in only a pair of pants, he still made her feel— with the way he exuded confidence and aristocracy, poise and majesty, almost—subordinate, less somehow—less like the woman she strove to be and more like a floundering girl struggling to keep her head above the water.

He seemed to highlight all her faults and weaknesses; she was naked in front of him, her soul laid out in a line which he could examine at his own leisure. And that made her horribly nervous.

“Come in,” he said slowly, opening the door for her. She opened her mouth to speak but found that her voice box had stopped working.

“I am going to tell him,” she finally announced with much effort, managing somehow to keep her chin up as high as possible without actually falling over.

“Are you?” he asked, half bemused, “Will you tell him what happened? Break his heart? Hurt him that badly?”

“Don’t turn this on me! What, would you have me cheat on him—on your best friend, Sirius – and lie?”

“Much more than I’d want to see him broken,” he replied gravely.

“What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him? How can you be so cynical?” She whirled on him, her voice at once the faintest whisper and still a loud thundering sound filling the room. “He is your best friend, Sirius, your best friend. How could you not show some restraint the one time I needed you to? How is it that you can maintain such posture and poise and empathy when all I need is sympathy?” Her voice lowered dangerously. “How is it that the moment I need you to be guarded and empathetic you throw it all away?” She stopped prematurely, her throat blocked by a rising sob.

“And how could you be so cold as to think that by telling him you wouldn’t kill him?” Sirius replied cruelly. She looked up as if slapped.

“What are you saying, Sirius?” she asked, her eyes flashing angrily.

“What you already know! You might toss this on me, but know that it was a drunken mistake! James is my best friend, and that is why you cannot tell him what has happened. Would you want to ruin his life—to ruin all of our lives—over a silly night that meant nothing?” His words were biting and sharp, and they struck at her like lashes of a whip.

“So that’s it,” she said, pulling herself together, hating him for making her feel like a child. “Nothing, you would betray your friend—and still call him your brother—for nothing!” There was an uncomfortable silence as she looked down. When she looked back up her eyes were filled with tears.

“Sirius,” she looked up, trying her hardest to maintain composure and simultaneously evading his eyes, “I don’t know… I don’t know if I love him!”

“You love him, Lily,” Sirius’s voice was soft but firm. “You love him. You’ve always loved him. You were always meant to be, you might think now that there’s so much to regret but mark my words, Lily, you let this go and you’ll never have a bigger regret to look back on.”

They were standing so close together, and she felt herself fall into him. Her lips found his neck, his stubbly chin, his lips, and they lingered there for a moment.

She turned away suddenly and pushed her face into his chest, holding his arms so tightly that her nails dug into his skin and drew blood, holding on so tightly to him—the only thing that could keep her anchored to the world and not lost to an infinity of prison.

“I’m too young,” she said finally. “I’m too young, we’re rushing into this too fast, and I can’t do it.”

“Lily,” he said softly, so softly it sounded as though he was comforting a child. “Lily, you love James. I know you; you’ve thought this all out. You’re panicking, you’re being irrational.”

“Am I… am I doing the right thing?” she pressed her face in further.

“You’re always doing the right thing, Lily,” he sighed. She pushed her head in a little further.

Maybe he had hit the cause of her fears right on the head.

The sudden opening of the door caused them both to look up and fly apart.

“Sirius, have you seen my blasted tie?” James came tumbling in, hair a mess, sock in hand and shirt twisted around his torso, looking very hung-over.

“Lily!” he stopped short and a goofy grin appeared on his face, looking from Sirius to Lily a little bemusedly.

“Hi James,” Lily said softly, looking down at the ground. He walked over and brushed his lips over her cheek.

“What are you doing here?” James asked, smiling so innocently that it broke Lily’s heart. She wished, she wished so much that for once he could doubt her. That for once he could see that she was unfaithful, that she wasn’t just friends with Sirius, and that there was so much tension in the room. That for once he could stop trusting them so much.

Here he was, standing in front of her, so sure that he could make her happy and give his whole life to her, and she had basically spat on that promise and rubbed it into the ground with her heel. Everything they had dreamed of, everything she had been so sure of was tossed out the window, a tornado had ravaged her life and he didn’t know.

Didn’t he see that the eyes looking at him weren’t filled with love, but rather confusion? That every touch from here on would be filled with lies, every glance an unfortunate glimpse of a future she didn’t know if she wanted?

“Do you honestly think I’d even dare make an appearance for the rehearsal dinner without Lily choosing my clothes?” Sirius laughed casually.

“Well, now that you’re set, Sirius,” Lily said primly, hoisting up her bag, “I’ll just be on my way. Goodbye James,” she said softly, “goodbye Sirius.” And maybe, maybe this time she meant it.

She walked out the door, not oblivious to James’s eyes scanning the floor strewn with clothes.

“There’s a boy,” she heard James slapping Sirius’s back as she walked out, “did you have a girl over last night?”

Sirius laughed uncomfortably and the door slammed shut.

Thank you to PhoenixStorm once again for playing chapter tennis with me and allowing me to send this to her three billion times and for calming all the insecurities I had :) And of course, for being the best beta!

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