A/n: So, to celebrate New Years, I decided to finally post this fic of my headcanon, Rily.
This is kinda sorta sad, but let me know what you think anyway!
Summary: He was her first love as she was his. But he would never admit it out of loyalty to James and she got tired of waiting. So she decides that it is time for her to start loving James, although she will always cherish him till her death. And it is her death that shatters his resolve and makes him wonder if ever he would come to see the same reflections of himself in someone else's eyes as he had in hers.
When she had first realized that what she felt for him was love, she had scoffed at herself and cast aside the very thought.
It was foolish, she had told herself, to fall in love with the very man whose best mate had constantly pursued her for years.
It had not been her choice to fall in love with him. It had just happened; in the same way growing close to the four who called themselves the Marauders, had just happened.
She still remembered that night so clearly, even now, after so many years, as she stood before the man that would be her husband.
That fateful night when her will had finally crumbled and she had let herself admit that she was in love with him.
"It's cold," he whispered, bringing his palms to his mouth and blowing into them.
"It is," she agreed, huddling closer to him as they sat perched on the ledge of the Astronomy tower window.
She stilled slightly when he immediately wound his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer, tucking the thick blanket around them, tighter. She let her head fall against his broad shoulder, breathing in deeply and reveling at the soft scent of chocolate and teak that enveloped her.
"We could get into trouble, you know," he said mildly, as they sat staring at the golden slither that was the moon.
"We could," she agreed again, not really in the mood to say something smart or witty.
"We should get back," he finally said, shifting beside her.
She pulled back and turned to him with the sole intention of telling him off for shattering the peace and solitude of the moment; but she stopped short when she realized that he had turned to face her at the exact same time, causing their faces to be inches apart.
She saw the way his deep brown eyes widened and how he stilled, unsure of what to do. The clouds outside shifted and she watched as the moonlight illuminated the bags under his eyes and his hollow cheekbones—collateral damage from another full-moon transformation. She reached up and gingerly touched the long, thin gash that ran down the side of his cheek and he flinched, his mouth turning down in a frown.
"Lily," he said somewhat urgently and she could feel her heart thudding away in her chest as the blood rushed to her face.
"Shh," she replied, drawing closer to him so she could see her own reflection in his eyes.
As she saw the conviction on her own face, she realized that this was it. This was the moment she would have to confront the truth and bring it out into the open.
He slapped his hand to her mouth so fast, her head lurched backwards.
"Don't," he hissed, his voice anguished and his eyes full of guilt at the act of betrayal that she knew he felt he was committing.
"Why?" she demanded, her voice muffled by his hand, yet audible enough for him to wince and make a face at her.
"Because James loves you," he said simply, as though that was that and nothing else could change his mind.
"As do you," she bit back as she wrenched his hand from her mouth and held it in her own. She focused on her determined reflection in his glistening eyes and pressed her lips to his palm.
"Please," he begged, even as he leaned forwards automatically, as though his body was seeking to be held by her even if his mind didn't want to.
"Fine," she said in a strained tone, the pain in his voice shattering her resolve as she pulled back so she could no longer see her own pain reflected in his eyes.
"Fine," she said again, and this time her voice was choked. She began to pull away, but he grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him one last time, before he let her slip away into the cold, winter night, his wordless apologies clear in his warm, brown eyes that she loved so dearly.
She had always loved that about him, his fierce determination to put the happiness of James and Sirius before everything else. But she hated that it was at the cost of his own happiness.
She had also always loved his kind, brown eyes that were the colour of the chocolate bars he always seemed to carry and the trees in the woods that he always seemed to smell of. She loved how they reflected every emotion that he felt so simply and so beautifully, as though they were reflections of his own soul.
It reminded her of the day she thought she would finally come clean to him about everything; her feelings, her resolve, her impatience—everything, as she stood listening to the priest drone on about marriage and what a blessing it was.
She stomped toward where he was sitting by the fire and grabbing the book from his hands, poked a finger at his chest.
"You are a horrible, horrible person, Remus Lupin."
He only looked at her with a wide-eyed expression of innocence and she made an exasperated sound and stomped her foot.
"Why must you always, always, do this?! Why can't you just for once—"
"Lily, calm down, and let's take this elsewhere, people are starting to stare," he told her gently, cutting her off as he pulled her toward the portrait hole.
"Let them listen if they want to!" she said rather loudly, but let him drag her out anyway.
As soon as they were relatively safe from prying eyes, he whipped around and glowered down at her, his usually calm eyes flashing dangerously.
"Sometimes you behave so brashly that I almost wonder why you so vehemently refuse to accept to be James' girlfriend."
"Well, that's simple, really, it's because the one I am in love with is you, not Potter!"
He instantly froze at that, pulling back and raking his hands through his hair and groaning loudly.
"Why must you keep torturing me like this?!" she yelled, punching him in the arm. "If you don't feel the same way, then just tell it to me straight! I have had more than enough of running around you in circles and I am done being—"
He cut her off again, but this time by pressing his lips to hers. He pulled back almost instantly, so quickly that she almost would have thought it hadn't happened if she didn't identify the familiar way the tips of his ears turned red in embarrassment. He cleared his throat and looked away, covering his mouth with his hand and looking like he had committed the gravest of sins.
Her breath caught against the lump in her throat and she blinked rapidly to clear the suspicious moisture in her eyes as she reached forward and touched his cheek, causing him to glance at her wearily.
"I love you, Remus, do you love me as well?"
He continued to study her long and hard and she gave him the time; she knew he would be going through hell in his mind and would need several moments to come to terms with himself.
Finally, he turned fully toward her and whispered so softly, she almost didn't hear him, "But James—"
"I don't care about James, Remus, I'm asking if you love me or not," she snapped, losing her temper instantly at the familiar line he had always used to dodge her questions and attempts for so long.
"I—" he began, and then paused abruptly, looking down at her with a lost and helpless expression on his face.
"Do you, or do you not?" she asked again as she stepped closer to him and reached up on her tiptoes.
She smiled tightly at the thunderous applause that followed her vow and turned slowly toward the man that was now her husband, looking up and cringing at her reflection in his glasses.
"You may now kiss the bride."
The words passed over her like the wind as she looked past the man leaning down to seal the promise of a lifetime and caught the eyes of the man standing slightly behind the groom. She saw the pain and regret in his deep brown eyes as he smiled crookedly at her, his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed thickly. She felt her husband's lips press against hers and tilted her head so as to not break eye contact with those brown, brown eyes that she wished would swallow her whole and never let her resurface again.
She pulled back when the man she was now wedded to did, and with a final sad smile toward the one who she would always cherish until her dying breath, she finally looked away from the kind brown and into the shining hazel as James Potter swept her off her feet and carried her down the petal-strewn path.
"I love you," he said with a wide grin that instantly reminded her of how unlike it was to his and she laughed lightly and hoped he would mistake the tears in her eyes for ones of joy.
"I love you too," she replied, steeling her heart to let go of the feelings she had carried for so long; feeling somewhat relieved to finally let go and accept James' unbridled, unconditional love for her. Maybe this time around she could give her husband what she had never managed to get until the very end.
Just as they stepped under the decorated arch, she glanced over James' shoulder and immediately spotted his tall figure and hunched shoulders. She waved in his direction and laughed lightly when everyone except him waved back.
Goodbye, my love.
He stood before a marble gravestone, a single lily clutched tightly in his bony fingers. He barely felt the air nip at his still raw wounds as he knelt down and read the single line engraved below the names, out loud.
THE LAST ENEMY THAT SHALL BE DESTROYED IS DEATH
How ironic, he thought, that even after death the two continued to fight.
He reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out a crumpled picture. He stared at the laughing faces of a younger Lily and James and after a second, James stretched out and pulled a younger him into the frame. He chuckled at the awkward smile on his face, but couldn't remember the emotions that went through him when that picture was taken.
In fact, he wasn't sure if he could remember any emotion that wasn't grief or guilt, regret or loss.
He sighed and looked up at the gravestone again, his mind drifting to the memory of his final conversation with his best mate.
"Remus," James said hurriedly as he grabbed Remus by the arm and steered him out of the house. Remus watched the swirling conflict reflect his own in James' hazel eyes and belatedly wondered when it had become such a familiar sight.
"I—" James began and paused abruptly, as though unsure of what to say. He shook his head slightly and finished firmly, "Lily told me."
Remus raised his eyebrows at the other man. "Yes, I know, we're not going to be able to hold a first year birthday party for Harry as you wanted to."
James shook his head and his grip on Remus's elbow tightened. "Not that, she told me about—"
He broke off again and tutted in frustration, ruffling his hair impatiently.
"She told me about you and her."
His breath stilled at the confession. Of course she had told him, he was her husband and with them living every minute like it was their last, of course she wouldn't want to keep any secrets between them.
"James, whatever happened—or didn't happen, rather—between her and I… it is a thing of the past. She loves you with her life and I—"
"Will love her for as long as you live," James said softly, finishing Remus' sentence for him.
Remus eyed the man standing before him—his best mate, the one who he would give his life for without batting an eye—and couldn't help but feel somewhat relieved that the truth was finally out in the open.
"Sorry, mate," he said quietly, wanting to look away but too afraid to do so. He concentrated on his own reflection on James' glasses; not at all unnerved by the guilty expression he wore.
James smiled crookedly at him and jerked his chin. "Although I never expected to admit this, somewhere in the back of my mind I probably always thought that maybe she would have been better off with someone like you."
"You don't mean that," Remus said instantly and the corners of James' eyes crinkled as he laughed.
"Maybe not," he replied vaguely and then stepping back, said solemnly, "but I was quite pissed off that on our wedding day, when we kissed, she was looking behind me the whole time. I thought that she was too nervous to look at me, but now that I think about it, that's where you had been standing, wasn't it?"
Remus swallowed and couldn't find the energy to even nod in agreement. The crushing guilt that he felt didn't even let him breathe until James laughed and reached forward to hug him awkwardly.
"Thanks for being there for her when she really needed someone to listen to," he said quietly and smiled at Remus. "And thanks for always being there for both of us—"
He broke off abruptly when Remus shoved him lightly. "Stop it, mate, this is even scarier than having you punch me in the face."
And James threw his head back and laughed, but Remus caught the slight edge to it as he joined in.
He chuckled darkly as he wiped the tears that were streaming down his cheeks, sniffing noisily. He looked at the picture one last time and found himself wondering if Lily had ever seen her own pain reflected in his eyes as he had in hers, and if ever she had seen her own love reflected in his eyes as he had in hers.
He pocketed the picture and rose to his feet, reaching forward to brush his palm across the cool surface of the gravestone. He wondered then, as he looked down at her name engraved into the stone—Lily Potter—if ever he would come to see the same reflections of himself in someone else's eyes as he had in hers.
Placing the lily down in front of the grave, he took one last look at it and walked away.
Goodbye, my love.