At First Sight


And Lancelot, his head held high, said,

"I lie in love with Guinevere.

I've lied for love."

i.

Sometimes when she's lying awake at night, she stares at the ceiling and tries to remember whether she met James or Sirius first.

Because love at first sight is a phrase she's never heard in the wizarding world - it exists only in the fairytale books her mother used to read to her, back when magic wasn't real, and it isn't fair that she has to trade one thing for the other.

As the clock ticks past midnight, she closes her eyes and tips her head back and thinks back to the first time she stepped onto that train. They were all so small back then, so young and wide-eyed, and she doesn't know when that changed but it must have been somewhere between the day she met James Potter and the day she told him yes, okay, I'll marry you, I love you.

Nowadays everything is James Potter, everything, every breath and heartbeat and thought, from the sleepy mornings to the dewey nights, and the ring on her finger is engraved with a tiny rose that leaves a shallow imprint whenever she takes it off.

(She only takes it off twice.)

i.

She couldn't quite get her trunk on the train. It was too heavy, especially with all the extra books she had crammed at the bottom - books about Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, characters she'd

ii.

"I'm worried about him," she says to Sirius the first time James comes home bruised. "He's reckless. You're all reckless."

"It's the Gryffindor in us," Sirius says.

She smiles with quivering lips. He touches the ring on her left hand and whispers he loves you, and that's when the tears spill over.

Sirius watches without a word.

"He loves me," she breathes, and she isn't sure whether she's comforting herself or warning the man beside her.

"He loves you," and his words sound like absolute pain, but there's nothing she can do, there's nothing either of them can do, so they sit in Sirius' living room all night without speaking, and when she goes home in the morning she can't get the smell of him out of her head.

ii.

grown up with, characters she considered friends. She had brought them all, because no matter what her mother said about making new friends at Hogwarts, she didn't want to be alone, not again, not anymore.

"I can help you," Severus offered when he saw how she was struggling, but she shook her head and yanked at her trunk.

"Go find us a seat," she said, and he

iii.

"He's gone for days at a time," she says later on, twisting the ring around her finger - it's become a constant habit, because if she lets it lie still for too long, the rose begins to bite into her skin. "He doesn't write. He doesn't send a patronus. He doesn't let me know where he is, can't let me know where he is, and I'm worried."

"It's not for much longer," Sirius says, and he sounds faraway.

"I love him," she says, and she doesn't miss the way he tightens his eyes.

She brings over a book the next day, when James still isn't home (and maybe he isn't coming home, maybe he's dead, maybe it's over and Voldemort has won and nobody's bothered to tell her) and she sits on his porch swing and whispers the words aloud to herself.

"They knew they were in love the first time they saw each other," she says when Sirius brings her a glass of iced tea. "Cinderella knew."

He sits beside her and uses his foot to gently push them back and forth, back and forth.

"It isn't real, is it."

"What isn't?"

"Love at first sight."

He looks at her. "What makes you say that?"

"I didn't know," she whispers, leaning her head against his shoulder and twisting the ring around her finger until her skin is hot from the friction. "First time I saw James was on the train to Hogwarts. And I didn't know."

"When did you know?"

She doesn't answer.

iii.

ran off to find a compartment.

Severus was a new friend. Severus wouldn't make her feel alone.

(Yes, he would, because they both knew mudbloods didn't get to be in Slytherin.)

She tugged at her trunk again, and it lurched a few inches up the steps. Inch by inch, she made her way up into the train, and when she was finally inside, a tall blonde boy kindly introduced himself as a Prefect and said he could take her things from here. She

iv.

The first time she wakes up next to Sirius, she feels ill.

"It's killing me," she whispers as he winds her up in his arms and trails kisses down her shoulder.

"What is?"

"I can't remember who I met first. You or - or him."

(She doesn't say James' name in this house anymore.)

"It doesn't matter," he says.

"It doesn't?"

He raises his eyebrows and looks at her ring on his bedside table. "You've obviously made your choice."

iv.

wanted to reach inside and rummage around for a book to pass the time, but her mother's whisper of be brave echoed in her head, so she let the boy take her trunk away.

"Severus?" she called, but her friend was nowhere to be found. She started up the corridor, head rotating constantly as she peeked inside each compartment, until she found herself locking eyes with a dark-haired boy

v.

"Do you think he knows?" she asks the second time she wakes up with him.

"How could he know?"

She picks up her ring from the bedside table. "I don't love him," she whispers, looking at the rose on the inside of the band.

"Don't say that."

"It's true."

"Don't say that." Sirius sounds angry.

She looks up.

"He's my best mate," he whispers. "And we're hurting him."

Her lip trembles. "I know what we're doing."

"Tell me you love him," he says. "Tell me this is just - I dunno, tell me you're humoring me because you're lonely. Tell me I mean nothing to you."

She says nothing.

"Because I love you, Lily - "

(It's the first time he's admitted it.)

" - and if you didn't have that ring, I'd make you mine in a heartbeat. But I won't hurt James. I won't do that. You can't ask me to. I would rather suffer for the rest of my life. I'd do it gladly."

Silence.

"Tell me you saw him first on the train." He sounds desperate. "Please, Lily."

She swallows as she slides the ring back onto her finger. "I saw him first on the train."

v.

who she would later come to know as Sirius Black.


A/N: The broken italicized lines are an homage to The Amber Spyglass, the final installment in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Phillip Pullman (the first book is much better-known: The Golden Compass). Sorry to those of you it confused!

[Guess Who?: Gryffindors]

[Twelve Days of Christmas Style Challenge: 9 lyrics - "For her, I'd gladly suffer. She is my heart's delight." - Heather Dale "The Trial of Lancelot"]