[Modern Muggle Jily AU] DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter (bummer). Cover art by anxiouspineapples.
This one goes out to my girl Jess. I know the holidays are over, but take this one as a belated gift, anyway.
Turn It On For Me
It's four A.M. and I know that you're with him
I wonder if he knows that I touched your skin
And if he feels my traces in your hair
I'm sorry, love, but I don't really care
— One Direction —
I. It Should Have Been Me
"Who are you texting?"
"No one." Lily locked her phone screen before Severus could get a good look at it over her shoulder. She met his sulking eyes with a raised eyebrow. "Cripes, Sev. I was checking my email."
"At nine o'clock on a Saturday?"
"Hey, those hot Asian women aren't going to meet themselves," Lily joked, but looked away from her friend. Although her spam folder was made up almost entirely of such emails, that wasn't why Lily had been looking so intently at her phone. It hadn't been why her heart lodged itself in her throat. It wasn't why she was trying to fight a smile to hide it from Sev. And he knew it.
Or it seemed like he knew it, anyway, since he was still sulking when he said, "You were typing."
Lily twisted herself around in her swing. "What?"
"When you were on your phone, you were typing," Severus reiterated, hating the way he sounded but unable to stop himself. "That's why I thought you were texting someone."
Lily sighed and loosened her grip and let the swing spin her around and around and around… "What do you care what I'm doing on my phone?"
"I thought we were supposed to be spending time together."
"We are. You're just pissing me off."
Severus grunted a little in annoyance. Lily had always been a lousy liar, but she'd never lied to him. He only knew she was lousy at it because he'd heard her try to play her parents a million times, and her sister about a million times more.
"You're having a dream," she'd once proclaimed to her father at two in the morning when Sev had walked her home after they'd broken curfew by three hours.
"I've no idea what you're talking about. What biscuits?" she had asked an irate Petunia, blinking innocently as she wiped crumbs off her face.
"I can't go out with you this weekend, my doctor says I only have 'til Thursday to live. Bad luck, mate," she'd drawled at a chuckling but nevertheless moon-eyed James Potter.
So Lily was lousy at lying, Severus thought, getting his mind back on track as it started to wander into the dangerous territory that was Lily and Potter together; even though it was only his imagination, it still made Severus' hands shake.
So she's lousy at lying, he told himself again. But she always had a reason for trying. So what was her reason now?
He looked sideways at her while she spun around on her swing. They'd been coming to this playground since they were six years old, and now it was almost fifteen years later and nothing had changed. Nothing, he told himself, more forcefully this time so that maybe he would start to believe it.
They were still at school together, having been accepted to the same university that most everyone they knew ended up at — everyone including James bloody Potter and his sodding band of pricks, Severus reminded himself with a scowl. He didn't mean to go down that road again, but he couldn't help himself. Potter was always around, always tripping over himself to talk to Lily or so much as breathe the same air as her, always throwing an arm around her shoulders like he was good enough to touch her, always giving her a sharp slap to the bum that must have been good-natured since Lily would only laugh and smack him right back. Not that Severus cared about the intention, only that it happened and Lily didn't seem to mind.
She hadn't minded Potter's antics so much in secondary school, either, Severus was forced to admit. She used to brush him off a bit more, that was true, and sometimes she would snap at him, but the older they got, the friendlier she'd gotten with Potter. They'd just moved together, like they were the center of each other's gravity or some such nonsense.
"Are you going to brood all night now just because I checked my phone?" Lily broke through his reverie with a touch of impatience and a flare of temper. "For Pete's sake, Sev, lighten up."
"Sorry you don't think I'm as much fun now that you spend half your time with Potter and his lot," Severus spat before he could consider it. But Lily merely rolled her eyes.
"Get more dramatic about it, why don't you?" She planted her feet firmly in the mulch to stop herself from spinning. "It's not like you haven't found yourself a new group of mates."
"At least my group of mates isn't hanging 'round me on the off-chance I might shag one of them."
"Well, you never know." Lily dug her toes deeper into the dirt so it stained the tips of her boots. "Although personally I reckon you could do better than the likes of Mulciber or whoever the hell else. They're tossers, the lot of them."
Severus glared at her but Lily wouldn't meet his eye. "Better than Potter."
"They're not, though, Sev," Lily said to her toes. "Not everyone is better than James just because you don't like him."
"And he's not better than everyone else just because he fancies you," Severus snapped back at her. "I know you're not that conceited, Lily, to think that some bloke is suddenly wonderful just because he wants to get in your knickers, if he hasn't already."
"Oh," Lily bit out as sarcastically as she could, "now what's that supposed to mean?"
Severus hadn't meant to say it, but since he already had… "You're so keen on defending him now, I have to assume you're getting something out of it."
"You're a real piece of work, you know that?" Lily snorted. "Honestly, you'd better shut your trap before you say something you'll regret. I mean it."
She was right, but Severus was on a roll now and just then he saw her phone light up in her pocket and he couldn't stop all of his insecurities from tumbling out of his mouth. "Do you have any idea how much you talk about him?"
"Not half as much as you do, I can promise you that." Thoroughly annoyed with him now, Lily pulled her phone from her pocket and checked her messages. "Oh, speak of the devil…"
"I knew that's who you were texting," Severus said with so much venom that Lily worried that he might infect her with it.
"Well if you knew, then why didn't you quit badgering me about it?" Lily said dully as she typed out a reply.
Severus wanted to snatch the phone from her hands and toss it into the street, but he knew better than to get into Lily's personal space like that. She'd probably give him a good black eye, and then he'd be injured on top of arguing with her.
"Could you unwrap yourself from around Potter's finger long enough to talk to me?" Severus spat when it seemed that Lily had no intention of tearing her eyes away from her phone.
"Why should I? You're being a prick." Lily typed utter nonsense and deleted it. She'd already texted James back, but there was no point in giving Severus attention if he was going to act like this. He was going to act like this no matter what now, so she might as well be petty about it, too, she figured as she keysmashed and backspaced.
"Apparently being a prick is what you're into," Severus said as his agitation grew. "I thought I might give it a try."
That made Lily look up, and her gaze was furious. "You don't even know him. You have no idea what he's like."
"He was an arrogant show-off when we were kids, and as far as I can tell, that hasn't changed. Or did you forgot what he and his gang got up to back then?"
"So they were idiots sometimes," Lily admitted. "They were the class clowns. Whatever, who cares? That didn't affect anyone, they were just having a laugh."
"Were they 'just having a laugh' whenever they had a go at me?" Severus pointed out, but Lily shut him down.
"You picked a fight with James just as often as he picked one with you," she reminded him, although they both knew it was unnecessary to do so. "It wasn't right — neither of you were right to do that. It was childish and stupid, but we were kids, Sev. You both grew out of fistfights before we turned sixteen, so why do you have to go on about it like you're still patching up a bloody nose?"
"I can't believe you're content to just forget about it all," Severus said, and Lily thought he had never sounded so disgusted with her. "You used to be on my side, and suddenly you're putting up your fists for Potter like he's done anything to deserve it, like he's ever done anything for you, but he hasn't been there for half the things I've been there for. And here you are, crawling all over yourself to say a good thing about him even though he's not even around to hear it, so what's the point, Lily? Why bother defending him when you won't get anything out of it?"
"Christ, man, why d'you think I need to 'get something out of it'?" Lily demanded. She shoved her phone in her pocket to stop herself from chucking it at him. "Is that what friendship is to you, not being a prat to someone else just so they'll do something for you? Because if that's what you think, well, whatever you want from me, you can just shove it up your arse instead."
"Lily —" Severus began as she abandoned her swing. He reached out to touch her arm, to make her stay, but she moved out of his reach.
"Sorry for texting while we were hanging out, alright?" Lily knocked her toes against the ground to get the mulch off them. "That doesn't make it okay for you to say any of the shite that you said, I mean, but… sorry, anyway, even though you don't deserve it."
Severus stared at her while she swiped her sleeve under her nose. "That's not fair."
"Don't talk to me about what's fair, not when you sat there and accused me of… God, I hardly know where you were going with any of it," Lily said, and swore at the sky. "For fuck's sake, Sev. You're supposed to be my best friend, but I can't understand a word you say anymore."
"Lils, wait —"
"Nah, I don't think I will." Lily shook her head, swore again, and stalked off without another word. Her swing creaked as it swung without her, only stopping when the darkness swallowed up her silhouette and Severus couldn't see her anymore.