As I stood in the doorway I watched Lily's eyes caress every inch of my body. I felt naked under her scrutinizing stare and fought a strong urge to cover myself. It was the first time she and I had been completely alone together since that day in The Room of Requirement, and my nerves were cruelly reminding me of that fact.
"Mary?" She said, almost like she thought she imagined seeing me there. She sat up straight then scooted to the edge of her seat. "What are you doing here?"
Looking into her emerald eyes, suddenly I found myself asking the same question. Why had I felt as if I need to go there? Why couldn't I have just sent her an owl, politely refusing? Why? Easy, it was because, after all this time, I still wasn't over Lily Evans. Just looking at her face, which mockingly glowed at my presence, and made my heart rate accelerate, was enough to tell me that. I still loved her. Was it possible to love both Lily and Reg? I thought so. I always believed that you could love more than one person at the same time.
Just as she used to when we were younger, Lily was staring a hole right through me, awaiting a response.
"I'm not sure, to be honest," I whispered.
Her brow furrowed and I watched the disappointment grow in her eyes.
"You could have just sent a letter, you know," she said softly.
I didn't know what to say, but I knew she figured out the reason I showed up announced, on the day that I received her wedding invitation. Lily was nowhere near unintelligent, of course she figured it out.
"I couldn't do that."
"Why? Why not," she hissed. Her narrowed eyes were as cold as ice.
I turned my gaze to the floor and felt the heat rise up my cheeks.
"I - I…" I trailed off.
What followed was the thickest and most uncomfortable silence I had ever endured. It was almost physically painful, like someone was sitting on my chest, making it nearly impossible for me to breathe.
Finally Lily broke the silence, but considering what she tried to say, I wished she hadn't.
"Mary… You know a part of me will always lo-"
"Don't!" I shouted. Lily flinched. "Don't you dare tell me a part of you will always love me. If that were true, you wouldn't have broken it off to begin with."
Lily's mouth popped open, but that didn't stop me. It was like a dam had burst, and everything I'd been feeling, since that day she left me broken, began spewing out of my mouth.
"If you loved me, like you claim, then you wouldn't have given a damn what people thought! You wanted children? We could have adopted. Or we could have gone the Muggle way, and had one of us inseminated. But, no. No! You chose to cut and run, and do you know why?"
I paused, and Lily stared at me dumbfounded, her mouth was still popped wide opened.
"Because you never loved me. Never! What you loved was the idea of us. The sneaking around, the doing something that felt wrong and exciting. Miss-Follows-All-The-Rules had me as her dirty little secret. Her silent way of rebelling. And you know what, Lily? That's shit. I loved you, and you knew it, and you used me!"
My chest was heaving in anger and I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. I couldn't remember the last time I had been that angry. I didn't even feel sorry when I saw the tears start to fall from Lily's emerald eyes.
"Mare. I - I… You're wrong," she whimpered.
I raised an eyebrow, challenging her denial. "Am I?"
I took her open-mouthed silence as confirmation that I most definitely was not incorrect. The realization of it all finally came crashing down on me, and in that moment I knew the truth. Lily Evans truly had not loved me. Sure, she had me fooled for a long time. All of those nights together in the Room of Requirement screamed of her love. At least...to me it did. Because I was blinded. Blinded by first love and hormones and the silly childish idea that if you loved someone who was intimate with you, that had to mean they loved you back. What a damn fool I had been.
"I guess I have my answer," I said with steel in my voice.
I wanted to hate her. By all rights, I should have hated her. But I didn't. I wasn't even angry at that moment. I was more…relieved was the right word. No more silly hope that she would leave James and run back to me. No more foolish fantasies of a life that could have been, which never would have happened. I felt free. I felt as if I could finally let her go.
"So what now?" Lily asked in a small voice. She couldn't even look me in the eye.
It was a good question. What now, indeed. Would we pretend that nothing had ever happened between us? Go back to being friends? No. Of course that wasn't even an option. The only thing that could have been done would be to completely cut her out of my life. It wasn't exactly like I wanted it to end that way, but for my sanity, it was the only option. And a part of me felt that Lily had known that too.
"I think you know the answer to that, Lily," I said in a monotone voice, very much unlike my own.
I was grateful. Grateful because she didn't beg, she didn't attempt to convince me that we could still be friends, or that eventually we may move passed this and start over at some point. Instead she nodded stiffly and said, "So this is goodbye then."
She hadn't formed it like a question. She was just stating a fact. It was indeed goodbye.
I felt numb.
"Mary? I - I never meant-"
"Don't, Lily. If there is one last thing I can ask you to do for me…just - just don't."
She nodded once more.
In another time - another life, really - the sight of Lily standing before me with silent tears streaming down her face would have been my undoing. But not that time.
Strangely my thoughts traveled to Reg. That silly, loving, selfless, wonderful man, and partner in my life. He was exactly what I had always needed, and always wanted, and didn't realize it completely until that moment. He was someone who loved me. Someone who hadn't felt the need to hide me away from the world. Reg wore me on his arm proudly, like I was some invaluable prize and he was the luckiest man in the world. Staring at Lily I became disgusted with myself for ever possibly considering throwing that away for her. For someone who used me as a thrill, or some experiment, and didn't appreciate the love, and the chunk of myself and my soul that I had given to her. Time and time again. She hasn't deserved me.
With barely a wave for a goodbye, I turned and left Lily staring after me, quite the same way she had left me that day in the Room of Requirement. To be honest, it did give me bit of vindictive satisfaction. Especially when I heard her whisper my name on the way out.
And that was the last time I'd ever seen Lily Evans. Well, the last time I'd seen her alive.
When I came home that day, I ended up coming clean to Reg. I felt I owed him that much. I told him about my sexuality, my relationship - for lack of a better world, with Lily, and my confused feelings I had in the early stages of our relationship together. Of course he was understanding, nonjudgmental and just all around wonderful about the whole thing. I realized how foolish I had been in not confiding in him sooner. Still to this day I don't know what I did to deserve such a man.
Over a year passed and my life had become peaceful, normal and quite. As quiet as it could be during war time, that was.
Shortly after my final encounter with Lily, I resigned from The Order. Reg and I married and we wanted to start a family. I hardly thought it appropriate to try to conceive a baby while fighting Death Eaters almost daily. Sadly, though, Reg and I had a very difficult time getting pregnant. Eventually it happened. But not for quite some time.
Then one morning my quiet existence came to an abrupt halt. It was the first November, 1981. It began like any other morning; Reg getting ready for work while I made us both breakfast. We sat down at the table and waited for the post to arrive. About half way through our eggs and sausage our owl flew through the window, dropping the day's copy of The Daily Prophet. As I unrolled it and saw the headline on the front page my body turned to ice.
Sirius Black graced the cover looking deranged, shackled and dressed in Azkaban's finest. The large print above his screaming face caused me to lose my breakfast. I vomited all on the floor.
Sirius Black Charged in the Murder of Peter Pettigrew and in Conspiracy Leading to the Deaths of James and Lily Potter
I felt like the kitchen had shrunk around me, and Reg's panicked voice sounded as if it were coming from somewhere across the universe. My entire body went numb, my hands trembled.
The Deaths of James and Lily Potter kept replaying on a loop in my mind. And Peter?! Peter Pettigrew...one of my dearest friends. Dead.
My thoughts immediately went to Remus. Was he harmed as well? I scanned the article and felt just momentary bit of relief when I hadn't seen his name listed amongst the dead.
But Sirius? Surely they were mistaken. They had be mistaken! James and Sirius had been thick as thieves nearly their entire lives! It just couldn't be possible. Could it had been? I mean he was a Black. Most of his family had either been Death Eaters or sympathetic to You-Know-Who's cause. Had he fooled us all along?
Finally I was able to hear Reg. I think it was due to the anguish in his voice. When I looked back at the paper, I knew immediately what caused his tone of voice. Frank and Alice had been attacked as well. Yes, they were alive, but what happened to them was worse than death. It stated that they had been tortured. Tortured so badly that they were now certifiably insane. The article had said they did not even know themselves, let alone friends or family, and were taken to the permanent ward at St. Mungo's
What in the world had happened? It was like the sky had shattered upon us all. It was all too much to bear.
Lily was dead. Lily Evans, my first true love. She had certainly broken my heart before, but the pain I felt in that moment was nothing compared to the others. Yes I was over her and completely devoted to my husband. But there was always something about a first love that never completely goes away. They always hold on to just a bit of your heart, no matter how badly you'd wish otherwise.
A week later Reg and I attended the joint funeral for Lily, James and Peter. Remus was there and looked like such a shell of his former self. The site of him hunched over with his hollow eyes which were red around the edges, nearly caused me to lose any resolve I attempted to have. I knew he grieved for more than just the deaths of his friends. He also grieved for the loss of the greatest love he had ever known. Sirius Black may not have physically ended Remus' life, but he sure as hell killed him.
The service was lovely, as they tend to be. Flowers surrounded the two caskets and the box containing the only piece of Peter that had been recovered. Above them all hanged red and gold silks, to signify the place they had all become family; Gryffindor.
James looked peaceful, as cliche as that sounded. Almost as if he could had been asleep. It was comforting to see that they hadn't managed to flatten his hair and it was just as ruffled and wind blown as always. Just a little detail like that brought a small smile to my face.
When it came time to approach Lily, Reg squeezed my arm.
"Alone?" he asked
Again it astounded me at just how well my husband knew me. I nodded and released myself from his hold.
As I stood over her lifeless body, I did not weep. I took her cold hand in mine and stroked it with my thumb. As if some cruel joke, she looked beautiful, even in death. Her auburn hair fanned out behind her perfectly; not a strand out of place. Her cheeks were given rouge to make them appear like rose petals, and her red lips were formed into the perfect kind of pout that most women spend hours trying to attempt. She looked like an angel.
"I'm sorry, Lily," I whispered so no one else could hear. "It took me a long time, but I realized that I was wrong in what I said to you, and how I left you that day. Merlin I wish I could take it back!"
My throat began to grow tight and I knew it wouldn't be long before I broke.
"You did love me. Maybe not quite as strongly as I loved you, but I know you did. The look on your face, as I stormed away from you that day… well it's haunted me for a long time. It was nearly identical to the expression I wore when you left me that day in the Room of Requirement."
I'd always wanted to have that conversation with her. To make up and perhaps turn over a new leaf. It was a shame that when I finally gathered the courage to have it, she could no longer hear it.
"I'm so sorry, Lily. I'm so sorry I wasted so much time being angry and lost all this time that we could have still been a part of each other's lives. I'm sorry I missed your wedding and I'm sorry I didn't invite you to mine."
I couldn't help it, the tears had begun to fall.
"I was stubborn, childish and an idiot and now it's too late! It's too late…"
I took in a deep shuddering breath and wiped my wet cheeks with the back of my free hand. I refused to let go of her with the other.
"I'll love you forever, Lily Evans. And I know a part of you had always loved me, too."
At that point I couldn't carry on. My body wracked with sobs and I nearly collapsed. I was vaguely aware of Reg putting his arms around me and leading me away.
I didn't know who heard me when I spoke to her, and honestly I didn't care. Neither of us should have ever cared what anyone thought.
In the first several weeks after her passing, she was all I was able to think about. I thought of past meetings, stolen kisses, playful teasing, the feel of her body and that Apple and vanilla scent that was so uniquely Lily. Then the dark thoughts would come. Our breakup, our final argument and the months and months we wasted not speaking. All that time we couldn't ever get back.
I knew one day I would eventually be able to cope. I would someday be able to look back and smile without tears. I would someday be able to tell my children about my first great love, before their father. Someday. But I knew it would be a long time before I got over the final time my heart was broken by Lily Evans.