A 12-Step Program
Disclaimer: Who am I fooling? I'm not even British…so, obviously I am not JKR and these characters are not my own. That said, this entire story will contain song lyrics at the beginning of each chapter. All songs were written by the genius P.J. Harvey and are all off her album Stories from the City – Stories from the Sea. Listen to it while you read it. It's effing amazing. Also, one line of this story is T.S. Eliot derived. Not my own, unfortunately.
Rated: R (adult themes, sexuality, and language)
Summary: 12 steps. 12 steps, and you can cure alcoholism, sex addiction, a love of coke, an uncontrollable rage or that hatred within yourself. 12 steps and you can dance in reverse, fall apart and watch the carefully constructed fabric of your life unravel. And in 12 steps, two people can foolishly fall in love.
Author's Note: Don't hate me. That said, the story I should be working on, Fear and Loathing in Romania, has been derailed (no pun intended). I can't seem to get back on the ball with that one. Instead, I find myself being consumed by a silly plot that instead of leaving me alone continues to snowball. And I will warn you, this story is slight AU and it ultimately centers around a Remus/Lily romance. And we're not talking conventional Sad-Sack-Kind-To-Every-Soul-And Hopelessly-In-Love-With-Sirius!Remus, nor are we talking about Goody-Two-Shoes-Plain-Vanilla!Lily. Instead, we have Wolfish-Predator!Remus and Passionate-Bored-And-Slightly-Crazy-Yet-Completely-An-18-Year-Old-Girl!Lily. That's not your cup of tea, don't read on and don't tell me how much you resent and/or hate this particular pairing or characterization. I find it intriguing, so I am here to investigate it. As for the rest of you, I do hope you read and enjoy this. This first chapter is kind of short, but it's more of an introduction to Lily and her psyche than anything else. There is, quite literally, no action in this chapter. More a "set the stage" kind of thing. Please, review and thanks for the time.
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1. Inner Charm
Speak to me
Of your inner charm
Of how you'll keep me
Safe from harm
I don't think so
I don't see
Speak to me
Of your inner peace
"The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" PJ Harvey
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She remembers growing up and attending church on Sunday. And she remembers the pamphlets on the side table, between the entrance, the holy water and the crucifix. She remembers the pamphlets, the packets and the papers and those Sundays at nine, after the eight o'clock mass. She would stand there with Petunia, waiting for her parents to end the socializing. Bored, she would stand there, standing and staring at the collection of brochures before her.
She soon discovered the programs. She soon discovered there's a program for everyone and everything. The alcoholics, the cancer patients. The sex addicts, the drug addicts. The living and the dead, the dying and the surviving. There are programs for all; programs designed to recover and rebuild. It's all treated as a disease, a malignancy needing to be snuffed out. It's all treated with any number of steps, to cure, to solve, to liquefy.
She always assumed there was something inherently wrong with her if she was drawn to perusing these leaflets week in and week out.
Today she knows there is. Today she knows something new, something different. There are steps a person takes, steps belonging to a program she will never find offered at her small local church. No. They won't be sponsoring this particular program – the disintegration of a person, the flower petals falling off after spring as sprung and the sun rises a bit too hot.
This is a 12-step program. It wasn't designed to end in love.
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His name is Remus Lupin. And her name is Lily Evans.
He is a wolf. And she is his waiting prey.
She knows there are rules about these sorts of things. Rules passed down at sleepovers, either implicitly or explicitly, and outlined in written form on the pages of BeWitched magazine and played out on her mother's favorite soap operas.
Girls with boyfriends are never, under any circumstances, allowed to lust after said boyfriend's best friend. Ever. Never ever.
His name is Remus Lupin. And there's mystery in those eyes.
For a girl who plays by all the rules regarding academics and legal activity, she is surprisingly drawn to breaking social codes. She'll return her library books on time, but she'll cross her legs at the knee rather than the ankle. She will obey all traffic laws but wear a pair of slacks instead of an effeminate skirt.
She won't cheat on her Herbology exam. But she will cheat on James Potter.
His name is Remus Lupin.
Despite her calm exterior, she has always been a messy tornado of emotion. Swirling about and collecting everything in her path and adding it to her list of causes or convictions. Favorites or vices. And then she'll fizzle, burn out, and all that's left will be a collection of miscellaneous junk that doesn't add up to much. Then, the winds start stirring once again, and she's off. Only in the completely opposite direction. And we all know how it will end. Her crying somewhere, attempting to pour out her deepest, most secret, utterly shameful thoughts and wondering when she went wrong and why she attracts the wrong instead of right without a single bit of effort.
She's the wind knocking down the walls. And James is sitting pretty on the couch.
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She used to find it unspeakably lame, this idea of marrying a "high school sweetheart." She had grown up with too many Sandra Dee movies, too many Annette Funicello morals with Frankie Avalon bursting on the scene somewhere between the ages of fifteen and sixteen with a wedding ring, a rock the size of a Buick, sitting pretty on her left hand by that so-adult eighteenth year.
She turned eighteen in April.
She had let herself fall a little for James Potter around that age between fifteen and sixteen, that age when she finally let him burst upon her scene. She was dating him by seventeen.
There were no drive-in movies for them. No shared banana splits and saddle shoes, the flipped ponytail and matching poodle skirt. There might has as well have been.
She turned eighteen a month ago. In a month they'll be done with school. And in three, she imagines she will be Mrs. James Potter.
She tells herself she loves him. And she does believe it true. But there's something about the situation that works as a kind of anesthetic, and she's not quite sure what its name is.
They used to have passion. She's not sure when it fizzled into this.
She loves him. Of course she does. He has given her no reason not to.
He's perfect. James Potter is as bloody close to perfect when it comes to a man that she will ever get, and she knows this. Recognizes it in the perfection of tousled hair and glasses perched on his nose. Sees it in the way he can make her laugh without effort more so than scowl or glower in utter irritation or conempt. He is daring and adventurous. He is smart and he is witty. He is loud and light and everything right seems to drift right into his wake.
She loves him. But he won't chase her spark.
He thinks she's beautiful. He tells her so all the time. And it's the way he says it that allows her to almost, just almost, believe him.
She has discovered that's not what she wants. From him.
She loves him.
He's perfect. He's perfect and he's lacking.
She loves him. But no longer lusts for him.
She watches him next to her, in her bed. Fast asleep and snoring slightly.
There's a word that echoes through her skull: love love love. She feels a patient of an illness she will never name out loud. She feels a patient, impatient, a patient. Etherized upon a table. Yes, she will stare at the stars with you T.S. Eliot. And not feel a single thing. Not feel a single thing.
She has found she can't feel a single thing with him anymore. Monotony. Numb numb numb. Dumb dumb dumb.
She used to spend summers reading the greats, the poets. T.S. Eliot among them. She once tried to explain the magic, the rhythm, the perfection of poetry to James. He didn't see it, couldn't find the sparkle or the enchantment hidden in the margins or between the Muggle words, written or unspoken. She feels the pulse of the English language. And it disheartens her he can't seem to match the beating of her heart as he lies unconscious next to her.
She gets it now. She's lonely.
More than that. She's sad. She has never been concerned that he might find her to be unattractive. She knows that's not the case. And he makes it known each time he sees her. She doesn't need this reaffirmation time and time again to understand his love.
That's not what she wants. He's lacking.
What gets her, more than fucking anything, is that he doesn't seem to want to get under her skin anymore. He, at times, seems almost frightened of setting her off. And this never used to be the situation. He doesn't want to piss her off or hurt her or make her claw her own eyes out and rip the wallpaper down with her in utter agony. Over him. He doesn't want to crack this case and take her apart and figure out what makes things tick and why the circuit trips when you press this button. He won't dare to call her selfish and stubborn and at times an utter and complete self-absorbed bitch. He won't throw dirty words and angry curses her way. He won't. And she finds she wants this all the more, more than the dime store words of love and adoration. She wants to break, she wants to crumble. She wants him to be the wicked boy instead of the lovesick swain.
And she just doesn't understand why he won't raise the mallet to her pretty head.
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She has always craved a painful love. She has no idea where this idea came from.
Before she found James, she was a mess, a disaster compared to her current state. She would sit there, in any classroom, and look at a boy across the room, across the street, across the world and let herself fall in love a little bit. Painting a picture of matrimonial bliss or a torrid affair, peppered with angry words and passionate sex. She didn't think the thoughts nice girls dream up. She blamed herself, her warped unconscious, her easy ability to craft scenarios in her head that would make her blush if ever uttered out loud. She assumed it was the Catholic in her, the penchant to shame and be ashamed.
She told herself she didn't want anymore nice boys knocking at her door. Too many had come and gone, and she was none the wiser. But she was told over and over again what a nice girl she was. And apparently that means the Nice Boys think they'll be a good match for her.
James Potter is a Nice Boy.
She used to lay about her room all day, reading Emily Dickinson and the Bronte sisters. Scribbling in her journal of the woes of teenaged youth, a frown cast down, symbolizing the angst of the day. Her mother called her a masochist, telling her she needed to get her act together. She had looked the word up, and after assuming her mother couldn't have possibly meant the first three (all relating or dealing with some sort of sexual perversion), she settled on the fourth: "enjoyment of hardship; the tendency to invite and enjoy misery of any kind, especially in order to be pitied by others or perhaps admired for forbearance."
She's come to refer to herself that way. A masochist.And she absolutely believes it so. She calls herself a masochist and knows the entire world can't see it there, lingering behind her green eyes. Only this time she refers to the second definition: "need for pain." She doesn't long for the physical aspects of pain, but rather the emotional. She thrives off anguish, and oddly desires it. But the sad thing is, for her pain-craving soul, she knows that they, more specifically he, could never break her. She, she would crack them all in half, and wonder what remorse is supposed to feel like. For such a Gryffindor she's truly lacking in compassion when it comes to relationships and matters of the heart.
She knows it's wrong to crave pain. But she does. She craves pain, and a heartbreak worthy of the ages. She has been crafting this saga since the age of five and has yet to reach the climax or even tales of interest.
She has always loved nothing more than a good love story. But for her, something must be amiss; the story must end on a faulty note, a crooked axis, with grief in the forefront and lost love flittering between the words. She doesn't want to hear of the monotony of relationships. The contrived handholding, seemingly chaste pecks on the cheek, the lips. No. She wants passion, love, a tempest, a fury that doesn't make her knees buckle, but rather break. She wants a love that leaves her near lifeless. She'll be your smiling corpse once you're through with her.
She imagines that once she's broken she'll be met with a silence shehas only everdreamed of. Her passion quelled and set at bay, and for once, just once, she'll be able to think, clarity sparkling within her.In her mind, pain is cleansing.She has no idea where this idea came from either.
But James, he touches her as though too much contact might make her break. He treats her as though she belongs on an altar somewhere, with him on his knees before her.
His arm is around her now, as he inhales his breakfast.
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Stirring her tea with a spoon, she idly wonders if there's some inherent meaning in the fact that the word "devil" backwards is "lived." The thought enters her head as she watches him, watches Remus, watches the quiet boy and the unfathomable thoughts associated with him. She finds she can't seem to shake the association between the two. Devil. Lived. Lived devilishly. The devil living. She doesn't know. Maybe the connection exists solely, soulfully in her head.
They sit there in the Great Hall. James on her left and Remus across from him. Sirius sits there surprisingly silent, musing over a letter before him, then letting loose a wicked grin and passing Remus the sheet of parchment. She watches his reaction. The steady look of concern, and then the creeping across his visage. She watches the boy in front of her morph into an imp: the eyebrows dancing, the slight, slow grin dangerously sliding up one side.
In that moment, she knows the meaning of devilish.
She knows what he really is. She knows which heart beats at the very core of him. He's a werewolf. And once a month, he could rip her face off if she dared cross his path. And her own boyfriend is an Animagus, as are Sirius and Peter. The Wolf. The Stag. The Dog. The Rat.
And she is just The Girl.
It reminds her of when she had been a child and played make-believe with the boys in her neighborhood. They would run around, gallivanting as knights, pirates, cowboys or spies, and she, she was their princess locked in the upstairs tower, the kidnapped wench, the damsel in distress tied to the train tracks. She was always on the outside looking in, made helpless by her inability to reach in. Thisis no different. The marauders were just pretend cowboys, lassoing nothing but air.
Lost in thought, she catches his eye. He catches her staring, at him. She smiles shyly, praying her face isn't burning the way she is inside. She can see the curiosity lingering on his face.
She ducks her head, and as she does, she notices his smile hasn't faltered. His teeth are still bared and in her mind they're scraping down her neck. His smile never fades and she understands fully the meaning of the word "predator."
Head bowed low and eyes still on him, he calmly raises an eyebrow. And she can feel her heart race a little, her throat constrict and suddenly she has forgotten how to swallow.
Thoughts. They are only thoughts.
She lets her eyes linger just a little bit longer on the white of his teeth, and watches as he raises an apple to his lips and his teeth sink straight in. The juice drips down his chin.
She remembers that the devil backwards is lived. She wonders if that makes him God.
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