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Flaming Pits of Lust
(A Remus/Lily story)
By Cuban Sombrero Gal
"I hate this," Lily said suddenly, massaging her neck as she jerked her head to the side. "I'm sick of it, just so bloody sick of it all." Her voice rose dramatically in pitch, and Remus, who was curled up on the sofa in the Gryffindor common room beside her, clamped a hand over her mouth.
"You don't want to wake half the house," he laughed, "you know what the annual Easter Quidditch match does to them all."
He shifted slightly to the right, aware of exactly how close they were. Remus' heart thudded on, an eternal drum beating to the rhythm of despair, as he tried so hard to avoid temptation and just lean in.
"Chocolate?" Remus removed his hand from her mouth, and lifted it to his nose, inhaling the scent of coffee, sweat and melted chocolate. "It is Easter Saturday, Lily," he said by way of explanation, "you know that day when people become obese celebrating the fact that Jesus died and rose from the dead."
"Technically, it's Easter Sunday," Lily replied, gesturing at the clock, its glowing red numbers throwing eerie shadows onto her milky skin. 1:34 am.
"Technically, you're supposed to be telling me exactly what you're sick of."
"Apart from the fact that I want to throw up from eating too much chocolate, you mean?"
"Apart from that, yes."
It had become routine, these late night conversations, talks about life and philosophy, rants and discussion of Hogwarts' latest couples being thrown around amongst the crumpled parchment as they fruitlessly attempted their homework. Remus couldn't quite define the point in which flirting had become a part of their relationship – exactly what it was, he wasn't entirely sure – but he wasn't going to deny the fact that he enjoyed it. Enjoyed it a lot. The subtle glances, the heavy tone of their voices, implying so much more than a gentle understanding, it was everything to him these days.
And then he thought of James, sound asleep in the dormitory amongst the stench of Sirius' socks and the cool night breeze, dreaming of everything Remus was experiencing, and he was nothing more than ashamed.
"I'm sick of this,Remus. I'm sick of us sitting here on this couch nearly every night, eating biscuits and pretending that we want nothing more from each other than the answers to the History of Magic homework and an intellectual conversation." Irritably, Lily flipped her bright red tresses over her shoulder, throwing an abandoned chocolate wrapper into the fire and watching the flames devour it.
Remus watched as well, his head resting on her shoulder and his hand on her waist, and he couldn't help but think that this was his future, burning endlessly in the flaming pits of lust that engulfed him.
"You know we can't, Lily," he said gently, sliding his hand away from his waist – it would be hard to stay rational if he could feel her creamy skin under his fingertips – "James would be devastated."
"To hell with James," Lily replied. "What claim does he have to my love?"
"He's James." In Remus' eyes, the answer was clear as crystal. "He loves you."
"No, he's in love with his idea of me," Lily snapped, jumping off the couch in one fluid motion and crossing the room. She flopped onto the ground in front of the fire, staring listlessly into the flames. "He's in love with the fact that I'm his red-haired, green eyed princess. Ask him my favourite food, the first ever career idea I fell in love with, why I like sunrise better than sunset … all he'll be able to do is stutter." She gave Remus an imploring look, urging him to understand, her emerald green eyes boring into his chocolate brown ones, stabbing him with knives as he tried so hard to resist that seductive wink.
Remus couldn't find much fault in her analysis of James, which he found surprising considering how much she claimed to abhor him –though everyone could see through that façade except Lily and James themselves.
So instead, he just said, "Roast potatoes, being an English teacher and you think that sunset is full of false hope because it's pretty and then it suddenly disappears into the deep black emptiness that surrounds us all."
"Exactly," Lily said, slamming a clenched fist into the carpet as though to prove her point. "James claims to love me, and yet he knows none of that, and you do."
"He's still my best friend," Remus replied, for that was the irrefutable truth. "I couldn't do it to him."
"Why not? You do this with me?" Lily gestured around the common room, smothered in crumpled chocolate wrappers, broken quills and an air that suggested everything had gone from innocent friendship to confusion and life threatening choices.
"This is – was – friendship. This isn't love Lily, no matter how much we'd both like it to be."
"Kiss me," Lily demanded suddenly, her words were smeared with a reckless tinge. "Kiss me, and then we'll know."
Remus couldn't bring himself to do it, not matter how much he wanted to jump off the platform and drown in that flaming pit of lust that gurgled inside his stomach, ignoring the sirens that beckoned him back to safety. James would hate him, and this may not be friendship anymore, but what he had with James and Sirius and Peter was.
Lily took a step towards him, towering over his contorted body as he lay curled up on the plush red couch.
"Dance with me then," she said, shrugging nonchalantly. "Friends may not kiss, but there's nothing to stop them from dancing. Call it an Easter gift for a special friend, if that helps to ease your conscience at all."
"Fine," Remus grumbled, scrambling off the couch and into her arms. "You owe me."
Really, he knew he shouldn't have done. He should not have encouraged her to act upon these feelings, to lure him and tantalise him and encourage him to drown himself. But her arms were so soft and so warm as they caressed him, and he could smell the remnants of Easter eggs – tonight's substitute for the humble choc-chip biscuits – and he melted into her as they waltzed to the music of their own heartbeats.
Lily laughed as they tore apart, their emotions sandwiched between their still
clasped hands, "it wasn't that bad. Maybe there's a chance."
"You don't know how many times I've dreamed of that -" he admitted softly, "- not there's a male in this building older than thirteen who hasn't wanted to hold Lily Evans at some stage, because apparently threatening to chop people's bollocks of with a rusty knife is appealing – but I can't Lily, I can't. James -"
"- would have to deal with it." Her tone suggested that her answer was final, but Remus' inner Marauder forced him to fight.
"James may still be the naïve, arrogant, eleven year old boy who insulted you on the train in first year, but he's my best friend, and I can't do it, Lily, I just can't do it."
"Drat you and your bloody sense of propriety."
"Drat you and your bloody seductiveness."
They both collapsed with spasmodic fits of laughter, neither of them registering that it was past two in the morning and that an entire building slumbered on above them. Remus gasped for breathing, knowing that whatever happened, he sure as well wouldn't forget this.
"You really think I'm seductive?" Lily asked, between bursts of laughter that wracked her body. The flaming pit in his stomach seemed to rise slightly, demanding that he fall into it, give it attention, nurture it, but Remus ignored it, focusing on the girl in front of him.
"Yeah." Somehow, that dance had bought them to a gentle understanding, it was never going to work between them, but they didn't have to give up everything. Friendship and romance were entirely different bonds, but they were both as tantalising and as fulfilling.
"But why?" Lily asked. She was far from arrogant – that was a title reserved for a certain other special someone – but she couldn't help but be proud, and a little confused about all the attention that surrounded her, bathing her in praise and gifts.
Remus deliberated for a minute: why Lily? As supportive as he was of James' fascination with the petite redhead that he was currently straddling with his legs, he'd never really understood it, nor had he understood his own attraction to her as more than a physical longing for closeness.
"It's your personality," he said finally. "You've got metaphorical bollocks, and incredible wit."
"Metaphorical bollocks," Lily repeated, her words soft as yet another stream of giggles forced their way from her throat. "Better not let James get wind of that one, he'll be asking to see them in a flash."
"He really does mean well."
"I know, it's just so hard, I mean, he's such an arrogant prick, and I normally go for guys more like … more like you."
"You're just saying that so I'll dance with you again, aren't you?" Remus joked, taken aback by the seriousness that flittered across Lily's face. It lasted a minute before she broke out in a grin, pointing her index finger in his direction and allowing her body to be jerked about by laughter, she was a marionette whose strings were controlled by the invisible puppeteer.
"Maybe," she said, unable to hide the truth. "Will you?"
"Of course. How could I deny my fair maiden such a privilege, even if you're not exactly my fair maiden and you're a bit too crass to fulfill such a roll anyway? I don't think there's ever been a heroine with such a love of innuendo before." Remus liked this, liked the fact that they could joke and flirt, and that yet, they both knew not to cross the line, but James hovered upon it, ready to blow his umpire's whistle for inappropriate contact.
"Crass? I do believe that's Black's territory, and really, I'd hate to intrude."
"Whatever. We all know you're just longing to be a future Marauder."
"So I can have a nickname with as many connotations as Prongs?" Lily didn't understand the Marauder's nickname, and neither did the rest of Hogwarts (admittedly dimwitted) population, but some of the rumours flying around …
"Oh, do just shut up and dance," Remus said with an exasperated voice, hoping like hell that she wouldn't dwell on the mystery that was the names Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.
"Fine," Lily replied, smiling wistfully at him.
Grinning, she took Remus' outstretched hand, waltzing into the middle of the common room floor.
"Get up Moony, come on you lazy sod." Remus groaned, opening his eyes a fraction and immediately clamping them shut again as the sunlight blinded him. Next to him, Sirius was trying to walk Lily, using less polite methods than James and Peter had chosen.
"Sod off Black, you -" There was a muffled thump as Sirius' retort was muffled by a pillow.
"It's nine o'clock," James said, "the annual Easter hunt is on in an hour. We had to put charms on you two so that no-one would prank you while you slept. The whole house grew bored after laughing at Remus' snoring and went down to the Quidditch pitch."
As Remus wrenched apart his eyelids again, he could see James looking curiously between him and Lily, his mind assuming the worst. Wordlessly, he gestured at the pile of abandoned textbooks which overflowed in one of the armchairs by the now dwindling fire, his eyes beseeching James, begging him to understand that nothing had happened. James still looked suspicious, but eventually, he nodded, his messy locks bouncing up and down in time with his head.
"Let's go," he said, "come on Evans."
Remus couldn't help but notice the way he flushed around Lily, the way he chose his words carefully – though he hadn't always been quite so sane – and he realised that what James had was the real thing.
And as Lily and James stumbled across the Quidditch pitch, Sirius, Peter and Remus following closely behind, their desire for knowledge and understanding of each other stronger than their desire to find the Easter eggs buried underneath their feet, Remus knew that really, they belonged together. What he had with Lily was no less sincere and tangible, but it was different, and that didn't matter.
The flaming pit of lust that had been bubbling in his chest all night subsided to a trickling stream.
Staff Note: Welcome to yet another seasonal challenge by the Reviews Lounge. This challenge was developed by Pinky Green, and can be found at our forum for those who are interested. Each chapter will focus upon a different pairing, and include a hunt, usually Easter related.
Lexie, Cuba, and PA.