your zen is false

Chapter Five

An Ending

. ... .

Severus knows and Severus doesn't say anything. Severus knows and Severus doesn't try to help her. Not that she needs to be helped - she knows what she is doing, after all - but the situation would look bad to the uninformed eye.

But Severus knows and Severus hasn't said anything, and this more than anything allows Lily to shove aside those doubts (too far and too much). She doesn't catch Bellatrix's wrist and have a chat with her about maybe cooling it a little.

(This - not telling Bellatrix to chill - is the wrong thing to do, and maybe her subconscious decides not to talk with her lover just to spite Severus. Maybe it is a little self-destructive - maybe she has finally realized that they're doing it all wrong - but maybe she doesn't have anything else anyway, figures that she might as well stick with it. Maybe she knows that Bellatrix is/has breaking/broken her, and maybe she wants to feel more things crack and to believe that it is okay not to have control over anything. Maybe maybe maybe. She doesn't know.)

(Lily - clever, intellectual Lily - doesn't know anything.)

So they continue, and she is actually a little glad when she stops seeing Severus - no, Snape. When she stops seeing Snape in the halls on the way to classes.

As February turns into March, she directs all attention to her lover. She wants more, and - and she doesn't particularly care if Bellatrix really is going too far. She simply makes sure to filch some of the stronger healing potions from Slughorn's stores and becomes very proficient with seamstressing charms.

She doesn't care about the lack of emotion in Bellatrix's face and eyes when she looks at her - she wants the aristocrat and wants what only she can give her. Lily wants the painpleasure and the lack of line between it, and she is desperately caught and has been and knows it and loves Bellatrix and hates her and is indifferent and passionate and begging for more.

(This is when she dreams of another world.)

. ... .


This is when Bellatrix lets her go. This is when - this is when everything that was already crumpled and warped falls apart.

Here is the scene: it is five minutes before curfew and they are in the hallway near the kitchens. They haven't fucked (and even Lily doesn't bother to call it anything but that anymore - even though she loves Bellatrix, that love is as twisted as her lover) yet tonight, but Lily is hungry because she missed dinner so that she could finish an essential essay. (She hasn't been doing badly in classes, per se, but she isn't doing brilliantly like she used to.)

So they are walking, and then Bellatrix suddenly stops. Lily looks at her enquiringly.


"I'm going to head back, I believe." A cold voice. Confident, high class, and about to break her heart.

"I - " And there is a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

"It's been fun, mudblood," Bellatrix drawls, looking her in the eyes brazenly and uncaringly. Lily sees boredom and disdain and madness - and that has all been there before, so why why why now?

(This is when - )

And Lily - and she doesn't know what to say, because she should have seen this coming like she saw the indifference in her lover's eyes (like anyone could have been there - like she wasn't a person, just something to bleed and fuck), but -

(This is when: the landing.)

Lily has no words. The world has muted out and taken her tongue with it. This is madness. Madness. Madness. Bellatrix is simply on one of her far more frequent spells of insanity, only: "It's all a game, lovely." Her pouty (sensual, bitable) lips curve into an amused smirk. She leans in close - too close, close enough to kiss - and "You've given up, and that makes it no fun" is husky against Lily's mouth.

One two three seconds: Bellatrix Black is gone. Lily - her vision goes grey, and when she comes back to herself she doesn't know how many hours it has been. All she knows is that she is stiff and the stone against her back is freezing - and she is sitting against the wall even though she doesn't know how she has gotten there. She stares at her hands for a moment. She can't feel them. They are so cold.

She stares stares stares - and then she turns her head and retches.

Zen. Empty. Blank. Calm.

The taste of pure bile is thorough and lingering, but Lily does not finish the walk to the kitchens. She mechanically makes her way through meandering halls and up moving staircases, and she finds herself at the Gryffindor entrance. (This is home. The word doesn't mean as much as it did when she was a child.)

The Fat Lady is fixing her cleavage. Lily doesn't notice. Her mouth moves and says, "Boleyn." The Fat Lady looks up, surprised someone is out, and begins stuttering as the portrait swings open. Lily doesn't listen. She steps through the portrait hole jerkily and - and she stands there, looking at nothing.

There is something to look at, however.

James Potter.

She doesn't register him, but he is alone for once, sitting on a couch and staring into the fire moodily. His hair is messy in a different way than it usually is, and the expression on his face is tired and thoughtful. He isn't out of it enough to not notice Lily, though, and the pinched draw of his eyes and mouth lighten as he catches sight of her. There is a little bit of wariness there, as well. (Because words can tear and eat things that really need to be destroyed - and some things that don't - and maybe he has grown up a bit. Maybe the words Lily can't remember saying have saved a lot of things - and maybe James has given those words power.)

He realizes that she isn't seeing him. He realizes that something is wrong. (And, yes - yes, he has changed.) Five months ago, he wouldn't have noticed. Five months ago, he would have jumped up and called her Lilyflower and the redhead would have slapped him. But they have both changed - maybe for the worse - and this time he does something right.

He calls her name quietly. "Lily."

She doesn't hear - and then she does. Her eyes focus on him, and she doesn't even have the presence of mind to scowl. What - what has happened? Where has Lily Evans gone? (She has been torn and eaten by words and actions, by time and madness and darkness.)

(Words and actions and time and madness and darkness - and she didn't even manage a word when her lover left her. Bellatrix, you have broken her down so skillfully.)

"Oh," she says dully. "Potter." She is lost. She is so lost (without the promise of the physical to take it away - without a promise of darkness to lose herself in, where it is okay that she isn't in control).

And James doesn't really recognize this (because he has grown up but not that much and he is still so innocent), but he knows that something is wrong, and that is all he needs to know. So he smiles instead of grinning wildly and beckons her over to his couch.

And - and she actually goes. (Wrong, wrong, wrong - not Lily Evans, but what can anyone do about it?) They sit in silence. The fire crackles and the shadows dance, and her hands are so cold. (She is used to this. So used to this. Zen zen zen - she has to find her zen.)

They sit. Lily doesn't even know for how long, and then James breaks the stillness by pulling out his wand.

"What - "

He hands her a cup of hot chocolate and smiles at her again. "It's conjured, so it won't last for too long, but something hot tastes good going down on a night like this."

And - nothing. She doesn't blink back tears. She is too weak to cry. It isn't like she ever truly had Bellatrix, so she hasn't lost anything she didn't give away in the first place. Bellatrix had her - and that is the problem. She is lost. She gave too much and hasn't gotten the bits of herself back and never will. (Bellatrix is selfish - and Lily always trusts all the wrong people, the selfish people who don't give enough of a fuck. Bellatrix will keep them carelessly and cruelly, not caring, and isn't that just Bellatrix Black in a nutshell?)

She looks at him, and then she looks at the mug he has pressed into her hands. She wraps her fingers around the warm ceramic and looks at him again. "...Thank you."

Surprise moves across his face, quickly followed by happiness. His emotions are as easy to read as a billboard. "Not a problem." There is a pause. "...Lily, what's wrong? You haven't been the same lately." He sees her still expression and backtracks quickly. "Not that I'm trying to pry or anything, but - " He falls into silence, features collapsed into the very definition of 'torn', and quickly spits out: "I'm worried."

She stares. It is such a novel idea that someone is worried about her. (And when did she get too used to that?) She knows he fancies himself in love with her. She knows (a lot of useless things because she is such a clever girl) that he wants her - that he wants Lily Evans, fiery and contrary and a little bit arrogant. And she isn't that Lily Evans anymore, but she thinks she can pretend if that means that she can have - what James Potter represents. (Bellatrix would know that she is pretending, but he won't.)

She wants someone safe and sweet and light and concerned, and, really, two out of four isn't so bad - and he has changed, too, so obviously. She could say yes to him. She thinks that she could pretend. She thinks she could, with the passing of time, rebuild some things (necessary, human things inside of her) that have been ruins for too long. She thinks that she is tired of looking for that something in all the wrong places.

And it really isn't fair to him, but she (is weak and selfish and more broken than she used to be) thinks that he won't know the difference. (He won't.)

She turns her gaze back to her untouched hot chocolate and says, "Potter, you're such a ponce." And smiles a little (falsely) as he begins to sputter.

She feels the scars on her back and thighs burn and thinks she can pretend.

(Bellatrix, you teach so well.)

. ... .

She doesn't have all the answers. She doesn't.

Lily is sixteen years and eleven months old. She is beautiful and clever and popular (and tired and worn like an old dishrag) - and she has no answers to war and the war-torn and hate and the hate-consumed.

She has no answers, and she is lost and fractured and really good at pretending she is not.

She has to be.

A/N: The end! Voila! What do you think? Again, Si-chan (Zhang Sizheng) is beyond excellent. She gives really great opinions. And jumpstarts. Snape, for example. She asked for him, and it made me go all starry-eyed and do the maniacal-glint thing. My gorgeous fiancee is so made of win. She also put in a few really great lines and generally encouraged me when I was blocked and doing the insomniac deal.

You know, I think I actually wrote something that is almost DH compliant. Huh. Go figure. In other news, well-written reviews make me do jigs. Naked.

...Something tells me that that won't make you lot review. (sniffs) Well, that's just because you don't know any better. So...aha! I'll give the randomly numbered (seventh, tenth, eleventh, who knows?) reviewer for this chapter a huge reward fic. I like hearing what I did right, what I did wrong, and if you have a favorite line.

Edit 1/19/10: To anyone interested out there - my story Gesellschaft? Well, it's in this universe, only there's less taboo subject matter - oops, that's a lie. Less blatant deviancy? ...Well, there's no bondage. Set around Severus and Ginny, it's a fairly gritty post-war AU that I'd really appreciate feedback on. Kind of a study on non-romance? Eh. Whatevskies.