Disclaimer: All people/places mentioned are copyrighted to JKR and co.
Note: Set at Grimmauld Place during Book 5. For HPFC's Never Before Seen Pairings Challenge.
Thank you ever ever ever so much to my amazing betas, Ani and Lola; you two are amazing! (Without them there would be no story here, just a blank page.)
Pretty Little Girl
(She is just a girl, but in his mind she will always be so much more.)
He stares firmly at his plate, determined not to look up. When people speak to him, he answers to the tablecloth. When Molly offers him a second helping, he wordlessly holds up his plate, his eyes following it all the way.
"There you go," Molly shovels another helping of shepherds' pie onto the plate and, smiling kindly, turns to Sirius.
"Thanks, Molly," he mutters.
You are acting like a child, he thinks to himself.
But he doesn't look up, just monotonously spoons the food from his plate to his mouth. He can't look up, because if he does he will see her. She is sitting opposite him again, and he knows she caught him staring last time, because every so often she will glance over to him and frown with a look of curiosity.
Suddenly, he hears a bright trill of laughter that seems to light up the room.
Instinctively, he looks up, thinking—
And it is her, her bright red hair swishing around her face as she tosses her head, laughing at a joke Fred or George told. She is smiling brightly amidst her laughter, and he catches himself pretending that it is him she is smiling at-
But no, of course Harry would get that privilege.
She gets up to leave the table and catches him staring, again.
This time, she just glares for a moment before she walks off, joining arms with Hermione and completely ignoring him. His eyes follow her across the kitchen and out of the door, before Sirius pokes him in the side.
"W—what?" He hurries to feign attentiveness.
"Molly asked you if you wanted dessert."
"O—oh. No thanks, Molly. Actually, I think I'll be heading off now." As he excuses himself, he hopes that Molly has not noticed him staring at her daughter.
They are sitting in the family room, chatting. Everyone is there, so naturally she is there as well.
He watches her again, over the rim of his book. It is an interesting book, about the magical influence on the Muggle wars, and any other day he would be reading it avidly. But not today. Today, he hardly looks at it, only every so often remembering to turn the pages. Today, he watches.
Today, he remembers.
(They are sitting by the lake. James and Sirius are playing cards, Lily is studying, Peter is trying to impress a group of girls. He is reading.
But, at the same time, he is watching. Watching Lily, even though he shouldn't be, because she is James' girl—)
She moves, and he is distracted from the memory.
She is excusing herself, saying 'good night'. When she turns to leave, she happens to be facing him. And at that moment, she yawns and stretches. Her too-small shirt, handed down from Ron several years ago, and frayed at the hems, rides up, revealing her smooth belly—
And then he stops watching, because his mind reminds him that she is not Lily, and he is not seventeen anymore.
One day when she leaves, he follows. He doesn't know why he follows, just that some deeply buried instinct had suddenly unearthed itself and forced him to go after her.
She is heading up the stairs when he leaves the kitchen, so he calls out to her.
She stops on the landing and glances down, then shifts her feet uneasily, seeming torn between staying and leaving. He is not surprised. All his staring has probably scared her, and he imagines that she is torn between asking him why and running away.
Curiosity wins in the end.
"Why have you been staring at me?"
She is blunt, he thinks, and realises, well, that's not like Lily at all.
"I—I…" Perhaps honesty is the best idea? "You remind me of Lily, is all."
"Oh." She is taken aback, but she recovers quickly. "That's not all, is it?"
He stares at her, wondering how to answer. She flicks a curl of hair out of her eyes and huffs in annoyance as it falls back into her eyes.
He can't help but have his eyes follow it. Lily had the same annoying curl of hair that would always fall into her eyes. James would always brush it away lovingly, he remembered.
She has the same freckles as well, and the same skin; just the tone stays permanently pale, no matter how much sun it is exposed to. But her eyes – at that moment, his eyes meet hers, and he realises- her eyes are brown, not green like Lily's, and it hits him – Lily isn't coming back.
He breaks down at that, crumpling to the ground in a forlorn little ball, sobbing like a baby. And she comforts him, gathering him into her arms like Lily used to when he was sad, and whispering consoling nothings into his ear, until he is all cried out and he leaves with a small mumble that may have passed for goodbye – or thank you.
He stops watching her after that, because she is not Lily, and she never will be.
Or at least, that is what he tells himself. But in his heart—
And she is just a little girl, but to him she will always be so, so much more. Just like Lily—
—even though the eyes are wrong.
Thanks for reading, please review!
Edit: Missing scene dividers now replaced. 28/04/2010