Lily Was a Fool
Gaspard's breath tastes warm and real. He is the reason my heart won't stop its fearful beating, loud and wild. It's no use. Gasp and his brilliantly wonderful mouth are too close, and the soft slowness of his lips makes me blush.
I know we shouldn't, not here, but even my stuttering tremble can tell me there's no going back. Gasp and I are skin tight together, his proud hands are on my thighs, working up my pleated skirt and teasing down my plain white underwear. His manner is righteous and unassuming, taking them down my legs and off me; the whole thing just as understandable and weightless as outer space.
Then with gentle arms he pulls the underwear loose over his head, crowning himself king. I reward him with a kiss and my hands, touching blindly, find the metal edge of his fly. Gasp's kiss loves me, as reassured as the sun. His eyes, the brown clouds of Jupiter, keep me steady.
I wish I could smell something on him, something like silverweed or rose thorn or moly, but I don't, it's all pressure and heat. Gaspard groans in appreciation as my hand runs down his zipper and steals into his boxers---
"Lily. Where have your notes gotten to? I'm sorry to say that if you can't finish the potion by the end of the period, I'm going to have to give you half credit you know, and favorite or not, this is N.E.W.T level, I don't have to tell you that."
The Gaspard of my daydream is gone, replaced by the actual real Gasp who lives in a different stratosphere altogether. Breathless, I pick up my head from the cold table and turn over the blank parchment next to me to show Professor Slughorn my class notes on the lab. He walks to another station, winking jovially behind him.
"You look stoned out of your mind," says Severus as I lift my head.
"I don't want to hear it," I tell him starkly, ignoring the boiling cauldron before us. Potions is my one class, my one hour every day where I actually feel like a human being. The slick viscosities of ingredients under my fingertips, the vibrancy of life and sentiment…. I can feel my senses, meditate on the concoction and forget everything else completely, even Severus.
I rub my finger into a black pile of spider dust on the table beside me and press it into ball with my fingers before adding it to the bubbling yellow potion, which emits a pearlescent vapor. Slughorn might have always praised my little shortcuts, a sprig of peppermint or a clockwise stir, but they don't amount to much in comparison to Gaspard. He's diligent, practical in a way I could never be, and without a care or a glance at me the entire period. It is completely hopeless.
"Ocuch, hey," I exhale as Severus pokes me with his dark dull wand.
"Certain things pass the time," he whispers snidely and I almost have trouble hearing him. If he so much as touches me again, I'll write him up. As it is I'm stunned.
Severus and I don't talk. We have to work together for Potions, sometimes, but nothing more than comments revealing our complete disinterest in each other. It hurts, but it was his choice.
We used to be the best kind of friends. He had a kind heart, and I wasn't afraid of his gloom, like some were. We would spend hours talking, laughing, studying and back then I would have done anything for him. I suppose I thought he would too. Friendship came easy back then.
As seventh years, everything is different. He likes to practice curses on insects and throw this friends to the wind for his own selfish, vulgar image.
"Are you off again?" Severus sneers.
"What?" I snap, rudely unaware of him and most of the dungeon. There are four minutes until the end of class and Gasp is rinsing out a jar of eels in the sink near us. I didn't know we were supposed use eels in this lab…
"Stop your drooling," Severus waves discreetly in his direction, mocking me.
"What!?!" Impudently my elbow slips back, knocking an empty glass bottle over the edge into a billion starry fragments. Gaspard smiles at the floor, all dimples and ears.
"I can see it plain on your face..."
"Lily, the dustpan and broom are in the cabinet on the left. I'll write a pass for you if you need it," Slughorn directs from across the dungeon.
"Don't say anything, please," I start gathering the larger pieces of glass for the trash. It was broken, functionless, but the fractured parts looked… prettier in pieces.
"What's the worst thing that would happen if he found out?" Severus asks, almost taunting. Nothing, nothing would happen but it still raises the hair on my arms and makes me stutter to think about it even becoming real.
"Severus… I'm not up to that."
Students queue to the door as class ends, Gaspard picks up his unadorned black bag and leaves for his next class, Ancient Runes.
"I may not know what you could see in that Ravenclaw, but It's a lost cause," he says, slight deviance in his voice, holding out the dustpan.
"Forget it, Snape, I've got it," I say through clenched teeth. He keeps the dustpan out and I reluctantly sweep the broken glass into it. "Alright, how is it a lost cause?"
Severus is silent, likely wary of my steady irate hand on my hip, unsure of the light-years of social politics separating us.
"Emily Tourvel. You know, the bouncing blonde bombshell?"
I nod, and Severus's brow becomes more relaxed and somber.
"He asked her out over breakfast this morning."
Gaspard Shingleton and Emily Tourvel. I can't say anything to that. Nothing.
"Get over it, space cadet. He's not in it for her brains."
The silence on my part grows until it's thick and impossibly impenetrable. How could this happen?
"I should go. I've got to study," Severus says, sliding his notebook into his bag, avoiding facing me.
"Right, well I've got Charms."
My second class of the day passes slow. Professor Flitwick is lecturing, and it's not as though I can concentrate on the subject matter on a day like today; some shadows of things come in and take hold without my invitation.
I'm somewhere else. A solar wind hits me clear in the face and whipping my hair into a red fire, but my head can't think that far. Gasp bounds through the fog, coming from the pitch, grinning in victory from ear to ear. They had certainly won the match.
At once his arms love me, brazen and brave, lifting me off the ground in a vacuous hug. With Gaspard's strong arms holding me close from everything Hogwarts is, I'm safe. Our bodies are warm together, separated between thin damp layers of cotton on cotton.
Blue Neptune eyes on mine, the soft bitter smell of the early morning wavers…. James Potter is tapping me incessantly on the shoulder.
Blame my patience or my pride, but I'm not falling back to Earth. Not when Gasp is carefully lifting my shirt off and my pulse can't keep rhythm. I have him to myself, a fact made evident by the weight of his torso in the sleek Quidditch uniform.
"Psssst, Lily," James whispers from the desk behind mine. I continue to disregard him. "Lily, mistress of my heart, valentine of fortune, am-"
"Head duties after Charms. We've got a meeting with McGonagall and Slughorn in his office…" James swallows. I know the only reason he is hesitant is so I can bask in the magnificence that is James Potter; waiting for his ardent breath on my neck and dreaming over his words… but it doesn't work quite like he hopes.
"I'll wait for you outside," James says, gathering his quill and textbook, heading for the hall.
Class had ended, but I was still very far gone. The last thing I wanted was James's chatter, now he was onto Quidditch but he kept glancing at me to check I wasn't becoming bored of the one sided conversation. For his sake I nodded, smiled, but I couldn't listen to him or anyone else.
If I was eating lunch in the Great Hall, where I would otherwise be, there'd be humor and laughter, people I had known since I was ten. Back when my claim to fame was being the fastest girl in my class, before I carried quite so many curves and started to slink into a shyer anonymity.
Not that any of them knew about Gaspard. Severus was the only one, and him by accident; I had wanted to keep it to myself since he first held open the door to Honeydukes for me in third year.
"Yousee, beaters have to bold, in many ways they're the bravest players on the team. Our, well Rixey really, but Harvey as well, just don't cut the mustard. Lily, however, you coul-"
"Excuse me James," At the end of the corridor is a bathroom, the one haunted by Myrtle. If I could escape, just to cool off my face in the sink… "As much as I cherish these moments, I have to pee."
I push open the girls' room door, and hear the wails of Myrtle before I see him, Severus, sitting in an open window that had never been there before- at this level we were below ground. Nevertheless, one of his legs is firmly on bathroom tile and the other hangs out the window, his spine curving more than usual in the small space.
"Hey," I answer, paused… Severus was in the girls' toilet.
"No, wait," Severus exhaled. "Can I ask you a question?"
I'm not sure why I was there in the first place. I knew he wanted to ask about Gaspard, and I wanted to run. In the blunt realism of the toilet, I didn't want to face the thought:
What if he had asked you out over breakfast?
I knew what classes Gaspard took, so I could avoid his scheduled route through the castle with all possible caution. I knew he was always a few minutes earlier than the rest of class to Potions, and so I was as well. I was cautious, constantly trying to distance myself. I kept it in my head, and was always hoping, hoping that maybe…
But I never spoke to him, because then he would know.
And if he knew, it seemed the world would fall apart. It would be a reality where I wouldn't be able to pretend that when he would turn, hesitantly at his cauldron to check the heavy pendulum clock in the back corner of the dungeon that he was really, secretly, trying to steal a glimpse of me.
But Severus hadn't spoken yet, hadn't asked about Gasp at all. He must not have read the dread I thought was blatantly stuck to me, because he was just as composed as before and his even voice didn't betray him.
"I know you don't want to believe it, Lily, but I'm sorry. "
"Is that your question?" I ask, still on edge.
"No…" Severus climbs out of the window frame. "You have everything. Parents and teachers who love you, friends who care about you. You're beautiful, everyone says so. You can't throw all that away on … Gaspard" Severus shudders at the name. "He isn't who you want him to be."
But that never mattered, not really.
"Don't you think I know that?" I bite my tongue, on the verge of jinxing him into silence. This was my life, and he had no right to step back, pretend he was sorry. I try to leave, but he stops me before I can turn around.
"Brilliant plan Lily, as usual. You're just wallowing in these daydreams, waiting for him to materialize? James fucking Potter is in love with you, and you pass him up because you can't see straight for ten minutes together." He blinks, his large nose furrowed in concern that has me winded. Where was this coming from?
"It's unhealthy, Lily."
I break, and in a second I'm fighting back screams.
"Unhealthy? Severus, who are you to call me unhealthy?"
Severus stares down at me from his height, black eyes boring into me, furious and unforgiving, unwilling to defend himself in our court.
"They would tease you relentlessly; call you greasy and Snivellus… and you would always tell me how you detested them, loathed them, but…." The word catches in my throat; I don't want to say it. I don't want to voice what I was not certain, utterly sure beyond doubt was true, but the sinking heated energy fumes inside me.
Severus had hated them with too much admiration. And when it came down to a choice, he chose to keep his pride and turned me into the Mudblood. He knew what would hurt me, and he had wanted me gone. Dimly I can see his heavy breath, chest rising and falling under his Hogwarts robes, the green Slytherin patch bleak in the humid light.
"My dreams? And what about yours? James Potter, Snape?" Weakly I shake my head. "That's unhealthy."
He leaves without a word, black hair hanging past his nose concealing the wetness in his eyes, the door swinging on his exit. He is gone, and I don't think he could ever try to come back. I take Severus's seat on the window sill and let the guilt wash over me in heavy tones. I shouldn't have, but the rage and anxiety of what he had said were still burning.
Someone knocks on the door, but it's only background. I don't answer; I can't. My eyelids falter over themselves, and can't keep back tears anymore. It stung but there was nothing I could do. I couldn't go after him and cry how I hadn't meant it; I had.
"Lily, are you alright? I just saw Snape come out of there, and errr…are you there?"
Severus didn't know how often after that I would cry myself to sleep, he didn't know how much he had hurt me.
Fresh air filtered in out of the courtyard below, and I glance down for the first time. Gaspard, in the easternmost part of the courtyard, with Emily. It was secluded and sunny, fall leaves coloring the ground; a perfect set. I'm crying, but it's not because of them, snogging in the bushes. The tears weigh tons and I can't hold them back, crying an ugly mess in the girls' toilet with Myrtle, howling in chorus.
Severus had been right. I could see them clearly, Gasp trying to eat her face like he had forgotten that all his teeth had fallen out. That wasn't what I wanted, who I waited for. I had people here who were ready and waiting for me.
I wasn't aware of the door opening, but as if out of a dream James's arms are sweeping me up into him.
"I'm here now," James murmurs. He holds me tightly, and I'm afraid to let go of him, afraid I've been strong too long to let him. I shut my eyes and he lets me sob; James's chin soft on my shoulder, his eyes as brown I know them to be.