A/N: This is really, really old fic – like I don't even know how old – and it got pushed to the wayside when I lost the inspiration. But today, I dunno. I remembered I had it, hunted it down on my hard drive, read what I had and continued. Just like that. It's so normal, so easy, so efficient. I'm getting worried.
Fun mood music: All About You, McFly.
This is extremely random and quite silly – just some awkward, girlish fluff, taking place during the Easter holidays in seventh year – but I hope you like it anyway. It's just the slightest bit different for me. Cheers!
"Ooh, Lils, what about these?"
Alice's voice – loud, enthusiastic, and utterly embarrassing – floats above the racks and racks of undergarments, making its way into Lily's ears.
Lily, who is currently examining socks, groans.
"Merlin, what is it now?" she asks.
"This!" There is a rustling sound, followed by footsteps and anxious breathing, as Alice locates her friend and runs to her, her smile bright, bras of every imaginable color in her hands.
"Look!" she says, shoving the bras into Lily's face. "Aren't these wonderful?"
Lily coughs and pushes her friend – and the bras – slightly away from her. Her face was red when she walked in here, but by now she's sure it's looking infected with embarrassment.
She thought she was doing something nice when she let slip that she was going shopping for "intimates" over this break – Alice loves to shop, particularly with company – but now, it's turning out to be more of a curse than a gift. She makes a mental note never to take Alice underwear shopping ever again.
"Right then, what have you got now?" she inquires, feigning an impressive amount of polite interest for someone who wants nothing more than to Apparate on the spot.
"Everything you'll ever need for nights in the dark," Alice replies cheekily, putting the heap of bras on the stool next to her and holding them up one by one. "See? They're perfect!"
"They look like hooker-wear," Lily remarks critically.
Alice gives her a Look. "Just because it has pretty lace on it, doesn't mean it's for hookers, Lily," she says.
"But it's so…obnoxious!" Lily protests, shoving it in Alice's face now.
Alice sighs and examines the bra carefully. It's not even a proper bra – more like a very thin tank-top. It's black and the material is a little rough, with an attached sheet of sheer black lace, embroidered with swirls. Alice runs her hand over it, seemingly deep in thought, and nods gravely.
"I can see where this might be itchy," she says solemnly. "And it's a little hard to rip off your wriggling, sweating body in the heat of the moment…I suppose you're right, these won't do…"
Lily releases a cry of frustration and seizes Alice's shoulder. She is at the end of her tether now, after an hour and a half of listening to this sort of drivel.
"Alice," she says, slowly and clearly. "I am not here to model the laciest undergarments that you can find. I am not here to listen to you make crude, embarrassing insinuations about my sex life. And I am not here to humor your fetish for hooker-wear. Okay? I'm here because I thought it would be nice to maybe update my undergarment stock a little, pick out something a little prettier. I brought you along because shopping for underwear is no fun alone. Does that make sense?"
Alice snorts at the seriousness in her friend's voice.
"Lils, shopping with you is no fun anyway," she says airily, dismissively, far too accustomed to such lectures to take them literally anymore. "You hate being out-of-the-box, avant-garde. And besides, you're here because you and James are having mind-blowingly fantastic sex and you want to step up the game, tease him a little. Maybe the 'upgrade' theory works for everyone else, but you don't have to fudge the truth for me."
Lily exhales irately. "You're wrong," she says.
"Am I?" Alice asks, arching her eyebrow delicately, putting the offending bras back onto their rack and picking out new ones. "Come on. I know you're buying these for James. Admit that much, at least."
Lily goes pink and chooses to turn her back to her friend, displaying an inordinate amount of interest in lacy thongs. "Well…yes, I suppose I am," she says quietly, unwillingly.
"I knew it!" trills Alice. "You're buying pretty underwear for your boyfriend – aww, that's so sweet! You two must be getting serious."
"Kind of," says Lily, her tone much softer as she gives up on the thongs and watches Alice select more black lingerie. "I mean…we're not quite there yet, but I love him. I really think I do."
"And now that you're aware of how far this love extends, you've realized that your underwear is going to be seen after all – hence this want for wardrobe upgrade," Alice finishes for her. "I get that. I did the same thing last year when Frank and I started getting serious. I went with Marly."
Lily blushes, her smile self-conscious but sweet. "It's not so much that he might soon see my underwear," she says. "It's just…the way he looks at me, Alice. It's like he can't get enough of me. It's like he can't possibly look at anyone else or it'll kill him. It makes me want to be worthy of the attention, you know? I want to be pretty for him. Or try, anyway."
"Don't worry, darling – we'll find undergarments pretty enough to match your pretty face," Alice coos, though her eyes are as soft as her friend's voice. "C'mon. I think this is a good style for you."
She beckons Lily over and the girls approach a rack of admittedly nice-looking bras. They don't have under-wire – a blessing because they're bloody uncomfortable – and they look firm but in a loving way. And, also on the plus side, the color variety is quite acceptable. Maybe Alice has hit the jack-pot after all.
"I like the black," Alice comments, holding it up in Lily's size. "It's classic and sexy. You'll have James's mouth watering in no time."
Lily blushes deeply – she hates it when Alice talks about her boyfriend that way – and says, "No. I don't like black. Too plain."
"Oh, you're telling me about plain?" Alice rolls her eyes, but puts the bra back, picking up a red one instead. "What about this? You like red."
"But it's too bright," says Lily. "It will clash with my hair."
"Merlin, woman!" Alice throws her hands up in mock irritation and takes out the white bra. "What about white? You can't possibly have any complaints about that, can you?"
"No, white is good," says Lily approvingly. "Here, let me go try it on."
"Hallelujah," remarks Alice. Lily sticks her tongue out at her as she steps into the fitting room stall with the bra.
Alice only has to wait a couple of minutes for Lily to emerge again, her jeans still on, her slender frame now sporting the white, lacy bra. Alice releases a low whistle at the sight of her friend.
"Wow," she says. "It looks good."
"You think?" Lily turns all the way around to give Alice the full effect.
"Yes," confirms Alice.
"Excellent," says Lily, pleased. "I'll buy this, then, and we can get out of here."
"Wait, what do you mean, get out of here?" Alice demands, her hands on her hips. "We've only just gotten started!"
Lily groans. "Damn. I was so close."
"Go back to the dressing stall and take that off, you're buying it," Alice orders. "I'm going to go find you some other bras, all right?"
It's clear that arguing with her isn't going to get her anywhere, so Lily contents herself with a large eye-roll and flounces back to the dressing room. Alice, delighted, scurries back into the main shop.
Lily, meanwhile, takes off the bra and sits down on the little seat attached to the wall, sighing. She's well aware that Alice is going to come back with something outrageous, now that she's free to go wild on her own, but at the very least she's got a moment to breathe, think quietly by herself.
What she told Alice had been true: she does want to be pretty for James, to be worthy of the attention he so lavishly bestows upon her. They have not actually done the deed quite yet, but she can tell they are close. He never says it in words, because they never really talk about it; but on those nights when he cuddles her, nuzzling her neck, kissing her unexpectedly just because he feels like it, she knows he wants to go to the next step. He's never been one to waste time when he's crystal-clear on how he feels, whereas she is the emotionally prudish, utterly apprehensive child that fears such deep intimacy like the plague.
Of course, she knows that, eventually, they will get tired of just holding hands, and they will, eventually, take that vast, terrifying leap into the unknown; but sitting here now, in the dressing room of this little boutique, the artificial lights beating down on her head and her best friend picking out underwear just a few meters away from her, she is more terrified than she can say.
Alice returns with astonishing speed, making Lily think that she has been secretly noting down bras to bring in the whole time. She knocks on the door and says, "Hey. I've found some stuff for you to try on."
Lily sticks her hand out from beneath the door and Alice stuffs the heap of bras through the cracks. Within a moment, as expected, Alice hears a shriek and grins.
"What, Lily, don't you like them?" she asks innocently.
"I'm never wearing any of these!" Lily wails. "No, never! I'm just going to put on my own bra and get out of here and forget this ever happened!"
"Lily, put on your bra and come out here so I can talk to you," says Alice soothingly. "Just talking. Okay?"
Lily pauses, but not for long. "Okay," she says.
She takes a moment, puts on her bra and then opens the stall to reveal Alice standing there, an unexpectedly gentle look on her face.
"Look, Lils, I know these aren't immediately to your tastes," says Alice, gesturing at the brightly colored heap of bras on the ground behind Lily. "But you've got to give me a chance, okay? I'm not out to make you look like a clown."
"You could've fooled me," Lily mumbles.
"Maybe I was joking outside, but I actually like these," says Alice. She steps into the dressing room stall and picks up a purple bra. It's actually a deep plum, the bottom layer plain but with a thin, sheer layer built on top.
"Look," says Alice. "Does this look so offending to you?"
Lily eyes the bra suspiciously, as though it might jump up and bite her nose at any moment. When it doesn't, she takes it from Alice, scrutinizing it.
"No," she says at last. "It's not so offending."
"Right," Alice responds, relieved. "It's just a little different. You want to try it on?"
"Okay," Lily gives in.
Alice grins and steps outside the stall, waiting for Lily to change. When she does and emerges out of the stall, Alice's grin only widens.
"Hey!" she says approvingly. "That's a good one!"
"You know, I actually do like it," says Lily happily, glancing down at it. "I love the color and it's so comfortable."
"Told you so," crows Alice. "Go on, try another one."
Lily obediently shuts the door and tries on another one. When this comes out satisfactorily as well, the process speeds up. Within fifteen minutes, Lily has tried on every single bra Alice brought in, and liked most of them. She comes out of the stall for the final time, clad in her own outfit and bra now, all the favorable garments in her hands.
"Okay," says Lily. "Now it's time to sort."
She and Alice spend several minutes debating each and every bra, arguing its merits and its downfalls, debating and discussing each garment. Lily has a set budget she wants to keep to, but Alice has never met a budget she hasn't wanted to expand, insisting she'll put in the extra money, and so it continues.
Finally, though, after some tense negotiations, Lily agrees to buy five bras for the fifty pound budget she had set, and lets Alice chip in ten more pounds to buy matching panties. They go to the counter, mentally exhausted but pleased with their work, and Lily is the proud new owner of fancy underwear on her way out of the boutique.
"There, now, wasn't that fun?" asks Alice warmly.
"If you say so," says Lily dryly, even though it was.
The two stop at the edge of the sidewalk, waiting for the walking light to turn on, and Alice pauses.
"It doesn't have to be a big, major drastic thing, Lily, buying a new bra," says Alice meaningfully. "It can just be a little step, picking something that's different, but not too different from what you already had. You just have to try. It isn't scary, or stressful, unless you make it so. Okay?"
The light turns green and the girls walk down the street. Protectively, Alice squeezes Lily's hand, and Lily knows her friend's comment wasn't really about bras. She appreciates it, though, as they make their way to a café on the next street for some coffee.
Maybe she's right. Maybe it's not the leap that matters, but the little steps that lead up to it. Apprehensive as she might be, she doesn't have to go right into the scary things; she can start with the underwear, the intimates, and just see where it goes from there.
A/N: So there you go. I hope it all made sense, and that it worked, and that you liked it. Please remember to review and tell me about that. Cheers!