Just a one-shot story, sprung up out of nowhere, started at 8:33 and finished at 9:45, whilst drinking Pepsi and eating goldfish crackers and endlessly cycling The Joshua Tree. I'm a bit obsessed with the idea of Snape and Lily, and, since we've no real characterization of Lily, I can make her however I want. How fun. The book Lily refers to (and Snape quotes from) is The Pickwick Papers. The title quote is from The Lady of Shalott.
By Katharine Frost
a long-drawn carol, mournful, holy
she chanted loudly, chanted lowly
He thinks I do not know.
He must consider me unobservant, then, and that is his folly. It was when we were reading Dickens – that was when I knew. I don't know how many times he came prior to that, but I don't think it was many. Because James would never read aloud with his voice a bit choked up and ragged, just from a brief passage, the one about the strange mutability of human affairs. So I asked him whether Dickens was making fun of us for thinking on these things, and he smiled at me.
Why, Lily, I quite think he is.
Then I knew for certain. James never picks up on those sort of things – he is not stupid, but his life isn't books and nuance, but magic and laughter. Not that those are bad things. I love him for his easy smile and his wit and his sparkling eyes. And to see the sparkle in those eyes replaced by a heady intensity is at once torturous and lovely. They say the Polyjuice Potion cannot affect expression, and now I know that's true. One's demeanour always shines through, and I have always been perceptive.
Of course, I have not told him I know. Because then he would stop coming, really. He can rarely come anyway, it always has to be times when he knows for sure James will not be around. I drop him little hints sometimes. You're leaving to visit the Ministry Thursday afternoon, right, James? And I guess that makes this whole mess equally my fault. I should be properly outraged, and denounce him, and throw him out, but I cannot. I will not. It is not like he intends to harm me. He has a brilliant mind, really. I am curious as to how he managed to extend the time limit on the Potion – seemingly indefinitely – but I can't really ask him, can I?
The second time he came – well, the second time he came when I knew about it –we sat and read again. He likes Muggle literature, something I never would have expected, and he is very knowledgeable about it. Dickens is his favourite, but he appreciates a lot of things. He is a man in love with words and ideas instead of physical things. Though he speaks in James' tones, there are unique subtleties in his ordinarily dulcet voice, and they come out most often when he reads. The first time I heard it, that strange and unnatural mixture of voice, I was oddly unsettled – chilled but not cold.
The third time I made dinner for him. I do it often for James, and he for me, and I did not want him to be suspicious. I put on some music, too. Jazz is my favourite. I tolerate James' damned rock bands, who can be okay at times, but, for me, nothing can top a good loud rendition of Blue Train. I don't think he listens to much music himself, and, if he did, I would peg him as a classical type. Probably more Orff than Beethoven, too. But he seemed to like it, I even caught him tapping his fingers along to music for a moment. That reminded me of his normal hands, long and delicate and pale and strangely effeminate. That was when my thoughts started to get dangerous. I have always had the tendency to think of things I should not, and then was no exception.
The fourth time he was only briefly here. James had gone for the day, and had come under the guise of coming back to pick up a book he had forgotten (I saw the book in question conveniently tucked into the folds of his robes). And when he walking out the door, I put my hand on his shoulder and drew him back to me and tilted my head and kissed him quickly.
There was shock in his eyes, but he covered it quickly, and gave me a weak smile and told me he would not be gone for long. After the door had closed behind him I paced the room for nearly an hour. I didn't know what I was thinking. I am more than likely going to marry James – hell, we were even planning to move in together by the end of the month – and that was what made me so horrible. Because I liked kissing the fake version of James, if only for a second. Because I remembered how his mouth had stiffened up at my touch, but his lips had still been soft. James' lips with someone else's reaction. And, though I loathed myself for it, I wanted to kiss him again.
So, you see, this is my fault, too. I'd be protecting myself if I blamed only him.
The fifth time was today.
He came to the door looking more like himself than he ever had before, or maybe it was just my eyes adjusting to him. And we sat and talked for a while, and the whole time I could not think properly, and, without really knowing what I was doing, I went to him and kissed him again. Much more thoroughly.
His reaction was frozen and hesistant at first, but I pushed him into it. I forced him closer to me, crushed him to me, and then he was kissing me back. It was unlike James' kisses, which were soft and confident and loving. These kisses were starved and deep, and when I put my hands on his back I realized he was shaking uncontrollably.
"Er … James—" Dear God, I had nearly spoken his name. "Are you all right?"
He looked at me then, both of us kneeling beside the chairs, and any semblance of restraint he might have had disappeared. He pulled me to him, kissing me roughly and probably bruising my mouth, then pressing his lips along my neck, on my collarbone. I could hear his ragged breathing and closed my eyes to savour it.
I moved away for bit, then cupped his face with my hands. I took James' glasses off of his eyes and set them up on one of the chairs. It was better that way because, without the glasses, he looked a lot less like James. "Come upstairs with me," I whispered.
So he did, his hand in mine. It felt like I was leading around a little child, and I didn't like that analogy, so I squashed it into my subconscious. At the top of the stairs I tried to draw him to me, but he surprised me and picked me up, nearly effortless, and I hooked my arms around his neck. His eyes were wet and shining with anticipated guilt. So were mine, I suppose.
I pointed out my room and I don't think I have to tell you what happened then. It's still too fresh in my mind to accept fully, and I'm washed over with guilt and radiance and confusion and a hundred other things. I don't take it back, though.
And now we're sort of tangled together, in the aftermath of it all. It's cold in my room, so I pull the quilt over us. I need to cover up what we've done, even though I do not regret it. I will not regret it. I would do it again. His hand brushes along my abdomen and finally curls around my waist. His breathing has still not returned to normal.
I lie still for a moment, revelling in the feel of him around me. Still James, but paradoxically not James. I move my head slightly, so it rests heavily on his chest. After a while, when he's breathing evenly again, I hear a low chuckle, and look up. He is watching me, and his other hand comes up to brush a bit of my hair away from my face.
"What are you thinking?" I ask.
He lifts an eyebrow at me, almost comically. It's a surprise. "I am ruminating," he says, with a touch of amusement in his warm mixed-up voice, "on the strange mutability of human affairs."
I laugh at him, as the situation demands it. "Of course you are."
He is studying me intently. I can feel his gaze burning into the top of my head, and I look up at him. Again, there is that disturbing drive in his eyes I have never seen in the real James' expression, and seeing it there makes me shudder once more. Abruptly, he moves down and places a kiss atop my forehead, briefly. "I've got to go," he says, and his voice is a hoarse whisper.
"All right." I can't help but be a little sad.
He rolls off of the bed and stands up, still unclothed, still vulnerable yet cloaked. I shift myself up a bit, to watch him go. James' rangy body, James' tanned flesh. But still, something is different about him. The way he carries himself, perhaps. I cannot be sure. I look on silently as he pulls on his underclothes, then his robes.
"Goodbye, Lily." A pause. "I love you."
"Goodbye … James."
He winces slightly at this, then tips his head down a bit, as if acknowledging a queen. How ridiculous. He exits then, and there is the sound of his footsteps in the hall, then nothing. There are something that cannot be said aloud, only in the privacy of one's own thoughts. Even though they might be things I want to say to him, I cannot. I do not care about decorum, though – I care about the real James.
But I love you back, Severus.