Disclaimer: I own nothing.
I'm slipping again, and this time it's worse.
You get her once.
But never another time after that.
You don't know how it's possible that not every single person on Earth isn't as head-over-heels in love with her as you are — because she's the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen, and she's got a voice like a siren and eyes like gemstones and hair like smoke aflame — and ok, so the others have ruled out that she's James's but everything is James's and can't you just have this one?
But you never say this aloud, no.
And you're stuck pining away, while James gets slapped and yelled at and hexed, and Remus and Sirius do that weird thing you can't figure out when they look at each other and blush and it's like they're saying things with their eyes, and no one notices you except for her. Always her.
She helps you with your Transfiguration homework a couple times.
"Peter," she says, "wave your wand like this."
And you're listening but —
more to the sound of her voice than the words she's saying. And the way your name sounds on her tongue. Peter. Peter. Like melodies and bells and bluejays and —
"What?" you cry. "Yes, yes, of course I'm listening."
She looks at you doubtfully, and then she grins and, oh, your heart's about to burst out of your thin chest. "Right, fine, just do the spell, Peter," she sighs through giggles, and you'd do anything just to spend a minute of your day with her, absolutely anything.
James walks in and her face is angry but her eyes, they sparkle more than they ever do around anyone else.
And she's swearing at him and he's laughing and, Jesus, even you can see it, the unsaid emotion and the hidden feelings and the things that the way they move around each other convey.
You should be thankful, you tell yourself. Because without James you'd be alone. Because without James you wouldn't be here. Because without James you'd be friendless and no one would care and no one would know your name and no one would ever notice if you disappeared.
But you're not thankful.
You've always been so selfish.
At the end of sixth year she cries on your shoulder.
"I don't know why I feel like this," she sobs, and your robes are all wet and you smell like a girl, but it's all right because her fingers tangle in yours and her hair tickles your ear and it's glorious.
You manage to get a tissue out of your wand and you hand it to her sympathetically. She takes it and blows her nose and okay, it's not very attractive, but it is Lily and you don't mind. "It's — It's going to be all right," you whisper to her unsurely, and she shakes her head.
"Why, why?" she pleads waveringly. "It's like…when he kisses another girl I get so angry. And when he looks at someone other than me I get sad. And I want to — to touch him, and I want to stop pretending but I can't, Peter, I just can't let myself become a hypocrite after years and years of loathing him. I just…do you think it will ever go away?"
No one's managed to break you like this. "No," you return, "it's never going to go away."
She bites her lip. "Are you sure?"
"It's going to stay with you, forever, until you tell him. Because if you don't you're only going to feel worse. Like it rains wherever you go and everything feels off without him and like you're not yourself. But you've got to tell him. Or else nothing will feel all right."
Lily smiles and it's the only thing you know for sure. "Thank you," she murmurs. "How do you know?"
"Because I lo — "
And then Remus walks in and you shut up, quick.
You're at King's Cross for the last time and you're happy, laughing, playing a couple of pranks on some fifth year girls with Sirius, Remus looking on disapprovingly, and then James walks onto the platform and the other boys roar and then they see that the hand attached to his belongs to —
You should've known. You should've expected it. It'd been your shoulder she cried on, your ears she'd sobbed to last year, after all. But you'd just kind of forgotten and now you're staring, open-mouthed, and Remus nudges your shoulder, frowning, and you know that it was only inevitable.
James looks at you, shining eyes. "Nice one, mate," you manage shakily, and he beams. You hate him.
"It couldn't have happened without you, Peter," Lily pipes up, and then she kisses you on the cheek and her eyelashes brush against your nose and you want nothing more than to die.
You walk into the Heads' commons without thinking, looking for Sirius.
"Holy shit, Wormtail, knock much?" James screeches, and Lily covers them with a quilt. You cover your eyes, and then blush deeply and open them and he's on top of her, on the sofa, both of them flushed and gawking at you and you're suddenly aware of the vast expanse of Lily's milky pale legs, and the freckles that lead down to…
"I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, I was just looking for Padfoot," you explain quickly, all ready backing up.
"He's just left, gone down to the Lake with Moony," James replies, exasperated.
And when you've turned and started down the portrait, Lily's voice reaches you. "Sorry, Peter!" she sings, and it's just too much.
A little ways down the hall, you turn to the nearest potted plant and vomit.
You can tell in the way that he nudges you when you stare for too long, or glares when you sulk while they snog. He confronts you one day, in the Three Broomsticks, when Lily and James disappear off to wherever it is they go and Sirius is off ordering more Butterbeer.
"What do you think you're playing at, Wormtail?" he asks in that tired tone of voice of his. "Lily is James's, and she always has been. And James is your friend. You know that, if the tables were turned, James would never betray his friend like that."
And, fuck, you can really do without the ridiculous guilt-trip. "This is none of your business, Moony."
He scoffs. "Look, Worms, I'm just trying to save you the trouble before you do something dumb."
"And what do you think you're playing at?" you counter, just to see if it will work, and it does. He gets all flustered and his face turns white and his knuckles brace against the wooden table.
His eyes flicker. "What do you mean?" he asks in a low voice.
"You know what I mean," you reply in the most menacing tone you can manage.
Remus' eyes turn to Sirius, who is only now returning to them, three glasses full to the brim in his possession. "Don't tell," he tells you softly, desperately. "Don't you dare tell anyone, and I won't tell about you, either."
"Deal," you promise, even though you're honestly not sure what he's talking about.
Sirius slides in, pushing your Butterbeer to you. "What are you guys talking about?" he asks innocently.
"Nothing," Remus lies, and his eyes meet yours testily.
You take a long gulp of the amber liquid. "Nothing," you agree.
She falls asleep in the Gryffindor Common Room one day, and everyone's gone to bed and James is nowhere to be found.
You tuck the fallen strands of hair behind her ear. Her beauty, it consumes you and your thoughts and everything you've ever known. And now all you'll ever be sure of is the scent of her perfume and the feel of her lips against your cheek.
"Why couldn't it have been me?" you ask no one in particular.
But you know that you would never be worthy of her.
When you graduate she holds your hand.
Well, not really, but as you climb into the carriage, following behind Remus and Sirius, she grabs your hand and spins you around and pulls you into a hug that's the closest to heaven you'll ever get. "It's over, it's really over," she breathes, and you want to stay in her touch forever.
"Lily, I — "
Then James appears and you're forgotten, again.
You get the invitation to the wedding and you almost don't want to go.
You brood in darkness and silence for a week, eating everything in the refrigerator in your flat and not going out unless you're in rat form.
But in the end you go, and stand by your friends as groomsmen, and you watch what could've been you happen to someone else. (But you know that, you're only kidding yourself, she would never look at you that way because, I mean, have you looked into a mirror?)
Because you're a coward, that's what you are. A coward.
And that's what you'll always be.
The searing pain in your left forearm, the fright of the Dark Lord's voice in your head, the satisfaction when a life ends with a point of your wand.
It all helps you to forget her more than anything else ever did.
Sirius comes to you, almost sobbing and desperate and in a state of panic.
"Wormtail — Peter — You've got to help me, please," he says so brokenly, and you listen to his words.
You consider it — the benefits of it, the things that might go wrong. The things that you could do. To make it go wrong, that is.
But mainly you think of the colour of her eyes, and the way she's so graceful she almost floats, and the way that you haven't seen her in so long of a while and how you miss the way she'd say your name and squeeze your fingers and kiss your cheek —
You agree, if not for her, but for yourself.
You imagine her before you go to the Dark Lord.
What will be lost.
Those round leafy eyes. That thick, auburn hair. Those freckles, dotting her face. That breathtaking smile. And how you'll miss her, more than anything. More than anyone. And how you long to hear her say your name — "Peter, Peter" — just one more time, just so that you can imagine it for the rest of your life.
And then you think of James. Perfect James. James, who owns the heart that you had wanted. James, who had shoved you into the background for his own personal desires.
You don't think twice after that.
You regret it, but you'd never admit it.
And when you remember her, when you wish to go back and change everything —
You think of how unworthy you are of her. How below her you are. And you tell yourself that, even if you'd gone back, she'd never fall for a loathsome creature like you.
It doesn't stop you from loving her, not ever, though.