For the Prompts, oh, Prompts thread on NGF.
prompts: looking glass, tulip, cacophony, yuletide
song: eleanor rigby – the beatles
warning: this contains cousincest and strong allusions to an eating disorder. do not read if this offends you/could potentially be a trigger.
wait at the window
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? — The Beatles
"Do you ever think about how all of this is going to be gone one day?"
Picture Lily, lying flat out on the grass in the field by their house, star shaped. Her hair is a curtain of blood against the pure green of the plants beneath their bodies. Louis lies next to her, looking something of an angel beside her devil though he's far from perfect himself.
Louis is thinking of stars and tulips and snow speckled sky at yuletide. He is not thinking about Lily's fingers splayed across the small of his back and devil eyes and secretive smirks. He is thinking of sunsets and lovers and the feeling of sand as it runs through his fingers. He is not thinking of alcohol and smoke rings and how Lily has the city skyline running through her veins.
"No," he lies.
It's all he thinks about. All he ever thinks about.
Lily blinks at the postcard blue sky. Innocence. Her hand finds his and he is not thinking about how her fingers fit there better than anyone else's. She's bathed in white today. A floaty white dress, curling around her knees. White sandals, her toes pointed at the sky. A white ring that bites into his finger as she clutches him hard.
Louis thinks she must be trying to prove a point.
"Well," says Lily, all matter of fact. "I think you're lying."
And, yeah. That's something he does a lot.
Picture Lily, standing in tiny shorts and a sparkling black top in the middle of a London alleyway with the dustbins at her back and the patterns of bricks eating her up. Her arms are crossed and her eyes are narrowed. She tilts her chin defiantly; he knows he's not getting away until he gives in or gives up. But both seem to mean the same thing these days anyway.
Louis is thinking of mountains and cabins and hot springs in the summer. He is not thinking of his fingers pressing frantically on Lily's wrists and the paper white of her skin and the way he could count her ribs if he wanted. He is thinking of cityscapes and panoramas and a camera clutched firmly in his hands. He is not thinking about lipstick and the sound of teeth clacking and the burning urge he has to kiss his cousin.
He steps towards her, hesitant. Her lips gleam artificial red in the flickering dim streetlight and as he approaches her, they curve up into a smirk. He tilts his head and she doesn't meet him halfway. She presses her mouth to his quickly, her heat blazing through him as he allows himself just to go with it, to indulge her. Making it seem like it's all Lily's fault is just one of the many ways he has of dealing with it.
She tastes like stale cigarettes and bitter alcohol but he doesn't pull away. He grips her wrists (he can wrap his fingers around them so easily; she's so thin, so thin) and tugs her closer.
In the morning, he'll pretend he doesn't remember a thing.
"I want to be beautiful."
Picture Lily, hanging over a dirty toilet bowl in a club God knows where with the music pressing in on her from either side. The bass line throbs through him, sending vibrations down to the tips of his fingers. The bathroom is empty except from them and a couple fucking five cubicles down. The fluorescent light illuminates her skin in all the wrong places.
He sits down on the stained white tiles and makes himself as small as he can. Lily's shoulders shake and part of him wants to get up and leave her here alone. But his mother raised him to be a gentleman so he stays. He stays because staying is the only thing he knows how to do any more.
"Stop looking at me," says Lily. He pretends not to hear her voice cracking over the words. "I can't do it with you staring."
"Then don't," says Louis.
Lily laughs at that, cold and hard, and he shivers. She just keeps laughing until he realises that somewhere along the way her laughter turned into tears and shit, she's crying and Louis doesn't have a fucking clue what to do now.
"I just want to be beautiful," she says again but this time it's strangled by sobs. It sounds bitter and twisted coming from her lips and Louis can see her spine from here, can count the ridges, can feel the smooth bones running into one another and arching as, fuck, she shoves her fingers down her throat and cries.
"Don't leave me," she chokes out. "Don't ever leave me."
And Louis wants to say, "I wish you wouldn't do this to yourself," and, "Can't you see you're destroying us both?" and, "You're fucking beautiful," but he never does.
He just stays and hopes that could maybe be enough for her.
"I hate magic."
Picture Lily, cross legged on the carpet of his bedroom with her wand in her hand. She mutters spells under her breath and butterflies slip out of the end of the instrument, followed by showers of sparks and wispy animals made from grey smoke.
"Why?" Louis dares to ask.
"It's too convenient," she tells him, tossing her wand aside like it's a toy. "You can have everything you want at the tip of your fingers in seconds with magic. It makes everything so much easier." She waves a hand in the air. "It makes us forget to appreciate what we have, you know?" Her lips part in a sigh. "I want to work for things. I want blood and tears and piss and vomit and I want to fucking feel every single thing I have. Fuck being a witch. Muggles have the right idea."
He leans over and kisses her and says, "Do you feel me?"
Against him, she says, "I do."
"Look at all the lonely people."
Picture Lily, all smudged mascara (she caught Scorpius kissing Dominique again, like no one saw it coming) and bitten lips. Louis feels more and more like he's staring at her through a looking glass lately, mirroring her movements and he's never close enough. He sees splayed fingers on a transparent surface and thinks he would like to slip in between the cracks in her flaking smile and convince himself that they're all going to be just fine.
"Paul McCartney had the right idea," she says.
It's another club because Lily says it's the only place she feels safe anymore. Something about the fluorescent lighting and the scent of sex in the air and the fact that everybody's looking but no one's really seeing. It's another bathroom with the music pulsing through his knees on the hard tiled floor.
"I'm Eleanor Rigby," she says before leaning over the toilet bowl again.
Picture Lily, spread out on the floor with her head tilted back, smirking like she's not bothered by protruding hipbones and stark blue veins winding down the curves of her wrists. She looks at Louis, challenging him to ask. He knows she loves it when he asks her questions.
This time, he does not reply. He is thinking about children's novels and paperbacks and steady words on white pages that offer more comfort than he could ever give. He is not thinking about the shadows beneath her eyes and the mocking slant of her mouth and the shiver that runs through him at her electric touch.
"Cacophony," Lily repeats. "It describes us."
"Yeah?" he asks.
"Yeah." She looks at him and Louis thinks the devil has bright green eyes and matchstick arms. "It means disharmony." She waits for him to say something else but the reply she's looking for never comes. Smoothly, she presses on with, "You and me, we're the sound you get when you slam your hands onto a piano. We're the sound of London traffic, horns and yelling and revving engines." He swears that's regret tingeing her voice. "We're a bit of a mess."
"Yeah," says Louis. He's not thinking about Lily, Lily, Lily. "Yeah, we're a bit of a mess."
"Run away with me."
Picture Lily, wide-eyed and desperate with blown pupils and bleeding fingertips. She's crying, saying, "Please," and, "Let's just go," and, "They'll never find us." It sounds like a promise. It sounds like a threat too. Saying, "I need to get out of here," and, "I can't handle this anymore."
Louis just shakes his head.
"I can't," is all he says.
"You fucking can." She grabs at his hand. "I need you to come with me, Louis. I need you to fix me. You make me feel beautiful. You make me feel alive."
He wants to tell her how she's not living, she's just living a series of episodes with each frame bursting into colour and then fading out into the next with a roar of sound. He wants to tell her that she's so wrapped up in destroying herself that she can't see how she's destroying him. He wants to tell her she fucks up him worse than anyone he's ever known, but he can't.
"I just can't," he says, and he's not sure what he's replying to.
Picture Lily, her face all over the Daily Prophet – HARRY POTTER'S DAUGHTER MISSING – they couldn't even have come up with a catchier title, Louis thinks bitterly as he tosses the paper aside. His mind is imprinted with splashes of black text declaring things like PRESUMED DEAD and PERSONAL STRUGGLES and, well, shit.
What Louis hates is the acidic taste of regret on his tongue as he watches the picture of her laughing on the front of the paper.
What Louis hates is the fact that he could have done something about it, could have fixed her, but just staying was never enough – she needed more and he couldn't give that to her. (He tells himself it's not his fault.)
But what Louis hates the most is the sick sense of relief that floods him every time he realises he'll never have to spend another night in a dingy public toilet, holding back her hair.
He slams his hands onto his mother's piano and whispers something about beauty, something about secrets, something about how all of this is going to be gone one day.
He says it aloud, tells himself it doesn't matter, but it doesn't make him feel any better.
It burns him from the inside out is what it does.
They find her in a shitty hotel in some run down town miles from London. That's all over the papers too. Headlines like HARRY POTTER'S DAUGHTER DEAD – and shit, don't try too hard, Louis thinks bitterly as he tosses the paper aside.
Louis is thinking of cigarettes and fields and throbbing bass lines. He is not thinking of knives and blood and dull green eyes. He is thinking of beauty and bones and pressing kisses into the ridges of Lily's spine. He is not thinking of wrists and vomit and stained carpets. He is not thinking of who Lily is. He is thinking of who he wished she was. Who he always wished she was.
That proved fatal, in the end.
He goes to the funeral and listens to a speech about living life to the fullest and thinks it's all bullshit. He gets up and leaves halfway through because Lily wouldn't stand for this man feeding lies about the life she lived. These people here, they know nothing. They don't know the secrets that Louis does: the feel of Lily's hair threaded through his fingers as he held it back from her face, the angle she held a cigarette at and the laugh she gave him when he told her it was going to kill her, the feel of her mouth on his neck, whispering riddles into his skin.
Three days later, he stands by her gravestone and doesn't speak a word.
The trees rustle behind him and he swears he hears the faintest whisper of, "I'm Eleanor Rigby," and then –