DEUS EX MACHINA

Rating: M (For Language)
Author: Queen Nightingale
Pairing: JPLE


Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors.

But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.

- Khalil Gibran


She met him when she was eleven years old. She met him at a strange point in her life. She met him when he was too young.

The storybooks always write about the boy chasing after the girl – the beautiful, headstrong boy with a passionate eye for romance – running, running, running, tearing up the ground with his Nikes or Reebox or expensive shoes, his pallid white skin sweating slightly in the pursuit of potential amour. Love. Or more realistically – sex.

It's always the boy zipping after the girl, hidden behind the blatant misogynist stereotypes of wild bulls fighting each other for the prettiest female cow, alpha male wolves picking their mates out of all the bitches, even cocks strutting their stuff in front of henhouses.

The passive, pathetically neutral women, preening in front of bathing houses, dabbing their wrists with florid lavender or bergamot or mint – the dull, idiotic women, impressed with the stereotypical gestures of cheap flowers or chocolates or ... teddy bears – the insipid, vapid women who crave kisses in the rain and whirlwind dresses and boys on motorcycles in Paris. The culturally conditioned women – who pretend to want romance but really want assimilation.

Lily was not one of them.


She never talked to him until she was fourteen, maybe fifteen years old. It was ten o'clock at night – which was considered late when you're that beautiful, youthful age of fragile – and she was out in front of the herbology greenhouses, trying to smoke on an illicit ciggy with Marlene, who fingered her green lighter with the anticipation of a heroin addict.

"What side do we smoke?"

"Goddamit it Lily, I don't know, you're the one who reads all the books."

"They never say if it's the orange or the white!"

"Handle it carefully, goddamn, don't drop it – Merlin's balls Lily, look what you've done now."

Lily looked up from her position squatting in front of Marlene, anxiously trying to brush dirt off their precious muggle souvenir. Marlene glowered at her, and she nervously pushed her red hair behind her ear.

"It's fine, it's fine. Just a little bit brown, that's all."

There was loud, raucous cackling coming from around the corner, and both girls froze.

"Fucking hell," Marlene said, whispering, grabbing Lily and pulling her against the wall, both of them nervously prostrate against the greenhouse wall, "This is all your stupid idea anyways."

"How is this my idea? I've never even gotten detention!"

"That's not something to be proud of, you nerd, and this is all your idea because you're the one who swiped it from your goddamn uncle's coat pocket, not me."

"Well I'm sorry," Lily whispered back furiously, her red hair drooping in front of her face, "Next time I'll just keep it all for myself then!"

"Oh shut up, goddammit."

Two figures swerved in front of where the girls were stiffly leaning against the greenhouse.

"Evans? McKinnon? What the bloody hell?"

Lily weakly smiled as Marlene stiffened.

"'Allo Potter, Black."


It was their second last year, and she was sitting by the side of the table at the Ball, counting her stars (or dance tickets, whichever you may).

And he was standing at the other side of the room, and she was trying not to look up, her knuckles white and throbbing as she massaged them in her lap, but then she looked up and he wasn't even glancing at her, he was blatantly flirting with some Hufflepuff broad who looked fantastic in a gold dress, and she was looking down again and her heart was in her throat and her head was pounding and she closed her eyes and leaned back.

And then her feet were moving beyond her control and she was in front of her and him, third-wheeling like a pro, and she knew she would come off as annoying and drab but she couldn't seem to stop, she missed him even though he was just steps away, and he was turning to her with a wry grin on her face and the Hufflepuff was judging her with a long stare and both of their eyes were questioning.

"Hi."

His face morphed into a question mark. The Hufflepuff looked equally bemused and irritated. Up close the other girls eyelashes were exceptionally long, and in your head you regretted even coming to visit.

"I'm having a little bit of trouble with the ballot counting for the free-wand-draw by Ollivanders."

"Just make sure to mark them for each person who submitted a ticket." His voice was bemused but also patronizing. Shooing her away.

She nodded, biting her lip, and then fled.


You like this love story because it's perfect, isn't it?

Isn't that the reason why you read Lily/James? Because in the stories they're all the same – or relatively the same – filled with the idea of a nerdy, bookish but fierce girl (who is also strangely beautiful) who somehow manages to make a ridiculously popular, attractive boy fall in love with her. Chase her around a little bit. Startle some solar eclipses out of her mouth. Or nose, or general nasal cavity.

Imagine this setting. You're at school, or university, or college, or work – and you know this girl. An absolute brat. Totally bitch – complete slag, excuse our language. Loads of duck-face photos plastered online. All the boys want her, just as in high school all the girls want the douchebags.

There's this nerdy, bookish but fierce boy sitting in the back of the room, and somehow he manages to make her fall head over heels for purely his attractiveness value (which is strange, since he's a quote-unquote nerd). Then she stomps around a bit and gets off-put by the nerdy boy's refusal to date her right away – which is strange in a society based only off of looks. Eventually they get married after a great squalid, passionate affair with lots of squawking and screaming.

Unrealistic. Pathetic. Sad.

And yet you think you can relate to Lily?

You don't read Lily/James because you crave a love story. You read Lily/James because you crave attention.


She's crying now, all on the floor. It's messy, too – the type of tears that only come from the collapse of a soul – lots of mucus, lots of redness, lots of burning cheeks and salty wounds.

Marlene's arms are around her shoulders, and she's gently stroking the back of her hair.

"I don't understand why he doesn't look at me, or like me, or give me a chance."

It's erupting out of her, like boils or acne.

"It's like he doesn't know that I exist."

"Goddammit Lily, he's just a bloody asshole. He's just a popular douchebag."

"But he's not cruel!"

"He is, lovely. Everyone says so."

"Then why do I know that it's not true when I don't even know him?" And she's shouting, and her eyes are red and burning, and Marlene's scooting back and the dresser to their right is starting to shake.

"Calm down, goddamit Lily!"

"It's not just fucking hormones, I swear to you! It's not just the way that he looks!"

And she turns and glances back at Marlene, who is looking at her with a wry grin on her face.

"Yes it is."

"It's not! It can't be!"

"Lily, Lily," Marlene says quietly, moving back closer to her, "The biggest lie fed to us by the media is the idea of a romantic comedy. It makes girls go mad and boys go desperate. Most people who get married – they do fall in love – but it's not fated to be, it's not wild and torrid and dangerous. You can go crazy, goddamit, craving a thing like that."

And now she's searching for words, stumbling through the piles of sentences chaining her heart to her chest.

"It's not that, Marlene."

"What is it then, Lily? Because right now you're just another girl who likes James Potter because your hormones are telling you to because – it's true – he is attractive."

"It's not the looks, I don't find him sexually attractive."

"There are hundreds and thousands of boys and girls out there right now – being matchmade together. Nobody's a fucking unique snowflake. Soulmates happen to maybe one in a billion. And in the wizarding world, there are maybe one in a century. I don't think James Potter is the one for you, and I certainly don't think he's your soulmate."

"I'm not sitting here right now," she says, the words bursting out, hiccups in between her letters, gasps in between her veins, "Crying over a boy who I want to hook up with."

"Then what are you doing?"

"Defying the fucking, goddamn world."


You like this love story because it's perfect, isn't it?

Isn't that the reason why you read Lily/James? Because in the stories they're all the same – or relatively the same – filled with the idea of a nerdy, bookish but fierce girl (who is also strangely beautiful) who somehow manages to make a ridiculously popular, attractive boy fall in love with her. Chase her around a little bit. Startle some solar eclipses out of her mouth. Or nose, or general nasal cavity.

Imagine this setting. You're at school, or university, or college, or work – and you know this girl. An absolute brat. Totally bitch – complete slag, excuse our language. Loads of duck-face photos plastered online. All the boys want her, just as in high school all the girls want the douchebags.

There's this nerdy, bookish but fierce boy sitting in the back of the room, and somehow he manages to make her fall head over heels for purely his attractiveness value (which is strange, since he's a quote-unquote nerd). Then she stomps around a bit and gets off-put by the nerdy boy's refusal to date her right away – which is strange in a society based only off of looks. Eventually they get married after a great squalid, passionate affair with lots of squawking and screaming.

Unrealistic. Pathetic. Sad.

And yet you think you can relate to Lily?

You don't read Lily/James because you crave a love story. You read Lily/James because you believe in the impossible – something so undefinable, so cataclysmic that the setting, the characters, and the protagonists are irrelevant. You read Lily/James because a stereotypical love story is the best kind of love story, because the underdog should always win, and because – at the end of the day – you believe somewhere out there – in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nepal, Russia, Siberia, Canada, the US, Mexico, Australia – maybe not to you, maybe not to your sister – but in a population of 6 billion, at least two souls are destined to become one. And they will defy the fucking world – and more importantly, they will defy themselves.


"I know you."

She turns towards him, her chin resting on the carpet where they are sprawled out. It's their last year at Hogwarts.

He's smiling up at the red and gold ceiling in their common room, his black hair all messy and full of static in the periphery of her vision.

"Pardon?" she asks, sleepily.

"I knew, you know. Before we even ever hung out. I just knew, deep down in my bones when I met you, that you were me."

"I was you?"

"Yes. Just in a different form, with a slightly different temperament and obviously a different body." He chuckles. "It's the way that we click, you know?"

She's silent for a bit, propping herself up on her elbow and fingering a strand of his hair between her fingers.

"I know."

"Have you ever heard of the latin phrase deus ex machina?"

"No."

He sits up suddenly, and grabs her hands.

"The direct English translation is 'God out of the machine'. It came originally from when they used to write plays – oh I don't know, bloody hell, it was either the Greeks or the Romans. Basically back then, they used to write really fucking complex plays, right? No proper plot development or anything, a lot of love and death and murders. When the plot would become completely twisted and unsolvable – like nothing could ever be resolved – they used to get a muggle crane, attach an actor to it, and drop him onto the scene."

She reaches forward and wraps her arms around his neck.

Then she cries.