Chapter 12 : Denial, Distraction, and Death
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Denial, Distraction, and Death
“Hmm?” he turned to look over at Lily as she sat on the couch, staring at the fire. “What is it, Lily?”
She didn’t look at him, she didn’t have the will to. “Thanks.”
“Don’t thank me. Someone needed to be there for you,” James shrugged.
It was the sixteenth of February, and Lily was exempt from all classes. She stayed in the dormitory and refused to let anyone see her, expect for Becky and James. She’d cried herself out, and had nothing left. James spent his lunches with her, even though it meant running a relay race to get to and from classes. He looked at it as extra exercises for Quidditch. Lily was dressed in red flannel pajama bottoms and a gray hoodie sweater. Her hair was pulled back in a messy bun, and she had her feet curled under her in her armchair. The House Elfs brought up her meals, and in fact she wasn’t eating it.
“Please eat, Lily,” James asked again.
“Damn it, how often do I say please to anyone?” James asked. “I don’t. But I am for you. Please! Lily you need to eat.”
James sighed, frustrated. “Will a bribe work?”
“Are you capable of saying anything other than ‘no’?”
“Really?” asked James, now finding it almost amusing.
“Are you female?”
“Shut up,” she muttered.
“Ah! She speaks! Speak again, my angel!” James said dramatically.
She glanced at him. “It’s speak again bright angel. You butchered the line.”
He shrugged. “My version is better.” Lily gave a small noise not unlike a short laugh. “I’m not leaving till you eat, Lily.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel bad?” she asked. “You’d be getting out of class.”
“Actually, I’d be failing. And my career as an Auror will be nonexistent because I’ll miss class and fail. And it’ll all be your fault and then you’ll feel horrible,” James nodded. “Oh yes, I’ll be a bum living on the streets bumming dope off hippies to live on and it’s all going to be your fault.”
“No, it will,” James said. “Do you know why?”
She sighed, rubbing her red eyes. “Why, James?”
“Because you didn’t eat your sandwich, that’s why I’ll be a bum surviving on crack. Mmhm.”
“What if I ate a bloody sandwich, then?” asked Lily tiredly. “What would happen then?”
“Then there would be the slightest chance in all the world that I just might not be a bum living on cocaine,” said James. “And it wouldn’t entirely be your fault. Only mostly.”
“Aye aye, captain,” Lily muttered, reaching and grabbing a sandwich.
She bit it, and James let out a war victory chant, cheering, “Hurrah! I shan’t be a bum living on marijuana!!”
“For Christ’s sake, you’ve changed the drug four times, pick one!” Lily said through a full mouth.
James stopped mid war chant, face falling. “They’re different drugs? I thought they were the same...”
Lily rolled her eyes helplessly. “No James, they’re different.”
He sat back down, looking shunned. There was silence for a while, as Lily slowly chewed her tuna sandwich, staring at the flames. The past two days had been hard on her. She was barely eating or sleeping. The guilt was eating her alive. She couldn’t help but feel that in some way, their death was her fault.
Suddenly, she felt the tears welling up, and dropped her sandwich. She bit back the misery as hard as she could, but tears started rolling. James looked over, then jumped up from his chair. He hurried over and sat on the arm of the chair. He gently pulled her into his lap, sliding down into the chair to give them both more room. Lily was rigid in his grasp for a moment, before letting herself sink into him and cry.
“It’s okay, Lily,” James said softly. “Let it all out...”
She shook there for a moment, shaking her head and trying to stop the tears. “I won’t!”
“It’s the only way you’ll feel any better,” James said softly.
“You don’t understand!” Lily whispered. “There’s no possible way for you to understand!”
“I’m trying, Lily!” James said. “I’m trying as hard as I can to help you and you’re pushing me away!”
Suddenly Lily was forcibly reminded of Sirius. You’re damn good at that, you know it... Walking out on people. You’ve done it all your life without meaning to. Or maybe you do. But you do.... You’ve walked out on James plenty and you know it.
She shook her head, trying not to hear his accusing voice in her head any longer. “I’m not!”
“I’m trying to help you, Lily,” James repeated, staring down at her. “Please. Let me help you.”
Lily could feel the need in his voice, as if her pain was affecting him somehow. His blue eyes were shining behind his glasses, and he gently wiped off her cheeks. James shook his head.
“Maybe you were right, Lily. Maybe we were never meant to be friends. Friends help each other.”
She shook her head, clasping her hands over her ears. “I don’t! Stop saying that!”
Lily wasn’t paying attention, though, she was too busy trying to stop the tears and Sirius’ voice in her head. She took a shuddering breath, feeling the tears stream down her face. “I never knew truth hurt so much.”
James was momentarily at a loss for what to say. Then he smiled and shrugged. “I figured that out the first time you slapped me.”
Lily turned to stare up at him, and choked out a laugh. He smiled softly, wiping the tears from her cheeks. She breathed in deeply, managing a small smile.
“What were the countless other times for, then?”
James grinned and shrugged. “Good measure, I guess.”
“I’m sorry....” Lily said.
She leaned closer and gently kissed him. James was in shock for a moment, before he pulled away, blue eyes wide in surprise. Lily looked surprised, too, it showed in her glassy green eyes.
There was a silence as they stared at each other.
“No,” James repeated himself, shaking his head. “Not now. Not when you’re not right yet.”
“No, Lily, you’re not,” James said softly. “You’re not thinking right.”
“Of course I am!” Lily said. “I’m fine.”
“No, Lily,” James said, lifting her off his lap and onto the chair, standing. “You’re not. You think you are, but you’re a wreck. I don’t want you to do things you’ll regret later.”
She stared at him in hurt disbelief, as he picked up his bags and nudged the plate of sandwiches a little closer to her. James smiled wanly.
“Remember, if you don’t eat, I’ll be a drugged up bum.”
He turned and walked out, just as the bell rang. Lily watched him go, then seized the plate of sandwiches and hurled it at the portrait door as it closed. Letting out an anguished cry as the plate shattered and fell, Lily sank onto the warm hearth rug and started crying at the unfairness of it all.
James felt an odd sensation rippling through his body as he left the common room. Why? He knew her actions had been out of desperation to make herself forget her grief. Unbeknownst to Lily and all other life forms, James had taken to stalking the Muggle section of the Library at night, particularly the psychology shelves. He’d even dared to check some out from Madam Pince, the stuffy, middle aged woman that loved the books like they were men.
Shaking that thought out of his head, James forced himself to think about Lily. Days ago that would have been an easy chore, but now he didn’t want to. He didn’t desire to imagine her in his head anymore, because the Lily he saw now and the Lily he used to were two different people entirely. The old Lily was collected, smart, knew what to do and say. The old Lily smiled at stupid jokes and blundering mistakes he made, just because they were friends.
The new Lily was broken and knew only pain. This Lily wouldn’t let him in to help her, which he so desperately wanted to. He and Becky had gotten closer to her than anyone in the past forty eight hours, but they’d never been farther away.
James sighed, ruffling his hair in thought. He knew that it was only a matter of time before the nasty note from her sister would come, resolutely inviting her to her parent’s funeral. He just prayed to god that he was there when that note came. He’d seen Becky try to comfort Lily. He’d seen the desperation in Rebecca Smith’s eyes to make he friend stop hurting. But Lily was rigid and cold, didn’t even respond when Becky tried to draw her into idle conversation. And it was then that James had realized.
Somehow, he was all Lily had left.
Shaking his head, James sighed. Lily needed to let him help her in order for her to ever mourn properly. She was bottling it up and shutting everyone out, save him in some small way. It was that, then, that told him that he was the only once that could help.
He looked up, seeing Sirius as they both continued towards Charms. “Hey, Padfoot.”
“What’s going on, mate?” Sirius asked as they walked. “Lilis doing any better?”
James shook his head. “Not really. She’s in denial.”
Sirius thought that over. “How can you be in denial about something so... permanent?”
“She’s not in denial about that, Padfoot,” James said. “She’s in denial about grieving.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “She say something?”
“She didn’t say much at all.”
“I got that tone,” Sirius said. “What did she do?”
James cursed himself for emphasizing the word. “Nothing.”
James sighed. “She just... tried to distract herself, that’s all.”
Sirius’ eyebrow went up more, so that it was in danger of getting lost in his slightly curly hair. “Uh-huh.”
“She did!” James said, looking over.
Sirius had an odd smirk on his face. “And what did she doooo, Prongsie?” he sang. James bit back a flush, mumbling. Sirius put a hand to his ear, grinning. “I don’t think I heard you, Prongs.”
“She bloody kissed me, okay?!”
Sirius stopped dead in the middle of the staircase, staring at James with mouth and eyes wide open. “She did what?!”
“Well, we were talking and she was having this kind of mental breakdown,” James said. “She was going on about how she doesn’t push me away. And I really didn’t know what to say, so I made a joke and she sort of lightened up and just.... kissed me.” James faltered to a stop, realizing how very odd all of this must sound. “I pushed her away, though.”
“WHAT!” gasped Sirius. “Why?!”
“Because it wasn’t right!” James said. “I don’t take advantage of people-”
“Snivellus,” Sirius interrupted.
“-Well, him- and especially not girls and especially when her parents died two days ago. It’s not right, Padfoot, and I’m shocked at you for being mad at me.”
James let out a self righteous snort, before turning and leaving Sirius there. He watched his friend go off, then groaned and turned back around and headed up towards Gryffindor Tower to apologize. It was already bad enough that he was going to be late to class, but he has a feeling that Lily was going to be very, very upset with him.
As he opened the common room door, Sirius saw Lily lying on the couch, crying and writing something. He silently walked over, but she saw him.
“Go away,” she hiccuped.
“What’re you doing, Lily?” Sirius asked.
“Writing out my last will and testament,” she sniffed.
He thought. “What’s a will and testament?”
Lily sighed. “It’s a piece of paper people write out assigning people their possessions for after they die!”
“Oh, like a Wizard Issuing of Legal Land and Substances?” Sirius asked.
She stared at him, eyes red and face blank in disbelief. “You moron. The acronym of that is W.I.L.L.”
Sirius thought that over. “Oh I guess it is....”
Lily sighed, wiping off her nose and going back to her will. Sirius came over and glanced at it, before setting down his bags and sitting down. He noticed pointedly the full plate of sandwiches.
“Lily, you’ve got to eat,” he said.
“SHUT UP POTTER!” Lily roared.
Sirius jumped, staring at her. She was definitely loosing it. “Er, that’s Black....”
“WHAT ever! Just leave me alone to die in peace.”
“If you’re trying to starve yourself, that will take about a week,” Sirius said. “It’ll be a long, miserable one.”
He sighed. “Look, I’m sorry, okay?”
“And you should be!” she hissed, finally looking up. Her misery was evident on her face. “Do you know how stupid I felt? How betrayed?”
“He’s doing this because he’s concerned, Lily!” Sirius shouted. “I wasn’t lying! For Christ’s sake, James is trying to prove to you he wants to be your friend!”
“What if I don’t want a friend, Sirius?!” Lily yelled, jumped up. “What if all of this is what you want?! Huh? Huh, Black? What then?!”
He just stared at her, then shook his head. He stood, threw his bag over his shoulder, and walked away. Lily watched him go.
“Who’s walking out on who now, Sirius?” she spat.
He stopped by the portrait hole, turning slowly to look at her. “I’m not walking out on you, Lily. It’s not possible for me to do that to you. Do you know why?”
She stared at him, furious, sad, pained, humiliated, all at the same time. But she did not say anything. Sirius saw this and nodded.
“That’s why. There’s nothing left of you to walk out on. Congratulations, Lily. You killed yourself and there’s nothing left but a shell. You’re nothing but a corpse and only I see it.”
“Shells don’t have broken hearts!” Lily whispered, feeling the tears falling.
Sirius shook his head, opening the portrait door. “Hearts can break after they’ve stopped, Lily. You’re proof of that.”
He turned and left Lily alone, and as the portrait door snapped shut behind him, Lily tore the parchment to shreds.
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