It was a beautiful starry night. There were no clouds to mask the valiant moon, which was full and high in the sky. A light breeze whistled along the path.
Regulus held Lily close to him, allowing the warmth of his body to course through her. Lily didn't know where he was leading her, but she had a bad feeling about it.
“Um, Regulus?” She murmured, unable to stand not knowing any longer.
He looked down into her striking green eyes. “Yes?”
“Where exactly are we going?”
He smiled at her. “You’ll see soon enough.”
She didn’t like the arrogent tone of his voice. It was giving her unpleasant vibes.
At last Regulus stopped, pulling Lily to a halt as well.
For the first time since they’d begun their walk, Lily looked around.
A beautiful lake perched in a plush green setting greeted her eyes. The moon projected itself openly on the surface of the lake, as if it were the most beautiful thing in all the universe…
Lily knew it wasn’t, however. The most beautiful thing in the universe was something she had ruined for herself a long time ago. The most beautiful thing in the universe was the pair of hazel eyes that had looked at her so lovingly a mere summer back. The most beautiful thing in the world was deep sound of his laughter, the soft light on his hair. No, in comparison to those things, the moon was but a speck of dust in the wind; small, insignificant.
She sighed, thinking of how James had held her in his strong arms, cradling her as gently as if she were made of glass. He would stroke her hair and tell her how much she meant to him. How much he loved her.
Love means nothing anymore, she reminded herself bitterly. Love leads only to heartbreak. Nothing good ever becomes of it.
Lily shivered in the cool night air. Regulus held her closer, but she stepped out of his embrace. She didn’t want to be here- or anywhere else for that matter- right now.
“Well?” Regulus started, looking at her. “What do you think? Isn’t it beautiful?”
Lily looked out at the lake and shrugged. “Yeah, sure. Regulus, can I be honest with you?”
Regulus nodded and said, “Alright.” He paused, and then suddenly pointed to the sky. “Look, Lily. It’s Serpentis, the snake.” He was referring to the large constellation that played out above them.
Lily barely glanced at it. The more she thought about James, the more she didn’t care.
“Regulus, can we just go? Now that I’m out here, the only place I want to be is home.”
“In a minute, okay? I want to look for a few more constellations.” Regulus said, scanning the sky. “I can see Ophiuchus and-” Regulus was interrupted by a small pop nearby.
Voices could be heard coming closer.
“Uh, Regulus, maybe we’d better go. I think we’re intruding on another couple’s sp-” Lily stopped cold.
Standing only a few feet away, the object of her obsession, of her agony, was talking with none other than Bellatrix Lestrange.
“Oh…my…God…” Lily muttered, a hand covering her mouth. She took a staggering step backward.
She was staring into the shocked eyes of none other than James Potter.
All the memories of their time together came flooding back to her mind, as vividly as if it had all happened yesterday. She could remember every happy moment the two had shared, every kiss, every “I love you.” The memories were more than she could stand.
She took another step back and Regulus caught her by the shoulders.
To her surprise, she caught a glimpse of the same misery she always felt now reflected in James’s eyes. As soon as he saw her, though, the misery melted into a mixture of emotions.
“Lily…” He whispered.
“James…” She murmured back. She reached out, needing to touch him, make sure he was real, but Regulus caught her hand and clasped it.
“Bellatrix, my dear, it’s been so long. How have you faired?”
Bellatrix’s hand alighted softly on James’s shoulder.
“Very well, as a matter of fact. It’s nice to see you, Regulus.”
“Likewise.” Lily jerked her hand away from Regulus’s and took a faltering step toward James. She stumbled.
James took a step toward her as well.
“Come back, Lily. He’s not worth your time.” Regulus called to her.
Sighing, she got up and walked back to him, though she didn't want to do so.
“That’s right, James, you don’t need her.” Bellatrix said, a triumphant edge in her voice. James took a reluctant step back.
Regulus faced Lily, observing her. Her eyes revealed the pain she was so greatly trying to mask. Her trembling hands told him that she hadn’t been expecting this.
He put his hands on her shoulders. “Lily, listen to me. It’s time to stop living like a corpse. It’s time for you to start breathing again. Do you understand me? It’s time to let go.”
Lily’s eyes filled with tears that refused to fall. “I can’t, Regulus. You don’t understand! I can’t!”
Bellatrix turned to James. “James, there’s no better time like the present. Let her go.”
“Bella, you don’t know…Hell, you don’t know…” He trailed off, dragging a hand through his hair.
Bellatrix looked up at the sky for a moment. “I think I do know…”
Lily glanced over at her just in time to see the flash of metal.
James stood, frozen in fear. “Bella- what are you doing, Bella?”
Her eyes glimmered for an instant as she drew the dagger from her sleeve and held it near him.
“James, have you ever wanted something so badly that you could taste it? Something that you wanted, but couldn’t have because someone was standing in your way?”
James tried to take a step away from her, but found himself frozen in place. “Bella, you don’t know what you’re doing…Bella, put that down.” Terror clawed at his throat.
Lily willed her feet to move, to go toward James, but found that she too was unable to do so. But why?
And then Regulus did something that utterly repulsed her. He leaned in and kissed her. How inappropriate! Didn’t he know what Bellatrix was doing? Didn’t he see?
He broke away. “Forget about them, Lily. Forget about anything but us.”
Lily shook her head, suddenly feeling light headed. “You’re crazy! Regulus, do you have ears? Can’t you hear them?”
Bellatrix took the dagger in her hand and pressed it against James’s throat. “A whole year of planning, James. A whole year of waiting. You have no idea what I’ve been though… you’ve been so caught up in your grief, of course you haven’t noticed…”
Trying to stay calm, James murmured, “I haven’t noticed what?”
Bellatrix’s eyes flashed. “You haven’t noticed how you’ve changed. We used to hate each other, James. Hasn’t it occurred to you how odd it is that we’re suddenly sleeping in the same bed?” She shook her head. “Of course not. You have no sense of logic.”
“Bellatrix, what the hell are you talking about?” The knots in James’s stomach began to tighten. What was she saying?
“I’m talking about the drastic change in your personality. Think about it.”
James took a moment to ponder. He thought about what he had done over the past year, which hadn’t been much. He had spent it mostly moping and getting in bed with Bellatrix. Never once had he gotten out and played Quidditch. Never once had he smiled genuinely. He hadn’t even seen Sirius in the last year! Bloody hell…
“What could have caused you to act that way? What could have caused you change so suddenly?”
The question caught James off guard. Was she hinting at something? He racked his brains. He knew a few curses and potions that could change a person’s personality in some way, shape, or form, but surely…surely…
“Bellatrix, you sure as hell didn’t put me under the damn Imperius. No damn way in Hell.” His blood grew hot in his veins. There was no way…
Slowly Bellatrix nodded. “You’re pretty smart for a dimwit. But there’s more. Do you remember when you went to the bar after Lily broke your heart?”
James nodded. He remembered as if it had been yesterday.
“I might have slipped something into your butterbeer. It would explain a lot about your suddenly attraction to me.”
A love potion…Bloody hell…she used a potion to get him to like her… “Why, Bell? Why would you do it? And…and how?”
The full impact of her words hit him with brutal force. He was under the Imperius…oh, god…that explained a lot of things…
“The Dark Lord has granted me power beyond belief in turn for my service. With it, I was able to curse you merely by touching you. Why am I doing this? Because, James, the Dark Lord has seen the future, and knows that out of you and her,” She glanced at Lily, “will come one strong enough to overpower him. He’s not willing to take that chance, and neither am I.”
Lily shot Bellatrix a glare. “Don’t you dare…”
“And what are you going to do about it, Lily?” Regulus asked her, the same smug look playing at his face that he’d worn earlier.
“Regulus, shut up!” She said, furious. She knew that she and James had probably both been dosed with the love potion and the Imperius curse, and frankly, she didn’t give a damn about whatever Regulus was trying to say.
“I don’t think you’re in the position to be talking to me that way, Lily. I could kill you right here, right now. All it would take would be two simple words.”
Lily took in a deep breath. She knew the words he was referring to. Avada Kadavra. They had studied the spell briefly in Defense Against the Dark Arts class back at Hogwarts.
“You wouldn’t dare…”
“Would you bet your life on that assumption?”
Lily swallowed hard, knowing the answer was not the one she wanted.
Bellatrix pressed the dagger ever closer to James’s throat. At this point the moon was at its peak in the sky. “It’s time…”