Chapter 1 : The Long Black Veil
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I don't know if this story is any good, it was my first dip into writing any sort of Marauder era fic, and I've never even written a single line for any of the three characters that speak, so I don't know if I got them right. In any case, I did enjoy writing it and anything that is deemed a challenge is time well spent. If you are an all happy James/Lily fan, you might not want to read it, but then again, it might just be a nice surprise for you.
For timeturner, our fearless (and occasionally fearful) leader. Yes, this is considered a form of bribery.
The Long Black Veil
Lily Evans couldn’t sleep. Her entire body was wound-up and all she could think to do was pace back and forth across the small bedroom in her parents house that used to be hers, wringing her shaking hands together, trying to clear the muddled mess that was currently fogging up her mind. Her mother told her it was normal to be so nervous the night before her wedding, but had said that a good night’s sleep would make things better. That little piece of advice didn’t help one bit.
She could barely breathe, let alone calm the torrent in her mind to try and rest. Was this the right thing to do? What if she were making a mistake? Worse, what if James was making a mistake? If he knew the things she had done, if he could feel the knife she had driven into his back, he would never want her, especially not as his wife.
A pang of guilt shot through her as the thoughts continued to swirl around her mind, and the final, most important question came to the forefront; was she making the right choice? She loved James, loved him more than she’d ever loved anything, she was ready and willing to bind her life to his, to be his wife, have his children, and stand by his side for the rest of their lives. Loving James enough to marry him wasn’t in question, that wasn’t what kept her pacing the room that seemed to get smaller with each step she took. It was something else that kept her hands shaking uncontrollably, or rather, it was someone else, someone who managed to influence all of the questions she was asking herself.
The crack of an apparition in her room startled her and with an instinct grown inside those who lived in a time of war, she quickly snatched her wand off her desk and spun, pointing it at the intruder, prepared to defend herself. From the glow of the lamp on her bedside table, she was able to make out his features and breathed a sigh of relief, lowering her wand. Odd that she had just been thinking of him and now here he was.
Her relief was short-lived, however, when she saw the look of hunger on his face. Without even seeming to move, he crossed to her. He kept his body from touching hers, only reaching out to place his hands on her waist. Lily raised her hand and laid it against his chest, intending to put some more room between them, only to lose her resolve when she felt a muscle twitch beneath the thin fabric of his shirt.
“You shouldn’t be here tonight, Sirius,” she quietly told him, trying to be harsh and reproving, only to find her voice sounded more like a breathy whisper. He always seemed to have that effect on her. Shaking her head to forcefully stop such thoughts from forming in her mind, she continued, “Not tonight, you should be with James and … it just seems wrong to see you tonight.”
His grip on her waist tightened slightly before he responded, “Remus and Peter put James to bed an hour ago and arguing the wrongness of seeing me tonight seems pointless, since you’ll see me tomorrow. I’ll be the one standing up the front at the alter, beside the guy you’ll be marrying.”
The moment Sirius finished speaking, he closed the gap between them, pulling her body flush against his and lowering his lips to hers. The kiss was rough, just like the calloused fingers that crept up underneath her sleep-shirt, grazing across her skin and leaving a trail of desire in their wake. Her mind tried to gain control, even as her body responded to him, until she was finally able to break from his lips, a small cry of desperation leaving her throat as she did so.
“No, Sirius, we can’t … not again,” she implored, wanting to pull away from him but not being able to leave the heat of his body, even if the hands on her back hadn’t been almost bruising in their grip. “This has to stop! We can’t keep doing this to James.” Her voice had lowered to barely a whisper as she said her soon-to-be husband’s name.
Sirius lowered his head to her shoulder and growled against her neck, making it clear to Lily that she wasn’t the only one whose guilt and lust were battling for dominance. He lifted his lips to her ear and told her harshly, “I know. I love him, I do. He’s my brother, but you …”
He trailed off and pulled back slightly, lifting a hand out from under her clothes and up to caress her cheek, his eyes conveying everything he had never allowed himself to say to her. When her eyes filled with tears, he kissed her again, slower, gentler than the last time, but with just as much feeling, and perhaps even more passion. She gave herself over to the kiss for a long moment before once again breaking the connection so that she could see his face.
Lily’s tears fell unbidden down her cheeks as she asked, “Why did you come here tonight?”
“I didn’t want to,” said Sirius, his thumb slipping across her face to wipe away a few of her warm tears, while the other hand continued to slowly move over the skin of her back, eliciting a desire in her that she was sure he didn’t mean to. “I just was sitting in the flat thinking about how tomorrow you’ll become his wife.” There was no bitterness in his tone and Lily knew why; because he could never speak such a way when talking of James, despite the situation. Sirius loved him too much. “I know this … whatever it has to stop when you marry him and I just thought …”
Again, he trailed off and this time he took it a step further by releasing her and trying to move away. She knew she should have let him go, she had wanted that physical distance between them, hadn’t she? But instead of watching him walk from her and close himself off, as he tended to do, she caught his arm and pulled him back, asking, “What? What did you think, Sirius?”
He seemed to struggle against the answer for a long moment before he told her, refusing to meet her eyes, “I just thought about how he would have you for the rest of his life and how I’d never get to hold you again. I came here because I wanted … I wanted just one last night of memories with you.”
Lily had never heard him speak so softly, and her heart ached, for more than one reason, as she initiated another kiss between them. This thing she and Sirius had was so unbelievably wrong. They both loved James with all of their hearts, he was the most important person in their lives and yet what they had with each other was unbelievably powerful, so much so that neither of them were able to resist it.
As her tongue gently swept across his and their hands began to memorize each others bodies for the last time, she realized that she wanted this too. She would feel incredibly guilty for it in the morning, she would downright hate herself for it when she was putting on her wedding dress right before she swore her life to another man, but she wanted this so much. Just this one last night with Sirius.
Sirius Black leaned against the bar, waiting for the attendant to bring his next firewhiskey. He had been grinning and laughing all afternoon and all night, careful to make sure that his face showed nothing but complete happiness, not giving anyone who knew him too well enough reason or time to look closely. He knew that if they did, they would probably see that his eyes were a little duller than they should be on such a happy occasion, that most of the spark that usually shone in them was missing.
He couldn’t allow anyone to know that there was an ache in his chest, a gaping hole where his heart had been torn out. This wasn’t a normal state of being for a member of a wedding party, especially not the Best Man. Most Best Men were happy chaps, who told embarrassing tales about their friends during their speech and got blind rotten drunk at the reception. Most Best Men slapped the groom on the back and made unsavoury jokes about the wedding night. Most Best Men gave nothing but their blessing to the happy couple on their wedding day. But then, most Best Men weren’t in love with the bride.
The cover he’d kept all day was slowly fading, so much so that instead of looking for another place to continue the party as the reception began to die down late into the night, he was glad for the end of this particular day, wanting nothing more than to go back to the little flat he shared with Remus and Peter and curl up in his room with nothing but a bottle of firewhiskey to keep him company, finally free to break down.
After spending the morning keeping James from wearing a hole in the carpet, ensuring that everything that should be happening was, that the day would run smoothly, and then making sure that all the groomsmen and the groom especially looked spiffy enough for the wedding, he had stood up beside his best friend in the whole world, a large smile plastered across his face as a vision in white had made her way towards them. Of course, the smile was only covering the fact that there was a hand inside of his body, crushing his insides with an unforgiving grip.
When Sirius had first seen Lily walking down the aisle, his heart had leapt to his throat and for one fleeting moment he allowed himself to fantasize that she was walking towards him, and not James. But even through her veil Sirius could tell that her brilliant emerald eyes were most certainly not focused on him, her gaze was happily locked with that of the bloke beside him.
Through the veil, Sirius had seen her eyes flicker from James to quickly take in the men standing proudly beside him. First she looked towards Peter, who had cleaned up very nicely, then to Remus, who looked better than he had in years, before her gaze finally rested on him for a moment, a few seconds that lasted an eternity to Sirius. And in her happy eyes, he found nothing reflecting what he had seen in them just hours beforehand. No guilt, no pain, and most certainly no love, not for him anyway. Her face was utterly radiant as she looked back to James and it was in that moment, even as his heart broke, that he knew he’d done the right thing just before he’d left her that morning.
The ceremony had been beautiful, a small and private affair that brought a tear to everyone’s eyes. Lily had looked as only a bride can on her wedding day. She had been stunning and from the looks most of the men had been sporting, Sirius wasn’t the only one there who had been thinking about how lucky James was. No other man there, however, had spent the night wrapped up in her arms, and it was those moments that replayed themselves in his head as the couple had said their vows.
Then James had lifted her veil and kissed her. Sirius had focused on the virgin white veil in that moment and had briefly thought that if this day had been about him, black would have been more appropriate. It may have been the happiest day in James and Lily’s lives, but it was his own hearts funeral. He would never love another woman, he never could love another. She had been it for him, but she would never be his. He’d never envied James more.
Guilt at the thought of his best mate made him go cold as the waitress placed his drink in front of him and even the burn of the firewhiskey down his throat couldn’t remove it. It didn’t matter any longer though. It was a burden he would happily shoulder for the rest of his life, in exchange for the sweet memories that the woman in white had left him with.
“Sirius!” He had just been about to ask for another drink when he heard her voice call his name above the din of the crowd and music, as if his thoughts had summoned her.
For a moment, he closed his eyes and gathered his strength, then put a large smile on his face and turned in the direction her call had come from. She was rushing towards him, holding her dress up so she didn’t trip on it as she swiftly moved in his direction, her face seeming to glow from happiness.
Suddenly, she threw her arms around him, hugging him tight. He returned the embrace without a thought, using the moment to take in her scent before realizing what he was doing and pulling away, the smile still on his face. “Had a good day, Lils?”
“Oh, it’s been wonderful,” she gushed, unaware that he was thinking less about how great the day had been and more about how bright her smile was. “James and I are about to leave, he’s saying goodbye to Peter and Remus now. I just wanted to thank you for being such a good friend. I know that it was you working behind the scenes to make this day run so perfectly, keeping James in line.”
Sirius shrugged, “That’s what a Best Man does, isn’t it?” And of course, he’d done the job well. He cared for both her and James more than anything; he wanted their wedding day to be the best it could, despite what it did to him to simply witness the event.
“And there’s no better man than Sirius!” James announced as he came up behind Lily, his arm automatically sliding around her waist, as his other hand reached out and slapped Sirius on the shoulder.
Lily reached up and kissed her new husband’s cheek before giving Sirius another hug of farewell, then taking a step back, to give the men a moment together. Sirius reached forward and pulled his best friend into a back thumping embrace, whispering, “Congrats, mate, I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks,” James said, then pulled away and met his friends eyes, “And I mean for everything, Sirius. You’re the best friend a bloke could ask for.”
A part of Sirius wanted to deny the comment, but instead he grinned at James. “Go on, mate. You’ve a wedding night to enjoy,” he told him, waggling his eyebrows and then winking as James slipped back to Lily.
The farewells said, Sirius watched them walk away, their arms tightly around each other, both their faces lit up in a look that only the purely content can have. They were happy and that was all that was important. He would now shoulder his guilt alone as he went to sleep every night with the memory of Lily’s feather-light touches, the taste of her lips, the smell of her hair.
He would always love her, but now, seeing how happy James was, and more importantly, how happy she was, he knew for sure that he’d done the right thing. When he’d kissed Lily goodbye that morning as she slept peacefully, he had been unwilling to allow her, the only woman he would ever love, to marry his best friend, his brother, with a guilty conscience and a torn heart, so he had picked up his wand and pointed it at her, erasing all memory of their affair. James and Lily could now be happy together, without her cloud of guilt hanging over their marriage, and he would have his memories.
Nobody knows but me.
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