Chapter 1 : We Might as Well Be Strangers
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Credit: Breath-taking chapter image by cast!el!
I think I’m going mad.
Living in exile has that effect.
This house, what was once a home, has become a prison worse than Azkaban. My prison. The cries of shackles from the next room drills into my head but I know the warden would take care of it soon enough.
We’ve gotten into another row, Lily and I. A recurrent theme since we’ve been trapped in here by Dumbledore. I could cope at first, until he confiscated the mirror, my only link to the outside world, to Sirius. Now I’m utterly alone. The silence is deafening.
It’s hard to believe I was happy, once upon a time. It may be hard to understand, someone being happy in such tumultuous times as these. But we were, both of us. We were built for wars, thrived in conditions that would have killed lesser beings. But that was the point. We were Achilles and Penthesilea, willing warriors for our cause. Youth, brains, beauty and wealth were the weapons we yielded, better than anyone else in the Order. Even Dumbledore could see that. And when we returned to our inner sanctum, our lovemaking was every bit as ferocious as the battles we fought and won.
She can hardly bear to look my way now, much less touch me. We could go for weeks without speaking. A lonely existence such as the one we live in now does not suit us. We need distractions. Harry serves as a consuming one now, for which I am grateful.
I pass his nursery and sneak a peek. He is wrapped in a blanket, encased in her arms as she sings an unfamiliar lullaby. Creases of pure, unadulterated love were etched in her face. It is moments like these when I remember that I love her, when she is the Lily she was in Hogwarts. However, when she moves into the light, I can see her clearly and she isn’t that Lily anymore.
The creases are premature crows-feet on her bloated face. Her hair is lank and greasy from two days of not showering. She has made no effort to lose any of the baby weight, rolls of which spill over the waistband of her trousers. The irritability that once enchanted me has escalated into constant snapping and hurled abuse, some of which has become physical manifestations of her hate.
No, I am not exaggerating. I think she has grown to hate me. I see the veiled regret in her eyes, wondering why she ever married me in the first place. To a certain degree, I am to blame. I pressured her into a life she did not want, a role she was not ready for. She is a bird I locked in a cage, who now refused to sing for me. If you must know, it was a false positive that sent us practically running down the aisle. She couldn’t bear the shame of having a child out of wedlock.
Fear was what made us get married with vows that time made void.
She is no longer the Lily Evans I blindly worshiped. She has become Lily Potter, to whom my indifference grows with each passing day.
Our wedding photo hangs over the fireplace. My heart aches, missing that Lily and missing Sirius. But then I remember the countless times she has threatened to throw the portrait into the fire and my heart hardens.
The very fabric of the life we built together was like lace. Lily and I intertwined into an intricate beauty whose delicate loveliness failed to withstand the roughness of reality. Inevitable neglect loosens the threads and frays the edges until its true self is rendered indistinguishable from common rags.
We drank too quickly from our cup of bliss. Now we are left with the dregs of apathy and resentment. Trapped in this hollow that is too small, we were each forced to confront our true natures. Her passions raged furiously and uncontrollably as I unwillingly acted as her only target. I soon grew bored with this tiresome behaviour. With provocation, I exposed the streak of cruelty I kept hidden for years for her sake.
I am aware of my part in Lily’s degeneration. I watch her soul crumble under the strain and do nothing. Perhaps because emptiness had begun to fill my own soul, suffocating me. I had to feel something, which is why I began to break her heart.
“Why doesn’t he look like me?” I demanded one day as I watched Harry play with the cat.
“Don’t be stupid, he’s the spitting image of you.”
“He is pale and has dark hair. So what? It’s common enough. Snape has dark hair as well.”
She blanched at my suggestion.
Then she spat in my face.
My accusation was not without grounds. They were whispers at first but she began to cry out for him. His wretched name filled my nights and blacken my mind. I began to look at Harry and see Snape’s face laughing back at me.
Lily never deigned to cry in my presence. Such a wanton display of weakness would have stripped her of her dignity. But I could hear her sobs resonating from the attic, until Harry’s overpowered them. I never felt the urge to comfort her, only annoyance at the fuss she was making.
Our marriage has become so barren, I am still in astonishment how we managed to produce Harry in the first place.
To retain what little semblance of sanity I have left, I immerse myself in the past, brighter and more real than a beautiful dream. I am at Hogwarts, in my school uniform. She is clad in the same robes, her luxurious hair in pigtails. I am laughing, teasing her while she rebukes me, resorting to screams when her frustrations overpower her patience. It amuses me now, to think of how blind I was. The height of my pleasure came from her loss of control.
These memories are all that I have left. They are my exquisite delirium. I cling to them, dare not let go for fear that they’ll disappear. They are what keep me here. But also, for Harry’s sake, I stay. Dumbledore assures me that he is meant for great and wonderful things, destiny demands it of him. I trust Dumbledore, in spite of my better judgement.
I want to go home. Not here but my real home. But there’s nothing left of that past life, not since my parents died. They died in each other’s arms of natural causes, their hearts still overflowing with love even after all these years. I wanted that for Lily and I but I know now it is not meant for us. We could never live together in peace, not when all we’ve ever known is war and how to survive it.
It has been one year and ten months, each day more hellacious than the next. I am waiting for Death, ready for it even. It had to be better than this sham of a life.
Our love has died.
Perhaps it’s time we did as well.
A/N: Don't hate me or anything but the cynic in me imagines this to be James and Lily's marriage, without the tragic romanticism of their fate and sacrifice. This has been something I've wanted to write for awhile, a darker twist on the James and Lily legend.
Please let me know what you think in a review, I welcome all opinions!
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