Chapter 1 : Merci, Paris
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for shazalupin's romantic challenge!
Lily was an angry and volatile person, and did her absolute best to run away from her feelings. So was it really so out of the ordinary that she panicked when her best friend of just a little bit over a decade suddenly drops the bomb that he’s in love with her? No, but she supposed it was slightly out of the ordinary that she apparated to France on the spot.
She’s never even been to France!
Sure, her cousins were half French but that didn’t mean she actually knew anything about France other than Beauxbatons was here somewhere. Oh, and that their bread was delicious—but those were the only things she knew.
And yet somehow, here she was, roaming around Paris on her own, trying her hardest to make sense of the past hour.
Lucas had been her best friend from the moment they got into a fight over the last muffin at breakfast in first year. He had pinched her arm and she had headbutted him. In retrospect, her action might have been an overreaction but she blamed that entirely on her two older brothers. How was a girl supposed to know that headbutting people was wrong when all she ever did growing up was fight with Al and James? Well, she didn’t. And she had hated Lucas so much for it. He was the reason she got her first detention. Although she remembered she did feel some thrill in the fact that he had gotten detention as well.
How could he love her?
It didn’t make any sense. All she has ever done to him was yell and scream and then drag him along with her on whatever insane prank she had mapped out in her head. Even when they were out of Hogwarts, all she ever did now was use his quite conveniently located flat to pass out when she got a little bit too drunk with her co-workers.
She wasn’t someone he should love. Lucas deserved someone so much more than her, someone who could take care of him and call him ‘baby’ and say the dreaded three words. Lily could never do anything. Hell, she could barely take care of herself.
Lily ran her fingers through her long auburn hair and stood, peering into a little bakery. There was a large cream wedding cake with seven tiers standing out in the display case. It had intricate green frosting interweaving the sides that resembled overgrown vines fighting their way to the sun. At the crown of the cake, there was a large budding red rose and two little figurines kissing in the middle. It was simply one of the most beautiful cakes she’s ever seen.
“Tres romantique,” someone murmured beside her, and startled, Lily jumped from her spot, backing into the window of the shop. The old woman before her gave a short gravelly laugh. She was at least a foot shoulder than Lily but with her artistically painted on eyebrows, ruby red lips and pulled back dyed black hair, she was terrifying.
“Um… No… French… Parler English?” Lily fumbled through her limited vocabulary of French and just managed to spit out a random assortment of words.
The old woman gave out another short gravelly laugh. “Oh, you’re English. Well that’s wonderful. I was getting tired of speaking French all the time.”
“You’re English too,” Lily stated dumbly.
“Born and bred in London, my pet,” the woman smiled kindly. She reached into her pricey looking bag and pulled out a cigarette, then lit it and took a long drag in one expert move. “So what brings you to Paris?”
“Ha,” Lily breathed out with a sheepish grin.
“Not shopping for wedding cakes I presume?”
“What?” Lily’s dark green eyes darted to the wedding cake on display and back to the old lady. “Oh Merlin no! Definitely not for wedding cakes.” Lily pulled at the ends of her hair. “I ran away.”
“From what, petal?” the woman leaned forward, her dark brown eyes glistening with excitement; Lily got the feeling that this woman thrived on gossip and drama.
“My best friend,” Lily sighed, and before she could stop herself, the words came tumbling out. “He told me he loved me, which is rubbish because he’s obviously gone mad. Why would he love me? We would kill each other if we ever dated! And yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have run especially to bloody France but… what did he expect? That I would swoon at the romance of it all and snog his face off?” Lily snorted at the thought of her becoming one of those hopelessly romantic girls.
The woman nodded in understanding and took another long puff of her menthol cigarettes. How very classy, Lily thought sarcastically, but then instantly reprimanded herself for being a cow to an old woman, even if it was just in her thoughts.
“I was in love once,” the woman spoke up, her eyes glazing over and it seemed Lily had lost her to a faraway memory. “His name was Billy, a beautiful boy, worked as an apprentice at a garage. Mother never did approve of him, said he was beneath us and for a while, I believed that. We fought like cats and dogs, it was terrible and it seemed easier to believe he was worthless than admitting the truth.”
“The truth?” Lily queried.
“That I was besotted with him,” the woman laughed. “Head over heels, butterflies in my tummy, the whole nine yards.”
“But I thought you said you guys fought all the time? How did that even work?”
“Well, honey, let me tell you, fighting as much and as passionately as we did only meant one thing,” the woman winked at Lily with a mischievous smile. “The sex was explosive.”
Lily visibly blushed and spluttered at how candid this woman was being to a total stranger. “Uh…”
“Being a mechanic, Billy knew how to use his hands, let me tell you,” the woman carried on, not noticing Lily’s discomfort whatsoever. “But although the sex was tremendous, what I fell in love with was how Billy always treated me like an equal, never succumbing to a cheap line like all my other suitors. Billy spoke his mind, told me exactly when I was being a brat and that’s what I miss the most.”
“Where’s Billy now?” Lily couldn’t help but ask; she was entirely too enthralled by this tale now.
“He went off to the war,” the woman answered, a melancholy smile lifting up her red lips. “He never came back.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Lily quickly responded.
The woman laughed, waving it off. “Oh, it’s fine. It was years ago and I’ve had many lovers since, but what I’m trying to tell you is that love is about fighting and passion and if you don’t have that then you have nothing. But if you think for a second that you might, don’t ever let it go. Love, petal, is a fickle thing.”
I nodded wordlessly, allowing what she had just said to wash over me. Was she right? Did I…
“Oh, will you look at the time!” the woman exclaimed. “I must dash. I’ve got a lunch date with a handsome lawyer. Au revoir, ma cherie! And good luck!” Then with an air kiss to the cheek, the strange yet fabulous old woman began walking—no, strutting down the street of Paris, her head held high and a cloud of smoke following her.
If Lily’s her age and still single, she wished she would be half as amazing as that old woman—but then as if someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over her, Lily suddenly became overwhelmed with a cold hard truth.
She didn’t have to be single.
She brusquely walked down an empty alleyway and inhaled deeply as she apparated away from Paris.
The room was dark and seemingly empty when she arrived, which filled Lily with a sense of dread. She uttered a quick lumos and squeezed her eyes shut as the blinding overhead light turned on, momentarily making the room seem fuzzy. Once her eyes had adjusted, Lily found herself staring at a wide-eyed but very inebriated Lucas.
“Lily?” he tried to sit up but the glass of amber liquid sloshed onto his lap and Lucas cursed quietly to himself.
“Look, Lucas, just shut up and let me speak,” Lily barked, trying to gather the nerves that were now trying to abandon her. “First of all, you’re a prick. Give a girl some fair warning next time you’re going to throw a bomb like that at her! I mean bloody hell, Lucas, you’re my best friend you should know these things! And secondly, I’m warning you now that I am in no way good for you. I’m who I am and I’m never going to change so if you so much as try to change me, I’ll probably headbutt you again. And Merlin I don’t even know how this happened and I’m pretty sure the old woman in Paris made me realise this, but thirdly, I…” Lily shuffled from foot to foot, breathing in deeply and tried again. “I la… I looooo… I… shit!”
Lucas had somehow in the seconds that Lily was trying to say those three dreaded words stood up and come over to where she had been rooted to the spot. He looked into her dark green eyes and traced his thumb over the small scar below her right eyebrow. He heard her inhale sharply and smiled. “You love me. Right?”
She grumbled, and that was as good of a ‘yes’ he was ever going to get so he leaned in and captured her lips with his. He had been dreaming of this since he was thirteen, specifically that day she had convinced him to go swimming in the Great Lake in just their underwear. He remembered her pulling herself from its depth, soaking wet, her cheeks a soft pink from the cold, and her eyes full of life and wonder, and he thought then and there that she was the most beautiful girl he would ever meet. And eight years later, he still thought that.
Any doubts that Lucas wasn’t the right guy for her flew out the window the moment his lips found their way onto hers. Sure, she’s been kissed quite a few times in her life but never like this, never with so much feeling, so much passion and so much heat. She felt like her whole body was humming with electricity and she never wanted it to stop.
Lucas unfortunately did pull back eventually, and he chuckled at the unmasked disappointment in her face. “Well…”
“I’m sorry, you know?” Lily said, her eyes searching and finding comfort in the familiarity of his brown eyes. Looking into them felt like coming home, they were warm and inviting and safe.
“Sorry for what?”
“For running out on you,” Lily bowed her head shamefully. “It was cowardly. I just… I don’t know. I’m sorry.”
Lucas tilted her chin up and grinned at her. “Hey, love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Lily promptly punched Lucas in the shoulder. “If we’re going to be together, you need to stop with the mushy crap, Lucas.” He then laughed, his whole body shaking with mirth causing Lily to roll her eyes.
But despite her natural disposition to run when there were emotions involved, Lily instead tugged at his shirt so he tumbled forward. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him once more, proving to him without the words she couldn’t physically say that she truly and unabashedly loved him back.
A/N: Please leave a review on your way out!! And tell me your favourite lines! :)
Merci, Paris = Thank you, Paris
Tres Romantique = very romantic
Au revoir, ma cherie = good bye, my darling