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breaking character. by Dirigible_Plums
Chapter 1: breaking character.
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It was beautifully simple.
Nothing less was expected. She was frugal with her money, unwilling to dip into his vast amount of gold to buy herself the dress of a lifetime to run away in, even if it was just for a day. Life had taught her to spend money carefully, to make sure that each penny counted, that what was acquired was more than worth the departure from the currency that ruled one's life. Living in Cokesworth did that to people.
Living in a war only emphasised that.
So her dress was simple. Modest. Ivory with a reasonable neckline, nothing fancier than a discrete scoop, and a high-low hemline that accentuated her legs. Flecks of gold dotted the overlay and lended the dress a shimmer that conjured the words dainty and magical and graceful to mind. With the dress on her, the words broke down, transformed, mutated into beautiful and breath-taking and elegant.
Already, the stark contrast between the titan locks of her hair and the pale, heart shaped face earned her earnest compliments and admiring eyes. Most people were captivated by the green that coloured her irises, a vibrantly bright hue that warmed hearts and softened souls. The dress enhanced that to immeasurable heights, a glorious exaggeration of purity and kindness. Ivory was becoming of her; it likened her to an angel. Saintly, flawless, heavenly.
But there was a fierceness there that defied such disarming beauty, a tightly controlled spirit of rebellion and imperfection. It lurked underneath the hesitant, strained smile she sent her reflection in the mirror - a distinctive change from the aura that usually surrounded her, almost ugly but real, honest, true. It was brought to the surface when her smile dropped, as if dragged out by tender yet unrelenting hooks.
"I can't do this," Lily Evans murmured in horror. She pressed the palms of her hand into her eyes as if to block the image of her reflection. "I can't - I can't go through with it."
She was alone in the room yet even the shadows seemed to judge her. Judge her for her selfish actions, her traitorous heart, her weak will. They closed in on her, incessantly goading, breathing harshly on the back of her bare neck and prodding her with accusatory fingers.
You can't back out now, they seemed to say. You made a promise. You'll break his heart if you do it.
Perhaps that was the hardest part of all. She didn't want to knock gently on his bedroom door and wordlessly hand back her engagement ring, the one that was passed down through the generations, Potter to Potter, until he'd slid it onto her finger. She didn't want to watch his face crumple in pieces as he registered what having the ring back in his palm meant, instead of having it sit snugly on her finger, and didn't want to then hear him beg the question.
Why? Why, Lily? We're supposed to be in love.
All this time, she'd thought so too. It had been a sure fact in her life, something to cling onto, to fight for. James Potter had well and truly stolen her heart in her opinion; she hadn't questioned it after her initial denial. She'd even been sure of it that very morning!
But then the dress came.
Her reflection told her the truth: Lily Evans did not love James Potter. She wanted to - God, she wanted to - but in the last few seconds, she was suddenly swept in a torrent of terror at the prospect of marriage and of binding to someone else for life, no matter how sweet or brave they were. Joy from the proposal had faded away now. There was nothing but doubt and guilt and horror.
How could she do this? How could she wear that dress tomorrow, take her vows and swear herself away to a man she didn't love? More importantly, how could she not love him? She had given everything to him, so sure of her feelings, so sure that she had found the perfect partner that books glorified and romanticised. So sure that, though he was impossibly dorky and arrogant and easygoing, he was still brave and kind and fought for what was right. So sure that she was in love with him, flaws and all.
How could this have happened?
Was it the war? Was that what had convinced her that she had done the right thing? War was a tricky thing, destructive in so many ways. It chased after its victims with a whip, directing them toward their failures, even as they believed that they ran toward their salvations. It was sly and cunning. It figured out their flaws, their weaknesses, their tactics and lured them into traps styled as Trojan horses.
Voldemort had rapidly increased in power during her final year at Hogwarts. There was finally talk about the serious issues of the wizarding world and not just whether the Falmouth Falcons would finally beat the Montrose Magpies. Discussions about pureblood supremacy and terrorism and corruption within the Ministry. Hushed whispers about vigilantes and Mad-Eye Moody's captures of Death Eaters and fighting back and always the name You-Know-Who, You-Know-Who, You-Know-Who.
Fear was rampant. With panic on its way to its peak, other emotions followed suit until they, too, reached a crescendo and sooner than later, Lily had found herself in the arms of James Potter - stupid James Potter whose fat head had decreased significantly ever since the war was taken to Godric's Hollow for a night - and from that moment on, things had snowballed.
She had fallen.
Tears pooled in her eyes, seeking for a way to escape the tightly shut lids. She pressed her hands against them even harder, determined to not let them fall, but they snuck under the rims and slid onto her cheeks. A muffled sob escaped her throat and her left hand moved to press against her mouth to contain it. She refused - she refused to cry. Crying meant that this confusion was real. It wasn't a delusion, a nightmare. If she cried, she accepted she didn't love James and that would leave her with no one.
For minutes, maybe hours, she was frozen like that. Time sluggishly went on around her; the world slowly continued to revolve. One hand over her eyes, the other over her mouth, pushing the love back into her body where it would stay forever.
Lily Evans would marry the boy of her dreams tomorrow, even if she had to feign her love for him every step of the way.
BEFORE YOU KILL ME
CHALLENGE: Jen25's I Don't Love You . Has to 'sink your ship' the night before their wedding. So even though I am 100% Jily and would never ever EVER think that Lily didn't love James when she married him, the challenge required it to be so. However, if it makes you feel better, this is only a small moment in time. You can easily wish for it to be pre-wedding jitters if you'd like, but that's not what I intended here (again, for the purpose of the challenge only!)
But...uh, what'd you think of it?