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A Lily Growing Thorns

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Evan Rosier was the first boy to lick Lily Evans’ cunt.

Christ. If anyone found out…

If? When. It would be when, if she didn’t stop it, if she went on being mad enough to let him, let him stroke his smooth, warm hands up the insides of her thighs, up and up beneath her skirt, just shy of the aching point between her legs that kept on betraying her.

“You can’t,” she’d said, that first time, breathless.

“Oh?” His voice had been rich in her ear, bright with amusement, as if this were just the usual game, Slytherin against Gryffindor, taunts thrown, rude comments and rude faces made, all in fun, mostly in fun, with the bitter edge brought by events outside of school. “Stop me, then.”

She didn’t know why she hadn’t. Her hand had shaken, then, tightening around her wand, but she hadn’t done the obvious thing, hadn’t pointed it at him, hadn’t had even the first syllable of an appropriate spell come to mind. She’d just held her wand tightly, and held it, and held it, and squirmed in her library chair, desperate, desperately aroused. That he was doing that to her– to her! That he pulled her knickers the whole way off, sliding them easily down her shaking legs, then folding them away into his pocket–!

He’d never given them back.

Lily remembered every touch. Remembered his heavy breaths, remembered the slick sounds he made as he worked his mouth on her. He’d moaned, his tongue inside her, and she had felt it, and she had come, helplessly, angling into the pressure, the small, teasing thrusts of his lips, his tongue. The next sound she’d heard had been her wand clattering to the floor. Rolling.

Breathing heavily, still, Evan had gone after it. Handed it to her with all courtesy, as if he hadn’t just– as if he was only wiping his mouth for no important reason. As if he weren’t smiling smugly down at her, having proved her the mudblood slut that she knew, knew some of the older pureblood boys desperately wished she were.

Flushed, shaking, unable to look at him directly, Lily had held out her hand, and felt a sick, guilty relief that all he did was put her wand in it without a word. Then he came close in, looming over her the way she’d feared, and said: “lovely, wasn’t it?”

“I don’t,” Lily had said, her voice shaking a little, then firming up, as she got hold of herself. “I didn’t…”

“You can tell yourself I forced you,” Evan said, his tone still light. He smiled, too. Grinned, really. “You can tell yourself you’ll only meet me again, say, in a week’s time, same time, same place, because you’re afraid I’ll tell everyone about you.”

Lily did not remember closing her eyes at that point– it had just happened, somehow. She only knew it had happened because she didn’t realize Evan was going to kiss her on the cheek until she felt his breath there, and then the press of his lips. All she had been able to think, at that moment, was that he smelled like her. That he’d wanted to, desperately, enough to take her tired, annoyed, deliberately dirty joke seriously.

“I shouldn’t have said it,” she’d said, half to him, half to herself, as he pulled away from her. “I shouldn’t have let you do it.”

“On the blood in my veins,” Evan Rosier had said, his voice low, his cadence oddly formal, “I will tell no one, living or dead, that I have drunk of you.” And then he cut his fucking thumb, and presented it to her, holding it before her mouth, as if, as if… “Lick it.”

And she did lick it. Like the same idiot that had said to him, jeeringly, that if he was that mad for her, he could get down on his knees and beg to lick her cunny, as that was the only way she’d countenance a bastard like him touching her. And then the same idiot that had let him fucking do it.

Oh, god, Lily had thought, watching the way he smiled, as she licked his finger. What have I done? She was thinking the same thing a week later, as she fidgeted restlessly in the same seat at the same table, not quite telling herself anything about what she was doing. Not quite allowing herself to think.

He licked her then, too. Comfortably, dropping to his knees right after he walked up, cast a privacy ward, and smiled, wolfishly. Lily, knowing the spell, had let herself be loud. He’d warranted it– got his tongue right inside her, got his fingers in the mix, sucked and pinched and rubbed and licked and moaned, lustily, as he tasted of her.

“It’s so good,” she heard herself sob, out loud. She cringed. She came so hard that she shook against him (again, like the first time) for one long, embarrassing moment. When Evan finally stood up, unsteady on his feet, and undid his drawers and took out his cock, eyeing her as he stroked it, she just watched, instead of letting herself think about how close she probably was to getting raped.

I’d like it, she found herself thinking, with horror, as she watched him. If it was him, he’d make sure I liked it.

He could have done anything to her, in that moment. She’d been shocked enough, guilty enough, boneless enough that she might just have let him. Instead, Evan Rosier looked at her through his lashes and said, “do me too, Evans?” And had kept on fluttering his lashes at her as she rolled her eyes and shook her head and told him he was a massive idiot.

“Massive?” he had said, delightedly, his eyes comically wide. “Well, all right, then; if you don’t want to do it, you can just watch me.”

“I don’t want to watch you,” Lily had spat. “And I’m certainly not sucking your stupid tiny cock.”

Two guesses as to what she found herself doing.


That’s right.

It was so embarrassing.

Not the actual… act, though it could have been, she was certainly nervous enough. No, it was the thoughts in her head, as Evan came forward, smiling slightly, displaying himself. What are you doing? her brain kept demanding. What in the bloody fucking hell are you doing, Lily Evans?

He wants it, Lily found herself thinking, in response to that. The last thing she’d said to him before she started in was, “should you be, er, leaking? Like that?” Evan’s answer had been a low, fervent, “if I’m enjoying myself, oh, yes.” So it was true, in a way, unmistakably, that he wanted it. Only…

Since when do you care to give one of them what they want? her brain had fired back, and she hadn’t had an answer. Or her mouth had been too full of him– she’d never been good at thinking while she ate, and she’d always hated how everyone else seemed to be able to do it, to switch from swallowing to speech.

She’d sucked Evan Rosier’s cock like it was the only thing going. There was no excuse for it, no explanation. He’d given her hints, and she’d followed them. Teeth… just a little’s good, don’t… fuck, yes, do that.

Your mouth, Evans, your beautiful fucking mouth… Oh, lick me again, just like that…

He’d kill me, if he ever found out. He hadn’t said who he meant, but the wild light in his eyes had meant Severus, to her, somehow. Maybe, he’d added, grinning, not without polyjuicing into me first, for one more go…

That had shaken her. Not the thought of Severus wanting her that badly, no; she’d known, for a long while now, that he didn’t want her that way. It had been third year, just the very end of it, and she’d thought maybe it would slow him down, reverse his drift from her, if she… And of course it had been a disaster. The one, awkward kiss, the way she’d pulled away, thinking it was alright, but could have gone better, only to see how very panicked, how very upset Severus had looked. Which was the way she’d felt, watching him practically run away, after.

Worse, over the summer, Severus had lectured her, without quite looking her in the eye, warning her against trying the same sort of thing with a boy who wasn’t raised right, wasn’t gentlemanly. Which, by that time, was easily understood, by her, to mean any pureblood boy, or really any boy at Hogwarts, none of whom had any real obligation to be gentlemanly to a muggleborn like her.

If Severus ever found out, ever came to know that she’d done this, opening herself up, willingly…

She’d had to stop, then, her hands shaking as she pushed at Evan’s hips, as she pushed and thought wildly of what it would feel like if he ignored her. Evan, frowning, had pulled away and taken her up into his arms and held her while she cried in choked, panicked sobs.

“He’ll kill me,” Lily had sobbed, half-meaning it, and Evan had stroked her hair and said no, never, impossible. Then he had sworn, his voice warm in her ear, another vow: that Severus Snape did not know what had passed between them, and never would, from his lips, on pain of death.

After that… after that rush of magic, stronger and stranger than the time before, the little twisty twinge she’d felt after licking his thumb, Lily was too overwhelmed, too feverish to stop him.

That was what she tried to tell herself, anyway. She’d known it would hurt. She’d known what he was doing, what he wanted when he came in close and pressed against her, but she’d let him do it anyway. She’d even been the one to spread her legs for him, to let him…

Then, once he’d slowed, barely moving inside her, it began to feel good. Too good, too sweet, the painful slide of Rosier’s thick cock in and out of her. She moaned his name, and he breathed hers. She braced against the rattling desk, she hoped they wouldn’t be found, she apologized, out loud, shaking with fear, told him she was sorry she was such a slut.

“It’s all right,” he’d said, hotly. “You can be a slut for me, just for me, Evans. I’ll never tell, they’ll never know, not a single fucking one of them.”

“I’ll know,” Lily had whispered, and of course his response had been to joke about Obliviating her. He was that kind of awful, Evan Rosier; in all the six years she’d known him, she’d never known him not to try to draw reluctant laughter at the worst possible time. She’d hated him for that, hated that she ever found him even a little bit funny, and when she told him that, he laughed long and low as he fucked her.

“I’ve been showing off, you know,” he told her. “Just for you, my dear.” And in that moment, she could not help but believe him.

After was, of course, different. Nearly painful.

Are you very sore? The unsaid implication that he’d known she was a virgin, that he’d had not the slightest doubt in her purity, before– before he’d fucked her. Let me try a spell that will help.

It helped. Somehow, she managed not to cry at that, not to cry at anything, despite how much she wanted to. She kissed him, instead, because she’d been wanting to, because she’d been wanting to, and hating herself for wanting to, since maybe the latter half of third year. He had been in France, for Easter, and had boasted of it. Lily had rolled her eyes at him and then found herself noticing just how well he looked when he was a little more browned. How his lips curled mockingly when he smiled, even when he was smiling at someone he supposedly liked.

She didn’t tell him any of that, though. Her limits might not have been quite what she thought, what she hoped, but they did still exist. Evan Rosier, Lily told herself, was a liar and a Slytherin born, and if he was nice now, his hands soft on her, his eyes tender as he looked at her, it was because he was getting what he wanted, and wished to keep it that way.

He kept it that way for… oh, five whole months. Through Christmas. Almost into Easter. James was being a bit more serious by then, not just in how he courted her, but in the rest of his behaviour, but all Lily could think of, sometimes, was how she’d brought him up to Evan, once, and Evan had laughed, and said, as he entered her, “if you want him that much, my dear, then take him.”

Clearly he thought she could, and not just in the sense that when she looked in Potter’s direction and licked her bottom lip, he went red as anything, even if it was obvious she weren’t really looking at him. It shamed her to imagine the sort of scene she did, sometimes, at night: Evan and her, smashed together in a closet, going at it, really going, and then James stumbling on them. Watching long and hard until they finished, until Evan left, and then…

“You slut,” he’d say, his voice thick with betrayal and arousal both, and anyway no matter what he called her he’d press her up against the wall and go at her too, not stopping even if she begged.

She started to look right at him as she licked her lips. Nervously, briefly, and then away. It tortured him very nicely, and her as well, because she knew, just knew that as liberal a pureblood as Potter was, he’d care– so very fucking much– that she wasn’t his pure Gryffindor virgin, his to unwrap, his to touch for the first time, his to spoil.

She never spoke of this to Evan. There was clearly no point, no proper beginning or end to their haphazard relationship. He didn’t ask her what side she was on, whether she’d keep her head down after school and perhaps leave the country, or whether she’d stay and fight (it was the latter). She didn’t ask him if he was marked.

Revise that: she didn’t need to. The mark had been there after Christmas, dark and ugly and yet very smooth, on his arm. She had expected it to burn her when she touched it; he had just as clearly expected it not to. Had stood still and let her do it, his hands nowhere on her, not grasping and taking the way they usually did. Letting her make the choice.

“You’re mad,” she’d muttered, after a moment.

“Yes,” he’d said, unsmiling. And then, added, after a breath. “No. Yes and no. I’m sorry.”

He didn’t mean he was sorry for taking the mark. That was clear, somehow, from the way he looked at her, from the way he still stood there, bared to her. He said, with his tone, with his body, with the creased, almost annoyed look on his face, that he thought it had been necessary to have that done to him, that it was somehow necessary to her too.

She’d hit him. Cried. Screamed. “You could have run!” she’d wanted to say, but the words ended in his mouth, pressed on hers, and anyway by that point she knew, in a way, that he was staying because she was staying too. He fucked her so hard that she was sore all through the next day, sitting gingerly and cursing him and wriggling a bit to feel it again.

That was the same day she kissed James. Not… intentionally? But they were alone, momentarily, in the library, her getting a book and him fidgeting at his table. And then he’d come up to help her lever an aggressive tome back onto the shelf, and he had lost his head as he looked down in her eyes, and leant in to kiss her. And she had allowed it to happen.

She’d known, by then, that that was a choice too.

As were the choices she made afterwards. Slapping James, pushing him away from her, letting him hold her back by her hand, briefly, to apologize. Letting herself be seen blushing, confused, unsure.

She was thinking, the whole moment, “I can’t fight anyone alone.” And so she had raised the idea to Evan, weeks later, only to be given his bittersweet, laughing, teasing blessing.

Which she hated him for, a little, and loved him for, a lot.

She could admit that, too, by then, even if she didn’t like it.

March came, and sundered them for good and proper. It was Severus that did it, Severus that disappeared one weekend and returned swaggering. Which left Lily shaking with rage and fear in her bed, and then in Evan’s warm embrace two hours later, when she got sick of trying to cry herself to sleep.

“This isn’t,” she began to say, eventually, “I can’t do this anymore.”

“All right,” Evan said, and she dug her fingernails into his arm and his neck and wanted, for a moment, to wrench his head from his body.

“You bastard,” she heard herself say, her voice high and wavering and strange. “Don’t you dare say you’ll leave me, don’t you let me go like that, how dare you?”

“My dear,” he said, in his most annoying drawl, “I believe you are the one leaving me.” Then, after she shook him, he relented. “I am yours even if you walk away. Yours, understand? Your first, your accepted, your avowed lover until death comes between.”

He meant it. That was the most frightening thing about Evan, that he could grin and laugh and drive you mad with his jokes, and then turn around and say something like that, simply, flatly, believing it so hard with every fibre of his body that you couldn’t help but believe it too.

“Mine?” Lily found herself saying, wistfully.

“Yours, yes, yours.” His fingers trembled as they combed through her hair. She believed him.

God help her, she believed him.

She didn’t expect to fall for James too.

He could make her laugh, that was the problem. Like with Evan, she laughed despite herself, sometimes so hard that she almost pissed herself.

And then… when she gave in, when she told him she’d done things already, he looked, well, interested. Excited.

“Really?” he’d said, flushing a little. (James flushed a lot, always. Really quite a lot. For such a relentless, troublemaking, incorrigible liar, he was awfully transparent to her) “What do you mean, precisely? What have you done?” And he sounded, genuinely, as if he wished to know, so he could, perhaps, re-enact every one of the filthy things she’d done in just the way she liked.

She told him rather a lot, in rather a lot of detail, all while hearing his breathing get fast and eager, all while feeling the slow, aching rub of his cock against her hip.

“I shouldn’t,” James said, when she’d said her piece. “I shouldn’t press you like this. I didn’t want– I don’t want to feel, don’t want you to feel as if you must. Um. Give in.”

“But you’d like it if I did, would you?”

“Well, yes, Evans, I’d like it a lot, but that doesn’t mean…”

She stopped him talking with her mouth on his, and then her hands, lower down, when she realized he’d keep on trying to protect her from himself even with his mouth shut. It felt…

It felt as if she were the one in charge, the one driving things, the one forcing him. Which James liked, or seemed to like, rather a lot. He was louder than Evan, just much more incoherent, which was almost better; she didn’t want to hear anything definite, she didn’t want anything but his pleasure.

She took him. And it felt glorious.

Evan saw. He couldn’t not, because once James thought he was sure of her, he sat guard on her, around her, like he was a dog with one sole purpose in life. Lily found herself snapping at him for it, asking if he thought she was some precious stupid flower that couldn’t handle Quentin Travers’ creepy stare, or the way Liam Mulciber would smile widely at her, as if that’d ever make her forget what he’d tried with Winnie MacDonald.

And then James stared up at her, from his exaggerated, pathetic pose by her feet, and said: “I’m doing it because I know you’re not some precious flower. You’re…” And he flushed, and looked away. “You’re, you’re special, and I just think…”

“Not everyone thinks that,” she found herself saying, hastily, hating herself for liking it, for flushing stupidly, for aching at the thought that he might believe anything like that of her. “At least not the way you think.”

“I’ll stop,” James said. “Or, um,” he added, when she gave him a wry, disbelieving look, “I’ll be better?”

And he was.

Not enough better, of course, that there weren’t any more nasty jokes, leering pureblood smiles and people looking down their noses at both of them. “Well, I know what he must see in her.” “Bet you a sickle that he’s seeing it every night.” “Twice a night, if she knows what’s good for her.” “Myself, I wouldn’t bother if she wasn’t doing all the work, and I do mean all of it.”

James restrained himself, and only blacked Mulciber’s eye, and only because everyone knew about him and Winnie, Winnie who scuttled, now, from anything shaped vaguely like an older boy, and yet no one had done anything, for the two whole months in which the gossip had made the rounds. The Mulcibers were rich, but the Potters were rich too, and Liam had let himself be seen smirking at Lily and trying to get in her space.

Funnily enough, Liam Mulciber’s black eye turned into two black eyes, and a rash of painful red stripes, and a fever he ran for five straight days, though it had been the Slytherin prefects that had got him up to the Hospital Wing. James narrowed his eyes and looked slantwise at Severus, and was much more worried than thankful. All right, he wasn’t actually thankful at all.

Lily looked at no one at all, but she felt a burn of hot, guilty pleasure in her belly, and when that night she got on top of James and rode him fiercely, she thought of Evan at the last.

She tried not to think of Evan often. Mostly, she managed, far better than she managed with Severus, who had always seemed wounded to her, limping somewhere deep down, and vicious with it.

Where Severus might have carved his anger into Mulciber’s no longer handsome face with a shaking wand, Lily was well aware that Evan would have smiled, and been stone steady. Severus was who she worried about, when she saw him flocking with Them, as she had begun to call those marked– or probably marked– soon to be dangerous boys, in her head.

Evan… she worried not at all about what would be done to Evan. She only worried, sparingly, once every two weeks, about what he might be forced to do. About what he might do, freely, in the understanding that he had made a terrible choice, and must now make the best (as if there was any best) of it.

There were two more moments.

There was the time Evan came upon her in the library in seventh year in December, just as term was about to end, one of the few, rare times, these days, that she was there alone.

She tried to curse him, then, realizing who it was, tried desperately for a kiss instead. Both failed, because of him; he twisted her wand out of her hand with a sharp, painful jerk and forced her against a wall, his cock hard and terrifying against her arse, his arm braced at the back of her neck, forcing her mouth away from his.

“You’re not going home, are you,” he said, lowly, and his tone was somehow different. Rich, charged, and ugly, frightening if she didn’t know who was speaking. “Pity. I did so hope we might run into each other, at Christmas.”

“Why– I don’t–”

“Perhaps,” he said, ignoring her, “I might run into your sister, instead?”

“No,” Lily said, quietly, trying and failing to keep herself from crying. Why would he ask? she thought. Why did I ever tell him? “She’s not, um, she won’t be home. Friends, I think. She’s staying with them, I don’t know where–”

“Shut up, mudblood.”

He said it so very very carefully, that word she found herself remembering that she never really had heard him say, in all the years she’s known him. ‘The lower class’, yes. The hoi polloi, the chattel, the rest, our inferiors, our dear muggleborns, our Muggle-raised brethren, but never ever ever ‘mudblood’.

This is it, Lily had thought. This is the end.

“When I wish to know what you think, I will ask you. How have you, in all your years here, not managed to learn when the fuck to shut up?”

“Get away from me,” Lily said, quietly. “Or I will cut your throat.” There were hairdressing spells that people injured themselves with all the time, all wandless. Nothing out of the ordinary for even a girl like her to know. Those few simple spells had been shared, had been brushed up on, practised in volume, in general, by most of the girls, after Winnie MacDonald.

For their throats, or for yours.

Evan laughed, a rich chuckle she hated herself for wanting to hear again. For having missed. “Not going to tattle to Potter?”

She tried to claw at him with the spell, and he let her go in a hurry, laughing again. “Oh, Evans,” he said, grinning nastily at her. “It really is a shame you won’t be home to me.” The way he said that gave her a thrill and a chill both. “Until next time, then.”

She shook for a long time, after he sauntered away.

Midway through that Christmas break– she put her name on the list at the very last minute, not daring to name to herself just what she was afraid of– she got an owl about her parents.

Petunia was safe. But.

Her parents.

Lily screamed herself hoarse by the lake. When a curious, many eyed thing came scuttling out by the forest edge, to see what was making that awful noise, she went after it.

Killing it was madness. It was surprisingly, shockingly easy. It made her feel better, then worse, so much worse, as she looked at the remains and thought of other remains, her parents, their bodies opened, cut.

She didn’t have anything to bury. The whole house had gone up far too quickly, they had told her. She still knew– she knew, she guessed, she imagined, and then she was one with Them, in that moment, her body shaking with the urge to do the same, to hurt Them the same way she had been hurt.

Which was, of course, impossible.

So she wept more, silently, as she dressed the poor thing she had slain, harvesting the more useful looking bits and pieces, gathering the rest into a small, stinking heap she did not really smell until she was halfway back to the castle, and realized that she was stained all over.

Then it was: wash. Listen to the headmaster’s kind-eyed sympathy, not thinking of anything at all. Read Petunia’s frantic, inconsolable letter (you can have that vicious world. I want no part of it, not now, not ever). Practice spells. Dream, unclearly, of what it would feel like to have a blade, or her magic, or a wand, on the beating pulse point in the smooth, brownish olive of the hollow of Evan Rosier’s neck.

By the time the next term came around, Lily felt drained.

There were more whispers. She wasn’t the only one showing up red-eyed or dead-eyed or a mixture of both.

Somehow, when she finally saw Evan, face to face, the urge to hurt him evaporated. She couldn’t help watching him with his already Marked friends and seeing the little lines of stress active on his face, even when he smiled.

Playing the game, is he? She thought bitterly. And of course he wants me to believe he’s doing it all for me.

She couldn’t rule it out, despite everything. She had fucked Evan Rosier for a little more than five months, back in sixth year. You knew, after that much time, whether someone was playing you false. Surely you knew. Surely you suspected, if nothing else.

And yet, she hadn’t known it was in him to shove her around quite like he had, that frightening day in the library. Or that he could find it in himself to be so deliberately nasty to get his warning across, and have it followed dutifully.

She hadn’t known. She should’ve known, so this was, by extension, all her fault.

The second moment:

Two weeks after the hollow, joyless second term of Lily’s final year at Hogwarts began, she found a note in her Ancient Runes textbook, which was the only class she could think where they– she and Evan, she needed to stop fucking thinking they were a ‘they’– sat relatively close by.

The note said, simply: “MARRY HIM.”

Which Lily did, after burning the note and mentally consigning the author to the deepest pits of hell. How dare he, when the ashes of her old family house still smouldered, pregnant with a fire that would burn, people whispered, as long as the Dark Lord lived. How dare he, how dare he, how dare he.

She cried. She wiped her tears away. And then she went to James Potter, and asked him, half bluntly, half tearfully, what they were going to do, what she was going to do for summer. “Standing invitation,” he’d said, immediately. “You can come to mine.”

He will marry me, she thought, in that moment, as she sobbed into his shoulder. That was the worst of it, the very worst.

after hogwarts

After she left Hogwarts, Lily expected, somehow, to be punished. And maybe she was, a little, marrying right out of school, her period missing, frighteningly missing for the first two months following, just out of pure stress (though she didn’t know that until she’d been through it and seen it come back, and cried on the toilet, so relieved).

But then it went so well. So well. James was not Evan’s sweet, poisonous fire, but he was the one in her hearth, warmth itself, his body warm and yielding beneath hers, his eyes alight for her, his hands there to hold her, to fetch the roast from the oven, to help her hang the curtains.

She didn’t know that she loved him, those first two months. She was too angry with herself, too exhausted, too afraid. Then, in a raid, she saw him fall, and she felt– she felt–

“Lily,” she heard Sirius saying, soon after, “Lily, please just come away from that, all right? Come away from her now, there’s a dear.”

And then, when he had half dragged her away from that bitch’s smoking corpse, it was, “he’s all right, don’t you see? He’s alive, he’s okay, Prongs is fine.”

And then, “was that an Incendio?”

“Looked like,” James said, “a really cracking Flammare.” He coughed– no blood, no blood, thank god. “She was having trouble with it, too. Weren’t you, love?”

Lily couldn’t speak, could barely breathe. She functioned, somehow, for the next few hours. She wasn’t sure she liked the sidewise looks she got, at the Order meeting, the we’ll-call-it-a-victory-because-we-all-got-out meeting, afterwards, but she reasoned, privately, that it was all right. That perhaps they would whisper into several series of ears, about the vicious mudblood bitch Potter had married, about how she’d burned a woman from the inside out, burned her in the fires of her own inner magic, just for winding her precious husband a bit.

Perhaps, that way, no one would try to take him from her. No one besides the obvious.

That night, she didn’t cry in James’ arms. She spoke instead.

“I married you to be safe,” she said. “To be fighting, but safe.” She put her hand over his heart, smoothed it over his slightly hairy chest. “If you die…”

“I won’t.”

It was stupid to say it. They knew it, he knew it, and yet he said it, cockily, his mouth turning up just the way she liked, the way that made her treacherously fickle heart beat just a little faster. And repeated it, as he came in for a kiss, his breath warm against her mouth. “I won’t die.”

They tried to fuck, and ended up crying helplessly in each other’s arms. “Do you want to leave?” James said, his voice hoarse and tired in her ear. “We could.”

She didn’t consider it for very long. She considered, instead, why it had never occurred to her to run. Why the thought of her parents, cut up, burning, burning, ever burning, hadn’t been enough to put the fear of You-Know-Who into her.

It wasn’t Evan. It wasn’t Severus. Or James, or his mad friends, or any of hers, the few that had stayed, the few she still furtively kept in touch with, through owl boxes in a shaded, quiet village in the Sussex countryside. It was Lily, just Lily, to blame.

“I won’t leave,” she said, to the husband she had married, to the husband she now knew she feared to lose. It was love, a fearful, desperate love, for him, for the fact that she could have him, someone tall and well-groomed and really quite posh, and rich, and kind, and giving.

She had him, and she would keep him, though Evan might smile and shake his head, sighing over her bad taste; though Severus had told her, in a low, flat tone, that Potter would only bring trouble to her, but he saw she was bound and determined on inviting it, instead of being sensible. It meant, or would mean, a lot less, if she tried to steal him away, to somewhere safer.

That she was here, beloved, in his arms, in the midst of a small, viciously determined corner of the world that thought she was only useful as– as someone’s mute, accommodating whore– that was what she wanted.

But that was only her, only her opinion. And it occurred to her, at that moment, that she had never asked his. “James, if you want to leave…”

He kissed her mouth, then kissed her drying tears away. “I don’t. It’s mad of me, I know, but I don’t.”

He was away more often, after that. If Lily had been any less busy, she might have resented it, and she still did, sometimes, for brief, bitter moments, on the few nights she lay in bed, awake and alone. Sex became something snatched, something hurried and over, blissfully, wistfully over, before you could really feel anything.

She resented that too. Not that she turned it down, the chance to feel his body, the body of the man she loved, straining with hers, together. They talked afterwards, once in a while. Sometimes they just kissed. Her periods came in fits and starts, worrying her more than him, because James said, in that particularly cocky way of his, that if it was good enough for them to stay anchored to the madhouse that Britain had become, then surely it’d be good enough for little Harry, or Harriet, or Selina, or Jane, or Harrison, or Fleamont (“–no,” Lily had said. “Just… no.”) Potter, whenever they should choose to come along.

Privately, Lily disagreed. She still wasn’t sure, really, if she wanted a kid to handle, on top of raids, and readiness, and defence, and warding, and spell practice, and noodling out information from reluctant people, and every other fucking thing, but at the same time… Wouldn’t that be something in the eye of all those sagely nodding gossips that said it was obvious he’d only married her for one thing, that if she were serious, if she were right-minded, she’d be increasing by now.

James, on a whim, took them both to St Mungo’s to get tested, by way of a gloriously silly night or three spent half drunk and grinding against each other in a series of rowdy Muggle clubs. They’d done it in fairly every manageable position, inside and outside, beneath the stars, feverish, alive. There was a raid scheduled at the end of the week, one that might see them making some real, measurable progress, and they had nothing to do but love each other until then.

After the tests, James had come out looking pale. Had had to be at home, and in their kitchen, before he would say, in a low, hurting voice, that things– the baby they were playfully fighting over naming in advance, that meant– things might not be easy to get.

“It’s not you,” he said. “They kept– all those fucking questions, for you, about being irregular, about– and it was me. It is. It is definitely me.” He was breathing a little hard, by then. “So things, might, well, they mightn’t happen.”

He shook, in her arms. Cursed, inaudible. “Fucking pureblood inbreeding,” he muttered. “Even my, my oh-so-liberal family were at it. Keep the lines, be sure of them, and, and it’s me. Of course it’s fucking well me.”

“James,” Lily said, sick with his misery, and held him. And then ventured, later: “we could adopt?”

He shook again, vibrated in her arms, and for a long, awful moment, she thought she maybe shouldn’t have said it. Then she heard his telltale, wheezing gasps, and realized he was trying not to laugh himself sick, and could have hit him. “James.

“Do you know how much I love you?” He wheezed. “So– so fucking practical. It’s, it’s not, ‘is there a ritual’, no, of course not, it’s a reminder that there are children to spare, in the world, if you’ll think about it for a moment, Mr. Potter, you great bloody numpty.”

Is there a ritual?”

He smiled at her, gingerly. “Several.” Then lifted his chin at her, and shook his head. “The results are often… twisted.”

But the way he said “often” said “nearly bloody always” to her, and she felt her eyes go wide at that, at the implication, the thought that twisting your own children in some way was better than having them born of dirty blood, to some.

“Not us,” she said, fiercely. “Never.”

He smiled at her, fully, this time. “I really, really do love you.”

She rolled her eyes, half flattered, half uncomfortable. “So. Adoption.”

“Few people give their children up, if they’re magical,” he said, carefully. “Very few.”

“Sooo,” Lily said, “we adopt a muggle. Or five, I think five is really a good number, don’t you?” She has been trying for laughter, but when he didn’t, she felt suddenly, achingly glad. “I don’t know if I’d bring them into this, to be honest,” she added, unable, then, to look at him. “I barely know if, if we were fine to being anyone into this, if it was a good idea at all. Babies, you know, generally being unable to hold their own wands.”

Somehow, she’d expected that to at least make him smile, and then frown at her, exaggeratedly. Not this, not crumpling in on himself, face in his hands, his shoulders shaking. “James, for god’s sake, I wasn’t–”

“I pushed you,” he said, hoarsely. “I know– don’t tell me I didn’t. I’m sorry, I just thought, I figured, if, when we had someone together, someone just our own, it’d feel more real. More…”

“James,” Lily said, aghast. But before she could say more, before she could insist, could argue her case, or apologize, he covered her hand with his and squeezed it, gently, so gently.

“I know you love me,” he said, shakily. “But I don’t always– it’s hard, for me, sometimes, to really believe it. Not you,” he said, sharply. “Not your fault. You’ve been honest, mostly, more honest than I deserve. I’ve pushed you, wanted you, from the beginning, and when you started looking at me…”

Lily flushed, turning her hand over so she could squeeze his hand back, to claim a brief moment in the conversation. “It’s not all in your head,” she rushed to say. “I– I flirted, and I wasn’t– at the time, I wasn’t entirely–”

His eyelids lowered, and he grinned, and she felt hot all over, squirming a little despite the situation, the seriousness of it. “You know very well, Mrs. Potter,” he drawled, “that your flighty, or should I say, filthy ways, have only ever more inflamed me.”

“Oh, stop,” Lily said, weakly, because she wanted to hear it. To see it in his eyes, as he lowered his mouth to her hand, and kept it just above her skin, hovering, warm, enticing. “James…

“You were,” he said, softly, “and are, a dream I never thought I could win. All of you. Everything you are.”

“James, stop,” she said, meaning it this time. “I’ll– I’ll cry, you beast.”

“Nevertheless,” he said, smiling, “know now, on this day, that if I may not– if I am not blessed to receive from you the child borne of your body–”

“This is another one of those pureblood things,” she couldn’t help but mutter, blinking hard. “You bloody shameless wanker.”

“– then I will be pleased to receive, instead, the child chosen of your hand.” His voice rang out dramatically, filling the echoing kitchen in a way that was more due to magic than enthusiastic, irrepressibly dramatic effort. “Perhaps,” he added, in a more normal voice, “not quite so soon upon the eve of war, I think.”

“James,” she said, sternly, and then wiped her eyes. And blew her nose, a little resentfully– he never got a runny nose from crying. She’d thought, all those years, that those perfect teacher-taming tears of his were fake as anything, but they were truly, disgustingly real. “I’ll have to think.”

“Yes, of course.”

“We can’t adopt from just anywhere,” she added. “And there’s such paperwork, you’ve no idea, mounds of it, we’d have to be in some sort of system, on their end, I should think.”

Funny, she thought, how it had become “their end” so quickly. “It’ll be hard,” she added. “If they’re, if they’re not…”


“We won’t send them to Hogwarts, I think. Regardless.”

A long pause, then, as her heart beat, wildly. As she wondered how to explain it to him, how to say–

“Yes.” When she looked up at him, startled, he had bowed in a little, over her hand, his face thoughtful and still. “Remus… you know how Remus had it.” A pause, in which she nearly didn’t breathe. “No one knew the whole truth– no one that, well, no one who could actually force him out. He was careful, he tried to be so careful all the time, and there was still… We betrayed him. We. His friends.”

Not you, Lily couldn’t help but think, mutinous. But she knew it wasn’t really true. He’d told her, in exhaustive, enraging, upsetting detail, what had happened, just after they’d started fucking. Then, when she’d raged at him, demanding to know what he’d been thinking, how he could have done that to Severus, to Remus, he had given her a long, terrified look and said that he didn’t know. That all he’d been able to think about, months afterwards, when he wasn’t downing butterbeers and chasing skirt to drown it out, was that he’d have been a murderer, become a murderer, and he wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone why, save for the idea that it had, for one ugly moment, felt utterly right.

He didn’t say, then or now, anything about how he, they, Remus’ friends, should have been expelled. He hadn’t said anything, either, about what Mulciber had done, or tried to do, to Winnie MacDonald, but when the news had come back that Mulciber had been given a talking-to– just that, as if he’d ever listened to one long enough to repeat some of it back to the speaker– James had given Lily a flatly tired look that said he wasn’t surprised.

“Beauxbatons,” he said, now, “maybe. They have a finishing school attached, and it doesn’t test, doesn’t ask anything. And you said, don’t you remember that time you went off at me in third year, about how Muggles had more schools in the world than we ever had or ever would?”

He was grinning a bit by then, so it was easy to groan and cover her face with her palm all while they held hands like they were drowning.

Lily went to bed slowly that night, marvelling how the tight, worried knot she’d feared to even look at in her mind had opened up so far with just this one, painfully sharp twist.

She hadn’t said no to the idea yet, the way she’d started to dream of screaming, shrieking at the top of her lungs, just so she could be sure it was all broken forever, and there was no way she could hurt him more. Now, though, as she thought of adopting, of the logistics, she found herself considering it. Wondering why it was so much easier to consider it.

She fell asleep thinking confusedly of how, if her babies, her children, were not magic, no one would want to take them from her. No one would covet them, as they seemed to covet everything else.