Author Name: dawn_afterglow
Fic Title: Unveiled Secrets
Characters: Lily Evans Potter, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, James Potter
Genre: Angst, Romance, General
Critique: No Preference. But be honest, please. I can take it, I promise.
Word Count: 3944
This story was written after reading 'and you're free' by eudaimon. I want to thank her immensely for allowing me to play with a quote from 'and you're free' and revolving my fic around it. There is an excessive amount of italics and parentheses. Scenes could be fleshed out a tad bit more but it's all right as it is, I think. It took me long enough to write the fic anyway. Concrit is welcomed--please be honest.
The quote: “He does the only thing that he can. He tells Harry a story about four boys in school, magic, smoke screens and tricks of light, about a beautiful girl that they'd loved in different ways and a prince without a crown who did everything that he could and nothing that he said he would but was kind and gentle and universally adored.”
It mostly focuses around the "...about a beautiful girl that they'd loved in different ways..." Actually, that's basically the whole point of this fic but it doesn't sound right if I chop up the quote.
Peter watches Lily quietly from the shadows. He sees her in a fragmented light of gold and reds—Gryffindor colours—the house she truly does belong in. To him, she glows brilliantly like a star that never burns out. Like a phoenix, she arises from the ashes of her crumbling world. She is strong and stubborn and she burns like fire. He admires her strength and her will to pick herself up and carry on, even after her parents’ death (the only people she felt she belonged to).
‘Hello Lily,’ he says politely, when he walks into the common room and notices her reading in her favourite chair beside the fire.
She smiles and Peter thinks her face simply illuminates. ‘Hi Peter,’ she replies, dog-earing the page she was reading, and pulling her feet up beneath her.
‘How are you?’ He sits down across from her and watches her long fingers push a few strands of her auburn hair out of her face.
‘Fine, just fine,’ she replies.
Peter knows she’s lying. He can see it in the way she curls around her secrets, kept hidden until she is alone with painful letters and still-framed photographs. But he smiles and nods as though he is accepting her word and they lapse into a comfortable silence.
‘Mudblood,’ Regulus hisses, ‘watch where you’re going.’ He smoothes out his robes and picks up his books. Lily glares at him from the floor where she’s sprawled out, her books scattered around her.
‘I wasn’t the one reading a book while I was walking. What were you reading, the latest volume of Dark Arts books?’ Lily snaps.
Regulus stops in his tracks and whirls around to face her, his wand already in his hand. ‘You best watch where you tread, you filthy Mudblood.’
Peter rushes over to Lily and helps her gather up her books, watching the exchange from the shadows of the dungeon.
‘Are you all right?’ Peter asks hurriedly, helping her to her feet.
Lily nods absently. ‘Yes, I’m fine. Thank you, Peter,’ she says and grabs her books, heading out of the dungeons and to the Great Hall for lunch.
Peter feels a glowing pride in his heart as he watches her, with her head held high, as though the words didn’t affect her. He knows that she is proving to everyone that there still is hope in this shadowed world. But the hope is wearing thin when even the school cannot remain united against the Dark Wizard who is wreaking havoc throughout the Wizarding World.
She is only human, Peter reminds himself, when he watches her enter the library, burdened by too many books and the weight of the school on her shoulders. The Head Boy and Girl need to be strong, he thinks. They must be the pillars the younger students lean upon. But who do they turn to when they have no one left?
‘Are you all right?’ Peter asks. He feels as though he’s said this far too many times and the words have lost all meaning for Lily as thought it was just a common courtesy.
Lily nods curtly. ‘Yes, Peter. I just—I’m just tired, that’s all.’
She smiles wearily and sinks into a library chair. Peter sits next to her and mutters reassurances. Lily sighs and buries her head into her folded arms. Peter pats her arm awkwardly and gets up to give her some peace.
Despite her moments of uncertainty, Lily is the bravest person he has ever met. James and Sirius are the Kings in his life; the affable troublemakers that everyone adores. But she is the Queen; gentle and motherly with soft hands and kind eyes. She is the one everyone goes to when their life seems to have reached its end.
Peter watches as Lily is confronted by a crying first year. The girl has recently lost her parents in another one of Voldemort’s raids. And Peter is certain that she is unsure of to do when the world seems too large and too frightening that she’s not sure she can survive without her parents.
So Lily wipes her own tears away and carefully folds her secrets, placing them in a pocket above her heart, and pats the seat beside her, urging the young girl to sit down. Lily tells her that although losing her parents may seem like the end of the world, there is still so much more to live for. There is love, and friendship, and the will to survive to see the end of this dark world when the light prevails once more.
Lily’s soft hands rub circles on the girl’s back and her eyes are a source of comfort and strength for the girl because she cannot see Lily’s unshed tears. And if Lily can appear to come away from such a tragedy without scars or pain, the girl is determined to do the same.
Peter knows how much better this girl feels now that Lily has comforted her—Lily has always been his source of strength because she is so much more capable at pretending that nothing hurts and he admires her—has always admired her for putting others before herself.
Lily finally breaks when she is studying with the Marauders for a Transfiguration exam. Peter has never seen Lily cry before. But despite her red eyes and puffy face, Peter thinks she is still his beautiful Queen. And when James comforts Lily instead of Remus (her usual source of comfort), Peter knows that James is no longer his King, but hers.
When Sirius first meets Lily on the train ride to Hogwarts, he does not like her. She is pretty, he thinks, but plain. There is nothing special about her. When his older cousin, Bellatrix, sneers at Lily and calls her a Mudblood, Sirius does not defend her but leaves her to Bella’s torment. He knows that if he defends her, Bella will give him hell later when they’ve reached the safety of the Slytherin common room.
Sirius is surprised that Lily isn’t crying after Bellatrix’s tirade, but then he smirks as realisation dawns on him.
‘You don’t know what a Mudblood is, do you?’ Sirius asks.
Lily shakes her head. ‘No.’
Sirius rolls his eyes and polishes his nails on his robes, taking his slow time at getting around to him. ‘A Mudblood is—’
‘A foul name for someone who isn’t born to Wizarding parents,’ a voice interrupts Sirius.
Sirius looks up to see a young boy his age with unruly, unkempt hair (His parents really let him out like that? Sirius wonders) and wire-rimmed glasses.
‘Who are you?’ Lily asks suddenly, glancing at his hair and probably thinking along the same lines of Sirius.
The boy flashes a smile and sticks out his hand. ‘James Potter at your service!’
Lily takes his hand hesitantly. ‘Lily Evans,’ she murmurs.
‘Potter…’ Sirius says. A name that Sirius’ family has drilled into his head to hate. The Potters were a Muggle-loving family, a disgrace to Purebloods, they would say. His mother and father had told him that the Potters’ son would be starting Hogwarts this year as well. But Sirius had hoped to stay as far away from his as possible.
James raises an eyebrow. ‘You’ve heard of my family then?’
Sirius snorts. ‘My parents say you lot are Muggle-lovers.’
James’ face darkens and he takes in Sirius for the first time, notes his pressed clothing, dark locks, and grey eyes. ‘You must be a Black,’ James says stiffly.
‘At your service,’ Sirius mocks.
James shoots Sirius a look to kill, grabs Lily’s arm, and drags her out of the compartment. Sirius can hear James telling her that she mustn’t hang around people like the Blacks. Sirius laughs derisively and wishes that he could just be settled in his Slytherin dormitory instead of alone on the train.
When Sirius is sorted into Gryffindor, he is just as shocked as the rest of the school. Blacks are not Gryffindors, they are Slytherins—born and bred. Sirius sits at the table, afraid to glance at the Slytherin table where he knows his cousins, Bella and Narcissa, are glaring scornfully at him. The students at the Gryffindor table ignore him; they are either frightened or disgusted that a Black is among them. To make matters worse, Lily and James are sorted into Gryffindor and Sirius can’t help but wonder if he’s cursed.
Sirius uses vulgar words to describe Lily and James. He falls back onto the prejudice he was raised with and spews out filth about them when he is amongst his cousins because he wants to be accepted by someone, even if it is family. Gryffindor House has turned against Sirius and Sirius revolts against them, getting detention almost daily.
Sirius does not like his family, but they are family, and there isn’t anything he can do about it. He carries a powerful, influential name that people either respect or fear. Being sorted into Gryffindor went against all that Sirius was raised to believe and all the values his family held to their name and Sirius wasn’t sure he had ever felt as lost and confused as he was that first year at Hogwarts.
When second year begins, his roommates start talking with him. Sirius becomes better friends with James and realises that there is nothing wrong with being friendly with Muggles. James urges him to rethink his parents’ belief and questions whether or not these beliefs are what Sirius wants to follow. Under James’ influence (and fuelled also by his sorting into Gryffindor), Sirius begins to rebel against his family. Through his rebellion, Sirius continues to get detentions often. Professor McGonagall starts sending more and more letters home (‘Sirius is a continuous disturbance in class’ and ‘Your son has been hexing Slytherins left and right’). His mother always sends him replies to these letters, reprimanding him for disgracing the name of Black even more than he already has.
By third year, his mother’s letters become less frequent but more harsh and biting. After a particular nasty letter (his mother’s words were scathing), Sirius finds that he cannot sleep and sits up in the common room.
‘Sirius?’ her voice is quiet and gentle, soothing in a way his mother’s never was.
‘Lily.’ Sirius acknowledges her and he is confused at her appearance because he hasn’t talked to her since first year. He waits for her to apologise for intruding on his silence and scuttle back upstairs. But she doesn’t. Instead, Lily pads across the floor, barefoot and in her dressing gown, and sits down beside him.
‘What’s wrong?’ she asks, glancing at the crumpled letter in his hand.
Sirius sighs and wonders why he’s about to tell this girl whom he hardly likes and barely knows that he is so lost and confused. But he does anyways and Lily doesn’t interrupt him or laugh at his insecurities. Instead, she clasps his hand in hers and when he is finished, she tells him what she thinks he should do.
Sirius finds himself talking to Lily more frequently and by fourth year, Sirius considers Lily his confidante. He seeks her warmth to help soothe him. Sirius knows he can talk to James about anything. After all, they are best mates now, James tells him. But there is something about Lily that makes her more comforting. Her soft-spoken advice, Sirius thinks, is much better than James’ attempt at a joke to cheer him up. Her presence makes Sirius feel as though he’s being wrapped in the wings of angels and Sirius is certain she must be an angel.
Like a locked treasure chest, Sirius is sure her contents will be treasured when she is opened (by him? he wonders). It’s all a matter of time, he thinks.
He is patient when she does not seek comfort from him. And he understands when she goes to Remus instead of him. But he wishes that he could listen to her insecurities at least once. It is only fair since she has been there for him through many turbulent times. Still, he does not push her and only watches with a detached emotion when Remus is the one to open her.
When Sirius questions Remus about Lily, Remus is quiet. Remus is a good friend, Sirius knows this, and will not reveal her thoughts and pains. And Sirius is jealous of Remus for seeing the scars and wounds of this girl because he wants to be the one to mend them.
‘You love her, don’t you?’ Remus asks suddenly, one afternoon during sixth year, when it’s just Remus and Sirius beneath the oak tree by the lake.
‘Who?’ Sirius asks, picking at a blade of grass and tearing it in half.
‘Lily, you dolt,’ Remus says. He rolls over onto his side and rests on his elbow, peering at Sirius through his long hair.
Sirius shakes his head. ‘I do love her but not in the way Prongs loves her, or claims he loves her.’ Sirius sighs. ‘I love her like I love you and Prongs and Wormtail. She’s…one of my best friends.’
Remus nods and he lies back down, staring up at the sky. And in that moment, Sirius knows that Remus loves Lily too, but not in the way he does.
One of Remus’ favourite pastimes is watching Lily. He’s not a stalker, he reasons with Sirius when Sirius asks him why he stares at Lily all the time, but Lily is fascinating to watch. Her movements are poised and graceful. Like a swan, Remus claims she can easily glide on water. And like a swan, she is beautiful and elegant, wrapped in the white cloak of innocence.
Remus loves listening to Lily talk. Her voice is soft and gentle, and washes over him like the waves of the ocean (in truth, he’s never seen the ocean but he’s sure it’s beautiful—Lily will always be more beautiful). Her words are not always as gentle as her voice, or smooth. She is sarcastic and she has a sharp tongue. But it does not deter Remus from discovering her true intentions.
‘Sarcasm keeps you from telling people what you think of them, you know,’ Remus says lightly.
Lily shrugs and keeps her secrets still folded (always locked) away from him. His soul curls around hers and Lily wraps around him—and Remus understands her silence because it would hurt her so much more if she spoke.
To Remus, Lily is everything that he is not and she makes him feel complete (he falls for her more and more each day). Lily is honest. If she doesn’t like someone, they will know. Remus doesn’t have the heart to tell anyone that he doesn’t like them. She is also strong (so much stronger than he is) and courageous.
But she says, ‘You are far more courageous than I am, Remus Lupin.’ And she kisses him chastely on the lips.
Remus swallows his heart and shakes his head. How can he tell her how courageous she is? How strong she is? Remus hopes she knows how much her friendship means to him because she’s been there for him when no one else has and he loves her for that. Remus wishes that he and James didn’t love the same girl because one of them will get their heart broken (I wish it wasn’t me, he prays, but he knows that he’s always the one that falls).
‘Lily,’ he breathes, quiet, almost unspoken.
She puts a finger to his lips and says, ‘Hush, Remus. Not a word.’
Day by day, Remus unravels her, discovering new secrets along the way, until she opens up completely to him. Sirius pesters him to tell him what she’s like underneath it all but like a true friend, he folds her secrets inside of his and keeps them in his heart.
When James finally catches her, after many years of trying, Remus does his best to be happy. He praises himself on his acting; it is almost as good as Lily’s. He smiles and pats James on the back with a ‘Congratulations, mate, it’s about time’ and finds Lily to kiss her forehead. She smiles happily at him and Remus’ heart soars because she’s finally found someone she belongs to.
‘You won’t forget me, will you?’ she asks, sitting beside him on the Quidditch Pitch after a long day of studying for N.E.W.Ts.
Looking at her through windswept hair, Remus notices that she looks absolutely terrified. He questions, ‘What are you talking about?’
‘When we graduate,’ Lily amends. ‘When…when we’re forced to go out in the world beyond Hogwarts’ walls and face the truth, the destruction, the danger. Remus, what if one of us dies? I couldn’t bear it!’
Remus wraps his arms around her and silences her with a kiss. It is not a romantic kiss or one that proclaims his love for her because he knows that she’s James’ now. But it’s soft and gentle and it placates her fears.
‘Lily, I couldn’t possibly forget you. And I’ll always be by your side. Always. You and James are going to get married, and live for a very long time in a nice house, and have many children. And Sirius, Peter, and I will come over every day for tea and dinner and you’ll wish you could get rid of us,’ Remus says, kissing her hair.
Lily clutches to him tightly as though she is terrified he was going to leave her but she laughs, on the verge of hysterics. ‘Oh, Remus, I wouldn’t wish I could get rid of any of you. I wouldn’t trade you for all the riches in the world. You’re worth a million times more and you make me feel infinitely better than anything in this world.’
‘I don’t think anyone could ever forget you, Lily. You have made a presence in all our lives and an impact in all of our hearts. Wherever you go, I will follow softly, catching you if ever you shall fall.’
Lily sighs and buries closer to Remus. ‘You’ll always be first in my heart,’ she says softly, indulgently.
Remus scoffs. ‘What about James?’
‘I’m not first in James’ heart. Sirius is, and you know it.’ Remus nods. He knows.
‘You are always first in my heart too.’
Lily smiles. She knows.
James thinks Lily is the most beautiful girl he has ever laid eyes on. The fact that she doesn’t want him makes her all the more desirable. She is not a prize to be won; James knows she fears this. But he thinks that the day she does become his, he will feel as though he were the richest man alive.
James has never met a girl like Lily before. She is more intelligent than any of the girls who actually want him and he finds that the lack of having occasional intellectual conversations bores him. The other girls, James finds, change themselves to be whatever he wants them to be. Lily would never change for him, or for anyone else. And he admires her for that.
In their seventh year, James is made Head Boy with Lily as Head Girl. James cannot think of a more perfect opportunity to prove to Lily that he is mature enough to be Head Boy. He has always been kind and gentle (just like her) with a large heart and a talent for mischief but Lily has only seen the side of him that is loud, brash, and reckless. James’ goal for seventh year is to prove to her that he is responsible.
To many, the war brings Hogwarts to its knees. Instead of uniting against Voldemort, the school divides between Houses. Brawls are frequent between Gryffindors and Slytherins and James and Lily are very nearly pulling their hair out from trying to hold the school together.
James watches Lily in awe at how well she is composed (like diamond wound stars—so bright, still burning) despite her losses. She is resilient and determined. But she’s on the verge of breaking down.
On a Saturday night, James finds Lily asleep at a common room table, her head resting on her arms.
‘Lily,’ James says, nudging her awake from her fitful nap.
She yawns and wipes her eyes. ‘Oh, I must have fallen asleep. I’m so sorry, James. I’m just so tired—’
‘Don’t worry Lily,’ he says soothingly. He sits beside her and places a warm hand over hers. ‘I know. I’m tired too.’
Lily bites her lip and James watches her crumble. ‘I don’t know what to do anymore. We’ve tried everything. If the students can’t control their reckless behaviour in school, imagine what life is going to be like when we all enter the world outside of Hogwarts. Everything changes, James. The life we know will be completely different. You think it’s bad just reading it in the Daily Prophet. It’s going to be worse when we’re the ones out there fighting Death Eaters, and instead of unfamiliar names in the Obituaries, it will be full of our friends’ names.'
She sobs and James wraps his arms around her and murmurs reassurances. James wonders how this happens, how their roles have switched because Lily is always the one to reassure and James is always the one that needs reassurance.
‘Hey Lily, don’t cry. It’ll all be okay,’ he says, but she keeps crying and James is growing nervous. He’s never dealt with a crying girl before.
‘I’m sorry, James,’ Lily chokes. ‘I mustn’t be so silly. I just—’ James silences her with a soft, yet urgent, kiss.
He pulls away from her to softly murmur, ‘Stop talking, Lily.’
Lily nods, her eyes still closed, waiting for him. So he covers her lips with his again. It’s uncomfortable, he thinks, sitting at the common room table, Lily’s head turned at an awkward angle. And he wants one of them to move so that it’s more comfortable. Lily seems to read his mind (either that or she is uncomfortable as well) and she turns in her chair so she’s facing him. It gives him better access and he rests his hands on her waist, trying to kiss away her helplessness because he knows his words are inadequate for situations such as these.
James is a careful lover with gentle, certain hands which make her bloom like a flower (a lily, his Lily).
‘I love you,’ he says. These three words always seem adequate for any situation as he presses them against her skin.
‘I love you too,’ she murmurs, her fingers tangled in his hair.
He kisses her softly, slowly, before dropping to his knees (a second time—the first time, in joke, during their fifth year—but not the last time he will fall to his knees for this woman).
‘Will you marry me?’ he asks nervously, fumbling for the ring in his pocket. He looks up at Lily, who smiles and nods. James sighs in relief and slips the ring onto her finger, standing up and kissing her once more.
‘You’re beautiful,’ he says, pressing a kiss to the corner of her mouth.
‘You’re mine,’ she says, slipping her fingers between his.
‘D’you think we’ll make it in the world?’ James asks suddenly.
‘I’d like to think so. But right now, I don’t care if the world ends. As long as I have you by my side, I’m as happy as I’ll ever be.’ James smiles and squeezes Lily’s hand.
‘We’ll make it together then,’ he says reassuringly. Lily nods, kisses James once more, and waits for the world to end.