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i.

It was important that they kept it a secret.

As a Gryffindor and a Slytherin, it was almost stupid to be in love anyway, with all the house drama keeping them apart, but to be two girls in love in the seventies?

Truly the stupidest thing they could have done.

Maybe not the stupidest, but it was pretty high up there.

 

Lily Evans was not stupid.

She just did stupid things, occasionally.

Lily Evans was not stupid, but, occasionally she would do stupid things that involved Narcissa Black.

And sneaking out was one of the stupid things they would do. One of the least punishable things, even at Hogwarts.

By her fifth year, and as prefect, Lily could get away with almost anything. Narcissa- not so much, but they’d still duck through the corridors of Hogwarts, avoiding teachers and well-lit areas.

They'd sneak into long-unused classrooms and kiss in the dark.

 

They’d started last year when Narcissa was a fifth year and Lily just a year below. Neither of them was sure why; there wasn't really any reason for them to interact.

Years didn’t really mix, and while Gryffindors and Slytherins shared some classes, Lily and Narcissa never did. But Narcissa would stare at the Gryffindor table during meals, and it didn’t take long for Lily to catch on.

And write a letter. A very short one, granted, but a letter nonetheless.

And ask Sirius if she could pretty please borrow his owl to send a letter to a cousin. He didn’t ask which cousin, though he opened his mouth as if to ask. There wasn’t any magical cousin in Lily’s family, but, his owl was a common enough breed; it wouldn’t be that noticeable flying around the Slytherin table.

Sirius noticed but didn’t say anything about it to Lily. His owl wasn’t that smart anyway.

And Lily kept asking and kept borrowing, and kept snatching letters out of the owl’s claws and stuffing them down her robes. She’d laugh and shake her head when people at breakfast would ask her who the letters were from and what they were for.

Lily Evans was not stupid, but she did take risks.

And those risks made her feel alive.

 

ii.

The letters Narcissa and Lily sent each other in their fifth and fourth years respectively got longer and longer.

They started with simple questions, thing like

 

Great morning to be creeping on Gryffindor girls, huh? –LE

 

Followed the next morning by

 

Am I making you uncomfortable? And it doesn’t stop the boys from creeping on Gryffindor girls. It’s always a nice day to look at pretty girls.

 

The response to that came a few days later but,

 

I agree. -LE

 

Right, yeah. But am I making you uncomfortable?

 

It’s okay. It’s nice to be complimented by a pretty girl. -LE

 

Weeks later, it was like receiving an essay every few days. Both girls were quick writers, but this took some time. Letters about overheard conversations or what Snape did to piss Narcissa off or the type of dinners they preferred and how dumb some of the house rules were.

Simple things like that, written out over hours and devoured like novels. 

 

Lily kept a bundle of Narcissa’s letters under her bed, stashed under a floorboard, hidden with so many enchantments sometimes Lily couldn’t find them and she’d have to take off her heavy robes to crawl under her bed and tap the floor until she found them.

She’d reread them, sometimes. When she couldn’t sleep or she’d gotten tired of studying.

There was one letter where Narcissa suggested they sneak out that night. Lily had stopped reading the letters at breakfast so when she dropped her inkwell on the floor she’d avoided stares from the school.

She’d been reading Narcissa’s letter instead of doing her muggle studies work, tracing patterns in the margins of the parchment and absentmindedly playing with her capped inkwell.

The glass cracked, but that was fixable, easily masked.

What was hard to hide was her excitement.

Throughout dinner, she glowed. She didn’t remember eating, she didn’t remember being afraid of being caught out after curfew. She remembered making it to the classroom Narcissa suggested and how dark it was, despite the lumos they’d both cast.

She remembered a blur, mostly. Narcissa remembered more.

Narcissa remembered Lily Evans walking in and laughing. She had the gall to laugh.

After writing to each other for weeks the first thing a pretty girl did, face to face with Narcissa, was a laugh.

Narcissa laughed too. There wasn’t anything funny about the situation but it felt good to laugh.

Lily stopped abruptly, her face turned red and she sank to the floor. She wished her skin didn’t give to embarrassment so obviously. Her shoulders were shaking a little, and when Narcissa bent down to check on her (was she crying?), Lily was still laughing.

There was something funny enough to make them laugh for minutes on end until Narcissa had to stop because she couldn’t breathe.

They retreated into a corner, the one farthest from the door, and sat, knees pressing, faces so, so close, suddenly hyperaware of the space they were in and how anyone could open the door.

Colloportus.

Lumos.

They could see now, just a little. Glowing outlines and a few faded colors.

Narcissa was blushing, they both were. A soft kind of pink on Narcissa’s skin that was barely visible in the glow of their wands.

What to say after weeks of getting to know each other and then this?

Nobody was laughing anymore.

“So,” Lily started.

“So yeah,”

“Uh,”

Pause.

“We can’t let anyone know about this,” Narcissa started. “I mean, we could. But that’d be stupid and we’d have to hold people’s arms behind their backs and find some way to keep their mouths shut.”

“I mean, yeah it’s risky,” Lily said. “I don’t even know what your favorite color is. How am I supposed to risk house points for a girl who hasn’t even told me her favorite color?”

“Bright green,” Narcissa rushed. Like your eyes.

“Stupid Slytherins and your stupid bright green.” Like my eyes?

“Mhm,” Yeah.

“Mine’s yellow. So yellow it’s almost white.” Lily added, after a while. “Like cream.” Like your hair.

“Pretty,” Like my hair?

“Yeah,” Yellow, just like your hair.

 

The next few curfew breaks went similarly to the first.

New classrooms each time, but knees still pressed against knees and, as the classrooms grew smaller and smaller, foreheads pressed together. Still aware of every movement and breath with hearts rattling around ribcages.

Colloportus.

Lumos still illuminated quiet conversations and both girls knew their cheeks were colored red.

 

“What’s your favorite animal?”

“Cats. I love that they’re literally everywhere here.”

“Really, Lily?”

“Shut up,”

“Make me.”

Lily laughed and pressed her lips to Narcissa’s nose. Then started.

Then got up and skipped out and back to her dormitory, her stomach twisting.

 

Or,

“Favorite food?”

“Chocolate,”

“Chocolate isn’t a food, Narcissa. It’s a sweet.”

“Chocolate is my favorite food.”

 

Lily brought a chocolate frog the next night.

Narcissa didn’t ask where she got it, just snapped the frog in half and gave it to Lily. They munched on the snack while the card lay forgotten, Circe pacing back in forth in the frame before vanishing.

 

Pretty soon the questions came faster and faster.

“Sunrise or sunset?”

“Sunset. I can’t wake up early enough for sunrise. Hair up or down?”

“Up. Do you like to braid hair?”

“Lily,” Narcissa laughed her airy laugh. “I love it. I’m pretty decent, but I only ever practice on myself.”

“With or without magic?”

“Without. Magic pulls the hair too much.”

Lily laughed. “I have to use magic if I want to braid my hair. I can’t do it myself.”

“Turn around.”

“Hm?”

“Turn around I’m going to braid your hair.”

“How hard are you going to pull?”

“I won’t pull too hard, I promise.”

 

Lily showed up to breakfast with her hair braided neatly.

 

The Christmas Hogsmeade trip found Narcissa and Lily in an awkward situation.

Narcissa was going with her family and whichever friends wanted to tag along, and Lily, poor Lily, had to deal with James Potter. He wasn’t horrible but he was persistent.

“I told you, James, I’m not going to go with you!”

“Why not, Evans? I knew I should have asked you sooner, I should have known you’d have a date already.”

Lily flushed red, or, redder. “I do not have a date and I am not going with you.”

Narcissa watched from down the hall. She wasn’t going to interfere, but she felt bad watching.

“I bet Snivellus asked you to go with him. Is that it, are you going with Snivellus?”

“Shut your mouth, Toerag.”

Narcissa laughed.

Lily and James almost snapped their necks trying to see who it was. Lily caught Narcissa’s eye and looked like she was going to cry.

Narcissa stalked over, smiling.

“James Potter,” She said.

“Yes?”

“Arrogant as always, I see.” She tipped her head.

“Why do you talk to me like you’re McGonagall?” James snapped.

Narcissa ignored his comment, and added: “Why do you insist on bothering Evans?”

“I just want her to go to Hogsmeade with me.”

“Hm,”

“Narcissa, go away.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes at her cousin. “Sirius,” She nodded, then turned back to James. “Don’t you think there are better ways to ask a girl out than insulting her friend?”

“Yes, but she’s ignored my other advances!”

“And,” Narcissa recommended, putting on her highly superior voice. “Don’t you think if she’s made it clear she won’t go with her, you should leave her alone?”

If anyone could shoot a boy down, it was Narcissa.

 

Lily didn’t go to Hogsmeade that trip. She didn’t feel much like being trailed with the rest of the boys shooting her pitying looks but not intervening.

 

Narcissa bought cauldron cakes from Honeydukes.

Lily found them wrapped neatly at the bottom of her bed come Christmas morning, happy that Narcissa remembered her favorite sweets.

She saved them to share with Narcissa.

 

The year dragged on like that, secret meetings and nose and forehead kisses in between slightly awkward but always cherished conversations.

It was February, past Lily’s birthday, and coming upon Narcissa’s.

Lily wanted to start going outside (“It’s so pretty and nobody will be out there!”) but Narcissa felt that was excessive, preferring to split sweets and smiles in classrooms after dark (“Nobody’s out there because it’s cold, Lily. I don’t care if you like snow, it’s cold cold cold. Freezing, even. There’s snow falling.”)

 

Narcissa’s birthday came.

Lily had been waiting impatiently for this day in early March. She’d borrowed Sirius’s owl again, and written to her parents, begging for some sort of white, plush cat. They’d sent it in a package and Lily was so so excited to give it to Narcissa.

Sixteen was not too old to own a plush toy.

Lily presented the toy to her that night, and Narcissa found herself with her first ever plush toy.

A white cat she named Lily.

She also refused to tell anyone where she’d gotten it from, but it sat on top of her pillows through the day and in her arms at night.

 

Narcissa’s birthday went, but OWL preparations came.

OWL preparations came and Narcissa found herself with no free time which meant no Lily.

It meant very little Lily, just enough to keep her going.

Sitting at the same table at the library when all the others were full, feet touching. A little reminder of who they were with.

Practicing charms in front of Lily late at night in some dark classroom. Sometimes Lily would fix Narcissa’s stance or pronunciation and Narcissa would blush and feel her whole body tense up when Lily brushed against her.

Her charms improved very quickly, though.

With all this study time, Lily found herself growing impatient.

She couldn’t make time move faster, she couldn’t skip forward. She could only wait and wait and wait and tell Narcissa to go to bed and sleep for Morgana’s sake.

“What if I do it for your sake?”

“Cissy, shut up. Go to bed or I’ll raise some sort of alarm.”

Narcissa squinted into the dark. “What did you call me??”

“Cissy.” Lily laughed. “I think it’s cute. Kinda suits you. Like, Narcissa is regal which you are, don’t get me wrong, but Cissy makes me feel… happier.”

“Bella calls me Cissy,” Narcissa whispered. Her wand sputtered and then the light it had been emitting just… stopped.

"I won't, then," Lily promised. Bellatrix Black was not her favorite person, and obviously, not Narcissa’s.

 

With OWLs, with school worry, Narcissa began to stress about everything.

“They’re a really big deal!”

Almost noon, sometime in April.

“You’ve been studying for months and they’re not for a few weeks, Cee.”

“Okay, see, Cee is better than Cissy but still, Lily.” Narcissa let her head fall against the library table. Hard. Maybe if she got hurt she wouldn’t have to take the test.

She sat up and saw some of the ink on her own essay smudged. She could almost feel the ink stain on her forehead.

“Just take the night off.” Lily insisted, her quill scratching across the parchment in front of her. “I am.”

“You’re what?”

“Taking the night off,” Lily said. “I’m almost done with this potions essay and I’ve studied enough. I’ll spend all night reading in the common room if you don’t distract me.”

“I’m a distraction?” Someone shifted in their chair and Narcissa lowered her voice. “I didn’t even know you had exams.”

“Cee, fourth years have exams too.”

“I’m so stupid.”

“Take the night off, Cee.”

 

That night was good.

April was nice that year, unusually so.

April drizzles didn’t stop anyone from going outside.

At night, sometime around two in the morning after the common rooms cleared out and Lily and Narcissa could sneak out, and Lily was always concerned about the Fat Lady.

What would she say? Who would she tell? Lily didn’t have James’s cloak (she knew way too much about that thing) or really know any charms she could cast on herself for secrecy without accidentally severing a limb.

She was good, but not that good.

She settled for wishing on shooting stars. This was the first time they’d been able to make it outside.

 

The stars were out in full force.

Lily had never seen them like this before, and they were so pretty it took a little while to find Narcissa.

Who was also staring at the stars.

“Can we sit by the lake?” She whispered. “I want to see the reflection too.”

“Yeah,” Lily’s voice was just as hushed, both in awe of the heavens and for fear of getting caught. “Yeah let’s sit by the lake.”

Their hands twirled together, fingers wrapped up in each other.

They stumbled, almost drunkenly, to the edge of the lake where Lily ran her free hand over the surface to disrupt the reflection of the stars.

“Still pretty,” Narcissa yawned. “How are you still pretty when you’re running on no sleep and tea?”

“You’re talking about my blessed good looks?” Lily laughed, making an effort to be quiet. “I should be talking about yours.”

“Mine?” Narcissa sighed. “I’m decent, I’ll admit to that. But I’m not Lily Evans beautiful or smart.”

Lily blushed, the light of the moon and stars making it light enough to see a little color.

Lumos,” She said, angling her wand towards the lake. “See, Cee? You’re beautiful.”

 

The stars were the only ones to see them kiss. It made them feel special watching two girls in love, lips pressed together, lit wand forgotten on the grass.

Hands on hips hands on back on hands hands hands hands hands on lips and hands in hair and lips on lips again and they were sitting on the ground now, Narcissa in Lily’s lap and at fifteen and sixteen years old, they were the happiest they could ever be.

 

iii.

Summer was now the worst holiday.

There was no Lily and Narcissa.

There was Lily, and there was Narcissa; two separate beings.

They were separate at school but that was different. At Hogwarts there was Lily and there was Narcissa- two separate beings who could become Lily and Narcissa. Together and always.

Now, the summer heat kept Lily on her bed, staring up at the ceiling and listening to Petunia’s friends as background noise for the fan she’d placed on her desk.

And hoping Severus didn’t show up uninvited again.

And waiting for Narcissa’s owl (she had an owl they could have used from the beginning. Leave it to the Gryffindor to make the first move.) and the letter it carried.

And hoping Severus didn’t show up uninvited again.

Lily flinched every time the buzzer rang through the house, only to let in another one of her sister’s friends.

Who weren’t magical freaks, as she’d been reminded over and over and over again.

Lily sat.

And Lily waited.

She ate lunch and waited by the window in her room, reading schoolbooks and listening for the light sound of an owl at her window.

When she saw and owl, her heart sank.

This wasn’t Cee’s beautiful barn owl, this one was just brown. A Hogwarts one, then.

A Hogwarts one with test scores and Lily threw the letter on her bed as it flew off. It wasn’t Narcissa’s owl.

So she would sit and wait.

 

And wait she did. Narcissa’s response letter to whatever they had been discussing had taken a week to write.

Lily figured the boredom was probably good for her, but she couldn’t help but feel a little bitter that it had taken a week to write back. She started not sleeping again, just like first year. Sitting and staring at the wall at night, waiting until her eyes closed or the sky became lighter.

 

She waited two days before sending a letter and returning Cee’s owl.

There was only so long she could be petty.

 

When Lily did receive and uninvited guest, it wasn’t Severus.

The doorbell rang and Lily didn’t bother moving from the desk she’d crammed into some corner of her room, with the fan at her feet. There wasn’t anywhere else to put it and it kept her cool.

“Lily!” Petunia yelled. “One of your freak friends is here, and it’s not the whacko!”

Lily rolled her eyes and cracked her door.

“Well, aren’t you going to come down?”

“Petunia, I’m working.”

“Just go up I don’t know what’s wrong with her. Second door on the right. Says Lily above the door in big, red and gold letters.”

Lily heard the stairs creek like they always did and turned her head to snap at Petunia but then. But then.

Narcissa Black had shown up, uninvited.

Thank Merlin.

 

“That’s a dumb way to greet your girlfriend.”

“I’m your girlfriend now? And don’t say that too loudly, the walls aren’t that thick.”

“I’d love to have you at my house for a few nights,” Narcissa said, dropping her traveling bag onto Lily's bed. “Unfortunately my cousins came over and Sirius and Regulus know exactly who you are. And Andromeda knows but she’s not home, she’s with Ted, and Bella knows and we ran out of spare rooms.”

“Shame,” Lily sighed. “I’d planned on moping all summer and avoiding Severus.”

Narcissa laughed, then wrinkled her nose. “I hope he’s leaving you alone.”

“I get letters from James Potter sometimes too.”

“He’s never going to give up.”

“I know,” Lily muttered. “Neither is Severus. I burn all the letters.”

“Good,” Narcissa said. She’d flopped down on Lily’s bed a while ago and was running her fingers over the flower pattern on the bedsheet.

“So,”

“So,”

“You’re here.”

“That, Lily Evans, I am.”

 

Summer was now the best holiday.

Lily and Narcissa were one again. There was just over a month where they just were. Lily made Narcissa go to the movies and the curry shop just a five-minute walk away.

Narcissa made Lily sit on the roof under the night sky and kiss until they forgot who they were; lips on lips and down in Lily’s room on the few nights the rest of the Evans were gone, lips on hips.

In the summer, things were good.

Narcissa barely needed to convince Lily’s mother to bake a cake when Lily’s prefect badge arrived.

They slept in the same bed (“We don’t have any extra mattresses and I don’t mind, mum.”) and Narcissa would spend hours braiding Lily's red, red hair.

The walls weren’t that thick but music covered what the walls failed to hide.

Narcissa would send letters to her mother and cousins, filled with excuses as to why she couldn’t come home (Sirius and Regulus are still visiting, right? They don’t miss me, and didn’t Andromeda just get back? There’s less room now. and Tell my mother you see enough of me at school.) and where she was (I’m still in England, don’t worry. Yes, I’ll send photos.)

They went to Diagon Alley together, planning it so that they’d go the same day as Narcissa’s family.

Planning it like they’d just run into each other and “Mum, this is Lily Evans! She goes to Hogwarts and I ran into her at the Cauldron.”

Bellatrix and Regulus were kind enough not to mention Lily’s blood status.

The outing would have ended right there.

How lucky there were to run into each other at the Leaky Cauldron, and how lucky they were when nobody said anything about Lily and Narcissa taking the same underground- Lily, home, and Narcissa to you know, the house of that friend from Hogwarts she was staying with.

Lily couldn’t tell if Narcissa’s family didn’t care or what.

 

“Cee, we haven’t talked about your family.”

“What about them?”

“Cee, your family are blood purists. What would happen if they found out you were dating a muggle born?”

“Lily,” Narcissa said, her brow furrowed. “Lily my family isn’t blood purist.”

Narcissa are you blind?

“I’m not. And they’d probably murder my lover and lock me away oh Merlin the Blacks are blood purists.”

“Lover is a dumb word, but forget that, we have to talk about this.”

“What is there to talk about? My family wants you dead.”

“Yeah, yeah they do.”

“Lily I think I’m going to be sick.” Something was very off with Narcissa. There were tears running down her face and her pale skin was tinged green.

“Don’t vomit don’t vomit don’t vomit don’t vomit.” They’d made it into the bathroom and Lily positioned Narcissa next to the toilet.

“Why didn’t I notice before?” Her voice wasn’t any weaker than it normally was.

“You were raised with it. It’s part of who you are.”

 

iv.

The start of Lily’s fifth year went just as she’d expected. She had difficulty sleeping again, and she was overloaded after a summer of boredom and Narcissa. When October hit, there was an easy pace to fall into, plus added prefect duties. Fifth year was good, mostly.

Lily’s life with Narcissa in it was good. Being back at Hogwarts was good. There was no Petunia, she could do magic, and she could make out with Cee in the Prefect’s bathroom.

 

Narcissa was not doing as well.

Her workload was overwhelming. She’d aced her OWLs, of course. Nobody gave Narcissa credit for the wit she worked so hard for.

And all that intelligence landed herself at classes she was not ready to take. Or, she was ready for them, but not all at once.

Lily, somehow, was able to do her own work and then help Narcissa with hers. The fact that Lily could do Narcissa’s work made her angry.

It wasn’t fair Lily was so smart.

It wasn’t fair to be angry.

She figured getting over it would be the best thing to do. It wasn’t fair to be angry at Lily’s effortlessness and it wasn’t fair to hurt herself.

Still, there was the underlying fear that she wasn’t good enough.

“Lily?” She asked, her fingers running along the inside of Lily’s wrist.

“Mhh??” Lily said, her lips pressed to Narcissa’s collarbone.

“How are you so...”

“Effortless?”

“Yeah,”

“I’m not,” Lily said. “I really am not.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” Lily said, dropping her head to Cee’s shoulder. “I can’t sleep, often. I’ll stare at nothing for a bit, but then I’ll read. Sometimes I sleep in class because I haven’t slept in a while.”

“Have you tried sleeping draughts?”

“They help,” Lily said. “I read, Cee. I read so much. And I practice.”

“You don’t sleep.”

“Right,”

“Lily that’s dangerous,”

“Cee. I’m fine. It goes on and off. I sleep when I can.”

“Hmm,” Narcissa said, kissed Lily. “It’s dangerous.”

“Yeah,” Lily said. “Yeah, yeah Cee. I know.”

 

They made it to December.

They made it to December without anyone asking why Lily had spent three hours in the library and why Narcissa had disappeared for so long.

The Christmas Hogsmeade visit was on its way and Lily was determined to go this year.

“So,” Sirius slid over and sat next to Lily. “I’m curious as to why you keep vanishing and shirking from your prefect duties.”

“Sirius,” Lily sighed. “I’m not shirking my duties. Secondly, you don’t care. James cares.”

“That’s a lie,” Sirius’s eyes popped in mock horror. “I care. We talk, sometimes.”

 “Hm," She hummed and turned back to her work. A transfiguration essay this time. “That’s sweet but it’s none of his business. And, I’m not going with you lot to Hogsmeade.”

"He wasn't going to ask," Sirius said. His face was set into a neutral expression but he broke his solemnity to snicker. "Yeah, he was. I'm all for encouraging Potter but you hit a point where it's a step too far."

"That was some time ago," Lily said, looking up from the parchment. “Third year, maybe.”

Sirius laughed. “Narcissa complains about it all the time. Says it disrupts breakfast.”

“I bet that’s not all its interrupting.”

“What?”

“Nothing,” She turned back to her paper. “Nothing.”

“Speaking of Narcissa,”

“No,”

“You brought her up!”

“Sirius,” Lily said. “I didn’t bring her up, you did.”

“Okay, that’s fair. Anyway. We’re placing bets on her love life. My mother was saying something about her getting married to another pureblood family and I figured you’d know something.”

“You figured?” Lily said. Her hand jerked and a line appeared through her work. “Why would you figure that? Anyway, she’s only in her sixth year. Isn’t that a little, I don’t know, early for these things?”

“You’re Lily Evans,” Sirius replied. His eyes scanned her face. He looked concerned but ignored her comment on Narcissa’s age. “You’re the kindest and most empathetic Gryffindor. Someone would tell you something.”

“Yeah,” Lily said. “Someone would.”

 

Lily borrowed Sirius’s owl again. He was a good friend, didn’t ask that many questions when she didn’t want to hear them. Lent her the owl but did ask if she was okay.

“Sirius,”

Pause.

“Thanks, Sirius.”

“Any day, Lily.”

 

Snow.

Snow was what Lily woke up to the day of the Hogsmeade trip and snow was the best way to get lost or lose other people. She was excited.

There was some pub, a run down one almost outside the Village. The Hog’s Head. That’s where she would be meeting Cee.

A small, dingy pub where the guests looked like murders.

The best place to take a girl on their first real date since August.

The door swung open and Narcissa walked in, her nose wrinkling a little. She sat down across from Lily. It was the most secluded corner they could find.

“Aren’t you afraid of being killed here?”

“Once you’ve made peace that death is inescapable, no.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes. “Melodramatic Gryffindors,” She said.

“Nah, just stupid.”

Lily had ordered butterbeer (she wasn’t old enough to get anything else and the tea and coffee some of the other patrons were drinking looked downright disgusting) and they drank from truly disgustingly dirty glasses.

“You’re not afraid of getting sick, either?”

“I figure I can miss a few hours of class.”

Narcissa laughed. Stupid Gryffindors.

They spoke like that, answer after question.

When they spoke of what Sirius had told Lily, Narcissa was glad they’d come here instead of the Three Broomsticks.

"I didn't want to say anything," Narcissa whispered into her glass. Her eyes were welling up which was so uncommon for her. “I figured I was a sixth year and Mum would have changed her mind by the time I was old enough to marry but I didn’t want to say anything in case I jinxed it.”

“Cee,”

“I should have mentioned it.”

“When did you find out?”

“This summer.”

“Cee I’m so sorry.”

“I guess this ties into the whole blood purity thing, huh? I didn’t even think about if Mum and Dad had chosen to be together, you know? What I’m just as unhappy as they are?”

“I’m sure you’ll be happy, Cee. You deserve it. I’m sure your family knows that.”

Tears were streaming down Narcissa’s face and she angrily wiped them away. She did deserve happiness. She’d be happy with Lily forever and she couldn’t have that. She didn’t want to marry some man she’d never been interested in just for her family.

What a stupid way to live her life.

Lily reached out and grabbed her hand. It was still a lot to process.

 

Narcissa had convinced her mother she had a lot of work to do over the holidays and it was better to stay at Hogwarts to get it done.

Lily had done the same.

It wasn’t a total lie.

Christmas day was fine. They were both unhappy about Narcissa’s future, but at least they had another few years.

She and Lily spent most of their day in Narcissa’s bed. Wrapped up in blankets, wrapped up in each other, with the plush cat further down the bed. The curtains on Narcissa’s been had been closed and charmed to soundproof. There wasn’t anyone to hear them but they were both happier that way.

 

The house tables had been pushed together- no, removed to make space for one big table.

Sirius had stayed behind too, as had James and Remus and Peter. The gang was all there.

Lily sat with Narcissa on her left and Sirius on her right. She and Narcissa held under the table as a grounding mechanism. A coping mechanism. How dare everyone be merry when they were falling apart right before them?

 

Narcissa left dinner early.

Lily brought her peppermint chocolate and they sat in Narcissa’s bed, staring at the inside of the curtain.

Lily turned her head and kissed Cee softly.

“Happy Christmas, my love.”

 

It took them a few more weeks to decide moping wasn’t the best move. They had at least another year and the time they had left may have been short but they had it.

They had time.

They had time over Easter break. They had each other and spent time roaming the corridors at night.

They had time when Lily found the room a few days later. A whole room that would provide them with what they needed. Loveseats and plush couches and a fort built out of blankets and pillows that were lit on the inside.

Tables with big chairs to do work. Tables with chairs too big to do work. A little kitchen that didn’t really work but they could boil tea if Narcissa tried hard enough.

(“I can use Muggle apparatuses,” Lily argued. “It’s always good to learn new skills, Cee.”

“If you can use this thing, why are you taking muggle studies?”

“It’s fascinating.”)

Sometimes the room provided them with sweets and picked up pretty early on Narcissa’s taste for chocolate. Sometimes they forgot they had classes and they slept until early morning and had to run down to breakfast in yesterday’s robes.

They had time when Lily took her OWLs. They had time when Snivellus called Lily that word. They had time when Lily cried for hours on end.

(“I should have known. By his friends.”

“They’re my friends too, Lily.”

“You didn’t choose them, Cee. You’ve never called them friends.”)

And when James Potter started cleaning up his act and giving Lily the space she needed. And when Sirius asked her again about Narcissa’s mystery boy.

(“You still don’t know who it is???”

“Sirius, I don’t know if this is because you want to know or if you want me to know.”)

And when he asked her what kissing girls was like. Just as a general thing, he said, as he never had. And when she found out about Remus.

And when Narcissa visited over the summer. A break from the Black family.

Both of them crammed in Lily’s room. The Evans family never said a word, just let Lily’s friends stay for a few weeks as long as they took turns cooking.

They had time when Lily smacked Sirius for yelling at Petunia when she called them freaks at King’s Cross.

They had time when Narcissa’s seventh year started and when Sirius asked why Lily called her Cee.

(“I’ve heard Cissy, which is terrible.”

“She hates it.”

“But when would you have spent enough time together to figure that out?”

“We don’t, Sirius. She spends time with me over the break to escape you lot. And Narcissa is a bit of a mouthful.” She quipped.

“I’m not saying anything!”

“Whatever,”)

They had time again over Christmas and through Narcissa’s eighteenth and Lily’s seventeenth and over Easter and they had so much time and then Narcissa was taking her NEWTs.

And their time ran out.

 

v.

Lily had never asked who Narcissa was marrying. It had been over two years since their first exchanges and she’d never asked who Narcissa was marrying.

Narcissa didn’t want to volunteer information, just in case Lily set him on fire.

Which she couldn’t have, anyway. He was a year older than Narcissa herself, a year out of Hogwarts.

He was the absent boy she never wanted as a lover.

Narcissa never wanted any boy for a lover.

 

“We have a week left, Lily.”

“Cee…”

“Lily we have a week left.”

“I know.”

“You’re not going to say anything?”

“Cee, I’m trying not to think about it and you’re not helping.”

“We have to stop.”

Silence, then, Lily’s feet slammed against the floor and she stood up.

“Excuse me?”

“We can’t be together anymore or do whatever this was.”

Whatever this was? Narcissa Black, you have been my whole life and you just want to... what?”

“I don’t want to.” A bad time to be angry.

“I know you don’t I just-”

“You just what.”

"I figured we could still be together," Lily whispered. "Move to America. You know, they have marches for people like us? And protests? I read about one in the paper a few years ago. It was really big. Stonewall in New York.”

It wouldn’t change anything. Andromeda’s still with Ted. She’s going to be kicked out of the family as soon as she marries him. I’ve heard my mother talk about it. What do you think would happen to me if their daughter in law was a muggleborn witch? What do you think would happen to you?”

“I don’t-”

“You don’t think?”

“I think plenty, Narcissa.

 

Two days left.

“I’m sorry, Cee.”

“Really?”

“Cee, this has been the best few years of my life. To end it with anger is unwise.”

“Why weren’t you in Ravenclaw?”

“Because I’m doing the brave thing, Cee. I’m in love with a girl and I’m owning up to my mistakes.”

“I was at fault too.”

“Why weren’t you in Gryffindor?”

“Are you not aware of the love my cousin gets?”

 

vi.

Narcissa Black married Lucius Malfoy.

Lily read about it in the Prophet. She’d been ready for this moment. Sort of.

It was a nice fall wedding.

The happy couple looked like stone and ice, standing side by side.

 

To say she didn’t love James Potter was a lie. She did love him. Almost Christmas of her seventh year and she finally went to Hogsmeade with James.

He was polite and she missed out on years of having him in her life.

Why didn’t I do this before? She asked. But then blonde would flash in the corner of her eye and the world would stop and crumble around her.

 

vii.

Lily Evans married James Potter.

Narcissa read about it in one of the last letters Lily sent her. She’d never been ready for this moment.

In the photo that came attached, the happy couple looked ecstatic. All their friends around them. A punch to the gut but Narcissa would take it out and stare at Lily’s face and remember all the rules they had to break to stay together and how she refused to break the last one.

 

Draco Lucius Malfoy was born June fifth, followed a few months later by Harry James Potter, July thirty-first. They both had their father’s names.

 

Lily Potter (née Evans) died October thirty-first.

Narcissa Malfoy was never ready to hear those words. Her husband found her screaming in the breakfast room, the paper clutched to her chest. She let him wrap her up in his arms and cried, waiting until she could see Lily again.