A Many Splendored ThingAuthor: writcraftCharacters/Pairings:
James Potter/Lily Evans, James Potter/Sirius Black, Sirius Black/Remus Lupin, Remus Lupin/Lily EvansRating:
Love, Kissing, Candles, ChocolateOther Warnings/Content:
Open Relationship, Angst, Pining, Cunnilingus, Blow Jobs, Frottage, POV shift, Ambiguous/Open EndingWord Count:
Love, from three different perspectives.Author's Notes:
As per my request I'm posting on a free day after missing my regular posting date. I hope you enjoy the story!Part I: Candles
When James thinks about Lily, he’s reminded of fire.
The flames of first love, red hair spanning out on white sheets, the sting of her nails against his back and the slick heat of her body. The room was lit by candles, that first time. He slipped trembling fingers inside her and made his way down her body. James spent so long kissing the hard peaks of Lily’s nipples and the warmth of her belly, she practically had to shove him lower. It’s not that he didn’t want to do it, there was no misplaced squeamishness. James wanted to taste Lily with every fibre of his being, he just didn’t know what the fuck he was doing, and James likes to be good at things. He wanted to be good at that, too.
In the end, she talked him through it. An encouraging mmm, yes
, a gasp, a twist, a cut-off cry of pleasure. James didn’t ever want to stop kissing her, enjoying the taste of her against his mouth and noting her responses when he caressed her clit with his tongue. He tasted, sucked, licked and teased as he worked two fingers inside her body, losing himself in the warm clench of her heat, the wetness that made his head spin, the sound of her saying his name as she came. He kissed her as he pushed inside her, the taste of her arousal covering her mouth as well as his own. They moved with the shadows, their bodies dancing on the walls as the flames from a hundred different candles flickered and burned.
That night James told Lily I think I’ll love you until I die
Now James wonders if his new revelation has doused the flames, just when they were getting started. He doesn’t want James and Lily
to end, for the fires to burn out until everything is dust and ash. He wants Lily as much as he ever has—more, even—now he thinks he might lose her.
“It’s the first time I’ve said it out loud,” James says. The room is quiet, the clock ticks and outside a car rumbles past, its headlights briefly lighting the room and setting their shadows in sharp relief. The noise fades and silence returns. “You deserve to know about all of it.”
“But there’s been nothing since we started—” Lily waves her hand, a tactful delicacy in the fraught moment. “Well, you know.”
“Not since we got together properly. I promise.”
“Do you love me?” Lily faces James head on, chin tilted, expression resolute.
His stomach twists in knots but it’s easy to answer that question the only way his heart will let him.
“Of course I do.” James pulls her close, pressing his cheek close to hers. “I’ll always love you.”
“We’re so young.” Lily pulls away and busies herself doing something in a space where James isn’t, her back turned against him. “We don’t need to talk about forever when we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“I’m not.” A wild urgency overcomes James, wretched with the possibility of losing her. He sits heavily on the sofa, putting his face in his hands. “You already know everything. I could leave you right now if I wanted.” He looks up. “We could be friends,” he finishes, without conviction.
Lily laughs and turns, her eyes blazing. “No. We couldn’t.”
“I don’t see why not,” James argues. “We’ve always got on.”
Lily raises an eyebrow. “Have we?”
“Lately we have.” James shrugs. He drinks in the sight of her, his beautiful, lovely Lily. She’s right, and he knows it. Lily is smart like that. He pulls a face. “I don’t think I want to be your friend.”
“No. I don’t think I want to be yours, either.” Lily’s shoulders are tight, her hands curled into fists by her side. Her emotions are clear from her tightly contained stance, body coiled like a spring. It’s as if one wrong movement from James could release them all. “You love him.”
“Not like I love you,” James replies, miserably. It’s different, with Sirius. Less fire, more firewhisky. The taste of autumn rain, the sting of the wind when they’re flying on their brooms. The roughness of brick, the dampness of moss. The heat is there, but it comes in sudden, sharp spikes. Lily is the one James associates with flames. For the most part, James always thinks of Sirius as storm clouds in a restless sky.
“I imagine it is.” Lily narrows her eyes. “I’m going to ask you once, not because I don’t understand but because I deserve the truth. Are you gay?”
James takes a breath and shakes his head. “No. I’ve told you what I am. It’s not a lie.” A wave of futile anger crashes over him and he responds with an edge of bitterness. “I expect you don’t believe it.”
“I do,” Lily says at last. “It’s not so strange, liking both. There were some very pretty witches at Hogwarts.”
“None half as pretty as you.”
“Flatterer.” Lily’s lips quirk into a smile. The smile fades. “Not many wizards as handsome as Sirius Black, either.”
“Maybe one?” James gives Lily a hopeful look and she rolls her eyes.
“Maybe one. Although I’m not sure he deserves to hear it.”
“I suppose not.” James rubs his hand against his jaw. “Do you think this is what it’s like to be bisexual?”
The word is strange on his tongue, like a foreign language he can’t quite capture. There’s still a fear that comes with saying it, palpitations and a light perspiration that beads uncomfortably under his layers of clothes.
“I wouldn’t know, love.” Lily sits on the sofa next to James, closer but still too far away. They’re not ash, not yet. They’re the embers that continue to burn long after the fire has gone. “What does it feel like?”
“Like I’m always going to love two people more than I love myself.” James takes a breath, his eyes stinging. He swallows it back. He’s not looking for sympathy, or to try to coerce Lily into staying with him because he can’t be strong without her. “I’m like a wand that’s been made all wrong.”
“James Potter,” Lily says, fiercely. “Stop that. You’re not wrong
and I’m certainly not here to fix you.” She gives him a small smile. “Your wand works just fine.”
James can’t help but laugh, the sound bursting from his lips unexpectedly. “You’re incredible.”
“I know.” Lily sobers. “I don’t think it’s got anything to do with who you fancy—witches and wizards I mean. You like two people and we both came along at once. It could have happened to me, if that Seeker from the Irish team wasn’t already married off and as pretty as those witches were, I don’t think I’m the slightest bit bisexual.”
“Lucky for me he’s married, then.” Jealousy flares in James’ gut which is hopelessly shitty of him, but the thought of anybody else with Lily makes his stomach roll. Even if Sirius is part of the past, he’s still present enough that James felt the need to tell Lily everything. He can’t imagine what his confession must have felt like for her if imagining Lily with someone else makes James ache in the worst kind of way.
“I don’t want to be with someone who thinks I’m a safer choice, or because you think I’m dying to have your babies or any of that rot. If you think that, you can just leave. If you stay with me do it because of your heart, not because of your head.” Lily takes a breath, her mind seemingly made up. “One year.”
“One year?” James takes Lily’s hand in his own, heartened when she doesn’t pull away. “One year for what?”
“One year with no strings—for either of us.” Lily studies James. “We can see each other and whoever else we want. After that, we’re either together or we go our separate ways. I don’t think I could do anything else, not long term. It would hurt too much.”
James nods, the thought of that Irish Seeker still making him inexplicably angry. “For me too.” He swallows. “What if it fucks everything up?”
Lily frowns. “Marriage is a lot longer than one difficult year. That’s what you’re thinking eventually, isn’t it? Marriage.”
“Yes.” James shifts closer to Lily, the heat burning between them. “I was.”
“Well if we can’t find one another again at the end of the year, I’m not sure we’re built for forever.” Lily leans in and kisses James. It’s sweet, firm and feels like it won't be their last. “It’s only a year.”
James takes Lily in his arms and kisses her back.
Lily’s right. A year is nothing, when you have all the time in the world.Part II: Kissing
When Sirius thinks about James, he stops thinking clearly at all.
“Yeah.” James is stretched out on the sofa, like a smug tit. Sirius isn’t sure whether he wants to throttle him or fuck him. “One year to work out my shit or whatever.”
“I’m your shit
, am I?” Sirius rolls his eyes and opens a bottle of beer, taking a gulp. He opens another and hands it to James. “Trust you to work out a way to get your dick sucked by all and sundry.”
“Oi.” James points the bottle at Sirius, his eyes flashing. “It’s not like that. Don’t be a prick.”
“It’s difficult to change the habit of a lifetime.” Sirius sits on a chair—they both know what’s going to happen if he gets too close to James. “Are you telling me to make the most of you while I can?”
James grins. “You could. I like it when you make the most of me.”
“Fuck you.” Sirius contemplates James. “We both know you’re going to choose her.”
“It’s not like that, either.” James frowns at Sirius, the smile slipping from his face. “It’s not about choosing you or her. She’s got her sights set on some Irish twat that thinks he’s a better Seeker than me and you’re doing fuck knows what with Moony. I might not have anything to choose between.”
“There’s nothing going on with Moony,” Sirius lies. “We’re just doing what we’ve always done.”
James snorts. “Yeah. Right.”
“Bit rich of you to be so bothered by my extra-curriculars.” Sirius shifts his chair closer to James, because he’s a handsome fucker and Sirius has terrible self-control. “Why are you really here? Apart from to brag about being the luckiest bastard I know.”
James licks his lips, his cheeks flushing. He doesn’t look away from Sirius once, lifting his bottle to his lips. “You know why I’m here.”
“Same reason you’re always over at mine these days.” Sirius nods his head towards the hallway. “Bed’s made. Get your clothes off for me, I’ll be there in a minute.”
James hops up and disappears into Sirius’ room, and not for the first time Sirius wonders what the bloody hell he’s doing.*
Kissing James never stops being unexpected. More accurately, James kissing back never stops being unexpected.
Sirius pushes a hand into his hair and tugs back his head, mouthing over the line of his jaw and his neck as James shivers and twists beneath him.
“Steady.” Sirius brings his hand down to James’ cock, hard through his cotton boxers, his arousal already leaving a small damp patch. “You’re eager.” Sirius squeezes his hand to emphasise his point and James bucks up with a hiss.
“Of course I’m bloody eager it’s been ages.”
“Too long,” Sirius agrees. Five months, twenty-three days to be precise. Not that he’s been counting. He gets why James is so eager, because he feels it too. Hard, desperate and ready to fuck the rest of the night away. “I’m going to suck you off then fuck you.”
“No.” James shakes his head and pulls Sirius on top of him. “I don’t need much. Do this. Do this first.”Fuck
. Sirius sucks in a breath and grinds against James, getting his hands on James’ arse and pulling them close together to get the best friction. They haven’t done this for such a long time. It makes Sirius think of being a teenager again, of James hard and wanting beneath him as they explored themselves and each other in the shadows of Hogwarts.
The advantage to doing this is that Sirius can kiss James. He can kiss him properly, the way that makes his stomach twist. He used to imagine kissing James like this, when he watched him playing Quidditch, or laughing at something Lily said. He spent a long time thinking about kissing James under the heat of the summer sun, with everybody watching. The first time they kissed James didn't happen like that. It was late and they were totally alone. James was trying to grow a moustache because he thought it made him look older and dashing. They kissed in the shadows until Sirius nearly came in his pants, clinging onto one another as if it would hurt to much to let go. Now James is cleanly shaved, his lips and chin rough with stubble. His mouth tastes like beer, another reminder that they’re not as young as they once were. They can’t put this down to teenage experimentation anymore. Sirius breathes into James’ mouth, tongues hot and slick against one another. The kiss is rough and urgent, hands clutched in hair, rough press of fingers into skin. They grind together, mouths open and searching for answers they can’t put into words.
Sirius pulls back from the kiss to take a gulp of air. He moves to the curve on James’ neck which he knows drives James mad. He nibbles at it, slides his tongue over it and huffs air onto James’ skin as he whimpers and writhes beneath Sirius. It’s so good, kissing James. Sirius imagines he can taste his beating pulse, the soapy scent of his skin as delicious and familiar as it’s ever been. James is clean, he’s so well-scrubbed. He always comes to Sirius like he knows they’re going to end up in bed together—which he probably does. Sirius has never been able to resist James. He’s never going to want to stop, and he’s certain he’s going to be fucking James for as long as his tired bones let him.
Sirius grinds down against James and captures his lips again. The kiss is searing, and it sends Sirius over the edge with the delicious friction of James rubbing himself shamelessly against Sirius’ sensitive cock.
They come almost at the same time, hot, sticky and breathless.
“I love you,” Sirius murmurs, mouth moving against James’ lips. Choose me, choose me
When James kisses back it’s the kind of fierce kiss that suggests there might not be another.
“I love you too,” he replies, a wobble in his voice.
Sirius strips off the rest of his clothes and falls into a messy tangle of limbs with James, losing himself in the beautiful, hopeless truth of it.Part III: Chocolate
When Remus thinks about Sirius, he always comes back to chocolate.
The sweet booziness of kisses that taste like chocolate liquor. The ebbing away of desperation and fear like fleeing Dementors chased away by a confident Expecto Patronum
. Sirius is the kind of chocolate you try not to eat all at once—those decadent, forbidden things. The treat that tastes as delicious as all bad things should.
“You’ve been with James.” Remus doesn’t look up from his book, when Sirius pushes open the door.
Remus rolls his eyes. “No, you dickhead. You’re wearing his jumper.”
“Am I?” Sirius looks down at the burgundy wool jumper and tugs it away from his belly with a frown. “This is mine.”
Remus snorts. “I think you’ve forgotten where he ends and you begin.” He closes his book and looks up at Sirius. “Why are you here?”
Sirius’ face twists. “I don’t know.”
“You do.” Remus stands and advances towards Sirius, pushing him hard against a wall. “I give you something he doesn’t.”
“Yes,” Sirius breathes. He presses into Remus and his eyes shutter closed, his breath boozy. “Please
“It’s unfair to me,” Remus says, quietly. He pulls back from Sirius and sits heavily, sighing at the wild-eyed look in Sirius’ face. “Fine
. On your knees.”
Sirius moves onto his knees in front of Remus and unbuckles his trousers. He groans and rubs his cheek against Remus’ thigh, his voice cracking.
“I do want you. Not because of James, because of you
. The things you let me do. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing.”
“I know.” Remus twists his hand in Sirius’ hair and closes his eyes, sinking back into the sofa as Sirius mouths over him with expert efficiency. He almost whispers I love you
but he isn’t sure he’s ready for the silence that’s bound to follow.
He jerks up into Sirius’ mouth and wonders how being so intimately close with Sirius always seems to push them further apart than ever.*
“I thought you two were supposed to be getting married, having lots of mini-Potters.” Remus glances at Lily, who watches James and Sirius with an air of dissatisfaction.
“So did I, once.” Lily shrugs and has a sip of her cocktail—something sweet and creamy with chocolate liquor. “It turns out there’s a whole world out there beyond James Potter.” She meets Remus’ gaze. “Beyond Sirius Black, too.”
“Is there? I hadn’t noticed.” Remus tries to make light of it, but the joke lands flat. “A year, you said?”
“A year.” Lily frowns. “The year’s nearly over and I’m not sure what’s going to change in a couple of months. I’m not sure I want
things to change.”
“Sometimes these things burn themselves out.” Remus studies his beer. “I still see him—Sirius, I mean. I think he comes to me for something different. I’ve given up working out which kind of love he needs more.”
“Me too,” Lily whispers. She squeezes Remus’ hand. “Maybe some things aren’t meant to be. James and I looked at houses once—in a little village called—” she stops. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not important, not anymore.”
“It might be.” Remus determines not to torture himself any longer. Sirius is going to come back. He always does. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand love.”
“Me neither.” Lily gives Remus a small smile and stands, grabbing his scarf and coat as well as her own. “I’m not planning to sit here trying to work it out, either. James knows where I am. He'll come back. He always does. Are you coming?”
The familiar flicker of excitement Remus used to get when he and Peter, Sirius or James would go exploring creeps over him. For the first time in a long while he feels something other than worried, something other than completely out of his depth. He takes a breath and grins at Lily, his heart beating restlessly.
“Where are we going?”
“Anywhere but here.” Lily’s eyes shine, her hair fanning her face like flames. Remus isn’t sure how he never really noticed how beautiful Lily is. He wasn’t sure he was that kind of man. He’s been far too busy looking at Sirius to look at anyone else. Lily’s lips tilt into a smile. “We could go dancing.”
“We couldn’t.” Remus laughs. “I’m rubbish at dancing.”
“Come to mine, then. I’ve got a Muggle wireless that actually works. We can listen to music and I can dance, if you won’t.”
Remus shrugs. “I might dance if nobody’s watching.”
“Have another couple of beers and I’ll hold you to that.” Lily pulls on her coat and walks to the door of the pub. “I’m not sure why we should be left out in the cold, pining over two people who aren’t paying us any mind.”
Remus looks back briefly to see if James and Sirius have noticed, which they haven’t. They're caught up in a heated conversation and Remus can tell they're a few drinks away from going home together. It's how these nights tend to end.
The door swings shut behind them and Remus tips his head back to look at the sky, dotted with stars. “It’s cold tonight,” he says.
“Freezing.” Lily laughs, rubbing her hands together and blowing on them for warmth.
In a sudden moment of boldness, Remus pulls Lily into his arms. The kiss surprises him as much as anyone, the eager press of her lips to his and the unexpected brilliance of holding Lily Evans in his arms. She kisses him back and everything becomes warmer than before, her hair soft beneath his fingers and her mouth tasting sweet, like chocolate. He pulls her closer until they’re both breathless.
When they break apart, Lily’s cheeks are flushed. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Neither was I.” Remus takes a breath, trying to steady his racing heart. “Do you still want me to come back to yours?”
“If you still want to.” Lily raises an eyebrow at Remus. “Do you?”
“Now, more than ever.”
Remus glances up again and even the night looks different to before, as if the future that was written on the stars has been etched out and edited. The swell of the moon casts an eerie light over tufts of clouds, and Remus turns to Lily when she nudges him out of his thoughts.
“Winter’s coming.” Lily hands Remus his scarf. “Wrap up warm.”
Remus puts on his scarf to keep out the chill of the evening, before taking Lily's hand in his own.
They walk through the dark streets in silence, the air electric with promise.