sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 12:08 pm

Generous (The Lily Evans Remix)

Rating: R (Sirius/James, Sirius/Remus, James/Lily)
This is a "remix" of Generous by [ profile] fleshdress.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.


It would never have occurred to Lily that her disgust with James and his little cadre of admirers was really just fascination in disguise, and that fascination was only a short, sharp tumble away from passion. It was because she disliked them that she watched them so intently and, though few people know this, contempt also breeds familiarity.

She knows they're not actually cruel boys, for all their torment of the Slytherins; they're remarkably generous, in fact, and she's even seen Peter and Remus sometimes stop in the hall, when James and Sirius have wandered off or aren't paying attention, to talk to Slytherins. Severus won't speak to either one of them, but a couple of the others don't seem to mind. Nox Malfoy in particular seems to be kind to little Peter, and Remus is the only non-Slytherin who can inspire civility in Bellatrix Black.

Lily likes Remus best out of all of them -- not that she likes any of them much -- because he's immeasurably gentle and he shares freely the commodity she values most, his knowledge. Lily loves to see Remus bent over someone else's chair to help with their homework, fingers tracing deftly along the lines, pointing out a spelling error, scribbling down the name of a book to be looked up at a later date. No matter how tired or sick he is, and he's frequently both, he never simply says "I don't know"; he says "I'm not sure, but look here" or "I'll ask Sirius - Richard - Professor McGonagall - Alice - Nox - James - Lily" because he knows who knows. He builds webs of knowledge, and sits peacefully in the centre like a Buddha, contemplating it and finding it good.

And then James will come along and trample through it, breaking up the delicate gossamer strands of thought -- she's seen it often enough, the look that passes over Remus' face when James interrupts some lesson or other to drag him out to the Quidditch Pitch or up to their room to plot something. She wonders what Remus gets from his association with James, because any benefit there is certainly isn't obvious. Protection, perhaps. Perhaps Remus craves friendship, and he can't get it without James, because everyone is friends with James. Yes, there's the inner circle of RemusPeterSirius who know all James' secrets, but everyone knows and loves James, really.

Even Lily can't stay angry at James for long. She doesn't like him, but she's fascinated by him, because she can't fathom why he does what he does or why anyone would be idiot enough to follow him into it. She wants to know why everyone is James' friend, because she isn't -- he's elevated her to something else, something vaguely unattainable, and if she wanted to be his friend she never would be able to. He wouldn' allow it; he'd try to kiss her, or he'd swear he didn't want to and then go ahead and do it anyway, and everything would be ruined. So Lily isn't James' friend; more his...biographer, in a strange way she herself doesn't quite understand.

She knows why Peter is James' friend; Peter is cheaply bought. He worships James because James makes you feel that if you are his friend then you must be terribly special. And Peter is Sirius' friend because Sirius protects him, and Sirius is the only one closer to James than Peter and Remus. The three boys have some terrible hold over Peter's emotions, his attention, and in return they get his admiration. He makes Remus feel useful, Sirius feel loved, James feel godlike.

If she notices that Peter's acquaintance is even wider than James, within the little school that is their whole world, she doesn't think about it. It's not that Peter has other friends, after all, merely....allies. And if she wonders why, it is never for very long. Perhaps Peter knows that one day James is going to realise that Peter's loyalty isn't worth much, and then what will Peter be able to pay for his friendship with?

She has watched them since third year when the four boys' friendship became so firmly cemented that it worried the teachers a little, third year when James first began proving to Lily that he could never be her friend. Two and a half years later, she's still turning it over in her mind as if it were a complicated game of cat's cradle, following each strand to a pinpoint of desperate need, and back outwards for the payment they offer in return. Love-James-Friendship, Friendship-Peter-Loyalty, Attention-Remus-Knowledge....

Sirius is strange, she thinks. She isn't sure what he wants or what he gives to get it. She'd suspect him of being the locus of the four, someone who somehow unites them, except that their leader is so clearly James, with Sirius as beloved second lieutenant, a rank above Remus and Peter even.

It takes her three years, until nearly the end of sixth year, to discover it. The puzzle pieces itself together slowly, in little bits of information so small that she isn't really aware of them. Some innuendos made about Bellatrix, a rumour about Sirius doing something he shouldn't have in the Quidditch locker room (it must have been very taboo indeed, since Sirius is always doing things he shouldn't). The way Sirius is always just a little too loud, a little too confident, and the way it starts to seem, to someone who watches as much as Lily does, that it's a cover.

The way James always runs to Sirius after Lily jilts him yet again. The way Sirius is always at the beck and call of the others, even though he's stronger than Peter and much more extroverted than Remus. The way all Remus has to do is touch Sirius' elbow and look at him in a certain way and no matter what he's doing -- usually it's when he's sulking -- Sirius stands and follows him away from wherever they are.

The third time Lily saw them do this (they must have been getting sloppy, she thinks later, ruefully) she follows, up and up and up into the Astronomy tower, deserted in mid-day, and she sits in the stairwell and listens to their voices echo down from the domed ceiling.

"No, Pads."


"I just wanted to talk."

"But -- "

"No, Pads."

There's silence for a while; she's heard James call Sirius Pads before but she has no idea why.

"Don't you like me?" Sirius asks, and his voice is so small and frightened that it stuns Lily. Even Peter has never once sounded so pathetic.

"I don't have to fuck you to like you," Remus answers.

Is that it, then? A world of incongruities suddenly fall sharply into place.

"That's not the only way to tell someone's your bloody friend, you know," Remus continues. "I keep trying to tell you that."

"James -- "

"James is fucking you because he can't fuck Lily, can't you see that?" and now things are terrifying, because Remus Lupin is shouting. She has never, in six years, heard Remus Lupin shout. Not once. No wonder Sirius is terrified.


"So it's wrong, Sirius! You think that -- where did you learn this?"

"You've never had a problem with fucking blokes before."

"It's not blokes, Sirius, it's you. Where did you learn that the only way to tell if someone likes you is to see if they'll let you suck them off? My god, what kind of a house did you grow up in? I know Narcissa did something to you -- "

"We didn't do anything!" Sirius says, hysterically, and Lily almost runs away. She shouldn't be hearing this; she suspects even Remus shouldn't be hearing this. "I told her I wouldn't!"

"Padfoot -- "

But Sirius is clearly in his own world now. "I told her I wouldn't, and she told my parents -- something, I don't know what -- I spent the whole summer locked in my room."

"Pads -- "

"And how am I supposed to tell anyway, you won't tell me anything really important -- you just keep spewing out facts, anyone can tell me facts and dates and useless shit -- "

"It's not useless!"

Lily smiles a little, through the worry; only Remus would pause to defend scholarship at the cost of Sirius' sanity.

"It is useless! You'll give that to anyone! How is anyone supposed to know if you're their friend or if you're just being polite?"

"I don't have to prove it to you, Sirius, it should be obvious by now."

"Well, it's not. The one thing I really want you to tell me, you won't, so I hardly know if you even think I'm worth your time."

She hears a thump, as though someone, probably Sirius, has thrown himself into one of the small padded chairs that litter the tower.

"Oh, Padfoot," Remus says, much more gently now. "How can you not know? How can you listen to everything I say and not know? Do you think I've been telling you not to let James use you because I enjoy it? You're worth more than that."

"You're a fine one to talk about knowing one's worth," Sirius snarls.

"I'm not the one who thinks the only way to make friends is to be a good fuck," Remus answers.

Lily does leave, then, because she never wanted to hear the sound of Sirius Black's choked, strangled sob. As she flees silently down the stairs she hears Remus saying something about the moon and about transformations, but perhaps she only imagined that. She runs to her dormitory, intending to do something to distract herself -- homework, a book, someone to talk to, anything to assuage the guilt and worry -- worry! -- she feels about Sirius.

Instead there is James, sitting on the stairs with a book across his knees, blocking them.

"Evans!" he says brightly. "I'm in top form today, take your best shot!"

Lily hates him just a little, because what Remus said was undoubtedly true, that he uses Sirius when she frustrates him. But she hates herself more, because even though she knows it's not her fault, she's the reason James does it.

"Hogsmeade," she says, instead.

"What?" James asks.

"You're going to take me out to lunch in Hogsmeade next weekend."

James is bewildered. "I am?"

"Yes, on one condition."

The book snaps shut and James leans forward. "Name it."

"Don't fuck Sirius ever again."

James' eyes go wide and frightened, and she knows she's hit a very heavily protected mark. "Who told you -- "

"It doesn't matter. Don't do it. You should be ashamed of yourself."

James stares up at her, perplexed.

"Yes or no, Potter? If you're very well behaved I might let you buy me flowers."

"Yes, of course," James says, and Lily hates him a little bit less. "Are you going to -- "

"No. Sirius doesn't need that public embarrassment," she says coldly, stepping around him to run up to her dormitory, leaving James spluttering with surprise.

By the time she's married, married to James, Lily has become one of them. She's stopped studying them because she's part of the cat's cradle now, seeing it from the inside not as a series of transactions but as a tangle of affection and generosity she could never have imagined as an outsider. Remus is charming, almost easier to love than James; Sirius is just boyish and not immature; James is kind and funny and wonderful; Peter is unswerving in his friendship, if sometimes a little distant from the others.

She wraps herself in their generosity and gives back love and good conversation and her open home and her soon-to-be-born son, and never once worries that a snap in one thread could destroy all four of them.
ext_12181: (Default)

[identity profile] 2005-07-25 05:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Ow! ow ow ow ow, Sam!

[identity profile] 2005-07-25 05:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Hey, don't look at me -- the original is even more depressing. In a great way, mind you. :D
ext_12181: (Default)

[identity profile] 2005-07-25 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Okay, I'll have to go 'ow' over there, too :D But your 'ow' is well deserved! You 'ow' like nobody's business!

[identity profile] 2005-07-26 01:02 am (UTC)(link)
Wow. Not ow.
Well done.

[identity profile] 2005-07-26 04:35 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks. This was interesting -- not the sort of thing I usually write.

[identity profile] 2005-07-26 09:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Lovely, though I must say that I like your take on it better... okay, different than the original. You gave more insight, somehow. *shrugs* And Remus needing to let Sirius know that he doesn't have to let himself be taken to be loved is amazing. *bounces*

Loved this line: never once worries that a snap in one thread could destroy all four of them. Though, I wonder, shouldn't it be "destroy the five of them", not that Lily is counting herself part of them? *shrugs*

Might keep on bugging you about CC. *eg*

[identity profile] 2005-07-27 12:45 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

Regarding the snap in one thread -- she's not including herself, I think was my original intent. I can't actually recall. It's possible I was reasoning that Peter was the snap, so he didn't count as one of the four....

[identity profile] 2005-07-27 12:40 am (UTC)(link)
I adore you so much.

[identity profile] 2005-07-27 12:45 am (UTC)(link)
Never have I felt like something was more hit on the head than this. *sends you thousands of lovely vibes*

[identity profile] 2005-10-03 06:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Read the original and now this and I'm all make my heart hurt.

[identity profile] 2006-01-16 03:31 am (UTC)(link)
I think this is one of my favourites of yours. I mean, the Stealing Harry universe always trumps anything else for me, but this is a very different sort of thing from what you usually write.

And as for it being depressing....I still can't get over the end of Alternate which I read this morning, and thought was much sadder. Maybe because I obviously already knew how this one would end?

Anyway, great job. I loved it :).

[identity profile] 2006-01-17 05:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. It IS different, I think because I was remixing something. The struggle I have with remixing -- though I absolutely love it -- is that I tend to put any story I'm writing in the "voice" of the original. For example, while my actual plotting may not be on a par with Terry Pratchett, I can mimic his literary style extremely well.

So, when I remix I have to consciously NOT write in the style of the person I'm remixing (because then what would be the point). Which means I swing to another extreme and write in a style that's totally not mine either. :)

[identity profile] 2007-04-29 09:27 am (UTC)(link)
Took my second time through to really understand the end. First time, I was reeling from the exchange in the astronomy tower; didn't pay much attention to it.

Beautiful and sad.

[identity profile] 2007-11-05 10:44 pm (UTC)(link)
It's more different than others... But it was okay. Remus never shouts and he never hits Sirius below the belt.(oops?) I like it thought it was really, really sad.
dani_the_girl: (Default)

[personal profile] dani_the_girl 2008-03-26 08:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I do not think that link goes where you think it goes. Specifically, I think you may have meant to link

I enjoyed all three stories very much though.

[identity profile] 2008-03-27 01:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Good lord, how did that happen? Thanks for catching it.

[identity profile] 2008-06-08 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
Bravo... I love a good remix. Especially one that makes me stare in HORROR at the last line. Heartbreaking and lovely in some blender-ed up combo.

[identity profile] 2011-04-12 09:08 pm (UTC)(link)
ngahhhhh! I love stories about an outsider's perspective on a group, and this was so excellent! I kind of like this idea of why Lily finally agreed to go out with James. And the last line just completely broke my heart. Wow. Congratulations!

[identity profile] 2011-04-12 09:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Also, I just now read fleshdress's original story, and I have to congratulate you even more on such a wonderful wonderful adaptation. So impressed. Thanks for the great read!