She was gorgeous, to be sure. Long, tomato-red hair flowed in soft curls around her face, intelligent green eyes sparkling out from a surprisingly kind face. Peter, watching from the third-class deck, elbowed Remus in the ribs when he caught his friend staring.
"Sorry," Pete said jovially, "but hands off, mate. That's Lily Evans – she's engaged to Sirius Black, the richest guy on board."
Remus looked up again, just to the left of Lily, and saw Sirius.
And that's when the story began.
But it really started with a boat.
Sirius scoffed, at first, to James as they boarded the ship.
"It doesn't look any bigger than the Mauretania," he sneered.
James pulled his eyes away from Lily long enough to grin at his friend. "You can be blasé about some things, mate, but not about Titanic. This is the biggest ship to ever set sail – and we're on its maiden voyage! Come on, you've got to think that's exciting."
"Oh, come on!" Lily pouted, tugging on his arm. "You're not looking forward to this at all? We're going to see America, Sirius, America!"
"What's wrong with England?" Sirius grumbled, yanking away from her grasp. "I was plenty happy here."
Lily huffed in frustration and turned to James. "You're his friend. Talk some sense into him. He doesn't see what an amazing adventure this will be!"
"Right. An adventure," Sirius snorted. "More like a death trap."
And that's when he glanced down.
He made eye contact with a boy on the third-class deck, below them. There wasn't much to say about this boy, really – tall, skinny, sandy brown hair hanging in his face, and threadbare clothes – but when their eyes met, he grinned at Sirius and bit his lip like they were long-lost friends sharing a secret, or more. Sirius blinked and raised a hand to wave, cautiously. Lily turned sharply.
"Who are you waving to?" she asked. Sirius didn't reply. "James, who was he waving to?"
"It was no one, Lily," James said, jovially taking her arm. "Come on, let's see our rooms, shall we? Sirius?"
"Right." Sirius tore his eyes away from the boy waving to him from the lower deck and followed his fiancé and his best friend to their rooms.
"Why were you waving to Sirius Black?" Peter asked curiously as Remus lowered his hand.
Remus shrugged and grinned even more brightly. "That was Sirius? Blimey, what a good looking bloke. I don't know. He waved first, so I waved back."
"Then I guess the question is, why was Sirius Black waving to a street rat like you?" Peter snorted, elbowing Remus once again. "C'mon. Let's go find our rooms. I can't believe we're here, mate! Titanic! Thank God you're so good at poker."
"It's all about luck, mate," Remus said with a grin, tousling his friend's hair and heading towards to interior of the boat. Now, Remus Lupin had never considered himself to be particularly fortunate. He had been orphaned at age fifteen and living on his own ever since, struggling to get through one day to the next, sometimes starving or freezing and wondering how he was going to make it. But he believed in taking life one day at a time, one moment, one second, and currently, he was feeling pretty lucky. He had played poker for higher stakes before, but no prize had ever been worth as much as this – a ticket aboard the Titanic, the ship of dreams.
Remus let out a whoop of excitement, grabbing Peter by the arm and dragging in forward. "We're the luckiest sons of bitches in the world, you know that!" he shouted, ready to begin his adventure.
The room was extravagant, elegant, lovely. Everything Sirius was accustomed to being surrounded by, everything he could have possibly wanted.
It felt like a prison cell.
Lily wrapped her arms around his waist, leaned against his back, and called him darling, but he couldn't stir any emotion to reply. "We're going to dinner now," she said softly. "James is saving us a table."
Sirius wanted to vomit. He nodded stiffly. "I'll be down in a moment."
Lily looked confused. "You want me to leave without you?"
"Yes." Sirius gulped. "No. I mean – sorry. I need some time to – I'll only be a minute."
Baffled, Lily nodded and planted a kiss on his cheek, softly. "Don't get lost," she teased gently, grabbing her bag and floating out the door. The second she was gone, Sirius ran to the bathroom and dry-heaved into the sink, but nothing came up.
Lily was wonderful. She was sweet, smart, unfailingly kind, startlingly beautiful, and quick-witted. James was mad about her, Sirius knew, and she would make a fabulous wife for someone someday. Sirius, however, thought of a future with her and wanted to die.
Sirius and Lily were part of the same social circle – that is, the highest class of wealth in London – in addition to being two of the most attractive of their peers, and so it was inevitable that the two of them would be arranged to be married. Sirius had never taken into account just what that had meant: the balls, the parties, the banquets, the luncheons, a never-ending parade of formalities, stiff tuxedoes, idle chatter from millionaires who wouldn't know a true conversation if it bit them on the nose…it all made Sirius feel sick, and trapped, like he had been placed into a coffin and buried alive.
Sirius didn't realize the entire course of his life was going to change before his time on Titanic was over. All he knew was that in this moment, he would have given anything to have a different life, any other life, or better yet, no life at all.
On the outside deck, Remus Lupin leaned against the ship's railing into the wind, letting the sun set over his face, knowing nothing of what was to come, thinking only that this was the luckiest he had ever been in his life.