A/N Well, this is the last chapter. I've got quite a few questions that some of you have asked that will need answering, so what I'm going to do is this: I'll put up a thankyou chapter in a couple of days, thanking everyone individually as always, and in it I'll include the reasons why and truth behind the scenes. If that makes sense… and I know Christine's gift confused you… that'll be cleared up if you still haven't achieved a 'leap of logic' by the end of the story. Anyway, please R/R! I would love to make 70 reviews at the end of this story!
Lily found herself dripping a street away from Ministry of Magic. She whooped with joy, startling a couple of nesting birds out of their tree. Then she performed a few charms to dry herself and neaten her hair, before she set out walking.
In a few minutes, Lily reached the Ministry, and headed for the night department. After she had explained the situation, they were more than happy to give Lily a port-key. At least the others wouldn't have to get wet to come home!
Then, very tired but even more happy, she Apparated back to her bedroom in the tent. Setting the port-key (activated for 11:00 am the next day) onto the floor, she fell asleep.
Lily was once more jolted awake at 6:30 the next morning, and responded to James's "Morning, Lil!" with a grumpy, "Lily!"
Then she suddenly remembered the events of the previous night. She jumped up so quickly she knocked her chair over, and leapt for James. He finally pushed her off, saying, "It's a great way to start the morning, Lil, but what the hell is going on?"
"Remember last night, when I went to bed?" she asked him, grinning. "Well, I had the idea that once I was off the island, my magic would work. You know, all the seawater stuff… saltwater amplifies magic, etc, as well as actually getting rid of my contact with the island itself. So I swam out, and when I was deep enough I tried to Apparate to the ministry. It worked, and I've got a port-key!"
"Yes way! It happened!"
James let out a loud whoop and danced Lily round the kitchen, laughing loudly. Suddenly, from the doorway/tent-flap came a loud voice.
"What are you doing, Prongsie? You woke all of us up!" Sirius was speaking, but everyone was with him.
Lily quickly explained, which led to much more wild dancing around the kitchen. Then Sirius procured a radio, and shouted, "Party!"
Since nobody, apart from Sirius, of course, particularly felt like a fully-fledged party at seven o'clock in the morning, they all had breakfast together instead. Sirius finished the last of the marmite on his porridge, as if daring people to comment, but nobody did.
Finally, everything was packed up and ready to go. Everything, including the portable campfire, went into tents, which were then taken apart and carried in bags by the four men. Lily would never understand how the tents worked, but for once she was too keyed-up to wonder about it.
Finally, eleven o'clock came, and everyone was gathered around the port-key. And then, with the all too familiar tug, Lily found herself in the same place she had left from five weeks before.
Sirius began the cheer, but they all joined in. Maybe it had only been five weeks, but it seemed much longer. The prospect of staying there for two years hadn't been a pleasant one, and just a month without the ability to do magic scared the non-muggleborns more than they would care to admit.
On Wednesday, Lily and James had a speech to make to the Minister of Magic and several other important people in the wizarding world, including Dumbledore. They gave a quick report on the different environments on the island, told of how magic didn't work there, and then announced the name they had given the island. Almost everyone grinned, and Lily and James went on to say, seriously, that the island might actually be a very good place for a prison for the more dangerous wizards. Their argument was that even if any prisoners did escape from a jail there, they wouldn't be able to do magic at all, and wouldn't have wands to Apparate from the ocean even if they did think of it.
Once they had finished their reports, there were all the customary questions to answer. The rest of the week was devoted to paperwork, and a funny disk-shaped object that changed colour every two seconds. It had all of Lily and James's subordinates stumped, but Lily discovered that it was a practical joke designed by Sirius and Remus, set to explode in a shower of red heart-shaped cushions when it came within three feet of both Lily and James. Needless to say, neither of them were particularly amused, and they both fully intended to make the two wizards regret it when they met them for dinner on the Friday night, with their other friends.
Dinner went quite well. Sirius arrived late and left early, because he was let out of work late and then had a meeting with Rebecca to go to. Remus also arrived late because of work, and he too left early because he was working on a project, called the 'wolfsbane project' with some young wizards and witches wanting to get a PhD in potions. This made it impossible for Lily and James to berate them publicly, which was of course why they did it.
After the dinner, Lily and James were invited to go and see a movie with the group on Saturday, the next day, but they had other plans. They were going together to watch a Quidditch match between two British teams that had actually both offered James a place before he took up his job at the ministry.
On Saturday, Lily allowed herself the luxury of sleeping late. Then she went shopping, buying new muggle clothes for the Quidditch match. Lily was planning on taking James to a muggle night-club after the game. Then she bought groceries for the next week. Afterwards, Lily went home and got changed, before she Apparated to James's apartment to meet him.
James was looking very good in jeans and a shirt, but it was the green tie that gave him away. Lily promptly took it off for him.
"I thought you knew how to dress muggle!" Lily told him exasperatedly.
"The fashions change so quickly!" James said. "I thought…"
Lily sighed, but she was smiling. "Muggles never wear ties to casual gatherings or informal parties," she told him. "Especially not night-clubs!"
It became a regular experience for the both of them, going out together on both magical- and muggle-style dates at least once a week. Lily began to wonder what it would be like to marry James, and to live with him. By this time, there had been numerous articles in the newspaper about the couple who had become famous through their ministry work and their discoveries.
Then it was the anniversary of the day they had been sent to the island. Lily arrived at work to find her boyfriend standing in front of her desk, grinning.
"We deserve a holiday. How do you feel about camping on an island without magic? It might be the last time we get the chance to, before the prison is built!"
Their supervisor had no problem with the request, and gave them two weeks off. Lily found herself on top of the mountain almost before she knew it.
They spent those weeks re-enacting the journey of the year before. Nothing had changed in the environment of the island, but it seemed somehow different. Their situation had changed. They had changed.
It was also a lot more quiet, without the other six people, and then the tent was also different. It belonged to James, because they had decided not to borrow a ministry tent, and so it smaller, with only a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.
On their last night on the island, Lily and James were lying together on the beach, staring up at the stars.
"You remember how we first came to be friends?" James asked.
"Fork and Fire. Yes, I do."
"Remember I told you that my penname came from the nickname my friends gave me, Prongs?"
"Yes…" Lily said.
"I want to show you why my friends gave me that nickname." Lily didn't say anything. James's voice had taken on a more serious tone, and he was standing. Then he wasn't there, but in his place there was a stag.
Many exclamations later, James was human again, and Lily was speculating, "I wonder why you can do that magic, and not other magic. Do you think it's the wands?"
"It might be," James replied, his mind clearly on something else. Then he sat up, to say what he had to say. "Um, Lily? We've been together for a year now, and friends for a long time before that. Would you… want to… marry me?"
Lily had had an answer ready, just in case James had asked her. She had it memorised, just in case. But now that the time had come, she completely forgot every word of it. She couldn't even remember whether she had been going to say 'yes' or 'no.'
She was filled with a strange, overwhelming feeling, one that she was pleasantly drowning in. Somehow, she managed to say simply, "Yes."