James showed up about an hour later and greeted her with a huge smile. "Ready for telling the parents round two?"
"Oh, it just makes my day," Lily responded.
"How are you doing, Marlene?" he asked, turning to her.
"Brilliant, but I must be going now. Goodbye, friends," she sang, before hugging Lily and heading out into Muggle London.
"She's crazy," Lily told him.
James smiled. "Have you met Sirius?" he countered. "Speaking of Sirius, he is very excited to see you tonight. And if he mentions anything about being a godfather, you have my permission to ignore him completely."
Lily laughed and they returned to the fireplace. "He wants to be the godfather?" She thought about it for a moment. "We'll talk about it."
James raised his eyebrows incredulously. They had arrived at the fireplace though, so he turned to her and said, "Alright, just say Potter Manor and step through."
"Your home would be called Potter Manor."
James made a face and she quickly grabbed some Floo Powder and stepped into the fireplace. "Potter Manor!" she said loudly.
Two uncomfortable seconds later, she was falling down into the room that she had peered through the fireplace through before. She stood up, shook the ash off of her clothes, and waited for James to emerge, which he did a moment later with a loud cough.
"Is that my second favorite ginger?" a voice called, followed by Sirius bouncing into the room less than a second after they had emerged from the fireplace.
"Second?" Lily inquired as she handed James her coat and took off her shoes.
"Sirius Black, you cannot be implying that you still consider me to be a redhead," another voice called through the door from which Sirius had entered.
Sirius winked at Lily as the woman who Lily could only assume was James' mother walked into the room. She wasn't a redhead, but Lily could see that she might have been at one point. Her hair was a soft white and her face was slightly wrinkled and pleasant. She looked older than was normal for a woman who had a teenage child, but Lily remembered from seeing Mr. Potter's picture in the paper after his death that he had been old too, probably even older than Mrs. Potter.
Mrs. Potter smiled kindly as she walked into the room. "Is this the famous Lily Evans, then?" She glanced at her son. "James, don't even think about stepping into my living room with those ashy shoes on."
James rolled his eyes and took his shoes off.
"Famous, eh?" Lily asked, glancing back at James. "But, yes, that would be me. Thank you so much for having me over for dinner tonight, Mrs. Potter."
"Oh, please call me Grace." She eyed a chair next to her and then slowly sunk into it. Lily realized that she was weaker than she had expected. "James said he was picking you up from Diagon Alley, yes? How was the Alley today? My boys haven't taken me there in a while."
"It was beautiful. I don't think I've ever been before while it was snowing…" Lily trailed off thoughtfully. Lily didn't mention how it had felt a little bit eerily empty.
Sirius walked over to the fireplace and looked at the bags Lily had deposited there when she had come in. "Is my present here? Can I open it now?"
"Manners, Sirius," Grace chided.
Sirius frowned. "Fine. I told Remus I would have a bit of a fireside chat with him tonight, so I'll be collecting my hot chocolate and heading off to do that. Have a nice dinner. See you at school, Lily." He nodded at her, and after he was out of Grace's eyesight, he winked at her.
Grace smiled fondly after him. "Dinner should be almost ready. Shall we go see?"
When neither of the other two objected, she started trying to stand. James rushed over to help her to her feet. "I'm okay, James, I'm okay," she said. He stepped back, hands still slightly extended, and she pushed down on the arms of the chair to hoist herself onto her feet. She turned her slight grimace into a smile and said, "See? I'm fine."
"Sure," James said under his breath as she walked away.
"The boys really have told me all about you, Lily," Grace said as she led them down a long, impressive hallway with portraits and magnificent paintings lining the walls.
She smiled and continued anyway. "Yes, I think I've been receiving yearly Lily Evans updates for about the past seven years."
Lily hoped her shock at this comment wasn't too evident on her face. Why had James been telling his mother about her? She had never mentioned him to her parents, no matter how big the fights that they got in were. Had he told her about all of those fights? Had he told her about how he practically harassed her for a few years?
Did James telling his mother all of this stuff mean that he really did care about her?
That was a really scary thought. She had always brushed his previous obsession with her off as his wanting what he couldn't have. All of the other girls at Hogwarts would have been happy to get with the Quidditch star. Even Marlene had had a major crush on him in fourth year. Lily had been the stubborn, unattainable prize. If that was all, though, why would he have told his mother about her?
"Definitely not all seven," James finally murmured.
"And now we finally get to meet," Grace said, her smile widening. She looked between the pair as though she expected them to be jumping on top of each other, just as Lily's dad had. "But, you know, why don't we pretend that we don't know anything about each other and get to really know one another, yes?"
Lily smiled back at her. "Sounds good to me." Because, to be honest, she didn't really know much about Grace Potter. It wasn't as though James had been giving her updates on his mother when he had been teasing her and hitting on her for the majority of their Hogwarts career. And even now, the relationships they had with their family members and such was not really the top thing on Lily and James' list of things they should discuss. She had heard some stuff about Grace during patrols the past few months, but she doubted it was as much as Grace had heard the past few years.
Lily resisted the sigh that wanted to escape through her lips, knowing that would be rude. But even though she had just arrived at the Potter residence, she could already tell that she was in for a long night.
"So, Lily, how has your last year at Hogwarts been going?" Grace asked. They were in the middle of their meal and Lily was starting to see what Marlene had meant about Grace. She seemed like she was around the same age as McGonagall, maybe a bit younger, but while McGonagall had apparently become more severe with age, Grace had become a bit absentminded. But she was really nice, and she had very strong opinions about current issues, and though Lily had just met her, she could tell that she really put thought into these opinions. Lily felt as though she had learned more in an hour than she had in weeks.
Lily bit her lip. "It's, uh… been a little bit different than I was expecting. I don't know how I'm going to leave, really."
"And have you enjoyed being a Head Girl with James?"
Lily smiled and looked over at James. "I was a bit shocked when I found out that he was going to be Head with me, but it's actually gone pretty well."
"Thanks for that loud approval," James scoffed.
"I haven't gotten any letters home this year about James breaking anything really expensive yet, so I take that as a good sign. It's the first year…" Grace smiled affectionately.
Lily laughed. "That's a very impressive accomplishment, James."
He nodded. "It's pretty much made my year."
"How has your year been going, James?" Grace asked. "Sirius didn't give you much of a chance to answer last night." Grace turned to Lily. "Sirius tends to be the more vocal of my sons." She winked.
Lily giggled. "I can certainly imagine that."
"Actually, Mum, there is something that I have to tell you," James said.
Grace gave a small cough into her napkin and then looked up at her son expectantly, with an eyebrow slightly raised.
James took a deep breath. "We're having a baby."
There wasn't even a second of silence, then Grace laughed. "Who? You and Sirius? Come on, James," she said.
James shook his head. "No, Mum. Lily's pregnant. We're having a baby."
Grace looked between both of them slowly and put her utensils down. "That's not funny, James. It's really not funny."
"It's not a joke, Mum."
"For Merlin's sake, I thought… I thought…" She pushed her chair back abruptly, scratching the legs of the chair on the wood floor. "I must excuse myself, I'm afraid. It was nice meeting you, Lily Evans."
She rose shakily to her feet and stumbled across the room.
"Mum, at least take a house-elf with you," James said. She ignored him. "Effie!" he hollered.
A small house-elf appeared from the door to the kitchen. "Yes, Master James?" she said softly. Lily realized that it was the house-elf that she had seen in the fireplace earlier.
"Please take Mum up to her room," he replied.
The house-elf nodded kindly. "Yes, Master James."
Both Grace and Effie disappeared up the staircase so that James and Lily were left sitting in the hollow room at the empty dinner table.
"I'm sorry…" Lily started to say.
"It's not your fault," James interrupted quickly. "Round two just didn't go as well as round one. She'll come around, don't worry. She just…" James sighed and closed his eyes. "I hate that I have to put this burden on her right now."
Lily tentatively put a hand on his back. "It'll be okay."
"But it wasn't supposed to happen this way!" James exclaimed, raising his voice a bit. "You weren't supposed to get bloody pregnant, not yet. You were supposed to realize that you liked me, we were supposed to get married, this bloody fucking war was supposed to end, and then you were supposed to get pregnant. Not now. Not when we were still at Hogwarts."
The emotion in his words, the amount that he wanted this impossible future, the amount that he wanted her to agree… it scared Lily to hell. She stared at him for a long moment, and he stared right back, like he could see everything that was inside of her.
And that scared her so much.
She rose awkwardly. "I have to go." She walked over to the fireplace quickly, feeling a little bit blind, stumbling a bit.
"I'm sorry," she said softly, and she stepped into the fireplace, saying the name of Mary's house before she had even thought about where she was going.
When Mary found Lily crying in her fireplace, she was completely bewildered. But Lily told her everything – everything – and they called Lily's dad to tell him she would be spending the night at Mary's, and they spent the whole night talking and crying and sometimes even laughing.
Hey, friends. Hope everything's going well. I'm back at school now, which means updates might be a little more sporadic, but updating is also a great way to procrastinate, so maybe not. We shall see...