If I Die Young


Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing from the Harry Potter universe. This fanfiction is written purely for entertainment purposes and nothing more, though all ideas and writing are done by me and belong to me.

A/N: I've returned! I apologize for being away for so long but this year has been incredibly crazy and I haven't had the time or motivation to write. I appreciate your patience and hope you are pleased with this chapter. Please review and let me know your thoughts! I've missed hearing from all of you.

Enjoy!

—Annie.


XIV

1978

Part Four


My love, leave yourself behind

Beat inside me, leave you blind.

My love, look what you can do.

I am mending, I'll be with you.

—Sia


(your candle burned out)


Grandma Lois passes away unexpectedly on a hot August morning.

Lily attends the funeral with her distraught father, draped in mourning black with her brazen red hair coifed into an out of the way chignon. The neighborhood gathers after the funeral at her grandmother's modest house to bring the family meals and chat about the good times they'd all shared with Lily's grandmother.

"Such a tragedy," whispers one of Grandma Lois's many friends, dabbing her wrinkly purple eyelid with a monogrammed handkerchief. "Apparently she fell on the stairs and the shock of it sent her into heart failure."

Lily's eyes glaze over the staircase, toward the bottom stair that always creaks when you step on it, to the storage cupboard under the stairs that Grandma Lois kept her late husband's things.

"She couldn't even reach a phone to ring for help."

When they spot Lily listening, they scuttle over to her to give their condolences.

"You look just like she did back in the day," remarks another friend, cupping Lily's flushed cheek with her cold, knobby fingers.

Lily's fingers clutch at the pearls strung around her neck—a gift from Grandma Lois on her sixteenth birthday.

"Every young woman should always own at least one strand of pearls in her lifetime," she had insisted to Lily.

With a strained smile, Lily untangles herself from the doting elderly women and tracks her father down in the small kitchen. He's reading over the will and testament Grandma Lois has left behind.

Lily inherits all of her grandmother's finest china, three biscuit tins full of cash, and her grandmother's vintage cherrywood vanity with a small crack down the middle of the mirror.

Petunia—who hadn't even made it to the funeral—inherits most of the furniture, her own three biscuit tins full of cash, and Grandma Lois's home—Number 4 Privet Drive in Surrey, England.


(this is not my idea of fun)


Lily traces her index finger absentmindedly along the dewey rim of her glass of gillywater.

"—even listening to me?"

Lily pauses her movements and glances guiltily at Sirius.

"Sorry," she heaves and Sirius rolls his eyes, refills her gillywater. "I guess I'm just having some difficulty concentrating..."

The pub is at a standstill, with only a few quiet customers seated together in the cobwebbed corner booth.

"You don't say?" Sirius teases.

His smirk jerks downward when Lily releases another heavy sigh and downs her gillywater.

"Seriously, Lily Flower, what's with you?" he wonders, taking a rag to the counter.

"I've been offered a full position at the Daily Prophet," she answers dully.

Sirius beams at her in proud surprise.

"That's amazing—or...is it not?" he falters, frowning confusedly at her. "I thought you'd be happy?"

"I mean, yeah," she replies with a shrug, rapping her lavender fingernails against the polished cherry wood of the counter. "I guess I'm just surprised at the position I was given."

Sirius waits expectantly for her to continue.

"I'm an advice columnist," she shares with slight disappointment.

"What's the problem with that?" Sirius wonders. "You give great advice, even when people don't want to hear it."

She smiles at him slightly and rolls her shoulders backward to stretch her tired muscles.

"I had been hoping for something a bit more challenging where I could cover crime investigations or big news segments," she explains.

"Well, that's a big job, Lil," he reasons, throwing his rag over his shoulder. "They wouldn't just hand that over to just anyone, especially an intern."

Lily frowns darkly.

"Except they did," she announces bitterly. "They gave it to Mary MacDonald."

Without hesitation, Sirius grabs a spare glass and fills it to the brim with firewhiskey. Lily wrinkles her nose for a moment and then sighs again, takes the glass, and downs it in one swoop, cringing afterward.

"Thanks," she grunts out, coughing into her elbow.

"No problem," he says. "But really, you should be happy you even got a job. Remus still hasn't been able to find anything after his last employer found out about his little...problem."

Lily bristles, the firewhiskey burning in the pit of her stomach.

"I still can't believe that," she growls. "Remus is one of the most brilliant, hardworking people I know and it pisses me off that someone like him is being callously rejected and discriminated against simply because of his disease. It's not his fault and he's not dangerous."

"People scorn what they are afraid of and they are afraid of what they don't understand," Sirius replies briskly, equally heated. "It's stupid."

"It should be illegal," Lily presses. "I don't know how it isn't, frankly. If I had the patience for law, I'd do something about it."

They share a moment of tense silence.

"How've you been?" she changes the subject, eyeing him carefully.

"Fine, I suppose," Sirius replies easily. "Just been busy working and trying to save up some money for bike repairs."

"And Peter?" she wonders curiously. "I never see him anymore."

Sirius snorts.

"He landed himself a ministry job, if you can believe it."

Lily's eyes widen, green and glassy.

"Doing what, exactly?"

Sirius shrugs. "I dunno. Probably trailing after someone as an assistant. It's what he does best, after all."

Lily scowls at him but remains quiet, not in the mood to argue.

She checks the time.

"Well, anyway, James should be out of training by now so I should get going," she dismisses herself, standing and throwing her purse over her shoulder. "Thanks for the drinks and the pep talk, Snuffles."

"It's my job," he replies cheekily, winking at her.


(if we were a movie)


"I've never been to one of these before," gushes Sirius excitedly.

Marlene rolls her eyes toward Lily.

"Calm down, Padfoot," chides James as the group heads toward the ticket booth. "You're going to make the muggles suspicious."

Sirius ignores him, bobbing up and down on the balls of his feet.

"Why don't you take him in to get some snacks and we'll get the tickets?" Lily suggests, smiling fondly as James steers Sirius into the theater.

"He's like a little boy on drugs," Marlene snorts. "Honestly, who gets that worked up over a film?"

"James was the same way when I took him to the cinema the first time," Lily informs her as they approach the ticket booth. "I made the mistake of taking him to a horror film."

Marlene grimaces, imagining it in her head.

"He didn't know whether to be more fascinated or terrified, so he was curled up next to me with his fingers over his eyes the entire time," Lily giggles. "He would scream like a banshee and hide in my sweater and the next moment he would be peeking through his fingers and sitting forward in his seat. It was hilarious."

"It's a shame that Alice couldn't make it," Marlene says once they are inside the cinema. "I feel like I'm on a double date."

Lily snorts.

"Please, Sirius is going to be glued to James's hip the entire time," Lily assures her. "He's not even going to notice you are there."

Halfway through the advertisements, Lily passes the large bucket of popcorn down to Marlene. Marlene and Sirius both reach for a handful at the same time and their hands connect. They spring back immediately, as if burned.

Lily pretends not to notice the raised blood in Marlene's cheeks or the way Sirius's knee bobs up and down like he's having a seizure.

It's so comedic and cheesy, almost like something straight of out a film.


(starting off on a journey)


"This is the one," Lily announces one late September evening. "We could put my bookcase right here, the television over there...And it's only two streets away from Marlene's place!"

James releases a heavy breath of relief and chuckles, turning to the realtor with tired eyes.

"Well, you heard the little lady," James says, throwing his arm around Lily's shoulders. "We'll take it."

"Wonderful," the realtor gushes, scribbling on her clipboard with her quill. "I'll run your information and let the owner's know you're interested in renting."

"When will it be available?" Lily wonders eagerly as they exit the shamrock green door of the tiny rambler cottage.

"It should be ready mid-October, early November, if everything pans out like it should," explains the realtor with a smile and bids them a good evening.

Lily and James turn to face the small home—a burnt rust brick number with a small porch, green door and matching shutters, gray plated roof with moss lining the left side, a small poppy garden, and a white picket fence.

"Our first place as a married couple," Lily sighs, snuggling fondly into James's jacket sleeve.

She feels him smile as he places a kiss to her forehead.


(return to sender)


Lily is in the upstairs bedroom in Marlene's cottage, the cord of Marlene's guest room phone wrapped around her wrist, a flurry of wedding invitations spread out across the mattress.

"Don't suppose you've heard anything from Mum?"

I heard my father clear his throat in surprise over the phone.

"Your mother?" he clarified questioningly.

"Er, yeah," Lily said, rubbing her neck. She knew it was a long shot, considering those two hadn't spoken in quite a long time. "I'm sending out the invitations to the wedding today and I haven't been able to reach her to see if she's back from Thailand or India or wherever the hell she is."

Her father chuckled awkwardly. "Sorry, Lil, I haven't heard a thing from Diane in several months."

"Figured," Lily sighed. "I'll just send an invite to her flat in case she comes back. Thanks anyway. How's... Aubrey?"

Lily didn't actually care how Aubrey was but she missed her father and it made material for conversation.

"She's doing well. She actually just walked through the door. Would you like to talk to her?"

Lily cringed and was grateful that her father was not near her to see the face she was making.

"No, no, that's okay," Lily said hurriedly. "I've actually got to get back to it. Got to make sure everybody gets an invite."

"Understood," her father said. "Love you, Lil."

"Love you, Dad. Bye."

She really didn't have that many more invites to send out—she'd been neglecting the last two invitations for nearly an hour now—but her dad didn't need to know that.

She sighs, glancing down at the last two invitations, one addressed to Petunia Dursley, the other addressed to Severus Snape. She licks the envelope encasing Petunia's invite closed and adds it to the pile on her bed.

Reaches for the remaining invitation and the letter she'd written to accompany the invitation. The letter that held her apology, her sadness over their broken friendship, her practically begging him to reconsider his decisions.

Stupid, she thought bitterly. Like he'd even care at this point. Why open up old wounds? He's gone his way and I've gone mine and that's just the way it has to be.

Without a second thought, she tosses the letter into the waste basket and lights it on fire, watching the embers lick up the words she didn't have the courage to say, until it had disappeared.


(something old, something new)


The Potter's attic is dusty from neglect and Lily coughs violently into her elbow.

"Dreadfully sorry about all this," Euphemia apologizes, brandishing her wand and clearing the space of the many dust bunnies. "It's been a while since we've been up here. It's used mostly for storage now."

Lily nods silently, her throat still scratchy from the dust. The floor creaks under Euphemia's weight as she kneels in front of a large trunk. Still confused as to why Euphemia had insisted she join her in the attic, Lily watches the elder woman closely as she pulls a garment bag out of the trunk and cradles it in her arms, a small smile gracing her features.

"I know we didn't really leave things off right the last time you were here," Euphemia says, bowing her head. "I truly am sorry for what you overheard. We handled things in the wrong way."

Lily clears her throat, opens her mouth to say something, anything.

Closes it.

"James confided that your mother—"

Lily blinks, shuffled her feet. "Yeah, she's still off in some foreign country. I haven't been able to reach her. Guess she doesn't want to be found."

Euphemia shakes her head in sympathy. "It must be very hard not having your mother at this special time in your life."

"I've gotten by without her before," Lily insists. "I can do it again."

"You're very strong," Euphemia says, getting to her feet. "You know, Fleamont's parents didn't approve of me at first. It caused a lot of grief between Fleamont and his parents and because of it I never had a close relationship with my mother in law."

Lily snaps her hair tie against her wrist.

"I would hate for the same to happen to us and I'm sorry if I've made you feel like you aren't wanted in our family," Euphemia admits. "I already consider you a part of this family and I hope you can come to feel the same way."

Lily, caught off guard, balks at the woman. An unsure smile drifts across her face and Euphemia reaches out to stroke her cheek, like a fond mother would.

"I know it isn't really my place but with your mother gone, I thought I might lend a hand," Euphemia explains. "And please, if I'm completely out of line, tell me."

She passes Lily the garment bag and watches Lily unzip it. It takes all Lily has not to gasp out loud.

"It's...a wedding gown?" she whispers in surprise.

"It was mine," Euphemia confesses. "I'd been saving it all these years in case I had a daughter but as you know we never had the opportunity to have another child after James. It was a miracle we had him at all."

"It's beautiful," Lily comments, trailing her fingers over the cinched corseted bodice.

"I know it's quite ancient," the elderly woman states, looking somewhat embarrassed. "But James told me how much you like vintage items and I thought—well, if you hate it I won't be offended. I just thought I would offer."

"It's perfect," Lily breathes out, tearful. "Thank you, Euphemia."

And before she can contain herself, she throws her arms around James's mother and sniffles into her matronly shoulder.


(it's more than a touch or word can say)


"Shh, if Marlene and Dorcas find you here, they'll skin you alive," Lily whispers and then giggles as James presses a hot, wet kiss to her throat.

"They'll have to catch me first," James mutters against her skin, his breath warm.

"Won't your mates be wondering where you've got off to?" Lily gasps as he presses her against the closed door of her bedroom.

It's completely dark in her bedroom—she's supposed to be getting her beauty rest. After all, she'd been so eager to leave the bachelorette party being held in her honor downstairs. To be fair, it was rather late and she had been tired.

Well, until she'd discovered James in her room, waiting patiently for her on her bed.

"Nah, they're all completely smashed," he tells her, smirking.

He catches her lips with his, his tongue dancing along hers eagerly. Her body reacts, her sheer need for him humming throughout her body, hot like electricity in her veins. She rips at his shirt, flinging it over his head swiftly.

James chuckles.

"Eager?" he teases, breathless as she captures his lips once more, raking her nails lightly against the nakedness of his chest and causing him to lose control.

His hands grab at her thighs, hitching her legs around his waist. Her surprised squeak causes him to chuckle against her lips.

She breaks away from his blazing lips, sucking in a deep breath.

"Bed. Now," she demands in a frenzied gasp.

He obeys, tossing her onto the bed and smirking as she releases another surprised squeak.

"Careful," she chastises him, glancing warily at the bedroom door.

The hallway lights have long since been distinguished, meaning Dorcas had retired for the evening.

"Don't act like you didn't enjoy it," he quips, raising his eyebrows suggestively at her as he climbs on top of her and pins her arms above her head.

Keeping her pinned, he reaches behind her and discards her bra, tossing it carelessly over his shoulder and replacing the fabric with his fervent mouth. She arches into him, her fingers tangling themselves in his hair.

"Stop teasing me," Lily gasps out.

"My, aren't we impatient, tonight?" he chuckles.

"James—I need you—please."

"I love it when you beg me to take you," he grunts, hissing as her hand slips into his trousers.

When they finally connect, it takes all Lily has not to shout out. James seems to reciprocate her feelings because he releases a loud groan into her breasts and thrusts into her harder.

"Faster," she demands, locking her legs tightly around his waist, urging him in deeper.

Their brisk movements cause the bed to clack loudly against the wall. In the back of Lily's mind, she distantly thinks about how they should probably be more quiet so as not to wake Dorcas down the hall, but finds she doesn't care. She moans loudly as he reaches between her legs and rubs her rhythmically. She feels a pressure building, a heat pooling between her legs, and her breath comes out in scattered, frenzied cries.

"Yes, yes," she moans and with one final cry, she rocks upward and clamps her teeth down on his shoulder, muffling the sound of her release against his skin.

Moments later she feels him do the same and he collapses on top of her, panting and sweaty. Several seconds later, when his breathing had returned to normal, James rolled off of her and pulled her onto his chest.

"Isn't it bad luck to see the bride the day of her wedding?" Lily hums.

"Is it really already the next day?" James wonders. "Where did the time go?"

"Still time to back out," Lily teases.

He scoffs and pulls her closer, kissing her on the forehead.

"Nah, you're stuck with me, Evans."

She smiles sleepily against him and succumbs to dreams.


(got my heart set on our wedding day)


"Lily?"

She glances up from the vanity she's seated at inside the bridal room of the small chapel. It had been her request to marry in Godric's Hollow and James's family had been more than happy to accommodate.

"It's time," Dorcas reminds her hesitantly.

Sniffling, Lily nods, padding carefully under her eyes as a fresh flurry of tears spilled out against her reddening skin.

"Still no sign of them?" Lily whispers despondently.

Dorcas bites her lip and smooths her hands against the silky fabric of her sea green dress.

"Unfortunately, no," Dorcas replies softly.

Her maid of honor helps her to her feet, touches up her make up, gives her a strong squeeze of courage.

"My dad's here, though?" Lily double checks.

Dorcas nods. "He arrived with Aubrey about thirty minutes ago. He's waiting to walk you down the aisle. Do you want me to grab him?"

Lily shakes her head, clears her throat, and raises her chin.

"No, I'll be fine," she assures Dorcas.

"I'm sorry, Lily..."

"I just don't understand...I mean, I went to Petunia's wedding. The least she could do is come to mine," Lily complains. "And my mother. How does a girl's own mother not show up to her own daughter's wedding? She attended Petunia's...why not mine?"

Dorcas, at a loss for words, shakes her head and gives Lily's hand another squeeze.

"Just try and remember that this day is about you and James starting a family of your own," she reminds Lily. "All that really matters is that he's up there waiting at that altar for you and that the two of you will spend the rest of your lives together."

Lily hears the wedding strain begin and her heart leaps nervously in her chest, drops into her stomach, and then skydives into her throat. Dorcas pulls her into the hallway.

"Ready to become Mrs. Lily Potter?" her father whispers, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

Marlene and Alice stand just outside the chapel doors, ready to make their entrance. They both smile at her encouragingly.

"More ready than I've ever been in my entire life," Lily responds confidently.

She takes a step forward, toward her future.

Toward the only thing that mattered.

Toward her James.


End of XIV: 1978

Part Four


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