Title: Happily Ever After

Author: Kali (thirty2flavors)

Rating: PG

Summary: A simple one-shot detailing a bit of James' views on life, love and chick flicks.

Author's notes: I found this one floating around on my computer when I was in a particularly write-y mood, and I decided to finish it off. I admit the ending is a bit weak, as I wasn't sure how to end it. If I think up something better, I'll change it, but for now, this is all I've got. Reviews are always nice.

Happily Ever After

You know what I've noticed? In all those Muggle movies Lily makes me watch – chick-flicks, Remus calls them – the ending is always the same. No matter what clichéd plotline there is, the ending is always the same. No matter the actors, actresses, set, screenwriters, directors… the ending is always the same as it always was in all those books your mum reads you when you're a kid.

And they lived happily ever after.

If it's a love triangle, the main couple - the couple everyone's rooting for - gets back together. Sure, the third party is tossed aside and their fiancé or girlfriend or what-have-you has suddenly left them, but that's okay because most of the time they were a lying, cheating bitch or bastard in the first place. So Mr. and Mrs. Right get back together and, surprise, they live happily ever after.

If it's some sort of family thing, the family reunites. Children realize how much they appreciate their parents; siblings set aside their differences and become the best of friends; parents realize just how much they love their kids. Adopted kids meet their real parents or they value their foster parents more or something.

Or perhaps it's the third standard – people who were socially unaccepted suddenly find true love, prove themselves, reform society and their insecurities fade away.

It's all the same, essentially. The bad guy goes to jail, the good guys win, and the loving couple gets to spend the rest of their days having hot teenage sex like they did in the first place anyway.

And they live happily ever after.

Lily said she thought our marriage was like something out of those movies. The world was just starting its rapid descent downhill, strain and stress were abundant, and the Order of the Phoenix was just getting off the ground, but on our wedding day everything fell into place. She looked gorgeous, the flowers were perfect, the cake was delicious, and we couldn't have asked for a better wedding party. Just like in Hollywood.

Or that's what she said. It was just like the ending of all those films, the ride-off-into-the-sunset sequence, the part right before it fades to black and the final text appears.

And they lived happily ever after.

But that wasn't the end. It wasn't like after we got married or after our honeymoon everything wrong with the world fixed itself and we just froze in time, 'happily' ever after. Time rolled on. The war got worse, more people died, we had our first marital spats and all the wedding cake was eaten. It is my experience that real life does not work like a movie.

Throughout all of the Black family drama I've been a third-party witness to, never once has it ever seemed to me that they would get their ever after. Sirius will never appreciate his parents, and with good reason. Regulus died a year ago and I can assure you there were no heartfelt amends made last minute. Mr. and Mrs. Black are never going to apologize or change.

Remus has yet to find a woman willing to look past the obvious. As much as I admire him, I know he hasn't got the power to change prejudices in a society that clings so desperately to making differences known. Scarcely anyone will give him the chance to prove himself, and even if he's not the shy, meek and reclusive boy he was when I first met him, all those insecurities are still there beneath the surface. They're hard-wired in and nothing is going to change that.

As for Mr. and Mrs. Right? Our wedding may have been lovely, Lily and I may be hopelessly head-over-heels, we may have a wonderful child, but it stops there. We aren't going to live out the typical plotline. We're not going to have the cliché:

And they lived happily ever after.

To my right I can hear the soft snoring noise Lily makes when she's in the middle of a dream. The clock I can see over her head tells me it's quarter after three in the morning. Funny – it seemed just a few minutes ago it was midnight, and time has flown neither because I was having fun nor because I was asleep.

It's a pretty standard routine by now, actually. I don't get much sleep. There are far too many things bouncing around in my brain at any given time for me to shut it all off and go to sleep. I don't sleep because I cannot relax long enough to do so and because, no matter how desperately I try to ignore it, the ominous ticking second-hand on the clock keeps me awake.

I cannot make myself go to sleep knowing that it will take time. Time and safety are the two things that Lily and Harry need the most, and are regrettably the two things that I cannot promise them. I can protect them to the best of my ability, but I cannot guarantee safety, and time is a precious commodity that all the wealth in the world cannot afford.

I can offer them love, I can offer them support, I can offer them a roof and food and comfort, but I cannot offer them their storybook ending.

The knowledge of all of it is what keeps me up. I can't give any of them what they deserve – not Lily, not Harry, not Sirius, Remus, or Peter. I can buy Lily her house with the white picket fence but I can't buy her the world where her biggest fear is Harry stepping on her flower garden; I can treat Sirius like a brother but I can't change the way his family regards him; I can offer Remus my support but I can't rid the world of all prejudice.

I can't give them their happily ever afters.

And it's a shame, because really, real people are more deserving than storybook characters, anyway.