A Picture's Worth
Disclaimer: They aren't mine, they're Rowling's.
Synopsis: Lily reflects on a picture that means a lot to her. Exactly 1,000 words.
Author's notes: I have no idea where this came from, but I'm glad it came. I wanted to write something about friendship for some time now and nothing seemed to be working, but this came out of nowhere and surprised me. I'm pleased with how it came out, and even more pleased I managed to make it exactly 1,000 words (minus these author's notes and such). It isn't slash, whatever you try to read into it.
Additionally, it is adoringly dedicated to Lexi, Anna, and Sarah, because it's so much easier to write about what you know, and I owe that to them.
When I was pregnant, and as a result was pulled from the frontlines of the war and shoved into a sort of guarded state, there was a period of time during which James actively insured I stayed out of danger. I can't say it didn't annoy me, however well-meaning it was. I don't like feeling incapable.
It did, however, leave me with a fair amount of free time, since I could do nothing directly productive for the Order's efforts. I suppose saying a fair amount of free time is relative – both Alice and I found ourselves with heaps of paperwork, house cleaning, baby prepping and countless other activities, but in the couple of hours daily in which someone forced us to slow down, there was time to do what we pleased.
It was Alice's idea that we organize photo albums, because nothing detracted from the dreariness of a wartime world like photographs of simplistic childhoods, old inside jokes and blissful ignorance. It was a good idea, and it served its purpose quite well. For those few hours, we were submersed in a world where everyone was smiling and waving at the camera – a world where everyone was laughing, everyone was alive and everyone was happy.
It did make us dreadfully nostalgic.
My favorite picture of all of them – favorite over the wedding photos and the baby shower photos and the photo Sirius had taken of James and I in seventh year, unbeknownst to us – is easy to pick out. It's a photo I was the photographer of, and thusly it's a photo that doesn't have me in it, but I can say without hesitation it is the most precious, says more than a million words, and evokes the most painful longing.
The photo is of graduation, set in Hogwarts' little stone courtyard. At the top of the picture, the banner reading Congratulations, Class of '78 wavers in the wind, and if I look at the picture long enough I can almost understand what the teaching staff must have felt. Our class, our generation, a generation of children in a world that allowed no time to grow up, would prove so powerful. I'm not sure we all realized it at the time, but from the moment we graduated the fate of the wounded Wizarding world was in our hands, a robin's egg fallen from its nest, and it was our choice whether or not we nurtured it back to life or crushed it in our palm.
Beneath the banner is what tugs on my heartstrings the most. There, beneath the banner and clutching the rolls of parchment they took seven years to achieve, are the four boys who, in time, came to mean the world to me. Love one, love all four, I can recall my friend advising me around the time I first went out with James. When I took the picture, I think I was only beginning to understand how right she was.
It wasn't until I'd been with James for several months that I realized what a unique phenomenon the four of them were. True love defying all odds and overcoming all obstacles is told time and again, in prose and poetry and song, in ancient fables and age-old legends. The strength of love, its ability to defeat prejudice and withstand overwhelming opposition, is something children are spoon-fed from the time they are born.
Being around James and his friends came to make me realize that oftentimes, friendship is even stronger.
It was something I never could quite explain. The way they knew each other – the way they fed off of each others' emotions, the way they could finish each others' sentences, the way one always seemed to know what the other three were thinking – mystified me. I'd had friends all my life, and never once do I think I connected to any of my friends in the way that they often did.
It amazed me the way they relied on each other. When one was sad, the others gravitated, empathized, sympathized, and cheered him up. When one was in a state of elation, the others' spirits rose with his, and they laughed louder and harder than I've ever seen anyone else laugh.
They were family. Remus was the mature elder brother, the bungee cord, constantly pulling them up before they crashed. James and Sirius were the twins, the best of friends, the partners in crime, two that shared a brain and a personality and got along better than any real twins ever could have hoped to. They knew each other better than they knew themselves, and they communicated easily without words. Peter was the youngest, the baby of the family, the one the other three were always looking out for, the one the other three wanted to take care of. He looked up to them and they looked out for him, and I feel safe in saying that neither Peter nor Sirius would have traded their bickering for anything.
They were the happiest when they were together, and I noticed it all the time. James is wonderful alone with me, but when the other three are there, he is in his element. It is around them that he laughs the loudest and grins the widest and he remarked to me once, a year or two ago, that when he has the four of us – myself and the three of them – in one room, he feels as though the entire world could stop spinning on its axis, time could freeze entirely and the world could crumble down yet he'd be happy.
That's the feeling I get when I look at this picture. In the picture, there are all four of them, smiling broadly, eager and apprehensive, full of hope and anxiety. I look up from the photo album and I see the world, crumbling down around us, falling to its knees, but in the photo, they are smiling and happy.
A picture really is worth a thousand words.