Lily took a deep breath and closed her eyes. This was hardly the hardest thing she had ever done. She had robbed Voldemort's vault in Gringotts without her pulse rocketing so high. Adrenaline pumped through her veins and her heartbeat pounded in her ears. This was her choice and she knew it was the right one.
"Lily? Are you okay?" Tonks asked. Lily opened her eyes and looked over at her friend. Tonks grinned. "You look fabulous."
Lily looked to the full-length mirror in front of her and smiled. "Thanks to you," she said. The simple white dress brushed the floor and gently rested on Lily's pale skin. The necklace James had gotten her for Christmas in their seventh year was the only jewelry with the outfit. Lily had wanted an equally simple hair style, but Tonks had insisted on getting to style it. Her dark red hair was elaborate piled in curls on her head with splashes of baby's breath tying it in to the white of the dress. "You look beautiful too. You were right, that dress is perfect for you."
"I know. I'd only pick out the best for your maid of honor," Tonks said. The dress was a neutral gold that clung to Tonks's growing figure. She was in third year, but was mature physically, to her everlasting delight. When Lily had been ready to give up the search for bridesmaid dresses, Tonks had eagerly stepped in. However, the outfit was overshadowed by Tonks's vibrant magenta hair that day. Tonks sighed. "I can't believe you're getting married!"
Lily nodded. "I know," she said, smiling.
Once the Potters had come home and found James safe and alive after running foolhardily after Voldemort, they could not bring themselves to argue keeping the 'dangerous Stunner' at their home. Mrs. Potter had approached her after a week. James was outside with Sirius who had Apparated by to see how they were faring, so Lily was alone with his mother for the first time. She had been tentative in starting the conversation. "Thank you for letting me stay here," she had said.
Mrs. Potter had replied, "At first, to be honest, I wasn't sure how I felt keeping, well, the Stunner, in my home. Of course, you needed protection from Voldemort but I wasn't sure this was the right choice." Lily had bit the inside of her cheek, waiting for her dismissal from the house. How could she explain this to James? "But then I saw how he looks at you and how you look at him." Lily suddenly found herself in a tight embrace. "I'm so glad James found you. You are perfect together."
"He's amazing," Lily had said, nodding.
Tonks leaned back against the wall. She had picked the dress for style more than comfort, and it was very difficult for her to sit down. "I hope I find someone like James," Tonks said, fluttering her eyelashes dramatically.
"You will," Lily said firmly, adjusting her dress.
"Don't fuss, you'll mess it up!" Tonks exclaimed. Once Lily's hands had obediently fallen back down, she continued, "Someone funny, nice, and he's got to be romantic. I still can't get over that proposal. Who knew James had it in him?" Tonks said.
Lily had been living at Godric's Hollow for over a year. James had stayed close by for several months, knowing that being trapped in the house was grating on her nerves. Onyx was prone to complaining about their continued captivity, but Lily had repeated assured James that she was happy anywhere with him.
Finally she convinced him it was time for him to start his Auror training. He was prepared and eager for his future career and Lily didn't want to make him postpone his dream any longer. He was gone for training for the majority of the day from Monday through Saturday and Lily researched spells in the expansive Godric's Hollow library. They were both focusing on what they were passionate about, and when they met up again after the day they were passionate about each other.
For the past week, however, James had been coming home later than usual. He was vague about where he had been and Lily had to force herself to not be jealous. Just because she couldn't get out didn't mean that he shouldn't be able to do so.
He met her in the main hall of the mansion at eight p.m., hours earlier than usual. She beamed and hurried towards him. They kissed before he pulled back. "I have a present for you. Accio brooms!"
Her Black Phoenix and his non-black market broom zoomed towards them from the side hall. James caught both and handed Lily her broom, grinning broadly. "Actually," she said, looking at the broom uncertainly, "I think you can't re-gift someone their own broom."
"I know you've been cooped up for so long in here, I thought we should fly around a bit. Play a bit of Quidditch," he said.
Lily brightened up, but then her smile fell. "I'm not sure we have enough room," she said tentatively, not eager to ruin his plans.
"Are you sure about that?" he asked. He grabbed her hand and led her out of the mansion. They walked together into the dark woods at the side of the house. Where Lily expected to feel the foreboding tingle signaling she was leaving the protective wards, there was no sign of magic.
"Are the wards down?" she asked, reaching subtly into her pocket for her wand.
He saw what she was doing and put a hand on hers, stopping her from getting her wand. "The wards are up. I just extended them a bit."
"You extended the wards?" she asked, impressed. That would have taken a lot of magic and a long time. She sighed. "That's where you were this week," she deduced.
They entered a clearing and Lily gasped. The forest had been removed to leave a clear patch of land the exact size and shape of a Quidditch pitch. At each end of the field three trees had been transfigured into goal posts (Lily knew they had once been trees because the shoddy wandwork had left the bark on the posts). Lights lined the pitch and with a wave of James's wand the entire field was illuminated. "You did this all by yourself?" she asked.
"Actually, I got Remus, Sirius, and Peter to help too. I had to promise them they could play on it later. Peter did the goal posts," he said conspiratorially. "You ready for a game?" He pulled something shiny and gold from his pocket and tossed it into the air. In a flash, it darted across the field.
"Catch the Snitch?" Lily confirmed.
"First person to get it wins," James said. "Get ready. Set. Go!"
Lily kicked off the ground. The night air rushing by her ears was a thrill she had missed. They circled around the pitch, eyes sharp for the Golden Snitch. Lily saw it at the same time as James and dove. She clung tightly to her broom, enjoying the race. James closed in on her, but she was already to close. She snatched the glint of gold from the air and grinned triumphantly.
Her brow suddenly furrowed when she realized she was not holding a Snitch. She opened her palm and looked at the diamond ring in her hand. She looked up, startled, at James, who was hovering next to her. "Marry me, Lily?" he asked.
Lily laughed. "I'm still not convinced he came up with it on his own," she said.
"Are we starting soon?" Onyx asked from his perch on the chair nearby. It had taken several weeks, but eventually Onyx had gotten over his jealously of James. James, for his part, stopped flinching when he nearly tripped over the five-foot long cobra who curled in random places around the mansion.
As if in reply, Sirius ducked his head into the room. "If you're ready, we are," he said. His handsome face broke into a wide smile. "Damn girl," he said, looking at Lily. "James might just faint."
Lily smiled back. "He'd better not," she said. "We'll be right along."
Sirius nodded and left. Lily turned to Tonks. "Are we ready?" she asked.
Tonks nodded. "You're getting married!" she exclaimed again.
Lily picked up the bouquet of white and gold lilies from the table and gestured for Tonks to leave before her. "You're first," she said.
Tonks walked calmly forward and soon disappeared around the corner to start her walk up the aisle. Lily paused directly before the corner. This was it. She took a deep breath and stepped into view of the attendants of the wedding. There was a rustle and murmur as everyone looked back at her.
It was a small gathering. The only people there were the Order, a few school friends, and a few of James's fellow Auror trainees. Lily looked briefly over the gathering. She had invited Severus but they had agreed it was too dangerous for both of them for him to actually come. Dumbledore was in the group, as she had expected. He was decked out in gold, silver, and white robes. James had considered asking the headmaster to marry them but Lily had refused.
"Go on," James said. Lily had been at his house less than a full day, but James had felt it necessary for this to be done as quickly as possible.
Dumbledore looked at her expectantly. His head floated in the emerald fire, long beard trailing the ashy floor. "I'm staying here," she said firmly.
He sighed. "You do realize that—"
"You know me," Lily replied. "I've thought this out completely. I think everything out completely. I weighed the consequences. You have Petunia—you wouldn't throw her out to the Death Eaters. You may lose the war without me—I refuse to base my life on you or the Dark Lord… Voldemort any longer." She glanced over at James and he smiled, giving her confidence. "You may think that my life is a fair sacrifice for a few others. I don't. I will not help V—Voldemort and I will not help the Order. And I'd like to see you make me."
Dumbledore smiled genially. "I would never think of forcing you to do anything," he said calmly. "I hope you have a happy life with Mr. Potter."
He soon left. James turned to Lily. "I told you he would be okay with it," he said.
"More he realized I wasn't going to help him no matter what he said," Lily argued. "It doesn't matter either way, though. The point is I'm staying here."
Lily held out her arm and let Onyx slither down onto the cushion in the back of the room she had set out especially for him. Bones stepped towards her. He was dressed in a simple set of formal dress robes but his energetic attitude and beaming smile gave him presence. He held out his arm to Lily and she took it, smiling at him.
They had gone through much together, both positive and negative. But when she thought of having someone walk her down the aisle in the stead of her father, she had immediately thought of Bones. He was always focused on her well-being and truly cared about her as a person. His wedding to Sara had been less than a month after Lily's graduation and he had given her an invitation, though she had been unable to attend for security reasons. His wife sat in the back of the room with their new baby at her side, which was thankfully silent as the wedding proceeded.
Bones saw Lily's eyes take in the audience and murmured to her, "You haven't looked at the most important person yet."
Lily's eyes snapped directly forward and saw James. He was standing at the end of the aisle. Sirius, the best man, stood beside him smiling and Tonks was on his other side, almost bouncing with joy. But neither of their smiles could compare with the look of joy on James's face. She grinned at him and did not take her eyes from him again. The walk down the aisle seemed to take no time at all because suddenly she was standing next to James. Bones gave her hand to James and bowed his head to the two of them.
James and Lily shared one more smile before turning to the wizard. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls…" The words he spoke were of commitment and devotion, qualities that Lily knew she would gladly give to James forever. Finally, her moment came to say her vows. She took both of his strong hands and looked into his bright eyes. "I love you, James," Lily said. She swallowed, trying to keep her voice steady. "You believed in me at a time no one else would, even myself. You are an amazing person and I am so lucky to have you. I swear I will love you forever. I will never take a moment with you for granted and will respect, honor, and love you for as long as I live. I love you," she repeated.
"Lily, you are the most amazing person I have ever met. You are so strong and are a true Gryffindor." There was an appreciative ripple of laughter at the House reference. "I am still amazed that you're mine. I vow to love, respect, and honor as long as I live. My life for yours forever. I love you." Lily's breath still caught every time she heard him say that.
"Do you James Leo Potter take this witch Lily Delilah Aria Evans to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
"I do," he said.
"And do you Lily Delilah Aria Evans take this wizard James Leo Potter to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
Lily met James's eyes, happiness shining in her emerald eyes. "I do."
"Lily, take Harry and go. It's him!" Lily met James's eyes, torn in two. They had discussed this in detail. If it ever came down to it, Lily would save Harry, not James. She stood on the staircase, a sob escaping her. She loved them both so much and it was her fault Voldemort was there. If he hadn't already had the grudge against Lily, maybe he wouldn't have chosen Harry. Maybe James wouldn't have to…"Go!" James repeated.
Lily raced up the stairs, Harry clutched to her chest. She cast a glance back over her shoulder at James who stood defiantly at the bottom of the staircase. As she ran, she could hear James's last stand. Her heart broke when she heard the fateful death curse hit her true love. She ran into Harry's well-warded nursery and set in his crib tenderly, acting calm for his sake despite her racing heart.
She whirled around when the door opened behind her. Voldemort had changed since she had last seen him. After her desertion for James, he had clearly gone insane. His face was irrevocably changed, showing his serpentine connections. The red eyes she remembered so clearly stared at her as she stood in front of her baby's crib.
"Move aside, you silly girl," Voldemort hissed. There had been no hesitation in his voice when he had killed Potter, but now he paused. She still looked so much like she had when she had left him forever. His daughter. His Lady Velisna. This woman who stood by her child's crib, staring him down with the emerald eyes he remembered so clearly was once his only hope for a family.
But she had changed. The defiance in her stance, the raw emotion in her eyes—those were new to him. "Move aside, now," he said, raising his wand. But Lily did not move.
Downstairs her husband, James, her one true love, was dead. Killed by this man before her now who had haunted her since she was eleven. He had killed her parents. For years he suppressed her soul. But he would not kill her son. In her final act of defiance to Voldemort and her dark past, Lily Evans saved the world. That night, all around the globe, wizards raised their glasses and said in hushed voices, "To Harry Potter—the boy who lived," but they owed it all to the Stunner.
And so ends Lady Velisna.