A/N: Alright guys, this is it. The final chapter. I want to thank all of my readers and reviewers. I appreciate it all so much, so thank-you. I meant to post this the 20th, I even had it written, but then my internet went down. And by the time I got it up, I had Deathly Hallows in my hands, and well, I chose to read it...because I didn't want to come on to fanfiction and see stories inspired by DH, thus ruining the book for me. Anyways, have fun reading this…and review, please!
Chapter Thirty-Two: A Hopeful Future
"So he's gone," Sirius said again, letting the words fall out of his mouth lazily, "to join the werewolves."
James nodded yet again. Sirius had been rolling this bit of news around his head and out of his mouth for the last five minutes, as if he was waiting for the information to really hit him, to become real. Peter shuddered in the corner. He accepted Remus' disappearance with a curt nod, and then took his seat in James' sitting room. James had felt it was his responsibility to tell his friends what had happened, and had invited Peter over as soon as Sirius had returned from the Potters'.
"I just thought he would at least owl us or something." Sirius said, "That really doesn't sound like Remus…just leaving like that. He would have told us."
"He couldn't have told us," James reasoned. "It has to be secret; Remus has to blend in completely with the werewolves in order to gain their trust, in order to find out what they're up to. He couldn't have risked letting us know when he left, it was probably very sudden, they probably just came for him and he had to go, he couldn't let them see him using an owl or anything…"
James rambling went on for a good few minutes, and it seemed like he was trying to rationalize his way into believing himself. In the meantime, a dark looked passed over Sirius, one that contorted his usually handsome features into an expression usually worn on less likable members of the Black family. When this look hit Sirius, it never bode well.
"What if he's really joined him, James."
James rose to his feet immediately. This accusation accompanied by the use of his first name changed the atmosphere completely. "That's completely ridiculous! Remus wouldn't do that!"
"Well where's the proof?" Sirius asked, also rising. "He just left! We don't know anything about this so-called mission. We don't know anything about it from Dumbledore. He could have just made the whole thing up so he could go off and—"
"That's enough!" James retorted, his tone cold and commanding. "Remus would not do that. He's our friend, and we've got to trust him."
Sirius let out a breath and shrugged, not willing to argue his best friend on this subject.
"Sirius," James started, easing his voice, "Padfoot, I've got to know you trust him."
Sirius shook his fine black hair out of his eyes. It was getting longer, and he didn't plan on cutting it anytime soon. He looked James in the eye—they were almost exactly the same height. He then looked away to Peter, who remained seating and quiet throughout the whole exchange of words between the best friends.
"What do you think, Wormtail?" Sirius asked, his gray eyes boring into Peter's watery blue ones. Peter had to look away, his eyes darting from James to Sirius, trying to decide who he wanted to agree with, rather than what he believed.
"I…I don't know," Peter started, stumbling over his words and both James and Sirius looked down at him. "It does look suspicious, " He stopped at the sound of James huffing in indignation. "but, he's our friend—and I trust him." Peter shuddered slightly, waiting for Sirius to lash out for not choosing his side.
Sirius, however, just nodded and looked at James again. "All right," he let out a sigh, putting his hands into his pockets. "I believe in Remus, and I trust your judgment."
"Okay." James replied, glad they were able to agree; arguments with Sirius were by far the worst, right up on top of his unpleasantness-meter as having a row with Lily.
Any tension mingling in the room and spreading through the air ceased, and calm took over the room.
"There's something else I wanted to tell you both." James said after a few moments.
Sirius and Peter looked up immediately, their eyes wide. More bad news?
"Lily and I have decided to alter the wedding plans a bit," he started.
"You're still getting married, right?" Sirius retorted instantly, a look of horror striking his features.
James chuckled and nodded. "Yes, of course…thanks for your concern, Padfoot."
"Well if all that pining and moping for all those years had been a waste—"Sirius started to rant, but James merely waved him silent.
"It's all right, really…it's just, we've decided to jump the gun a little—" James attempted to explain, but was interrupted again by Lily entering the room, taking off her heavy cloak and apparently clueless to Sirius and Peter's presence.
"Merlin, I just want to hurl!" she exclaimed, preparing to vent about her visit to St. Mungo's, where she had gone to check up on the poor childless mother from the previous night's attack, when she was halted by Sirius pouncing on top of her, embracing her tightly.
"You're pregnant!" he said happily, "Oh, you two!" He released her and then rounded on James, hitting him in the arm. "You old dog, Prongs!"
Lily merely looked from Sirius to James, eyes bulging, wondering what exactly she had walked in on.
James laughed again. "No, Padfoot, we're not pregnant." His eyes darted to Lily, "as far as I know, at least."
"I'm not pregnant, Sirius." Lily said loudly, wanting to make no more misunderstandings.
"We've decided to go away and get married, instead of the whole planned thing. We've decided it's best to do it more spur of the moment, safer, at least." James finally divulged, smiling at the confusion that had occurred.
"Oh, all right," replied Sirius, "Am I still best man?"
"Of course—and Peter, I still want you there as a groomsman." James gestured towards Peter, who was being quiet as usual, sitting in his chair.
Peter smiled. "Just let me know when you need me."
"When is this event taking place then?" Sirius asked, looking at James and Lily, who were now positioned cozily in the same chair.
They merely looked at one another.
"We're not really sure," started Lily, "In the next couple of days—I've got to talk to my parents, we want to see Dumbledore, to get his opinion. We were going to go later tonight to see him, actually."
Sirius nodded. "Is it going to be just us?"
Lily shook her head. "A few others will be there, hopefully."
"And am I still allowed to orchestrate a bachelor's party for Jamesie?" Sirius asked, as if this was the most important question regarding the whole situation.
"You better be." James said smiling at Lily as he said so, "I've got to enjoy my last few hours of freedom."
Lily merely looked at James, grinning as well. "Yes, Allison, Ellie, and Charlotte better be throwing me one too. It's my last chance to rendezvous with Gilderoy Lockhart."
James made a face at her before tickling her, as she was incredibly vulnerable, sitting on his lap and sharing his seat. Lily giggled loudly, trying to smack James away, but failing. Peter and Sirius just exchanged a knowing look and smiled to themselves. They were lost in their own world, oblivious to all but themselves.
Lily let out the deep breath she had been holding.
"There," Beverly Evans as she stepped back from her daughter. "Does it fit all right?"
Lily turned around to face her mother, smiling. "Yes, perfect, actually. Glad I didn't gain any weight, though."
Beverly Evans looked her daughter over, her eyes glistening with tears. "You look so beautiful and grown-up."
Lily hugged her mother. "Don't cry, Mum. You'll make me cry…and I don't want to risk trying that make-up charm again so close to the ceremony starting…I felt like I almost blew my face off earlier…"
"Luckily I'm here to make sure you don't do any permanent damage." Ellie said, coming to stand next to Beverly, looking very elegant in the pale gold bridesmaid dress she was wearing, her dark hair pulled back into a chic up-do. Allison and Charlotte joined her too, both looking exceptionally gorgeous and excited.
"Yes, and good thing I'm brilliant with hair." Allison added, beaming.
Lily grinned. "Thank you guys, so much."
"Oh it's nothing, really." Charlotte started, her blue eyes holding the same mischievous glint Lily recognized James having, "I mean, we didn't want you going out there looking terrible…I mean, James has still got to say 'I do'…"
The girls all laughed lightly, enjoying the simple excitement and happiness of preparing for a wedding ceremony.
"Take a look at yourself, Lily, you're gorgeous." Her mother said, trying very hard to hold back her tears.
Lily walked over to the full length mirror occupying the bathroom. How they all fit in here, Lily didn't know, but she assumed magic had been involved. She gazed at her reflection and grinned, a thousand butterflies swarming in her stomach.
"I can't believe this is happening!" She let out softly, holding the sides of her dress in her hands and turning around to watch her reflection.
She indeed was beautiful, wearing the same dress her mother and James' mother had helped pick out months ago. The dress was white and flowing, making Lily feel quite like a princess. Allison had done her hair, although it hadn't taken much work. Half of her red hair was pulled back into an elegant braid, keeping and loose strands out of her eyes. The rest of the red mass flowed around her shoulders. She wore a small veil, not wanting anything too lacy or gaudy.
"But it is," a voice said. Lily turned around. It was Margaret Potter, James' mother.
Lily embraced her. "Oh thank you so much, Margaret. It's really so nice to be able to get married here! My parents were able to come, that wouldn't have been so easy in any other magical place…"
"Oh I'm glad to have helped. I never thought I'd be able to have my son get married in my own house! But what's the sense of having such a big home if you can't do things like these in them?" said Margaret, smiling. "But we better get ready to start—I just came to make sure everything was all right." She kissed Lily's cheek and then was off. Ellie squealed with anticipation as they heard the organ start the familiar wedding tune.
James sucked in his breath as the little old witch started at the organ that had been placed in the vast, elegant room James' parents always used for balls and parties.
The room was arranged and decorated for their midnight wedding and about twenty guests had taken seats in the small pews James' dad had conjured for the occasion.
"Ready, mate?" Sirius said quietly from the side of James.
James nodded, and Sirius could tell from his profile that he was grinning.
The procession started with two small children making their way up the aisle, one was Sirius' cousin's daughter, also a disowned Black. She was small and a little perplexed at her task of throwing flowers down the aisle, but with the ring bearer in front of her, she kept focused.
James barely noticed the other members of the wedding party once Lily entered the room, accompanied by her proud-looking father, who appeared to be getting quite accustomed to dress robes. James had to keep him mouth from dropping once his eyes landed on his bride. She looked amazing, simply beautiful, and she was coming closer and closer to him, ready to become his wife.
It seemed to take forever for Lily to reach James, at least from their point of view, and as soon as Patrick Evans left his daughter by James, with a nod and a smile to his soon to be son-in-law, time seemed to have stopped. James stared at Lily, his hazel eyes smiling as much as his lips were. Lily grinned back at him as he took her hand, and it was a good few seconds before they realized the vows had started.
They both turned to face Albus Dumbledore, who, like them, was smiling happily, his eyes twinkling under his half-moon spectacles.
"James, your vows?" Dumbledore said after a moment.
James nodded and looked directly into Lily's emerald eyes, oblivious to everyone else.
"Lily, I knew you were special the moment I first saw you. It took me a few years to realize what the swooping sensation in my stomach and the way my heart rose to my throat when ever you were around meant, and it took me even longer to not act like an idiot around you because of it." He continued as she beamed at him, "I'm so grateful to you for finally giving me a chance. You're such an incredible person, you're brilliant and beautiful, inside and out, and I would like you to be my wife. Together, we can face everything, Lily. With you at my side, I know that we can make it."
Lily had to breathe in slowly after hearing this. She didn't want to tear up as her turn came.
"James, you've seen every side of me. You've seen me furious, you've seen me sad and vulnerable, you've seen me happy—and you've been the cause of all of these emotions—at some point in time." She let out a small, nervous laugh, and James did as well. "But I wouldn't want to be with anyone else. I love you for all that you make me feel, and I know that you're the only person that will ever make me happy. I know we're going to go through hell together, but I wouldn't want it any other way." She continued to smile, and was slightly stunned to see that tears were gathering in James' joyful eyes.
The room seemed filled with love at that second, a few dreamy sighs and noses were blown, and everyone was caught up in the moment.
Dumbledore looked down at the couple and checked his pocket watch. It was eleven-fifty-nine for a few more seconds, 1978 for a few more moments.
"James, you may kiss your bride."
James lifted Lily's veil over her head, and just as the clock struck twelve, his lips reached hers, binding them together as husband and wife, holding them together as one, fierce hope for the future.
As the New Year rang in, Lily and James realized they were leaving any carefree times behind for good. They knew that their lives would never be easy again, but they were prepared to go on, together, fighting Lord Voldemort and ending all fear.
Thanks to all of my reviewers and to all of my readers that made it this far. I really do appreciate it.
No spoilers in the reviews, please. Just thought I'd made a disclaimer, just in case.