I'll Fight For You
Disclaimer: The characters can speak for themselves by now.
Summary: James stays at St. Mungos with his family while Gracie remains in a coma. Tiffany and Lily go to Rohan's memorial service. Lily runs into Rohan's parents and says her goodbye. Tiffany corners Lily afterwards and they have a discussion about Tiff's now ex-boyfriend James and Lily's past and present relationship with him. They decide to bury the hatchet because of Gracie. James shows up on his broomstick and whisks Lily off to meet Hestia and Sirius. Hestia then takes them one by one to see Grace. When James laughs at her, Lily blows up at him for abandoning her at the memorial service and for flirting with Hestia. James tells her Hestia's just a friend and that he loves her but not if she can't trust him. Lily goes to St. Mungos and finds Grace awake and alert but weak. Grace forces her to tell her everything including what happened with James. Grace then tells her to go and apologize to James and tell him the truth. He avoids her. Lily finally tracks James down one night on the Quidditch Pitch and they confess their fears and their real feelings. Then they make up and finally get together with one hell of a kiss.
A/N: If you want to you can skip to the Italics at the end because that was originally the Epilogue but I felt that it was too abrupt jumping in like that. It kind of killed me not being able to go on and on with this story but I know that I would've just gotten tangled up in so many subplots that it never would have ended. Maybe I will write a sequel or some one shots in the future, but it ends here. Sorry if it's late and a bit choppy. These kids weren't easy for me to say goodbye to.
Chapter 43: Epilogue
OCTOBER 31, 1977
It's a night to remember. The Great Hall is lit up with hundreds of floating jack o' lanterns. Streamers crisscross the ceiling, confetti rains down on unsuspecting students, and bats swoop down from the enchanted sky, causing the banshee to shriek like her namesake every time one flies too close. Color explodes from the mounds of candies and sweets that weigh down each table. Ghosts dance through the room, laughter rings out, and everyone is smiling. Looking around me, I can't stop the ridiculously wide grin from splitting my own face. I always loved Halloween at Hogwarts, but this year the annual feast is both spectacular and bittersweet because it will be my last.
"What's the matter, Lily?" Grace asks, grinning from ear to ear, and waving her bloodsucker lollipop in front of my face. "You look like you just swallowed a dragon dung flavored Bertie Bott's bean," she observes, sticking the bloodsucker back into her mouth.
"Ugh." I shudder and wrinkle my nose. James sniggers beside me. I know that he's remembering a particularly unpleasant experience in our Fifth Year when he gave me a dung flavored bean that he thought was chocolate. It definitely didn't improve relations between us. As James lays a warm hand on my shoulder, I remember how much has changed since Fifth Year and revert back to my earlier train of thought.
"I was just thinking that this is going to be our last feast." I look around with a rueful smile at Grace – she spent almost the entirety of the summer recovering in St. Mungos – Alice and Frank – they're feeding each other – Tiffany – she is definitely over James and has her eye on another Marauder – Remus – he doesn't have a clue – Sirius – he keeps staring at Gracie when he thinks no one is looking – and finally James – my boyfriend. Even now, months later, I still get a thrill when I think about it because it's so hard to believe that James was right under my nose all this time, though he did have some serious growing up to do.
"I know I can't believe that we survived the last six years," Grace says, playfully pushing Sirius.
It was meant to be a joke, but Sirius pales, and James squeezes my shoulder. Usually it's easy for me to forget that Rohan and Hope were murdered last April, and that Grace spent months recovering from a curse that should've killed her. Sometimes though, the nightmares come back to haunt me. Fortunately, there's someone always there to hold me. I reach up to stroke the back of James's hand, as Grace sticks out a multicolored tongue at Sirius, causing him to laugh and diffuse the tension.
"You boys and your stupid pranks almost got us all killed at one time or another," she says to the Marauders.
"So, says the girl that dragged us into a mausoleum," James mutters under his breath, just loud enough for me to hear. I choke back a laugh, because it shouldn't be funny, but James always has a habit of making me laugh. We just get each other.
He cracks a smile and I lean back into his muscular chest. He wraps his other arm around me, causing me to sigh contentedly. Lowering his head, I feel his lips at my temple as the warmth of the kiss spreads through me. He pushes his head into the crook of my neck, nuzzling into it.
"Did I ever tell you how wonderful you are?" he asks me. I grin and turn my head expectantly to meet his.
"Only every other minute," Gracie complains, making a face. Sirius makes a gagging noise and Remus rolls his eyes.
"You guys are worse than Alice and Frank," Tiffany teases, elbowing her best friend.
"What?" Alice turns to Tiffany with glazed over eyes. "What?" she asks again, but it's obvious that her mind is on her boyfriend who's absently twirling a lock of her hair around his finger.
"Never mind Alice, go back to planet Longbottom," Tiffany sighs. Grace snorts as our friend immediately turns back to Frank Longbottom with a love sick gaze that could put any of James or Sirius's ferocious fan club members to shame.
"Now, tell me again what were you saying about James and I?" I ask sweetly. Tiffany shoots Alice an exasperated look and then exchanges glances with Gracie.
"Well, I guess you're the lesser of the two evils," Grace admits grudgingly. "Alice and Frank are always holding hands on the table while they eat, making googly eyes at one another; but they never do anything like snogging."
"Not in public," Sirius mutters, sharing a wicked grin with the boys.
"But you two on the other hand," Grace continues, "you're always kissing each other and getting caught snogging half clothed in -"
I glare, kicking her under the table. She yelps and reaches down to rub her injured shin.
"Well, it's true! Ever since the two of you got together, it's like you can't keep your hands off each other!" Grace exclaims. Sirius wiggles his eyebrows suggestively at James, Tiffany giggles, and even Remus backs Grace up with a sheepish smile and a shrug of his shoulders.
I blush hotly and James rubs the back of his neck awkwardly. We avoid each other's eyes, suddenly finding the bowl of ghoulish pastries in front of us very fascinating. I almost jump out of my skin when under the table, I feel James's hand move to my knee. I sneak a peek at him and can't help but grin. Ignoring the others, James inches toward me and gives me an exaggeratedly loud wet kiss on the cheek. I giggle at the looks on our friends faces who are all watching us. Twisting around on the bench, I make a show of grabbing his Gryffindor tie; violently yanking his face down to my eye level. James dramatically bends me over backwards as he kisses me, and I move my hands up and down his back like I'm in a wild frenzy of passion.
"Ew, Lily, that's my cousin you're sucking face with!" Grace groans.
"My eyes! My virgin eyes!" Sirius gasps, shielding his eyes. "Look away my naïve friends this could get explicit and pornographic!"
"Like he wouldn't know," Remus mumbles to Tiffany, causing her to erupt into giggles again.
"ICK! I'm going to be sick!" Grace declares.
I start to really enjoy myself and go all out, but when one of my wayward knees smacks into James's ribs, he completely loses it. Cracking up, James and I are forced to end our ravishing kiss. Laughing, James helps me sit up beside him. He fixes my hair, smoothing it down and tucking it behind my ears.
"Oh, shut up!" he says to Grace and Sirius when they start making retching noises. "If you had to wait seven years to snog the girl that you fancied, I think you'd be all over her too."
"Maybe," Remus says mischievously, looking at Sirius. "If he had some Gryffindor courage…"
I suck in my breath sharply as my gaze snaps to Gracie. The bloodsucker lollipop slips from her hand, falling into the bowl of ghoulish pastries. She's staring at Sirius with an unhinged jaw. Is it my imagination or does Sirius's eyes dart in Grace's direction for a split second before moving back to Remus with a flash of what might have been surprise. Perhaps Remus had caught him off guard, a rare feat, but Sirius only takes a few moments to recover himself.
"Moony, my friend, when are you going to learn that I am irresistible to all female kind?" Sirius purrs, winking at a group of empty-headed second year girls that were indeed ogling him. They wave at him and hide their blushing faces behind a haunted gingerbread house.
"Oh, please! You make yourself out to be some kind of sex god for all womankind." Grace rolls her eyes. She moves her hand as if she's going to put her lollipop back into her mouth, only to discover that it's not there.
"Perhaps that's because I am," Sirius says smoothly, popping his collar.
"Well, I certainly don't agree with that and I'm female!" Grace argues. James and I look at each other. We have to bite our lips to prevent ourselves from laughing because this sounds awfully familiar.
"Neither does Lily-"
"Because she's been secretly in love with the man of her dreams for years," James says, grinning and bringing my hand to his lips. "She was just too stubborn to admit it." I smile and shake my head. Some things never change.
"Well, I guess that nixes Alice too, but Tiff-"
Grace stops as Sirius winks at Tiffany and her argument blows up in her face.
"That was a long time ago," Tiffany protests, blushing. "Besides I did break up with you." Many girls had gotten dumped by Sirius, but Tiffany had set some kind of Guinness World Record when she became the first and only one to break up with him in our Fifth Year.
"All right, so you've had a lot of girls…" Gracie surrenders.
"I've had every girl I've ever wanted." Sirius smirks. "And they've always said that I was amazing."
"Oh, really?" Remus drawls. "I beg to disagree, Padfoot. I think that there is one girl here that you've always wanted but that you're too frightened to approach."
To my surprise, Sirius only hesitates for a moment before throwing his hands up in defeat.
"Okay, fine. I admit it!"
James's hand tightens around mine as we all look at Gracie. She's so focused on Sirius that she doesn't notice that she's pouring pumpkin juice instead of gravy onto her mashed potatoes.
"I admit that secretly…" Sirius lowers his voice so that we're all forced to lean closer. Grace is so far over the table that I'm pretty sure she's got mashed potatoes down the front of her robe. "Secretly… I'vealwayssortofhadathingfor… Professor Trelawney."
"WHAT?" Tiffany, Remus, Grace and I burst out in unison. James spits out his pumpkin juice, spewing it all over Peter Pettigrew who's just arrived.
"The Divination professor?" I gasp in horror, glancing up at the staff table where the professor sits staring up at the ceiling through humongous glasses, swaying back and forth. No doubt she's had more than her fair share of sherry tonight.
"Have you lost your mind?"
"Padfoot, she's bat shit CRAZY!"
"I know," Sirius moans, dropping his head into his hands. "It's always the ones that are completely mad that drive me insane." I could've sworn that he peeked between his fingers at Gracie.
"'S all right Padfoot," Peter says, rubbing Sirius's shoulder. "No need to be embarrassed, I think she's ravishing."
"You do?" Sirius asks. His hands fall away from his face as he looks up at his friend.
"I've sent her a valentine every year. Even tried to proposition her once, but she kept telling me that I had a loveless life of betrayal and loneliness before me," Peter recalls miserably.
All of us stare at the heartbroken, pumpkin juiced Peter Pettigrew as if he's a strange creature hailing from outer space. Then Sirius bursts out laughing.
"Hate to break it to you mate," he chortles, slapping Peter on the back. "But I was joking about Trelawney. I don't actually fancy the crazy old bat – ugh-" Sirius glances up at the staff table where Professor Trelawney is actually present for once. Repulsed, he pulls free from Peter with a shudder. Now, we're all laughing at poor Peter. The boy forces a weak chuckle but he's hurt. I stop laughing because I actually feel sorry for him and his loveless future.
"Here Petey," James says taking pity on him. He hands him a napkin. "You're drenched with pumpkin juice." I feel a rush of gratitude toward James. He's changed so much from that bullying toe rag I took pleasure in turning down years ago.
Peter accepts the napkin, looking gloomily down at his stained robe.
"Take a seat." I scoot over, pulling James closer so that's there's an opening on the bench between Sirius and James.
"Er – shouldn't we all be heading back to the Common Room?" Peter asks, hesitating.
"What? And let all this wonderful food go to waste!" Sirius is clearly appalled at the idea of leaving a single sweet uneaten. "That's unethical!"
"Oh, I didn't think about that." Peter's eyes widen and he gnaws on his lower lip. When James offers him a ghoulish pastry he backs away.
"Something you want to tell us, Peter?"
"Well – er – now, don't get mad," Peter says in a low voice, nervously looking at my Head Girl badge before turning his back on me. "But you know that thing we were talking about the other day..."
"Oh, you mean the prank that we were going to – Ow! Prongs, I think you just cracked one of my ribs!" Sirius rubs his side, glaring at James. Peter fidgets and glances in my direction again, before lowering his voice to a whisper. The boys huddle around him while Grace, Tiffany and I share a mutual roll of our eyes.
"Marauders," I mutter, shaking my head.
"Peter!" James groans. "I told you it was a bad idea that would go horribly wrong!"
"I know what you s-said," Peter stammers. "But I- I just thought-"
"All right tell us where you put them and we'll try to reverse the damage," Remus sighs, rubbing his eyes tiredly.
"That's the thing, they're – er – kind of out of control…" Peter's twitching as if he's about to have some kind of seizure.
"Define out of control," Sirius says slowly. "Is it like Third Year prank of horror out of control? Or Grace Adams-on-a-rampage-to-kill-me out of control? OW!" Sirius clutches his head where Grace's goblet struck him after she threw it.
"Er – guys we should go before–" Peter squeaks, ducking behind James as another flying object narrowly misses Sirius.
"You're only proving my point!" Sirius smirks at Grace. "You have serious anger management issues, and when you get angry you're like a runaway train-" Sirius breaks off swearing as Grace's spoon strikes the middle of his forehead. "Sweet Circe's naughty-" He stops when the table starts shaking and Grace pales.
There's a rumble throughout the Great Hall like thunder. Laughter abruptly turns to shrieks and screams as the Great Hall suddenly explodes into a blinding rainbow of sweets and fire. Every dish of candy seems to have been transformed into an individual volcano. The dishes are in flames and the candy arcs up into the air above us, mingling with enchanted jack o' lanterns and bats. Like giant confetti, the cloud of sweets hangs over us for a moment before the law of gravity brings it down. In slow motion I watch this sweet rain pour down upon us.
James's arm tightens around me as he swiftly pulls me off the bench and underneath the table. I cling to him, still trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Candy and sweets shower down upon the table top, falling with a rhythmic thumping. It almost seems like a childhood dream come true, but it's accompanied by the howling of the banshee and the sickening smell of something burning. The sight of flames licking along the Hufflepuff table turns my blood cold.
"They're on fire!" I gasp.
James moves away, telling me to "stay put". Of course, I ignore this order and crawl out from beneath the table with him. We get to our feet and assess the situation. It's not as bad as it looked. I think most of the students got out of the way in time, but the Hufflepuff table is in flames and the flicker of fire is present at the other three tables as well. People start clambering out from underneath tables, benches, and their human shields. The banshee's already screaming about her ruined hair, and Grace's yelling at Sirius.
"BLACK YOU ALMOST BLEW UP THE GREAT HALL!"
"I didn't do it this time! Seriously!"
James and I share a brief glance.
"I call dibs on Hufflepuff," James says, seizing the challenge.
"I'll start with Ravenclaw," I decide, squeezing his hand. "Once I finish, I'll be back to stop Grace and Sirius from killing each other, and to clean up your sorry charm work."
"We'll see about that," he mumbles. Grinning, we split up to take care of business.
Fresh out of the shower, I'm still shaking my head at the latest prank from the infamous Marauders, and trying to get the smell of burning sugar out of my nostrils. I run a hand through my damp hair as I pad down stairs to the sitting room. One of the many perks of being Head Girl is that you get your own living quarters. It includes your own bedroom, a private sitting area, and a bathroom. I was ecstatic when I got the badge over the summer and found out that I wouldn't have to spend another year rooming with Debbie McLaggen – the banshee. I miss living with my friends, but the fact that I share a dormitory with the handsome Head Boy definitely makes up for it. At the sight of him lounging in front of the fire reading the paper, my heart actually flutters. I sneak up behind him, ruffling his soft hair and breathing in the smell of his fresh cologne.
"Hello beautiful," the Head Boy greets me with a slow grin. He tosses aside the Daily Prophet as I perch on the arm of his chair.
"I was beginning to wonder if you drowned in there," he teases.
I make a face.
"I smelt like a burning gingerbread house," I complain, combing my fingers through my hair again.
"I happen to love gingerbread." He leans toward me so suddenly that I almost lose my balance and topple off the armrest. His arm slides around my waist, steadying me. I catch at his shoulder, pulling us closer. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes.
"You do smell like gingerbread," he whispers, opening his eyes. His eyes are darker now and he's got that lazy, seductive smile that comes so naturally. My heart beats faster. I'm wondering if maybe I should take another shower, when he reaches up to cup the side of my face. His hand caresses my cheek, his thumb brushing over my bottom lip. I lose my breath as he takes up the last of my breathing room and kisses me.
I close my eyes, melting into his warm embrace. Without breaking the kiss, his other arm encircles me, pulling me down from my perch on the arm rest and into his lap. I make a noise in the back of my throat as I reach up to clasp his neck and deepen the kiss. I can feel my body warming to his as the kiss becomes more urgent. I stretch up to bury my hands in his soft thick hair. My shirt rides up, exposing my skin to the cool air and his questing fingers. His fingers, his hands, his whole body heats me like a fire in the common room on the coldest of winter evenings. I can't get close enough to him because even though my body reacts as if it's been burned, at the same time it's like that fire on the hearth; bringing you back to safety, comfort, and home. He groans and tries to shift our position so that we're both closer and more comfortable; but a former Headmaster did an excellent job of picking out the smallest, most uncomfortable chairs for this sitting area; probably to discourage the Head Boy and Girl from engaging in this kind of inappropriate behavior. The Head Boy, though, always did have a passion for breaking the rules, and the Head Girl has a secret weakness for rebels.
Despite my desire for rebellion, when the portrait creaks open and hits the wall with a slam and a blood curdling scream from the hag in the frame, I immediately break apart from the Head Boy and spring to my feet.
"For Merlin's sake don't you knock!" I yelp.
"Didn't I tell you? I told you they'd be snogging again!" Grace says triumphantly, poking Sirius who's trying to get the portrait of the hag to calm down and shut up. "Oh, don't look at me like that, Lily. Perhaps McGonagall and Dumbledore believe that all you two do in here is hold hands, but you're not fooling us."
Sirius coughs. "And you might want to fix your shirt." He winks, gesturing to my disheveled appearance.
I blush, yanking my shirt back down. I turn my back on them to fix myself up, and my eyes fall on my partner in crime's wrinkled shirt, crooked spectacles, and messy mop of black hair.
"I didn't give him the password this time, I swear!" James says defensively, lifting his hands.
"I know you didn't," I sigh, smacking my palm against my forehead. I collapse into the matching armchair facing James's. "I gave it to Gracie yesterday so she could get the books she left here after our study session. I didn't think I would have to change it." I glare at the pair, folding my arms over my chest. I love the two dearly, but I do cherish my privacy from time to time as well.
"Fine, next time we'll knock," Grace promises with a grin that's a little too much like the one that Sirius gives McGonagall when he's promising that this will be their last prank. They've been spending so much time together lately that I think he's rubbing off on her.
"There will be no next time," James says in his Head Boy tone, reaching across to take my hand in his. "This is our room."
Grace and Sirius ignore him of course. Grace throws herself down on the remaining armchair like she owns the place. Sirius plops himself down in her lap. She gasps in surprise as Sirius then curls into her, resting his head on her shoulder. The surprise quickly evaporates as her face reddens.
"Sirius," Grace says, between gritted teeth.
"Yes, Graciepee?" Sirius asks, gazing up at her and batting his eyelashes girlishly.
"Get. Off. Now."
"But I'm very comfort – oomf!" She shoves Sirius off of her, giving him an extra kick for good measure. Sirius scrambles to his feet and hides behind James's chair. I roll my eyes.
"What was it that was so important that you didn't bother to try knocking first?" I ask.
"Oh, but we did knock. You guys must've been too busy to notice that someone was banging on the door -"
James loudly clears his throat and I interrupt Gracie before she can mortify us.
"So, what's up? Is it a matter of life and death? Are you bleeding?"
"It is a matter of life and death," Sirius answers with a grave seriousness that does not match up with the mischievous glint in his eyes. "There's a huge party raging in the Gryffindor Common Room and Gryffindor's four most beautiful people are not present. We have to get back right away and you two must come with us," he orders, mockingly adopting James's voice of authority.
"Sirius, we're the Head Boy and Head Girl, how many times do we have to tell you that we have to set an example and that we can't just –"
Grace claps a hand over my mouth and uses her other hand to forcefully drag me to my feet.
"You can tell McGonagall we kidnapped both of you," she offers.
"But-" I protest feebly. James is already on his feet, moving toward the portrait with Sirius. When I look to him for help he just grins and mutters something about being "coerced at wandpoint". Thanks a lot, James.
"Oh, come on, Lily! It's Tiffany's birthday bash!" Grace insists.
Three pairs of eyes look back at me, silently pleading with me not to ruin their fun. There's a hidden threat in Grace's eyes that terrifies me, but Sirius and James are giving me cute puppy dog eyes. It's James's adorable pout that finally breaks me. Damn him; he should have came with a warning label.
"All right, fine. Just this one time." But I know this won't be the last time that I give into James. I have a weakness for that handsome face of his. James hugs me with so much enthusiasm that I'm literally swept off my feet. I'm laughing by the time he sets me back down. Hand in hand we follow our "kidnappers" back to the Gryffindor Common Room.
It's not until later that I realize that Tiffany's birthday is in July and not for another nine months.
It's almost two in the morning, and by the light of the dimming flames, I can see that the party that was in full swing only an hour ago is dying like the fire burning low in the grate. Six tipsy stragglers are left, passing around a bottle of Sir Bottlebum's Wicked Rum that the Marauders smuggled into the castle from Hogsmeade. I probably should be more ashamed to admit that the Head Boy and I are among them.
"Happy Birthday to me!" Tiffany sloppily takes another drink from the bottle. With the exception of Sirius and Grace (who claimed the sofa hours ago and seem to be getting closer and closer to one another with each sip of liquid courage) we're all sitting on the floor for some odd reason, propped up against each other, and the legs of the sofa. Despite the fact that I'm sitting squashed between Tiffany and James on the cold hard floor, a lazy comfortable lull has settled over me and everyone else that may or may not have to do with the amount of alcohol we've consumed between us.
"Happy birthday toooooo meeeeee!" Tiffany singsongs, sloshing the rum down Remus's shirt. He jolts awake. "Oh, sorry, Remy!" She claps a hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. Dazedly, he glances down at his stained shirt, and then he laughs. "Leme fix it!" She paws at his shirt, and spills more of the alcohol as she gropes for her wand.
"I think that you've had enough," I say, snatching the bottle back. Remus scorgifies the mess with an easy flick of his wand. Tiffany then attempts to take up her off-key rendition of happy birthday for the hundredth time, but James and I beg her to shut up.
"But it's my birthday!" she argues, sulkily making a grab for the bottle. Remus reaches out for her waist, pulling her back to his side.
"I know it's not your birthday." I hold the bottle hostage, clutching it to my chest. "Your birthday's in July," I reveal with a smug smile. Sirius lazily reaches down, plucking the bottle out of my reach and sucking it dry before Tiffany can have any more of it.
"So? That doesn't mean we can't celebrate it now," Tiffany whines. "We've never celebrated my birthday before and we probably never will."
Tiffany's always coming up with excuses for a party and whining about the silliest things; but for some reason this complaint makes me sit up a little straighter so that I can look at her.
"What do ya mean?" I ask, frowning.
"Well, this is it… the end," she says softly.
"The end?" James lifts an eyebrow, looking both amused and puzzled. "The end of what?"
Tiffany tries to articulate a reply, stammering something about us not seeing each other after Hogwarts, about people moving on, about something bigger than all of us looming on the horizon, but nothing is making sense.
"Everything's going to be different. We're never going to see each other," she says miserably. That gets everyone's attention. Grace opens her eyes and Sirius picks his head up off of her leg to peer down at the girl stumbling over a frightening future that's coming alarmingly closer.
"Tiffany, stop." I touch her shoulder, brushing over the arm that Remus tossed around her shoulders and has yet to remove. I can feel the reassuring warmth coming from James's body wrapped around mine. Grace's foot accidently collides with my shoulder blade as she shifts closer, and the sofa springs creak behind me when Sirius props himself up to listen.
"Just because we're going to leave Hogwarts it doesn't mean that we're not going to see each other anymore," I say.
"You think we will?" Tiffany asks shyly. Suddenly, I'm struck by a memory of a smaller girl, sitting all alone in a graveyard after she lost her father to a murderer that's still at large. A dark tunnel of memories threatens to open up before me, but James's warm cheek presses against mine. At least I have James. I was never a believer in Divination but I have a feeling that I'll always have James.
"Of course we'll see each other," Remus says, squeezing her shoulder. "And next year we'll celebrate your birthday, for real," he promises.
"Really?" She smiles up at him hopefully. Remus nods, smiling back at her. Tiffany stares at him for a moment, and then she hugs him.
"Where do you think we'll be one year from now?" Tiffany muses, resting her head on Remus's chest. "Do you think we'll all work in the same place? And where do you think we'll be in two years? Who do you think will get married?"
"Lily and James," Sirius, Grace, and Remus all answer at the same time, causing James and I to blush. I bury my face into his neck to hide the grin of guilty pleasure that spreads across my face.
"What about in three years? Do you think they'll have kids? Where do you think we'll be in four years or-"
"Tiffany," Grace laughs, "we haven't even graduated yet."
"But don't you ever think about where you'll be in four years?" Tiffany wonders, twisting around to look up at her. Grace rolls her eyes, and looks away; but Sirius leans forward, squinting at Tiffany.
"Damn. You're one of those weird sentimental nostalgic drunks that talks too much, aren't you?" he says disapprovingly.
"I'm not drunk!" Tiffany insists, clumsily drawing away from Remus.
"I would've never have gotten you drunk if I knew you were one of those boring philosophical emotional drunks. Personally, I was hoping you'd be a horny drunk," Sirius mumbles just loud enough for all of us to hear.
Tiffany's jaw drops and Grace hits Sirius so hard that I think I might have heard something break. Sirius curses and clutches an arm to his chest as if he's been mortally wounded.
"Sweet Merlin, if I wasn't completely sloshed right now I think that all of my bones might have shattered!"
"Trust me if I wasn't pissed, they would be," Grace growls.
"I was only trying to help a mate out," Sirius says, reaching down to ruffle Remus's hair. "See Remus here needs something stronger than liquid courage when it comes to snogging the girl he fancies." Remus's eyes widen and he turns a brilliant shade of red that has nothing to do with the alcohol we've all consumed. Tiffany is strangely bewildered.
"Sirius," Remus says loudly, shooting Tiffany a panicked look. "Shut up!"
"So, I thought why not get Tiff drunk and then maybe she can go snog Moony-" Grace lunges at him, trying to get her hand over Sirius's mouth before he embarrasses Remus. At the same time Remus hits him, sending him reeling. Grace and Sirius smack into each other hard, catching at one another to keep themselves from falling off the sofa. It's quite comical, watching how their arms wrap around each other in a way that's so awkward that it makes me want to cringe. At the same time though, it seems as if their bodies are two magnets, drawn toward each other and stuck upon contact.
"I knew it!" Sirius exclaims, grinning like a maniac. "I knew it. I knew-" Sirius breaks off in yowl of pain as Grace grabs a fistful of his shaggy mane. He pushes her off of him, shoving her up against the pillows. Her blue eyes flash dangerously.
"Here we go again," I whisper to James, reaching for my wand in case things get ugly. But my wand is forgotten as Sirius does something he's never done before. He kisses her.
I gasp, and James goes rigid beside me. All of us hold our breath, wondering if this will be the end of Sirius Black. But she doesn't kill him. To my amazement, the slender fingers that are fisted in his hair, slacken and curl loosely around the back of his neck. Instead of pushing him away, her other arm slides up and around his shoulder, pulling him closer. Before I can get too excited, Sirius tears his mouth away from hers, breathing hard. I watch Gracie closely. She's frozen in place and her eyes are locked on Sirius.
"Black," Grace whispers.
"What?" Sirius asks hoarsely.
"Why'd you do that?"
"I thought you were planning to kill me." Sirius laughs nervously, shakily pushing his hair back from his forehead. "You drive me bloody insane when you get mad like that becauseyoulooksofuckinghot," he blurts out so quickly that I'm not sure if anyone understood him.
"I am going to kill you," she says, seizing his chin and roughly pulling his face down to her level. "But not right now." And then she kisses him.
"FINALLY!" I shout. "It's about damn time!"
Remus wolf whistles, James whoops, and Tiffany squeals so loudly that I think I have permanent hearing damage. Grace pushes Sirius away just long enough to tell us all to shut up and sod off before she changes her mind and decides to Avada Kedavra all of us. James and I don't waste any time, helping each other up and racing for the portrait, leaving Remus to save himself and the giggling drunken Tiffany. James and I sneak through a hidden passageway, chase each other up a moving staircase, and tiptoe down the hall to our private quarters without meeting a single soul. We were lucky that Filch wasn't about because James and I kept randomly bursting into laughter as we recounted what just happened.
"So, where do you think we'll be in four years?" James asks, mimicking drunk Tiffany as we step back into our sitting area.
"Well, I'll be married of course," I predict, moving to the staircase.
"Oh, really? Got a husband in mind?" James follows me upstairs to my bedroom door. I stop with my hand on the knob.
"Yep, he's tall, handsome, brilliant but egoistical, athletic and sexy but has a terrible sense of direction-"
"Hey, that was one time that I crashed us into a wall-"
"Who said I was talking about you?" I ask smiling coyly as I let myself into the bedroom.
James's breath hitches, but then he grabs me so fast that I wouldn't have had time to react even if I had wanted to. He spins me around and playfully pushes me down on to the bed. I can't believe that even after all these months he can still take my breath away with a touch.
"I won't let anyone else marry you," he says, pinning me down beneath him. "No one else could possibly love you more than I love you."
"So, you're going to marry me?" I whisper, raising my eyebrows.
"Of course I am," James says, as if this is the more obvious than the fact that the sky is blue. He gently kisses my forehead and I close my eyes. I feel his butterfly kisses on my eyelids, on the tip of my nose, and then my lips. His lips brush over mine but then he pulls back. I open my eyes and find him gazing down at me with those shining hazel eyes of his as he smoothes my hair back from my forehead.
"I'd like that," I tell him, reaching up to play with his hair.
"Good," James says. "That's all I want. As long as I have you to myself, I don't care where I end up in one year, two years, three years, four years or whatever. I just want you."
I grin and cup the back of his neck, pulling him back down to me. We share a slow, languid good night kiss. When he moves to leave, I hold onto his wrist. I don't want him to go.
"Stay with me for a little while longer," I offer, looking up at him pleadingly.
He smiles, takes off his glasses and kicks off his shoes. I pull off mine too, tossing them beside his. I take his hand, lacing our fingers together. We lie back down on the bed, side by side and still in our clothes. James scoots closer, resting his other hand on my hip.
"Have I ever told you how much I love you?" he whispers, leaning his forehead against mine.
"Only every other minute," I answer, mimicking Gracie. James laughs, but I'm only half joking. He doesn't have to tell me that he loves me. I can see it in his eyes every day. I watch as his eyes close and I think about what he just said. Sure, he's a little drunk, but I have a feeling that he still means every word. Being with James it just feels right. He's the one, the only one. I know it. As I drift off to sleep I know my dreams will be filled with the answers to Tiffany's sentimental question. In a year I can see us getting engaged, in two years we'll be married, in three maybe we'll start thinking about kids, and in four… I drift off to sleep, dreaming of James.
FOUR YEARS LATER - OCTOBER 31, 1981
I fought for you until there was nothing left in me. And now I'm going to die.
They say that before you die, time comes to a standstill and your whole life flashes before your eyes. But no one really knows anything about life and death. I saw a year flash before my eyes in a series of moments. I saw smiles and heard laughter. I felt tears that had already been shed and holes in my heart that had never quite healed. I remember dancing and whirling through a dormitory that would always be home with friends that would forever be my sisters, and I can vividly recall every touch, every hug, and every detail of that passionate kiss that made me believe that I had found the man worth fighting for. I quickly discover that a life can be summed up in a matter of moments.
In the end, Harry, as I watch my life flash before my eyes and fight for you in my last dying breath, there are only two things that stand out in my mind: you and your father.
I started to fall in love with your father on that bright September morning when I slammed into him outside my bedroom and almost gave him a concussion, though I didn't know it at the time. When he lost his family and I watched my best friend crumble, I was the one that he held onto and he comforted me as we sat crying on my kitchen floor. It was the first time that I really looked at James and saw that there was more to him than a bullying toerag that was always asking me out, and it was the first time that I realized that we could stop the world from crashing down around us just by holding onto each other. I remember sneaking out with him to look at the stars, standing with him at the funeral, making that ridiculous bet with him in the guest room afterwards, and in case you're wondering, yes, Harry, your father did become Head Boy but I was more than happy to accept my loss and go on that once dreaded date with him. The return to the Potter's home, the night we were trapped in the mausoleum, an afternoon spent lying in the snow, a first kiss shared beneath the mistletoe, waking up to James after the attack on the train that nearly killed me; made me realize that I was in love with him. It took me a long time to accept it. There was another boyfriend before your father, and more than one girlfriend before me; and there were tears, and arguments, and stupid mistakes; but when I finally realized after that terrible battle in the mausoleum that James had grown into the man that I love, well, there was really nothing that anyone could do to keep us apart. When we got together that night at the end of our sixth year in the Gryffindor stands, that was only the beginning of a love that would only grow stronger with each passing year.
I think James always knew that our time together would be short because he asked me to marry him right out of Hogwarts. The wedding was small and hastily thrown together but it was perfect. You should have seen the look on your father's face when I walked down the aisle. I'm not going to lie and say that our life together was perfect after that. We lived in the midst of a war and nearly everyone that we loved was on the front lines. Death, loss and grief were frequent visitors as one by one our brave comrades walked out of this life and into the next. And there were things that were worse than death, like backstabbing betrayal and constant fear that one night your father wouldn't come back. But we had each other and that was enough.
Harry, your father became everything to me and I already knew that I was his whole world. I didn't think that there was anyone that would come between us dying for each other. But the day that you were born Harry, all that changed. I can remember the dazed look in your father's eyes when he saw you, and then the healer laid you in my arms and I immediately fell head over heels in love with you too. From that day onward, it was you, me, and James. It didn't matter that we had to go into hiding or that you had been born into a world at war, all you had to do was breathe and my heart would ache with the amount of love I felt for you. Every day that I was with you Harry was a happy one, even today, even after I had to leave your father and listen to him die, this day will still be one of the happier ones because today, Harry, you are going to survive.
I'm so sorry that your father and I have to leave you, Harry. But it's the only way. Somewhere in the midst of those memories that flashed before my eyes, I saw something. I saw a bond between a mother and her child, a bond that someone brilliant once told me was so powerful that it could transcend death. Because love, Harry, is a magic that Voldemort never understood.
I know all about love though. I love James and I love you, Harry. Don't you ever forget that Harry. Don't ever forget that we loved you.
Time speeds up again. Everything's green and glowing except for two pin pricks of red; the chilling eyes that have haunted my nightmares for years, the eyes of the murderer of my husband, and so many more. I almost smile at my murderer as my heart instantly stops. Because he doesn't know that I found a way to keep fighting for you, even after I'm gone.
A/N: It took me a just over six years but eventually I FINISHED! Almost 300,000 words, two different websites, 1500 reviews, and over 175,000 hits from around the world - wow, just wow. I'll never write anything that will reach that many people again. I can't believe it's over and I can't believe I DID IT. It feels so good to be done but I'm going to miss you guys so much, especially those that stuck with me from the beginning and those that made me laugh or cry or made me a better writer with their review. I hope that if I do end up writing some one shots in the IFY universe (if you have any requests let me know) or another Lily and James story that you'll drop me a review and tell me what you think and how you're doing. It would mean a lot to me. Thank you so much, I couldn't have done it without you! I'll miss you!