Disclaimer: I own nothing! Nada! Zilch! (Except the plot, which I cam up with myself. Look ma, no flashbacks!)
A/N: Sorry about the wait, but I think this chappie is totally worth it. My back is doing much better, but it's still hard to sit and write for too long at a time. Thanks for your thoughts!
Lily sat curled on the cold bathroom floor. Salty tears snaked down her pale cheeks, falling slowly onto the arm she held tightly to her knees. She cried quietly. The worst part about being married to someone like James… no, that wasn't right. There was nobody like James. Lily breathed out a sigh that rattled her body.
The thing about James was that he just didn't take the time to understand her, what she was going through.
Lily tried her best to pull herself together as she heard the brass doorknob squeak to life, and saw a skinny wedge of yellow light extend from the bottom of the door across the dark floor in one slow sweep. It was like watching a cloak of gold unfurl, sparkling. James' invisibility cloak was like that, but spun from moonbeams, not rays of light. Bugger it… she'd thought of him again. 'I'm so stupid…'
A friendly, round face…usually plastered with the most sincere smile Lily had ever seen… appeared around the dark door. This time, however, Alice Longbottom's smile was so sad it made Lily burst out into fresh tears.
"Th… Thanks for letting stay here, Al…I … I"
"Settle down Lily, it'll work out!" Alice kneeled down beside her, stroking her thick hair. "It's not your fault anyway, sweetie. James was a complete prat, and you are wonderful. Admit it already for Merlin's sake."
This comment was rewarded with a startled laugh/cough from Lily. The argument that morning… it had been so horrible, she had to leave. They were both so stubborn, and she got so mad, all the worries and frustration that had plagued her about the thing growing inside her stomach had spilled out of her mouth. James… well, he just didn't get it. Nothing seemed to bother him at all. 'Doesn't he worry if he'll be a good father? That is, if our relationship lasts that long. I mean, I'm the one having the bloody thing! And he doesn't… maybe he doesn't love me anymore…' Alice's voice startled her out of her silent reverie.
"Give it a rest, would you? You're too bloody melodramatic to begin with. Now, to fix this, we need to do damage control."
"What do you mean, like… flooing him or something?" Lily sniffled.
"Merlin, no! Not yet, at least. What you need…" she helped Lily up, "…is a catharsis. That means…"
"I know what it means, Alice."
The blonde girl shook her head, mumbling "Every time I try to be the smart one…"
Lily smacked her playfully upside the head. "I feel better already!"
"Sure, she duffs me up and then feels better…" Alice, who was actually pregnant, too, dragged her friend out the door of the tiny bathroom attached to the guest bedroom. The room was comfortable for Lily, and she stayed with Alice and her husband, Frank, whenever things got rough or she just needed female company. That's why, despite arriving empty handed, Lily was handling her stay just fine. She had a toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner, a shower brush, a few books and some changes of clothes stored in the linen closet. Not to mention the emergency makeup case underneath the sink. She didn't want to look horrible when she fixed everything up with James. 'If,' her mind betrayed her, 'we do fix it.'
Her mood did not approve, even when Alice made her sit at the small kitchen table. "So, tell me what this damage control is."
"It's simple," Alice replied, "I'm just going to introduce you to some other guys."
"But… but…I'm married!"
"Huh." Alice said thoughtfully, as if she was never aware of this fact. "You really do need to loosen up sweetie."
"Do you…er; do this sort of thing all the time?"
"Does Frank know?"
"He sure does."
Lily swallowed a lump that was obstructing her windpipe, esophagus, and probably some major arteries and such. Alice appeared to have accepted this as an acceptable comment. "You slide over to the drawing room, Lily. I'll go get them."
"They're…they're already here?"
"Yep." Alice pushed Lily into the small room and shoved her on the couch. Moments later, she reappeared with a breakfast tray. "Well, here they are!"
Lily was horribly confused. "What the…"
"Dr. Pepper, Ben and Jerry, and for those of us with alternative lifestyle choices might I present… drum roll please… Lady Godiva." She set the tray down with a two liter, a quart of ice cream, and mounds of chocolate. "Lily, here they are. Guys, this is Lily. Make her feel better."
'Oh yes,' thought Lily, 'Seven years of sharing a dormitory with a muggle born has definitely corrupted her.'
"I heard that!" Alice smirked. Lily figured the woman knew her way too well.
Frank walked into the front door, stomping the snow off of his boots. It was now the middle of January, and the fluffy stuff was becoming a nuisance. Lily saw his eyes travel from Alice, who had a metal spoon hanging out of her mouth, to her, chugging soda and surrounded by chocolate wrappers. Frank was quite used to this, apparently. "What's the idiot gone and done this time?"
Lily hesitated, beginning to cry, and noticed Alice give her husband a death glare.
"Shut your mouth Longbottom, she's been through enough tonight."
"No, no Al… it might, I mean, this was a wonderful catharsis, but I'm not feeling completely better yet. Maybe, if I get it out of my system, you know it…"
"Fine, Lily." Alice turned to face Frank. "But let her talk, don't ask her anything. That clear?"
"You already said that…" Lily interjected.
"Well, I was tidying up a bit…"
"If you're anything like Allie, you were torpedoing dust bunnies and waging war with every surface in the bloody place."
"Withdrawn. May I approach the witness, your honor?"
Lily let out a startled cry of laughter, but Alice just ignored the smiling man.
"Okay, I might have been a little weird about it. But I was cleaning, and all of a sudden he yelled, 'For Merlin's sake, Lils, put down the sodding rag! You washed the walls last week!' and I said, 'So what?' because he was bothering me. 'You're driving me insane with this pregnancy crap!' Yes, he actually said that. Naturally, I replied with 'And I'm super-duper happy about it too' and started to cry. And, do you know what the… the evil git said? He said 'Here we go again…' under his breath. Then he started reading the newspaper. 'Don't you care?' I asked. 'Yeah, but I don't waltz around blubbering, inhaling crazy food, and cleaning like a mad person from… Madville.' That was the last straw. 'This isn't my fault! You're the one who knocked me up!' and…"
Frank and Alice stared at Lily with their jaws hanging open.
"What?" She said defensively.
"That's was…er, just… really fast, sweetie." Alice replied.
"Is that what really happened? Was there more?" asked Frank.
"Yea there was more, but it was all like that. He's sick of me being pregnant and weepy and such. It's not like it's my fault. I just wish he was more sensitive."
"I think that's the problem right there, Lily." Frank found an unopened chocolate bar amongst the rubble on the coffee table and took a bite. "He's too sensitive."
"I know I've felt like saying those things to Allie sometimes, but not because I meant them."
"It's usually when I'm feeling, well scared. About the whole process. Pregnancy is dangerous even in the magical world, and I don't want anything bad to happen to Allie or the baby. Then there is the doubt…"
"What do you mean?" Lily asked, but she was beginning to understand.
"I worry about being a good father, you know? I worry that something might happen to me, and the baby won't even have a father…" Frank shook the thought out of his head. "…but that's a stupid idea. Do you get it, Lily? He's just worried about you and the baby, but he translates that worry into resentment because that's a feeling he can deal with."
"You could have been a shrink!" She smiled.
"Oh, never mind. So he doesn't… he isn't really mad at me, then?"
"You have to talk to him about it. But don't floo him; it's bad for the baby."
"What kind of transportation is good for the baby?" Lily mumbled.
"Walking." Frank and Alice said at the same time, laughing.
Frank picked up a handful of powder from a container next to the fireplace. He tossed it into the red and orange flames, turning them instantly to green and increasing the size of the blaze exponentially. "You're sure you're ready to talk to him, Lily?"
"Okay then. Here we go!"
Frank stuck his head in the fireplace, and following this action came a lot of muffled sound. Frank sat up, wiping ash and soot off his knees. James stepped out of the fireplace.
"Ca…can we, er… talk? Please?" James was shifting his weight uneasily, and wringing his hands.
Lily just nodded, and reached out for his hand. She pulled him into the kitchen, and tried to keep her face devoid of emotion. The last thing she wanted was to let on that she had, in her heart, already forgiven him. It was cruel, but Lily needed to hear James apologize himself.
"Look, Lils, I know I acted like a huge prat. I, er… this is so embarrassing…"
She just raised her eyebrows.
"Merlin, you know I didn't mean that stuff!"
"What did you mean?"
"I was hoping you wouldn't ask that."
"If you tell me now, James, crap like this won't happen in the future."
"I was just worried…" James choked.
"I was worried that you…you… thatyoulovedthebabymorethanme!" He said the last part extremely fast, and kicked the kitchen island a bit harder than necessary. "Owww… bugger it…"
Lily saw James bouncing around, hugging his foot, and swearing under his breath… and her mission to remain ice queen fell to pieces. Her lips broke into a wide smile, and she began to laugh.
"It's :jump: not :hop: funny:Crash!"
Lily just laughed harder, but sat on the floor next to her frustrated husband and the remnants of Frank and Alice's wine rack. She pulled James' shoe off the foot he had been cradling and began to massage it. "You're so daft!" She laughed again. "You know that this baby is my life, and always will be… but I have enough room in my heart for both of you. You were my first baby, after all." Her smile became playful and wicked.
"Does that mean you forgive me?"
"I guess it does."
"I have something for you, Lils." James pulled a velvet box out of his pocket carefully, and held it in his hand as if it was priceless. "I've been reading again…"
"Uh oh…" Lily interjected mischievously.
He opened the box, and inside it was a silver sewing thimble pillowed by pink satin. Then James quoted, as if he'd been practicing forever:
"She also said she would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did not know what she meant, and he held out his hand expectantly.
'Surely you know what a kiss is?' she asked, aghast.
'I shall know when you give it to me,' he replied stiffly, and not to hurt his feeling she gave him a thimble.
'Now,' said he, 'shall I give you a kiss?' and she replied with a slight primness, 'If you please.'"
He pulled Lily closer to him on the kitchen floor, and she was so full of shock she let him. "Peter Pan!"
"Now, Wendy, shall I give you a thimble?"
They kissed softly, surrounded by splinters of wood, and Lily knew in her heart that James was her soul mate.