Disclaimer: I would like to just point out once again that I do not own any Harry Potter or Harry Potter related copyrights.
Sirius convinced Lily that he should go in to see James first, in case that James was in a very critical state and looked bad, so he could brace her for the shock. Lily tried to argue that she was a level 2 auror in her first year of training and could take the 'shock', but Sirius insisted that no matter how much she had impressed the instructors at the auror academy with her outstanding test results, she was still like a little sister to him and thus he was going to try and protect however he could.
And so, Sirius left Lily leaning against the opposite wall, glaring at the door to James' hospital room, her arms crossed over her chest. After a few minutes, Sirius came out and stepped aside to let her have some private time with James.
"Hey," said Lily softly as she stepped into the room.
James and his mom, who was sitting in a chair next to James' bed, both smiled back at her.
"I think I'm going to go get some tea," said Mrs. Potter with a knowing glance at her very appreciative son.
Lily sat down in the evacuated chair and gave James a diagnostic look-over. He seemed to not be in any immediate danger, just a few patches of gauze and a couple of bruises. Then she gave him a very relieved smile and asked quietly, "How are you doing?"
"Better now," said James with a huge grin.
"My group was training in a different gym because someone let out a whole bunch of Cornish pixies in the one in the training center and we were attacked by Death Eaters. Apparently it was a huge plot. Luckily, the next group of trainees was just coming in when we were attacked, so the Death Eaters were overwhelmed pretty quickly. We all got a bit bruised up, but there weren't any casualties."
"I'm just glad that you're alright," said Lily as she squeezed James' hand that was resting on the coverlet.
"So am I love," answered James. "Luckily, the Healers said I could be checked out later today."
"Isn't your group supposed to be in class right now?" asked James as he checked the clock on the wall.
Lily turned around and checked the clock as well, "Yeah, but I was excused because they activated your list."
"I wonder why…" mused James. "It wasn't that serious of an attack."
"It was probably just done on principal. Whoever is in charge of that sort of thing probably just activated the lists of anyone involved, in case someone was in critical condition."
"Yeah, that's probably it. So how was class today?"
Lily sighed, "It's a lot of work, but I really like it. Today we covered a lot of boring stuff though. Professor Hindle drones on like Professor Binns."
"I had him first year for Stealth class, not that you would know about first year!" said James with mock indignation. "I still can't get over the fact that the instructors promoted you to second year before you even attended one day of class or physical training!"
"What can I say? I'm just brilliant that way. I told you I rocked those tests!" said Lily with a huge smile.
"And they say I'm the megalomaniac…" muttered James sarcastically.
Lily laughed and proceeded to fill James in about the rest of her day and he gave her his summary of his.
Both pointedly ignored the fact that James could have been killed or more gravely injured and instead focused on the little things in life, like professors and class work. The whole time Lily was there, her hand never left James'. Lily subconsciously felt that if she kept holding onto James' hand, he wouldn't get hurt and leave her.
"Hey Lily," said Sirius randomly as the Marauders and Lily were hanging out in the boys' apartment. "What kind of charms do you have on your flat?"
What Sirius didn't say was that he was really wondering how she hadn't been found by Death Eaters yet. Sirius knew that James worried about Lily living by herself in a muggle apartment that was relatively easy to get to.
"There's tons of charms on it," said Lily with a half-hearted glare at Sirius as James perked up to hear her answer. It was a sore spot between the couple. "I did a lot of research and even sent a few owls to Professor Flitwick for advice, using a pseudonym of course. It's a pain to undo all the charms every time I go in or out."
"Why don't you just apparate or Floo?" asked Peter.
"I set charms so that you can't apparate in or out of my flat and it's not connected to the Floo network," Lily explained. "So how was the Quidditch match the other day?"
Sirius took Lily's bait and the subject was effectively changed, though James was still not satisfied.
"So Lily dear, how are you," said Mrs. Potter as she poured Lily a steaming cup of tea during one of their weekly visits.
"I'm doing pretty well," said Lily with a large smile.
"I imagine so! I still can't believe that you caught up to James' class at the Auror Academy. It simply is amazing dear."
"I can't really believe it either sometimes. It was a lot of work, but I guess it paid off. For so long it seemed as if I would never get to this point, but I did and right on schedule! It's like things never went wrong."
"Yes," said Mrs. Potter wistfully. "Sometimes I feel as if New Year's Eve was just a dream and that Christopher will be waiting for me around every corner and bend. Things are going to be tough this season."
"I agree; with Christmas looming so close, I miss my parents more than ever. We had so many Christmas traditions, and even when I was away at Hogwarts, they would always wait for me to come home to pick out the tree or make gingerbread houses," said Lily as she stared out into space, tears pricking her eyes.
"Every, every year," said Sarah Potter with a sniffle. "Christopher would go out and get five or six Christmas trees in the middle of November, around this time actually. He loved Christmas so much- for him Christmas started in mid-November and lasted until the middle of February. He would always have to put so many charms on the trees to get them to last that long."
Lily and Sarah both quit trying to hold back their tears; they both stood up from their chairs and embraced each other, drawing strength from the hug.
"It's so hard sometimes," Lily whispered through her sobs.
"I know dear. It feels as if a piece of you is missing, like you'll never be whole again."
"I hate him," said Lily fiercely.
Without having to ask, Sarah knew that Lily meant the man whom was the source of so many tears and broken hearts. "I do too," she answered with the burden of a woman who has lost many loved ones.
Despite the tears exchanged by Lily and Sarah weeks before, Christmas was a happy occasion.
The Marauders had gone out and gotten six trees the weekend after Sarah had told Lily about her late husband's Christmas tree habit. Then they had decorated the trees under the guidance of James and the direction of Lily to surprise Sarah when she returned from her afternoon errands.
Christmas Eve the four Marauders slept over at Potter Manor, but Lily didn't join them until the next day because she spent the night with Daisy and Mike and Mike's family.
Christmas morning, the four boys were up early, as usual. Sirius was up first, and he woke everyone else up in various, what he called "festive" ways. James didn't think that being assaulted with four buckets of plum pudding was very "festive"; Remus didn't consider being pelted with fruitcake pellets part of the "season or giving" and Peter was not sure that being hit by enchanted branches of mistletoe was really what "Christmas was all about."
After much grumbling, and a shower for James, the young adults raced down the hallways and stairs to get to the living room where all the presents were. By the time they got there, Lily and Mrs. Potter were already up and in the room.
"Happy Christmas love," said James as he plopped down next to Lily on the floor and gave her a quick kiss. In the background, Sirius made gagging noises.
"Happy Christmas to you too," said Lily with a wide smile.
"Do I get a kiss too Lily?" asked Sirius cheekily.
"No, but I'm know that there's a present with your name on it under the tree," said Lily, aptly distracting Sirius and allowing her another kiss with James without Sirius' commentary.
Soon Sirius had distributed the pile of presents and everyone had opened their share with a lot of thank you's and friendly hugs.
"Where'd all the presents go?!" asked Sirius as he scratched his head. He was sitting in the center of the room with wrapping paper surrounding him and the bows from all of the boxes in his hair, where Lily had jokingly put them, not expecting him to keep them there.
"You unwrapped them all," said Peter as if he was talking to a small child.
"Oh, right. Not a problem." Sirius said as he waved his wand and all of his presents re-wrapped themselves. He then unwrapped them, again.
Lily just looked on in amusement. She was sitting on the couch next to James, his arm around her and several presents at her feet. Life couldn't get much better in her opinion, but then it did.
"Is everyone, except for Sirius of course, done unwrapping their presents?" asked Mrs. Potter. "The house elves prepared a delicious breakfast…"
"Actually mum, I have one more left," said James as he got up off of the couch, presumably to get said present. What no one expected, not even his mother, was for him to get down on one knee in front of his girlfriend and while opening a small black velvet box that had been concealed in the pocket of his pajama trousers, say, "Lily, will you marry me?"
Peter, who had been sitting on the floor and lazily watching Sirius re-wrap and unwrap his presents, fell over backwards as he heard that fateful sentence leave his best friend's mouth. Sirius paused in his constant wrapping cycle to stare in shock, mouth hanging open. Remus, who had been sitting in a nearby armchair, dropped the new book he had been flipping through. Mrs. Potter sported a wide smile and clasped her hands as she looked on with joyous shock.
"Yes, yes, of course!" exclaimed Lily who recovered from her shock quickly.
James slipped the tasteful diamond ring on his fiancée's finger and then kissed her deeply as his friends and mother cheered (or in his mother's case, cried) in the background.
Lily couldn't help but think that this Christmas was loads better than the previous one, and even tons better than the one before that. James had similar thoughts swimming around in the miniscule portion of his brain that was not occupied with thoughts of Lily or ignoring Sirius' catcalls.
"Lily, you have got to be the most beautiful bride I have ever seen!" exclaimed Daisy as she walked into the spare guestroom of her house where Lily and her bridesmaids were getting ready for the wedding.
Lily spun around and said, "I dunno Daisy… I don't really like my hair… and I should have bought those other shoes… and I'm not sure about this necklace…" Lily's words trailed off as she fingered said necklace and peered once more into the full length mirror.
"I told them not to leave you alone," said Daisy as she shook her head. "Come on, you look gorgeous. I love your hair; it looks so elegant and completely stunning. You couldn't have gotten those other shoes, they would have clashed with the earrings, and you need the necklace; it's the 'something old'."
Lily just continued to stare blankly into the mirror, turning the small silver heart shaped pendant over and over with the tips of her fingers.
Noticing the gesture, Daisy came up behind her cousins and said softly, "She would be so happy for you today."
Lily didn't reply; she just ran her finger lightly over the engraved lily on the front of the charm.
Finally, Lily said, "I miss them so much Daisy. This is all I have left of them! I remember the day I got it; it was my birthday in seventh year. My mom had made sure that I would get the package exactly on my birthday. I loved it the moment I saw it. I hardly took it off for months. I was wearing it when they were… attacked."
"It took your mom so long to pick that necklace out for you. She went to so many stores and got so many opinions. I swear that she showed me a hundred different necklaces. Everyone kept asking why she didn't just pick one. And every time she answered that it had to be the perfect one because it was your seventeenth birthday. Because it was a special day for you she had to give you a special gift so that you would know how special you were to her," said Daisy quietly, her voice cracking as tears ran down her face.
Lily whirled around and enveloped the woman who had stepped in as a role model, taken her in without asking any questions, given her a job, a house and something to live for, in a great hug. Lily shut her eyes tightly, trying, just like when she was a little girl, to keep the tears from falling. As usual, the tears slipped through and slid down her cheeks like streams down the face of a mountain.
"Look at us!" said Daisy as she pulled away and wiped away her tears. "This is supposed to be a happy day! Now come on, we have to fix your make-up."
"Don't worry about it," said Lily as she dabbed her tears away and showed that her make-up was still perfect. "Magic," Lily answered as she saw Daisy's awe-struck face.
"Of course," stammered Daisy. She had never gotten quite used to Lily's abilities. "Well, let's go get the other girls; the photographer wanted to take some pictures before the ceremony.
Lily nodded, gathered up her full skirt and walked out of the room to find Alice and Fiona, her bridesmaids.
Pictures were taken; dresses were adjusted; hair was repinned; make-up was touched up and tears were shed (many were Sarah Potter's).
Finally the wedding party climbed into the white limo outside of the house and made their way to the Church.
The Potter end of things was far less orderly. The boys were getting ready in Potter Manor. While Lily was riding towards the church, Sirius was looking under his bed for his shoes, Remus was trying to tie four ties at once, Peter was attempting to button his shirt and James was pacing. None of these things were good signs.
However, the Marauders were used to getting ready under stress; after all, they had not gotten up more than ten minutes before breakfast ended since the third week of first year. So, they were at the church and lined up near the altar in time, they were even six seconds early!
The ceremony went beautifully. Sirius didn't lose the rings, Peter didn't trip, Remus didn't botch the reading he did, James didn't mess up his vows, Lily didn't sit on her long flowing veil, Alice didn't drop her flower bouquet, Fiona didn't turn around and flirt with her boyfriend, Daisy didn't have to leave to take care of her new son and Sarah Potter didn't cry any more than any mother does when her only son gets married.
The unthinkable had happened; James married Lily. No one had ever thought that it would happen, except for James of course. Back in first year when he played pranks on her, people thought he disliked her. In third year when he started hanging around her all the time, taking the same electives as she did, people thought he was just trying to get more opportunities prank her. In fifth year when he started asking her out, they thought that was a prank too. Seventh year when he stopped asking her out, most people were convinced it was an elaborate prank. When she asked him out, the world stopped.
Then, it was Lily and James, always. They were the Golden Couple, the beautiful people. Where one was, the other wasn't too far away. Sure, they had their public spats, but that only made them more endearing to their adoring fans.
Then there was the attack on her home. Several people claimed that they could hear James' heart breaking. No one thought he would ever move on. Most people were very concerned. But in the end it worked out; James found Lily, and though he was terribly angry at her, she convinced him that she was worth the pain.
"A toast to James and Lily!" said Sirius finishing his speech as Best Man.
The small crowd gathered at the reception echoed the cheer and drank from their champagne flutes.
"I love you Lily Potter," James whispered into his wife's ear as they danced for the first time as husband and wife. "Now and forever."
"Forever," Lily whispered back, savoring the feeling of being in James' arms.
Forever. Forever is a very long time. James and Lily did not get their forever. Six months later, on New Year's Eve, Lily announced that she was pregnant. Nearly eight months after that, Harry James Potter entered the world.
"Harry," cooed Lily softly as she held her blanketed son closely while he slept. "I will love you forever."
"Forever," echoed the proud father as he stroked his son's cheek gently.
Forever. Forever is a very long time. Harry did not get his forever with his parents. Thirteen months after his birth, a prophesy was made that sealed Harry's fate forever, and destroyed his chance of spending forever with his loving parents. Two months later, Voldemort killed Lily and James Potter and left Harry Potter an orphan.
It was then that Lily and James discovered that forever can't be cut short; it extends after death. Beyond the thin veil that separates the living from the dead, Lily and James kept the vows the made on their wedding day; they loved each other forever.
A/N. I'm sure that some of you are thinking that it took me FOREVER to write this last chapter. It sure feels that way! Thanks to all my readers who stayed with me, even though it seemed like I fell off of the face of the planet! Your reviews were awesome, and even though I once again did not have the time to respond to each of them, I did appreciate every single one! Please don't forget to review this last chapter; I am really interested to know how you liked/ disliked it! I'm kind of on the fence about it myself… it's not exactly as I had pictured it ending…
FYI: There won't be an epilogue or a sequel, but if you would like to read more stuff by me, I suggest "It's Better to Have Loved than Lost" which is kind of canon… or "He Loved Her First" which is AU somewhat similarly to how "Lily the Waitress" is AU.
Thanks again everyone and I hope that you put your superior reviewing skills to use for my other stories!